Open Journal of Philosophy
2013. Vol.3, No.2, 302-307
Published Online May 2013 in SciRes (http://www.scirp.org/journal/ojpp) http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/ojpp.2013.32047
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
Heidegger: Being and Time and the Care for the Self*
Jesús Adrián Escudero1,2
1Departmento de Filosofía, Facultad de Letras, Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
2Art and Humanities College, Southern Arizona Campus, University of Phoenix, Phoenix, USA
Email: jesus.adria firstname.lastname@example.org
Received February 27th, 2013; re vised March 28th, 2013; accepted April 12th, 2013
Copyright © 2013 Jesús Adrián Escudero. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Com-
mons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, pro-
vided the original work is properly cited.
The secret of Being and Time and of its constant cultural and philosophical presence lies in its unusual
hermeneutical richness. Being and Time becomes, so to speak, a precise seismometer capable of detecting
the slips and falls of the contemporary era with surprising accuracy. It offers us an exact scan of the ethi-
cal and moral conscience of our time. Being and Time does not develop a philosophical theory among
others, rather it faces the challenge of thoroughly reflecting upon the dilemma that is constantly present in
philosophy, namely the question of human being and its relation to being in general. From this point of
view, I would like to consider the possibility of reading this fundamental work of Heidegger as an ethics
of the care, that is, as book that promotes a cultivation of the self and the other.
Keywords: Authenticity; Care; Constancy; Falling Prey; Friendship; Self
Being and Time and the Spirit of Its Era
Still today, Being and Time remains a magical work, a title
composed of two intriguing words that, in its complex simplic-
ity, attempts to reconsider the fundamental question in the his-
tory of philosophy: the question of being. The secret of Being
and Time and of its constant cultural and philosophical pres-
ence lies in its unusual law. Being and Time does not develop a
philosophical theory among others, but rather it faces the chal-
lenge of thoroughly reflecting upon the dilemma that is present
in traditional philosophy. How does Heidegger face this chal-
lenge? Mainly by reexamining the fundamental problem that
has pervaded Western thought: the problem of being. However,
he does this in a peculiar way, by bringing together the basic
concerns of the contemporary time period: the disillusionment
of the modern world, the conflict of traditional values, the de-
cline of metaphysics, the fleeing of the gods, the realms of
technology, the hegemony of instrumental rationality and the
search for new symbolic resources for mankind. In this sense,
Being and Time becomes a precise seismometer capable of
detecting with surprising accuracy the slips and falls of the
contemporary era, offering us an exact scan of the ethical and
moral conscience of our time. Hence, its enduring relevancy,
even well into the 21st century. From this point of view, I would
like to consider the possibility of reading Being and Time as an
aesthetics of existence, that is, as a book that promotes a culti-
vation of the self.
Being and Time has the ability, as Susan Sontag comments
regarding the picture, of sloughing off the flakes that obscure
our everyday vision, and, in so doing, of creating a new way of
viewing reality (Sontag, 19 77: p. 105ff). In a strong and passion-
ate tone, solicitous and at the same time distant, attentive to
detail but without losing sight of the main focus, Being and
Time allows us to grasp the social world just as it is, including
its misfortunes. Philosophy can be benign, but it is also an ex-
pert in cruelty when it comes to portraying the symptoms of a
society that is sick, idle and decadent. A harsh diagnosis of
reality that, in his own way, Nietzsche had already put forward
in his Untimely Meditations which depicted German cultural
society as a time period dominated by professors and techno-
crats, and by military and government officials. From this point
of view, Being and Time has its full share in the climate of in-
tellectual unrest, of existential inhospitality and of spiritual
uneasiness of an era dominated by the decadence of heroes.
One finds multiple portrayals of a fragmented society and of a
lack of idols in works of the time period such as Robert Musil’s
The Man Without Qualities, Thomas Mann’s The Magic Moun-
tain, James Joyce ’s Ulysses, Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis,
and, in a very visual way, Edvard Munch’s The Scream, and in
Robert Wiene’s film The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari1.
