Daniel O. Dahlstrom: Genuine Timeliness, from Heidegger’s Concept of Truth
I thought Dahlstrom gave an interesting sense to our being-toward-death when he writes:
“The original phenomenon of the future thus consists in someone holding out the possibility of her death, allowing this potential that is most her own to come to her. In effect, she comes to be or becomes existentially who she already is becoming existentially. What does it mean to allow this direst of possibilities to come to us? It means not running away from death. An inkling of what is meant can be gathered from the commonplace observation at funerals that death puts everything into perspective, as we see it coming, inevitably, to us. Inasmuch as a person allows herself – her genuine manner of being-here- to come to her in this way, she anticipates it. Heidegger accordingly calls this genuine future “anticipating” or, more literally, “running ahead” (Vorlaufen: SZ, 336), This anticipating (“a more original way of being toward death than a concerned expectation of it”) is only possible because being-here is “always already coming to itself,” something that cannot be said for what is merely handy or on hand (SZ 325) (Dahlstrom, Genuine Timeliness, 157).”
Dahlstrom doesn’t give this example, but we project ourselves into a future that is not simply given in experience, such as when I reach for a glass “as though” my hand will accomplish reaching the glass, “as though” the next moment won’t be denied me – even though it very well might be. We experience important events (death being the most important event) as though they are coming to us out of the future, such as when I say Christmas is coming - is here - has passed away. This anticipatory “running ahead” allows for our genuine relationship to death.
Regarding how timeliness brings sense to our Dasein, Dahlstom comments by way of what he sees as a somewhat applicable analogy that: “
As far as talk of “sense”: as a horizon is concerned, it is only natural to think of the following pairs: foreground/background, figure/ground, or melody/accompaniment. These examples are instructive but also misleading (and no less instructive because they are misleading). In certain respects it hardly seems possible for us to direct our attention only at the foreground of a picture; without a ground against which a picture cuts a profile, the figure would never be apparent. So too musical accompaniments seem to fade out, thereby allowing the melody to stand out all the more. In corresponding fashion, genuine timeliness does not merely constitute respective ways in which to be-here is to stand out or ex-ist and thus disclose (namely, “running-ahead” or “anticipating,” “retrieving,” or “repeating” and “involvement in the moment”). Genuine timeliness also includes the horizon for these timely constitutions of existence, though the horizon is different in each case. (160-161)
An example from Derrida can perhaps be instructive here. Derrida comments that:
“The living Present is, he [Husserl] says, the absolute, absolutely universal and unconditional form of experience, the ultimate, irreducible and fundamental form of all evidence and of all meaning. And we must first understand the [apparent] ‘philosophical invulnerability’ of this Husserlian affirmation Why [apparently] invulnerable? Well it is evident, it is self-evidence itself that any experience is only ever lived in the ‘present’ and that everything of experience that comes about, everything that appears in it, presents itself in it, as meaning or as self evidence, is present. We have the absolute certainty that however far back in time we go, in our own time or in that of humanity or in time in general, no experience has been possible that was not had in the present. And we know ‘a priori’ – and if there was only one thing in the world we did not need to learn it is this one – however distantly we anticipate the future, we know ‘a priori’ that in millions of years, if there is an experience, a thought in general (human or not, divine or not, animal or not), it will be in the present, as we are in the present now … [The] living present is more fundamental than the ‘I’… An assertion that is perhaps trivial but irrecusable: we never leave the Present… [T]he Living Present is a tautological expression in which in any case one cannot tell a subject from a predicate … This Philosophy of the Living Present does not mean all temporal difference or modifications are erased in the present, [but rather past is past-present, and future is future-present]” (Derrida, Heidegger and the Question of Being and History, 210)
For instance, Dahlstrom doesn’t give this example, but in the judgment “The Dog is White,” the judgment is understood as inherently disputable, and so implies the being-on-hand of the dog for our Dasein that we appeal to in order to resolve the dispute (if someone objects that the dog is in fact brown, for instance, we resolve the dispute by appealing to the dog ‘at hand right now,’ since this is the ‘really real’). For more on Heidegger and the judgment, see my post here: http://palpatinesway.blogspot.com/2019/06/the-logic-of-heideggers-kant-pointing.html Our being with entities in the Now depends on enpresenting, gegenwartigen: There is the (1) presencing of the entity in combination with my (2) enpresenting of it, because if I am not present with the being (such as when I am having a conversation with a person and my mind wanders), the bare “thatness” of the entity for me disappears.
Dahlstorm comments that
In this way Heidegger introduces the transcendental dimension of analysis of timeliness. “Resting on the horizonal unity of ecstatic timeliness, the world is transcendent” (SZ 366). For example, precisely in the “moment” that springs from genuinely coming-to-ourselves, we bring ourselves, being-here, face-to face with our respective situations. On the basis of genuine timeliness, we encounter others, what is handy, and what is on hand. Regarded in this way. Regarded in this way, genuine timeliness is the condition of the possibility of genuine being-in-the-world, encompassing the worldliness of the work-world, being-with-others, and being oneself and thereby allowing for an authentic encounter with intraworldly entities (163)