Collected Writings

Casting within Enpropriation and the Leap from
Standing Presence

Michael Eldred

artefact - A Site of Philosophy

artefact text and translation 

    Paper presented to the Heidegger Symposium Interpreting the Beiträge 18-20 April 2001, University of North Texas, Denton TX, USA.
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    Table of contents

    1. Cast casting within enpropriation 

    2. The leap from standing presence 

        3. Enpropriated beings 

    1. Cast casting within enpropriation

    The text at the focus of this symposium, the Contributions to Philosophy or the Beiträge(1), is not "Heidegger's second main work"(2). It is not a work at all, but an Entwurf, a grand draft or casting, or, as Heidegger himself puts it in the motto to the entire manuscript, a "straight-edge to be used for further construction"(3) . As such a grand casting, the Beiträge are a projection into the future and are thus in many respects enigmatic. This character calls on us, the readers, to be open for the enigma speaking from the mystery. 

    The fourth part of the fugue making up the Beiträge is called "The Leap". What is this leap as an experience in thinking? I propose to dwell here on certain passages, phrases and words from The Leap, Sections 119-128, in order to point out various aspects, without making any claim to an exhaustive nor even a connected treatment of the passages in question. 

    Der Sprung (der geworfene Entwurf) ist der Vollzug des Entwurfs der Wahrheit des Seyns im Sinne der Einrückung in das Offene, dergestalt, daß der Werfer des Entwurfs als geworfener sich erfährt, d.h. er-eignet durch das Seyn. (122. GA65:239)

    The Leap (the cast casting) is the carrying out of the casting of the truth of beyng in the sense of moving out into the open in such a way that the caster of the casting experiences himself as cast, i.e. en-propriated by beyng. 

    The passage continues: 
    The opening through the casting is only such an opening when it happens as the experience of castness and thus of belonging to beyng. 
    The verb "to cast" is one of the synonyms for "to throw", but it has more meanings in everyday usage, as in to cast iron or to cast the actors in a stage play. To be cast not only means to be thrown, but also to be cast into a mould and with a certain role. The caster in the context of the leap is cast into a specific thinking role of carrying out the casting of the truth of beyng in moving out into an open dimension. That the caster himself or herself is cast means that the caster is not an origin of casting nor the subject of casting but rather given to casting. This being-given-to is en-propriation to beyng which itself only comes into the open as that open dimension in which all is cast through the medium of the caster's casting. In being cast into the casting role, the caster leaps and is thrown into Da-sein. Only in Da-sein does the truth of beyng come into the open as the open dimension within which beings are marked, outlined, drawn as beings. Da-sein and beyng need each other to be what there are. 

    But why a leap that requires Da-sein to be cast? Because there is and can be no continuity between the first beginning and the other beginning. Why not? Because the metaphysics of the first beginning only sees and only questions being with regard to the being of beings. Heidegger marks this difference with the archaic way of writing being as beyng (or Seyn) with a 'y' on the one hand, and by referring to being with regard to beings as beingness (Seiendheit). The archaicness of beyng with a 'y' resides in it being the unthought dimension within which philosophy originally arose. Thus the leap into en-propriation to beyng is a leap into something very old, something primally inceptual. We read: 

    The fundamental question is not the continuation of the formulated version of the guiding question in Aristotle. For it arises immediately from, leaps up immediately from (entspringen) a necessity: the distress of the oblivion to being/abandonment by being (Seinsverlassenheit), that happening which is essentially also conditioned by the history of the guiding question and its misrecognition. (119. GA65:233) 
    The formulated question of the other beginning is the question concerning the openness of the truth of being itself, and there is no continuous path, no 'derivation' which could lead from questioning beings in their being to posing the question of the open dimension itself. There must be a leap out of the oblivion to being to the question concerning beyng itself, and there must be a leap out of the condition of abandonment by being in its openness into the thinking experience of belonging to this open dimension. The necessity of the leap means that there is no easy crossing, no po/roj, no ford that leads to Da-sein and its enpropriation to beyng. Oblivion to and abandonment by being are the two complementary sides of Seinsverlassenheit, corresponding to the cast casting of Da-sein. For it cannot be said that the history of metaphysics is attributable to humans being simply oblivious to being, for that would mean that Seinsverlassenheit depended solely on human 'forgetfulness'. Rather, beyng itself withdrew in the first beginning, it held itself back and did not enter thinking experience but was simply taken for granted. The granting of the being of beings in the open was taken for granted. 

