authorPOINT's flash presentation

3.2.b: "Intimacy and openness", a peculiar understanding of Da-sein through the intertwining of Heidegger’s path of thinking and a life’s event as Medard Boss's Journey in India.





Place & Date :

Vienna University, 2014, January the 17th


Theme : 

"Intimacy and openness", a peculiar understanding of Da-sein through the intertwining of Heidegger’s path of thinking and a life’s event as Medard Boss's Journey in India.


Last August, I witnessed a cremation in Pashupatinah. A very strong experience, which reminded me of the journey of Medard Boss in India and the "Being-towards-death"  of Heidegger. "Becoming a Daseinsanalyst" implies more than training or knowledge; it calls for a deep experiencing of the existentialia. From this perspective, let us ponder two keynotes of psychotherapy: Intimacy and openness.


Keywords :


Danger of enframing (Gestell), technology and extreme rationalization – Dwelling and the fourfold (Geviert) – Appeal to think what has to be thought: the threefold existential concern of “Being - Beings - Nothingness” potentiated by transcendence – Daseinsanalysis: a never-ending pathway to Aletheia as unconcealment (Richtigkeit-correctness ó Ubereinstimmung-agreement ó Entdecktheit-discovery ó Unverborgenheit-unconcealment ó Erschlossenheit-disclosedness ó Lichtung-clearing)[1]. Daseinsanalysis and Dialogue.  


Lecture :


“Zeitlichkeit und Psychotherapie” becomes a crucial issue nowadays. What arose in the thirties still grows and infiltrates subtly into our faith and ways of being. What Husserl, Heidegger, Arendt, Patocka tried to awake in our consciousness is more than ever vivid in our societies and more than ever concealed through the force of entertainment and the illusion of wellness. 

In his last book “Die Krise der europäischen Wissenschaften und die transzendentale Phänomenologie“ written in 1935, Husserl highlights the scientific excesses whose positivism and objectivism mathematize nature – including the human being - to make it an abstract "object" governed by universal laws, disconnected from the sensitive and individual miscellaneous. He criticizes the cliff separating scientific research from a metaphysical approach which entails as well the crisis of human values. He could also anticipate the disaster of the German political claim which would, as Arendt wrote, “open an abyss. Something happened there to which we cannot reconcile ourselves.”[2]


Heidegger never stops to warn us of the danger of the ever-advancing technology which reaches out into all of our doing, thinking, such a pervasive stance that the human being doesn’t even feel the “enframing” (Gestell), the danger of the realm of calculable and handleable entities which remove us from the essential: “Dasein exists as an entity for which, in its Being, that Being is itself an issue.”[3] Don’t misunderstand Heidegger’s critique. It is not a critique of a particular item of technology. What he is looking for is to think the essence of technology understood as what “belongs to bringing-forth…, as destining of revealing… and showing itself as enframing.”[4] The greatest danger of this enframing is that, inasmuch as everything is placed in the sciences’ framework, man becomes himself one piece of the puzzle and “belongs as a stock part, available resource, or executor.”[5] The danger is that our way of being-with nature as a Lord, considering it as a “standing reserve”, our way to use and abuse technology to impoverish the earth blocks other forms of revealing and closes access to whatever else things are, to who we are, misrelating us to our own essence.


According to Heidegger, Patočka[6] underpins that science as the realm of rationality influences the way we understand the world as a collection of things, finding a way out of the crisis by turning to “ever-new technologies”. The root of the harm is not social or political but civilizational. This civilization dismisses the essential human connection with Being, transcendence putting in danger his soul, understood by the philosopher as an ethical principle, a care for the world and the truth. Patočka calls it a super-civilization which leads to the “objectivisation, automatisation and rationalisation of societies,” because, for the first time, this breakthrough happened in the west and spread out around the world. No alternative anymore. What conducts the world is an increasing will of power, of control, of exploiting nature, transforming all entities into merchandise and the human being into a slave of consumption.

