Heidegger’5 ‘Being and Time’
This is the second of three articles on Heidegger.
The ‘first traced Heidegger’s early development.
This second article analyses the argument of ‘Being
and Time’. The third will consider his later
career and assess his philosophy as a whole.
‘Being and Time’ was published in February
It appeared as the eighth volume of
‘Phenomenological Yearbooks’, a series
which Husserl had established as part of his
project in founding a phenomenological
The book was dedicated to Husserl
‘in friendship and admiration’.
was immediate: in no time at all it was a
best seller, widely discussed amongst
intellectuals of all persuasions.
indicative that in the following year a new
and purportedly radical philosophy journal
was launched in Berlin with a special issue
devoted to Heidegger’ s book (1) -.
In it the
young Herbert Marcuse hailed ‘Being and Time’
as the apogee of bourgeois philosophy (2).
To the audience which received Heidegger’s
work it seemed like a masterly synthesis
which unified and transcended all that was
most alive and urgent in contemporary
It teased out the core of
truth in Spengler; it gave spine to Jaspers’
Existenzphilosophie; it hauled Husserl’s
phenomenology out of the ivory tower and
made it relevant to the here-and-now. With
a superb sweep it reconciled phenomenology
and hermeneutics, contemptuously crushed
positivism (and by implication Marxism),
and transformed both neo-Kantianism and
It pulled out all that was best
in the classics, in the scholastic traditio~
and in the German Idealists of the last
Above all, by giving a coherent
philosophical account of the whole human
being, it represented a new beginning,
though one firmly based in tradition.
After it, none of the humane sciences
(Geisteswissenschaften) – from art history
to psychology, from history to theology could ever be the same again.
Science had to be viewed in a totally new
Heidegger had been working on material
for the book at least since 1920, when he
had tackled the ‘hermeneutic of factual
existence’ in his course on ‘pure phenomenology’ at Freiburg. He had clarified the
project of giving a phenomenological account
of the human individual in his unfinished
review of Jaspers’ book, and in the context
of Marburg theology tried to articulate how
this was related to the neglected Question
So when late in 1925 the chance
of a professorship came up, he hurriedly
c6mpleted the manuscript and solicited
Husserl’s help in rushing it into print (3).
Fifteen proof pages were not enough to
convince selectors that Heidegger was of
professorial calibre, but the job was done
and a few months later the book appeared.
Later, Husserl was to feel that he had been
conned, and his titular editorship abused,
since the book attempted to destroy all the
basic tenets of phenomenology as he had
Thp introduction of ‘Being and Time’
attempts to explain and justify his project
in the work.
The Question of Being has been
The initial insights of Plato
and Aristotle have been dissipated: we have
come to think of Being as simply the aggregate of things, instead of their transcendent unity.
In a sense we all ‘understand’
Being since we use the words ‘is’, ‘am’ etc:
but in no way are we able to articulate what
There is thus only one entity
in which the meaning of Being can be disclosed – man.
(By implication we must not
look to things or natural science to discover it.) It is to our own being that we
must look in order to discover the meaning
Heidegger decides to use the
term ‘Dasein’ (literally ‘being-there’) to
refer to human being. There is a fundamental interrelationship between Being
(Sein) and Dasein: a hermeneutic circle of
meaning is involved (p28) (4).
But the Question of Being is also of the
utmost concrete importance.
crises in the sciences, from maths and
physics to theology and the historical
‘Geisteswissenschaften’, arise because their
foundations are unclear.
What is necessary
is the clarification of the Being of the
entities they study.
(Husserl would have
said ‘of the essences of the ideas they
employ’.) Thus the Question of Being has
theoretical priority over all others.
But the Question also has a more practical
priority – at what Heidegger calls the
‘ontic’ rather than the ‘ontological’ level.
The ontic is our everyday understanding of
how we are and how Being is, which we demonstratein our ability to cope with the world.
It is the pre-theoretical understanding
whjch must be articulated.
Science is only
one amongst many human activities – and not
the most fundamental at that.
All activities involve a sort of self-understanding on
Dasein’s part which is actually constitutive
of its kind of Being.