    In humankind recognizing its belonging to the openness of beyng itself as that which makes them human beings, the granting is no longer taken for granted, but rather Da-sein experiences itself as en-propriated to beyng, just as beyng propriates itself to Da-sein. 

    Today, one has to say that there is an oblivion not only to the question of the other beginning, but that an oblivion also holds sway with regard to the guiding question of the first beginning. The question regarding the being of beings is today asked, if at all, mainly as an historical question in the history of philosophy, and therefore at arm's length, in the history of ideas. Valid truth is sought no longer in philosophy at all, but in the sciences, be it the natural sciences or the social sciences. Philosophy thereby becomes epistemology or Wissenschaftstheorie on the one hand, and social critique or social theory on the other, which proceeds from the givenness of society. Philosophy has today lost the power and strength to ask, to cast itself into originary questions and to assume the role of caster of an historical world. The question as to the dimension within which such a thing as society and sociation takes place remains unasked in present-day philosophy. This is an aspect of the oblivion to beyng, the double oblivion not only to beyng itself, but even to the guiding metaphysical question concerning the being of beings. Of course, all oblivion is oblivious to itself, so that today the prevailing metaphysical ways of thinking do not know that they are metaphysical ways of thinking. Rather, progressive thinkers of all ilks today regard themselves as having overcome metaphysics. 


    How is the leap to be characterized further? Let us hear the text: 
    The leap is the en-leaping of the preparedness to belong to en-propriation. The onset and failure to show up of the advent and flight of the gods, en-propriation, cannot be coerced by thinking. Nevertheless, in thinking, the openness is to be made ready which as time-space (the site of moments) makes the fissuring (Zerklüftung) of beyng accessible and steadfast in Da-sein. (120. GA65:235) 
    What does the reference to the gods mean here, and what is the meaning of fissuring (Zerklüftung)? Let us take the second question first. The fissuring of beyng resides in the "uniqueness, freedom, contingency, necessity, possibility and reality of its essencing" (120. GA65:237) and thus denotes beyng's ways or modes of essencing, where essencing is now simply the verbal noun of beyng and does not refer to the essentia of metaphysical discourse denoting the whatness of beings. The truth of beyng is open to Da-sein in various modes which reveal a rich folding of its essencing. Beyng is thus not a thin abstraction pulled off from beings signifying that they merely exist; nor is it a determination of beings in what they are, their essences, but rather, the essencing of beyng has different modes of play within the time-space to which Da-sein is open. It is the task of inceptual thinking to think through these various modes of beyng's essencing. Why? Because thinking has the widest scope for assessing "the possibilities of sheltering the truth [of beyng] in beings" (120. GA65:237). And what is the truth of beyng? It is that play of clearing and hiding, of decrypting and encrypting in the open to which Da-sein is exposed in the double sense of, firstly, being removed to the three temporal ecstasies of time-space, of being out there in time-space, and secondly, of being captivated and ensnared by the play of revealing and concealing, of decrypting and encrypting. 

    Two words occur in the text to signify the double nature of Da-sein's exposure to time-space. They are Entrückung and Berückung, whose normal dictionary meanings in modern German are "rapture, ecstasy, transport", and "captivation, bewitchment, enchantment" respectively. But Entrückung can mean, apart from being carried away in a reverie, simply a removal away, as in the Christian experience of a dead person being entrückt, removed to God. And the verb "bestricken" originally meant "to deceive, to entice into a trap, as if from behind, to ensnare". Dasein is removed, stretched out to the temporally diverse play of revealing and concealing staked out by the three temporal dimensions. For example, with regard to concealing, it forgets and can no longer recall what it has experienced in the past, or with respect to the future, it cannot see what the future holds in withdrawal, or with respect to the present, it misrecognizes what is present to it, is deluded by appearances and thus 'ensnared'. This is an interpretation of Berückung from the viewpoint of Dasein, i.e. from the standpoint of Sein und Zeit. In the Beiträge, however, Berückung has quite a different meaning relating to the grounding of time-space. The captivation of removal to the ecstasies of time consists in an embrace (Umhalt; 242. GA65:384) in which the transporting ecstasies to beyng's hesitating denial (zögerndes Sichversagen; ibid.) are gathered back into and held in the moment that remembers and awaits. The embraced moment remembers the "belonging to beyng" (Zugehörigkeit zum Seyn; ibid.) and awaits the "call of beyng" (Zuruf des Seyns; ibid.) and as such grounds the area of decision encompassing whether or not the onset of beyng will begin. 

