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Exegesis of Casey on Heidegger on Place - Step 5

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Exegesis of Casey on Heidegger on Place - Step 5

Mark Douglas

In Being and Time the concept of nearness is prevalent. As with all of Heidegger's project, there is duplicity flickering between the near and far. The flickering shimmer of things that appear to somebody within that middle ground is the realm of resonant intersubjectivity. We must tread lightly on the middle ground. When "subjective" is invoked our predilection is towards the dichotomy of subject-object. What else can we gather in the near and far?

Things that somebody skillfully engage and deal with in circumspective familiarity are ontologically near and ontically far. Things are ontologically near in the sense that people become so used to dealing with whatever gear that they don't intently focus on the gear. It's more the case that the gear becomes an extension of their being. Gear somebody is involved with is being-with-somebody-in-the-world. People are immersed in atmospheres by a mood that pervades engagement in the matter at hand. Things are ontologically near and holistically together. Things are ontically far. The ontic as opposed to the ontologic has to do more with the properties of items as opposed to the whole network contextual contingency enveloping those items. Things are ontically far because the ontic dimension is severed from being-in-the-world. So far as someone considers something ontically somebody is taking a guarded stance that brackets all else in terms of cutting the item down to its bare qualities. This sort of interaction with things is far from the nearness of concernful dealing and accustomed "wheeling and dealing."

After the development of region, Heidegger returns to nearness. Nearness becomes a more crucial dimension of place. Nearness in itself is not encountered. Somebody encounters nearness through what is near. Ontological things not objects or items stand forth in their nearing nearness. As was with region regioning. Things do their thing in thinging. Bear with me now. We have common everyday expressions that get directly at this phenomenon. Do your thing. It's my thing. That's not really my thing. Or to risk embarassment, you'll often hear characters on the MTV program Jersey Shore telling other folks, "You do you. I'll do me." To do you is to let the thingliness of your thing--thing; "thinging is the nearing of world" (PLT, p. 165). 

Remember, somebody is always already being-in-the-world. Somebody and world are constantly and pervasively coconstituted. So it makes sense that as world nears so does the phenomenon of "doing you" stand out. The more authentically somebody takes their stand in standing for what matters, the more world nears. Even more so, as somebody takes a stand with their familiar gear that gear thingly fuses into being-in-the-world of somebody. Gear things and world nears along with somebody doing their thing.

Nearness gets deeper. A thing "stays earth and sky, divinities and mortals. Staying, the thing brings the four, in their remoteness, near to one another" (PLT, p. 177-178). ##this is the old pagination, not the "classics edition" of 2001  "Preserving (wahren) [i.e. the ward of stewarding] and staying (verweilen) are ways that a thing in its nearing holds the fourfold close to one another--so close that the members of the fourfold constitute 'the simple onehood of world' " (Casey, p. 273, quoting 'The Thing'). Recap: what happens with thinging--staying and preserving. I would venture to guess that staying happens on the exteriority side of things while preserving has to do with the interiority of earth and gods. Forgive me being cryptic here, but this relates to the fourfold as interpreted in integral ecology. In thinging the thing brings forth world. World is the linchpin in all of Heidegger. Being human is being-in-the-world. That is the foundation for it all, world. 

In step five Casey moves onto dwelling. Dwelling has everything to do with habits. The dwelling is the habitat. It is the familiar and understood place that somebody embodies the habits and patterns of everyday being-in-the-world. Dwelling is directly connected with the phenomenon of thinging. The quality that makes dwelling unique is "sparing and preserving" (schonen). Dwelling has the character of something that is treated with great consideration and conservation. In dwelling somebody is maintaining their existence in-the-world by the absorbed dealing and concernful care they give to their habitat and places of prevalent presence. This gets us back to place.

The fourfold is instantiated in things. Earth, sky, gods, and mortals have a stake (statte) in things. While the four are enfolded within the thing, the thing also takes place (ort). The example given is that of a bridge. Prior to the gathering of the fourfold into the joining of the bridge there are multiple positions that could hold the bridge. The bridge gives rise to the stake that is held in the place of the bridge and in relation to the directional distances to other places.

The bridge is a place (or venue) in particular on the basis of it being a location which is more than a mere position. Even more so, the bridge is a venue in that in bridging it grants clearance to and vouchsafes the stake taken by the fourfold. Platz = world, ort = earth, stellen = sky, raum = mortals, statte = gods : place = world, locality = earth, positions = sky, space = mortals, venue = gods. Space is only one aspect of the fourfold of place.

This means that somebody can be near a thing by thinking it. Because thinking is thinking for in the ready-to-hand and dealing with the thought of (bridge in our case). In this way the thought of become ontologically near. This rejects any representational conception of space and place. As Casey (p. 276) gives, "it contests the primacy of the absolute here of the implaced person. Not the somatocentric pinpointed here but the diffuse there is the operative factor in my engagement in the place-world."