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Can we drop the subject?

Heidegger, selfhood, and the history of a modern word

Lawrence Hatab

pp. 13-30

In Heidegger's thought, the question of being turns on the ontological difference, in that being cannot be reduced to positive states of entities or to objective conditions independent of human involvement. Being is not a matter of objects but of meaning, of how the world matters to Dasein; the meaningfulness of being is essentially related to Dasein's finitude, to the encounter with negative conditions (e.g., absence, malfunction, loss, and death), such that we care about the world because of finite limits. The question of being for Heidegger (in all periods of his thought, I would argue) is always implicated with human existence and its experience of finitude—and yet being is never reducible to human beings.I want to explore the being-question from the vantage point of selfhood as a focal term for human existence. The emphasis will be on the Dasein-analysis in Being and Time and Heidegger's critique of the modern subject-object distinction. I hope to add some depth to this discussion by taking up the strange history of the word "subject" and how this history bears on the question of being. I will show that the notion of the subject is far from simply a matter of human psychology or mentality because it figures in how philosophy has come to understand the world as well. I close with a brief examination of how this analysis helps illuminate Heidegger's concept of authenticity in Being and Time, with the hope of supplementing Charles Guignon's important contributions to this topic.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/978-94-017-9442-8_2

Full citation:

Hatab, L. (2015)., Can we drop the subject?: Heidegger, selfhood, and the history of a modern word, in H. Pedersen & M. Altman (eds.), Horizons of authenticity in phenomenology, existentialism, and moral psychology, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 13-30.

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