The essence of Dasein
lies in its relatedness to Being and to
Heidegger reserves the term ‘existence’ to
Dasein’s kind of self-understanding being,
in contradistinction to ‘entities’ which
It is precisely because Dasein in all its
activities has an understanding of itself
and of Being, that the Question of Being has
a practical priority. Dasein understands
itself in terms of possibilities.
its existence either consciously or by
It can choose to be itself or not
itself (p33). The question of existence to
each Dasein is not mere theory, it is practical activity.
This is why the Question of
Being is important in everyday life: it is
the most important question of all, because
it must be lived through. Dasein’s existence has ana-priori structure which must be
analysed, and this ‘existential analytic’ is
the articulation of our own understanding of
how we are.
The world is a horizon within
which we find ourselves: Dasein is a ‘Beingin-the World’. Not only do we have a selfunderstanding, but we already have an understanding of things.
An ontology of things
is only possible through Dasein:so any
attempt to base Dasein’s being upon that of
things is utterly misconceived.
an essential tendency to understanding which
manifests itself through Dasein (p35).
What is missing from Heidegger’s turgid
academic prose is the gut of his concern
about Being. Earlier I said that this concern becomes intelligible only on the basis
of a quasi-religious experience: ‘Being’ is
something like ‘the presence of God in all
things’, for a man who thinks that the term
‘God’ is theoretically unjustified.
expresses itself through all things, but
‘appears’ only to man because only man has
the sort of understanding consciousness
which can recognise Being. Therefore my
being, as the means by which Being (Spirit)
appears and achieves self-understanding,
must be the starting point of the analysis
of Being (5).
In a sense there is a triadic
relationship: Being, which is unity, expresses itself through Dasein and through
Dasein is always related to things:
the world is its horizon.
(‘in their being’) only to Dasein. Thus
Dasein, as essentially a Being-in-the-World,
in itself expresses the unity of Being.
From Heidegger’s perspective, Husserl’s
concern with transcendental egos – chasing
the essences of ideas in an endless search
for certain knowledge – was, to coin a
The project having been described Heidegger
needs to justify his method. He approaches
this by way of a caveat. Because Dasein
always confronts the World, it has a permanent tendency to understand itself in terms
We are Dasein, but we see ourselves through the medium of ‘Worl~ and so
misunderstand ourselves. The method,
Heidegger argues, must therefore allow
Dasein to show itself as it is, not as our
preconceived ideas (derived from ‘science’)
would have us believe.
What is needed, in
other words, is a hermeneutic of everyday
existence – a sensitive interpretation of
the phenomena of ordinary experience. This
interpretation will reveal temporality (our
capacity for ‘having time’) as the fundamental structure of human existence. This
gives rise to historicality, the ability of
Dasein to have a past, and so understand
itself through tradition.
But in the
present investigation tradition blocks our
self-understanding because it has become
the embodiment of the interpretation of
Dasein as if it were a thing. This tradition, which is a false ontology, must be
destroyed. Only thus can the possibility
of authentic self-understanding, which was
obscurely anticipated by the Greeks, be
recovered (p4 7) .
The method to be employed can only be
In their conceptualization
of ‘phainomenon’ as self-disclosure, and
‘logos’ as articulated understanding, the
Greeks anticipated true phenomenological
method, which is ‘letting what is show
itself through language’.
When Husserl had got through the etymological mystifications of these pages (4963) the hairs on his neck must have stood
out like needles. At the end of it he read:
‘The following investigation would not (6)
have been possible if the ground had not
been prepared by Edmund Husserl, with
whose “Logical Investigations” phenomenology first emerged …. What is essential
in (phenomenology) does not lie in its
actuality as a philosophical “movement”.
Higher than actuality stands possibility.’
The ‘possibility’ turned out to be method.
