Fleshing out Heidegger’s Mitsein
作者: Robert D. Stolorow / 3669次阅读 时间: 2014年7月12日
来源: academia.edu 标签: Stolorow

Fleshing out Heidegger’s Mitsein

Irene McMullin,Time and the Shared World: Heidegger on Social Relations, Northwestern University Press, Evanston, IL, 2013,$34.95, xiv + 291 pp + index

Robert D. Stolorow

Published online: 15 February 2014

Hum Stud (2014) 37:161–166

DOI 10.1007/s10746-014-9309-1?Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

A number of commentators, myself included (Critchley 2002; Olafson 1998; Stolorow2011; Vogel 1994), have perceived a certain thinness in Martin Heidegger’s (1962 / 1927)conceptionof‘‘Being-with’’(Mitsein),the existential structure that under pins the capacity for relationality, and have suggested a number of ways in which it might be expanded. Irene Mc Mullin’s (2013) approach to such a fleshing out is quite a unique one, and I found it to be both persuasive and valuable. Reading Heidegger as a transcendental phenomenologist concerned with the first-person experience of meaning, she finds the basis for an enriched depiction of Dasein-to-Daseinrelationshipsin Heidegger’s account of Dasein’s originary or ecstatic temporality. Specifically, she wants to show that individualized interpersonal encounters entail the mutualrecognition of the particularity of each participant’s temporalizing way of Being-in-the-world, and, controversially, that such mutual recognition occurs even within themode of everydayness governed by the conventional interpretedness of das Man.Heideggerian intersubjectivity is made possible, she contends, by each Dasein’s particularized originary temporality expressing itself in a heedful  accommodation to the particularized ecstatic temporality of the other Dasein.

The early chapters laying the groundwork for McMullin’s argument could easilyserve as a clearly written, reader-friendly introduction toBeing and Time(Heidegger 1962 /1927) and other works by Heidegger of the same period. Shedeftly explicates Heidegger’s conception of self as a way of being characterized byan embeddedness in, an openness to, and a directedness toward a worldly context of meaning and significance—that is, as a Being-in-the-world. She shows how, inHeidegger’s vision, this caring engagement with the world is made possible by anarray of constitutive existential structures—such as thrownness into a world,projection of possibilities, conventional norms of everyday interpretedness (das Man), and the first-personal givenness or mineness of all lived experience. Most important for McMullin’s purposes is Heidegger’s insistence that Being-in-the-world is always a Being-with (Mitsein) others.

A gainst Sartre’s (2001 /1943) contention that, because Heidegger is concernedonly with defining Being-with as an a priori existential structure, he cannot explainhow this way of being is contingent upon encounters with actual particular others,McMullin wants to show that Heidegger on the contrary gives us (undeveloped)resources with which to account for concrete encounters between individual Dasein.Indeed, warming my interdisciplinary heart, she interprets Heidegger’sMitseinas‘‘an ontological dimension that is ultimately dependent on ontic encounters’’ (p. 76).Ontic interpersonal encounters, in McMullin’s interpretation of Heidegger’sviewpoint, are ontologically revelatory. Ontological/existential structures such asMitseinare rooted in Dasein’s way of being as transcending toward the world,which, in turn, is grounded in Dasein’s finite originary or ecstatic temporality.Being-with, McMullin reasons, can therefore be understood as a mode of opennessto the particular temporality of other Dasein. Because, according to Heidegger, thestructure of care is grounded in Dasein’s originary temporality, temporality is the‘‘horizon in terms of which both things and other Dasein are able to showthemselves as themselves’’ (p. 105).