Therefore, it is hardly surprising that from this bleak land-
scape of German society there spontaneously emerge questions
that are in some way or another related to the sense of human
existence. What is there to do with a civilization that is drifting
without direction? How can one escape a technical rationality
that calculates all the variables of human existence that elimi-
nates all trace of human individuality and that subjects personal
will to the causal order of science? The spirit feels trapped and
distrusts a positivist discourse that aims to construct an ideal
society and to rationally govern the course of history. Life
needs to make a way for itself and to break away from false
1More details a
out the intellectual atmosphere in which this productive
stage in Hei d eg ger’s life t ook place can b e f ound in Nol t e (1 992), Ott (1 98 8)
Safranski (1994). For the political, social, and economic context of this
period, see Fergusson (1975), Gay (1968), Watson (2000). And specifically
regarding the philosophical framework of the time period, consult: Bambach
(1995), Barash (1988), Gadamer (2000).
*This study has been elaborated in the frame of the Spanish Department o
Science and Education (Project reference: FFI2009-13187) and the Fellow-
ship for Advanced Researchers of the Humboldt Foundation (Germany).
J. A. ESCUDERO
conceptions of the world. One must look back upon reality and
face the complex question of how to recapture the immediacy
of life experience. This means we must launch an enormous
effort towards destruction and creation of a new philosophical
language that overcomes the conceptual constraints of science
and metaphysics. Sometimes one cannot ignore in the young
Heidegger the voice of the “lawbreaker self” of the protagonist
of Dostoyevsky’s novel, Notes from Underground, which calls
back to an independent and autonomous self. That underground
self, like the pretheoretical life which Heidegger speaks of in
his first lecture courses at Freiburg, rejects the Euclidian world
of positive rationalism that seeks to resolve the complexity of
human problems with the precise procedures of logic and
arithme tic. It is simply a matter of preserving the uniqueness of
each individual without resigning oneself to being another face
in the crowd. In short, one must constantly practice a herme-
neutic of suspicion in order to return to the individual the ca-
pacity of thought and action.
In this sense, we need persons with charisma who are capa-
ble of updating the old structures of thought and behavior. Phi-
losophy should respond to the fundamental questions of human
existence, even though this may mean going against the estab-
lished order. Living philosophically is equivalent to living pre-
cariously and thinking against preconceived norms. The young
Heidegger becomes an echo of this call, already taking on the
challenge of developing a new idea of philosophy in his first
lectures of 1919. We find ourselves, as Heidegger comments
with a certain tone of drama, at the crossroads that decides upon
“the very life or death of philosophy. We stand at an abyss:
either into the nothingness, or we somehow leap into another
world” (Heidegger, 1987: p. 63). We are at one of the most phi-
losophically and personally decisive moments in Heidegger’s
life. On the one hand, we observe his break with the system of
Catholicism and his Protestant marriage to Elfredi Petri and, on
the other hand, there are clear signs of estrangement with re-
spect to his solid theological and Neo-Kantian training which
points towards the development of a hermeneutics of factual
life. In this sense, Karl Löwith shrewdly portrays the peculiar
personality of the young Heidegger: “A Jesuit by education, he
became a Protestant through indignation; a dogmatic through
education; an existential pragmatist through experience; a theo-
logian by tradition, and an atheist as researcher” (Löwith, 1986:
p. 45). Different aspects of a person who attempts to grasp a
phenomenon as mysterious, as slippery and as foggy as that of
human existence in its utter facticity. Life presents itself to the
young Heidegger as an enigma waiting to be understood. The
decipherment of that enigma sets the course for an early phi-
losophical itinerary that will gloriously culminate in his great
book, Being and Time (1927).
Heidegger responds to this problem from a totally new per-
spective: an analysis of human life and its peculiar ability to
face its inherent tendency to fall. The analysis of human exis-
tence that is carried out in Being and Time, and therefore in
previous lectures, is really an analysis that turns against the
tendency that life shows towards repeatedly falling prey to the
clutches of public opinion with the aim of giving it successful
form, as if life were a work of art to which Being and Time
intends to impart a beautiful appearance.
