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The Coil of Significance

Mark Douglas

The virtuoso guitarist, Trey Anastasio, was discussing his gear. At one point, he looks into the camera and tells the audience that he has a theory about gear. It is more important to be familiar with your gear than it is to have good gear. What does it mean to be familiar with gear? 

Familiarity, Understanding, Significance

Being familiar has to do with understanding. To understand gear and to disclose it accordingly comes to be in familiarity. Remember, disclosure happens in the ready-to-hand with no as structure. In the ready-to-hand the gear withdraws in its execution and somebody in skillfully coping with the gear letting it be and freeing it to take its turn. Disclosure is not a mere occurrence. Disclosure doesn't have a particular time-stamp. Disclosure is unfolding in virtue of the fact that somebody is bodily attuned to the resonance of that unfolding world disclosing event. Disclosure of the world unfolds evermore for somebody because there is always gear withdrawn into the background such as the floor being underfoot and the chair being sat upon. In this way, we say somebody is familiar with the the floor in that the floor is understood to be always already familiarly involved in the world. Somebody always discloses the world since the resonance they embody with the gear solicits them to comport themselves to the world. Being familiar with gear means being attuned to the withdrawal of gear in-the-world in such a way that somebody understandingly discloses the gear and the world. 

Understanding is constituted by the execution of disclosure through familiarity. It is through the structure of familiar disclosing that the assignment of understanding operates. Disclosure opens the possibility space for understanding. There is an entire possibility space having been disclosed or opened up. This means that the whole of gear is ontologically involved in disclosure and understanding. In the opening of disclosing through understanding lies relations through assignment. The term for the play of relations is signifying (be-deuten ). (Note: this is not the play of reference discussed previously as referentiality.) Somebody understands themselves in the stand that they take. Somebody realizes what they stand for. Somebody realizes their own "for-the-sake-of-which" as it relates to an "in-order-to" which in turn relates to (signifies) a "towards-this" that develops in the possibility space "in-which" somebody has an involvement with gear "with-which" the gear is granted clearance through somebody's familiar understanding (BT, p. 120). This whole process constitutes the coil of significance.   

Dasein, in its familiarity with significance, is the ontical condition for the possibility of discovering entities which are encountered in a world with involvement (readiness-to-hand) as their kind of being, and which can thus make themselves known as they are in themselves " (BT, p. 120). This means that somebody already has got familiarity with the world through significance. Familiarity is the ontical condition on the basis of which somebody exists as an entity that discovers other entities. This means that through understanding significance in their familiarity in-the-world, somebody implicitly grasps (since they are withdrawn in readiness-to-hand) the for-the-sake-of-which, in-order-to, towards-this, in-which, and with-which relational structure of significance and can thereby realize how they themselves stand in relation to the world and simultaneously realize and discover the roles that entities play in-the-world. Discovery is founded in disclosure. Disclosure is founded in understanding. Understanding is founded in familiarity. Familiarity is founded in significance. Significance "is what makes up the structure of the world--the structure of that wherein Dasein as such already is" (BT, p. 120).

Before moving on to the foil of Cartesian ontology, Heidegger stresses at Section 18's end that the structure of involvement and significance is not one that may be mathematically rendered. The reality of entities is the basis of presence-at-hand in which properties may be defined in functional concepts.