Heidegger demonstrated that the meaning or ground of care—Dasein’s way of pursuing its ability or potentiality to be through its practical dealings with entities inthe world—is originary temporality. Such temporality isecstaticin that each of itsthree dimensions (past, present, future) transcends itself and points to the other two.Every present ‘‘now’’ carries the past and leans into future possibilities. Humanexistence as a whole is seen as a stretching along between birth and the possibilityof death. Although the three ecstases form a unity, pressing into future ‘‘can-be’s’’ isprimary in Heidegger’s view of human existing. McMullin suggests that the threedimensions of the care structure (as importantly modified by her) map onto the threeecstases of originary temporality—thrownness onto the past, projection onto thefuture, and, in a brilliant move, Being-with onto the originary present in whichentities in the world, including other Dasein, are encountered. The originary present,she contends—the space opened up by the tension between pastness and futurity—makes possible both the Being-with dimension of Dasein’s care structure andparticular ontic Dasein-to-Dasein encounters. In the originary present, Dasein’stemporality expresses itself to other Dasein—the discourse in which Being-with isdisclosed.

In what I found to be a remarkable analysis, McMullin finds the basis for Dasein-to-Dasein encounters in Heidegger’s account of the evolution of originarytemporality into publicly or intersubjectively shared world time. Inter-Daseinencounters, she argues, co-constitute world time. Such co-constitution is madepossible because each ‘‘individual now-saying is always already an openness to thenow-saying of other Dasein’’ (p. 126). This is so because the establishment of shared standards or norms, binding for everyone, through which there can be acollective reckoning with time, presupposes that Dasein’s temporalizing now-sayingaccommodates itself to the now-saying of other Dasein. The mutually accommo-dating encounter of finite originary temporalities is the condition of possibility of the constitution of intersubjectively shared world time.

On the basis of this analysis, McMullin concludes that other Dasein can beencountered in two modes at once and in varying degrees. On one hand, weencounter others, in the mode of Mitda-sein, as innerworldly entities, understood interms of the conventional interpretedness and anonymous norms prescribed bydas Man. Additionally—and McMullin contends that this is the case even ineverydayness—we always encounter others, in the mode of Mitsein, as individu-alized now-saying, temporalizing beings ‘‘co-constituting the world’’ (p. 140).

Whereas her demonstration that individualized Dasein are encountered in theparticularity of their temporalizing now-saying seemed very persuasive to me, I waspuzzled by McMullin’s contention such encounters entail the recognition of othersas co-constituting the world. The co-constitution of world time by mutuallyaccommodating originary temporalities would seem to me to be a collective andworld-historical process, not a characteristic of each Dasein-to-Dasein encounter inthe originary now. Heidegger famously claimed that we are always already throwninto a world of shared meanings. The later Heidegger contended that such worlds of meaning are constituted in the world-historical event that he namedEreignis(2012 / 1989). How can such a world then be said to be co-constituted in particular inter-Dasein encounters in the originary present?

My puzzlement lifted somewhat when I remembered the last chapter of RichardPolt’s (2006) book onEreignis, in which he extended Heidegger’s concept to onticcrises in individual lives. Such emergencies—emotional traumas, for example—canbe reinterpretive events in which new worlds of emotional meaning take form.Perhaps it is in this sense that individual Dasein can be said to be experiential-world-constituting. Nevertheless, in my view, McMullin’s argument would not beweakened, and might even be strengthened, if she spoke of ontic inter-Daseinencounters only in terms of the particular Dasein’s ‘‘temporalizing now-saying,’’leaving out ‘‘world-constituting’’.

The final two chapters of McMullin’s book, devoted toFu¨rsorgeor solicitude, areatour de force.Fu¨rsorgeis Heidegger’s term for a mode of care specific toencountering other Dasein. All forms of solicitude, McMullin contends, entailrecognition of other Dasein as beings defined by originary temporality and, thus, asontologically distinct from things. In this heedful recognition of the otherasDasein,as a ‘‘who’’ rather than a ‘‘what,’’ and, thus, as an end in itself, Heideggeriansolicitude bears a close similarity to Kant’s concept of respect, and it carries ethicalimplications insofar as the other’s personhood and alterity make an immediate claim.