Being and Time and the Cultivation of the Self
Heidegger, as we know, avoids the classical definition of
man understood as a rational animal. Human existence basi-
cally consists of care (Sorge). This conception of human nature
may perhaps surprise the reader of Being and Time, but it is not
new by any means, but rather dates back to the ancient tradition
of the care of the self and of the care of the soul. Heidegger
himself admits having found the concept of “care” in the an-
cients and points out its importance for Greco-Roman philoso-
phy and Christian spirituality. Thus, for example, regarding a
comment on the last letter of Seneca, specifically epistle
CXXIV, he writes:
The perfectio of human being—becoming what one can
be in being free for one’s ownmost possibilities (project)
—is accomplishment of care” (Heidegger, 1986: p. 199).
From this perspective, Being and Time can be read within the
framework of a long tradition of the care for the self, initiated
by Plato, practiced by the different Hellenistic schools, later
forgotten by the philosophy of the scholastic era and, finally,
taken back up by authors such as Michel de Montaigne, Blaise
Pascal, Arthur Schopenhauer and Friedrich Nietzsche, which
reaches its greatest contemporary expression in Michel Fou-
cault’s ethics of care2.
Here is not the proper place to exhibit the concrete decisions
and the flourishing stages of this tradition3. It is sufficient to
remember its central idea, simplified in Plato’s simple assertion
that the human soul is in movement (Plato, 1956, 896a). In the
majority of cases, mankind lives absorbed in its daily worries,
victim to its desires and passions, chained to its professional
ambitions and dependent upon economic and material factors.
The movement of the soul, nevertheless, allows one to look
back upon oneself, that is to say, it provokes a conversion of the
gaze, and it makes an internal change possible. However, this
self-cultivation is not motivated by narcissistic interests and
aestheticizing criteria (a charge which, on the other hand, is
frequently brought against Foucault). Focusing on the interior
world does not exclude but, in fact, directly draws our attention
to the evils of society. In this sense, self-escalation comes ac-
companied by a movement of the liberation of the ego’s always
limited perspectives and demands. The young Heidegger was
already very conscious of this potential confusion when he
points out in his 1921 course about Augustine that
The self-concern appears easy and convenient, interesting
and superior as “egoism”. (…) Really: self-concern is pre-
cisely the most difficult, taking oneself to be less and less
important by engaging oneself all the more; positing to
oneself precisely an “objectivity” in the face of which that
of the generality is mere playfulness, a convenient get-
ting-done of the things themselves and of the beings and
their connections (Heidegger, 1995: p. 241).
The call for Dasein to take care of itself, to pay attention to
its own being, even the later idea of letting itself experience a
calming of the spirit like serenity (certainly, very close to Epi-
curean ataraxia), invites one to read Being and Time from the
stimulating perspective of the care for the self (Adrian, 2013).
2See, for ex ample, the cour se of the Collèg e de France L’herméneutique du
sujet (1982). For a systematic approach to the basic contribution o
Hellenistic Schools and their presence in contemporary ethical discourse,
see Nussbaum (1994). For a comparison between Heidegger and Foucault,
see McNeill (1998).
3Among other interesting works, one should take in consideration Hadot
(1981), Do manski (199 6), and Voelke (1993).
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 303
J. A. ESCUDERO
Does Heidegger’s suggested similarity between Dasein and the
soul perhaps not authorize such a reading4?
At first glance one can observe a considerable amount of re-
latedness between Being and Time and the ancient tradition of
the care for the self (in both its Greek and Latin equivalents of
epimeleia heauton and cura sui, respectively). In both cases, it
is a question of opening up the possibility of a self that is more
intense, more fundamental and appropriate, and one that real-
izes the human tendency to get lost in things, to get caught in
the whirlwind of daily tasks, and to be influenced by public
opinion. It is exactly this dual possibility of leading a life that is
in between authenticity and inauthenticity, perdition and salva-
tion, ignorance and wisdom that is a constituent part of the
care’s fundamental ambivalence. Echoing another basic dimen-
sion of the tradition of the care of the self, Heidegger speaks of
a “conversion,” of an “about-face,” of a “turning back” (Hinkehr)
of Dasein from its starting position of fleeing (Abkehr) from
itself to describe this possibility of care’s changing direction
(Heidegger, 1986: pp. 184-185). As it is known, Heidegger in-
sists upon the idea that Dasein regularly becomes distanced
from itself. To use one of his preferred expressions, human be-
ings are more frequently far away from themselves (weg-sein)
than they are there (da-sein). This is why he speaks of a “being
alert,” of a “being awake” (Wachsein) to describe the secret
(and, in the end, ethical) purpose of the analysis of human life
that is programmatically developed for the first time in the
well-known 1923 course Ontology. The Hermeneutics of factic-
ity (Heidegger, 1988: p. 10)5. Wegsein is a form, albeit deficient,
of Dasein. It is this self-neglect, this estrangement that is at-
tacked by Heidegger, who—as a good phenomenologist—
wants, on the one hand, to stimulate the ability to be open to
oneself and, therefore, to being, and, on the other hand, to fight
the obstruction that idle talk (Gerede ) exerts on this openness.
