1927 Being and Time

In section 42 of Being and Time (the exact middle of its 83 sections), Heidegger cites a Latin creation fable attributed to the 1st Century AD writer Hyginus. The myth of Cura is one of a series of rough or abridged myths [See the Fabulae]. It is not coincidental that this is placed at the very centre of Being and Time, as it functions as an emblem or condensation of the entire work. Heidegger introduces it by exploring 'care' [Sorge] more fully.


Confirmation of the Existential Interpretation of Da-sein as Care in Terms of the Pre-ontological
Self-interpretation of Da-sein

In the foregoing interpretations, which finally led to exposing care as the being of Da-sein, the most important thing was to arrive at Care as the Being of Dasein the appropriate ontological foundations of the being which we ourselves actually are and which we call "human being." For this purpose, it was necessary from the outset to change the direction of our analysis from the approach presented by the traditional definition of human being, which is an approach ontologically unclarified and fundamentally questionable. In comparison with this definition, the existential and ontological interpretation might seem strange, especially if "care" is understood just ontically as "worry" and "troubles." Accordingly, we shall cite a document that is pre-ontological in character, even though its demonstrative power is "only historical." 
    Let us bear in mind, however, that in this document Da-sein expresses itself about itself "primordially," unaffected by any theoretical interpretation and without aiming to propose any. Furthermore, let us observe that the being of Da-sein is characterized by historicality, though this must first be demonstrated ontologically. If Da-sein is "historical" in the basis of its being, a statement that comes from its history and goes back to it and that, moreover, is prior to any scientific knowledge takes on a special importance which, however, is never purely ontological. The understanding of being which lies in Da-sein itself expresses itself preontologically. What is cited in the following document is to make clear the fact that our existential interpretation is not a mere fabrication, but as an ontological "construction" it is well grounded and has been sketched out beforehand in elemental ways. 
    The following self-interpretation of Da-sein as "care" is preserved in an old fable:

Cura cum fluviurn transiret, videt cretosum lutum sustulitque cogitabunda atque coepit fingere, dum deliberat quid iam fecisset. Jovis interventi, rogat eum Cura ut det spiritum, et facile impetrat. cui cum vellet Cura nomen ex sese ipsa imponere, Jovis prohibuit suumque nomen ei dandum esse dictitat. dum Cura et Jovis disceptant, Tellus surrexit simul suumque nomen esse volt cui corpus praebuerit suum. sumpserunt Saturnum iudicem, is sic aecus iudicat; "tu Jovis quia spiritum dedisti, in morte spiritum, tuque Tellus, quia dedisti corpus, corpus recipito, Cura enim quia prima finxit, teneat quamdiu vixerit. sed quae nunc de nomine eius vobis controversia est, homo vocetur, quia videtur esse factus ex humo.

Once when "Care" was crossing a river, she saw some clay; she thoughtfully took a piece and began to shape it. While she was thinking about what she had made, Jupiter came by. "Care" asked him to give it spirit, and this he gladly granted. But when she wanted her name to be bestowed upon it, Jupiter forbade this and demanded that it be given his name instead. While "Care" and Jupiter were arguing, Earth (Tellus) arose, and desired that her name be conferred upon the creature, since she had offered it part of her body. They asked Saturn to be the judge. And Saturn gave them the following decision, which seemed to be just: "Since you, Jupiter, have given its spirit, you should receive that spirit at death; and since you, Earth, have given its body, you shall receive its body. But since 'Care' first shaped this creature, she shall possess it as long as it lives. And because there is a dispute among you as to its name, let it be called 'homo,' for it is made out of humus (earth)."

This pre-ontological document becomes especially significant not only in that "care" is here seen as that to which human Da-sein belongs "for its lifetime," but also because this priority of "care" emerges in connection with the familiar interpretation of human being as a compound of body (earth) and spirit. Cura prima finxit.
This being has the "origin" of its being in care. Cura teneat, quamdiu vixerit: this being is not released from its origin, but retained, dominated by it as long as this being "is in the world." "Being-inthe-world" has the character of being of "care." It does not get its name (homo) with regard to its being, but in relation to that of
which it consists (humus). The decision as to wherein the "primordial, being of this creature is to be seen is left to Saturn, 'time.'"The pre-ontological characterization of the essence of human being expressed in this fable thus has envisaged from the very beginning the mode of being which rules its temporal sojourn in the world.
    The history of the signification of the ontic concept of "cura" permits us to see still further fundamental structures of Da-sein. Burdach calls our attention to an ambiguity of the term "cura," according to which it means not only "anxious effort," but also "carefulness," "dedication." Thus Seneca writes in his last letter (Ep. 124): "Of the four existing natures (tree, animal, human being, God), the last two, which alone are endowed with reason, are distinguished in that God is immortal, human being mortal. The good of the One, namely of God, is fulfilled by its nature; but that of the other, human being, is fulfilled by care (cura): unius bonum natura perficit, dei seiltet, alterius cura, hominis" 
    The perfectio of human being—becoming what one can be in being free for one's ownmost possibilities (project)—is an "accomplishment" of "care." But, equiprimordially, care determines the fundamental mode of this being according to which it is delivered over (thrownness) to the world taken care of. The "ambiguity" of "care" means a single basic constitution in its essentially twofold structure of thrown project. 
    As compared with the ontic interpretation, the existential and ontological interpretation is not only a theoretical and ontic generalization. That would only signify that ontically all the human being's behavior is "full of care" and guided by his "dedication" to something. The "generalization" is an a priori-ontological one. It does not mean ontic qualities that constantly keep emerging, but a constitution of being which always already underlies. This constitution first makes it ontologically possible that this being can be addressed ontically as cura. The existential condition of the possibility of "the cares of life" and "dedication" must be conceived in a primordial, that is, ontological sense as care.
    The transcendental "universality" of the phenomenon of care and all fundamental existentials has, on the other hand, that broad scope through which the basis is given on which every ontic interpretation of Da-sein with a worldview moves, whether it understands Da-sein as "the cares of life" and need, or in an opposite manner.
    The "emptiness" and "generality" of the existential structures which obtrude themselves ontically have their own ontological definiteness and fullness. The whole of the constitution of Da-sein itself is not simple in its unity, but shows a structural articulation which is expressed in the existential concept of care.
    Our ontological interpretation of Da-sein has brought the preontological self-interpretation of this being as "care" to the existential concept of care. The analytic of Da-sein does not aim, however, at an ontological basis for anthropology; it has a fundamental, ontological goal. This is the purpose that has inexplicitly determined
the course of our considerations, our choice of phenomena, and the limits to which our analysis may penetrate. With regard to our leading question of the meaning of being and its development, our inquiry must now, however, explicitly secure what has been gained so far. But something like this cannot be attained by an external synopsis of what has been discussed. Rather, what could only be roughly indicated at the beginning of the existential analytic must be sharpened to a more penetrating understanding of the problem
with the help of what we have gained.

This is one of the earliest examples of Heidegger using a literary text as a philosophical statement. Given that he was already writing poetry and reading poetry and literary texts from an early age, it is quite likely that literary texts always exerted a strong influence on him, but only after being appointed associate professor at Marburg in 1923 did he feel able to begin to use non-philosophical or theological texts in his lectures. The assertion that his use of such texts "is to make clear the fact that our existential interpretation is not a mere fabrication, but as an ontological "construction" it is well grounded and has been sketched out beforehand in elemental ways," opens up the possibility of using any number of literary texts, not as literature per se, but as 'pre-ontological' sketches of 'Da-sein'.

 
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