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Kearney (1999:36-39) – possibilidade [Möglichkeit]

sexta-feira 29 de março de 2024, por Cardoso de Castro


Heidegger não sugere que a existência humana seja apenas possibilidade. Mais exatamente, descreve-a como atualidade e possibilidade, sublinhando o fato de que a última é local da primeira. Sou um ser-aí que foi "jogado" à existência e que nada pode fazer para alterar este fato. O próprio "significado" (Bedeutung  ) de ser "jogado" (Geworfenheit  ) e da minha facticidade (Faktizität  ) enquanto ser que existe de fato só pode ser interpretado a partir da perspectiva mais fundamental da possibilidade. Por outras palavras, a interpretação de mim mesmo como "jogado" (geworfen) neste mundo só tem sentido com base na minha compreensão de mim mesmo como ser que é sempre "projetado" (entwerfen  ) para o mundo como possibilidade. Isto não significa que habitemos dois mundos. Existe apenas um mundo que, tal como Dasein  , é simultaneamente atual e possível, presente e futuro. O possível é o horizonte do mundo, e o mundo é o horizonte do Dasein. A possibilidade é aquele mundo-horizonte para o qual (woraufhin  ) me dirijo na transcendência temporalizante que, por si só, dá sentido e valor ao meu mundo atual.

Se Heidegger defende que a compreensão de Möglichkeit   é o fundamento da nossa existência, não nega que essa compreensão possa por vezes ser inautêntica. A possibilidade é inautêntica quando é interpretada como um estado de dado objetivável (Seiende   als Vorhandenheit  ) e não como o "Ser" do nosso ser-presente. Todas as possibilidades "lógicas", "factuais", "existenciais" ou "ônticas", como Heidegger nos recorda em Ser e Tempo  , são inautênticas na medida em que interpretam o possível com base na presença, mascarando assim o seu papel autêntico como condição da presença. Em suma, a possibilidade é autêntica quando é entendida como uma expressão do Sein   da nossa existência e inautêntica quando é entendida como uma expressão da nossa existência como Seiende, i.e., como uma entidade de dado ôntico.


In Being and Time Heidegger argues that human being is neither a wordless subject nor an object among others but a being-in-the-world. Hermeneutically considered, being is no longer reducible to a simple presence—whether this be the Idealist notion of a subject present to itself or the realist notion of an object give to us in substantive presence. Heidegger maintains that hermeneutic phenomenology enables us to consider our being as a possibility rather than a simple actuality. Why? Because it discloses our being as a Dasein which exists beyond itself, forever projecting itself into the temporal   horizons of past and future. As temporalizing projection (what Kant   called productive imagination  ), I discover myself as being in time: a Dasein continually moving beyond my actual givenness toward my presently absent possibilities. But if Dasein is its possibilities, as Heidegger claims, this means that it is a being that is always interpreting itself in the light of its possibilities. Its very structure is that of hermeneutic imagination.

Hermeneutic phenomenology enables us to make this interpretative structure more explicit and invites us to overcome the traditional metaphysical priority of presence over possibility. Authentic existence, argues Heidegger, is that which inteprets itself as possibility rather than as presence. [1] This manner of interpretation   goes against the mainstream of metaphysics. Aristotle   accorded an absolute privilege to act (entelecheia  ) vis-a-vis potency (dunamis  ); and medieval thought designated the Divine Being as a pure and eternal Actus over and above all transitory and material potentia [2]. Hence Aquinas’ definition   of God in the Summa: Deus est actus purus non habens aliquid de potentialitate [3]. Even Leibniz  , who appeared to vindicate the possible in some measure, finished by reducing it to mere represented possibilitas in the mind of a God perfectly actualized in his own Being.

By contrast, Heidegger sees the possible (das Mögliche) as the transcendental   horizon   of Dasein, understood as a temporalizing-schematizing projection in [37] the mold of Kant’s transcendental imagination. But Heidegger extends Kant’s category of temporality beyond individual history (Geschichtlicheit) to include the history of humankind (Geschichte  ). In both instances, we are concerned with an openness to time which extends the present toward the possible worlds of past and future. Time is an “ex-static” horizon of possibilities into which I step when I step outside of (ex-stasis) my actual existence. Heidegger argues that because traditional metaphysics treated the human subject solely in terms of the presence of its being (Seiende), it ignored the very Being (Sein) of this being-present. This Being of being reveals itself as the non-present possibility of Dasein. Heidegger can thus conclude that Being-there (Da-Sein) is my existence as possibility. [4]

