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Always already is a philosophical term regarding the perception of phenomena by the mind of an observer. The features of a phenomenon that seem to precede any perception of it are said to be "always already" present.
"Always already" literally translates the German phrase immer schon that appears prominently in several 20th century philosophical works, notably Martin Heidegger's Being and Time. The phrase is not specific to philosophy in German, but refers to an action or condition that has continued without any identifiable beginning. Heidegger used the phrase routinely to indicate that Dasein, the human experience of existence, has no beginning apart from the world in which one exists, but is produced in it and by it.
On the strength of Heidegger's influence, French and later English philosophers adopted the literal translation of the phrase. In the Marxist tradition, Louis Althusser observed that "individuals are always-already subjects" within an ideological structure before they perceive themselves as such—indeed, even before birth. During the late 20th century the term spread into various areas of philosophical discourse that include literary theory, hermeneutics and deconstruction.
- Dreyfus, Hubert L. and Mark A. Wrathal (2008) A Companion to Heidegger, p. 389
- Althusser, Louis (1970) "Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses"
- Tore Langholz, Das Problem des »immer schon« in Derridas Schriftphilosophie, Vienna 2016: Passagen.