De-distancing Da-sein (Towards the Phenomenon of Care)

De-distancing[1] Da-sein

(Towards the Phenomenon of Care)

             We begin with “de-distancing” to free Da-sein from being initially, and always, overlooked, that is, in relation to the spatiality of being-in-the-world, hoping to let it be encountered anew, lest it be lost once again in translations, commentaries and in its tempting entanglement. Once such objective has been achieved, the next movement would be towards, through Angst, the phenomenon of care—the primordial unity of the structure of which lies in temporality.

            “Things at hand are encountered within the world….World is always already “there” in all things at hand. World is already discovered beforehand together with everything encountered.”[2] The being-in-the-world sees them as tools which may be relevant to his project or work, or these may be of no significance at all or for the time being and in which case such things at hand are just there, lying around, in his surrounding world. But in either case, they are discovered as things at hand in their nearness, together with the world in which they are, to the being-in-the-world who sees them as useful or useless things.

Together with the useful things, found in work for example, others are also “encountered” for whom the work is to be done. The kind of being, however, of the existence of “the others” encountered within the surrounding world is distinct, completely different from handiness and mere objective presence of things at hand. “They are there, too, and there with it.[3] “The others” are “those from whom one mostly does not distinguish oneself, those among whom one is, too.”[4] “The world is always already the one that I share with the others. The world of Da-sein is a with-world. Being-in is being-with others. The innerwordly being-in-itself of others is Mitda-sein.”[5] “The other is encountered in his Mitda-sein in the world.”[6]

Da-sein is always oriented towards discovering and circumspectly interpreting beings in the sense of a familiar and heedful association in its encounter with them in the world. It can approach, flee, or make room for beings unlike Da-sein, that is, it can, by distancing, set remoteness with regard to useless or deficient things to make room for more useful things to be at hand, or let beings be encountered in nearness through de-distancing. “Initially and for the most part, de-distancing is a circumspect approaching, a bringing near as supplying, preparing, having at hand.”[7]

However, the handiness of things at hand has, in a primordial sense, the “character of inconspicuous familiarity.” “Thus we initially always overlook and fail to hear what is measurably ‘nearest’ to us.”[8] For one who is wearing spectacles for example, that which is “sitting on his nose” would be for him the farthest in his mind when he is so concerned with seeing clearer what is farther away; or a telephone receiver would easily be inconspicuous if one is deeply engaged in conversation with another at the other end, one would only care to look at it if it becomes defective; or a street which is useful for walking is easily not noticed in contrast to an acquaintance that one sees further on.[9] Like the defective phone, things can only be looked on with concern in the discovery of their deficiency.

The case for things at hand, unfortunately, happens also, and for the most part, to Da-sein. “Taking care” of food, clothing, nursing of the sick, is “concern”. But, sadly, this “concern” has been understood in a way which corresponds to our use of “taking care” of things. Here, Heidegger gives an example of welfare work, where “its factical urgency is motivated by the fact that Da-sein initially and, for the most part, lives in the deficient modes of concern.”[10] He continues, “being for-, against-, and without-one-another, passing-one-another-by, not-mattering-to-one-another, are possible ways of concern.”[11] In such case, concern can take the other’s “care” away from him and put itself in his place in taking care, “it can leap in for him.”[12] “In this concern, the other can become one who is dependent and dominated even if this domination is a tacit one and remains hidden from him. This kind of concern which does the job and takes away ‘care’ is, to a large extent, determinative for being with one another and pertains, for the most part, to our taking care of things at hand.”[13]

Now, tacitly and inconspicuously, Da-sein has already been dominated by others, taken over unawares. The they presents every judgment and decision as its own, takes the responsibility of Da-sein away from it, and reduces, levels it down to averageness. The they always “did it.”[14]

            Everyone is the other, and no one is himself. The they, which supplies the answer to the who of everyday Da-sein, is the nobody to whom every Da-sein has always already surrendered itself, in its being-among-one-another.[15]


Da-sein entangled in everydayness

Being-in-the-world is always already entangled. The average everydayness of Da-sein can thus be determined as entangled-disclosed, thrown-projecting being-in-the-world which is concerned with its ownmost potentiality in its being together with the “world” and in being-with with others.[16]

