Dasein and the call of conscience

Heidegger’s notion of being-in-the-world is the antithesis to the “tranquilising” – a term used by the German philosopher himself in Being and time – effect of the environing of entertainment and “idle talk” – another Heideggerian term from Being and time – that is personified in the anonymous person of the everyday: das Man, rendered as “the they” in the two published English translations of the aforementioned magnum opus – of not only Heidegger himself but of modern hermeneutics. Existentially speaking, das Man is someone but also no one at the same time: society as a faceless stream of collective tranquilisation that Dasein falls into often through curiosity, temptation and simple laziness. What wrests Dasein away from this covering over of the potential for authenticity (Eigentlichkeit) in understanding of being (Seinsverständnis) is one unique mood (Stimmung) known to all: Angst, which is not ordinary fear or anxiety, but an unnameable dread in face of the disclosure of the uncanniness (Unheimlichkeit) of being-in itself, when being-in-the-world, always taken for granted in the fore-conception (Vorgriff) of Dasein, simply stops Dasein from feeling at home. In the moment of Angst, existence itself becomes problematic. Why is there being rather than nothing? What does it really mean to be? Why live and not die instead? Is not Dasein in reality the standing place for nothingness? Instead of who, is it not nothing that is there in the “da” of this most familiar yet primordially the strangest Dasein?

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