As Dasein, I ineluctably find myself in a world that matters to me in some way or another. This is what Heidegger calls thrownness (Geworfenheit), a having-been-thrown into the world.


Does throwness mean the world has a meaning defined by our own personal past? Or does its structuring of being-in-the-world mean our past roles and life events do not in fact define our existence now?

I suppose I'm asking whether my past successes and failures define where I am now. Or am I just "here" and trying to understand and act on that?

  • 1
    Awareness and acknowledgment of the arbitrariness of Dasein (being-in-the-world) is characterized as a state of throwness (Geworfenheit) in the present with all its sufferings and demands that one does not choose, thus it merely leaves a paradoxical opening for freedom: The thrower of the project is thrown in his own throw. How can we account for this freedom? We cannot. It is simply a fact, not caused or grounded, but the condition of all causation and grounding. Dasein understands itself in terms of possibilities of "The They" (go along) or make some more authentic understanding... Jul 9, 2022 at 5:17
  • I thought that 'thrown' had the obvious meaning that we arrive in the middle of the play, so to speak, and we basically can't control any of our circumstances. I guess I was wrong? I didn't see any personal aspect to it at all, being thrown in to something is completely devoid of anything personal.
    – Scott Rowe
    Jul 9, 2022 at 19:39

2 Answers 2


What Heidegger is attempting to do with Dasein is best understood in relation to the philosophy he was criticising: Descartes disembodied mind.

With Being-in-the-World he is making the obvious point, but somehow forgotten in the Descartian philosophy, that we live in a world and we must account of it by beginning there.

We are 'thrown' in the world because we are not given a guide, at least in Heideggers account, before we arrive to mame sense of the world. We must make sense of it in media res.

Personally, I'm not taken by this. I prefer Plato's recognition that we are native to this world and not thrown. And Marx's idea of alienation which is that it is Capitalism that engenders alienation from self, home and society because these are alien values in an ideology that idolises commodity production above all human values.

  • Well, aside for it all being metaphorical, understanding that you need to overtake your thrownness (or alienation) to be more than a passenger in life is a useful idea. Jul 12, 2022 at 21:58
  • @Chris Degnan: Good point. One criticism that I have of modern philosophy is that it eulogises the disembodied ego, Heidegger at least returned us to this world, but neverthless we do not grow up in a world lacking in orientation. Our society, our parents, our institutions would be sorely lacking if they left us all at sea. I prefer Marx's analysis to Heidegger's because he locates an important source of alienation outside of ourselves. It is not merely all existential. Aug 20, 2022 at 12:55

The authentic historicity of Dasein "has a meaning defined by our own personal past" and future intentions. The inauthentic historicity does not.

Being & Time, H.376, page 428 (Macquarrie & Robinson trans.)

In accordance with the way in which historicality is rooted in care, Dasein exists, in each case, as authentically or inauthentically historical.

Authentic historicity is, by definition, one's personal (proper to oneself) past, present and future.

Dasein becomes authentic when it overtakes its thrownness.

A few supporting notes

H. 303, page 351

Ontologically, Dasein is in principle different from everything that is present-at-hand or Real. Its 'subsistence' is not based on the substantiality of a substance but on the 'Self-subsistence' of the existing Self, whose Being has been conceived as care. The phenomenon of the Self — a phenomenon which is included in care — needs to be defined existentially in a way which is primordial and authentic, in contrast to our preparatory exhibition of the inauthentic they-self.

H. 381, page 433

We contend that what is primarily historical is Dasein. That which is secondarily historical, however, is what we encounter within-the-world­ — not only equipment ready-to-hand, in the widest sense, but also the environing Nature as 'the very soil of history.' Entities other than Dasein which are historical by reason of belonging to the world, are what we call 'world-historical'. It can be shown that the ordinary conception of 'world­ history' arises precisely from our orientation to what is thus secondarily historical.

H. 382, page 434

Dasein understands itself with regard to its potentiality-for-Being, and it does so in such a manner that it will go right under the eyes of Death in order thus to take over in its thrownness that entity which it is itself, and to take it over wholly. The resolute taking over of one's factical 'there', signifies, at the same time, that the Situation is one which has been resolved upon.

So Dasein starts out as thrown with the "they" within-the-world­, inauthentically. Then takes over itself with resolution into authenticity. Authentic temporality is finite: birth to death. It is futural — planning ahead, based on its (personal) past.

H. 383, page 435

As thrown, Dasein has indeed been delivered over to itself and to its potentiality-for-Being, but as Being-in-the-world. As thrown, it has been submitted to a 'world', and exists factically with Others. Proximally and for the most part the Self is lost in the "they". It understands itself in terms of those possibilities of existence which 'circulate' in the 'average' public way of interpreting Dasein today. These possibilities have mostly been made unrecognizable by ambiguity; yet they are well known to us. The authentic existentiell understanding is so far from extricating itself from the way of interpreting Dasein which has come down to us, that in each case it is in terms of this interpretation, against it, and yet again for it, that any possibility one has chosen is seized upon in one's resolution.

H. 385, page 437

Only an entity which, in its Being, is essentially futural so that it is free for its death and can let itself be thrown back upon its factical "there" by shattering itself against death — that is to say, only an entity which, as futural, is equiprimordially in the process of having-been, can, by handing down to itself the possibility it has inherited, take over its own thrownness and be in the moment of vision for 'its time'. Only authentic temporality which is at the same time finite, makes possible something like fate — that is to say, authentic historicality.

  • That would make a great and direct answer if you could back it up more, though it's good to know what you believe. I understand that authenticity individuates us, but am not 100% sure if that is - to repeatedly use the term - as a "personal" entity.
    – user59394
    Jul 9, 2022 at 9:19
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    I can do that. Might be a while - got to go out. Jul 9, 2022 at 9:21
  • I'd really appreciate that, thanks.
    – user59394
    Jul 9, 2022 at 9:21
  • A few quotes added. I might fill this in further. Let me know it something isn't clear. Lol. Jul 9, 2022 at 15:50
  • I just keep wondering why the description of all this has to be so wordy, repetitive and convoluted? It seems like a few paragraphs would be enough. Either you already know what Nonduality is, or you will never find out by reading so you might as well get on with life.
    – Scott Rowe
    Jul 9, 2022 at 19:49

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