             Da-sein is initially entangled, lost even, in average everydayness. In the unawareness of being lost, one is in the manner of dependency and inauthenticity.[17] “To the unprejudiced ontic-ontological ‘eye’, it reveals itself as the ‘most real subject’ of everydayness.”[18] Da-sein is initially, and for the most part together with the “world” that it takes care of.[19] “When one is absorbed in the everyday multiplicity and rapid succession of what is taken care of, the self of the self-forgetful “I take care of” shows itself as what is constantly and identically simple, but indefinite and empty.” One goes along with this oversight and forces an inappropriate “categorical” horizon upon the problematic of the self.[20] “Da-sein has initially always already fallen away from itself and fallen prey to the ‘world.’”[21] “Initially, factical Da-sein is in the with-world, discovered in an average way. Initially, ‘I’ ‘am’ not in the sense of my own self, but I am the others in the mode of the they….Initially, Da-sein is the they and for the most part it remains so.”[22] “Da-sein is dispersed in the they and must first find itself.”[23]

Idle talk, curiosity, and ambiguity characterize the way in which Da-sein is its “there,” the disclosedness of being-in-the-world, in an everyday way. As existential determinations, these characteristics are not objectively present in Da-sein; they constitute its being. In them and in the connectedness of their being, a basic kind of the being of everydayness reveals itself, which we call the entanglement of Da-sein.[24]

Saving Da-sein from inauthenticity and from its entanglement[25] in everydayness is a difficult task. As thrown being-in-the-world, Da-sein is initially thrown into the publicness of the they. Da-sein is initially and for the most part immersed in the they and is mastered by it.[26] Inauthenticity constitutes precisely in this distinctive kind of being-in-the-world which is completely taken in by the world and the Mitda-sein of the others in the they.[27]

“The they, which is nothing definite and which all are…prescribes the kind of being of everydayness.”  “The they is essentially concerned with averageness.” It maintains itself factically in the averageness of what is proper, what is allowed, and what is not. “The care of averageness reveals, in turn, an essential tendency of Da-sein, which we call the leveling down of all possibilities of being.” This publicness, constituted by averageness and leveling down, obscures everything, and then claims that what has been thus covered over is what is familiar and accessible to everybody.[28]


Da-sein entangled in philosophers’ everydayness

Idle talk discloses to Da-sein a being toward its world, to others and to itself—a being in which these are understood, but in a mode of groundless floating. Curiosity discloses each and every thing, but in such a way that being-in is everywhere and nowhere. Ambiguity conceals nothing from the understanding of Da-sein, but only in order to suppress being-in-the-world in this uprooted everywhere and nowhere.[29]

We admitted earlier that saving Da-sein from entanglement is a difficult task. Those who know better, or at least are expected to, must take up the task of leaping ahead, that is, not in order to take “care” away from Da-sein, as in leaping in, “but to first to give it back to him as such. This concern which essentially pertains to authentic care; that is, the existence of the other, and not to a what which it takes care of, helps the other to become transparent to himself in his care and free for it.”[30] Thus, it is imperative that we be led to the statement of our objective, that is: to be able to care to look a little closer at Da-sein.

Before we look at Da-sein as being-in-the-world, or, specifically, before we merely pass words along as in idle talk’s gossiping, we need first, or, we need to look again (if this is not the first time as in most cases) at how the important terms developed in our primary source, Heidegger’s Being and Time (Sein und Zeit), or earlier in the young Heidegger’s early lectures, or later in the later Heidegger, or much later when Sein und Zeit, and his other writings began to be translated and commented on (or, otherwise, scribbled). We can’t discuss all of them at length here, but we will attempt to demonstrate de-distancing by using one of the indented quotations (from Chapter VI of Division I of Being and Time) we saw earlier in the introduction of Part I.

Being-in-the-world is always already entangled. The average everydayness of Da-sein can thus be determined as entangled-disclosed, thrown-projecting being-in-the-world which is concerned with its ownmost potentiality in its being together with the “world” and in being-with with others.

(BT: MH, 181; JS, 170)Accordingly Dasein’s “average everydayness” can be defined as “Being-in-the-world which is falling and disclosed, thrown and projecting, and for which its ownmost potentiality-for-Being is an issue, both in its Being alongside the ‘world’ and in its Being-with Others”.