    I have employed two unusual words to render the German words Entbergung and Verbergung which play such a prominent role in Heidegger's texts. These are 'decryption' and 'encryption', which are familiar from the practice of encoding whereby encryption is the hiding of a meaning, whereas decryption is the process of bringing the meaning of a secret code out into the open. Learning a foreign language is an instance of decryption, but it is not exhausted in simply learning the code of what the words mean and how they hang together. Rather, in learning a foreign language a whole new world opens up; the words of the new language start to call things and situations to presence which were previously concealed in the totally unfamiliar sounds and script but which now, in learning the language, are able to presence. In the present context, decryption and encryption name the play of clearing and hiding in time-space itself, by which beings and being show themselves and hide. The stem, 'crypt', must be heard as a place of hiding and shelter, from the Greek kru/ptein, "to hide, to shelter". There is thus also an echo from Heracleitus' Fragment 123 fu/sij kru/ptesqai filei= "being loves to seek hidden shelter for itself". Heidegger translates this fragment in a late seminar as "Self-encryption is the innermost essence of the movement of appearing" ("das Sichverbergen ist das innerste Wesen der Bewegung des Erscheinens" 6 September 1969 Vier Seminare S.81; Seminare GA15:343). According to this translation, filei= is interpreted as what is essential for fu/sij to unfold its own essencing. This self-encryption relates not only to the essencing of beyng but also to its fissuring in the "immanent unfolding of the innermostness (Innigkeit) of beyng itself insofar as we 'experience' it as refusal and mutation of refusal (Umweigerung)" (127. GA65:244). The fissuring of beyng is thus an unfolding and folding of beyng in its innermost modes which refuses disclosure to Da-sein. Thinking is called on to "work out" (durchsteigen 120. GA65:237) all these folds. The Beiträge call on us to "try to think fissuring from that basic essencing of beyng, by virtue (power) of which it is the realm of decision for the struggle of the gods" (127. GA65:244). 

    This brings us back to the thought of the gods' arrival and their failure to show up, which must be one of the most perplexing, enigmatic and barely scrutable aspects of the Beiträge. There is no reason to complain about the enigmatic character of the references to the gods, for self-encryption lies at the heart of the openness of the truth of beyng and it cannot be expected that the gods appear plainly, out in the open as beings among other beings. Rather, with regard to the gods we are called upon to be receptive for an inkling. Heidegger is careful to distinguish between beyng and the gods, even though and especially because the gods need beyng for their "godding" (126. GA65:243). 

    For it is the en-propriation of the en-propriating of Da-sein wherein, as the essencing of truth, the still site is founded, the space of the play of time for the passing-by, the unprotected in-the-midst-of which unleashes the storm of en-propriating. (126. GA65:243). 
    This is the way in which the godding of the gods needs beyng and Da-sein in the openness of time-space, where the gods, beyng, Da-sein, the truth of beyng, and beings themselves all remain distinct from each other. Heidegger writes enigmatically that the gods "'are' not at all" (126. GA65:244) and further that 
    Beyng 'is' the between in the midst of beings and the gods and completely and in every respect incomparable, 'used' by the gods and withdrawn from beings. (126. GA65:244) 
    These passages alone should be enough to show that, whatever else may be said of Heidegger's talk of the gods, it is far removed from any theological conception of god, for theology is based on the essential confusion of being with God as the supreme being. 

    The leap into Da-sein as the open time-space for the truth of beyng does not annunciate or prophesy the imminent arrival of the "last god" but rather restricts itself to the task of thinking through the cast casting of the fissuring of beyng in the openness of time-space. The thinking of beyng as casting is also preparatory and borne by a willingness to perform the precious little that thinking is called on to do. The gods and their struggle are only inkled. 

