The connection between the state of being present and being prepared is rooted in Heidegger’s notion of “equipment” and how it pertains to Being.
Present-at-hand and ready-to-hand are two modes of existence, where equipment plays a vital role. Our primary way of interacting with things is through the lens of equipment. “Equipment is essentially in-order-to…
The main idea is that equipment serves a specific purpose. For example, I am currently using my keyboard to write a paper. This understanding of using something for its intended purpose is important when considering the relationship between ready-to-hand and present-at-hand.
The significance of equipment lies in its inherent connection to other equipment. Equipment exists and acquires meaning solely through its relationship with other equipment. “Equipment”
The definition of a tool relies on its connection to other equipment. For example, a screwdriver is categorized as such solely because it is associated with screws.
The screwdriver is used for the purpose of screwing or unscrewing. However, in order to perform this task, one must have both the screwdriver and a screw. This highlights the importance of the connection between equipment. Equipment gains its significance by being a part of a larger system.
The totality has an ultimate end, rather than going on forever. Our Being, or as Heidegger states, our Dasein, has a fundamental relationship with equipment. Furthermore, equipment is only realized as what it is through its interaction with Dasein. Although Dasein does not possess properties in the form of subject/object predication, it does have modes of being.
Dasein has two modes of being towards equipment: the present-at-hand and the ready-to-hand. Equipment is always defined in relation to other equipment and can be placed within a “referential totality” that is relevant to Dasein’s concerns. Dasein illuminates a piece of equipment as what it is. Primordially, Dasein does not structure the world based on belief or interact with it solely through sense perceptions.
Rather than seeing the world primarily as present-at-hand, Dasein perceives it as ready-to-hand, which is a subordinate category of relationships. When Dasein utilizes a piece of equipment for its intended purpose, Heidegger refers to it as ready-to-hand. In this state, entities are available for our use. When engaging with the world, Dasein does so within a comprehensive context and reference frame.
The manipulability of equipment is demonstrated by our ability to use it as intended. This usage leads to the state of readiness-to-hand, where objects manifest their own mode of being.
The term “ready-to-hand” refers to the mode of being when a piece of equipment is being used as intended. It describes our everyday existence and involves non-thematic circumspective absorption in references or assignments related to the readiness-to-hand of overall equipment. This mode of being is distinct from the present-at-hand mode.
In regards to Dasein, it is important to remember that it lacks properties in the form of subject/object predication. Instead, it possesses various modes of being. One of these modes of being, known as present-at-hand, is connected to Dasein. Heidegger refers to the mode of being in which a piece of equipment is used as intended as ready-to-hand. When an object becomes the focus of our attention, it transforms into present-at-hand.
When theoretical inquiry is involved, an object transitions from being ready-to-hand to being present-at-hand. Heidegger uses the example of a hammer to explain this concept. He states that when we use the hammer correctly, it remains inconspicuous and its mode of existence is ready-to-hand. However, if the hammer becomes defective or breaks, its mode of existence would be altered.
The hammer would no longer be conspicuous, but rather it would catch one’s attention. Additionally, it would be noticed and brought to our attention. This interplay of being ready to use and being noticed creates a relationship between the two modes. The relationship between these modes becomes apparent in this manner.
In one mode, an object or piece of equipment is utilized as intended, referred to as the ready-to-hand. This mode is focused on the practical application of an object. Conversely, the present-at-hand mode occurs when one examines, reflects upon, or brings into theoretical concern a given object. It is notable that philosophers have long favored the theoretical perspective over the everyday lived experience since the time of Plato.
They have given preference to the present-at-hand over the ready-to-hand because they either fail to recognize a connection between the two ways, or do not consider it significant. The connection is that there are two approaches to dealing with the world, practical and theoretical, and both approaches hold their own importance. Furthermore, these two modes of existence are linked through Dasein’s interactions with the world, as without these modes, the world would not be comprehensible. Thus, not only do ready-to-hand and present-at-hand have a direct relationship with each other, but they also establish a relationship between Dasein and reality indirectly; these two modes of existence indirectly form a bond between Dasein and reality.
It appears that of the two modes being discussed, either could be considered more important depending on the circumstances. In other words, the importance of one mode over the other depends on how Dasein interacts with the world. If this is true, then the ready-to-hand mode takes priority because through Dasein’s everyday interactions, objects are seen as manipulatable, rather than just “things.” The secondary nature of the present-at-hand mode suggests that it is less important compared to the ready-to-hand mode.
Present-at-hand is the mode of being that occurs when an object is in question or something is wrong with it. It can also happen when Dasein encounters an object for the first time. In these situations, the object is initially present-at-hand. Enquiring about the nature, composition, functionality, or weight of the object are all ways to bring it into presence.
The understanding of the nature of “things” relies heavily on the concept of present-at-hand, which is essential for theoretical examination. Yet, Heidegger argues that readiness-to-hand is even more fundamental than present-at-hand. According to Heidegger, Dasein’s inherent state leans towards readiness-to-hand rather than present-at-hand. Through our daily interactions with the world, we do not perceive things as existing solely in a present-at-hand manner.
The primary emphasis is on equipment that is prepared and available for use, instead of analyzing its individual components. Thus, the prioritization lies in the state of being ready-to-hand rather than present-at-hand. Readiness-to-hand pertains to how equipment is utilized for its intended purpose.
Dasein’s existence in the world involves utilizing equipment according to its intended purpose within its overall context. In everyday interactions, Dasein primarily engages with things practically, while also having a secondary theoretical understanding of the world. The fundamental nature of Dasein is to use objects as they are meant to be used. Thus, prioritizing a theoretical understanding of objects over their practical use simplifies the world.
The world and its objects can be comprehended in two distinct manners: ontologically as ready-to-hand and epistemologically as present-at-hand. The ready-to-hand mode is given precedence in our everyday interactions with the world, whereas the present-at-hand mode is utilized when we are attempting to analyze objects. Dasein, or human existence, is predominantly engrossed in the ready-to-hand mode of being and actively interacts with the world.
Overall, the relationship between the present-at-hand and the ready-to-hand has become evident. These two forms of existence are connected through Dasein and its interaction with the world. In its natural state, Dasein engages with the world as ready-to-hand, perceiving and using objects for their intended purposes within a broader context. However, when objects present difficulties for Dasein, the world shifts from being ready-to-hand to present-at-hand. Dasein then brings these problematic objects into focus for examination, causing them to exist as present-at-hand.
According to this perspective, the present-at-hand is a conceptual perspective that arises when something is presented as a problem to be analyzed. In contrast, the primary approach, known as ready-to-hand, is how we typically interact with the world in our everyday lives.