But not method as Husserl knew it. Where
was the reduction to phenomena, the process
of imaginative variation to establish the
essences of ideas, the ‘bracketing’ of
reality? And what of all the work Husserl
had done in the 26 years since the ‘Investigations’. were published? Just ignored.
fact, Heidegger’s argument is that reality
cannot be bracketed – ontological commitment
is there from the first; that ontology precedes epistemology both theoretically and
practically; that phenomena do not appear
on the surface of things but are hidden by
everyday misinterpretations which must be
The implication is that Husserl’s
whole conception of philosophy is fundamentally wrong; that in fact Husserl’s
focussing upon consciousness presupposed a
mind/matter dualism; that in other words
Husserl too was victim of the false ontology which the tradition had handed down
Thus his philosophy (his
positive doctrines rather than his method)
were also ripe for destruction.
other readers, however, Heidegger, as the
recognised heir of the little published and
less read Husserl, had glossed the meaning
of phenomenology, and identified it with
Method disposed of, Heidegger explains
that his whole treatise is to deal with the
analysis of Dasein, the explication of time
as the horizon of Being, and the destruction
of the ontological tradition concentrating
on Kant, Descartes and Aristotle.
first of these topics is dealt with in the
The other sections were
never completed (7).
Note on terminology.
thinks that the whole of the western philosophical tradition since the Greeks has been
corrupt (8), he deliberately avoids its
He therefore has to construct
a completely new terminology which often
parallels the old: thus ‘subject’ or ‘ego’
is replaced by ‘Dasein’, which is not said
to be a ‘consciousness’ but to have ‘mineness’; ‘object’ is replaced by ‘presenceat-hand’, etc. etc.
In constructing new
terminology he exploits ordinary German for
all it is worth, because he believes that
German, as the most ‘spiritual’ of modern
languages, has truths buried within it (9).
Unlike Husserl, for example, he is extremely
precise in his use of terms.
He needs to be
because language, as properly used and understood, is the (self-) expression of Being.
The Analysis of Existence
We are the entities to be analysed (p67).
In each case the Being of the entity is
mine; that is, it is not like an object (or
‘thing present-at-hand’) with properties.
It is potentiality.
I can either seize the
‘mineness’ of my existence, and become
authentic (10): or I can ‘lose’ it in being
We shall see that inauthenticity is motivated by the anguish which being
Regarding myself as
object-like is an essential part of inauthentic existence.
In analysing human existence, then, we
are laying bare how man already understands
himself to be.
Existence is structured.
Heidegger uses the term ‘existentials’ to
describe these structures (11): they parallel ‘categories’ which apply only to things.
So for example ‘spatiality’ is an existential; ‘space’ is a category.
Dasein is always already in the world,
prior to philosophizing or to any other
of Being-in-the-World is a unitary phenomenon.
In thought, I can subsequentJy
detach ‘consciousness’ from ‘world’, or
consider ‘world’ without ‘consciousness’ but only on the basis of that prior, lived
‘Being-in’, then, is the first
existential, or fundamental structure of
But my experience of Being-in-theWorld is not like my experience of an object
in a box.
The World surrounds and envelops
me, as an environment of which I am a part.
To conceive of human being as a thing in
the world of things is to attempt to stand
outside the totality – which can never be
done except in thought.
It is to look upon
my own existence as if it were not my own,
i.e. to be inauthentic.
Dasein, however, is not just ‘there’ in
It is always related to it in a
particular way; and what characterises all
such particular ways of relating to the
world is concern.
I care about the way
things are, I am interested in what will
So concern is another existential
At this point (p87) Heidegger comes clean.
He has been opposing ‘being’ to ‘knowing’.
‘Knowing’, he claims, is founded upon
already ‘being’ in the world (12).
not encounter Dasein primarily as a knowable
object, something other than ourselves.
Rather, we are it.
In all our practical
activity we are concernfully engaged with
things in a world which surrounds us.
the corrupt philosophical tradition misinterprets what we know in our lives to be
We are portrayed as disinterested,
‘pure’ consciousnesses trying to know the
world of objects, with which we are not
Praxis is treated as
if it were a deficient mode of knowing;
whereas in reality knowing is a mode of
praxis, deficient in pretending to be disengaged.
In short, ontology must precede
Worldhood and the World
Not only are we already in the world, but
things are to~ They are not experienced
as contextless objects: they emerge out of
a totality. But experience of the World as
totality is itself based on our capacity to
have that experience – our ‘Worldhood’ is
another ‘existential’ structure of Dasein.
Initially (or rather ‘primordially’) we
encounter things in our practical activity
They emerge out of an undifferentiated background in ways which are dependent
upon what we are doing. Things are primarily tools or equipment: even things like
earth and sky are experienced by the peasant
as the ‘equipment’ of his work.