    In the opening up of the essencing of beyng it becomes obvious that Da-sein does not accomplish anything unless it be to catch the counter-momentum of en-propriating, i.e. to move into this counter-momentum and thus only then itself to become itself: the preserver of the cast casting, the grounded grounder of the ground. (122. GA65:239) 
    This grounded grounding prepares the ground for an historical decision in which 
    truth in its essencing comes anew to a decision whether it can be grounded as the clearing for self-encryption. This self-encryption is the decrypting of refusal, [and thus] a letting-belong to the strangeness of an other beginning. (123. GA65:241) 
    As the caster of the casting, Da-sein opens up and belongs to the opening up of the clearing in which self-encryption shows itself in its refusal and withdrawal. Self-encryption does not admit any unveiling by Da-sein. 

    2. The leap from standing presence 

    What is the foil to the cast casting of the leap? Or put another way: from where does the caster leap to become caster? The caster leaps from the first beginning. And how is the first beginning to be characterized? It is the original experience of fu/sij, the upsurgence of beings coming to stand in the open and be understood by human being. Human being for the Greeks means belonging to being by way of understanding upsurgent beings in their stand. The thinking experience of fu/sij was cast into a consummate mould by Aristotle in his Physics, especially Book B. Just after completing the writing of the Beiträge, in 1939, Heidegger wrote a long paper(4) precisely on Aristotle's treatment of fu/sij in the Physics which provides a quintessential account of how being was first cast and understood at the culmination of the first, Greek beginning. 

    In citing Book B, Heidegger first elaborates what is meant by sunestw=ta, a word which says how the Greeks understood the being of beings, ta\ o)/nta. Translated literally, sunestw=ta means 'placed together in a stand'. Heidegger writes, "They [the Greeks] address beings as that which stands, which has a double meaning. On the one hand it means that which has a stand in itself and of itself, that which stands 'there', and at the same time it means that which stands in the sense of lasting, enduring." (WM:244) In the course of Heidegger's 1939 study of Aristotle's Physics, which he prefaces with the claim that it is the "hidden and therefore never adequately thought-through basic book of Western philosophy" (WM:240), this initial understanding of what the Greeks (Aristotle) understand by being is deepened and shown to be fundamental for following Aristotle's elaboration of fu/sij as a mode of being. The designation as the "basic book of Western philosophy" indicates at least the weight it has in Heidegger's own thinking. And indeed, the Greek understanding of being is expounded in Heidegger's interpretation of the Physics with forceful, decisive and admirable phenomenological clarity. 

    Aristotle says at an early stage of his investigation (192b32; WM:257) that all fu/sij-like beings have the mode of being of ou)si/a, and ou)si/a is explicated as a lying-there of itself, u(pokei/menon. In comparing the two formulations of what constitutes being, namely sunestw=ta and u(pokei/menon, standing-there and lying-there, Heidegger points out that what unites these two alternative formulations is Anwesung, presencing in and of itself. Viewed from presencing, a lying-there in and of itself is just as much a standing-there in and of itself. The fundamental meaning of being at the culmination of Greek philosophy is thus ou)si/a as standing presence. Heidegger writes here ständige Anwesenheit or rather ständige Anwesung, and not beständige Anwesenheit or beständige Anwesung. Regardless of this difference, the prevailing English translation is "constant presence" or "permanent" or "perduring presence", which totally distorts the phenomenon in view, for it is only on the basis of coming to a stand in presence that a being may be constant or endure or persist in a temporal sense. Heidegger emphasizes that it is not duration which constitutes the being of a being in its primary sense, but its "presencing in the sense of coming forth into the disclosed, of placing itself in the open. By referring merely to duration, the sense of presencing is not captured." (WM:270) A being proper in the Greek sense is a stable, steadfast or standing presence within limits (pe/raj). Heidegger writes in this regard: 

