EKSTASIS AND EKSTEMA

HEIDEGGER 23

 

 

 

 

 

To see how this may have come about, let us quickly recapitulate Heidegger’s account of Dasein’s threefold ekstasis in Being and Time.

As ahead of itself, Dasein is becoming its ownmost possibility.

 

Existentiality is grounded in futurity. Dasein is always already coming towards itself.But in becoming that possibility – going forward – Dasein is a returning to and a reappropriation of what it already was – its facticity. By going out towards its ownmost possibility in resolute anticipatoriness, Dasein returns to its always-already-having-been, thereby authentically taking over its intrinsic finitude.

 

And it is by becoming what it already was that Dasein gains access to entities in the ‘Augenblick’: the moment of authentic ‘empresenting’ or making-present.

 

Thus the temporalization of temporality, understood as the synthesis of the ‘ahead of’, the ‘already’, and the ‘alongside’ – or future, past, and present – occurs through Dasein’s resolute anticipation of death as its ownmost possibility – one which, in Heidegger’s words, is ‘non-relational’ and ‘not be outstripped’. Being-towards-death integrates and individuates Dasein as that structure which is otherwise continually fleeing from its ownmost potentiality for being via dispersion in ‘the they’.

 

Since Dasein’s being is that of time understood as ecstatic temporality, the individuation of Dasein is also the individuation of time as ‘the ekstatikon in and for itself’. Indeed, being-towards-death is the distillation of time as pure un-actualizable possibility, for ‘higher than actuality stands possibility’ (Heidegger 1962: 63). Thus being-towards-death as possibility of impossibility is the uttermost modality of Dasein’s thrown-projection and hence the ‘ur-project’ which potentiates Dasein’s ownmost potentiality for being. It is in the pure possibility of death that Dasein’s ‘Self’ is revealed as the answer to time’s ‘Who?’

 

But as we know, Heidegger distinguishes the temporality of existence – Zeitlichkeit des Dasein – from the temporality of being – Temporalität des Seins. And the project of Being and Time famously falters precisely at the point where it becomes necessary to explain the precise character of their connection. This was reserved for the projected but never written third division. Nevertheless, Heidegger provides a glimpse of how he envisaged the nature of this connection in his 1927 lecture course The Basic Problems of Phenomenology.

 

There Heidegger maintains that Dasein as finite transcendence is not ‘beyond’ but rather a ‘stepping beyond’. In Heidegger’s own words: ‘Transcendere means to step over; the transcendens, the transcendent, is that which oversteps as such and not that toward which I step over […] Dasein itself oversteps in its being and thus is exactly not immanent’ (Heidegger 1982: 299). Dasein’s temporal ekstasis is a transcending, a stepping-beyond; but every such removal or displacement possesses a determinate orientation, a ‘whither’ as that towards which Dasein steps over. That ‘towards which’ Dasein steps over is presumably being, which Heidegger refers to in Being and Time as ‘the transcendens pure and simple’ (Heidegger 1962: 62) – though as we shall see, it is precisely this distinction which become problematic.

 

The temporality of being is the ‘ekstematic’ correlate implied by Dasein’s ecstatic transcendence.Heidegger is careful to distinguish this relation between ekstasis and ekstema, which he takes to be constitutive of ontological transcendence, from what he considers as the merely ontic reciprocity between noesis and noema as correlated through the transcendence of intentionality.

 

Intentional transcendence, whose trajectory goes from immanent consciousness to transcendent object, is according to Heidegger merely a derivative mode of this more originary temporal transcendence. The ekstematic-horizonal ‘whither’ is precisely not an objective correlate for Dasein’s transcendence because it cannot be described as something which ‘is’. Yet Heidegger insists that ekstasis does not thereby become a transport towards nothing:

 

Rather as removal to […] and thus because of the ekstatic nature of each of them, [the three ekstases] each have a horizon which is prescribed by the mode of the removal, the carrying-away […] and which belongs to the ekstasis itself. Each ekstasis as removal to […] has at the same time within itself and belonging to it a pre-delineation of the formal structure of the whereto of the removal.

(Heidegger)

 

Thus the ekstematic horizon for temporal ekstasis is not to be understood as a circular visual limit but as that with which transcendence encompasses and delimits the bounds of its own stepping-beyond.

 

Consequently, the ontological horizon cannot be located in subjectivity, nor in time, nor in space; it is no-thing. Moreover, if, as Heidegger clearly seems to suggest, the ontological horizon belongs to the ekstasis as a stepping-beyond, then this surely implies that it has been somehow ‘generated’ or ‘produced’ in and through ekstatic transcendence. And indeed the whole thrust of Heidegger’s project in Being and Time seemsto be devoted to showing how the structure of transcendence, bringing together the unity of the temporal ekstases in the ekstematic unity of their horizons, reveals a ‘productivity’ specific to ekstatic temporality and from which being-in-the-world ‘results’.

 

To interpret this ontological productivity as something which is simply ‘beyond’, independent of Dasein’s ‘stepping-beyond’, would be to turn the ‘temporality of being’ into a transcendental objective correlate for Dasein’s ekstatic transcendence, and thus to hypostatize the temporality proper to being as something which is transcendental, over and above Dasein’s movement of transcendence. But this would be to compromise the latter’s specifically ontological and therefore unobjectifiable character.

 

 

 

 

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