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Rousse - FORE-STRUCTURE (VOR-STRUKTUR) - Cambridge Heidegger Lexicon

Entry in the Cambridge Heidegger Lexicon, edited by Mark Wrathall.
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  Rousse, ÒF ORE - STRUCTURE ( V  OR  -S  TRUKTUR  )Ó 1 Please cite the published version, forthcoming in Rousse, B. S., ÒF ORE - STRUCTURE ( V  OR  -S  TRUKTUR  ),Ó in The Cambridge Heidegger Lexicon  , edited by Mark Wrathall (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press). F ORE - STRUCTURE ( V  OR  -S  TRUKTUR  ) The fore-structure is a threefold structure of fore-having, fore-sight, and fore-conception, which is involved in every interpretation. This structure is at the core of HeideggerÕs generalization of HERMENEUTICS  from a theory of textual or historical interpretation to an ONTOLOGY  of human existence in its BEING - IN - THE - WORLD . Our understanding of and ability to get around in an everyday WORLD , like our ability to understand written or spoken language, always draws on pre-suppositions that we bring with us and that constitute the perspective out of which we understand and interpret. Whether we are aware of it or not, we always interpret texts on the basis of what we already understand and take for granted. If, when one is engaged in a particular concrete kind of interpretation, in the sense of exact textual Interpretation, 1  one likes to appeal [ beruf   ] to what Ôstands thereÕ, then one finds that what Ôstands thereÕ in the first instance is nothing other than the obvious undiscussed assumption [ Vormeinung  ] of the person who does the interpreting. In an interpretive approach there lies such an assumption, as that which has been Ôtake for grantedÕ [Ô  gesetzt  Õ] with the interpretation as such Ð that is to say, as that which has been presented in our fore-having, our fore-sight, and our fore-conception (SZ 150). HeideggerÕs move (in SZ ¤32) is to show how this applies not only to our understanding and interpretation of texts, but that it also characterizes our relationship to the everyday world in which we live. With this move, Heidegger consummates his attack on the traditional subject-object, epistemic model of our relationship to the world. Our fundamental relation to the world is not one of detached knowledge which can approach an ideal of being presuppositionless, rather it is one of involved UNDERSTANDING  and INTERPRETATION  permeated by presuppositions. Just as Heidegger denies that there is literal meaning just there to be understood independently of our presuppositions, so he claims that our relationship to the world Òis never a presuppositionless apprehending something presented to usÓ (SZ 150). 1  ÒInterpretationÓ with a capital ÔIÕ translates Interpretation   (rather than  Auslegung  ). In HeideggerÕs usage, Interpretation refers to interpretation conducted as technical activity of the philosopher or philologist, for example, as opposed to the interpretations (with a little ÔiÕ, translating  Auslegung  ) that transpire, according to Heidegger, in DaseinÕs own interaction with the world, itself, and others.  Rousse, ÒF ORE - STRUCTURE ( V  OR  -S  TRUKTUR  )Ó 2 Dasein is already   situated or oriented by what it inconspicuously Òtakes for granted,Ó that is, pre-judgments, [ Vor-urteile  ], assumptions [ Vormeinungen  ] (SZ 150), and ÒpresuppositionsÓ [ Voraussetzungen  ] (SZ 232). Heidegger uses the term Òfore-structure of understandingÓ to capture this prior situatedness, and he analyzes it into three interrelated moments: the fore-having [ Vorhabe  ] which is our holistic understanding of the pre-given context from out of which we interpret; the fore-sight [ Vorsicht  ] which is the particular interests or concerns from the perspective of which we interpret; and the fore-conception [ Vorgriff   ] which is the particular language and concepts by which our interpretation is framed and expressed (Lafont 2000, 2005). This threefold fore-structure provides the substantive orientation from out of which we relate to things, others, and ourselves; it guides our unproblematic understanding as well as our activity of interpretation, which transpires normally as the result of a breakdown or disturbance in our understanding. 2  In keeping with the overall focus of Division I of Being and Time  , Heidegger explains the fore-structure and the role it plays in understanding and interpretation not in terms of linguistic understanding but in terms of our understanding and interpretation of the everyday EQUIPMENT . In using any given piece of equipment, say a piece of chalk (to use one of HeideggerÕs pet examples), toward the end of explaining a philosophical point, I tacitly take account of the place the piece of chalk has in the Òwhole of AFFORDANCES ,Ó that is, I take account of the way it is related to the chalk board, the erasers, the desks, and students in the class, the right way to write on the chalk board so that it is legible to the students in the back of the room, the norms for comporting oneself properly in the pedagogical setting of a university classroom, and so on. I do not stop and think about or pay explicit attention to this context of interconnections. I simply Òget it.