Logbook Entry — How is Dasein’s relationship with the world unique to Dasein?
We do not exist in the world like the way in which water is in a glass (BAT:79) because this confuses our way of Being with the categorical Being of things. It is possible for us to be treated as if we are things, being used or seen as objects, but this is the wrong way to conceive of our Being (e.g. people have been forced to be slaves, but it is clear to us that this is wrong and humans are more than just useful objects passive to the world). Dasein is distinct from other entities because its existence is a concern for it — our existence is a concern for each of us (Large, 2008: 27) — and there is a sense of Mineness to the Being of Dasein. I can be said to have ‘my world’ and he can be said to have ‘his world’ (which is his ‘my world’), which is understood in terms of our own unique possibilities.
Dasein is also tied in with Being-in-the-world or to-be-in-the-world. This ‘in’ is meant existentially not categorically, as ‘Being alongside / with’ (Large, 2008: 39). One could compare this existential sense of ‘in’ with a foetus growing inside its mother because it is not enough to say that the foetus is located in the mother’s whom as this does not describe fully the situation — the relationship (not in an emotional sense) between the foetus and the mother. It is growing and living alongside her, having an effect on her body and taking nutrients from her, and it cannot exist outside of her. There is a sense of familiarity and intimacy here. This is therefore, a rough example to provide a clearer picture of the existential ‘in’. It can be contrasted with a categorical ‘in’ example of a pebble in a lake. We can only really speak of the geographical location of the pebble, there is no sense in which the pebble exists alongside the lake because there is no familiarity between the pebble and lake; the situation is described fully simply by explaining the geographical location of the pebble in the lake. So, Dasein’s relationship to the world — Being-in-the-world — is more comparable to a foetus growing inside its mother than it is to a pebble situated in a lake.
The world can only have a meaning and sense in relation to Dasein. We come into a world, which is already being made sense of by other Daseins, so the world and Dasein are inextricably linked from “Day One”. The world is an existential way of Being of Dasein (Large, 2008: 51). Where traditional philosophy goes wrong in its interpretation of the relationship between humans and the world, is that — specifically in epistemology — its focus is on transcending one’s inner self to reach knowledge of the external world, making ourselves the subject and the world the object. For Heidegger, there is no subject-object or internal-external distinction between the world and Dasein. We are entwined in our world because it matters to us and we are familiar with it through everyday interactions, so the epistemological problem of transcending ourselves is a non-problem as we are already outside of ourselves in our involvement with a world (Large, 2008: 41) that is a necessary part of what it means to be Dasein. The world and Dasein can only be understood together. This is an ontological and existential conception of the world, which Heidegger calls ‘Weltlichkeit’ or ‘worldliness’, as opposed to a conception of the world as a categorical “container” of things. To understand worldliness, we must return to our everyday experience of the surrounding world, ‘Umwelt’ (BAT: 66), to how things present themselves to us in our everyday encounters. Everyday involvement with things already implies a world.