(BT: MH, 181; M&R, 225)


At the left side is Stambaugh’s translation, while at the right is Macquarrie and Robinson’s version of the same passage from Heidegger’s Being and Time. Both are set in italics which immediately gives the impression of emphasis. However, in this comparison, M&R’s version is not that as emphatic as JS’s because of their choice to start it off with an adverb. Next, where M&R opts to put an end to the “can be” as a whole by defining it, JS just settles with just determining what is nearest to it. The hyphenated compound words (entangled-disclosed, thrown-projecting) that JS uses to modify “being-in-the-world” carries more, or at once, double weight, compared to M&R’s choice to separate the modifiers with conjunctions. With regard to “ownmost”, JS’s “potentiality in its being” is closer to a potentiality which one already owns in its being, rather than M&R’s “potentiality-for-Being” that connotes a potentiality which is not yet. “Together with the world” also means closer and more involved than just “Being alongside”. What JS is “concerned about” in her literary interpretation is “an issue for” in M&R’s literal translation. More importantly, we should not also fail to see Da-sein (hyphenated) in JS and just Dasein in M&R. “Dasein” could simply mean “being-there”, or when hyphenated, the emphasis on the “Da” could mean either “here and now” or “there and here”. In some later works, such as Heidegger’s Contributions to Philosophy (From Enowning), the translation presents it as “t/here” [Da], that is, pulling “there” and “here” into a single word.

JS and M&R also have different interpretations with regard to care:








taking care





Lastly, in their Translators’ Preface, M&R state that Being and Time “is a very difficult book, even for the German reader, and highly resistant to translation, so much so that it has often been called ‘untranslatable’.” While at the back cover of Stambaugh’s translation, it says that it, the Stambaugh translation, “captures the vital relation to language that animates Heidegger’s original text.” It then ends with a striking statement: “The new translation of key notions here should serve as the standard for Heidegger studies to come.” Being one of Heidegger’s students, she was able to enumerate in her Preface the reasons that Being and Time poses special problems for its translator and for the readers of an English language translation. She also notes that the translation “‘was begun some time ago,’ in point of fact before Heidegger’s death in 1976, such that we have had Joan Stambaugh’s translation of the two Introductions, as edited by David Krell, in the collection of Basic Writings since 1977. Permission for it was granted by Heidegger himself along with the ‘express wish’ that the now English word and central topic of the book, ‘Da-sein,’ be hyphenated throughout the new translation. He at the same time graciously gave the translator the hand-written poem on the grace of thought that now graces the frontcover of this translation.”[31]

We now leave the concern, or issue, on the interpretations of Being and Time, not being conclusive about which translation the reader should prefer, as there are also other various versions out there, but just hoping that the reader would now be drawn to appreciate the book, or care to read it, or care to read it again a little closer, and therefore save Da-sein or as many Da-seins as he possibly can.

            Still, in the end it is the business of philosophy to protect the power of the most elemental words in which Da-sein expresses itself from being flattened by the common understanding as a source for illusory problems.[32]



Towards Care: Angst

            Being thrown, Da-sein feels uneasy, not at home—an uncanny feeling—so that it flees from itself towards falling prey to innerwordly beings. In being engrossed with taking care of them, he is absorbed, entangled, and just lingers on in tranquilized familiarity. With this dominance of falling prey and publicness, “real” Angst is rare.[33]

The uncanniness, however, is a primordial feeling, there is already a disposition[34] of Angst, before Da-sein, consciously or unconsciously, chose to fall prey and be-at-home with it, than not-being-at-home with the uncanny feeling of Angst, which initially finds expression in the “nothing and nowhere.”[35] This uncanniness pursues Da-sein and “threatens” its everyday lostness in the they. As usually the case, Angst can arise in the most harmless situations. But, unfortunately, when one feels it, immediately, more often, or as soon as it occurs, it is dismissed.