And so, in contrast to classical metaphysics, which since Aristotle viewed time as an addition of punctual moments, Heidegger proposes a more “fundamental” ontology that will reveal time as a horizon of possibilities which grounds the present, as an absence which possibilizes our being-present. [5] By redefining our way of being-in-the-world (in der-Welt  -sein) as possibility, Heidegger intends to “overcome” the standard metaphysical definitions of existence in terms of presence: ousia  , existentia  , substantia  , res cogitans  , Gegenstand  , Gegenwärtigung, Vorhandenheit, etc. [6]

Heidegger does not   suggest that human existence is only possibility. More exactly, he describes it as both actuality and possibility, stressing the fact that the latter is the site of the former. I am a being-there who has been “thrown” into existence and who can do nothing to alter this fact. The very “meaning” (Bedeutung) of my thrownness (Geworfenheit) and facticity (Faktizität) as a being who actually exists can only be interpreted from the more fundamental perspective of possibility. In other words, my interpretation of myself as “thrown” (geworfen) into this world is only meaningful on the basis of my understanding of myself as a being who is always “projected” (ent-werfen) toward the world as possibility. This does not mean we inhabit two worlds. There is only one world which, like Dasein, is both actual and possible, both present and future. The possible is the horizon of the world, and the world is the horizon of Dasein. Possibility is that world-horizon toward which (woraufhin) I direct myself in the temporalizing transcendence which alone gives meaning and value to my actual world. [7]

If Heidegger maintains that an understanding of Möglichkeit is the ground of our existence, he does not deny that such understanding may sometimes be inauthentic. Possibility is inauthentic when it is interpreted as a state of objectifiable givenness (Seiende als Vorhandenheit) rather than as the “Being” of our being-present. All “logical,” “factical”, “existential,” or “ontical” possibilities, as Heidegger reminds us in Being and Time, are inauthentic insofar as they interpret the possible on the basis of presence, thereby masking its authentic role as the condition of presence. [8] In short, possibility is authentic when it is understood [38] as an expression of the Sein of our existence and inauthentic when it is understood as an expression of our existence as Seiende, i.e., as an entity of ontic givenness. [9]

Heidegger goes further. He states that our inauthentic possibilities only have “meaning” to the extent that they are recognized as utlimately “grounded” in our authentic (eigentlich  ) possibilities, i.e., those possibilities that are acknowledged as ownmost (eigenst) modalities of our being-in-the-world.

I begin to exist authentically, therefore, as soon as I unveil the hermeneutic horizon of possibilities which gives my life-world significance. This horizon is normally covered over by the anonymous “They” (Das Man  ), which compels past and future to conform to the straitjacket of an insular present. The “They” hides the possible because it threatens to expose the mediocrity and inertia of daily life. The “They” protects its subscribers from the responsibility of having to choose their current manner of existence from a host of possibilities. It isolates the immediate from the unsettling dimensions of past and future. It assures us that all is well and could not be otherwise. The discovery of the possible, which alone renders our lives authentic, shatters this myth of anonymous assurance and compels each individual to face up to their responsibility. The disclosure of the temporalizing horizon of possibility that grounds our existence makes us respond to the past which shapes us and the future which calls us. This hermeneutic disclosure fills us with anguish (Angst  ): we realize that our sovereign limiting possibility is the possibility of death.

Death is our ultimate possibility. It is the fundamental project which founds all other projects. Heidegger concludes that the horizon of our world—be it the Umwelt of serviceable and referential objects (Dienlichkeit and Verweisungsganzheit) or the Mitwelt of interrelating subjects (Miteinandersein  ) — is finite. The horizon of our existence is a hermeneutic imagining which leads to an open future. But the openness of the future is not infinite; it terminates in death, the end of all our possibilities. Heidegger defines us, accordingly, as temporalizing beings always transcending the present toward the possibility of the future, and ultimately toward our most future possibility, death. Death is the possibility which it is impossible to go beyond. I am free to the extent that I experience my life as possibility; I am only authentically free, however, when I experience my death as my ultimate possibility, the impossibility of further possibility, the end of my time. This is a task of hermeneutic imagination.