    Thought philosophically in the Greek way, pe/raj is not the limit in the sense of the outer edge, not the limit where something ceases. Limit is always what limits, defines and gives a hold and a stand, that through which and in which something begins and is. What presences and absences limitlessly does not have any presence in and of itself and succumbs to instability (Bestandlosigkeit). The difference between a being proper and a non-being does not consist in the former contining on without restriction whereas the latter always suffers an interruption to its duration; with regrad to duration, both could be unrestricted or restricted; the crucial point is rather that a being proper presences of itself and is therefore encountered as that which was already lying there u(pokei/menon prw=ton
    If being is understood in its primary sense for the Greeks as 'constant presence' then it is not possible to follow Aristotle's intricate study of fu/sij as a mode of being, for fu/sij is essentially characterized by movement, not just movement as change of place but movement as growth and decay, modification, propagation. Fu/sij-like beings are essentially characterized not by constancy of presence but by standing presence in the sense that they bear within themselves the spring or origin or principle governing their own movement and therefore stand within themselves. They are selbstständig, independent, literally: self-standing, standing in themselves. They themselves set the limits (pe/raj) of their movement and thus the look they offer of themselves from within themselves. 

    A further aspect of fu/sij and ou)si/a comes to light in the course of Aristotle's ever deepening examination of fu/sij when he introduces a further way in which it is addressed as h( morfh\ kai\ to\ ei)=doj to\ kata\ to\n lo/gon (193a31) "the gathering setting into a Gestalt, and that means the look which shows itself for addressing" (cf. WM:271). Heidegger translates the Greek morfh/, normally rendered by 'form', as Gestellung in die Gestalt or a "gathering setting into a Gestalt or figure". This Gestalt is the sight or look which a being presents from its stand for being addressed by the human lo/goj. Heidegger points out that lo/goj and le/gein in the first place have nothing to do with language, words and speaking but with that gathering together into one and placing this in the disclosedness of presencing, thus "allowing what was previously hidden ... to show itself in its presencing". (WM:277) This gathering is also a bringing to stand in presence and thus the presenting of a face, a figure, a look, a sight in presence. The prefix 'Ge-' in Gestellung indicates this gathering of le/gein in setting up in a Gestalt. It is this look of a being, its standing figure, which can then be addressed by language. No matter whether beings are designated as sunestw=ta or u(pokei/menon, standing-there or lying-there, that they offer a look and present a face as a figure or Gestalt is how they come to stand in presence and disclose themselves. Their being is standing presence in the open. This is not only Aristotle's experience of the being of beings but also that of Plato's i)de/ai, literally: looks. 

    When the Greeks experience human being as to\ z%=on lo/gon e)/xon, this does not simply mean that humans are the living beings which have language, but more originarily that they are the beings addressed by the look or sight of beings standing in the open disclosedness of presence, this look having been gathered into its stand by an originary le/gein. The human lo/goj, words, are then a response to the more originary gathering, i.e. humans can only speak because they are first addressed by being as standing presence gathered by the originary lo/goj. If the word Ständigkeit often used by Heidegger at crucial points in his texts is thrown together with Beständigkeit and rendered by 'constancy' or some other temporal word such as 'persistence', then none of this can be seen. 

    The standard English translation of Ständigkeit as 'constancy' can find support in Heidegger's inconsistent use of the terms Ständigkeit and Beständigkeit, which are often used synonymously and interchangeably. Furthermore, Heidegger himself often emphasizes the temporal sense of being for Greek thinking, thus encouraging a rendering of ständige Anwesenheit as 'constant presence'. However, at least in the fu/sij study we are discussing, Heidegger is admirably clear in distinguishing the stand of beings in presence from their duration, which, if at all, is only a consequence of their stand. Some support for seeing the phenomenon here in view is offered by the etymology of ständig. In Kluge's German etymological dictionary we read under the entry for ständig: "properly speaking 'maintaining a stand, remaining in the same place' and then transferred 'continuing'. From Stand". 

    In their ei)=doj or morfh/, their look or Gestalt, beings take a stand in the openness of presence. This holds true for both fu/sei o)/nta and poiou/mena, for both natural beings and made beings. Made beings present themselves in the look of their having been finished, in their finish. The look of their finish is seen in advance by their maker in the knowledge the maker has of how to bring forth the finished made things. Whereas natural beings bear within themselves the spring governing their own movement towards their own final Gestalt, in which they rest, made beings are made in a movement whose governing spring lies in another being, namely, in the knowing maker who by virtue of know-how is able to bring the finished product in its look to presence. 

