20 March 2020

Taking care of living

As already developed,* whoness is a dynamic concept relating to how you or I lead our respective individual lives as selves. The movement of living is powered in the first place by our potentials and abilities exercised in the manifold sociating power interplays of living. Each of us is concerned with taking care of living in ways corresponding to how each of us has cast our selves and thus taken a stand (or not) in selfhood. There are, however, various ways in which you can be your self (or I can be my self) which fall into two broad classes:  expressly becoming your self in a who-stand either from a distance from the normal masks of selfhood shining back from the world or being drawn into and becoming immersed in and swept along by the current of taking care of what has to be taken care of in an average way of leading an everyday life. In being thus pulled into the stream of living with others, you lose the distance (Abstand, GA61:102ff) of a stand in your self and thus go along with the others in their average normality. You adapt. Your taking care of living takes its direction from an inclination (Neigung, Geneigtheit, GA61:100ff) that pulls you into the busy business of the world.
What you undertake has a significance, a relevance (Bedeutsamkeit) for your leading your life that is interlinked with other relevancies for taking care of your life which, in turn, leads you from one movement to another, one concern to another, one power interplay to another, distracting and scattering (Zerstreuung) your life-movements simply through the pull of the inclination taken by your life. Your stand in your self and thus your distance from the world of taking care of life in power interplays is lost to distracted going-along-with the stream of average everyday living according to average everyday understanding. You become immersed in the cares of living. One movement of taking-care-of leads breathlessly to another under the gravitational pull of inclination in an endless succession.
Nevertheless, within this distracted, scattered movement, you attempt to erect a self against the others at a vertical distance in the power interplays through being concerned about and taking care of your status as somewho superior compared to the others (Abständigkeit, GA61:103). In your loss of distance from the world of taking care of living, you are out for superior status, success, advantage, surpassing the other, drawing attention to your self, etc. Your selfhood thus becomes a superior stand compared to others that calls for consolidation and defence. In losing your distance and becoming entangled in the distractions of scattered movements of taking-care-of, you close yourself off from your potential self (Abriegelung, GA61:105ff), or rather, your selfhood becomes a mere mask (Maske, GA61:107f) that you wear in the daily interplays in the world through which you pretend to yourself and to the others to be who you are, preferably in a comparatively higher self-stand. Your going along with the average, normal movements of everyday life is easier (Das ‘Leichte’, GA61:108ff) than taking a stand in your very own self at a distance from averageness. In this way you miss (verfehlen, GA61:108) your self, i.e who you could be, i.e. how you could presence in the world, as a self-standing self.
Your sharing the world with others through leading your life is largely a matter of the interchanges, intercourse, i.e. the estimative power interplays with others, which may be as banal a buying a cake of soap in a supermarket. With this transaction you take care of keeping your hands clean, whereas the shop assistant takes care of his or her earning a livelihood as an employee. You estimate each other as customer and shop assistant, respectively, in transacting, politely and without friction, this simple everyday movement of interplay of doing something for each other. As a customer you have the power of reified value (money in one of its guises) in your pocket, whereas the shop assistant has the acknowledged power to serve customers. Soap is interchanged for money by mutual agreement.
The world of others (Mitwelt), however, presents itself also in other, more inconspicuous and imperceptible ways via the intricate web of interrelationships through which things and people, whats and whos, are interlinked by relevancies that each of us understands (Verstehen). Everything and everyone in the world has an understood relevancy (Bedeutsamkeit) in a web of interrelationships that constitutes how the world is understood at all, i.e. the worldliness of the world.  When, say, I enter my daily routine by sitting down at the useful thing that is my desk, this thing itself bears many references, mostly inconspicuous and unnoticed, to others. I estimate my desk as a useful, even pleasing and valuable thing that I purchased years ago in which I indirectly and unnoticeably estimated the labours of all those who contributed to its production and distribution, including the miner who mined the minerals that went into the table’s frame, the worker in the glass factory that produced the table-top, the company managers who organized the production, the salesperson who sold me the table, the transportation company and workers who delivered the table to me, etc.
In addition to this, the table itself has a history that refers to many others, such as the authors who wrote the books that I have read at this table, the friends with whom I have had a conversation, drinking tea or wine, at the table, the many officials with whom I have spoken on the telephone at various times, with those who have communicated with me by e-mail, with those from whom I have received internet news on my computer, and so on. All these various others present themselves inconspicuously as who they are from a certain perspective at my glass-topped desk, mostly without my ever noticing it, or only in small details of recollections.
Through my desk I also encounter myself quietly as who I am, my self. I am someone who reads certain authors and writes books, who has certain conversations with friends, telephones with certain others in taking care of my own movement of living, who gets information via the cyberworld. The reflection from my desk tells me inconspícuously who I am as a self, whether I am caught up in the power interplay of setting my self up as a superior who vis-à-vis the others, or carrying on with taking care of who I am as an independent, self-standing self with distance from distracted immersion in the world’s endless, busy goings-on. No matter whether distanced or distractedly immersed, my taking care of living as a movement can only happen within the shared three-dimensional temporal openness in which I understand what I have already taken care of, what I am currently taking care of, and what I plan to take care in the future.
I am familiar (Vertrautheit, GA63:99) with my world of interrelated whats and whos that is open (erschlossen) to me in understanding and in which I carry on my daily life in routines and habits, taking care of the various matters concerning my own life-movements according to the direction my life has taken. Nevertheless, this familiarity with my world in its movement can be disturbed by the intrusion of the alien and unfamiliar (Fremdes, Unvertrautheit, GA63:100) that are unforeseen and presence incalculably (Unberechenbarkeit, GA63:100). Such disturbance by the unfamiliar and unforeseen arises for the most part from the incalculability and unpredictability of how the myriad, ongoing, estimative power interplays in the world play out, i.e. the moving world as the sociated, intertwined movements of interplay, not only those that are close to home in personal power interplays with others, including everyday economic transactions, but also through the global interrelatedness of uncountable power interplays that impact on the lives of many and are understood in an uncountable number of, mostly conflicting and contradictory, opinions. Such power interplays can be political ones (e.g. the shifting political mood of the world) or, in today’s globalized capitalist world, power interplays mediated via the movement of reified value (e.g. disturbing global financial and economic crises) on which all depend economically for leading their lives, eárning a livelihood. The way the gainful game is played out and its unforeseen moves crosses individual plans, impacting individual lives in often unexpected ways. Power interplays, of whatever kind, are inherently, i.e. socio-ontologically, incalculable.

(* Excerpt from a work in progress.)

Further reading:

Heidegger, Martin Phänomenologische Interpretationen zu Aristoteles — Einführung in die phänomenologische Forschung Frühe Freiburger Vorlesung WS 1921/22 Gesamtausgabe Band 61 (GA61) ed. Walter Bröcker und Käte Bröcker-Oltmanns, Klostermann, Frankfurt/M. 1984, 1994. Insbes. III. Teil, 1. Kapitel ‘Grundkategorien des Lebens’ GA61:84ff.

Heidegger, Martin Ontologie— (Hermeneutik der Faktizität) Frühe Freiburger Vorlesung SS 1923 Gesamtausgabe Band 63 (GA63) ed. Käte Bröcker-Oltmanns, Klostermann, Frankfurt/M. 11988. Insbes. GA63:98ff.

On power interplays and the gainful game, in particular, cf. my Social Ontology of Whoness 2019 and also Capital and Technology 3rd ed. 2015.

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