The position we take toward things completely turned the former feeling of “wholeness”, of openness which transcends the parts, into a new one, distinguished by the Czech thinker as a mere juxtaposition of parts which is closed and closing off openness. 


More than ever, material conditions define our wellness and become the core of our society’s preoccupations while spiritual reflections about our being or questioning Being is relegated to the personal sphere or more radically considered as “merely expedient, that one somehow needs but should not get too involved with, since that would be philosophy”[7].


How can we imagine the future of Daseinsanalysis in this time of devastation?


Daseinsanalysis is not just a form of therapy among others. Both for you as well as for the pioneers – Binswanger, Boss, Condrau – it requires an odd feeling of being lacking in something, that what you learned - this promising scientific system of causalities and tools – leads you astray and seems too often helpless in regard of mental disorders or human suffering. Not only the patient but also yourself as a clinician are waiting for something … not yet graspable. Binswanger found it through the reading of “Being and Time”. Boss was in the forties when he encountered Heidegger and in the fifties when he “dwells” in another culture – India – and recalls, moved by an astronomer’s answer, how Jung and Freud followed Heraclitus’s thesis about the identity of opposites. He went to India because “it was important to him to strengthen the spiritual bases of psychology and medicine and to fathom and establish solidly his knowledge of the human being. It was crucial for him to discover better and truer ideas on what man is by nature and by destination. No medicine, even less a soul medicine, without philosophy.”[8]   


Since Plato and Aristotle, the principle of non-contradiction impoverished our western way of thinking. We become more and more benighted through the supremacy of the hackneyed logoV - ratio toward a corny muqoV[9]. No place anymore for fantasy, creativity, openness in any research. Everything has to be validated in a scientific framework and reified as an object embedded in a statistic understanding. Our capability to be open to the beings through “the leap into being”[10] dulls inevitably. We lost the genuine relation with the essence of science which has to hold out in the questionable. “In questioning resides the tempestuous advance that says “yes” to what has not been mastered and the broadening out into ponderable, yet unexplored realms.

What reigns here is a self-surpassing into something above ourselves.”[11] Because science cannot be dissociated from philosophy with which the former shares the need to take up anew the question about thingness. When the thing to ponder is the human being – what demands psychotherapy, our position requires more than ever “dwelling on what appears” and humility.


Dwelling belongs to the essence of psychotherapy. But what means to dwell? “To dwell, to be set at peace, means to remain at peace within the free, the preserve, the free sphere that safeguards each thing in its essence.”[12] Through dwelling which implies to be-there, to be open to openness, the human being attunes himself to his own unfolding-disclosing, staying by this human-way-to-be-in-the-world in the fourfold (Geviert) or better, according Heidegger, “Onefold of the four. It is not so easy to understand what Heidegger invites us to ponder and, moreover, to grasp it as a crucial issue for a clinician. Indeed, resonating in one another, through dwelling, human being becomes aware that he is living as a mortal on earth but at the same time under the sky, the realm of the divinities. Beyond the principle of non-contradiction, extending the eastern thought of harmonization, in that we dwell the world, we become the guarantor of this fundamental tenseness between earth and sky, mortals and divinities from where emerges an in-between, the authentic locales of human beings.


That seems for all of us quite theoretical, at the edge of understandability but it seems obvious when you can experience it as Boss did it during his journey in India.


It was on the way… as fellow travelers that Boss could really meet an Indian master. He joined him on the road to the countryside monastery of Dourga, Godin of destruction where he lived with him for a couple of days. “When someone really wants to help his fellows, try to care for them, he needs before to ponder what a man is in his own essence, how he is and why he exists.”[13] He dwelled also in a cave in the nearness/distance of a hermit. Al those experiences disclose time and space so that they become the peculiar orismoV, horizon where the human being becomes a human being, Da-sein.



Last August, I brought a patient, a 22 year-old student, to Nepal with the hope that a cultural breakthrough could open his mind. It was beyond my wildest dreams. One day, we visited the Hindu temple of Pashupatinah, an incredible place between earth and sky, mortals and Gods.