Ó This is what Heidegger calls the Òfore-having.Ó The fore-having has to do with my familiarity with the holistic context within which my activities unfold. Interpretation transpires always relative to such a pre-given context. An example will help. If suddenly a student complains because he cannot read what I have written on the chalkboard, perhaps because the piece of chalk broke and, having become too small to wield properly, made me write sloppily, I have to stop, come out of the immediate and normal ÒunderstandingÓ flow of activity, and Òwork outÓ these taken-for-granted interconnections so as to repair the problem and get back to the task at hand. For example, I have to find the eraser, erase the sloppy writing, grab a new piece of chalk, and focus more directly on writing on the board in an appropriately legible manner. Heidegger calls this a ÒcircumspectiveÓ (i.e., non-reflective) interpretation or explication (SZ 157) of what the chalk is  for  , and how the eraser is related to the chalk, how the chalk and the eraser are related to the practice of writing in a legible way, 2  But see Wrathall (2013) for an alternative take on the way interpretation emerges out of and is related to understanding.  Rousse, ÒF ORE - STRUCTURE ( V  OR  -S  TRUKTUR  )Ó 3 towards the end of explaining philosophy, for the sake of my being   a philosophy teacher. This process involves Òtaking apart [ auseinanderlegen  ] the Ôin-order-toÕÓ (SZ 148-149). The result is that the Òin-order-toÓ of the chalk and its various interrelations (to the in-order-toÕs of the eraser, to the practice of writing on the board, etc.) which I previously simply Òhad in advanceÓ (SZ150) become Òexpressly understoodÓ (SZ 149; see EXPRESS ). 3  Next Heidegger discusses the Òfore-sightÓ: when something is understood but still veiled, it becomes unveiled by an act of appropriation, and this is always done under the guidance of a point of view [ Hinsicht  ], which fixes that with regard to which what is understood is to be interpreted. This fore-sight Òtakes the first cutÓ out of what has been taken into our fore-having, and it does so with a view to a definite way in which this can be interpreted (SZ 150). Fore-sight has to do with the particular perspective from which I understand and interpret things. It involves the particular interests   or concerns by which I am oriented in the current situation. In the present example, my perspective and interests are those of someone attempting to explain a philosophical point in the course of teaching a class. It is in the light of this perspective, in light of my commitment to being a philosophy teacher, that I engage in the act of getting a better grip on the particular equipment with which I carry out the relevant tasks. If, for example, I notice that my mobile phone is not working or has received a call, the fact that this piece of equipment is not directly relevant to my current interests means that its place in the Òwhole of significanceÓ does not at the moment need to be ÒunveiledÓ or ÒappropriatedÓ in my interpretation (my response to the breakdown of the chalk). The fore-sight captures the way interpretation is interest relative, always transpiring according to a guiding particular interest or point of view. Third, Heidegger mentions the fore-conception: Òanything understood which is held in our fore-having and towards which we set our sights Ôfore-sightedlyÕ, becomes conceptualizable through the interpretationÓ (SZ 150). To conceptualize something is to subsume it under explanatory categories, for example, of a philosophical or scientific kind. The fore-conception is the particular range of CONCEPT s that are available to make sense of what is being interpreted. But the range of available concepts is a feature of the specific language and lexicon of the interpreter. The fore-conception captures the sense in which interpretation is language  -relative. To put this in terms of the above example, if one of the students asked me to give a philosophical interpretation of the change the piece of chalk underwent when it went from being Òusable to write on the chalkboardÓ to being Òtoo short to write on the chalkboard,Ó I could (to HeideggerÕs chagrin) explain the change by using concepts drawn from substance ontology  : the piece of chalk is a substance that formerly had the properties of being Ò13mm longÓ and Òuseful for writing on the chalkboard,Ó but now it has the properties of being Ò2mm longÓ 3  As the translators remind us, Òto take apart,Ó auseinanderlegen  , is etymologically connected to the word for Òinterpretation,Ó  Auslegung  , and Òto interpret,Ó auslegen   (literally, Òto lay outÓ).  