Ready-to-handedness and mitdasein

… the fact that Dasein’s essence is that it exists. Never meant to be sized up as a ‘rational animal’, or as the ‘fusion of body and soul’, Dasein can only be understood in the very act of its existence. Any claim to define Dasein via some representation or by way of any external properties is incapable of living up to the task. But this irreducibility of Dasein to a representation is also shared by hammers, and even by sand and rocks. We have already seen that none of these entities can be understood as if they were simply vorhanden. Readiness-to-hand does not mean “usable by people”, but rather “sheer performance of an effect”. Thus, Dasein in the second sense is the absolute equivalent of the tool, however counterintuitive this might seem. Thus, the distinctiveness of human Dasein has to be sought elsewhere”

it is the great merit of his analysis of equipment to have exploded any possible notion of present-at-hand categories. Strictly speaking, categories are an illusion.”

So what of the notion of something that one merely observes and takes in, rather than perceiving it in its performance of an effect? My girl mitda discussed this with some friends who noted that they enjoy their unique record player just as it is observed, without using it. Art, as well, is enjoyed in its perusal rather than its direct effect, if Art has any direct effect whatsoever.

When a hammer no longer functions to produce an effect, for instance it has been broken, its readiness to hand is damaged in such a way as to create the illusion of present-at-handness. In this case it is relatively easy to see that the damage to the hammer results in a relational damage to it’s perceivedness. However in the case of the record player its working or not is irrelevant to the enjoyment of it by the people involved. In this case the record player performs an effect, one of producing a certain nostalgia for the past, that was not its original intention. It “brings back” the era in which it was current and recreates, to a degree, a world that no longer exists. Thus the existintiels of the record player lie in the memory of the era in which it was created and had its primary usefulness, or ready-to-handedness.

The “artificial” mode of seeing things as present-at-hand, which is necessary for the practice of science while limiting at the same time, is a pretense of dispassionate observation that does not affect the observed. As quantum mechanics shows this pretense is untenable. Observations always affect the observed, no matter how tenuously this effect is in any given observation.

How does all this affect the M/s relationship? First, and only In a sense, tools and equipment are equivalent in certain ways to human Dasein, meaning that a slave can be utilized in a ready-to-hand manner “without thinking” about it. However there is a distinctiveness about human Dasein, in that human Dasein shares an understanding of Being, however transparent or not it has made this understanding, and as a result takes part in mitdasein, or being-there-with other Dasein in a shared world. In an M/s relationship the slave gives up ownership of that world and shares the world and being of the Master. It is not an accident that Being and Will were commutative terms for many years in the history of metaphysics. The slave’s aligning of his/her will with that of the Master accomplishes this sharing of Being and world.


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