In a similar way to the majority of ancient philosophers,
Heidegger not only shows an occasional interest in the ten-
dency of individuals to become estranged from themselves, but
rather he interprets this movement as them truly fleeing from
themselves. In this context, Heidegger uses the expression
“plunge” (Absturz) and “eddying” (Wirbel) to respectively de-
scribe the “groundlessness and nothingness of inauthentic
everydayness” and the “movement of falling prey” (Heidegger,
1986, 178). Starting with Pascal’s harsh comments about flee-
ing from oneself, Heidegger traces back the root of this phe-
nomenon to the movement of falling (Verfallen) in the world of
things6. This is a leitmotiv as much as in Heidegger’s early
work as in Being and Time, which is conveyed in the well-
known difference between authenticity (Eigentlichkeit) and in-
authenticity (Uneigentlichkeit). Indeed, authenticity and in-
authenticity denote nothing more than the two possible paths
that Dasein can take in carrying out its existence: either flee
from itself and from its more appropriate choices, or embrace
these choices as a manifestation of responsibility in the form of
a wanting-having-conscience. In sum, the presence of the topic
of self-knowledge, which Heidegger rechristens transparency
(Heidegger, 1986: p. 146)7, places us before one of the most
important tasks of epimileia heauon, of understanding the pos-
sibility of being-self as “constancy of the self” (Ständigkeit des
The constancy of the self in the double sense of constancy
and steadfastness is the authentic counter-possibility to
the lack of constancy (Unselbst-ständigkeit) or irresolute
falling prey . Existentially, the constancy of the self (Selbst-
ständigkeit) means nothing other than anticipatory reso-
luteness (Heidegger, 1986: p. 382).
Obviously, there are more than a few critics who reject this
approach to reading Being and Time, even Heidegger’s text
itself offers a certain amount of resistance. The first and clear-
est objection is that Heidegger, in contrast to the ancient think-
ers, does not analyze life’s concrete characteristics, he does not
establish anything prescriptive, does not formulate anything
imperative. His analysis is purely formal. One cannot forget
that “in the existential analytic we cannot, on principle, discuss
what Da-sein factically resolves upon” (Heidegger, 1986: p. 382).
Nevertheless, it is worth remembering that the ancient authors
who defended a epimileia heauton are not noted for subjecting
themselves to a series of prescriptive behaviors through which
their self-care becomes universally defined. Rather than pre-
scribe universal rules of behavior, they offer instructions on
how to lead, carry out, and complete a full life. The tradition of
the care of the soul returns the individual to his/her particular
situation; it awakens the feeling of responsibility toward oneself.
In short, the practices of self refer to a choice of life, that is to
say, they do not present themselves as an obligatory category
that is imposed universally, but rather, in Heideggerian terms,
they possess an indicative-formal character that establishes
Dasein’s way’s of being. When it comes down to it, can it not
be said that “universal phenomenological ontology, which tak-
ing its departure from the hermeneutics of Dasein” (Heidegger,
1986: p. 38), tries to establish the conditions of possibility of
authentic life? It is true that the ontological analysis of Being
and Time is not guided by a particular ideal of life, that is, it
does not offer “a definite ontic interpretation of authentic exis-
tence” (Heidegger, 1986: p. 301). However, paradoxically, is
Being and Time not the incarnation of a concrete task such as
the questioning of being and the establishment of its conditions
of what is possible?