It is only
when things in some way negate our activities (the nail bends, the hammer is missing)
that they stand out ‘in themselves’ as objects. Thus the encounter with things as
objects which are just ‘there’ (things
present-at-hand), is based upon a more
fundamental practical involvement with
things as tools (things ready-to-hand).
Western epistemology falsely reverses this
In our practical activity the world is
meaningful (and, of course, valuable): it is
a totality of references which is structured
by our work.
Work moves towards the future,
to a significant end-product which in its
turn refers beyond itself. All work refers
essentially to the other people with whom
I share the world. The very structure of
significance which all practical activity
contains, collapses without the other
people to whom it relates (p100).
The world as an environment which
surrounds me is spatial in character. But
as I experience it at work it is not the
neutral, three-dimensional space of scientific accounts.
It has dimensions: but the
first of these is the near-far dimension.
I experience the bench in front of me as
much closer than the wall behind me, irrespective of their measurable distance from
me in ‘objective’ space.
My space has
directions – but its directions are ‘up’,
‘down’, ‘left’, ‘right’, and not abstractions like ‘north’ and ‘south’. Nor are my
directions to be dismissed as ‘subjective’.
They could not belong to some ideally
‘worldless’ subject: as characteristics of
my lived experience they predate any conceptualization of ‘subject’ and ‘object’
The world as I live and work in it, then,
refers essentially to other people.
practice I do not encounter them as things
with some ‘soul substance’ added, and certainly not as objects about whose conscious-
ness I am fundamentally uncertain.
encounter them as others like myself, about
whom I am concerned in a way quite different
from my ‘concern’ with objects (p157).
inauthentic everyday existence this concern
may take the ‘deficient’ form of ‘indifference’.
But this must always be contrasted
with the possibility of genuinely ‘beingtogether’ ( 14 ) .
Turning now to everyday existence we find
that inauthenticity is the norm: that is,
I conceive of others and of myself in an
The ‘impersonal’ mode
of discourse, ‘One does this; one doesn’t
do that’, sums up this objectification of
self: Dasein thinks of itself as if it were
another. But this ‘other’ is no particular
other person: it is an abstraction which
prevents genuine encounter with others or,
more importantly, with self. The particular
other person is taken not as himself, but as
the expression of this impersonal, abstracted ‘norm’.
Worse, I think of myself in
terms of what ‘one’ does, thinks or says which is essentially, an evasion of my
responsibility for creating myself (15).
Yet the phenomena of everyday experience
point the way to a more adequate understanding of Dasein, if only they are correctly
interpreted. Mood has consistently been
ignored or degraded in the intellectualization of Dasein in the Western tradition.
But such feeling (which can never be avoided) is only the experience of my concernful
relationship to the world. Moreover, I
always have an understanding of myself as
projected towards the future: I understand
that in choosing this activity I am also
making something of myself. And this understanding articulates itself in language
which, as discourse, is a primordial structure of human existence (and another existential).
We are speaking of language as
praxis, both utterance and hearing; and not
of language as a closed, static system – a
sort of object.
But the authentic articulation of self
in genuine discourse is not what normally
We chatter away (p211), more concerned with the togetherness of talking than
the truth of what is being said. Our seeing
too is distorted.
We look desperately for
the novel, the trivial, the superficial: we
have a curiosity which is idle.
In consequence we end up relating to each other in
ways which are fundamentally ambiguous: we
cannot distinguish the genuine from the
In brief, everyday Dasein gets lost in a
publicness which is characterized by objectification – aided and abetted by philosophy.
This publicness is a running away from the
authentic possibilities of self – an attempt
to escape responsibility. The constant
dashing around on the basis of what ‘one
does’ is a desperate attempt to ‘tranquilize’ oneself into believing that one leads
a full and active life.
It is a ‘falling’
into the world (p291): in practice one experiences a self-alienation, and is driven
to obsessive and fruitless (because ungrounded) self-dissection (16).
Anxiety, Death and Conscience
This flight from self does not work. When
we attempt it, the result is anxiety.
Unlike fear, anxiety is non-specific: what it
really expresses is our concern about our
Symptomatically it is the experience of not being at home in the world:
our anxiety permeates everything and drags
us back from our lostness in the world of
It makes me realise that I am not
just ‘another’ for myself: my existence is
my own and I cannot live it as if I were not
responsible for it.
