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Tool-analysis – Heidegger
Equipment (German: das Zeug)
An object in the world with which we have meaningful dealings.
A nearly un-translatable term, Heidegger's equipment can be thought of as a collective noun,
so that it is never appropriate to call something 'an equipment'. Instead, its use often reflects it
to mean a tool, or as an "in-order-to" for Dasein.
Tools, in this collective sense, and in being ready-to-hand, always exist in a network of other
tools and organizations, e.g., the paper is on a desk in a room at a university. It is inappropriate
usually to see such equipment on its own or as something present-at-hand
Tool-Being: Through Heidegger to Realism
Shawn Smith American University of Cairo
Tool-Being: Heidegger and the Metaphysics of Objects. Graham Harman. Peru, IL: Open Court
Publishing, 2002.With Tool-Being, Graham Harman seeks to reinvigorate both Heidegger studies and
realist metaphysics. This book, confidently promises to alter the direction of Heidegger
interpretation—away from human-centered concerns with Dasein and language and toward a
concern with objects themselves—and in so doing to open a route for a realist metaphysics that
will incorporate the phenomenological critique of naïve realism. Striking claims, but backed up
with scholarly thoroughness: Dr. Harman has read every published volume of the Gesamtausgabe in
the original German, and puts that knowledge to rigorous use with both scholarly thoroughness and
originality of thought.
Tool-Being provides, in three well-structured chapters, a thorough unpacking of two central axes
present within Heidegger's thought. One is the famous distinction between presence-at-hand and
readiness-to-hand—it is the latter term which Harman re-christens as "tool-being," while the
former can be viewed as the "broken tool." Despite the claims of his interpreters and his own wishes,
almost the whole of Heidegger's conceptual array—Ereignis, temporality, Angst, etc.—reduces to a
monotonous replay of this basic insight: that each thing is at once present-at-hand and ready-tohand.
Being-in-the-world (German: In-der-Welt-sein)
Being-in-the-world is Heidegger's replacement for terms such as subject, object, consciousness, and
world. For him, the split of things into subject/object, as we find in the Western tradition and
even in our language, must be overcome, as is indicated by the root structure of Husserl and
Brentano's concept of intentionality, i.e., that all consciousness is consciousness of
something, that there is no consciousness, as such, cut off from an object (be it the matter of a
thought, or of a perception). Nor are there objects without some consciousness beholding or
being involved with them.
At the most basic level of being-in-the-world, Heidegger notes that there is always a mood, a mood
that "assails us" in our unreflecting devotion to the world. A mood comes neither from the
"outside" nor from the "inside," but arises from being-in-the-world.
One may turn away from a mood, but that is only to another mood; it is part of our facticity. Only with
a mood are we permitted to encounter things in the world. Dasein (a co-term for being-in-theworld) has an openness to the world that is constituted by the attunement of a mood or state of
As such, Dasein is a "thrown" "projection" (geworfen Entwurf), projecting itself onto the possibilities
that lie before it or may be hidden, and interpreting and understanding the world in terms of
possibilities. Such projecting has nothing to do with comporting oneself toward a plan that has been
thought out. It is not a plan, since Dasein has, as Dasein, already projected itself.
Dasein always understands itself in terms of possibilities. As projecting, the understanding of Dasein is
its possibilities as possibilities. One can take up the possibilities of "The They" self and merely follow
along or make some more authentic understanding. (See Hubert Dreyfus' book Being-in-the-World.)
Being-with (German: Mitsein)
Both modes of "present-at-hand" and "ready-to-hand," are distinguished from how other things are
primarily encountered. While all entities (non-Dasein, other Daseins, and itself) are encountered in
these modes, the mode of "being-with" and all the emotion, loneliness and togetherness that it implies,
is a unifying mode of being for Dasein and its world.
Being-with is a nuanced concept for Heidegger, made especially difficult for readers because of his
writing style and the challenge of translating his works into English. However, in describing the
Dasein's fundamental mode of being-in-the-world as Care (German: Sorge), for example "Dasein
cares about its own Being", it could be said that being-with is a fundamental way of understanding
Dasein's character as a being that is interested in its world; it is not a secondary role, but a descriptive
Heidegger uses this word to describe the nature of Dasein's being. Beings unlike Dasein (chairs,
shoes, etc.) do not "exist"; they are merely "objectively present". Dasein exists; chairs are objectively
Two related words, existenziell and Existential, are used as descriptive characteristics of Being. To be
existenziell is a categorical or ontic characteristic: an understanding of all this which relates to one's
existence, while an Existenzial is an ontological characteristic: the structure of existence.
Ontic: In philosophy, ontic (from the Greek ὄν, genitive ὄντος: "of that which is") is physical, real, or
factual existence.
"Ontic" describes what is there, as opposed to the nature or properties of that being. To illustrate:
Roger Bacon, observing that all languages are built upon a common grammar, stated that
they share a foundation of ontically anchored linguistic structures.
Martin Heidegger posited the concept of Sorge, or caring, as the fundamental concept of the
intentional being, and presupposed an ontological significance that distinguishes
ontological being from mere "thinghood" of an ontic being. He uses the German word
"Dasein" for a being that is capable of ontology, that is, recursively comprehending properties
of the very fact of its own Being.
Ontology is the philosophical study of the nature of being, becoming, existence, or reality, as well as
the basic categories of being and their relations. Traditionally listed as a part of the major branch of
philosophy known as metaphysics, ontology deals with questions concerning what entities exist or can
be said to exist, and how such entities can be grouped, related within a hierarchy, and subdivided
according to similarities and differences. In the broadest sense, ontologists investigate what makes a
human human, relying on institutional, social, and technical conventions representing a nexus of
intellectual activities.[1]