4See, for example, Heidegger (1986: p. 14), Heidegger (1992: p. 57), Hei-
degger (1993, p. 107), and Heidegger (1989, pp. 155, 171, 318). See further
Larivee/ Leduc (2002). On the other hand, Krämer points out that the con-
cept of “ care”, easi ly to be as sociat ed to th e ancient moral par adigm, su ffers
an ontological transformation in Heidegger (Krämer, 1992). Finally, one
cannot forget Franco Volpi’s suggestive thesis that it is possible to read
eing and Time as a treatise of practical philosophy (Volpi, 1998; Volpi
1994, and Volpi, 2009).
5For more information about the phenomenon Wegsein and the ethical di-
mension of the hermeneutics of facticity, see Grondin (1994), and Grondin
6In the lectures of 1921/22 Phenomenological Interpretations of Aristotle,
Heidegger already had analyzed and described the consequences of this
movement of falling prey (Verfallenstendenz) such as Ruinanz, Abstand,
briegelung, Praestruktion, and Reluzenz (Heidegger, 1985: pp. 100-106,
117-123, 131-147). These modes of being can be related to the phenomenon
of temptation (Versuchung) analyzed i n t h e context of a d eep er discussion o
the phenomena of dispersio and tentatio described by Augustine in Book X
Therefore, we could say that Dasein is still an undetermined
entity, always open to new and changing possibilities, which,
on the one hand, tends to lose itself, but, on the other hand,
holds the possibility of recovering from its dispersion. In this
sense, philosophy is transformed into an efficient instrument for
the self-realization of human life. Philosophy not only builds
7In Being and Time, Heidegger consciously avoids the concept of “self-
knowledge” or “self-acquaintance” (Selbsterkenntnis). He prefers to spea
of transparency (Durschsichtigkeit) in order to avoid any kind of solipsism.
8As Greisch has noticed, this evokes the stoic echo of the care of the sel
(Greisch, 2003: p.310).
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
J. A. ESCUDERO
enormous theoretical frameworks and emphasizes the aspect of
knowledge, but also contributes a set of teachings about life in
the form of a knowledgeable knowledge that encourages a life
transformation: the transition from ignorance to wisdom, from
sin to salvation, from opinion to truth, from impropriety to pro-
priety. In this case, philosophy goes hand in hand with a way of
life, that is to say, with a practical understanding of human
reality which implies a certain vital knowledge and a certain
amount of caring for oneself. Philosophical insight not only
provides a pure theoretical knowledge, but also fulfils a con-
soling, guiding, and advisory function. Hence philosophy might
also be considered therapeutic, an antidote to a decadent culture
such as that of the Germans, brilliantly depicted by Nietzsche,
Spengler, Weber, Mann and Heidegger among others. In all
their depictions we find the program of Humanitätsbildung
(human educational training) which, with distinct emphases and
from different perspectives, supports an aesthetic, literary and
philosophical instruction for mankind.
Genuine philosophizing makes it possible to give existence a
life-like form, in the same way that an artist imparts a beautiful
form to his work of art. This search for a comprehensive human
training is magnificently reflected in the maxim that Nietzsche
uses as a subtitle to his autobiography Ecce homo: Become
what you are! (Werde, der Du bist!). This maxim, which traces
back to Pindar (1962, II 73), is a very common feature in
Greco-Roman culture. Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and the Helle-
nistic schools also universalized this Pindaric maxim, which not
only applies to the athlete and the soldier, to the merchant and
the navigator, to the politician and the landowner, but rather to
any person whose life can be interpreted in agonistic terms, that
is to say, like agon, as a constant struggle to achieve a success-
ful life in accordance with the nature that is characteristic of all
individuals. Personal self-realization consists of daring herself
to follow her own nature. The stoics, for example, utilize the
theory of oikesis, the tendency that all individuals show to re-
main in their house (oikós) and if not in their house, the ten-
dency to return to it. In the end, the task of being yourself is
equivalent to a life choice, to a way of accomplishment that
involves fulfilling a full existence within the framework of a
natural habit to fall captive to excess, to indulgence, to social
habits, to daily routine and rumors. Really it comes down to
struggling with oneself. And, without a doubt, out of all the
possible victories, the most glorious is that which is achieved
The solution that Heidegger will later refer to in Being and
Time registers, ultimately, in the sphere of the practical ques-
tion about the meaning that we want to give to our existence,
which finds itself always destined to shift between one of two
possibilities: now an improper existence now a proper existence.
