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In Heidegger's Being and Time he probes the question of Being, and not of beings; he probes it by querying that being for which Being is a problem. This being he names Dasein = da sein = being there. How does this differ from the idea of consciousness? Is Dasein in fact consciousness; in that we are conscious of being here or being there - but in the general notion - that is not human consciousness but consciousness with the contingent human aspects abstracted?

Should this also be distinguished from self-consciousness when we reflexively are conscious of our own consciousness and our own being-there? For the most part in our daily lives are we not only conscious?

  • I would think it's almost the opposite -- more like the facticity of our thrown-ness. But I'm curious what closer readers might have to say. – Joseph Weissman May 30 '13 at 4:29
  • @Weissman:I can't say I follow you: By 'facticity' do you mean just 'fact' - or is there more? Opposite of which statement I made? – Mozibur Ullah May 30 '13 at 5:29
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    Assuming Heidegger used the word "Dasein" with its original German meaning (with philosophers you can never be sure about that :-)), it is definitely not about consciousness, but more about existence in the world. Note that e.g. the Darwinian competition of living beings in German is often called "Kampf ums Dasein"; there's definitely no assumption that the living beings have consciousness; indeed, very few would assume that e.g. plants have consciousness. – celtschk Jun 1 '13 at 16:00
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    @celtschk: But doesn't Heidegger say that Being is that for which being is a problem? Surely here he is smuggling in consciousness? – Mozibur Ullah Jun 1 '13 at 16:03
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    I've checked, and you're right. Heidegger apparently uses "Dasein" differently, in a way that implies consciousness. Sorry for the confusion (well, I did start my comment with an appropriate condition, after all). – celtschk Jun 1 '13 at 18:58
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How does this differ from the idea of consciousness?

In simple terms it differs because it encompasses all that being in the world entails. Heidegger deliberately selected the term from common German language as a way of distancing himself from terms which bring with them a tremendous weight of conceptual 'baggage' from the history of philosophy, and the category of consciousness is one such term.

Is Dasein in fact consciousness; in that we are conscious of being here or being there - but in the general notion - that is not human consciousness but consciousness with the contingent human aspects abstracted?

No! it does Heidegger a huge disservice to try to conflate Dasein with consciousness in general for this very reason .. the important aspect of Being and Time to focus on in relation to this element of your question is his distinction between the present-at-hand and the ready-to-hand

Should this also be distinguished from self-consciousness when we reflexively are conscious of our own consciousness and our own being-there? For the most part in our daily lives are we not only conscious?

This is a good question, and is a key feature of Heidegger's departure from purely Husserlean phenomenology .. Husserl defined phenomenology as 'the science of essences', and his method of eidetic reduction is aimed at precisely this. Heidegger disagreed that this should be phenomenology's ultimate goal, and instead aimed to describe what it was to be a being in the world. (In the introduction to Being and Time he asserts that the answer to the question 'what is being in general?' is to be found through analysis of the question 'what are beings?', his focus on the two aspects of being conscious which you mention is thus an extension of this assumption) .. A famous section of Being and Time takes the example of a highly accomplished craftsman. His work proceeds without any need for self reflective thought, much as driving does for an experienced driver. His point is that self reflective consciousness only intervenes when things go wrong, or unexpected, unusual events arise. His analysis I think beautifully anticipates what contemporary psychology refers to as automaticity. So Heidegger's answer to the second question in the quote from you would be yes.

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"Consciousness" is for Heidegger a too metaphysically loaded term , a term associated with a couple of metaphysical positions Heidegger wants to get rid of :

(1) The self is a " subject" ( " subjectum") , a substance ( a " thinking substance" according to Descartes) , an independent being ( " in se et per se" traditionnally ) --> Heidegger claims the self is " defined" by its relation to the world , its "openness" ( cf " being in the world" )

(2) The self understands being as " object" ( what is " in front ", what is " re-presented" ); being is reduced to "being known" in an oppositional structure. This " model" finds its completion in Hegel where the self has to oppose himself as object in order to know himself, in order to arrive at "true" consciousness --> Heidegger wants to show that we do not discover beings as " objects" known but as " tools" that we use, and with which we have an initmate relation ( without the " distance" caracterizing the notion of " objectivity").

(3) The self is primarily a "knower" ( since " conscientia" implies " scientia", knowledge) , cognition is the essence of self --> Heidegger wants to stress the practical aspect of daily existence

(4) The self is separated from others --> Heidegger claims that in daily existence, the self finds himself amongst others, defines himself as " one amongst the others"

(5) The self ( transcendental self) is this center that constitutes being as being, that " posits" being as being --> Heidegger wants to avoid the idealist implications of " consciousness" he finds in his Mentor E. Husserl ( cf Husserl's Ideen)

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? "What is the difference [in Heidegger's work] between Dasein and consciousness ?

Heidegger: "our aim in the following treatise is to work out the question of the sense of being ... (Sein & Zeit; my italics ..) so H. does see some deeply intimate connection between Being and consciousness. To get at a connection, however, for me (naively) it is helpful to use both "Being" and "Existence" (cf. also Jaspers) in a different way, that helps address quantum mind issues:

Take "Being" as the quality which distinguishes something from nothing (a pure abstraction); take "Existence" as defined in purely physical terms (identifiable by spacetime coordinates).

Being requires Energy. I cannot imagine being without also imagining energy, nor energy without imagining being, so I postulate an equivalence of being and energy. To BE is to be possessed of BeingEnergy (or Energy/Being). I can imagine pure abstraction without physicality, but to imagine existence I must imagine physicality. The All-that-is (Cosmos) then is (sort of like?) a quantum superposition of the physical and the mental, ontologically both monistic and dual, abstract and physical. And at some level of complexity sentience becomes a consciousness which is aware of itself. Or so it seems to BE.

  • Although I can see why this is downvoted I can also see some sense in it. – PeterJ Apr 2 at 16:05

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