Heidegger on Being Uncanny

Heidegger on Being Uncanny

by Katherine Withy


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There are moments when things suddenly seem strange—objects in the world lose their meaning, we feel like strangers to ourselves, or human existence itself strikes us as bizarre and unintelligible. Through a detailed philosophical investigation of Heidegger’s concept of uncanniness (Unheimlichkeit), Katherine Withy explores what such experiences reveal about us. She argues that while others (such as Freud, in his seminal psychoanalytic essay, “The Uncanny”) take uncanniness to be an affective quality of strangeness or eeriness, Heidegger uses the concept to go beyond feeling uncanny to reach the ground of this feeling in our being uncanny.

Heidegger on Being Uncanny answers those who wonder whether human existence is fundamentally strange to itself by showing that we can be what we are only if we do not fully understand what it is to be us. This fundamental finitude in our self-understanding is our uncanniness. In this first dedicated interpretation of Heidegger’s uncanniness, Withy tracks this concept from his early analyses of angst through his later interpretations of the choral ode from Sophocles’s Antigone. Her interpretation uncovers a novel and robust continuity in Heidegger’s thought and in his vision of the human being as uncanny, and it points the way toward what it is to live well as an uncanny human being.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674416703
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 04/07/2015
Pages: 264
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Katherine Withy is Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Georgetown University.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

1 Feeling Uncanny 12

Jentsch's Uncanny 14

Freud's Uncanny 22

Lear's Ironic Uncanniness 29

The Absurd Feeling 37

The Uncanniness of the Ordinary 43

2 Feeling Our Being Uncanny 48

The Methodological Role of Angst 48

The Four-Part Structure of Ground Moods 52

World-Withdrawal 54

World-Revelation 59

Self-Withdrawal 62

Self-Revelation 65

Thrownness 69

Originary Angst 77

Uncanniness 92

3 Being Uncanny 102

To Deinon 108

The Story of Being 112

The Story of Human Being 120

The Human Essence 122

Presencing 127

Absencing 130

Absencing as Presencing 136

Uncanny Human Being 141

4 Being the Uncanny Entity 149

Being Pantoporos Aporos: Falling and Seeming 154

Being Hupsipolis Apolis: Metaphysics and Transcendence 162

The Closing Words 174

Expressions of Antigone's Owned Uncanniness 178

Being Pantoporos Aporos and Hupsipolis Apolis Ownedly 186

Raising the Question of Owned Uncanniness 200

5 The Question of the Uncanny 204

The Ground of Uncanniness: Four Causes 206

The Efficient Cause: Freud's Un 213

The Efficient Cause: Heidegger's Un 219

The Final Cause: Love and Perfectionism 228

Uncanniness as Play 233

Conclusion 238

Acknowledgments 243

Index 245

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