Category Archives: Heidegger

Refusal Or … ?

Between my post on refusal and now I’ve had a very odd change in my manner of being.

I had what used to be called, in the conceptual world, a “divine revelation”.  Since I live in the post conceptual (post religious-metaphysical-scientific)  world it was no long divine in any sense.   However it was reflexive in a way that no epiphany could be.  It was a revelation of the nature of revelation itself.

The reflexivity made me suddenly understand Hegel’s Absolute Knowing, Nietzsche’s Eternal Recurrence of the Same, and Heidegger’s vom Ereignis (from Enowning) simultaneously as attempts to provoke the experience.  Not that they do, but they do at least prepare one for it in a similar way to mystic practice preparing one for divine revelation.  Understanding understanding, as it were, doesn’t give you an understanding of anything in particular.  It gives you a different sense of things where understanding precedes self-conscious interpretation.

More on this later …


Freedom, freedom and Waffling

I’ve been reading Master Obsidian’s House blog site some more and a paragraph in another post caught my eye as something I’ve also been concerned with. Part of the reason expressing oneself as a part of the M/s subculture is that our language betrays what we in fact do and how we structure meaning within the world. Speaking of a tendency within the community Master Obsidian makes the following observation on a common and becoming more common attitude:

freedom in its purest sense embraced is the freedom to do anything and to be anything at all. And if we truly are inclusive, if we truly are seekers of truth then we must conclude as often as possible that every man and every woman has the ability and the right to pursue what ever strikes their particular fancy. And perhaps even more importantly than that notion, is the notion that whatever a person comes up in their pursuit of getting their particular fancy struck as it were – is great and wonderful and not to be denied.

Freedom, for me, comes in two flavors. There is the a priori freedom that every human being possesses no matter what their life circumstances. Without this freedom we would be unable to comport ourselves towards anything whatsoever. It is a necessity of being-in-the-world itself. This is properly called ‘ontological freedom’, which can be explained as the freedom of being itself. The other sense of freedom is the practical freedom that one possesses within-the-world. This is a matter of circumstances, and is also a matter of degrees. The proper term for this is ‘ontic freedom’, which can be made clearer as the freedom to dispose of beings as one wishes.

Enhancing the ability, if the individual chooses, to exercise ontic freedom is a noble pursuit. The as-one-wishes is crucial though, as not everyone wishes to exercise every possible ontic freedom. As well, circumstances being what they are, no one can exercise every freedom they may wish. We are all constrained by law, by custom, by societal opinion, and by our own ethical sense.

Choosing to not exercise freedoms may be due to ethics or societal norms, or it may be a more personal choice in that an individual may simply not feel comfortable exercising a good number of freedoms. If this number is great enough they may choose to enter into a D/s or M/s relationship, depending on the degree of unfreedom they feel most comfortable with. In an M/s relationship, once the choice is made it is made in a permanent sense, unless one is willing to break one’s word in an important manner.

Whatever that person, who is now a slave where continued consent is not required, may suddenly feel the urge to express may now only be expressed accordng to the will of the Master . The slave has given up the freedom to “get their particular fancy struck” unless it happens to coincide with the Master’s particular fancy at that moment. That ontological freedom is still present cannot undermine ontical slavery.


An Interesting Week …

Last week was, at the very least, interesting. Due to mess ups with the SSA and my work authorization I was unable to accept a job that looked really cool. Fortunately for our financial outlook mitda got an offer for a job that looks pretty cool for her also and she has no SSA hangups so she starts tomorrow. I’m a little concerned about her returning to work after a goodly absence for health reasons but it is the perfect type of gig to put her toe in the water with.

I also underwent an experience which I can’t really explain, but which changed aspects of my outlook on the world in general, and particularly clarified my notion of the nature of the absolute. Timing in some ways couldn’t have been worse as it coincided with a decision to not publish some ideas I have been working on for some time. emmie has been very grounding for me, though, and it’s helped me get through some of the difficulties and frustrations involved without too much harm done.

We also discovered what has quickly become my favorite comic strip, you can find it at Being and Tim, and no, that’s not a misprint.


Being and Time; and Place?

I am currently reading a book by the name of “Heidegger’s Topology: Being, Place, World”. Why topology when Heidegger’s most famous book is “Being and Time”? Heidegger’s notion of Being and his notions on philosophy imply a certain situatedness and site, and he was certainly aware of Jasper’s work on the limit-situation, having been the first reviewer of “The Psychology of Worldviews”. I will post more on this topic and how it relates to the M/s situation as I assimilate the ideas therein with the work on the mathematical topology of Being by Alain Badiou.

