1

Can anybody explain the following sentence to me? What is less than what?

Less than the ability to use reason to escape mortality, Heidegger argued that what defines us is primarily the attempt and desire to escape it.

The full paragraph is:

This focus on the body by the early critics of modernity was to continue in the work of Martin Heidegger, before taking a decisively French turn and emerging as a defining feature of poststructuralist materialism. Despite containing comparatively little analysis of bodies as such, the principal thrust of Heideggerian philosophy was modernity’s refusal to acknowledge mortality, the simple fact that human being is Being-in-the-world, a being that dies and lives in overwhelming fear of death’s inevitability. Less than the ability to use reason to escape mortality, Heidegger argued that what defines us is primarily the attempt and desire to escape it.

2

"What defines us [humans] is primarily the attempt and desire to escape mortality and not the ability to use reason to escape it".

You can see: Paul Gorner, Heidegger's Being and Time: An Introduction, Cambridge UP (2007), page 125-on:

Death is a possibility of being. This plainly does not mean that death is something merely possible. Death is certain though the moment when it comes is indeterminate.

One dies. Death is levelled down to an occurrencewhich affects, befalls, concerns Dasein – but nobody in particular. This attitude to death which dominates everyday being-with-one-another is an evasion of death which conceals it as a possibility of my being, a possibility which is most my own, is non-relational and unsurpassable.

Such concealing evasion can also be seen in the way we comport ourselves to the dying. We try to persuade them that they are not going to die and will soon return to the familiar world of their concern. In thus seeking to console the dying person we are helping them to conceal from themselves the possibility of being that is most their own. And in helping to conceal death from the dying person we are also seeking to conceal it from ourselves.

  • Thanks for replying. Does he refer to our aninmal instincts by the words "attempt and desire"? – developer Feb 6 '18 at 13:09
  • @developer - for sure something that belongs to our "deep" self and not (so much) to reason. – Mauro ALLEGRANZA Feb 6 '18 at 13:11
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    I am sort of puzzled. Shouldn't we have "more than" instead of "less than" in the original sentence? – developer Feb 8 '18 at 8:19

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