Here again it is highlighted that the practical question obligates
one to confront oneself. Evading freedom is as significant as
fleeing from oneself. The available time to make a choice
which is opened by the practical question has the nature of a
“self-choosing” which offers the possibility of a self-determi-
nation of our being, free from prescribed norms; an assessment
that is in accordance with the phenomenon of differentiation
that Dasein undergoes because of the anxiety that “reveals to it
authenticity and inauthenticity as possibilities of its being”
(Heidegger, 1986: p. 191). Thus, there exists a scope of deci-
sion in which one considers how to carry out one’s existence.
The same structuring of the work in two large sections aims
to conceptually express the existential hiatus in which contem-
porary man lives: the first section develops a complex herme-
neutics of everyday life that analyzes the different forms of
estrangement and fleeing from oneself, while the second sec-
tion proposes a hermeneutics of responsibility through which
the individual becomes critical of his real state of disorientation.
In both cases, Heidegger advances a genuine hermeneutics of
the self. Just like what happens with Hellenistic philosophies
and with late Foucault that develop a hermeneutics of the prac-
tices of the self that is parallel to biblical hermeneutics, Hei-
degger first offers a complete diagnosis of the evils of the time
period in order to later recommend an appropriate remedy. It is
a matter of carrying out self-reflection in order to get to know
yourself regarding your own limits, your relationships with
others, your contact with the world and, in conclusion, your
choices in designing your own life according to freely and in-
dependently chosen criteria. Life, in short, is subjected to a
constant test. There is no situation that always returns un-
changed, that is, every life situation must be weighed calmly
and analyzed for itself in order to offer an answer that is appro-
priate to the circumstances of the moment. This is undoubtedly
the ideal of the sensible and wise man depicted by Aristotle.
And this explains, in part, the fascination that the young Hei-
degger experienced from reading Nicomachean Ethics, to
which he dedicated a commendable exegetic effort (as is shown
by his substantial and brilliant interpretations of the sixth book
in the course of his first lectures of the winter semester of
1924/25)9. The tests to which we are daily subjected are not a
part of a determined period of instruction, but rather they inte-
grate with a general attitude toward life, they turn into a life-
style, so to speak. A lifestyle that corresponds very well to the
classic metaphor of sailing, which contributes a series of factors
that affect the control and steering of an existence that endlessly
floats on an ocean of desire and temptation. Life never stops
being a journey, that is, a genuine movement from one point to
another. This movement, in turn, implies having a clear idea of
the port of arrival and, therefore, requires a set of knowledge
and skills associated with steering that can be easily obtained
for the destination of our own existence. This model of steering
—very simila r to the control of illness by medicine, to the mili-
tary skills of the warrior and to the political government of a
city—is intimately linked to the activity of governing oneself.
From this point of view, one can enjoy reading Being and Time
as an invitation to embark on an internal journey, a journey that
always has features of an odyssey, that is plagued with obstacles
and danger, some known and others unknown, which we must
successfully overcome in order to steer our life to a safe harbor.
What about the Other? The Possibility of
the Ethical Encounter of the
Other in Friendship
Heidegger’s relation to the ethical is a difficult and contro-
versial matter. It is known that the philosopher has never dedi-
cated any special work to that topic, and this very absence is
many times understood as the symptom of a deep ethical failure
at the heart of his ontological thinking. Many critics affirm that
the excessively solipsistic character of the existential analytic
developed in Being and Time blocked Heidegger’s path to un-
9See, for example, Heidegger’s splendid lectures on Plato’s Sophistes (Hei-
degger, 1992: pp. 21-187) as well as the famous Natorp Bericht from 1922,
and the interesting pages of his course from 1924 on Aristotle’s rhetoric
(Heidegger, 2002: pp. 113-160, 191-207).
