In Analysis of the Structure of Experience, Heidegger seeks to examine the question, “Is there something?” and to show that the lived experience of this question (“deliberately chosen in order to minimize pre-judgments” (p.54)) is related to the psychic subject in a wholly different way than may at first be imagined. At first one may think of asking the question ‘is there something’ and find that ‘I comport myself by setting something before me as questionable’ (p.55) is a suitable translation of the experience. However, “the simple inspection does not discover anything like an ‘I’. What I see is just that ‘it lives’ [es lebt], moreover that it lives towards something, that it is directed towards something by way of questioning, something that is itself questionable” (p.56). He then assumes the reader to be asking a certain question about the relation of the question to the questioner: doesn’t the “‘there is’ mean that it is given there, for me the questioner (p.58)? His answer to this objection is that it is “precisely because the question relates in general to an ‘I’, [that] it is without relation to my ‘I'” (p.58). So in order to experience the question ‘Is there something?’ one is reduced to taking oneself out of the equation. This takes care of the ‘is there…’ part of the question. He then moves on, examining the word ‘something’ to see what es lebt lives towards. What is this thing toward which I comport myself? Eventually, Heidegger finds that he cannot explain what ‘something’ is– which leads him to look behind the theoretical given ‘something’ to where that thing could come from.
The place he finds himself then is in what he calls ‘environmental experience’. Heidegger explains what he means by the term, saying that it is in this environmental experience that the meaningful character of something is “immediately given to me without any mental detours across thing-oriented apprehension” (p.61). When Heidegger speaks of the environing world, he means that the environment around us ‘worlds’; we are absorbed in an environing world as the backdrop of all our experience. It is the backdrop of all the things we intend as well: the backdrop of and foundation for the theoretical attitude. Heidegger uses the word ‘worlds’ as a verb here, saying es weltet, and “wherever and whenever es weltet for me, I am somehow there” (p.62). The meaning of ‘I’ here is not cordoned off from the environing world; it is fully present in it (its self and its environment). We appropriate our lived experience to ourselves not “from outside or from anywhere else” and not in a process of any kind, but by means of an ‘event’ (p.64). These “experiences are events of appropriation in do far as they live out one’s ‘own-ness’, and life lives only in this way” (p.64), and thus the only authentic appropriation of lived experience is one which
In comparing the experience of the question ‘Is there something?’ to environmental experience, remembering that he had to remove himself from it in order to grasp it, Heidegger finds it to be posed ineffectively. Because “the ‘anything whatsoever’, about whose ‘there is’ I ask, does not ‘world’… we grasp every potential environing world as ‘anything whatsoever’… [and] this grasping,” Heidegger says, “this firm fixing of the object as such, occurs at the cost of forcing back my own ‘I’” (p.62). In calling the as yet indeterminate thing an object as such, it is robbed of its context and its relation to me, and therefore the experience of the question is empty and we find ourselves chasing a theoretical meaning without being able to pin down anything about it. This taking an experience out of the context of life, isolating and objectifying it, Heidegger calls ‘de-vivification’ or Ent-leben. “For every experience that I want to consider,” he explains at the very end of the Analysis, “I must isolate and lift out, break up and destroy the contexture of the experience so that in the end and despite all efforts to the contrary, I have only a heap of things” (p. 64).
c. Mary Kathryn Huffman (Married: Gough) 2/25/04 /
Philosophy 340 / Professor Halteman / Journal #4