Love is Not Blind:
In/Visibility and Recognition in M. Heidegger’s Thinking

“According to the old saying of Heraclitus, struggle is the basic principle and moving force of being. But the greatest struggle is love – which provokes the deepest contest precisely in order to be and display itself in reconciliation.”[1]

As the old saying goes, “love is blind.” I would like, however, to consider the opposite case, namely, that love is not blind: that love is what allows us to see and to understand and recognize both ourselves and the other. But in what sense is love not blind? In order to consider this question, let me begin with a passage from a lecture course that, of all people, Martin Heidegger gave, two years before the publication of his magnum opus, Being and Time (BT). There, he writes the following:

“Insofar as the urge takes over the primary kind of being of Dasein, it suppresses the already-being-involved-in something along with that something, but it also suppresses the explicit being-ahead-of-itself. For in urge, care is now merely a concern for a ‘toward and nothing else.’ Urge as such blinds, it makes us blind. We are in the habit of saying that ‘love is blind.’ Here, love is regarded as an urge and so is replaced by an entirely different phenomenon. For love really gives us sight. Urge is a mode of being of care, specifically care which has not yet become free, but care is not an urge. That care has not yet become free means that urge in the full structure of care does not yet come to its authentic being. For urge only cares about the ‘towards,’ and this at any price, in blind disregard for everything else. This blind state of only being ‘towards and nothing else’ is a modification of caring.”[2]

In this passage, Heidegger begins by saying that urge takes over the primary kind of being of Dasein. I take the term “primary” here to refer to Dasein’s authentic existence in the world. It is not, therefore, necessarily primary in time, nor is it logically prior, but rather, authentic existence is primary in kind. It is a superior kind of existing in the world: the way that we would like to exist.[3] On the basis of this interpretation, Heidegger seems to be saying that urge takes over Dasein’s authentic kind of being-in-the-world, and in so doing, has the effect of suppressing Dasein’s authentic existence. In urge, some kind of violence is being done to Dasein’s primary existence as care (Sorge), as Dasein’s “ being “ahead-of itself – being-already-in (a world) as being-alongside (entities encountered within the world).”[4] Urge is a violence that is committed toward oneself, and, also, I would argue, a violence toward the other, insofar as Dasein exists as Mitsein, as being-with-one-another in-the-world.[5] Urge suppresses our own authentic being a self and also our being-with and -toward the others in the world. Urge, Heidegger writes, “blinds us.” Although we are in the habit of saying that love blinds us, Heidegger reverses this claim. That is to say, for Heidegger, it is love that allows us to see. When we are in a loving relationship with someone, we come to see that person in a unique way. We come to treasure her for who she is.[6] Love opens up a world and gives us sight insofar as it allows us to see ourselves and the other authentically. If it is the case that urge constrains or limits us, then love – that which gives us sight – is also that which frees us. If care is Dasein’s basic ontological structure – that which makes Dasein what it is, in contrast to merely subsisting as a stone, or insect – then love, it would seem, is a positive or superior form of care: of Dasein’s existing in-the-world. Love, which gives us sight, opens up a world for Dasein, and frees us, is opposed to urge, which blinds us and takes away our freedom.

We thus have before us a number of dichotomies: various modifications of Dasein’s care structure of being-in-the-world. On the one hand, we have care in a negative modification: care as urge. Care as urge manifests itself as blindness and as a lack of freedom. In blindness, we fail to see ourselves as what and who we are: that is, we do not understand ourselves, nor do we see the other for what and who he or she is. This negative mode of existence is unfreedom, according to Heidegger. We become enslaved by our blindness to ourselves, to the others, and to the world.[7] On the other hand, we also have before us care in a positive modification: care as love. Care as love manifests itself in an ability to see and as freedom. With (in)sight, we see ourselves as what we are, namely, as the particular “I” who exists in the world with others, who has special relationships with others, and among other things, who has specific goals, desires, projects, and responsibilities. That is to say, we understand ourselves as Dasein. In understanding ourselves as Dasein, we also understand the others as other Daseins since Dasein is and exists asMitsein. As a result, we recognize the others as such, and treat them accordingly (and not as mere things or entities). This positive mode of existence is one way of understanding Dasein’s freedom. We become freed by our ability to see – to understand – both ourselves, and the others, as Dasein. Although Heidegger tries to distance, if not entirely remove, himself from the tradition of equating knowledge with perception, it is interesting that in the passage quoted above, he casts what is perhaps the most important element in his Daseinanalytic – namely, care – in a visual metaphor, and moreover, speaks of the authentic modification of care not only in terms of sight, but also in terms of love![8]

