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"By using Dasein as a replacement for 'consciousness' and 'mind,' Heidegger intended to suggest that an individual is in the world in the mode of 'uncovering' and is thus disclosing other entities as well as itself. In other words, Dasein is the 'there'—or the locus—of Being and thus the metaphorical place where entities 'show themselves' as what they are." (https://www.britannica.com/topic/Dasein)

(Note: I did not read the primary text, Being and Time. Instead, I am trying to gain a very basic understanding of Heidegger's philosophy.)

Q: What does this article mean by "uncovering" and an individual "disclosing other entities as well as itself"? How does this relate to Dasein?

2 Answers 2

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OP: What does this article mean by "uncovering" and an individual "disclosing other entities as well as itself"? How does this relate to Dasein?

It basically means that the facts (truth) relating to things observed are concealed from view and have to be uncovered, unconcealed. Dasein is the observer who attempts the unconcealment.


Quoting from the OP's Brittanica link :-

Heidegger, in contrast [to Descartes], conceived the human individual in an altogether new way, as “being-in-the-world.” Because this notion represented the very opposite of the Cartesian subject, the corresponding idea of consciousness as representing the individual’s internal awareness had to be dropped. With it also went the assumption that specific mental states were needed to mediate the relation of the individual to the external world. The individual was not merely a mind that was capable only of representing the world to itself and whose linkage with a body was merely a contingent one. According to Heidegger, a human individual should instead be conceived as Dasein, or “being there.” ...

an individual is in the world in the mode of “uncovering” and is thus disclosing other entities as well as itself. In other words, Dasein is the “there”—or the locus—of Being and thus the metaphorical place where entities “show themselves” as what they are.

Notwithstanding Britannica's detail, Dasein is positioned like Descartes' cogito, as the first certainty of awareness, except Dasein is not just consciousness, it is everything that produces consciousness too, including the network of others with whom one has developed. This is significant for recognising the different relation to people vs. things.

Thus in characterizing the encountering of Others, one is again still oriented by that Dasein which is in each case one's own. But even in this characterization does one not start by marking out and isolating the 'I' so that one must then seek some way of getting over to the Others from this isolated subject? To avoid this misunderstanding we must notice in what sense we are talking about 'the Others'. By 'Others' we do not mean everyone else but me—those over against whom the "I" stands out. They are rather those from whom, for the most part, one does not distinguish oneself—those among whom one is too. This Being-there-too [Auch-dasein] with them does not have the ontological character of a Being-present-at-hand-along-'with' them within a world. This 'with' is something of the character of Dasein; the 'too' means a sameness of Being as circumspectively concernful Being-in-the-world. 'With' and 'too' are to be understood existentially, not categorially. By reason of this with-like [mithaften] Being-in-the-world, the world is always the one that I share with Others. The world of Dasein is a with-world [Mitwelt]. GA 2, H. 118 (1927)

In contrast, towards things, Dasein's approach to the presented world is very Kantian. To a subject (i.e. Dasein) the objective existence of things (present-at-hand) is formed in the judgement of the idea of the thing plus perception of it, e.g. from The Critique of Pure Reason :-

Through the actuality [i.e. objective existence] of a thing I certainly posit more than possibility, ... [While] possibility was merely a positing of a thing in relation to the understanding (to its empirical use), actuality is at the same time its connection with perception. B287

[objective existence] is merely the positing of a thing or of certain determinations in themselves. In the logical use it is merely the copula of a judgment. B626

The copula is the connection of idea/possibility plus (evidenced by) sense perception data, and in effect this is broadly equivalent to knowledge. When knowledge corresponds to the facts this is truth, unconcealment. However, unconcealment is not straighforward as described in this fairly long quote from GA 5, Off the Beaten Track. Establishing the facts is made problematic by obscuration or deception, camouflage, hence "primal strife".

Truth means, today, as it has done for a long time, agreement of knowledge with the facts. In order, however, for knowledge, and for the sentence that forms and expresses it, to correspond to the facts it is necessary, first of all, that the fact which is to be binding on the sentence show itself to be such. And how is it to show itself if it is unable to stand out of concealment, unable to stand in the unconcealed? A statement is true by conforming to the unconcealed, i.e., to that which is true. The truth of statements is always, and is nothing but, such correctness. The critical concepts of truth which, since Descartes start out from truth as certainty, are mere variations on the definition of truth as correctness. This familiar essence of truth, truth as the correctness of representation, stands and falls with truth as the unconcealment of beings.

. . .

