Heidegger studied the classics, and always urged his students to do the same. He theorised that the great philosophers, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and Descartes had all missed the most basic and primordial question, of what it is to be. It is from this vantage point that Heidegger’s quest begins. He notes that being is not an entity in itself, but every entity has its own being, which in every case is our own. Therefore in order to understand another person, we must first understand ourselves. Heidegger refers to our being-in-the-world as Dasein. Dasein comes from the German word that means “being there”, and conceptualises the view that we cannot separate ourselves from the world in which we live, or its influences. Dasein has its own ability to make choices, and realise its own possibilities, choosing an authentic or inauthentic mode of being. The hyphenated phrase being-in-the-world represents the unitary phenomenon of our relationship with the world. To be is to be part of the world and to be worldly. Heidegger posits that Dasein is fundamentally in-the-world with care. Care is described as a ‘structure’ of our being, and is revealed in the ways we relate to things in the world.
Let me now briefly explain the care structure. Heidegger explains that this begins its formation at our birth, as it is without any personal choice or determination that we are born into this world at a certain time and place, within a specific culture or religion. This situation is termed by Heidegger as Throwness, as we are literally thrown into the world. There exists therefore a facticity which basically applies to those things which are not in our control, such as the body we are born into. Facticity comes from our throwness, which makes the first dimension of the care structure. The second dimension is that of fallenness which is when we adopt an inauthentic mode of being, conforming to societal norms, and taking on a they-self. Heidegger calls this fallenness because he sees it as falling from our potential. Authenticity is the third dimension of the care structure, when we choose to actualise our possibilities and potential, by not conforming to the-they. It is important to note that authenticity and inauthenticity are not to be seen as positives and negatives, or morality and immorality, as Dasein adopts both authentic and inauthentic modes throughout our lives. Since our being-in-the-world involves being with other human beings, the influence of others is also of interest, a concept which Heidegger conveys in the phrase Being-with.