It is this dichotomy between sight and blindness, love and urge, freedom and unfreedom, which I would like to focus upon in what follows. My focus, however, will shift gears slightly. I would like to look more closely at this dichotomy between sight and blindness, as it occurs in somewhat of a different instantiation in BT, namely, in the distinction between what I read as an account of recognition and reification. Now immediately, a perceptive reader might say to herself, “I don’t recall Heidegger ever speaking about recognition and reification in BT. In fact, these words – ‘recognition’ (Anerkennung) and ‘reification’ (Verdinglichung) – do not even appear in the text, at least in this quasi-ethical manner.” However, in what follows, I argue not only that there is an account (although not a full fledged theory) of recognition and reification in BT, but I go further to suggest that this account has normative, ethical implications, insofar as it sheds light upon one way of understanding what Heidegger means by “authentic” and “inauthentic” existence.

My argument unfolds in two main steps:

First, I cite and analyze Heidegger’s discussion of solicitude (Fürsorge) in BT, where I claim that an account of recognition and reification can be found.

Second, I argue not only that an account of recognition and reification exist in Heidegger’s thinking, but that he also provides us with a normative standard by which to understand and comport ourselves toward the other.

That is to say, notwithstanding explicit intentions to the contrary, Heidegger’s existential analysis provides not only conditions for the possibility of thinking about recognition, but an account of recognition. In turn, such an account provides us with a necessary (but not a sufficient) condition for an account of love between individuals. Even though Heidegger does not offer a full-fledged theory of recognition, or of love, he does give us a phenomenological elaboration of the notion of recognition, thereby going beyond the merely transcendental aspect of his project. Departing slightly from the spirit of Heidegger’s self-understanding, I contend that these ethical dimensions implicit in BT far exceed his literal existential analysis and, indeed, anything Heidegger himself imagined for fundamental ontology based upon that analysis. Before beginning, I should mention how I understand the term “ethics,” when I use it in this paper in connection with Heidegger’s early thinking. Perhaps the easiest way to begin is to say how I will not understand it: namely, as a theory or system that prescribes imperatives, norms, or rules of action so as to determine what one ought to do, and whether one’s actions are right or just. Although I will not be providing a strict definition of ethics, for the purposes of this paper, the “ethical” can be understood as a practice of living one’s life in accordance with certain standards that promote the flourishing of the individual and the community, that promote decisions that are in accordance with such a way of life, and that eschew decisions to maltreat or harm others.

I. Recognition in Being and Time

In elaborating upon what I am calling Heidegger’s account of recognition, we will be concerned with §26 of BT, which considers the modes in which Dasein exists in-the-world with others and in particular, the possible ways that Dasein can comport itself to others: a structure Heidegger calls “solicitude” or Fürsorge.[9] Heidegger outlines two extreme ways that Dasein can comport itself to another. On the one hand, Dasein can leap in (einspringen) for the other, which means to take “‘care’ away from the other and put itself in his position in concern.”[10]Leaping in takes over the other’s project and as a result, the other is “thrown out of his position” and fails to be seen as an other human being (or, more precisely, another Dasein whose care and responsibility for itself are inalienable and non-transferable). Here we might recall the way in which Heidegger discussed “urge,” in the long passage from HCT that was cited above. Urge was a type of blindness: to ourselves, to the others, and to the world. Urge was a deficient kind of (self-) understanding that resulted in a kind of unfreedom. Similarly, leaping in for another blinds us to the existence of the other as Dasein; it pushes her out from her place, job, or role, and in so doing, takes the matter at hand over from her “as something finished at [Dasein’s] disposal.” Subsequently, the other becomes “dominated (Beherrschten) and dependent.” This is another way of saying that the other becomes unfree.

