Heidegger's theory of space: A critique of Dreyfus

Inquiry 38 (4):455 – 467 (1995)
Abstract
In a recent paper on Heidegger, Frederick Olafson attacks Hubert Dreyfus for prioritizing our “social” existence (under the notion of das Man) over the individual. In a reply, Taylor Carman, defending Dreyfus, criticizes Olafson for his “subjectivist” notion of Dasein. This paper pursues the implication of this disagreement in the context of Heidegger’s theory of space. Dreyfus’ discussion of Heideggerian spatiality nicely displays the tension between the “public” vs. “individual” domains of being, and consistent with his overall approach, Dreyfus claims that public space should be prioritized. Dreyfus concludes, however, that Heidegger is confused and prioritizes individual space. This paper argues that the categories of “public” and “individual” are inappropriate for analyzing Heidegger’s sense of the shared and personal characters of space. Heidegger’s “indexical” theory of space in fact saves both of these domains without raising the question of priority and without presupposing a “subjectivist” Dasein. On this reading, Olafson’s “individualized” account of presence does not commit him to subjectivism. The confusion Dreyfus attributes to Heidegger is cleared up by an indexical account of spatiality in Heidegger’s text.
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