I hadn’t understood much of what I’d read in Being and Time, but I had the feeling that what Heidegger was on about was pretty mind-blowing, and could change the way I thought about everything. As far as I could fathom, he was saying that up to now, Western philosophers had put forward the incredibly stupid idea that human beings are essentially minds trapped inside bodies, somehow peering out at the world as though through a plate-glass window and wondering what’s really out there, if anything. But the reality is that we human beings find ourselves in the world, are “thrown” into it, as he put it, and have to sink or swim as best we can. We have to do things, make things, to survive: find food, shelter, and so on. We do all this without thinking: we only need to think, in fact, when some problem arises. It’s like driving: you just do it automatically, and it’s only when you notice you’re about to crash that you have to start paying attention.
So thinking, Heidegger seemed to be saying, is a kind of aberration. Before we start thinking, things just carry on, and we kind of merge into life without being conscious of ourselves as subjects separate from the world of objects and other people. Instead of being trapped inside the plate-glass window, and looking out, and wishing we could connect, here we are, “being-in-the-world,” right in the cut and thrust of life all the time, if we only knew it.