On the other side of the spectrum, Heidegger discusses leaping ahead (vorausspringen) of the other in his existentiell potentiality-for-Being (Seinkönnen). This kind of comportment to the other does not take away his “care” but rather, “give[s] it back to him authentically as such for the first time.”[11]Leaping ahead of the other pertains “essentially to authentic care (eigentliche Sorge) – that is, to the existence of the other, not to a ‘what’ with which he is concerned.” If we return, once again, to the opening passage, we might equate such a mode of existence with the opposite of urge, namely, with love. In love, as we recall, we are able to see (and understand) ourselves and the others as what and who we are: as Dasein. In BT, Heidegger writes that leaping ahead “helps the other to become transparent to himself in his care and to become free for it.”[12] We are now in a position to evaluate these two possibilities of solicitude within the context of an account of reification and recognition, respectively. In the process, we will also gesture at some ways in which we might begin to map this account on to a discussion of love.

In BT, the point at stake with respect to leaping in, is that in this mode of comportment, Dasein fails to see and subsequently, fails to understand and acknowledge the other as an other human being (as a result of a deficient kind of self-understanding). Although Heidegger only provides us with a more formal account, examples of leaping in could range from treating others as non-humans – animals, instruments, mere statistics, or commodities[13] – to humiliation, sexism, human trafficking, and even enslavement. Developing Heidegger’s point in somewhat of a speculative manner, I contend that the failure to see or to recognize the other as another Dasein occurs on both ontic and ontological registers. Ontically, if someone leaps in, she “takes from [the other] the possibility of self-determination” and freedom, an act that “has the character of a destruction of the intersubjective presence of the other.”[14] That is, Dasein fails to recognize the other as futurally oriented, or, as what Heidegger calls project (Entwurf): as one who has her own character, relations, wants, desires, and goals, who makes her own decisions, and has her own commitments, obligations, and responsibilities. For Heidegger, only I can fulfill my own projects and make something of my life, tasks that become difficult (if not impossible) if I am not recognized as existing as a self-determining being. In leaping in everything that makes Dasein Dasein is robbed from it: its humanity, dignity, and facticity. Dasein is thus reified and relegated to a position amongst merely subsisting objects. This description of leaping in resembles what Heidegger calls irresoluteness (Unentschlossenheit) or inauthentic being, wherein Dasein does not determine its own possibilities, and thus ceases to be seen, or to exist as Dasein at all.

When Heidegger compares leaping in to the mode of treating an other human being as an entity that is merely ready-to-hand he writes that one “completely disregard[s] or just does not see the…the ‘factuality’ of the fact [that] one’s own Dasein is at bottom quite different ontologically from the factual occurrence of some kind of mineral.”[15] As we know, for Heidegger, only things and not Dasein are treated as ready-to-hand: as having purposes external to them that are set by something other than them. Hence, when Dasein leaps in for an other, it sees, understands, and subsequently treats the other as a thing or, better, an implement that can be controlled, mastered, dominated, enslaved, or simply ignored, or humiliated. Dasein places itself in the position of the other, “takes over its burden vicariously,”[16] thereby eliminating the possibility of the other Dasein to make its own choices, follow through on them, and to develop its projects. The relation between self and other thus becomes one of sheer instrumentalization and the result is that the other becomes unfree, which is to say, dominated and dependent. Unable to fulfill her projects on account of being dominated, the other’s humanity, facticity, ownness, and the very possibility of becoming an authentic self are taken away. In sum, the Dasein who leaps in for the other fails to recognize (1) that the other Dasein is a fellow human being; (2) that she has projects (and selfhood) of her own; and (3) that she is capable of carrying out her projects and of becoming a self.