    The first beginning as the opening of Western history emerges from being laying claim upon human being. For the Greeks, however, being is ou)si/a, the beingness of beings as their standing presence. This standing presence of beings, no matter whether they are fu/sij-like or made (poi/hsij), is a gathering into a look or sight by an originary le/gein that allows them to be addressed. The look of beings stands in unhiddeness as a sight for human beings who are addressed by these gathered standing looks and respond. Heidegger writes, "only because humans are insofar as they comport themselves toward beings as such, decrypting and encrypting them, can and must humans have 'words', i.e. speak of and from the being of beings." (WM:277) 

    Lo/goj is in the first place the gathering of beings into a standing, stable look. In the second place, lo/goj is the relationship, the 'ratio' of human being to being, i.e. to the look of beings in their being, their standing and steadfast presence. This is human understanding of the standing presence of beings' looks. Human understanding and standing presence are the same, i.e. they essentially belong together in the dimension of standingness, i.e. the dimension of the beingness of beings in the first beginning. Only in the third place is the lo/goj language, as a response to being addressed by the beingness of beings in their looks. Understanding as the response to the standingness of beings in presence articulates itself in language, speech. In such understanding of beings in their standing presence, human being itself comes into its stand. For human being is such only in its relationship, its ratio to being. Human being is the understanding of the look of beings gathered into the stand of being. In this relationship, humans become and are themselves 'standing', selbst-ständig, independent selves In the first beginning, the human self not only comes to a stand in the relationship to the standing presence of being but it is essentially this relational or ratio-nal stand. 

    If Heidegger's earlier work, Sein und Zeit, can be regarded as preparations for the leap into the casting of the open 'there' of enpropriation, then we can see in more detail how human being comes to a stand vis-à-vis standing presence. Human being does not answer to the question: What? Rather, human being is always a who. The mode of being which we could call whoness is essentially a casting of one's own existence on the basis of an understanding of who one is. Human being responds to being as the gathering of standing presence in understanding the world. In choosing possibilities of existing on the basis of this understanding opening of world, human being casts its self individually. This opening of the world in understanding is, however, always already shared with other human beings, i.e. human being is essentially Mitsein, togetherness. For Aristotle too, in the consummate casting of the first beginning, the being that has the lo/goj is in its essence also a z%=on politiko/n, a living being that congregates around the pole of the po/lij. The selfhood of the individual human being as its self-understanding in casting its own existence is thus also always a mode of togetherness. In this casting of self as a choosing of possibilities of existence, at first and for the most part, individual human being understands itself from how others cast themselves. Self-understanding or identity is to start with an approximation, a nearing of how others understand themselves. Identity is constituted by the individual appropriating certain options for existing as its own. These cast existential possibilities and its self-understanding are the same in the sense of belonging together, of Zugehörigkeit

    In adopting its self-understanding from a diffuse understanding of how others cast their existence, the individual comes to stand as a human being in its selfhood not in an independent standing but rather in a standing dependent upon others' self-castings. The standing of the self is at first and for the most part a leaning toward others' self-understandings and is thus dependent on these anonymous others. This is another way of putting the famous distinction in Sein und Zeit between Eigentlichkeit and Uneigentlichkeit, authenticity and inauthenticity, or propriateness and impropriateness. For in the investigation concerning who Dasein is, we read that "one is in the mode of non-self-standingness and inauthenticity". (Man ist in der Weise der Unselbständigkeit und Uneigentlichkeit. §27, SuZ:128) The "Man" is of course the anonymous anyone of average everyday life. At first and for the most part, the individual does not belong to its self but takes its stand in existence in leaning on others. It has not appropriated its self as its ownmost possibilities for existing which would give it an independent standing in the world. 