In the midst of beings as a whole an open place comes to presence. There is a clearing. ... The being [or entity] can only be, as a being, if it stands within, and stands out within, what is illuminated in this clearing. Only this clearing grants us human beings access to those beings that we ourselves are not and admittance to the being that we ourselves are. Thanks to this clearing, beings are unconcealed in certain and changing degrees. But even to be concealed is something the being can only do within the scope of the illuminated. Each being which we encounter and which encounters us maintains this strange opposition of presence in that at the same time it always holds itself back in a concealment. Concealment, however, reigns in the midst of beings, in a twofold manner.

Beings refuse themselves to us down to that one and seemingly most trivial feature which we meet most immediately when all we can say of a being is that it is. Concealment as refusal is not primarily or only the limit of knowledge in each particular case; it is, rather, the beginning of the clearing of what is illuminated. But concealment, though of course of another sort, also occurs within the illuminated. Beings push themselves in front of others, the one hides the other, this casts that into shadow, a few obstruct many, on occasion one denies all. Concealment, here, is not simple refusal. Rather, a being indeed appears but presents itself as other than it is.

This concealment is an obstructing [Verstellen]. If beings did not obstruct one another we could not err in seeing and doing, we could not go astray and transgress, and, in particular, could not overreach ourselves. That, as appearance, the being can deceive us is the condition of the possibility of our deceiving ourselves rather than the other way round.

Concealment can be either a refusal or merely an obstructing. We are never really certain whether it is the one or the other. Concealment conceals and obstructs itself. This means: the open place in the midst of beings, the clearing, is never a fixed stage with a permanently raised curtain on which the play of beings enacts itself. Rather, the clearing happens only as this twofold concealment. The unconcealment of beings – this is never a state that is merely present but rather a happening. Unconcealment (truth) is a property neither of the facts, in the sense of beings, nor of statements.

In the immediate circle of beings we believe ourselves to be at home. The being is familiar, reliable, ordinary. Nonetheless, the clearing is pervaded by a constant concealment in the twofold form of refusal and obstructing. Fundamentally, the ordinary is not ordinary; it is extra-ordinary, uncanny [un-geheuer].The essence of truth, i.e., unconcealment, is ruled throughout by a denial. This denial is, however, neither a defect nor a fault – as if truth were a pure unconcealment that has rid itself of everything concealed. If truth could accomplish this it would no longer be itself. Denial, by way of the twofold concealing, belongs to the essence of truth as unconcealment. Truth, in its essence, is un-truth. We put it this way emphatically to indicate, with a perhaps off-putting directness, that refusal in the mode of concealing is intrinsic to unconcealment as clearing. On the other hand, the sentence "the essence of truth is un-truth" should not be taken to claim that truth, fundamentally, is falsehood. Equally little does it mean that truth is never itself but, dialectically represented, is always its opposite as well.

Truth presences as itself only because the concealing denial, as refusal, is the continuing origin of all clearing but yet, as obstructing, metes out to all clearing the rigorous severity of error. "Concealing denial" is intended to denote that opposition which exists within the essence of truth between clearing and concealment. It is the conflict of the primal strife. The essence of truth is in itself the ur-strife [Urstreit] in which is won that open center within which beings stand, and from out of which they withdraw into themselves. (The Origin of the Work of Art (1935-1936), pages 28–31)

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Heidegger's mode of "uncovering" is another way of saying that beings reveal themselves through their own unconcealment. This is associated with the primordial notion of truth in the pre-Socratic sense of aletheia. It is the recognition of "letting beings be." Modern techo-science, on the other hand, is engaged in a violent interrogation of beings under the alias "experimental research," but this is not an innocent endeavor. In his "The Age of the World Picture" (1938) Heidegger speaks of the imperial drive to subdue the earth through scientific method and technological observation and investigation. Science is not committed to a free-discovery of truths, but seeks to surreptitiously bring everything under its dominion of capture or what Heidegger calls Enframing (Gestell). To bring the world under the re-presentation of a picture expresses the triumph of the modern progressive enlightenment enterprise.

But aletheia leaves room for beings to reveal themselves on their own terms. Whatever we call truth, in the metaphysical sense, is always a mixture of absence and presence and never a full disclosure. While letting beings be in the clearing, truth about beings will always remain mysterious, or blurry and staticky for Heidegger. There is always that which holds back in the bringing forth of any entity. These two orientations cannot be divorced from each other. The "earth" presents a general covering that we cannot force or onto-logically determine in our own experiences. We have to be open to the concealedness of beings while being open to their disclosure that will never be absent a shadow or some kind of existential remainder.

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  • I guess if it's something dynamic in the clearing, letting it be will let it reveal itself. Without any filters of enframing and a disavowal of one's own filters, maybe one can see what it is. Commented May 22 at 20:12

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