On an ontological register, leaping in for the other forecloses any potentially authentic relationship between human beings. Love thus becomes an impossibility. We can call this mode of comportment ontological domination, or, ontological reification. Developing Heidegger’s earlier gloss on “urge,” he states that in leaping in, Dasein’s care is taken away from it. As we have already said, care is Dasein’s fundamental, ontological structure of being-in-the-world: its being “ahead-of itself – being-already-in (a world) as being-alongside (entities encountered within the world).”[17] Care defines Dasein as what it is and distinguishes it from other entities or beings. Heidegger fails to elaborate upon what it would mean for one’s care to be taken away from it. In fact, it seems entirely problematic to think about “taking away” an ontological structure from Dasein.[18] One way to make sense of this peculiar claim is to consider it within the context of the ontological difference, and of Heidegger’s failure to maintain the sharp distinction between ontic and ontological registers (and also, his tendency throughout the 1920s to conflate his terms as they pertain to ontological structures, with the ways they are used in ordinary language). On a generous reading, Heidegger is not maintaining that an ontological structure is or can be taken away from Dasein per se, but rather that the ontic manifestations of that ontological structure (i.e., care) are ignored or become invisible under certain circumstances, thereby reifying the other, seeing it as something like a thing or an entity.

Consider the following implication. Care is Dasein’s fundamental ontological structure and the condition for the possibility of its ecstatic, futurally oriented existence. Care is what makes Dasein Dasein and distinguishes it from animals and from mere objects or things. If Dasein’s care is taken away from it, and if we understand this in terms of the ontic implications, then the result is that Dasein would no longer manifest itself in such a way that is proper (eigen) to its being. This is another way of saying that when Dasein’s care is taken away from it, it is relegated to a position amongst mere things, reified, and not recognized as Dasein. On account of this failure to be recognized, or “seen,” the oppressed or invisible Dasein is thus unable to exist as Dasein. Notwithstanding Heidegger’s problematic talk of “taking care away from Dasein,” this mode of comportment to the other is an instance of ontological perverseness, a form of ontological blindness, misrecognition,domination, or reification. We can conclude that ontic leaping in is the consequence of a more fundamental ontological failure: the failure for Dasein to recognize or see this fundamental structure of its own and the other’s being.

Even if Heidegger himself was blind to the implications of his account of solicitude, he has hit upon a fundamental and not unfamiliar ethical point (one that of course reminds us of Kant). Heidegger has distinguished between treating a human being as a human being (a “who”), as opposed to treating it as a mere thing (a “what”). Such a distinction is a necessary component of any account of recognition, and the very beginning point for thinking about authentic human relations, like love.[19] For Heidegger, this “who” has been thrown into a particular context and possesses her own history. Within this history, she has forged individual relationships; developed specific wants, needs, abilities, and desires; has made her own choices, taken on her own burdens, and has set various goals. She is a singular, individual with her own birth and her own death. The moment the singularity or ownness of each individual fails to be recognized, an affront has been made both to humanity and human dignity (or, human beingness, what it means to be Dasein) in general and also to the particular human being before me. When Dasein fails to recognize the other, it denies the distinctiveness of Dasein as a condition or end-point of being-human: in other words, the disclosedness of the existential structure, united in care, that underlies reflection and the potential for ownness. Thus, in leaping in, the “who” of Dasein becomes reified into something like the “what” of mere entities, thereby precluding the possibility of becoming an authentic self.

