Once More with Care

That which distinguishes Dasein from all other entities in the world is that it cares. This caring is constitutive of Dasein's being; it is not a characteristic that may or may not accompany Dasein in the manner that a human may or may not have two legs (but usually does). Care signifies a being which is

...ahead-of-itself-Being-already-in-(the world) as
Being-alongside (entities encountered within-the-World).

What this means can perhaps be made clearer if one reexamines Dasein. Dasein is a being for whom being is an issue, including its own. For anything to be an issue, it must be understood somehow, no matter how rudimentarily. To understand is to project one's being upon possibilities. This means, therefore, that in understanding itself Dasein projects its being onto its own possibilities, and this may otherwise be expressed as Dasein being ahead-of-itself. As Dasein's understanding of itself is always in terms of its existence, this element of care is termed existentiality.

Dasein's being (and hence 'care') is also characterized by facticity and, for the most part, fallenness.

...'facticity' implies that [Dasein]...understands itself as bound
up in its 'destiny' with the Being of those entities which it
encounters within its own world.

That is, Dasein's being-in-the-world is such that it recognizes these other entities matter. They are facts to be reckoned with as they influence what Dasein does. Should Dasein wish to live in Michigan year round, for instance, he must take into account the need for shelter, and his having to do so is what is termed the facticity of care. The fallenness of Dasein's care is the absorption in the world as it is publicly interpreted. It is a losing of oneself in the they-self, and alienation from one's ownmost, authentic potentiality-for-being.

Fallenness bars Dasein from its authentic being, and it promotes Dasein's inauthenticity. The terms "authenticity" and "inauthenticity" are not meant by Heidegger to signify "genuine" and 'ingenuine" or to suggest the latter type of being is of lower degree. Even though Heidegger expressly disavows that he is making any moral judgment regarding these two ways of being, his choice of terms nevertheless has a definite moral tinge, at least so far as these terms are publicly interpreted. If "authenticity" is not to mean genuineness, then it appears at least to be equated with a sort of honesty. Heidegger never explicitly says as much; perhaps this is because the they-selves' association of being-honest with being-morally-proper is so great. Still, when he discusses death, Heidegger maintains that Dasein is essentially being-towards-death, authentic being-towards being an anticipation of death while inauthentic being-towards evades and denies death. The latter amounts to recognizing the fact (i.e., the certainty of the possibility of the impossibility of possibilities) yet refusing to face up to it. In short it is a being dishonest with oneself.

Because Dasein's care is for the most part characterized by fallenness (i.e., inauthenticity), Dasein can be said to evade its ownmost possibility of being. It does not always do so, however. In the phenomenon termed "conscience", one observes that Dasein is being summoned forth to its ownmost potentiality-for-being, and that it is Dasein who is calling upon itself. The they-self is passed over; when it takes heed of conscience, they-self interprets it as a critical voice that cites specific misdeeds and condemns them. This distortion of conscience's function assures that they-self misses the point. Conscience really says nothing at all. It says nothing precisely "...because it summons Dasein to existence, to its ownmost potentiality-for-Being-its-Self". By calling attention to 'nothing', conscience calls attention to Dasein's authentic being, which is most its own. Its focus on being indicates that conscience is the call of care.

If conscience is the call of care to Dasein by Dasein, and if this calling is a summoning of Dasein back to its ownmost, authentic being, then what is the significance of this calling back? According to Heidegger "...to hear the call authentically signifies bringing oneself into a factical taking-action". Dasein, in allowing itself to be summoned out of its fallenness in the they-self, conscientiously (sic) takes charge of its own potentiality-for-being. It does not passively accept the being of itself and other entities as they are publicly interpreted, but rather accepts the responsibility to disclose the world by itself. When it does so, Dasein honestly recognizes its own being as disclosedness, and thus is most authentically itself.