    This lack of self-standing is shown, for instance, in the phenomenon of Abständigkeit which is the first one addressed in the section on "everyday selfhood" in Sein und Zeit  (§27 SuZ:126). Notice that Abständigkeit is a kind of Ständigkeit which should be taken account of in any English translation. Abstand in modern German means simply 'distance' as a stand assumed away from (ab-) something else. Abständigkeit would thus have to be understood as the standing which the individual assumes in self-understanding relative to and with a distance from others' existentiell stands. The individual in its self-understanding in concerned about setting a distance between itself and the others and assessing whether it stands higher or lower than the others in its status. Or it is concerned with evening out its difference from the others in adapting itself to how 'things are done' in a given milieu, in a given situation or what have you. In any case, the individal's selfhood is dependent on the others. As an existential, Abständigkeit is the standing-offness of Dasein vis-à-vis others in measuring its own self-standing relative to their's.(5) This standing-offness is not necessarily stand-offishness, although this can be one of its phenomenal forms. In taking the measure for its own self-standing from others, the individual does not belong to itself but is rather tied to a hegemonic prevailing understanding of average existentiell possibilities. 

    The everyday self-standing of Dasein is a self-understanding derived from its absorption in taking care of everyday affairs. This taking-care-of (Besorgen) is based on an understanding of beings in the everyday world which lie before Dasein in their Vorhandenheit. Vorhandenheit is simply the mode of being of the things that are there in Dasein's quotidian purview, its everyday range of vision. Heidegger writes in Sein und Zeit

    Because however in this absorption in the world the phenomenon of world is skipped over; in its place step the beings standing there within the world (das innerweltlich Vorhandene), the things. The being of beings which are also there is grasped as extantness (Vorhandenheit) (§27 SZ:130) 
    Other Dasein, too, is understood from its everyday business, from what it takes care of in average daily life. Who another Dasein is is understood at first and for the most part from its 'occupation', from what it occupies itself with on a day-to-day basis, be it housewife, baker or stockbroker. And furthermore, the others bear proper names by which they are called and come to appearance along with the occupations through which they understand themselves and give others to understand who they are. So both self-understanding and the understanding of others is based on an implicit understanding of being as extantness. I have chosen the rather awkward word 'extantness' to render Vorhandenheit because in German Vorhandenheit, or rather the more usual Vorhandensein, means simply 'existence', but 'existence' is already reserved for the mode of being of Dasein. To say, for example in German that something 'ist in reichlicher Fülle vorhanden' means simply that 'there is an abundance of something'. The adjective 'extant' is the "present participle of ex(s)tare, to stand forth, be prominent, be visible, exist" (OED). And this etymology provides a clue to the deeper roots of what is meant in Sein und Zeit by the mode of being, Vorhandenheit. Extantness is namely the mode of being of ou)si/a as sunestw=ta and u(pokei/menon, i.e. standing presence. What implicitly and hiddenly underlies average everyday understanding and self-understanding in skipping over the phenomenon of the openness of world is the Greek sense of being as the beingness of beings, namely, standing presence.

    3. Enpropriated beings 

    The leap out of the first beginning entails the departure from standing presence as the founding experience of human being. Heidegger notes at the end of a long section in the Beiträge on the history of being: 
    That the truth of being and the ground of this truth remained hidden in the first beginning demands of an originary re-asking of the question of being the transition to the fundamental question: How does beyng essence? Only from this question and anew, the question: What is a being? (110. GA65:221)
    A first faint hint of an answer is provided in a later section: 
    Only from the originary essencing of truth is what is true determined and thus what beings are and that in such a way that now beings are no longer, but that beyng springs to 'beings'. Therefore in the other beginning of thinking, beyng is experienced as enpropriation and in such a way that this experience as enspringing transforms all relations to 'beings'. From now on, humans, i.e. the essential and few of this kind, must build their history out of Da-sein and that means beforehand that they effect beings from beyng to beings. Not only as previously, that beyng is something forgotten but ineluctably only pre-intended, but in such a way that beyng, its truth, itself bears each relation to beings. (130. GA65:248)
    Heidegger writes now 'beings' in scare quotes. What are beings sprung from the truth of beyng? Let us take an example. 

    I am in the supermarket doing the daily shopping and see fresh spinach from Italy on the vegetable stand. It looks good. If I bought some feta cheese I could make a spinach and cheese pie this evening. My life partner would like that for dinner with a glass of wine. 

