Academic journal article Philosophy Today

Dasein Gets Pregnant

Academic journal article Philosophy Today

Dasein Gets Pregnant

Article excerpt

In an existential analysis of Dasein, pregnancy might only be considered a factical "condition"-ontic, not ontological. In fact, it is a factical condition that affects only some members of the group human Dasein. But if my factical death, my factical community, my factical birth, my factical interrelations with others-to name a few-are springboards for discussions of my ontological existence, leading to concepts such as Being-towards-death, Being-with, thrownness, and the They (das Man), then pregnancy, as a fundamental factical condition, must also be considered with respect to my ontological existence. Although pregnancy is not an ontic condition that occurs for every individual Dasein (as opposed to death), the situations both of my mother's pregnancy and of my own birth-which is my own necessary involvement in pregnancy-have obvious influence on my existential, ontological existence. Pregnancy not only challenges the "individuality" of the "subject"' Dasein (for both pregnant and potential subjects); it also brings under scrutiny the possibility of "authenticity" as an individual project. Finally, pregnancy compels us to re-evaluate the nature of Dasein's temporality, especially authentic temporality.

This project consists of three parts. First, I briefly introduce the "subject," Dasein, as described and analyzed in Heidegger's phenomenology and through Levinas's focus on (and critique of) Dasein as primarily alone or lonely. Next, I turn to the works of two feminist philosophers, Iris Young and Carol Bigwood, in order to show how factical, pregnant Dasein provides an original analysis of-as well as challenges to-the ontological, individual Dasein taken to be fundamental by Heidegger and Levinas. Finally, I execute a limited phenomenological analysis of pregnant temporality. This analysis allows us to re-consider Dasein's authenticity; being authentic and "my own" may only be possible through my losing the strict divisions between Dasein and the Other.

Existential Dasein: Heidegger and Levinas

The primary characteristics of Dasein which concern us here are, first, Dasein's individuality, sometimes related to loneliness, and second, its authenticity, especially as related to temporality. In Heidegger's original terms, we will also focus on Dasein's individualizing (Vereinzelung) and the becoming lonely (Vereinsamung) to which it leads. The latter term is crucial to Levinas's reading and critique, in his Le Temps et l'Autre, of Heidegger's authentic Dasein. Furthermore, Heidegger's term Eigentlichkeit (authenticity) must be understood not only through the English term "authentic," but also as what is most "actual" or most "my own" for Dasein. Dasein's authenticity (Eigentlichkeit) is thus fairly interrelated with its individualizing (Vereinzelung). Our project here is to see how we can understand Dasein's authenticity and individualizing with respect to pregnancy. This requires that we examine the ontic conditions that lead to the ontological possibilities of individualizing and authenticity, comparing them with the ontic condition of pregnancy and its ontological possibility.

In his lectures between 1923 and 1944, Heidegger attempts to establish an understanding of metaphysics, or Being (Sein), through an analysis of Dasein.2 Similar to his movement in Sein und Zeit, he suggests that Dasein's involvement with the world-or rather, the "uncanniness" (unheimlichkeit) that arises through its involvement with the world-forces Dasein to face its own finitude. This finitude, furthermore-through the recognition that I can only die my own death, alone-reveals my individuality, my aloneness, and my loneliness (GM, 2b). Dasein's temporality (as finitude) thus indicates its individuality, and both of these "aspects" of Dasein arise through the possibility/necessity of death. Therefore, although Dasein is not a solipsistic creature (evidenced through its Being-with, Being-in-the-world, etc.), its individuality and aloneness are crucial and fundamental to its existence (as temporal). …

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