Rousse, ÒF ORE - STRUCTURE ( V  OR  -S  TRUKTUR  )Ó 4 and Òbad for writing on the chalkboard.Ó Interpretation is always relative to an available stock of concepts and descriptive terms. Heidegger himself seems to have such a case (of making use of ontological concepts like ÒoccurrentnessÓ) in mind when he puts a gloss of Òfore-conceptionÓ in the passage we are considering: ÒIn such an interpretation, the way in which the entity we are interpreting is to be conceived can be drawn from the entity itself, or the interpretation can force the entity into concepts to which it is opposed in its manner of beingÓ(SZ 150). According to HeideggerÕs argument in Division I of Being and Time  , chalk as available equipment and people as Dasein are entities that are Òopposed in their manner of beingÓ to concepts characteristic of ÒoccurrentnessÓ (substance, accident, etc.). Together, these three fore-structures make up DaseinÕs Òhermeneutic SituationÓ (SZ 231-232)  Ñ the Situation into which Dasein is thrown   and which guides the active  projections   and anticipations it forms in understanding and interpretation. The fore-structure operates as the taken-for-granted background against which things show up and make sense to Dasein. Despite the taken-for-granted self-evidence with which the fore-structures tend to orient us, they are not simply a fixed or brute force acting on us. In an attempt to repair a breakdown or deepen understanding, the interpreter can Òget a grip onÓ [ ergreifen  ] these antecedent structures. In piecemeal fashion, the interpreter can clarify, appropriate, and if necessary, revise them. That is precisely the work of Interpretation, and it is behind HeideggerÕs own hermeneutical method at work in Being and Time   itself. Hence, in the methodological reflections that begin Division II, Heidegger refers back to his discussion of the fore-structures in order to explain why it is necessary in Division II to go back over (ÒrepeatÓ) the material provisionally interpreted in Division I in order to arrive at Òa more primordialÓ interpretation of DaseinÕs way of being (in terms of temporality). Ontological investigation is a possible kind of interpreting, which we have described as the working-out and appropriation of an understanding. Every interpretation has its fore-having, fore-sight, and fore-conception. If such an interpretation, as an Interpretation, becomes an explicit task for research, then, the totality of these ÔpresuppositionsÕ (which we call the Ô hermeneutical Situation  Õ) needs to be clarified and made secure before hand [ einer vorgŠngigen KlŠrung und Sicherung  ] (SZ 231-232). Attempts to deny the influence of the fore-structure and appeal to literal meaning or a world we can supposedly access independently of the fore-structures amount to Òfailing to recognize beforehand the essential conditions under which [interpretation] can be performed,Ó and this prevents Òthe basic conditions which make interpretation possibleÓ from being ÒfulfilledÓ (SZ 153). Accordingly, Heidegger thinks that an interpreter who properly recognizes and takes responsibility for his own involvement in and ability to get a grip on or appropriate the fore-structures will produce a more primordial interpretation, an ÒownedÓ or ÒauthenticÓ [ eigentliche  ] one. An authentic interpretation, to use the Heideggerian technical terms, is one  Rousse, ÒF ORE - STRUCTURE ( V  OR  -S  TRUKTUR  )Ó 5 whose hermeneutic situation has been actively Òtaken hold ofÓ [ ergriffene  ] and thereby has become more Ò TRANSPARENT Ó [ durchsichtig  ]. Hence HeideggerÕs exhortation that the fore-structure be Ògenuinely taken hold ofÓ [ in echter Weise É ergriffen  ],Ó and that this prescribes a readiness to revise or challenge our taken for-granted fore-structures, giving us the Ò constant task   É never to allow our fore-having, fore-sight, and fore-conception to be presented to us by fancies and popular conceptionsÓ (SZ 153). B. Scot Rousse R EFERENCES IN H EIDEGGER  SZ 150-153, 231-233, 316; GA17: 109-112; GA18: 273-276; GA20: 413-417; GA63: 16-17 F URTHER R EADING   Carman, T. (2003) HeideggerÕs Analytic   ()Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), pp. 212-215. Dreyfus, H. (1980) ÒHolism and Hermeneutics.Ó Review of Metaphysics   34:3-23. Gadamer, H-G. (2004) Truth and Method  , trans. Joel Weinsheimer and Donald G. Marshall, 2nd rev. ed. (London: Continuum). Lafont, C. (2000) Heidegger, Language, and World-Disclosure  , trans. Graham Harman. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), pp. 61-65. -----. (2005) ÒHermeneutics,Ó in  A Companion to Heidegger  , ed. Hubert Dreyfus and Mark Wrathall. (Malden: Blackwell Publishing), pp. 276-279. Wrathall, M. (2013) ÒHeidegger on Human Understanding,Ó in The Cambridge Companion to HeideggerÕs Being and Time, ed. Mark Wrathall. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).  
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