When Angst has quieted down, in our everyday way of talking we are accustomed to say “it was really nothing.”…Everyday discourse aims at taking care of things at hand and talking about them. That about which Angst is anxious is none of the innerwordly things at hand. But this “none of the things at hand,” which is all that everyday, circumspect discourse understands, is not a total nothing….[T]hat about which Angst is anxious is being-in-the-world itself.[36]


Angst fetches Da-sein back out of its entangled absorption in the “world.” Everyday familiarity collapses. Da-sein is individuated, but as being-in-the-world. Being-in enters the existential “mode” of not-being-at-home. The talk about “uncanniness” means nothing other than this.[37]

In Angst lies the possibility of a distinctive disclosure, since Angst individualizes. This individualizing fetches Da-sein back from its entanglement and reveals to it authenticity and inauthenticity as possibilities of its being. “Da-sein is a being which is concerned in its being about that being.”[38] That for which we have Angst is our potentiality-for-being-in-the-world. “This potentiality is that for the sake of which any Da-sein is as it is…. Being free for its ownmost potentiality-for-being, and thus for the possibility of authenticity and inauthenticity, shows itself in a primordial, elemental concretion in Angst.[39]


Care and Temporality

            Heidegger takes Angst as an indicator of three interrelated aspects of Da-sein that belong together in “care”.[40]

First, as he mentioned in his preparatory analysis of Da-sein: “It is being about which this being is concerned.”[41] Angst reveals the task of choosing who one can be: it can inspire a change of course, or one can choose to remain as he is, but in such a way that he chooses his identity, instead of just letting it happen. Heidegger refers to our need to determine our own identity as Da-sein’s existentiality or its being-ahead-of-itself. We can think of this dimension as our having a future.[42]

 Second, one is not pure possibility; one already has a life. One is already familiar with an established identity and world—the very world that Angst is calling into question. This feature of one’s Being is his facticity, thrownness, or being-already-in-the-world. We can view this dimension as our having a past.[43]

Third, Angst can help one realize that he is normally absorbed in his daily tasks, oblivious to both his existentiality and facticity. From one’s anxious feeling of alienation, one can recognize that he is normally at home in a world that he takes for granted. Being at-home-amid entities is our usual way of having a present.[44]

Heidegger hopes that the experience of Angst will help us see how the three dimensions fit together into a single structure: “The being of Da-sein means being-ahead-of-oneself-already-in (the world) as being-together-with (innerwordly beings encountered). This being fills in the significance of the term care, which is used in a purely ontological and existential way.”[45]

We call the unified phenomenon of the future that makes present in the process to having-been temporality. Temporality reveals itself as the meaning of authentic care.[46]


Authentic Potentiality-of-Being and Anticipatory Resoluteness

            For Heidegger, care should be conceived as a being that occurs and elapses “in time.” “The primordial unity of the structure of care lies in temporality.”[47] “The self-project grounded in the ‘for the sake of itself’ in the future is an essential quality of existentiality. Its primary meaning is the future.[48] “Resolute, Da-sein has brought itself back out of falling prey in order to be all the more authentically ‘there’ for the disclosed situation in the ‘Moment’ [Augenblick].”[49] Care is being-toward-death. Heidegger defines anticipatory resoluteness as authentic being toward the possibility that he characterizes as the absolute impossibility of Da-sein.[50] “In this being-toward-the-end, Da-sein exists authentically and totally as the being that it can be when ‘thrown into death.’ It does not have an end where it just stops, but it exists finitely.”[51] When this happens, one is no longer being there.

“The primordial and authentic future is the toward-oneself, toward oneself, existing as the possibility of a nullity not-to-be-bypassed….Primordial and authentic coming-toward-oneself is the meaning of existing in one’s ownmost nullity.”[52] It is in having an attitude of anticipatory resoluteness that makes one go beyond merely overcoming everydayness, or care only for the day after tomorrow, and be concerned about one about one’s lifetime and therefore will even to do today what can be done the day after tomorrow.

Ivan Richard F. Deligero

January 26, 2012





Kisiel, T. (2002). Heidegger’s Way of Thought. New York and London: Continuum.

Polt, R. (1999). Heidegger: An Introduction. New York: Cornell University Press.

Emad, P. and Maly, K. trans. (1999). Martin Heidegger, Contributions to Philosophy (From Enowning). Indiana: Indiana University Press.

Stambaugh, J. trans. (1996). Martin Heidegger, Being and Time: A Translation of Sein und Zeit. New York: State University of New York Press.