To highlight the ethical dimension of this account, we might remind ourselves that one contemporary understanding of reification is a type of human behavior that “violates moral or ethical principles by not treating other subjects in accordance with their characteristics as human beings, but instead as numb and lifeless objects – as ‘things’ or commodities’.”[20] Based on this definition, we can see how Heidegger’s account falls in line with it.[21] Furthermore, leaping in also mirrors Georg Lukács understanding of reification, as put forth in his 1925 History and Class Consciousness, and also Axel Honneth’s reformulation of the term in his 2005 Tanner lectures, “Reification: a Recognition-Theoretical View,” which were published in German the same year as Verdinglichung.[22] Lukács describes reification as “a relation between two people [that] has taken on the character of a thing.”[23] Honneth reformulates this understanding as “a habit of thought, a habitually ossified perspective, which, when taken up by the subject leads not only to the loss of its capacity for empathetic engagement, but also to the world’s loss of its qualitatively disclosed character.[24]Leaping in and dominating the other corresponds to the notion of reification under consideration, while leaping ahead and freeing the other corresponds to the notion of recognition.

Returning to Heidegger’s account of solicitude, in contrast to leaping in, wherein the other’s care is taken away, leaping ahead gives back the other’s care to her. Ontically, this means that Dasein comports itself toward the other such that it sees, and subsequently, recognizes the other’s projects, goals, intentions, skills, achievements, obligations and responsibilities – in sum, the other’s potential for selfhood. It is this recognition of the other’s potential for selfhood that fuels and is the condition for the possibility of authentic relations between individuals. Again, this would be necessary in a minimal account of love. Ontologically, the meaning of leaping ahead is slightly different. Whereas with respect to leaping in, we spoke about ontological blindness, domination, misrecognition, or reification, here, we can speak of ontological visibility, recognition or understanding (in the specifically Heideggerian sense of the term): the condition for the possibility and structure of ontic recognition. This structure corresponds to and explains the fact that in leaping ahead, Dasein’s care is given to it authentically.

Acknowledging that an ontological structure cannot essentially be given to (or taken away from) the other, what this means is that on account of Dasein’s being recognized by the other, it is treated as a “who” as opposed to a “what.” In Heideggerian language, this enables the possibility of becoming resolute and subsequently, of becoming an authentic self. Thus, with respect to ontological recognition, Dasein encounters another authentically as what it is, on account of the fact that when it leaps ahead of the other (or is leapt ahead of) its ontological structure becomes proper (eigen) to the kind of being it is, thereby enabling it to instantiate its ontological care structure. In leaping ahead, the other is recognized as a self and subsequently, can become a self; she can come to understand herself as free insofar as her world is opened up to her and she is not prevented from determining and acting upon her own projects. This is the basis on which authentic relations must be built. Heidegger describes what is minimally necessary for such authentic relations between individuals as follows: “The structure of the world’s worldhood is such that Others are not proximally present-at-hand as free-floating subjects along with other Things, but show themselves in the world in their special environmental Being, and do so in terms of (aus dem) [and not as] what is ready-to-hand in that world.”[25]

II. Normative Dimensions

One of the implications of the distinction between leaping in and leaping ahead that we have been discussing that is that a recognitive stance of leaping ahead – a stance where the other is seen and understood, and subsequently, can become free for his or her existence – is superior to one that reifies the other into a mere object. This is the case insofar as when one recognizes the other, one treats the other as a human being, thereby providing that individual with the possibility of fulfilling his or her projects, flourishing, and also, of having meaningful relationships with others. This position bears resemblance to the way that I understand Heidegger’s position: namely, the more authentic way of relating to the other is by leaping ahead of him or her. If we think back to the last passage that I quoted, we see that what Heidegger is gesturing at is the notion of authentic human relations where the other is encountered as Dasein and not as a mere ready-to-hand or present-at-hand entity. Such authentic comportment – authentic insofar as it recognizes Dasein as Dasein and not merely as a ready-to-hand or present-at-hand entity – would not be possible if the other is dominated, reified, or invisible. Let us consider the normative implications in this account (which Heidegger himself does not explicitly develop or discuss).

As we have noted, in leaping ahead, the other is recognized as a self and subsequently, can become a self. That is, she can come to understand herself as free in and open to her existence in-the-world (where she is free insofar as no one is preventing her from determining and acting upon her own projects). Insofar as leaping ahead treats the other as a “who” as opposed to a “what” – and therefore provides one of the conditions for the possibility of the other to exist as a self – it is a superior response to the other. Heidegger wants to make a distinction between two extreme – yet, he claims, ontologically equal – ways in which human beings can relate to one another, which corresponds to his general position that there is nothing normative in fundamental ontology (and that it is only a description of the possible ways that Dasein can exist in the world). However, contrary to this position, the ontological structures themselves do have normative (and possibly ethically normative) implications.

