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New Yearbook for Phenomenology and Phenomenological Philosophy

Volume 11, 2011

R. Matthew Shockey
Pages 128-143

Heidegger on Understanding One’s Own Being

One of the characteristics that define us as Dasein, according to Heidegger, is that our being is at issue for us. Most readers interpret this to mean that we each, as individuals situated in the world with others, face the questions of who, how, and whether to be within our unique situations. Yet what Heidegger identifies as Dasein’s being is a general structure—care—that is the same for all individuals. Adapting and modifying John Haugeland’s account of understanding as projecting entities upon their constitutive ontological possibilities, I argue that it is this general, ontological structure that Heidegger means to say is at issue for us, and that understanding ourselves in terms of it is a condition of possibility of understanding ourselves as particular individuals faced with the questions of who, how, and whether to be in our respective situations. I then show how this allows us to begin to address Heidegger’s view of the role philosophy plays in an individual’s existence as it makes explicit the ontological structure which she normally only tacitly understands.