On the bank, a body wrapped into a shroud, barefoot, was lying on his back. During forty-five minutes, we could share one of the most intimate rituals bringing a “Leib” to ashes: an astounding moment where I experience vividly “Being-towards-death”, my own finitude. “ The deceased (der Verstorbene) as distinct from the dead person (der Gestorbene) has been torn away from those who have remained behind and is an object of “concern” in the way of funeral rites… In such Being-with the dead (dem Toten), the deceased himself is no longer factically there. However, when we speak of “Being-with”, we always have in view Being with one another in the same world.”[14] Yes, indeed. Somehow, even if we were strangers, foreigners, we could share the “Stimmung” so that disclosedness happens… “The disclosedness of being contrasts with the discovery of beings.”



In Nepal, we had to face the dead (den Toten) in his simpleness. Throughout the rituals, there was a pervading sense of “Vergangenheit”, bygone, past and a strange familiar feeling of togetherness and Gewesenheit, having been-ness, living past. Somehow we experienced the “Geviert”, the resonating in one another of earth, sky, mortals and divinity, a gathering as a “Fuge” which fits presences and absences together into a movement,” an event “which fits the relations of gods and humans to one another and this relatedness to the holy.”[15]  For sure, this unexpected Erlebnis “– as some things – makes an appeal to us to give it thought, to turn toward it in thought: to think it.”[16]


What is to be thought? Precisely what is less thought, the intertwining of beings-entities and Being, Being it-self as the appropriating event and that “Dasein exists as an entity for which, in its Being, that Being is itself an issue”, that this issue is one of the keystones of Daseinsanalysis. For it has to be embodied. What is to be thought? Thinking itself! Genuine thinking is contemplative, letting things be rather than seeing what we can do with them, how we can willfully use them. What is to be thought? The inescapable presence of Nothingness. As Aristotle showed it for Being, we have to be concerned by the different meanings and levels of “Nothingness”.


Da-sein means: being held out into the nothing… Holding itself out into the nothing, Dasein is in each case already beyond beings as a whole. This Being beyond beings we call transcendence.”[17]


Da” could term this “in-between” tensioned by the fundamental interplay of “Being” – “Beings” – “nothingness-Nihilation” and potentiated by transcendence; do not confuse it with nihilism. It is quite anxiety-provoking to dwell in this “in-between”; man escapes most of the time falling in the normal form of everyday life what Heidegger calls “Verfallung”, fallenness. It is even more anxiety-provoking that man suffers from a lack of transcendence, the feeling of being capable to go beyond facticity whatever the hardship.   



As long as you avoid this pondering, you withdraw yourself - your world perception - from “unconcealedness” which is presupposed in every determination of “truth”. “Only where unconcealment already prevails can something become sayable, visible, showable, perceivable.”[18] We cannot “understand” our Being-in-the-world if we are not attuned to this threefold “openness” as alhqeia. The first one is uncoveredness, discoverdness (Entdecktheit) of entities. It is because an entity is unconcealed that we can see, understand, use it. That’s an “ontic manifesting… which happens in accordance with an attuned (stimmungsmäßigen) and instinctive finding oneself in the midst of entities.”[19] This everyday dealing with innerwordly entities is the primary mode and often the only one of uncovering the world. The next step is the unconcealment (Unverborgenheit) of Being. Indeed, ontic truth is grounded in the ontological one. The unconcealment of Being implies the disclosure (Erschlossenheit) of Dasein which is constituted, according to Heidegger, by disposedness, understanding and discourse (Befindlichkeit – Verstehen – Rede), and pertains equiprimordially to the world, to being-in, and to the self.”[20] As long as we enframe an entity in what it could be useful or fit our own world’s perspective, we don’t open ourselves to the essence of this entity which refers to the being of this entity and to Being. The disclosure of being consists in our being disposed in a particular way to the world. From “Being and Time” to “The Origin of the work of art”, Heidegger rethinks space so that the tool is no longer simply an item of utility. Serviceability and utility are now inscribed within a larger context of reliability (Verläßlichkeit) which surpasses sheer serviceability in tending to a relationship with the unknown. Heidegger names this new perspective in the world “Earth”, the key to a thinking of radiance, an excessive and groundless phenomenality, an appearing that is untethered from an underlying substance.