My vocabulary, its origin, and a kid difficulty

Someone I know, a thoughtful person herself, complained recently about my “reinventing vocabulary” in reference to how I write and speak, and it triggered a number of thoughts about vocabulary in general and mine in particular, which in turn triggered thoughts on issues I have had in my development as a whole.

Not that I do, or do intentionally, reinvent vocabulary (well maybe sometimes I do prefer my own terms for certain things, such as “absolute enslavement” 😛 ). I have a fair background in both phenomenology and the philosophy of language, particularly with reference to Hegel, Heidegger and Derrida, and so the language that I most naturally use includes terms and structures that are not unusual in these writers but are not so commonly used. But along with this I have some Asperger’s traits, and fundamentally for me all language is in the first place a foreign language, English as much as symbolic logic, and am often non-verbal for long periods, so language that is unusual and seems foreign to other people doesn’t seem any more foreign to me that what is deemed common parlance. I developed my sense of language despite, rather than because, language in general is a natural or easy thing for me. But I developed enough of a sense of language to serve me decently in what I do because I also had an ability for languages, whether foreign or not :).

My aspies traits have been a concern for me very recently in general. I’m not unhappy about having them – I enjoy the abilities I have as a result and I’m not upset by having had to make a slight extra effort with things like language. I learned language quite well in spite of aspies, and learned other things – such as how to judge people’s perceptions of oneself – that are more difficult for aspies people than for the general population. Overall I’m quite content with the combinations of abilities I have developed – I was lucky enough that my aspies traits weren’t so severe that I couldn’t overcome things that I found necessary to overcome, and I learned many of the things I learned when I was too young to actually notice that it took me more or less effort than other kids.

The reason it has been a concern, then, is not particularly regarding myself, but regarding emmie and her son. Both of emmie’s sons are diagnosed autistics, but the younger one really fits the description of someone with aspies more than autism, while the older one fits the description of a medium to medium-high functioning autistic more accurately. I haven’t spent a great deal of time with her older son, who lives with his father in another state, but her younger son lives with us and is currently 9, which seems to be an important age for a kid with aspies. According to child development guidelines 9 to 11 is the age when children generally become social personalities. Up to that point children are an odd combination of self absorption and parent-centrism, they don’t come across as completely self-interested, simply because their “self” is still integrated with those that raised them, usually their parents in this society.

But between 9 and 11 years this changes, and kids suddenly take an avid interest in one another. Peer pressure first really develops at this age and so does the need to be close to other kids, rather than first looking for parental/teacher acceptance and only later for acceptance by peers. Along with this comes the development of, not self-awareness, but awareness of how one is perceived by others. Aspies and autistic kids are often labelled not self-aware but this is a mislabelling of the fact that they are not aware of how others perceive them. They are aware of their actual “selves” quite strongly as far as I can tell. A striking difference between a fully autistic child and an aspies one, for me, is the difference between not knowing that one is perceived as “ different” or “odd”, vs. knowing it, but not necessarily understanding it or being able to change it.

So her son is having difficulty integrating with other kids at the age that they are all beginning to do so with each other. This could be a very temporary thing, where her son is delayed developmentally and will start to develop that kind of other-kid-awareness a bit later, or it could be a fundamental short-circuit in his wiring – I simply don’t know enough about aspies or her son to be able to judge. From being aspies myself, in a less apparently severe way, I know that an aspies kid “can” learn that kind of awareness even if it’s not altogether natural or easy. But I don’t know if that’s true for every aspies kid or just for some. And if it can be learned by any kid that is by definition aspies and not fully autistic (if there is a hard-and-fast line, which seems doubtful) I don’t know about the best way to go about helping a kid learn it. The kid has ample reason to learn it – at present he gets picked on and his reactions to things – or more precisely how he allows people to see those reactions – makes it all the more likely he will continue to get picked on. Kids are sensitive and emotional creatures. It’s not that “normies” don’t get sensitive or have emotional reactions to things, but they learn more quickly than an autistic child what reactions are acceptable to show in front of whom, and what reactions will cause them to be made fun of or treated as “weird”.