To acknowledge death as the supreme project of my existence is to discover that the world is always “mine” insofar as it is a horizon of possibilities limited by my death. Death represents the finitude of my temporalization; it cannot belong to another. In order to live my “being toward death” authentically I must live it as my own, as an individual over and against the collective “They.” In authentically experiencing death as my supreme project, I experience the possibility of the impossibility (Unmöglichkeit) of my existence, the possibility of being-no-longer-able-to-be (das Möglichkeit der Nicht  -mehr-Dasein-könnens) [10]. [39] Death is the end (Umwillen/Umzu) of all my possibilities.

This hermeneutic task sketched out by Heidegger, confronts the self with the limit of its own possibility in death; but, at this point of the analysis, it appears to slip back into transcendental solipsism rather than opening the self toward an ethics of responsibility to one’s fellow humans. This is a crucial lacuna. Nevertheless, it is clear that Möglichkeit cannot be understood as the represented possibilitas or immanent potentia of some being considered as presence. Möglichkeit in Being and Time represents a post-metaphysical understanding of the possible that shatters the notion of being as solid and substantial self-presence, exposing it to the temporalizing projects of transcendental imagination. I am a being who is always transcending myself toward my possibility because I am a being who marks time. Metaphysics hid the truth of being in hiding this fundamental liaison between being and time.

Ver online : Richard Kearney

KEARNEY, Richard. Poetics of modernity: toward a hermeneutic imagination. Amherst, N.Y.: Humanity Books, 1999

[1BT sections 25-38, especially 32.

[2Aristotle, Metaphysics, 9.8.1059.

[3Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, I, 3, a. 4, c. Thus, as the Supreme Being, God (Summum Ens) becomes an omnipresence (Omnipraesentia) in all beings insofar as he is the cause of their Being (causa essendi); STh, I, 8, a. 3. For a full development of Heidegger’s critique of the scholastic notion of God as metaphysical presence, see his Identität und Differenz (1957). For a comprehensive commentary see Bertrand Rioux, L’Être et la vérité chez Heidegger et St. Thomas d’Aquin (Paris: PUF, 1963). We should also add that even though Aquinas and the transcendental Thomists of today—Rahner, Lonnergan—consider man as a being who transcends himself in quest of an always more absolute knowledge, they still continue to understand man primarily as a substance, whose being, even as it transcends itself, remains a permanently identical presence. Furthermore, even though such metaphysicians acknowledge a role for possibility or potency in their notion of knowledge as conative and transcending, they ultimately subordinate this possibility to the final presence which is achieved when the knower reaches what is known, i.e., Aristotle’s Noesis Noeseos or the Thomist notion of absolute knowledge as an absolute identity and transparence of Being to itself. It is only with Descartes and the German Idealists that man is explicitly defined as a substance which is a “self-presence.” It must be admitted that in points of detail, Heidegger’s critique of the metaphysics of presence and substance leaves much to be desired. But the overall intention of his critique is clear enough.

[4SZ pp. 42f, 143-45, 188, 248f, 259.

[5I do not wish to make any claims here for the unconditional validity of Heidegger’s interpretation of Aristotle’s notion of time in Book Five of the Physics. Nor is it sure that all subsequent theories of time follow this interpretation. Augustine’s understanding of time, in Confessions, XI, would certainly seem to be an exception.

[6All of these metaphysical words for Being as presence share the common character of “permanent subsistence” (character des Ständige verbleibts) such that the Being of a being is considered to be “that which it always is,” i.e., its subsistence in permanence. This is why in BT truth is no longer defined in terms of Being as “permanent-subsistence” (das Vorhandene) but on the basis of the temporality of Dasein (i.e., as revelation and openness, Erschlossenheit). For good examples of Heidegger’s discussion of the priority of Being as presence vis-à-vis Being as possibility in the history of metaphysics, see his Die Physis Bei Aristoteles (1958) and “Entwurf zur Geschichte des Seins als Metaphysik” (Nietzsche, Vol. II), pp. 458-80. As a good secondary source see Ysabel de Andia’s Présence et Eschatologie dans la Pensée de Heidegger (Lille: Editions Universitaires, 1975), particularly pp. 150-90.

[7BT p. 271f.

[8SZ, existentiell possibilities, p. 267; factical possibilities, p. 264; logical possibilities, p. 143; ontical possibilities, p. 312.

[9BT p. 250.

[10To express this idea Heidegger calls death the ultimate end (Umwillen/Umzu and Wofür) of all our possibilities; ibid., pp. 93f, 109, 467.