Existence In Heidegger's Being And Time

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In Being and Time, Martin Heidegger attempts to answer the question of what it means “to be” or “to exist”. He argues that, historically, philosophy has failed to answer this question because it erroneously assumes that there is one form of “existing” that is shared universally among all things. From this philosophical framework, to say that chairs exist would be the same as saying that we exist. Heidegger rejects this framework. He argues that if we seek to answer the question of what it means to exist, we have to study the unique entity that has an understanding of what it means to be (i.e. Dasein) and how that entity’s existence differs from that of all other entities. In understanding the distinction between Dasein and other entities, we are able to understand the unique phenomena of Dasein’s existence, that is, being-in-the-world.

Heidegger rejects the assumption maintained in many philosophical frameworks that all forms of existence are equivalent; instead, he claims that there is an ontological difference between
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The hyphenation that Heidegger utilizes in the term ‘being-in-the-world’ is intentional – it is used to indicate that this “compound expression… stands for a unitary phenomenon” (78). It would be a mistake to consider “being-in-the-world” as the composite of two separate characteristics – that of “being in” and of “the world.” Therefore, in analyzing ‘being-in-the-world,’ which solely characterizes Dasein, it is important that we understand this term as a singular “datum” to be interpreted as a whole (78). However, kept in its unitary form, it may be unclear as to how “being-in-the-world” can characterize Dasein but not entities like chairs. Therefore, it is necessary to dissect the components of the unitary phenomena of “being-in-the-world” into its “constitutive items” – that is, “being-in” and ‘the world”
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