But it is not 'or', that is the point.
It is 'and'. Everything is. (Lessing, Briefing for a Descent into Hell, p. 141)
According to the philosopher Martin Heidegger, the world can for the most part be seen to mean in two ways: in terms either of 'things' or of 'ways of existing'. If you view the world as he did, in terms of ways of existing, then 'what it means to be in a world is more important than the classification of the world into a kind of entity' (Gelven, 1982:315). In terms of language this means that 'what it means to speak is prior to language; what it means to think comes before an understanding of the entity, mind' (Gelven, 1982:315). Language is therefore a means of understanding what it means to be. And this is highly resistant to formal/scientific (either sociologically or psychologically oriented) analysis. The world is not an object which scientists and critics its subjects-can step out of and analyse, impassively and objectively, and then step back into when they go for lunch or go to the beach. Understanding the world is not simply a matter of end-stopped, closed-off classification of a dichotomy between object and subject. For Heidegger, language is not about representing something; 'it performs real actions in the world of beings' (Koelb, 1984:35). Analysis sets out to understand the whole of a text from its detail, and the detail of a text from its whole-the hermeneutic circle (see Szondi, 1978). This is an important point to understand, because it creates a method of reading and re-reading, that never closes its reading of a text (see, for example, Barthes, 1975; see also Eco, 1979; Riffaterre, 1978; Rosenblatt, 1978).
Understanding, for Heidegger, is a dynamic activity, an interaction or dialogue which is never fully completed, never finished,