This kid has it both good and bad when it comes to the severity of his difficulties. From the limited exposure I’ve had to his elder brother, he has much more of a chance than the elder sibling of living an apparently “normal” life. Where the elder child will always be treated as disabled in certain functional ways, the younger one may be treated as having been “developmentally” delayed, and may always be “odd” in certain ways, but will likely generally be treated as having “caught up” with everyone else. I use scare quotes on “caught up” because, as with many aspies kids, he has definite abilities as well as disabilities, and overall is very intelligent, so much so that despite an obvious learning disability he is in a regular school at the right grade for his age and is on the school’s honor roll. There are many ways where he will always be “ahead” of the average kids in his classes. Not that you have to have aspies to be intelligent or have abilities, he is simply one of the lucky kids that despite whatever problems and issues he might have, he has these abilities to fall back on.

I hope that with further study, partly of aspies syndrome, mostly of emmie’s son himself, we’ll be able to figure out ways to help him overcome the areas where he does have difficulties. The extra effort it takes him will be worth it in terms of living the life that he will eventually want to choose for himself, and with certain other things being relatively easy for him, he should have spare energy to use on overcoming his issues.


Thought at its Limits

Foucault praises linguistics and psychoanalysis as examples of thought at its limits which discovers at the center of knowledge not humanity, but a sort of anti-humanity, a dead end if you will. Both linguistics and psychoanalysis find humanity suspended in a web of language, a language which mediates humanity and allows humanity to constitute an image of itself. But language is not such a stable support network; rather language’s promise of solidity is something like quicksand, an infinitely regressing system which cannot comprehend its own foundation since it has no center or originary meaning to rest on. “From within language experienced and transversed as language, in the play of its possibilities extended to their farthest point, what emerges is that man has ‘come to an end’, and that, by reaching the summit of all possible speech, he arrives not at the very heart of himself but at the brink of that which limits him; in that region where death prowls, where thought is extinguished, where the promise of the origin interminably recedes.” If humanity reveals itself only in and by language, humanity must accept a certain condemnation of silence to never be able to speak of its own origins and ends. Humanity is thrust into the foreground only to be distanced from its foundations, its background, a horizon which cannot speak and which, when approached, undoes thinking (as meaning is undone at the roots of language, the self at the roots of psychoanalysis), leaving only a horizon of the dead.

It is, then, in this context that Foucault speaks of humanity as a recent invention. Only with the elaboration of specific systems of thought which could inquire not into humanity’s ideal or essence, but the functioning of the foreground and the silhouette of humanity against the enabling background. “We shall say, therefore, that a ‘human science’ exists, not whenever man is in question, but wherever there is analysis – within the dimension proper to the unconscious – of norms, rules, and signifying totalities which unveil to consciousness the conditions of its forms and contents.” The subject of humanity was constituted during a certain moment in history which “dissolved” language, that is, an era which knowingly constructed its understanding of humanity “objectively,” in between the spaces of representationality which show how humanity is deployed. According to Foucault, the human sciences address humanity in so far as people live, speak, and produce (biology, philology, and economics), and create its model by isolating and questioning the functioning of humanity when the norms and rules break down, and on that basis rebuild knowledge by showing how a functional representation of humanity can come into being and be deployed (and thus, Foucault will later argue, perfect the techniques of normalization and socialized encoding of rules via totalizing methods of power).

As language is now re-coalescing at its limits, combining thought and unthought, the Other of knowledge must give itself over to the Same. Where the limits of thinking reveal its own basis as its foundational limitations, a new way of thinking is constituted which, as Levi-Strauss says, “dissolves humanity.” Foucault writes, “Since man was constituted at a time when language was doomed to dispersion, will he not be dispersed when language regains its unity?” The “death of man” seems a relatively peaceful event, not where humanity explodes with enormous violence, but a moment where humanity withdraws into the background such that a new array of knowledge can be foregrounded. Foucault does not yet have the advantage of a fully elaborated theory of language; however, if such a unity of language is not philosophized, humanity will forever find itself in a dying state, undoing itself by its own logic without our awareness. Foucault seems to ask that humanity die gracefully so that we can direct our energy to elaborating what is not yet thought, and approach a new horizon of articulation.