It’s time to leap[21] to the third unfolding and the most fundamental and enigmatic – even esoteric – form of unconcealment granted by the “Lichtung”, the clearing.


It would be great if I could read you “What task is reserved for thinking at the end of the philosophy”, one of the most difficult and founding text of Heidegger,[22] a reading understood as a sharing-path to thinking. It might be essential to open time for “Gelassenheit”, releasement, “letting the things be”, “equanimity towards things”, “openness to the mystery” which is hidden in the technological world ; time to tear oneself away from the primacy of calculative thinking. Is it possible to get closer of the clearing without any self-disclosing?


The Heideggerian path remains the one of “Being” and “Thinking” which delves any horizon of intelligibility. What has to bring forth is the “place” where thought can think “Being”, a passage from the speculative thinking to the way of thinking. This place, which is not a geographical place, is lived as “openness that grants a possible letting appear and show “clearing”, a “free space, a free opening which is thinking as “primal phenomenon” (Urphänomen), as prima matter (Ursache).”[23] Lichtung, clearing: nothing to do with Licht, light although “light can stream into the clearing, into its openness, and let brightness play with darkness in it… Light never first creates the clearing. However this open region is free for brightness and darkness, for resonance and echo, for sound and the diminishing of sound.”[24] Could we claim that this place belongs to meditation, to the meditative man? A place as in-between where unconcealment becomes possible, “a place of stillness that gathers in itself what first grants unconcealment… The quiet heart of the clearing is the place of stillness from which alone the possibility of the belonging together of Being and thinking, that is, presence and apprehending, can arise at all.”[25]


What I want to underpin is that the Heideggerian path of thinking beyond “Being and Time” ponders so deeply the fundamentals of humanity that the initiated clinician experiences a converted perspective which transforms thoroughly his way of understanding psychotherapy or medicine. To become a Daseinsanalyst requires not just a new training which could provide you with new tools or concepts but also a new grounding of your general background (Medicine, psychology,…). When Medard Boss writes: “In Heidegger’s Daseinsanalytik, dwelling refers to human existence’s dwelling-in-the-world which is totally other than a material presence. It is rather man’s ek-static abiding by, his existing in the openness of a cleared worldly realm.”[26], it is more than claiming something, he shares one of the steps which leads him to understand that any organic illness can weaken the patient’s being-in-the-world or that “the traditional somato – and psychopathological explanations of medical science can gain no access to human existence as a realm of world-openness.”[27]

The encounter with Heidegger or his journey to India changes the life of Medard Boss, his way of thinking, working and understanding. Those existential events are crucial and decisive for those who want to be embodied by Daseinsanalysis.


What I would like to unfold is that Daseinsanalysis as psychotherapy means to experience life, to think, to walk on a never-ending pathway to alhqeia as unconcealment which implies a intertwining of mineness (Jemeinigkeit) and togetherness, of silence and dialogues, of sense’s constitution and epoch[28], of light and darkness. You cannot do as someone, become “Bossian” or Binswangerian, there is no somehow to do it. Each Daseinsanalyst opens a singular, dynamic and historical horizon of therapy where “encounter” is possible. Today, 35 years after my first reading of Being and Time, my practice questions that fundamental, existential interplay in humankind of “Being” – “Beings” – “nothingness-Nihilation” potentialized by transcendence[29]. Transcendence is our capability to go beyond what is given to us as what it is, as substantiality which removes us from what we are namely that we aren’t, we have to be. Transcendence tears us away from daily life to throw us into the unknown, into the “where” that renders possible (Ermöglichung). Through trans­cendence which implies resonating with the Geviert, Da-sein harmonizes this threefold unavoidable concern. I name this open way of living life in French: “l’entre-trois existential” which is not translatable into English. A loss of balance encloses the human being in one of them generating suffering and an altered relation of our being-in-the-world: for instance, venality (beings), mysticism (Being) or nihilism, depression (nothingness-nihilation). I understand today Daseinsanalysis as a place, a free-space where the patient can balance his life through an encounter and a genuine dialogue[30] this threefold concern. Through the right question which unconceal, the dialogue sets off by itself, gains in autonomy. The dialogue is a mode of being-with, being-together, completely different from the one established by mere communication. The querying does not aim for any information. Instead, the question questions the questioned himself. Querying and questioned belong to a togetherness from which the question is given. This innermost intimate interplay of questions and answers requires stillness, openness, listening, understanding, attunedness. Dialogue is the witness of being-together, participates in Da-sein’s Erschlossenheit, disclosedness “which is the ontological term for being-there’s being lighted and cleared within itself…a fundamental openness.”[31]