In this sense anxiety
is positive: it indicates my possibility of
being authentic, and of not running away
The foregoing account of how Dasein
actually is has not really revealed it in
its potentialities, nor as a coherent whole.
What became clear in looking at everyday
Dasein was that it was incomplete and avoiding its true possibilities. Practically
activity is essentially oriented towards the
In a sense, then, our Being-in-theWorld is never complete before death.
as w~ shall see, we can achieve wholeness
before death; and death, of itself, does not
necessarily complete Dasein’s existence.
The importance of Death, which is the negation of human existence, is that in coming
to terms with it I have to consider my
existence both as potentially complete, and
as inalienably mind.
I have to die for myself.
In anything else others can stand in
for me, or I can present myself as standing
in for others.
Not so in my dying.
therefore individuates. The thought of
death can be positive.
If I now start living my life as what I am – namely, a being
which is going to die, then I can conceive
of a completeness which will qualitatively
transform the here-and-now.
I can no longer
be content with my previous dissipation in
false publicness. The result is liberation:
freedom towards death (p311).
Conscience is what reveal~ to us the
actual possibility of being authentic.
guilt over this or that, but our very capacity to have a conscience.
‘calls’ to us, it is really our true self
protesting at our lostness in the public
Dasein, in its very being, is guilty,
since it is permeated through and through
with nothingness (p322) (17).
It is not
what it is, since it is thrown into a situation not of its own making: and it is what
it is not, since it constantly projects
itself~wards unrealised future possibilities.
Existential guilt is the ‘not’ at the
heart of Dasein without which empirical
guilt would not be possible (18).
Conscience, in this positive sense, cannot be
reduced to a set of impersonal rules, applicable to anyone.
Conscience, through my existential guilt,
reveals both the nothingness at the heart of
my being, and the possibility of facing this
I must therefore look forward
to death (‘anticipate’ it) resolutely.
authentic anticipation can bring about a
‘moment of vision’ – a ‘resolute rapture
with which Dasein is carried away to whatever possibilities and circumstances are
encountered in the si tuat ion’ (p387) (19).
The constant temptation of falling back into
inauthenticity means we must always be
repeating the anticipation of death in order
to secure new moments of vision.
Perhaps we should pause here, and ask what
on earth Heidegger thinks he is up to.
answer is, exactly what he said ~e was up to
– a hermeneutic of everyday existence, to
reveal its essential, a priori structures.
He is letting the ‘phenomena’, such as conscience, guilt etc. (not Husserl’s perspectival views of physical objects) show themselves as they are in themselves.
showing is necessarily hermeneutic interpretation.
My self-conception, which the individuating
thought of death forces into focus as a
potential unity, is based upon care.
care expressed in our concern with things in
the work situation, and in our different concern with others in interpersonal encounters;
but we see it revealed most starkly in our
self-caring in the face of death.
caring is a fundamental structure of human
existence (suppressed in the epistemological
tradition) which unifies the temporality of
Primarily it refers to the future
which I might become, but in assessing that
it must take into account the past which I
have been; and both future potentiality and
past actuality are expressed through the
things present to me now.
(Future) possibilities, (past) actualities, and the presence of things before me now are structures
of my (finite) temporality – the lived
experience upon which any conception of
‘time’ as an infinite aspect of the world
must be based.
This discovers for us the most fundamental of all the existential structures of
Dasein – its temporality.
Dasein is like a
clearing in the ‘forest’ of Being which care
This light of concern falls on
things and brings them to visibility in
accordance with our purposive activity.
Things are thus made present on the basis
of a recollected past for the purpose of an
At this point (p409) Heidegger’s sharp
distinction between things experienced
practically as tools (primordial), and things
viewed theoretically as objects (secondary),
begins to waver and crack. After all, he
concedes, even the craftsman is not without
a theoretical interpretation of his work;
and even the theoretical scientist sometimes
has to descend to the practicalities of doing
So in a sense the world is
transcendent to both the practical and the
needs the world as its place in which to be:
the ‘there’ of Being-there (Dasein). But
without Dasein no world would appear. And
only the horizons of Dasein’s temporarity
can unify the world through its temporal
ways of standing out.