Most generally, Heidegger’s existential analysis does not avoid using either evaluative categories (like inauthenticity, alienation, averageness, leveling, fallenness, idle chatter) or ethical categories (like otherness, responsibility, guilt, resoluteness, decision, authenticity, freedom). His analysis also begins from an everyday position that carries ethical presuppositions and yields interpretations that then draw upon these (even if it also transforms them). Moreover, and more specifically to the present discussion, when Heidegger sets up a distinction with manifest positive and negative valences – i.e. leaping in as dominating and leaping ahead as freeing – where the positive valence incorporates Eigentlichkeit and is one of the elements that allows Dasein to become a self and recognize the other as a self as well, and the negative valence bars this possibility, then we must ask where description ceases and where prescription begins. Heidegger’s discussion of solicitude occurs in the midst of his phenomenological “description” of the possible ways in which Dasein can exist in the world with others and just after an elaboration of Dasein’s fundamental structure, being-in-the-world. Heidegger claims to be offering two extreme possibilities of solicitude; however, when one of these so-called value-neutral possibilities reifies Dasein, thereby denying it the kind of being it is (insofar as it treats Dasein only as a thing), and the other enables Dasein to realize its ownmost being as Dasein (to become a self), then the inference is that the latter is the mode of comportment is superior and that after which we should strive. Insofar as Heidegger fails to exclude valuation from his account, this part of his fundamental ontology carries normative – and I would even go so far as to say, ethically normative – elements.

III. Conclusion

With regard to matters of love, we have seen that Heidegger’s account of solicitude in BT, provides a necessary condition for an account of love insofar as it discusses the conditions for recognizing the other as an other Dasein and without recognizing the other as what and who she is, it is not possible to love the other. That is to say, authentic vision or authentic understanding of oneself as Dasein, entails a recognition of the other as Dasein. By contrast, a failure to see or understand oneself as Dasein – that is to say, existing inauthentically – results in a reification: both of oneself and of the other. Although what I have presented is far from an account of love, it could be considered as a minimal necessary condition for love: necessary to love the other is to see and recognize the other as another Dasein, and not just as a thing or instrument to be controlled, manipulated, or used. Although, I would not go so far as to say that Heidegger offers us an adequate account of love, I will go so far as to claim that in looking at what I have called Heidegger’s account of recognition and reification, we have what is perhaps a first step in the direction that allows us to think of what is necessary for an account of love. The necessary ingredient in this account, is an ability to see, and therefore, to understand and treat the other as another Dasein. Love, in this sense, is not blind. It is precisely vision that allows us to see, and subsequently, to love the other.

In BT, Heidegger does not deal in any explicit way with this the theme of love. However, in his personal correspondence with Hannah Arendt, between 1925-1928, we find that he does take up this theme in an explicit way (which should not come as a surprise, since the two were lovers). Heidegger’s letters, Jean-Luc Nancy claims, give us “the precise elements…of a thinking of love which could fill the gap between the improper and the proper [or, the inauthentic and the authentic] of the with in Being and Time.”[26] In these letters, Heidegger discusses love as the genuine space of a “we” and of a world that can be “ours” together.[27] In keeping with everything that we have discussed in this paper, we see there that Heidegger qualifies love as a genuine “taking care” of the other, a notion that is based on and borrowed from Augustine, for whom a constitutive element of a loving relationship is volo ut sis: “I want that you be what you are.”[28] Similar to what we said above within the context of leaping ahead of the other, love then is understood as a shared grasp of “the potential of the other.”[29]