Guignon, C. (1993). The Cambridge Companion to Heidegger. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Macquarrie, J. and Robinson E. trans. (1962). Martin Heidegger, Being and Time. New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc.


[1] Joan Stambaugh’s translation of Ent-fernung, an existential: when unhyphenated, “removal” (See Theodore Kisiel’s Lexicon included in Stambaugh’s translation of Heidegger’s Being and Time.) “De-severing”, in Macquarrie and Robinson’s translation.

[2] Being and Time (BT), Martin Heidegger (MH) 83; J. Stambaugh (JS) trans., 77.

[3] BT: MH, 118; JS, 111.

[4] Ibid.

[5] BT: MH, 118; JS, 112. In his Lexicon, T. Kisiel translates Mitda-sein as “co-existence”.

[6] BT: MH, 120; JS, 113.

[7] BT: MH, 105; JS, 98.

[8] BT: MH 107; JS, 99.

[9] Ibid.

[10] BT: MH, 121; JS, 114.

[11] Ibid.

[12] BT: MH, 122; JS, 114.

[13] Ibid.

[14] BT: MH, 127; JS, 119.

[15] Being and Time (BT), Martin Heidegger (MH) 128; J. Stambaugh (JS), 120.

[16] BT: MH, 181; JS, 170.

[17] BT: MH, 128; JS, 120.

[18] Ibid.

[19] BT: MH, 175; JS, 164.

[20] BT: MH, 322; JS, 296.

[21] BT: MH, 175; JS, 164.

[22] BT: MH: 129; JS, 121. The M&R translation uses “proximally” instead of “initially”. This paper manifests preference to Stambaugh’s “initially” because it would later on render more sense in the movement from initially to Da-sein’s possibility of being. “Proximally”, on the other hand, has the connotation of nearness, which may only render confusion to the explanation on and usage of terms in spatiality.

[23] Ibid.

[24] BT: MH, 175; JS, 164.

[25] Verfallen. While M&R consistently uses “falling”, JS uses falling prey and entanglement interchangeably whenever either of the terms fit the literary sense. This paper opts the JS translation because of the more frequent use of entanglement, which connotes a sense of “already” and “in the state of being entangled”, where one can be freed from. Also, “falling prey” is better when the sense is about a prey’s always being fated to a predator, rather than just the progressive case of mere “falling”.

[26] BT: MH, 167; JS, 156.

[27] BT: MH, 176; JS, 164.

[28] BT: MH, 127; JS, 119.

[29] BT: MH, 177; JS, 165.

[30] BT: MH, 122; JS, 115.

[31] Theodore Kisiel (2002), Heidegger’s Way of Thought, New York and London: Continuum, 64. Chapter 3 of the book is devoted solely to discuss the Lexicon and JS’s translation of Sein und Zeit.

[32] BT: MH, 220; JS, 202.

[33] BT: MH, 190; JS, 177.

[34] JS: “attunement”. Richard Polt (1999), Heidegger: An Introduction, notes (p. 65) that “‘Disposition’ would be another good way to render  Befindlichkeit, because it helps us think of our mood as what ‘positions’ us in the world, giving us an orientation. Others have tried ‘situatedness’, ‘disposedness’, ‘affectedness’, ‘so-foundness’, ‘attuned self-finding’, and even ‘where-you’re-at-ness’. Macquarrie and Robinson’s rendition of the word as ‘state-of-mind’ is inappropriate. After all, Heidegger consistently tries to avoid giving the impression that Dasein exists inside a subjective sphere, such as mind.

[35] BT: MH, 188; JS, 176.

[36] BT: MH, 187; JS, 175.

[37] BT: MH, 189; JS, 176.

[38] BT: MH, 191; JS, 179.

[39] Ibid.

[40] Richard Polt (1999), Heidegger: An Introduction, New York: Cornell University Press, 78.

[41] BT: MH, 42; JS, 39.

[42] Cf. Polt, 79.

[43] Ibid.

[44] Ibid.

[45] BT: MH, 192; JS, 179-180.

[46] BT: MH, 326; JS, 300.

[47] BT: MH, 327; JS, 301.

[48] Ibid.

[49] BT: MH, 328; JS, 301-302.

[50] BT: MH, 329; JS, 303.

[51] Ibid.

[52] BT: MH, 330; JS, 303.

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