Heidegger on Anxiety and Normative Practice

Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy (forthcoming)
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Abstract

I offer a new interpretation of Heidegger’s analysis of anxiety in Being and Time as an account of the relationship between individual agents and the public normative practices of their communities. According to a prominent recent interpretation, Heidegger’s discussions of anxiety, death and the “call of conscience” together explain how we can respond to the norms of our practices as reasons and subject them to critical reflection. I argue that this is only part of the story. Anxiety is an occasion for Dasein to take responsibility for its ongoing activity of interpreting the possibilities for living and acting made available by the normative practices of its community, which is presupposed and overlooked from the perspective of everyday Dasein. Public normativity underdetermines Dasein’s conception of what it would mean to take up any of the possibilities available in its world as a way of living its own life.

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Amy Levine
University of Chicago

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