The Role of Time in Heidegger Philosophy

Martin Heidegger created a new philosophical vocabulary and believes that humans are captives of tradition. The presuppositions we hold dear haven’t been thought through radically enough. A radical thinker, Heidegger digs down to the very root of our lived experience. His philosophy challenges us to think radically and critically about our existence. In doing so, Heidegger argues that we are part of the world but that we are not part of it.

Dasein’s being in the world

Heidegger defines Dasein as “being there” or “Being-in-the-world.” In contrast to the usual idea that being is an object, this idea is non-reductive, and Heidegger argued that “Being-in-the-world is itself an expression, and is thus incomparable with the object.” Heidegger’s ontology, based on the notion of Sorge, seeks to define the nature of the self in the context of its everydayness.

According to Heidegger, “Dasein” exists in two modes: an authentic and an inauthentic mode. In either mode, Dasein is distinct and unique from other entities. In other words, Heidegger says that “Being” is not pure consciousness, but rather a state of Being. In fact, Heidegger views the latter as a positive thing. Ultimately, this distinction is fundamental to Heidegger’s philosophy.

While Heidegger refers to Dasein as being both Dasein and not-Dasein, we should remember that the word “existence” has many translations in English, including “there is” and “there is the questioner.” The term “being” has many implications, but Heidegger reserves judgement on what it means to be ‘there’. In other words, being is a temporal condition.

Dasein’s capacity to have preunderstanding

The key to understanding the role of time in Heidegger’s philosophy is the understanding of time as a privileged condition of the human subject. Dasein, as a living subject, always projects into the future, where it will realize its preunderstanding. The petty distractions of everyday life, which seem to be the most valuable commodities in our lives, obstruct this project. Dasein’s capacity to have preunderstanding is the means by which he gains access to the essential question of being.

In this way, the being of everything else on earth is also an issue for man. Humanity deals with things and entities as ‘things.’ Only personhood can engage with other entities meaningfully. In this way, Dasein is able to encounter other entities in instrumental character. Hence, ‘to be an issue’ means to have a concern for something.

Dasein’s relationship to entities

In his book Being and Time, Heidegger emphasized that the defining characteristic of Dasein is its “special distinctiveness” in relation to entities. This distinction can be viewed as an extension of the philosophical concern with the ontological differences between entities. But does this relationship extend beyond the scope of positive science? Ultimately, this question may not be resolved in the present. We must look to a more general philosophical issue: how does Dasein relate to entities?

The first major theme of Being and Time is the premise that Dasein is temporal. This is the primordial meaning of Dasein, which Heidegger points out in Being and Time. This temporal character of Dasein is reflected in its tripartite ontology. It includes existence, which is a state of potentiality to be, and thrownness, which is an already-existing state in a particular environment.

Dasein’s relationship to the “das Man”

Dasein is the title Heidegger gives to the ontological structure and human being. It is this difference that alienates Dasein from the “das Man” or society. As such, Dasein is not able to fully satisfy its own concerns in a direct manner. Rather, it has to pass through the state of society that he is in, which is often not desirable for the individual Dasein.

Time is also seen in a different way. To be historical, Dasein lives as conditioned by who it was. It is “geschehen,” or “to be historically.” This happening is a continuation of the history of the universe. It also explains the world’s events and things, in so far as they are caught up in Dasein’s happening. This is a recurring theme in the philosophical discourse on time.