Helplessness and the Passing Under

mitda in her current blogpiece talks about an experience we shared on Friday.  She had been rendered helpless in a play session completely, and suddenly “something” came over us.  I put something in scare quotes because it didn’t have attributes or anything one could describe, it was just presencing pure and passing over, with a simultaneous (for me) passing under.  I have had this experience before but under very different circumstances.  I felt from it a huge sense of refusal, refusal of worship, refusal of description, refusal of communication.  It seems to be a rare occurrence, and one that one needs to be partially prepared for, but the preparation can never be enough, and it remains the most overwhelming, the definition of overwhelming itself.  The Abyssal.


Vorhanden, Zuhanden, and Dasein, three modes of being

Vorhanden – Abstract Presence

The concept of vorhanden is translated ‘present-at-hand in BT. This is one mode of being in which being lies in the fact that something is, and is as it is in reality, which provides the mode of vorhanden for that entity (BT, 26). Awareness of the vorhanden character of an entity has a temporal structure because awareness is an event, which is necessarily tied to time and cannot be eternal. Thus, the awareness of vorhanden is a making-present of the entity (BT, 48), and thus brings the entity to a state in which it can become the object of some kind of relation to that which is aware of it, Dasein. The process of appearing that results in entities of the mode vorhanden being known is not a showing of themselves, but rather that they are evidenced by something else (BT, 52). These attributes of that which is vorhanden demonstrate that the word ‘what’, rather than ‘who’, is properly associated with the concept of vorhanden (BT, 71). Another characteristic of the vorhanden mode of being is that it is ‘in-the-world’ where ‘in’ means “sharing the same space as” (BT, 79).

The consequence of ‘being-in’ is that all entities that ‘be-in’ have a mode of being that can be reduced to vorhanden, but any such reduction of a view of the entity to merely vorhanden results in a denial of the higher modes of being that properly belong to the entity through the abstraction necessary to regard the entity as vorhanden. In contrast to things that are ‘in-the-world’ hut have a higher mode of being than is expressed in vorhanden, entities that only exist with the vorhanden mode of being are ‘belonging-to-the-world’ and so are a part of the world (BT, 93). The effect of being a part of the world is  that such entities become a part of the context o0f which Dasein is aware and with which Dasein interacts. 

Zuhanden –  Tool-Being

Heidegger identified zuhanden, ready-to-hand, as a mode of being that contrasts with vorhanden. He argues that entities become accessible when we concern ourselves with them in some way, that is, when we care about them (BT, 96). To care for entities is to become interested in them in some way so that the entity is no longer a mere object at a distance from us, as something observed and analysed, as described in the vorhanden mode of being, but rather to come into some interested relation to the entity. The fact of care makes the entity of
the kind described  ‘equipment’, zeug, that which is useful for something, and so to have a mode of being zuhanden (BT, 96).

Heidegger argues that strictly there is no such thing as ‘an equipment’ where ‘equipment’ means ‘something-in-order-to’. The ‘in-order-to’ character of the zuhanden mode implies a reference of something to something (BT, 97). That is, in the mode of being zuhanden the equipment is always linked to something else as an entity that has the purpose of effecting something other than itself for something other than itself. That which is zuhanden is known
in its relational nature as equipment for a purpose, but is not known as what it is in itself because when we use something our awareness is of its purpose rather than of it in and of itself, that is, its mode of being vorhanden (BT, 98). Thus, in order to be zuhanden the  vorhanden character must withdraw to release Dasein to perceive the entity as for a purpose.

This relation of vorhanden and zuhanden follows because when equipment is used the awareness of the user concerning the purpose of the entity rather than awareness of the entity in and of itself (BT, 99). Now, work involves using something for achieving something, whether the purpose is public or private, and thus is dependant on use of equipment (BT,  100).  However, that which is zuhanden must also be reducible to vorhanden, since there can be no
equipment where that equipment does not tangible exist as something that can be apprehended and analysed if one is able to penetrate beyond the perception of that entity as equipment (BT, 101). Consequently, that which is to be useful, has a mode of being of zuhanden and must have a mode of being vorhanden, and the difficulty in perceiving the  vorhanden character arises because it is obscured by the zuhanden character that is most immediately perceived by Dasein.

