Sunday, September 27, 2009


As we discussed in class, we are all guilty of a reliance on "they." "They say it's going to rain today," or "they say jogging every day is good for you," is acceptable every day language. We heed these words as if we have any idea just who "they" represents. The problem with this is that we don't know who "they" are. This proverbial speech has no identity. As Heidegger would put it, it is something everyone says but no one says, all at once. This inevitably leads to mediocrity because they never discuss anything profound. Never have I heard on of these statements predict Armageddon or discuss the parameters of justice. Surely claims such as this would have a specific author; an individual is responsible for this type of thought. In other words, they are limited to things upon which everyone agrees. This causes what Heidegger calls a "leveling down," to the least common intellectual denominator. The anonymous nature of "they" ultimately leads to unaccountability as well as ephemeral and, what Heidegger would consider, unimportant information, therefore limiting us as individuals.
So why do we invest in such language? Why are we drawn in by this indefinable concept? Heidegger even argues that we lose ourselves in the "they." It would seem that we are all guilty of this by convenience. We run towards the "they" like herded sheep because it is easy. And the ultimate irony is that we can never be they. So why do we listen?


  1. I mentioned this a little bit before in a previous comment, but I agree with you in that we all tend towards the "they" because "its easy." It is much harder to go against the they, against generalization than take the easy way out by listening to the they and levels us off. As you said, we can't be they because we don't know who they are, but that's what makes "them" the "they;" they are they masses. I suppose we listen because we are all the "they," whether we like it or not--we can say that the "they" is "the least common intellectual denominator," but is there anyway of not being a part of the they?--we can also not listen to the they, but ultimately we are all a part of the "they." There will always be people that listen to the they and whether we like it are not are always going to be generalized by certain people--we can be part of the they and also be listened to by the "they," but we will never know exactly who specifically the they is.

  2. Why do we listen? Because we've all agreed to the social contract, to the set of rules - both written and implicit - on what the parameters of our individual freedoms are in order to ensure public safety. "They" constructed the social contract, and as Sarah made clear, we are both a member of and subject to the "they." We listen because we want to have a say in how others carry out their day-to-day activities so as to ensure their actions do not conflict with ours. We listen because at some point in our lives, we all find ourselves in situations where we don't know what to do and feel the creeping panic of the anxiety of possibilities seeping into our consciousness; hence, we confer with the "they." We listen because as much as we may purport to be "wild" and "individual" and "free," we all crave some sort of order to our lives - or at the very least, we like to be aware of what we should be doing so as to better anticipate how to rail against it.

    I know what you're thinking. You're probably saying to yourself, "hogwash! I never agreed to that social contract!" Ask yourself: Have you never killed another person? Did you go to college straight out of high school without a pause in between? Are you reading this post right now because you're trying to think of a way to refute or agree with me so as to complete your two-post requirement? Then guess what? Whether you like it not, you did agree to the contract. Welcome to society.

  3. Being a part of the "they" seems unavoidable. there are things we have all heard that seems to have no origin. But sometimes "they" does have good advice. I mean, "they" say you should go to class on time, be concerned about your financial stability and brush your teeth at least twice a day. Actually the "they" can be really helpful at times.

    It seems that Heidegger is more interested in the investment in the "they" talk. One can follow the advice of the "they" but should never base his/her entire life out of it.


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