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 305
J. A. ESCUDERO
derstand the primarily intersubjective character of everyday
human interactions in the common world10. The assumption
that Dasein’s existence lacks any ultimate moral or rational
ground does not imply its un-ethical character. Of course, such
a post-metaphysical ethics should not be framed as a systematic
I think that these critical assessments suffer from an insuffi-
cient analysis of Heidegger’s notion of the self. His ethics of
the care is not a kind of individualistic journey of self-discov-
ering still tainted by Husserlian solipsism. It is journey that
cannot ignore the other. Being and Time insists in the idea that
we are also responsible to recognize the other’s potentiality-
for-Being-its-Self, without reducing its possibilities to our own
or those of the themselves (das Man-Selbst) (Heidegger, 1986:
p. 264). But following Heidegger’s analysis of the public
sphere the other does normally not show itself. How can we let
it be itself? In a way, Heidegger suggests the moral obligation
of letting speak the other, letting it interpret itself, allowing it to
discover its own possibilities. The other can only truly be al-
lowed to speak if we allow ourselves to hear. However, as a
part belonging to the publicity, the other—like any Dasein or
entity—is primordially exposed to the normativity of the “they”
The other can only be incorporated into the “they”, qua itself,
by a change in the “they”. The existential determination of
decadency is not contradictory to the possibility of a modifica-
tion in Dasein’s behavior that discloses the possibility of au-
thentically being one’s own self. In order for the other to be
received in our world, we must make space for its otherness.
One might view it in terms of the reception of a guest in one’s
home. We make room for our guest. We give her our guest its
own space. But simultaneously one’s own dwelling place must
be altered to accommodate the guest. Part of one’s home is
“destroyed” by emptying a place for the potential reception of
another person external to one’s home. Even more, if the other
is someone with whom we will dwell, than the entire home
must be made compatible with the other’s possibilities and con-
It is important to stress that Heidegger is concerned with the
other and with question of otherness as such. Dasein’s selfhood
(Selbstheit) and singularity (Vereinzelung) does not imply irre-
sponsibility toward others in the common world, does not cut
off its worldly relation with others, since there is a fundamental
difference between a singularized and a solipsistic self. The
resolute Dasein opens up the possibility of letting the other be
itself, thus ensuring the possibility of an ethical encounter of
itself and of the other in a particular mode of being that we
shall call genuine friendship. Heidegger emphasizes that “reso-
luteness does not detach Dasein, as authentically being itself,
from its world, it does not isolate it in a free-floating I” (Hei-
degger, 1986: p. 298). In other words, resoluteness also “modi-
fies, in an equally originary way, the discovery of the “world”,
as well as the openness of the co-existence of others” (Heideg-
ger, 1986: p. 297). This means that Dasein is not fully oblivious
of the other. Resolute Dasein is not only concerned about itself
but is also solicitous to the other with whom it coexists in the
world. The ethical traces of Heidegger’s analysis of Dasein
become more evident in the rich and complex of resoluteness
(Erschlossenheit), where Dasein is “impelled into a solicitous
being-with with others. (…) It is only in resoluteness to one’s
own self that Dasein is brought into the possibility of letting the
co-existing others “be” in their own most possibility of being”
(Heidegger, 1986: p. 298).
How do we access to the other? How does the other come to
manifestation? First and foremost, in the mode of being of
hearing, hearing constitutes Dasein’s most authentic openness
to its own most possibility of being, as in hearing the voice of
the friend whom every Dasein carries by itself. By hearing the
voice of the other, which is deeply rooted in its own self, Da-
sein becomes open to the being of others in the peculiar modal-
ity of solicitude (Fürsorge). This allows the establishment of an
authentic bond in which the other is liberated to its own free-
dom (Heidegger, 1986: p. 122). The possibility of the ethical
encounter of the other as irreducible otherness is the positive
counterpart of the mode of being solicitous to the other. In au-
thentically hearing the voice of the friend that each Dasein car-
ries by itself, Dasein does not merely listen to the impersonal
voice of the public “they” but also becomes opened to the rec-
ognition of the otherness as such. Ontically speaking, as Duarte
points out, “it means that Dasein has become genuinely friends
with the other” (2005: p. 27), without leveling the other to the
dominating values of the public sphere. Resolute Dasein has,
thus, acquired the possibility of an authentic, responsible and
respectful encounter with the other. In an ontological sense,
friendship is the possibility of caring for the other respecting its
own space of freedom and self-determination. A further analy-
sis of friendship and the constitution of the self should allow us
to trace a path in Being and Time that connects the ontological
to the ethical.
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