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(2017) From conventionalism to social authenticity, Dordrecht, Springer.

How to change das Man?

Christian Schmidt

pp. 201-217

In this paper I argue that Heidegger's term of art das Man describes a generic set of patterns how to perceive, act and judge. It is the social practice of integrating especially children in the ways of perceiving, acting and judging together that realises this genus. This is shown in critical engagement with Michael Tomasello's evolutionary anthropology and John Searle's theory of a social background. Drawing on this interpretation of das Man, I discuss Heidegger's strategies to account for an authentic way of life, i.e. the ability to depart from established patterns by (1) attitude adjustment or decision (resoluteness/authenticity), (2) brute force (the event), and (3) willingly unwilling openness to the unexpected (letting be). All three attempts fall short of the challenge that Heidegger's analysis of das Man presents to our self-conception that we are autonomous subjects. In the final section of the paper, I sketch an alternative proposal to gain an authentic stance towards the generic patterns by analysing more closely the institutions which realise our autonomy, most of all private property and rights.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-56865-2_11

Full citation:

Schmidt, C. (2017)., How to change das Man?, in H. B. Schmid & G. Thonhauser (eds.), From conventionalism to social authenticity, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 201-217.

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