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Schicksal / Geschick / Ge-schick / schicksalhaft / epochal

Schicksal / Geschick / Ge-schick / schicksalhaft / destin / co-destin / fado / destiny / destino / fate / destinal

A destiny is an underlying tendency in the order of things, a force that provides a sense of direction even though it does not   coerce in any way. Though events that happen as a result of destiny often can be given a physical explanation, the idea   that some events are more or less appropriate to the current scheme of things remains a deep assumption built into the use of the word (the word Geschick has “being appropriate” as one of its meanings). The centrality in Heidegger’s work of the German word translated as “destiny,” Geschick, reflects a preoccupation with that notion in the nineteenth century (e.g., “manifest destiny”). The intuitive force of the idea of destiny comes from the sense that events seem to have a meaning-laden trend. This sense obviously provides the emotional punch to the account of destiny in §§72-77 of Being and Time  . In these sections, we can see how a way of unfolding makes sense in the nexus of a temporal   order.

Based on this idea of destiny, Heidegger uses a set of homonymously and etymologically related terms to clarify the “historicity” (Geschichtlichkeit  ) of human existence. Much of the earlier discussion in Being and Time aimed at bringing to light how life can be seen as what we might call a “life-story” in which what has come before prepares the way for the outcome of the whole. In chapter 5 of Part 11, Heidegger asks if there might be a way of understanding life that is “more primordial” than the ordinary one conceived as temporality. His answer is that existence is bounded by two “ends,” a pole of what has already come (the “past”) and a futural end of what is yet to come (Zukommen  ). Human existence unfolds within these two poles, the future and the past. His claim is that the dimension of futurity is often ignored, even though it provides the unifying bond of our being. Heidegger asks whether there is a more primordial account of our being-a-whole, one that brings to light our wholeness of being. We cannot grasp our being solely by looking at our facing forward with projects and anticipations, leaving “behind it” all that has been (SZ 372). Such an orientation of the analysis remains “onesided” without embracing Dasein  ’s “having-been.” Therefore, we must include “being toward the beginning” to show how the whole of life “stretches itself along between birth and death” (SZ 373).

The emphasis on human historicity (Geschichtlichkeit) makes it possible to see a number of terms as related. The German word Historie refers to the topics and methods of the subject-matter called “history”; it recounts a course of events as a “story” (Geschichte-, see History). This moreover connects a semantic cluster of words that draw their meaning from the verb schicken, an ordinary word for sending or delivering, implying a sending or being sent. Dasein’s authentic being is characterized by Schicksal or sending.

Given these resonances, Heidegger sees human life as a story-shaped narrative or Geschichte, a word now implying dispensation and delivering over. This lets us see our lives as a “happening” or “historizing” (Geschehen  ) which can be stretched along. For each individual Dasein there is a “fate” (Schicksal). On this view, sending or dispensation and the binding together of the fates of a community yield a people’s “destiny.” [WCHL:221]