As the author of The phenomenological movement, Spiegelberg. H., put it, why should Heidegger take "angst" or "Sorge" as the deepest and original feeling of Dasein (although I myself support it and think of its importance)? Why couldn't Heidegger take others -- such as "happiness" -- as the deepest and original feeling of Dasein?

If the reason is that man is born to unavoidably die, not to mention that with the progress of science, death may not come to mankind (of course we can still consider that mankind still and will have endless worries); I would like to give the example of a member of the Triad, who may really not be afraid of death, if you pay a thousand dollars to stab him, he will let you, but he cannot bear the monotony of a life in prison and the repetition of boredom; so can we say that the unwillingness of the monotony of a life in prison and the repetition of boredom is the deepest feeling of this member of Triad?

It raises another question: is a part of the "phenomenological intuition" nothing more than one's own subjectivity (although who may have a lot of adherents?


2 Answers 2


(1) Heidegger 's problem is : how can Dasein realize itself as a whole.

(2) He shows that there are good reasons to doubt the possibility of Daseins's integrity : the Dasein is essentially a possibility of being oneself ; as long as I exist I am not myself, I have to be myself; only when death occurs am I myself; but at this moment , I cease to exist.

(3) However, according to Heidegger, these reasons are not conclusive : this is what "Angst" reveals. It reveals the possibility of being a whole for the Dasein.

  • 2
    i like the answer, it provided a simple and insightful analysis. shame there's nothing to cite?
    – user46524
    May 30, 2020 at 13:18

It's not the feeling of anxiety [Angst] itself that is important as much as what it reveals to Dasein. As Hubert Dreyfus put it:

"The anxious Dasein can still see that there is a whole system of roles and equipment that can be used by anyone, but, just for that very reason, this system has no essential relation to it. Equipment is still present with its in-order-tos, but Dasein no longer experiences itself as assigned to a for-the-sake-of-which and so lacks a reason for using it"

Dreyfus, H, 1991, Being-in-the-world, The MIT Press, Massachussetts (p.180)

Through anxiety, the systems in place that have been inherited through cultural transmission lose their seemingly inherent meaning. The comfortable, guiding structures fall away and Dasein can see itself in a certain kind of nakedness.

As Heidegger himself wrote:

“Initially and for the most part, Dasein does not have any explicit or even theoretical knowledge of the fact that it is delivered over to its death … Throwness into death reveals itself to it more primordially and penetratingly in the attunement of anxiety”

Heidegger, M, 2010, Being and time, State University of New York Press, Albany (p.241 [§50])

The more general, everyday feeling of anxiety about something (a test or a relationship, etc.) is not something that is originally abstracted upon to then create a larger cosmological picture. Contrary to that conception, Dasein understands this everyday feeling of anxiety because of the underlying being of its own being (to use Heidegger's expression). In other words, the constitution of Dasein allows for the everyday feeling of anxiety.

Happiness is a contented feeling, and not something that would typically bring Dasein face-to-face with the underlying abyss of its being. Again to borrow from Dreyfus:

"Just as the breakdown of a piece of equipment reveals the nature both of equipmentality and of the referential whole, so anxiety serves as a breakdown that reveals the nature of Dasein and its world ... In anxiety, inauthentic Dasein experiences the world as an instrument that has failed to do its job"

Dreyfus, H, 1991, Being-in-the-world, The MIT Press, Massachussetts (p.177-9)

Death in relation to Dasein is a confrontation with Dasein's own finitude. Anxiety reveals the way in which Dasein is individualised, it shows how it is made singular from the rest of world of human beings (i.e., from the They). This revelation allows Dasein to take an authentic stance on its own existence rather than to simply fall prey to the public world. According to Heidegger, the idea of subjectivity is taken from this more primary ontological existence, and it is an error to look for grounding in any kind of objective/subjective position. Anxiety is prior to subjectivity because it is an ontological feature that allows for individualisation in the first place.

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