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  • npglazer

Subjectivity and Witness

Heidegger wrote about the ontology of Dasein in Being and Time. One of the conditions of Dasein's being is that we have "thrownness." We are thrown into the world through no choice of our own, in a certain body, with certain limitations, in a certain time period, and within a certain cultural milieu. Thrownness is part of our ontological subjectivity.

A curious part of our throwness, is that Dasein comes completely out of the universe and is completely made out of the materials of the universe. For some reason though people think we are separate from the universe. Its like we have an odd ability to abstract and reify ourselves from our concrete circumstances and think we are separate from the universe when we come completely out of the universe. It's like we are the part of the universe that became aware of itself, but forget that we come out of the world and universe. It's quite a tragic condition actually. Animals can't, at least as far as I can tell, agonize over their place in the universe while forgetting they are made out of the universe. Animals have no ability to forget about their throwness.

Dasein does have some other unique abilities in my opinion though. Dasein gets to be a "witness" to the events that take place in this universe. Without subjectivity there would nothing to record the events of this universe and be a "witness" to what is taking place here. By "witness" I don't mean that life is all good either. Lots of suffering, injustice, and pain exist through no fault of our own in this world. Joy and pleasure exist too, but whatever emotion we are feeling and thought we are thinking we get to be a "witness" and participant to the events taking place here. Of course a complete materialist and atheist would roll their eyes at my next speculative statement but it might be that God got lonely in being the only "witness" to the universe and wanted someone else to witness what He/She/It/ The Ineffable, was also "witnessing." Whatever it is, it seems that we are the part of the universe that came into being to have a phenomenological experience and be a "witness" to the world and universe.

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