This is my current thinking about how all of it fits together.
There is a physical universe. This is what I call the ontic realm, it deals with real, “what so”, present reality. We use science to get access to it, model it, and describe it. Science seeks to either remove or explicitly account for the biases of our access practices. All positive sciences derive from physics. If we used an arrow to represent is derived from, a typical pattern might be: Physics→Chemistry→Biochemistry→Neurobiology→Cognitive Science. The ‘more derivative sciences’ use simplifying abstractions to cope with the intractable complexity of solving problems using the descriptions, models, and mathematics of the ‘more fundamental sciences’. There are parallel engineering abstractions, and a lot of good useful work is done using tools to cope with the complexity and bridge the layers of abstraction. Examples: Material scientists physicists/chemists can use quantum mechanics to design platforms for implementing electrical engineering products. There is no inherent meaning, significance, or even existence as such. There is no being. We as Dasein, being ontological, bring being to the universe.
There is also an ‘ontological realm’. It deals with being. Being is is our capability to have beings, entities, present stuff (including concepts) show up for us. We, as human beings, bring being to the world. We have the ability to have stuff be for us, both as ready-to-hand equipment and present at hand stuff. The “basic access practice” we use to get around in the world, including having stuff show up for us is called our pre-ontological understanding of being.
“Human beings are ontically distinctive in that we are ontological.” [S&Z 12] Where some folks might say we are distinctive in that we have “consciousness” or “self consciousness”, these are actually derivative phenomena. They derive from our “being-there”, “being-in-the-world”. Dasein are ontically distinctive as neurobiological entities in that we have a Potentiality-of-being. Potentiality-of-being is the neurobiological capability we have for physically implementing ways-of-being. At some level we must explain how it’s possible for us, that things like electrons, people, and everything in the universe can show up as stuff. That task was Martin Heidegger’s project.
It is in the ontological realm that we “be what we are as human beings”. We show up for ourselves already in a world. We have a skill for being. What ways of being must this implement ontically, so that we are able to do what we do? We perform these skills all the time; they comprise what it is to be a human being. [In Being and Time this is called our ‘potentiality-for-being’, Seinskönnen: ability/skill for being.]
The ‘meaning’ of Dasein is care. This signifies that “Dasein as being-in-the-world” is intelligible in terms of the care structure. Similarly the meaning of care is primordial temporality. The meaning of being is primordial temporality, or more precisely “temporality temporalizing” itself. At a primordial level we implement the skills necessary to temporalize time. Essentially we have skills for coping with temporality. We are implicitly taught these skills as we are socialized into our cultures.
But more importantly than just a possible interpretation, temporality is the source of being. We are time.
Note: Martin Heidegger defines meaning as the “upon which of a projection in terms of which something is intelligible as something.” Something only has “meaning” as projected on a horizon, a set of concepts or distinctions or a vocabulary in which it can be interpreted. Strictly speaking only Dasein has meaning, since Dasein is that upon which projections are projected, and in whose terms anything is intelligible.
Dasein’s skills for being evolved in Europe and Asia to cope with the breakdown of primitive bicameral psychology. Until that time the general interpretive models and skill set for managing being, which coexisted with bicameral psychology was unable to cope successfully with the complexity of new social power dynamics. In parallel with the gradual dawning and adoption of, more or less, civilized consciousness, various interpretations of “what it is to be a human being” were developed. The most rigorous explanations started in Greece, about 350 B.C. The basis of this is described in Julius Jayne’s, The Origin of consciousness in the breakdown in the bicameral mind. In Greece this happened sometime between the time of Homer and the Presocratic. [between 1200 and 500 B.C.E].
How did the breakdown of bicamerality affect Dasein? What implications did it have for early civilization?
This is under consideration:
Adoption of Dasein consciousness was certainly driven by literacy, and through out the Roman empire, there were existing contemporaneously proto-Dasein, primitive Dasein, and full Dasein. In proto-Dasein one still does things as “They”, the community does. One thinks as they do.
[following more certain]
Salvation religions provided interpretations that shielded Dasein from the anxieties of death, guilt, and choice. Example: Christianity providing resurrection of the dead, Christ’s redeeming grace, and Gods will for man. Heidegger asserts Jesus conveyed a new compelling temporalizing capability as well, that accelerated the adoption of Christianity. The other salvation religions were Buddhism (esp. Chan school introduced to China) and Islam (which initially addressed primitives unsaved by other “book religions” starting circa AD 610). What about Hinduism?