No World, No We
Half the time we don’t even think about the objects we use in day to day life; its very “normal” for us to use these objects. The movie, “Being in the World” explores how people interact with objects and whether these allegedly unnecessary objects and things help us make sense of the world or if these things are what we try to make sense of. What part of our brain thinks of getting such objects to use (spoons, knives, hammers, etc)? Heidegger believes that we exist with the world —“The being is in the doing”
Heidegger was a German philosopher who had an issue with western philosophy regarding Western enlightenment in the 15th century. The dominant way of thinking about human beings in the world had become this way in which humans are detached from things, treating the human mind like a computer; input comes in and we process that. Mind is separate from body. Brain passes signals to the body that’s why we do things.
However, Heidegger goes on to disagree and suggest that, the reality that humans create is not separate from reality. All intelligence is embodied intelligence, it is not possible for a mind to not have a body. The body and mind are able to act in the world together. They are immersed in the world. Most of the time we are not thinking about what we are supposed to do. You’re on auto pilot, you do all these actions seamlessly. When you hammer something, you are not thinking about the hammer. You do not think much about doing it in order to do it. We could say that our default state of being is flow. But…
You notice the hammer when the hammer does not work.
If something is badly designed, you will criticize and focus on that object. Your attention is not on the action you need to do with the object, but on the object.
Good design is invisible.
ready to hand (not thinking about the object), present at hand (you focus on the object.)
Sometimes you want to be present at hand. It can be argued that art is something that needs attention and design is invisible. Is it because art doesn’t have a “use”? Art is specific and based on situation. Design is something that we depend on to live on a daily bases. Try to fry your eggs without the million things designed for it, i dare you.
Useful things are invisible, if you follow Heidegger’s philosophy. The thing only gains usefulness in relation to other things. Tea bags are useless if you don’t have heated water, a mug, sugar etc to make tea. Nothing has intrinsic use value on its own.
In a different case, mastery is linked with engrossment with the skill. You are usually thinking and doing together. This is all in the case of studying the skill or learning to master that skill. Thinking through your practice/material. That also includes analysis of your work; you are going through reflective practice.
In making design that makes life easier but ruins the environment is something Heidegger is against. He says The only thing that can make us more sustainable and turn us away from destruction is technology. It is both the problem and the solution. How can we redesign the technological structure for it to become less harmful? He was against modern revolution and spoke about how things were before they became industrialized. Hence, we could criticize Heidegger as a romanticist.