In face of a past,
for the sake of a future whjch is Dasein’s,
the present takes on the character of an
‘in order to’.
must constantly evaluate the heritage which
is left to it in the everyday world. My
individual fate cannot be isolated from the
broader destiny of a people (Volk) – which
is more than just the sum of its parts.
In returning authentically to history as
something living I re-live it.
The significance of authentic history is that it gives
me models, on the basis of which I am able
to appreciate my lostness in the public
In doing so I am attempting to
repeat in my own time the moment of vision
vouchsafed to me in the great works of the
Thus the study of history, if authentically undertaken, is the study of the
recurrence of the possible. ‘It was
Dilthey’s follower, Yorck, who recognised
that if history was to be properly based on
the historicality of individual Dasein a
new ontology was necessary.
So, we arrive at last at the problem of
Time is an elemental feature of the
world which precedes any encounter with
things either as tools or as objects.
Language, in which understanding is articulated, is utterly permeated by temporal
Time is not thjng-like. Primitively it appears in relation to action; we
take time, have time etc. The concept of
objective clock-time has neutralised our
experience of duration: it is part of the
everyday flight from the inevitability of
Hegel had intimations of the essential connection between time and ‘spirit’,
but he never got beyond the conception of
time as a sequence of ‘nows’.
Heidegger finishes lamely,
‘We cannot as yet discuss whether Hegel’s
interpretation of time and spirit, and
the connection between them is correct
and rests on foundations which are
ontologically primordial.’ (p486)
Here the book terminates abruptly with a
couple of transitional pages which promise
in the (unpublished) next section to thematize the problem of Being on the basis of
There is strong
evidence to suppose that Heidegger was
unable to do that.
Our accJunt of Dasein’s temporality is incomplete. Death we have considered, but not
birth, and not what unifies everything
between the two.
The philosophical tradition looks to a ‘self’ as a sort of object
which somehow has to aggregate a sequence of
neutral ‘now’ experiences. My experience is
not like that.
My existence stretches
itself out into the future, making its
My historicality, which is based
upon the temporality of my existence, is the
foundation without the Geisteswissenschaften
(the historical sciences of man) could never
The ‘historicality’ of things derives
from their being the artefacts left to us
by Daseinen which have gone.
understood in their primordial nature as
tools, are historical in their very being.
Dasein, in working out its concrete praxis,
Works listed in order of composition
‘Being and Time’, Blackwell, 1962
‘Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics’,
Indiana UP, 1962
‘The Essence of Reasons’, Northwestern UP, 1969
‘What is Metaphysics?’, in EB & BW – see below
‘On the Essence of Truth’, in EB & BW – see below
‘Introduction to Metaphysics’, Doubleday Anchor,
‘The Origin of a Work of Art’, in BW & PLT – see
‘Basic Writings’, Harper Row, 1977
‘Existence and Being’ (ed. W Brock), Regnery,
‘Poetry, Language, Thought’, Harper Row 1971
Sartre, J P
‘Ideas’ AlIen & Unwin, 1931
‘Logicai Investigations’ 2 vols. Routledge and
Kegan Paul, 1970
‘Contribution to a Phenomenology of Historical
Materialism’, Telos 4, Fall 1969, pp3-34
‘Being and Nothingness’, Methuen, 1969
‘A Critique of Authenticity’, Radical Philosophy
The rushed completion is apparent in the text.
The last two
chapters are full of unfinished discussions, postponements,
and at one point four pages of barely digested quotation
Unattributed page references are to the Macquarrie and
Robinson translation of ‘Being and Time’, published by
I put the term ‘Spirit’ in brackets, not because Heidegger
overtly equates Being with Spirit, but because the Hegelian
undertone is always there. See, for example, B&T, p480ff;
IM, p37, etc.
The English translation has a misprint here.
It is clear that most of the material Heidegger had intended
for the other sections was eventually published (e.g. KPM,
ER, ET, WM, IM).
What he never pursued was any systematic
The rot set in with the Romans, who simply could not understand the subtlety of Greek thought and debased it by their
translations into Latin (OWA, p23).
See IM, p47.
