The problem I see with Heidegger’s concept of Dasein is that it is an inference. He takes the fact that every experience we have had is an experience of something; that is he takes the intentionality (or is it intensionality?) of consciousness and infers that that which is conscious is dasein.
Take the concept of disclosedness for example. He says that we are conscious of what dasein discloses.
But it could equally be said that consciousness is a kind of vessel, a screen that has the property of being able to receive impressions.
Both of these are inferences from conscious experience that cohere with the fact of conscious experience. That is they are two stories about the cause of conscious experience that explain conscious experience equally well.
Heidegger was trying to overcome or by-pass some of the problems in a Cartesian world-view; but his way of doing it isn’t the only way.
From my own experience I have come to the conclusion that we are passive observers of our lives; or rather consciousness is utterly passive.
We are consciously aware of choices being made and feelings being felt; but we are not aware of the causes of these choices and feelings. They pop up spontaneously, seemingly out of nowhere. All we can do is make inferences concerning their cause.
I realized this when I began asking myself two questions:
“How do I distinguish between that which I have control over and that which I don’t?”
“How do I distinguish between internal phenomena and external phenomena?”
With the first question I began with the supposition “I have control over that which does what I choose it to do.”; but then I asked myself “Where does my choice come from?” and “Why did I choose what I chose and not something else?”
I saw when I watched myself in the act of making choices that the choice sprung from a black-box (that is to say it came from a place my awareness didn’t extend to).
First there spontaneously popped up an urge to do something; often I immediately act upon the urge without any thought.
Even when I deliberate about whether I should choose to enact the urge I saw that I was imagining the ramifications of doing or not doing the thing. I would then take each scenario and place it before the altar of my preference and pick the one I preferred.
Every step in this process just popped up into my awareness out of the black box.
There’s a paradox involved here that succinctly shows what I am trying to convey: “You don’t choose to choose what you choose before you choose it.”
This also works for thought: “You don’t think a thought before you think it”
The second question (“How do I distinguish between internal phenomena and external phenomena?”) led to similar conclusions.
I began with the supposition that all external phenomena appears to be spontaneous. We can make guesses about what will happen next but we can’t be certain.
So that being the case internal phenomena should not be spontaneous… right?
But it is spontaneous!
This is sometimes covered over by the stream of conscious babble; the voice we talk to ourselves with and the images we imagine.
But I spent years watching my thoughts; trying to find their moment of conception and no matter how hard or long I looked all I was ever aware of was words and images popping up spontaneously.
So the Cartesian problem of how can a thinking thing – and I don’t think he just meant thought by cogito but also awareness – cause an extended thing to move is no problem because:
Thoughts are objects out there
Our awareness has no effect on what is out there
Our awareness is just receptivity
Of course point 3 is the inference that distinguishes what I’m saying from what Heidegger says. Point 1 and 2 aren’t; just look for yourself.
It could be that consciousness is an activity of dasein, the brain, some kind of spiritual thing or whatever. The fact is that we are not transparent to ourselves and so have to make inferences concerning our being; concerning that which is conscious.
Which is cool because stories are fun to read and write!