The impact of Heidegger’s thought on psychotherapy, at least for those who delve into the thought of the philosopher, is so abyssal that we need a lifespan to unfurl its richness. In this time of decay and despair, Heidegger’s path is more than ever needed - all the more so since our period abandoned the question of Being, leaving humankind in the delusions of beings without any balance.


We have to face the two sides of modern thought – on one side, the concrete affective side of felt experiencing, a prelogical, preconceptual experience, on the other, pragmatism, positivism, logical and empirical requirements of science and meaning – without necessarily oppose them but attempt to harmonize them to bring forth a sort of “transcendental threefold in-between”.


The purpose of this lecture was to unfold the deepness of the impact of Heidegger’s thought on the way the therapist can understand the core, the essence of his practice. Da-sein as being-in-the-world cannot be reduced to a concept, a formula or a slogan. You have to ponder what “Space, Raum”[32] means, to feel that Space, and to open a field to welcome bodies[33], that a limit ‘is not only the outline and frame, not only that whereby something ceases. Limit means that whereby something is gathered into its owness, in order to appear from out of it in its fullness, to come forth into presence. The limit gives the thing to the world endlessly.”[34] If you understand “limit” as an “end”, you don’t open the same possibilities as if you understood it as a beginning. It is through this “enigmatic relation” you enter into with the world, with space, with earth, with a sculpture that you can feel that something happens as closeness[35] or intimacy in spite of “otherness”, something as “Leiblichkeit”, corporeality in spite of the presence of bodies – Körper, something as “an encounter” in spite of the necessity of diagnose and established treatments followed by statistical results.


On the way with Heidegger, we do not expect each therapist to become a philosopher but at least that he attempt to think and to ponder his scientific training so that he can unravel “the technical construction of the human being as a machine.”[36]


[1] : Alfred DENKER, Historical Dictionary of Heidegger’s philosophy, Scarecrow Press, 2000

[2] : Hannah ARENDT, Essays in Understanding 1930-1954, Kindle.

[3] : Martin HEIDEGGER, Being and Time, 1927, Blackwell, Translation Macquarrie & Robinson, 1962  p.406  „Das Dasein existiert als ein Seiendes, dem es in seinem Sein um dieses selbst geht.“

[4] : Martin HEIDEGGER, The question concerning technology, 1954, in Basic Writings, Harper Perennial, 2008, p. 318, 333 and 328.

[5] : Ibidem, p.335

[6] : J. PATOČKA, Heretical essays in the philosophy of History, Chicago and La Salle, Illinois, Open Court, 1996.

[7] : Martin HEIDEGGER, Modern Science, Metaphysics, and mathematics, 1962  in Basic Writings, Harper Perennial, 2008, p.272

[8] : Medard BOSS, Un psychiatre en Inde, Fayard, 1971, p. 113  Personal translation

[9] : “Mythos and logos become separated and opposed only at the point where neither mythos nor logos can keep to its pristine essence… “Martin Heidegger,  What calls for thinking ?, in Basic Writings, Harper Perennial, 2008, p. 374

[10] : Martin HEIDEGGER, Contributions to Philosophy (Of the Event), p.7 « The leap leaps into the abyss of the fissure and so for the first time attains the necessity of grounding Da-sein, which is assigned out of beyng”.