Should an entity normally perceived according to its zuhanden character be broken then it is perceived in its not useful vorhanden mode of being (BT, 103). In addition, should an item perceived by one as zuhanden be apprehended by another, who due to a lack of appropriate  experience or knowledge, is unable to perceive it as that particular zuhanden the latter may perceive it as a different zuhanden, that is as for a different purpose, or possibly as purposeless, and thus only as vorhanden.  All uses of that which has a mode of being of zuhanden relate somehow to serving one or more purposes of Dasein (BT, 116). Thus the generation of the zuhanden mode of being is dependent on Dasein generating it as an additional mode of being for an entity that is first of all vorhanden. However, having effected this transformation of vorhanden to zuhanden Dasein then primarily perceives the entity as zuhanden, and only with difficulty, if at all, as
vorhanden.  Heidegger also suggests that there may be some entities known as zuhanden that may not be encounterable and thus not knowable as objective entities that could be analysed, and their vorhanden character cannot be separated from their zuhanden character (BT, 122).

Heidegger does not posit examples of zuhanden that cannot be encountered as vorhanden. It may be worth contemplating whether such entities as knowledge or inter-personal relationships may be such unencounterables, and thus only perceivable as zuhanden because we are unable to remove the interpretative overlays of the underlying vorhanden entity in order to be able to encounter and perceive that vorhanden entity in an of itself. If this is so it would provide a foundation for our difficulty in understanding such entities.

Dasein

Heidegger uses Dasein to name and describe the mode of being experienced by humans in their own existence (BT, 32). However, Heidegger does not definitively limit Dasein to humans, and so it is possible, or plausible, that there is some other non-human entity that may also have the Dasein mode of being, but Heidegger does notdiscuss this perspective on the issue either. The distinguishing characteristic of Dasein is that Dasein is aware of Dasein’s
existence, and is aware of the question of existence, and anything that is not Dasein is not so aware (BT, 32,33). Since Dasein is aware of its being and understands the question of being, one of the pursuits of Dasein has been to pursue and explore the nature of Dasein’s being seeking the authentic meaning of being (BT, 62). This pursuit contrasts with the other pursuit that Dasein conducts in parallel, which is shared in various ways by other entities, of seeking
to support its material being. That is, in parallel with pursuit of questions of the nature of being Dasein also pursues the mundane matters of life that enable physical support of the body in a desirable manner. Dasein pursues these mundane matters in a more sophisticated manner than other entities, but the other entities do pursue the mundane in some way, as their primary activity.
Dasein is not of the mode of vorhanden because it is not something that we ‘come across’ as we go about (BT, 69), but rather it is close to us, and is well known because it is inseparable from ourselves, but it is little understood in everyday experience because it is very close to us (BT, 69). In addition, Dasein is not zuhanden because it exists but is not for the purpose of effecting something.

The traditional view of people has been as rational animals,  through
rationalist concepts such as Decartes’ “I think therefore I am”, cogito ergo sum, but this yields Hiedegger with the problem that ____ is of a vorhanden kind and _____ is of an unclear kind of being, resulting in a person, viewed in this way having an indeterminate kind of existence (BT, 74).

At this point Heidegger departs from Ancient Greek and Christian anthropology, which both  define man as essentially an entity (BT, 75). Heidegger introduces the idea of ‘mineness’ as a quality that belongs to Dasein, as being that which is the true nature of Dasein, which results  in the possibility of Dasein living either authentically or inauthentically, depending on the way of life lived by Dasein (BT, 78).
Now Dasein experiences ‘being-in-the-world’ as sharing in the space of the world, but not as being a part of the world (BT, 79). Thus Dasein lives in the world as it is, and interacts with the world, but is of a different kind to the other entities in the world. A result is that it is possible to say Dasein is of vorhanden kind, but this either is a wilful disregarding of the ‘being in’ state of Dasein or an unintentional not seeing of that ‘being-in’ state (BT, 82). The possibility of seeing Dasein as either vorhanden or zuhanden results from the fact that in ‘being-in-the-world’ Dasein is constructed of stuff like the world and could be mistaken.   Such a mistaking of Dasein for one of the other kinds of being would result in inappropriate relations and behaviour because it would reduce people to being either equipment or mere objects. That Dasein can be ‘being-in-the-world’, Heidegger’s defining concept of Dasein, is the consequence of Dasein being able to know and to conduct I-thou relations, which are entities that cannot be known as of vorhanden kind. The view of Dasein as ‘being-in-the-world’ contrasts with the vorhanden which are, ‘in-the-world’ or ‘belonging-to-the-world’ and so parts of the world (BT, 93).
Previous western views of humanity regarded people as either bipartite, body and soul, or tripartite, body, soul and spirit, and lead to the assumption that a person is a synthesis of the parts, but in Heidegger’s view Dasein is existence, not a synthesis of separately existing parts (BT, 153). Thus, Heidegger argues for regarding Dasein as a complete and indivisible being that enters into relations and intrinsically is a complete, unified, entity. There are multiple Dasein, which necessarily have some kind of relation to each other, whether warm and        friendly or hermitic or otherwise, and these relations are characterized by Heidegger as ‘Being-with’.

