Temporality and the Mine of Da-Sein
After the concept of time was seemingly appropriated by the sciences by virtue of the Einsteinian revolution, Heidegger, in the Concept of Time, questions whether this scientific notion of time correctly reflects time as it is, or if it misrepresents the true being of time. In this essay I will map out Heidegger’s shift from the ‘what’ notion of time reflected in the sciences to the ‘how’ notion of time as represented in the ‘most extreme possibility’ of Da-Sein. I will then unpack the relation between Heidegger’s notion of time and being-gone, and argue that as a consequence of time as ‘how-ness’ Heidegger discovers time as futural.
Heidegger opens this reflection with the question: ‘(w)hat is time?’. He develops the question by expanding the notion of time as presented by Einstein in his The Foundation of the General Theory of Relativity; time as the ‘within which of the changeable’. (202) What is meant by time as the ‘within which of the changeable’? According to Einstein (or at least Heidegger’s reading of him), Time ‘only exists as a consequence of the events occurring within it’. (201) Heidegger states that, under this view, time is initially discovered as a means of understanding change. Heidegger then returns to his initial concern over the true nature of time and asks whether time is correctly represented by this position; ‘does (time) here give itself as itself in what it is?’. (202) In order to see whether the scientific view does justice to time, Heidegger inquires as to how the scientist encounters time; what leads Scientists to view time as ‘nothing’? Heidegger argues that insofar as the scientist approaches time as a clock, he or she understands time in relation to duration; the clock represents time numerically and ‘indicates the how-long and the when’. (202) What can one infer about time from the structure of a clock? For Heidegger, clock time is homogenous; it places no value on specific units and instead all time is uniform. In terms of the ‘now’, while the clock does in one sense reduce it to the ‘possible earlier of a later’, it also points out a notion of ‘now’; it points out the precise ‘now at the time’. (202)
Heidegger then attempts to transcend the ‘now’ as indicated by his watch and ask what is the now ‘as I look at my watch?’; Heidegger is attempting to uncover the raw notion of ‘now-ness’ that exists prior to clock time. (202) This step shifts the question of the ‘what-ness’ of time to the ‘how-ness’ of time; insofar as the ‘now’ is something existing prior to its indication on a measuring apparatus, how is one to understand the ‘now’ as an aspect of Da-Sein? What is one to make of Da-Sein’s ‘natural clock’? Heidegger argues that while time is generally seen as ‘natural time’, the fact that time has been uncovered as a phenomenon of Da-Sein makes it necessary for one to ‘characterize this Da-Sein in the fundamental determination of its be-ing’ in order to understand the true nature of time. (204) Within the eight aspects of Dasein posited by Heidegger (204-205), the fourth criterion is the most revealing in relation to Da-Sein’s relation to time; Heidegger argues that Jeweiligkeit (the each particular while) is constitutive of Da-Sein. For Heidegger Jeweiligkeit illustrates the joint aspect of Da-Sein; in one sense it is the repetitive continuation of itself through particular instance, and in other it represents the essential aspect of the ‘I am’ in this scheme of repetition. (205)
Heidegger further pushes the notion of Time as a ‘how’ when he asks about the knowability of Da-Sein; how is that something can be known ‘in its be-ing before it has come to an end’? Heidegger makes a major move in his dual analysis of time and Da-Sein when he states that, insofar as death is Da-sein’s most extreme possibility and it is characterized by its ‘certainty’ and ‘utter indeterminacy’, any attempt to know death will be a ‘forerunning to its being gone’; a motion that aims towards death as the most extreme possibility of Da-Sein. (207) This ‘being gone’ is not a ‘what’ for Heidegger, but instead a ‘how’; it is established as ‘my being gone’ and is what Heidegger calls ‘the proper ‘how’ of my Da-Sein’. (207) This analysis does provide an understanding of time as inherently futural insofar as it is a by-product of Dasein’s ‘anticipatory resoluteness’ towards death; ‘being futural (…) is characterized as the proper ‘how’ of being temporal’. (208) This captures the transition from the preconceived ‘what-ness’ of time to the ‘how-ness’ of time; Da-Sein as time and ‘not in time’. (208)
After raising questions as to whether the clock notion of time correctly reflected time as is it, or if it misrepresented the true being of time, Heidegger shifts from the ‘what’ notion of time reflected in the sciences to the ‘how’ notion of time as represented in the utmost possibility of Da-Sein. Heidegger approaches the question ‘what is time?’ by finding the question within the question and unpacking ‘Am I my time?’.
Heidegger, Martin. The concept of time. Oxford, UK: B. Blackwell, 1992. Print.