[11] : Ibidem, p. 7

[12] : Martin HEIDEGGER,  Building, Dwelling, Thinking, 1951,  in Basic Writings, Harper Perennial, 2008, p. 351

[13] : Medard BOSS, Op.cit., p. 136

[14] : Martin HEIDEGGER, Being and Time, Op.Cit., p. 282 ( 239)

[15] : Daniel O. DAHLSTROM,  The Heidegger Dictionary, 19, 2013, Bloomsbury Ed., Kindle,  -   Fit ( Fuge)

[16] : Martin HEIDEGGER,  What calls for thinking ?, in Basic Writings, Harper Perennial, 2008, p. 372

[17] : Martin HEIDEGGER, What is Metaphysics, in Basic Writings, Harper Perennial, 2008, p. 103

[18] : Mark. A. WRATHALL, Heidegger and Unconcealment : Truth, Language, and History, Cambridge, 2011 p. 7

[19] : Martin HEIDEGGER, Pathmarks, McNeill Ed, Cambridge University Press, 1998, p. 131

[20] : Martin HEIDEGGER, Being and Time, Op.Cit., p. 221

[21] : “ Leap” : The leap into that primordial experience leaps past talk of the “ontological difference”, “conditions of the possibility” and “transcendence” into the appropriation of Dasein which is the relation of Dasein and historical being.  Daniel O.DAHLSTROM, Op.Cit.

[22] : Martin HEIDEGGER, “The end of Philosophy and the Task of Thinking” in On Time and Being (Pathmarks) or in Zur Zache des Denkens”. You can find it too in the Basic Writings, Op. Cit. p.431-449

[23] : Ibidem, p. 441-442

[24] : Ibid., p.442

[25] : Ibid, p. 445

[26] : Medard BOSS, Existential foundations of medicine & psychology , 1974 Jason Aronson Ed., 1994  p.130

[27] : Ibidem, p. 198

[28] : « We could now let the universal epochè take the place of the Cartesian attempt to doubt. Epochè in a word : We put out of action the general positing which belongs to the essence of the natural attitude, the whole natural world which is continually “there for us”, “on hand”… I’m not negating the world, I’m not doubting, rather I am exercising the phenomenological epochè which also completely shuts me off from any judgment about spatiotemporal factual being.” Edmund HUSSERL, Ideas I, 52-61 in Basic Writings in transcendantal phenomenology, Donn Welton Ed, Indiana University Press, 1999, p.65

[29] : “ Transcendence as being in itself is the difference from beings ! Transcendence is not a property of the subject ans of its relationship to an object as world, but the relationschip to being, thus of Da-sein in its relationship to being.” Martin HEIDEGGER, Zollikon Seminars, 1987, Northwestern University Press, 2001, p. 193 (241)

[30] : Heinrich ROMBACH, Uber Ursprung und Wesen der Frage“, Verlag Karl Alber, Freiburg – München, 1988, p.162-167

[31] : Alfred DENKER, Op.Cit., p.81

[32] : “ The human being makes space for himself. He allows space to be… the animal does not experience space as space.”  Martin HEIDEGGER, Zollikon Seminars, Op.cit., p.16

[33] : “Da-sein is not spatial because it is embodied. But its bodiliness is possible only because Da-sein is spatial in the sense of making room.” Ibidem, p. 81

[34] : Martin HEIDEGGER in « Heiddeger among the sculptors, Body, Space and the Art of Dwelling », Andrew J. MITCHELL, Standford University Press, 2010 - Kindle or “ Remarques sur Art – Sculpture – Espace”, Rivage Poche, 2007, p.19

[35] : « I measure the distance between two bodies, not the depth opened up in each case by my being-in-the-world.” Martin HEIDEGGER, Zollikon Seminars, Op.Cit., p.82

[36] : Ibidem, p. 135