Zuhanden  – Slave-Being  

In a sense then with slave-being we do take the slave as zuhanden, ready-to-hand, useful, a tool for use.  In consensual slavery the slave agrees, wants, needs to be taken this way.  As dasein he/she is still being-in-the-world but in this case, the world is not his/her world, but her Master’s world.  The slave is never merely an object, and in fact all ‘objectification’ of the slave is in reality de-subjectification, because the slave remains at the same time dasein and equipment, a tool and a being with its own sense of being, but the sense of being a tool in the equipmental totality of the Master’s world.


Slave-Being 1 – Tool-Being

Slave-Being 1

Tool- Being


(1) entities do not manifest themselves as things (Latin:
[i]res[/i])

(2) the entities with which we deal with manifest
themselves as ‘tools’ in the wide sense of the Greek “pragmata”

The question now becomes ‘what is the Being of this pragmata’?
This is the present task.

The clue for answering this
question lies in our understanding ‘tools’ as equipment (Zeug),
in our understanding “equipmentality.”

Understanding
the structure of equipment:

[list]

(1) there can be no such expression as ‘an’ equipment — a piece
of equipment is place within a totality, it is bound to an equipmental totality.

(2) Equipment is essentially
‘something in order to…’ e.g., a hammer is used in order to hammer
a nail, this, in turn, in order to build a shed — in order to
provide shelter etc.

This indicates that 3) Equipment is involved in references and
assignments
i.e., it is always involved in certain contexts:
e.g., a pen is involved in the context of ink-wells, pads, a desk,
lamp, being near a window etc.[Note that in our dealings with this equipmental totality our
primary relation is one of use [using equipment ‘in order
to…’]

And this provides the key for understanding the Being
of entities in this context —

They (entities as tools)
manifest themselves as ready-to-hand.

This is the
primary ontological category ascribed to entities dealt
with in the everyday world of our environment: Zuhandenheit
(readiness-to-hand).

****

Heidegger notes that
our peculiar manner in which we deal with these entities is
circumspection  and with this he indicates that
Dasein’s active comportment to this categorical structure is one of circumspective concern (more of this later).

****

Heidegger
then proceeds to look further into this way in which we deal with
things ready-to-hand.

The Analysis deals with the notion of
work.

A reflection on the sense of “work” fills out
the notion of environment and the ‘in order to…’

(1) The
‘towards which’ indicates the work to be produced e.g., a shoe, a
shed, etc. This, in turn, points beyond the immediate work
environment to the larger context of materials — this, in turn,
involves the ‘wider’ environment of animals (and those who raise
them) and nature etc.

Also,

(2) the ‘where of’: the
purpose of the work (e.g., the purpose of making a shoe, a traffic
sign etc.)

This, in turn, points beyond the immediate work
environment to the user of the product and its material — whether it
be one’s own Dasein, or other Daseins, or the public world (a road
sign, etc.). Again, these notions tend to expand and make clear the
sense of the environment (Umwelt).

All of this goes to make
up the Unwelt — and in this is located our relation to entities
which Heidegger has characterized as our dealings with things in
circumspective concern —

And the Being (i.e., the
ontological-categorical structure) of entities so involved is termed
readiness-to-hand..

****

But this has yet to become
explicit: For when we are caught up in our dealings, e.g., in using a
pen in order to write a paper for the purpose of giving a lecture,
one is not aware of the ontological structures underlying this work.


Vorhanden, Zuhanden, and Dasein, three modes of being

Vorhanden – Abstract Presence

The concept of vorhanden is translated ‘present-at-hand in BT. This is one mode of being in which being lies in the fact that something is, and is as it is in reality, which provides the mode of vorhanden for that entity (BT, 26). Awareness of the vorhanden character of an entity has a temporal structure because awareness is an event, which is necessarily tied to time and cannot be eternal. Thus, the awareness of vorhanden is a making-present of the entity (BT, 48), and thus brings the entity to a state in which it can become the object of some kind of relation to that which is aware of it, Dasein. The process of appearing that results in entities of the mode vorhanden being known is not a showing of themselves, but rather that they are evidenced by something else (BT, 52). These attributes of that which is vorhanden demonstrate that the word ‘what’, rather than ‘who’, is properly associated with the concept of vorhanden (BT, 71). Another characteristic of the vorhanden mode of being is that it is ‘in-the-world’ where ‘in’ means “sharing the same space as” (BT, 79).