Heidegger exploits the German: my existence is necessarily my
‘own’ (eigen); if I recognise it as such I become ‘authentic’
He in fact uses the expression very loosely.
It is extremely
unclear h~w existentials are to be identified, how they are
interrelated, and how they combine into some structural whole.
Ironically, he is taking Husserl’s concept of a ‘founded
mode’ (see the ‘Logical Investigations’) and turning it against
It should be clear by now that what Heidegger means by ‘world’
is essentially ‘lived-world’ – the ‘Lebenswelt’ of Dilthey
and latterly Husserl.
Heidegger is not envisaging reciprocal relationships.
my article in RP21.
Macquarrie and Robinson use the word ‘they’ to translate
Heidegger’s ‘man’ – the impersonal form of the verb. The
deficiency of-rhis translation is that ‘they’ specifically
excludes me, while ‘man’ specifically includes me.
have preferred to translate it as ‘one’.
A reference to the then newly popular psycho-analysis, amongst
Nichtigkeit. Macquarrie and Robinson translate it as ‘nullity’
Cf. Sartre, ‘Being and Nothingness’, I, Ch.1; also Husserl,
Note that Heidegger does not specify how this ‘rapture’
enables us to recognize possibilities.
Male Fantasies · Capitalism – Sexism – Fascism
Klaus Theweleit, M~nnerphantasien, Vol.1,
Frankfurt-a-M., 1977, Vol.2, ibid. 1978.
NOT: he made the earth subject to him
because he could not have his mother (as
Freud says), BUT: he returned to his
mother because he was not allowed to use
the earth productively.
Both parts of a new book on Fascism have
been out in West Germany for over a year now
and have been the subject of enthusiastic
discussion second only to the response given
to Rudolf Bahro’s work.
It is something we
should know about in Britain. Klaus
Theweleit, the author, belongs to the student movement generation of the late sixties
and became known almost overnight when he
published his thesis on male fantasies, on
the psychology and sexual imagery of fascism.
‘We have been asking those who say they
understood all about Fascism (but who did
not have the ability to defeat it) too many
questions, and asking the Fascists themselves too few’, says Theweleit.
many a tome from the German Left, his ideas
are guided less by programmatic theory than
by pointed aphorisms, of which he has invented many, providing quotable quotes for
The lack of theorising is
Theweleit’s thoughts have
an urgency which has made people feel the
need to come to terms with them.
made a personal, and not just an intellectual, impact on those in Germany who, like
Theweleit himself, need to understand their
own fathers – all the little nazis of their
parents’ generation. He wants to understand
Fascism through the Fascists. Perhaps he
makes one common but questionable assumption
right from the beginning, namely that they
were all men.
The book consists of two volumes.
grew out of an essay on the white terror of
anti-republican forces during the revolu-
tionary struggles which took place in
Germany between 1918 and 1920, the year of
the Kapp Putsch. These were the German
equivalent to the Black and Tans, being
volunteer brigades formed from the remnants
of the Wilheminian army.
For the political
destiny of the Weimar Republic it was crucial that these men were professional soldiers who were literally unemployed and looking for work, not just revenge, at a time
when the Treaty of Versailles restricted the
size of the German Army. What Theweleit is
interested in is that their social position
as professional soldiers was also their
They had been bred
to live in an archetypally male world.
Looking at the psyches of a number of officers
from these brigades (the Freikorps) through
biographies and novels they wrote themselves
or which were written about them~ Theweleit
traces how completely they were blocked off
from the reality of women, how they had to
imagine women in one or another stereotype
in order to perceive them at all.
figures he takes from the Freikorps include
two men who later went entirely different
ways: Rudolf H~ss joined the SA after his
brigade was disbanded by law and his career
ended with him running Ausschwitz; at the
other extreme, Martin Niem~ller abandoned
the military life to study theology and
spent the years between 1937 and 1945 in
Theweleit found clues
for these careers in the archetypes of women
which appear in their writings.
for them have entered the language of the
Left in Germany to signify ways if viewing
On the side of the Whites women
appear as nurses, mothers and sisters
devoid of sexual identity and personality;
on the side of the Reds they are seen as
castrating amazons and whores, whose sexual
independence is synonymous with the political aggression of the enemy.