Second Reaction Paper: The They
Martin Heidegger’s idea of Da-sein and the “They” is quite intriguing, I see resemblances between his ideas and Nietzsche, as well as some similarities to concepts I’ve read about in science-fiction, and things I’ve seen in the real world. The concept that inauthentic Da-sein is entangled in the They and that only those who break away can achieve true Da-sein seems similar to one of the aspects of Nietzsche’s Übermensch, specifically rising above the herd. It seems like my favorite philosopher of the 19th century had a bigger influence than I realized. The They also reminds me of the idea of the Group Consciousness, which has often been extended into a “Hive Mind” in science-fiction.
It might seem ridiculous to imagine a large group sharing one consciousness, but it can be rather easy to change your mind on that when you witness fads and trends sweeping through the population. It’s like there’s some group mind, but not everyone is connected to it to the same extent, or that there are several collectives and each person is part of several.
It seems contradictory how Heidegger calls entanglement in the They “falling prey” and states that it is not a “fall”. Of course, he meant a “fall” in the religious manner and he originally wrote that in Deutsch. But it still seems like he’s suggesting that entanglement is a bad thing, even calling one who is entangled “inauthentic Da-sein”. Why tell people not to project value judgments while using terminology that encourages them to? It’s like he’s intentionally confusing us, or do all philosophers do that?
What does make sense is flight towards the They and away from self-awareness. People tend to feel more secure in groups and insecure when they don’t know what to do. Being part of the group distracts people from self-contemplation and the potential revelations that might bring, shattering their comfortable worldview. It’s much easier to just have someone tell you what to think, especially if it’s simple enough for a child to understand (this applies to both philosophy and science). The Emo “subculture” seems like a perfect example, teens become angsty about their worldviews being slightly shaken by puberty and what they’re taught in high school and flee from self-awareness by subsuming themselves within the They, all while under the delusion that they are expressing their individuality. Even when they try to make themselves unique they are just following the will of the They to express ones “uniqueness”. In fact it appears that the smaller the group, the more entangled its members are; or perhaps it is just easier for some members of the group to influence the others, actually that is entanglement isn’t it. It doesn’t seem like there is any way to avoid entanglement in at least one They, so I guess it’s a good thing that Heidegger said not to project value judgments on Falling Prey.