Heidegger (1962 /1927) distinguishes between two modes of solicitude—inauthentic and authentic. With regard to solicitude in the inauthentic mode:It can, as it were, take away ‘care’ from the Other and put itself in his positionin concern;

it can leap in for him. This kind of solicitude takes over for theOther that with which he is to concern himself …. In such [inauthentic]solicitude the Other can become one who is dominated and dependent….(158)

In contrast to this, there is also the possibility of a kind of [authentic]solicitude which does not so much leap in for the Other as leap ahead of him inhis existentiell potentiality-for-Being, not in order to take away his ‘care’ but rather to give it back to him authentically as such for the first time. This kindof solicitude pertains essentially to authentic care—that is, to the [authentic]existence of the Other, not to a ‘‘what’’ with which he is concerned; it helpsthe Other…to become free for [his authentic care]…. [Authentic solicitude]frees the Other in his freedom for himself …. [It] leaps forth and liberates.(158f.)

Following Heidegger (1962 /1927), McMullin pictures leaping-in and leaping-ahead, not as mutually exclusive alternatives, but as the extreme ends of acontinuum of inauthenticity and authenticity. The way she spells out the relationalphenomenology of this continuum is brilliant. At one extreme (inauthenticity), theother is treated solely as an innerworldly and intratemporal thing, in terms of avulgar conception of time that conceals the recognition of the other’s ecstaticoriginary temporality. At the other extreme (authenticity), there is full recognitionof the other’s temporalizing mineness or selfhood. Whereas in leaping-in others areexperienced as interchangeable, in leaping-ahead others are acknowledged andaffirmed in their temporal particularity and individuating mineness. In McMullin’sview, everyday encounters fall somewhere in the middle of theFu¨rsorgecontinuum, but there is a constant temptation to fall into inauthenticity.

Heidegger (1962 /1927) identifies three phenomena in which Dasein attests to andinstantiates authentic existing, each corresponding to one of the three modes of disclosedness of Being-in-the-world:Angst , existential anxiety (a form of Befindlichkeit , disclosive affectivity), Being-toward-death (a formVerstehen,understanding, or projecting of future possibilities), and conscience (a form of Rede, discourse). WhereasAngst and authentic or owned Being-toward-deathdisclose the finitude and contingency of our temporal existing, conscience calls orsummons us to acknowledge the mineness and particularity of our temporalizingexistence, to hold ourselves accountable and responsible for the ways we press intoindividualized possibilities for being, and, in short, to choose choosing. AsMcMullin (2013) aptly puts it, ‘‘the call of conscience is the normative injunctionthat I live in the light of the way of being that I have to be, rather than fleeing it intothingly-interpretations’’ (p. 215).

I particularly appreciated McMullin’s rich explication of how, in leaping-ahead,one Dasein can serve as the call of conscience for another. She describes suchsolicitude as an anticipatory, reticent, loving concern that enables, nurtures, andshelters the other’s authentic care and lets the other be. Her ontic example is veryinstructive, and so I quote it at some length:

An example will help us illustrate the manner in which everyday behaviorscan manifest this mode of Fu¨rsorgein which I act as a summons to the other tolive fully into his being. My nephew and I are going to the park. He is justlearning how to tie his shoes, and as I watch him struggle with the task, I findmyself increasingly motivated to take the thick awkward laces from his littlehands and do it myself …. But as I watch him struggle, I admire his sheer willto achieve this ability in spite of continued frustrating setbacks and I restrainmyself from taking this opportunity to practice from him…because Irecognize—and desire to nurture—his existence in its wholeness. I do not leap in and take over this careful struggle to be from him—I hold myself back in atype of restraint that is nevertheless characterized by a hovering attentiveness,a silent co-willing, an expressive encouragement and recognition of hisstruggle. (p. 227)

