The things we care about is a central focus in Heidegger’s philosophy. There are three fundamental terms for the care structure of Dasein: facticity, existentiality and fallenness.
Facticity is a part of what he calls “Geworfenheit” or “thrownness”. We are all thrown or projected into the world, arbitrarily born into a given family, within a given culture and at a given moment in human history, these “givens” are facticities.
The task we decide to be constantly engaged in and care about have very little to do with us, they are sort of decided for us by the particular facticity that we were born into.
We are thrown with neither prior knowledge nor individual opinion into a world that was there before and will remain there after we are gone.
The second term is existentiality, the possibilities that we have at our disposal. The reality of being a Dasein is to be a being that has possibilities, and that is what distinguishes us from every other being, that is why we are part of Dasein.
To describe existentiality we must distinguish between two key terms: Existentiell and existential. These sound almost identical but are written differently and mean very different things for Heidegger.
The first one, “existentiell” refers to the aspects of the world which are identifiable as particular delimited questions or issues, whereas “existential” refers to Being as such, which permeates all things and cannot be delimited in such a way as to be susceptible to factual knowledge. In general it can be said that “existentiell” refers to a “what”, a materially describable reality, whereas “existential” refers to structures inherent in any possible world.
In other words, the term “existentiell” refers to an ontic determination (physical, real, or factual existence), whereas “existential” refers to an ontological determination (dealing with the nature of being).
These two are related as an ontic determination is inherently ontological.
The final term that Heidegger uses is “fallenness”. It refers to the inauthentic existence of Dasein. As human beings, we fall into certain tasks by default. Because of social expectations and people telling us how we should be behaving, making us fall into a herd mentality. We have all fallen into tasks as it is part of our nature.
Heidegger calls the behaviour of mindlessly following other people the Das Man, translated as “they-self” or “the-they”, which is the opposite of the authenticity of Dasein and Being-in-the-world.
It is a mode of existence of Being-with-one-another. We surrender our existence to a formless entity. Instead of truly choosing to do something that we want, we do it because “that is what one does” or “that is what they do”.
We become mere numbers in the crowd, and live inauthentic lives. Heidegger contrasts this inauthentic Das Man with the authentic Dasein, or “owned self”.
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Greatest Philosophers in History | Martin Heidegger
This video explores Heidegger’s key terms as an introduction to his philosophy. Most importantly: Being-in-the-world, ready to hand and present-at hand, facticity, thrownness, existentiality, fallenness, Das Man, temporality, being-toward-death and the fourfold.
7 thoughts on “Facticity, Existentiality, Fallenness – Heidegger”
I’ve been intrigued to read Heidegger, but I have heard his books are complex and hard to follow. Did you learn about him from his source material?
I would very much recommend a Cambridge Companion. I use one, it is excellent material. One can later read his Being and Time.
I’ll try to tackle Heidegger after Kirkegaard. Old Soren’s making me a little dizzy. Nice piece, btw.
Thank you! That’s fitting, as Kierkegaard calls anxiety “the dizziness of freedom”.
No one could ramble on like Martin Heidegger.