Top Level Concepts in Being and Time (Div.1 1-5)

Top Level Concepts in Being and Time

This article outlines how some main concepts are related. Its aim is to assist you in keeping the whole in view as we focus on particular aspects. Much of what we talk about are not stand-alone phenomena, but are instead aspects of a larger wholes. This looks at Division 1 sections 1-5.

Existence: The kind of being, towards which Dasein can and always does comport itself.  We already have some understanding of being and we comport ourselves toward our being as some possibility that we are.  Dasein exists. Existence is a formally defined term. [S&Z 12].

Existentiale: The structures that constitute existence; these are formal characterizations of Dasein that arise in the analysis of everydayness.

Existentiell: A particular possibility of understanding, a concrete case of an abstract existential.

Existentiality: the state of being that is constitutive for beings that exist. It is also the context of the existential structures.

being: This is what Heidegger’s life project is about, the ‘question of the meaning of being’. The approach in Being and Time is to get at being through our/human beings/Daseins understanding of being.

understanding-of-being: what we Daseins have that allows us to encounter and cope with beings, entities, things, and other people.

understanding of being can be either:

pre-ontological: unthematized (not explicitly expressed by talk)

ontological: thematized (explicitly expressed by talk)

Dasein: Literally ‘being there’.  Each of us is ‘a being there’; each of us exists as a Dasein. The being which is an issue for us in our very being is to be our own ‘there’.  Here are some key characteristics of Dasein.

Mineness: Each Dasein has its own being to be. It lives its existence as its ownmost possibility. In each case, it has already made a decision how to be this possibility. It can, in a sense, own up to this possibility by choosing itself (the mode of authenticity), or fail to choose itself (a mode of inauthenticity).

Way of being: Dasein can’t be characterized as a substance with properties, although we commonly fall into this way of speaking. Instead Dasein is constituted by possible ways of being. We look at ways of being, and how these ways of being are themselves constituted. Some formal ways-of-being structures are called “existentiales”; they are fundamental to existence. There are also specific possible ways of being which are called existentielles, or existentielle possibilities, or existentielle possibilities of being.

Being-in-the-world: Dasein’s base state is being-in-the-world.  Being-in-the-world is a single phenomenon, but there are several structures that make it up.  We can focus on these structures independently keeping in mind that in every case they are grounded in the unitary phenomenon. The hyphens are in the word to remind us.

Note: As an analogy we might think about the properties of a red-rubber-ball. In parallel to existentiales, it has color, substance, and form. In parallel to existentielle possibilities, it has red (as a possibility of color), rubber as a possibility of substance, and ‘spherical’ as a possibility of form. It is a unitary phenomenon: its redness is influenced by its roundness, and if you press on its rubbery surface, it roundness is affected.

Being-in-the-world is constituted by three phenomena: the “who of being-in-the-world”, the “world”, and “being-in”.

Who is it that is in the world? The first division of Being and Time focuses on the everyday being-in-the-world of Dasein, “the everyday ‘who’ of being-in-the-world”. Mostly, Dasein goes about its business as anyone would do. Our translation calls it the ‘they.’ Mostly we are the ‘they’, the inauthentic ‘they’ self, the ‘who’ of everyday Dasein.

world: The world we talk about is distinct from the ‘world’ of entities that we (as they) familiarly call the ‘world’. Some of us call it the universe consisting of all entities. How can Dasein as a way-of-being be the world?  One might say Dasein implements the worldhood of the world; the foundation of what is around Dasein. “Dasein is its world existingly.” What makes up the worldhood of the world?

Being-in: These are the possible ways of encountering and interacting with the world. This includes having things show up in the world. The ‘there’ is Daseins disclosedness of being-in-the-world. That ‘in which’ stuff can show up.  By doing that it discloses both Dasein and entities in the world. One example of being-in is: ‘knowing the world’.

Being-in / the ‘there’ / the clearing

How does Dasein be the ‘there’? What is the everyday way of being the ‘there’?

  1. The existential constitution of the ‘there’
    1. Being there as befindlichkeit, disposedness, mood, (state-of-mind)
    2. Being there as understanding, interpretation (how understanding develops itself and appropriates), and assertion (a mode of interpretation).
    3. Being there as Talk (discourse), language

The everyday way of being the ‘there’ is constituted by, Idle Talk, Curiosity, and Ambiguity.

Falling is our everyday way of being in the world. It is the basic mode of being that goes with everyday being-the-there. Falling is a defining existential characteristic of Dasein; without falling we wouldn’t be Dasein. In falling, Dasein is also that from which it has already fallen. But as falling, Daseins is inauthentically ‘not-being-itself’. Instead of being ‘who’ it is authentically, its ‘self’ is given by its absorption in the concerns of the ‘world’. (Top of H 177.)


Inauthenticity is the mode of Daseins being when it is absorbed in the world, with the character of being lost in the “they”. Inauthentic Dasein is absorbed in being-with-one-another in so far as they are guided by idle talk, curiosity and ambiguity.


Authenticity and authentic existence don’t float above everydayness.  They are only a modified way in which such everyday inauthenticity is seized upon. (H179)




In H. understanding language doesn’t have levels. Being is not some special phenomenon with a capital B”. Being is being. Discourse, logos, is just “talk”. When we use the ordinary word, we are talking about the actual phenomenon. Part of my work here is to have the phenomenon uncovered in the writing. When we use the word “talk” we are sharing some “being toward the phenomenon”. To some degree, you and I  have the same phenomenon in view. In the case of talking or writing about talk, I am trying to get at the phenomenon of the world as carved up and disclosed by distinctions in language. Other words that come close: logos, discourse (M&R), Rede (MH), “telling” (Haugland).



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