The consequence of ‘being-in’ is that all entities that ‘be-in’ have a mode of being that can be reduced to vorhanden, but any such reduction of a view of the entity to merely vorhanden results in a denial of the higher modes of being that properly belong to the entity through the abstraction necessary to regard the entity as vorhanden. In contrast to things that are ‘in-the-world’ hut have a higher mode of being than is expressed in vorhanden, entities that only exist with the vorhanden mode of being are ‘belonging-to-the-world’ and so are a part of the world (BT, 93). The effect of being a part of the world is  that such entities become a part of the context o0f which Dasein is aware and with which Dasein interacts. 

Zuhanden –  Tool-Being

Heidegger identified zuhanden, ready-to-hand, as a mode of being that contrasts with vorhanden. He argues that entities become accessible when we concern ourselves with them in some way, that is, when we care about them (BT, 96). To care for entities is to become interested in them in some way so that the entity is no longer a mere object at a distance from us, as something observed and analysed, as described in the vorhanden mode of being, but rather to come into some interested relation to the entity. The fact of care makes the entity of
the kind described  ‘equipment’, zeug, that which is useful for something, and so to have a mode of being zuhanden (BT, 96).

Heidegger argues that strictly there is no such thing as ‘an equipment’ where ‘equipment’ means ‘something-in-order-to’. The ‘in-order-to’ character of the zuhanden mode implies a reference of something to something (BT, 97). That is, in the mode of being zuhanden the equipment is always linked to something else as an entity that has the purpose of effecting something other than itself for something other than itself. That which is zuhanden is known
in its relational nature as equipment for a purpose, but is not known as what it is in itself because when we use something our awareness is of its purpose rather than of it in and of itself, that is, its mode of being vorhanden (BT, 98). Thus, in order to be zuhanden the  vorhanden character must withdraw to release Dasein to perceive the entity as for a purpose.

This relation of vorhanden and zuhanden follows because when equipment is used the awareness of the user concerning the purpose of the entity rather than awareness of the entity in and of itself (BT, 99). Now, work involves using something for achieving something, whether the purpose is public or private, and thus is dependant on use of equipment (BT,  100).  However, that which is zuhanden must also be reducible to vorhanden, since there can be no
equipment where that equipment does not tangible exist as something that can be apprehended and analysed if one is able to penetrate beyond the perception of that entity as equipment (BT, 101). Consequently, that which is to be useful, has a mode of being of zuhanden and must have a mode of being vorhanden, and the difficulty in perceiving the  vorhanden character arises because it is obscured by the zuhanden character that is most immediately perceived by Dasein.

Should an entity normally perceived according to its zuhanden character be broken then it is perceived in its not useful vorhanden mode of being (BT, 103). In addition, should an item perceived by one as zuhanden be apprehended by another, who due to a lack of appropriate  experience or knowledge, is unable to perceive it as that particular zuhanden the latter may perceive it as a different zuhanden, that is as for a different purpose, or possibly as purposeless, and thus only as vorhanden.  All uses of that which has a mode of being of zuhanden relate somehow to serving one or more purposes of Dasein (BT, 116). Thus the generation of the zuhanden mode of being is dependent on Dasein generating it as an additional mode of being for an entity that is first of all vorhanden. However, having effected this transformation of vorhanden to zuhanden Dasein then primarily perceives the entity as zuhanden, and only with difficulty, if at all, as
vorhanden.  Heidegger also suggests that there may be some entities known as zuhanden that may not be encounterable and thus not knowable as objective entities that could be analysed, and their vorhanden character cannot be separated from their zuhanden character (BT, 122).

Heidegger does not posit examples of zuhanden that cannot be encountered as vorhanden. It may be worth contemplating whether such entities as knowledge or inter-personal relationships may be such unencounterables, and thus only perceivable as zuhanden because we are unable to remove the interpretative overlays of the underlying vorhanden entity in order to be able to encounter and perceive that vorhanden entity in an of itself. If this is so it would provide a foundation for our difficulty in understanding such entities.

