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DASEIN AND ANGST

'Authentic dasein' on the other hand is described in Being and time as the consequence of a misfortune which propels the individual out of the collective mass into a state of 'angst' which eventually produces a real - essentially individual - encounter with Being: 'in anxiety [Stambaugh's translation. Dugin's English translator renders it as 'terror'] there lies the possibility of a distinctive disclosure since anxiety individualises. This individuality fetches Dasein back from its falling-prey and reveals to it authenticity and inauthenticity as possibilities of its being ...' (Being and time, p.184). A similar account is given in the essay What is Metaphysics? (the first of Heidegger's essays to be translated - by Henry Corbin - into French): 'Anxiety reveals the nothing ... Only on the ground of the original revelation of the nothing can human existence approach and penetrate beings ...Without the original revelation of the nothing, no selfhood and no freedom ... Anxiety is there. It is only sleeping. Its breath quivers perceptibly through Dasein, only slightly in those who are jittery, imperceptibly in the "Oh yes" and the "Oh no" of men of affairs; but most readily in the reserved, and most assuredly in those who are basically daring. But those daring ones are sustained by that on which they expend themselves - in order thus to preserve the ultimate grandeur of existence.' (21)

(21) 'What is metaphysics?' in Basic Writings, pp. 101, 103, 106.

A couple of footnotes in Being and time (pp. 184 and 225) tell us that though the Danish writer, Søren Kierkegaard has nothing of value to say about 'being' he is good on the subject of 'angst'. The reference is to Kierkegaard's The Concept of anxiety in which the 'angst' - and it is important to note that this is an anxiety that operates independently of any obvious cause - illness, war, famine etc - is ultimately understood in Christian terms as consciousness of sin (The Concept of anxiety is subtitled 'A simple psychologically orientating deliberation on the dogmatic issue of hereditary sin'). Heidegger too, discussing the phenomenon of conscience, sees a feeling of 'guilt' as a useful, indeed necessary, stage in the re-orientation towards authentic dasein: 'We characterised authentically understanding the call as wanting to have a conscience. Letting one's own innermost self act in itself of its own accord in its being-guilty represents phenomenally the authentic potentiality-of-being attested to in Dasein itself ... Wanting to have a conscience becomes a readiness for anxiety ... The call introduces the fact of constantly being-guilty and thus brings the self back from the loud idle chatter of the they's common sense. Thus the mode of articulative discourse belonging to wanting to have a conscience is reticence ... the reticent projecting oneself upon one's ownmost being-guilty which is ready for anxiety - we call resoluteness ... in resoluteness the most primordial truth of Dasein has been reached because it is authentic.' (Being and time, pp. 283-4). 

Dugin, like Kierkegaard but I think more emphatically than Heidegger, prefers this feeling of guilt to be independent of any actual misdeed. (22) He says: 'In order to feel the extent of its endless and absolute guilt, Dasein should not commit anything reprehensible.' He continues in a tone of stern moral imperative which I think is quite antithetical to the spirit of Heidegger: 'In that case, Dasein will have no opportunity to evade understanding the greatest level of its guilt in the face of Being. Every specific fault must be rectified. The only kind of guilt that cannot be redeemed is the delay in transitioning from inauthentic existence to the authentic counterpart. This delay, this "noch nicht", contains the drama of Dasein's historic presence as "Sein" placed into "da"'. (Dugin, p.370)

(22) But he may be wrong. The remarkable Russian film The Island shows how the perpetual consciousness of a contemptible act turns an apparently ordinary Soviet citizen into one of the highest categories of saint in the Orthodox Church - a 'fool for Christ'. 

I see no sign that Heidegger's 'conscience' is a guilt in the face of 'Being', as if Being was a person who had been wronged by inauthentic Dasein. Nor do I see that Heidegger requires specific faults to be rectified (how? unless one accepts - as I do but I'm sure Heidegger doesn't - the sacrament of confession) or that he thinks in terms either that the guilt in question stems from a failure to pass from inauthentic to authentic or that the question of 'redemption' comes into it, even as a negative 'cannot be redeemed'. Maybe there is a problem of translation here but what on earth could the word 'redeemed' possibly mean in the context of Heidegger's philosophy?  It's difficult to imagine the mind that could experience 'endless and absolute guilt' over the error of conceiving Being as a being and I doubt if this is what Heidegger had in mind.

Dugin refers (p.352) to 'authentic Dasein, which grasps Being in Being-in-between, liberating it from false identities with beings-outside-of (physis) and beings-inside-of (idea, psyche).' In contrast 'inauthentic Dasein falls into a pattern of thrashing between the exterior and the interior and, spinning in a cycle of uncertainties growing like a snowball [no reference is given! - PB], ends up being unable to focus and prove ontologically the basis for either one.'

He is clearly confusing the distinction between authentic and inauthentic dasein with the distinction between fundamental ontology and the old metaphysics. On this reading we would have to convict Nietzsche, the 'peak' of the Western metaphysical tradition, therefore of the tradition that confuses Being with beings, as an example of inauthentic dasein. Nietzsche as the spokesman for das Man, 'the loud idle chatter of the they's common sense'! It seems to me that 'authentic dasein' will always be the exception, inauthentic dasein' the everyday, with no necessary derogatory implication. To quote Heidegger again (Being and time, p.42): 'the inauthenticity of Dasein does not signify a "lesser" being or a "lower" degree of being. Rather inauthenticity can determine Dasein even in its fullest concretion, when it is busy, excited, interested and capable of pleasure.'Authentic dasein will be the poet and philosopher. In a traditional society it may be the prophet, the shaman, the starets, the marabout. The word usually translated as 'idle chatter' or 'idle talk' is Gerede. The (Collins Concise) Dictionary translation for Gerede is 'gossiping' but it is also simply 'talk'. Surely such talk is only reprehensible when the people who engage in it have pretensions to being philosophers or poets?

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