    The fresh spinach from Italy is certainly a being and I, a particular Dasein, am able to understand it as such. It shows itself in my world. Its fresh green indicates that it would be good to eat. The spinach thus shows itself as a possibility of my existing together with my life partner. I share a domestic world with her which allows me also to share an evening meal. But for us to do this we must, prior to that, understand this common shared world in all its possibilities of jointly casting our shared existence. The casting of the possibility of an evening meal is there in me, as Dasein, standing out in the temporal space of the future. The spinach also indicates its origins. The label says it comes from Italy. The farmers who grew the spinach, the packers, the wholesale vegetable co-operative, the carrier, the supermarket workers, but also the agricultural implements, the trucks, the packing machines, the crates, etc. are all gathered in their absence in the presence of the spinach. All of those indicated by the spinach are, like me, Dasein. We share the openness of the truth of beyng in its temporal ecstasies. The earth where the spinach grew, the field with its insects and weeds, and the rain from the skies that filled the reservoirs from which the spinach fields were watered are also present in the spinach lying there on the vegetable stand. There seem to be no gods present in this spinach, and they are perhaps noticeable by their absence. One could be thankful for the possibility of eating it nevertheless and, prior to that, of even understanding this possibility, but in our prosaic everyday world nowadays, thanks are not given to the gods for each meal. 

    The other people and beings implicitly indicated by the spinach are not simply components of a supply chain that accounts for how the spinach was produced so that it could come to lie there on the vegetable stand, but rather, in the spinach whiles the wedding (Hochzeit) of sky and earth. The spinach "has wed the nourishment from the earth and the sun from the sky to each other"(6) and is thus a gathering of sky and earth that provides the possibility of nourishment for mortals. Mortals are those beings who stand in an open relationship to their own death and are thus able to die. We human beings are mortals; other beings do not die, but perish, for they do not stand in the open as a self in relation to its own death. But mortals are only properly mortals in relation also to the immortals, the gods "which elude any comparison with what is present" (GA79:17). 

    The spinach is thus only some thing as the gathering of the fourfold of earth and sky, mortals and immortals into a simple fold in which they while. The interplay of the fourfold is how the world opens as the mirroring of one into the other. The world is thus another name for the truth of beyng. In each individual being, the world whiles differently. Beings in this casting of the world of the other beginning are no longer what comes to stand in the defined outlines of their own look which they offer for looking at, i.e. for noei=n, fantasi/a, perceptio, Anschauung, representatio, Vorstellen, understanding, but rather beings, each in its own way, open and keep open the world-play of the simple fourfold. In this way, beings could become things for the first time in Western history. Each thing's thinging is a world-opening, and the openness of beyng gathers itself into a focus in each thing where it whiles. 

    Human beings, mortals, are open to the show of this whiling gathering and are affected by it as such. Not only do mortals understand the thing in its gathering, but they are affected by it also by way of a resonance with the situation in which the thing whiles. Human being is also an attunement with each world-opening of the fourfold. This does not mean that human being is now cast as irrational, i.e. outside the ratio of human being's understanding to the standing presence of beings in their looks, but that the ratio, or holding relation, of human being is first and foremost with the openness of beyng itself. Human beings are thus drawn as mortals into the mirroring world-play of the fourfold, are affected by it and so are also enquivered by enpropriation. 

      1. Martin Heidegger Beiträge zur Philosophie (Vom Ereignis) ed. F.-W. von Herrmann, Gesamtausgabe Band 65, Klostermann, Frankfurt/M. 1989. Martin Heidegger Contributions to Philosophy (From Enowning) trans. Parvis Emad and Kenneth Maly, Indiana University Press, Bloomington 1999. Back 

      3. Text on dust-cover of GA65. Back 

      5. GA65, following page: XVI. Back

      7. Martin Heidegger 'Vom Wesen und Begriff der fu/sij: Aristoteles, Physik B, 1' (1939) in Wegmarken Klostermann, Frankfurt/M. 2nd. ed.1978. Back 

      9. For more on how Dasein brings itself to stand as a 'who', cf. my Phänomenologie der Männlichkeit: kaum ständig noch Röll Verlag, Dettelbach 1999. Back 

      11. M. Heidegger, 'Das Ding' (1949) Bremer und Freiburger Vorträge GA79:11. Back 


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