I find it difficult to agree with the entirety of Nancy’s position, for he claims that in these letters we find “a specific existential analytic of sharing according to which love would not substitute itself to death, but would coincide with it.”[30] I do, however, believe that Heidegger’s explicit ruminations on love – even if they are not put forth in a philosophical treatise – indeed shed some light upon what he writes in BT and in fact, help us to link the comments he wrote two years before the publication of that text in HCT, with the text itself. One of the many questions that can be raised in this context is whether and to what extent the theme of love can be discussed adequately in a philosophical treatise. I will leave that as an open question. I do find it interesting though, that in Heidegger’s personal letters to his own student, and lover, his comments shed light on perhaps what, in an explicit form, transcended the scope of his Daseinanalytic.


1. Martin Heidegger, Schelling: Über das Wesen der menschlichen ; AKA Schelling: Vom Wesen der menschlichen Freiheit (1809) Vol. 42, Gesamtausgabe (Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann, 1936) 195. Note: in all of the following citations, the pagination for the English translation of the text will be followed by the German pagination.

2. Martin Heidegger, History of the Concept of Time: Prologomena (hereafter, HCT) , trans. Theodore Kisiel (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1992) 296. Prologomena Zur Geschichte Des Zeitbegriffs . Vol. 20, Gesamtausgabe (Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann, 1994) 410.

3. My reasons for putting forth this normative interpretation will become clear below.

4.BT, 317/364. Although I cite Heidegger’s definition of Sorge from BT in reference to his position in HCT, in HCT, which was a lecture course given one year prior to his writing BT, Heidegger is not always consistent between his use of the term. Although in many places it can be equated with the technical meaning of the term as it is used in BT, Heidegger sometimes switches back to use the term in its colloquial sense.

5. I am currently working on a manuscript on the ethical dimensions of Heidegger’s early thinking where I argue more completely and convincingly for the position that I state here regarding the fundamental relation between Dasein and Mitsein. For some more textual grounding of the point, we know that Heidegger defines being-with-others (Mitsein) as “a structure of being of one’s own respective manner of being-here” (HCT, 242/333). He also speaks of being-here-with (Mitdasein) as “the type of being of others” insofar as that type of being is “disclosed for a Dasein through its world.” Finally, he also uses the construction of being-with-one-another (Miteinandersein) which refers to the togetherness of the two manners of being-there, where Miteinandersein is said to form “the diverse possibility of community as well as society” (BT, 153/118).

6. With respect to the idea of thinking about an authentic loving relationship in terms of treasuring (sch ä tzen) the existence of the other, I am indebted to Niall Keane for developing an account of the complicated difference between treasuring and valuing.

7. This description could be one way of understanding Dasein’s existence as das Man-selbst.

8. Curiously, in GA 46, Nietzsches II. Unzeitgemässe Betrachtung (1938), Heidegger mentions love within the same motif of vision (although in quite a different general context). In this text, he is interpreting Nietzsche’s second “Untimely Meditation” under the guiding questions of justice and power, among many other themes. What is interesting for our purposes is that he mentions love again in relation to vision and a tradition that relates knowledge and perception or vision (although he draws quite different conclusions). Heidegger writes: “Keine bloße Rücksichtslosigkeit und Willkür, sodern Liebe, aber nicht jene, die blind macht, sondern zuvor shoen und immer sehenden Augen ist. Dieser entscheidende Wissens- und Einsichtscharacter der Gerechtigkeit kommt in einem Wort aus ‘Also sprach Zarathustra!’ I. vom Biß der Natter (1882/83) am einfachsten zum Ausdruck: ‘Sagt, wo findet sich die Gerechtigkeit, welche Liebe mit sehenden Augen ist?’ Gerechtigkeit ist Liebe – und Liebe? (Wille, daß das Geliebte sei, was es im Wesen ist und sein kann.) philosophia – ‘Liebe zur Weisheit’! Gerechtigkeit aber Liebe mit sehenden Augen. Dase Sehen von Jenem, was das Geliebte sein muß, damit es sei, was und wei in seinem Wese es ist.”(Ibid., 183).