There is something entailed in McMullin’s attentive and patient holding herself back so as to allow her nephew to take his own time—a crucially importantsomething that she does not explicitly name. Her nephew’s struggle was a strugglewith his experience of limitedness, i.e., finitude, which is brought into theforeground by any attempt to learn a new skill. The confrontation with finitude wasdisclosed by whatever painful emotions—frustration, discouragement, fear of failing, etc.—accompanied her nephew’s struggle. In relation to those painfulfeelings, McMullin, in her leaping-ahead, was able to assume a comportment that Icallemotional dwelling. She provided a context of attentive emotional understand-ing, what I call arelational home, for the painful emotions, rather than trying to ridher nephew, and herself, of them. These concepts of emotional dwelling andrelational home are the ‘‘something’’ that post-Cartesian psychoanalysis (Stolorow2011) can add to the fleshing-out of Heidegger’s conceptions of Being-with ingeneral and of authentic solicitude in particular. Here is a passage exemplifying myown effort at such a fleshing-out:

Reticent, authentic solicitude, in Heidegger’s account, frees the other for his orher authentic care—that is, to exist authentically, for the sake of his or herownmost possibilities of Being. But recall that, for Heidegger, being free forone’s ownmost possibilities also always means being free for one’s uttermostpossibility—the possibility of death—and for the existential anxiety thatdiscloses it. So if we are to leap ahead of the other, freeing him or her for hisor her ownmost possibilities of Being, we must also free him or her for anauthentic Being-toward-death and for a readiness for the anxiety that disclosesit. Therefore, according to my claims about the contextuality of emotional life,we must Be-with—that is, attune to—the other’s existential anxiety and otherpainful affect states disclosive of his or her finitude, thereby providing thesefeelings with a relational home in which they can be held, so that he or she canseize upon his or her ownmost possibilities in the face of them. Is not suchattunement to the other’s emotional pain a central component of friendship orlove? Authentic solicitude can indeed be shown to entail one of theconstitutive dimensions of deep human bonding, in which we value thealterity of the other as it is manifested in his or her own distinctive affectivity.(2011: 75)

Both McMullin’s and my own expansions of Heidegger’s Being-with holdsignificant ethical implications. My efforts point toward an ethics of finitude:

Authentic Being-toward-death is a condition for the possibility of authenticsolicitude because it makes possible a reciprocal co-disclosure of our commonfinitude—the existential ground of what I have called our emotional kinship in the same darkness. Such emotional kinship, in turn, must surely, as LawrenceVogel (1994) suggests, have significant ethical implications insofar as it motivates us, or even obligates us, to care about and for our brothers’ an dsisters’ existential vulnerability and emotional pain. (2011: 77f.)

McMullin’s (2013) expansion points in a Levinasian direction:

Insofar as the other is present as a partner on the most basic levels of temporalizing worldliness—and can act as asummonsto my desire and abilityfor consistency and self-awareness—the other’s claim that I heed hertemporalizing presence appears to be at least equiprimordial with Dasein’scare for its own appropriateness in being. (p. 234)

I think McMullin’s and my own expansive efforts complement each other nicely.I foundTime and the Shared World to be a highly illuminating and worthwhilecontribution to Heidegger scholarship. 


Critchley, S. (2002). Enigma variations: An interpretation of Heidegger’sSein und Zeit .Ratio, 15,154–175.

Heidegger, M. (1962[1927]).Being and time(J. Macquarrie & E. Robinson, Trans.). New York: Harperand Row.

Heidegger, M. (2012[1989]).Contributions to philosophy (of the event)(R. Rojcewicz & D. Vallega-Neu,Trans.). Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

McMullin, I. (2013).Time and the shared world: Heidegger on social relations. Evanston, IL:Northwestern University Press.

Olafson, F. (1998).Heidegger and the ground of ethics: A study of Mitsein. Cambridge, UK: CambridgeUniversity Press.

Polt, R. (2006).The emergency of being: On Heidegger’s contributions to philosophy. Ithaca, NY:Cornell University Press.

Sartre, J.-P. (2001[1943]).Being and nothingness: An essay in phenomenological ontology(H. Barnes,Trans.). New York, NY: Citadel Press.

Stolorow, R. D. (2011).World, affectivity, trauma: Heidegger and post-Cartesian psychoanalysis. NewYork, NY: Routledge.

Vogel, L. (1994).The fragile ‘‘we’’: Ethical implications of Heidegger’s Being and time. Evanston, IL:Northwestern University Press.

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