Dasein

Heidegger uses Dasein to name and describe the mode of being experienced by humans in their own existence (BT, 32). However, Heidegger does not definitively limit Dasein to humans, and so it is possible, or plausible, that there is some other non-human entity that may also have the Dasein mode of being, but Heidegger does notdiscuss this perspective on the issue either. The distinguishing characteristic of Dasein is that Dasein is aware of Dasein’s
existence, and is aware of the question of existence, and anything that is not Dasein is not so aware (BT, 32,33). Since Dasein is aware of its being and understands the question of being, one of the pursuits of Dasein has been to pursue and explore the nature of Dasein’s being seeking the authentic meaning of being (BT, 62). This pursuit contrasts with the other pursuit that Dasein conducts in parallel, which is shared in various ways by other entities, of seeking
to support its material being. That is, in parallel with pursuit of questions of the nature of being Dasein also pursues the mundane matters of life that enable physical support of the body in a desirable manner. Dasein pursues these mundane matters in a more sophisticated manner than other entities, but the other entities do pursue the mundane in some way, as their primary activity.
Dasein is not of the mode of vorhanden because it is not something that we ‘come across’ as we go about (BT, 69), but rather it is close to us, and is well known because it is inseparable from ourselves, but it is little understood in everyday experience because it is very close to us (BT, 69). In addition, Dasein is not zuhanden because it exists but is not for the purpose of effecting something.

The traditional view of people has been as rational animals,  through
rationalist concepts such as Decartes’ “I think therefore I am”, cogito ergo sum, but this yields Hiedegger with the problem that ____ is of a vorhanden kind and _____ is of an unclear kind of being, resulting in a person, viewed in this way having an indeterminate kind of existence (BT, 74).

At this point Heidegger departs from Ancient Greek and Christian anthropology, which both  define man as essentially an entity (BT, 75). Heidegger introduces the idea of ‘mineness’ as a quality that belongs to Dasein, as being that which is the true nature of Dasein, which results  in the possibility of Dasein living either authentically or inauthentically, depending on the way of life lived by Dasein (BT, 78).
Now Dasein experiences ‘being-in-the-world’ as sharing in the space of the world, but not as being a part of the world (BT, 79). Thus Dasein lives in the world as it is, and interacts with the world, but is of a different kind to the other entities in the world. A result is that it is possible to say Dasein is of vorhanden kind, but this either is a wilful disregarding of the ‘being in’ state of Dasein or an unintentional not seeing of that ‘being-in’ state (BT, 82). The possibility of seeing Dasein as either vorhanden or zuhanden results from the fact that in ‘being-in-the-world’ Dasein is constructed of stuff like the world and could be mistaken.   Such a mistaking of Dasein for one of the other kinds of being would result in inappropriate relations and behaviour because it would reduce people to being either equipment or mere objects. That Dasein can be ‘being-in-the-world’, Heidegger’s defining concept of Dasein, is the consequence of Dasein being able to know and to conduct I-thou relations, which are entities that cannot be known as of vorhanden kind. The view of Dasein as ‘being-in-the-world’ contrasts with the vorhanden which are, ‘in-the-world’ or ‘belonging-to-the-world’ and so parts of the world (BT, 93).
Previous western views of humanity regarded people as either bipartite, body and soul, or tripartite, body, soul and spirit, and lead to the assumption that a person is a synthesis of the parts, but in Heidegger’s view Dasein is existence, not a synthesis of separately existing parts (BT, 153). Thus, Heidegger argues for regarding Dasein as a complete and indivisible being that enters into relations and intrinsically is a complete, unified, entity. There are multiple Dasein, which necessarily have some kind of relation to each other, whether warm and        friendly or hermitic or otherwise, and these relations are characterized by Heidegger as ‘Being-with’.

Zuhanden  – Slave-Being  

In a sense then with slave-being we do take the slave as zuhanden, ready-to-hand, useful, a tool for use.  In consensual slavery the slave agrees, wants, needs to be taken this way.  As dasein he/she is still being-in-the-world but in this case, the world is not his/her world, but her Master’s world.  The slave is never merely an object, and in fact all ‘objectification’ of the slave is in reality de-subjectification, because the slave remains at the same time dasein and equipment, a tool and a being with its own sense of being, but the sense of being a tool in the equipmental totality of the Master’s world.