9. As far as I know, the term Fürsorge was first introduced by Heidegger as the third form of care in the winter semester of 1925-26 ( Logik: Die frage nach der Wahrheit . 1925. This text is published as Volume 21 of the Gesamtausgabe [ GA 21]). There, Heidegger illustrated two formal extremes of solicitude as being-for the other.

10. All quotations from this and the next paragraph are taken from Heidegger’s Being and Time (hereafter, BT), trans. John Mcquarrie and Edward Robinson (San Francisco: Harper Collins Publishers, 1962) 122. Heidegger, Martin, Sein Und Zeit (Tübigen: Max Niemeyer, 2001) 158.

11. My emphasis.

12. BT, 122/158.

13. Honneth, Axel and Avishai Margalit, “Invisibility: On the Epistemology of ‘Recognition’,” Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volumes, 75 (2001): 111-26; 111-39, 127.

14. Axel Honneth, “On the Destructive Power of the Third: Gadamer and Heidegger’s Doctrine of Intersubjectivity,” Philosophy and Social Criticism 29, no. 1 (2003): 5 – 21; 15.

15. BT, 82/55, my emphasis.

16. Honneth 2003, 15.

17. BT, 317/364.

18. To be generous to Honneth, it is possible that his reading is indicative or a result of the difficulty to understand care ontologically and for this reason, he interprets it ontically and through a transcendental mechanism that he hopes somehow can be mapped on to ontology.

19. Here, one can respond by saying that the distinction between a thing and a human being is a physical or biological one, a point that few would deny. One might then question why this should be considered under the rubric of ethics? The objection would conclude that I am equating an is with an ought: that is, putting forth a naturalistic account of ethics where the ‘proper’ states of affairs is also ethical. If we recall my definition of normative in note vii above – one that relied upon a particular understanding of Eigentlichkeit – then I do not think that this objection is devastating since becoming a ‘who’ is what is proper to the kind of beings we are, is that after which we ought to strive, and therefore does carry some ethical weight.

20. Axel Honneth Axel Honneth, Verdinglichung, Surkamp, 2005. The English version of the lecture was delivered as The Tanner Lectures on Human Values, at University of California, Berkeley (March 14 – 16, 2005). It is available online at 2005, 94. Note: unless otherwise indicated, all subsequent citations that refer to Honneth will be taken from the English pdf version of his Tanner lectures.

21. Although this is not the way Lukács understood reification, Honneth’s understanding does take up such ethical dimensions.

22. Honneth, 2005. In this light, examples that Honneth cites are the increasing demand for surrogate mothers, the commodification of romantic and familial relationships, and the boom in the sex industry. The other place that I have in mind where Heidegger and the notion of recognition is discussed is in Robert Brandom’s “Heidegger’s Categories in Being and Time,” In Heidegger: A Critical Reader, ed. Hubert Dreyfus and Harrison Hall (Oxford: Blackwell, 1992).

23. Honneth 2005, 108.

24.Ibid., 108.

25. BT, 160/123.

26. Jean-Luc Nancy, “The Being-with of Being-There,” Continental Philosophy Review 41 (2008): 1-15, 2008; 14.

27. Martin Heidegger and Hannah Arendt, Letters: 1925-1975, trans. Andrew Schields, ed. Ursula Lutz (Orlando: Harcourt, 2003), Letters of 8.V.25, p.19.

28. Heidegger and Arendt, Letters, Letters of 13.V.25, p.21.

29. Heidegger and Arendt, Letters, Letters of 22.VI.25, p.25.

30. Nancy 2008, 14.


In/visibility: Perspectives on Inclusion and Exclusion IWM Junior Visiting Fellows’ Conferences, Vol. XXVI
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Preferred citation: Freeman, Lauren. 2009. Love is Not Blind: In/Visibility and Recognition in Martin Heidegger’s Thinking. In: In/visibility: Perspectives on Inclusion and Exclusion, ed. L. Freeman, Vienna: IWM Junior Visiting Fellows’ Conferences, Vol. 26.