Confronting Existential Guilt and Death
Martin Heidegger (1889-1976), the German
has given us much of the modern formulation of Authentic Existence.
As adults we are usually parts of the social
mass, the anonymous 'they'.
The complex processes of everyday life so completely absorb our
that we might have lost contact with our deepest inner selves.
We live basically scattered and fragmented lives,
pushed and pulled this way and that by the changing tides of fad and
Our hectic and 'involved' way of life
effectively shields us
from the disclosure of our underlying existential anxiety, guilt, &
Our culture provides ready-made ways of interpreting everything.
By keeping ourselves preoccupied with small talk, chatter, &
we lose the uncanniness of existence in a tranquilized and familiar
Thrown into the middle of a fully-formed human
—complete with elaborate life-patterns and -purposes—
each of us develops a social personality by slightly modifying the
We seldom make real choices of our own;
rather we are carried along by the expectations of our culture.
We grow into fundamentally irresolute people, lost in what 'they' say.
To be sure, we might be deeply involved and busily engaged,
life-purposes are we pursuing?
We have become responsible adults but inauthentic persons.
II. AWAKENING FROM OUR LOSTNESS IN THE 'THEY'
Seeing that we are so completely engulfed by
the on-rushing world,
how might we begin to notice
How can we find ourselves
in the midst of everydayness?
In order to notice our lostness,
fragmentation, & conformity,
something must reach us where we live—submerged in inauthenticity.
How can we become more Authentic
when everything in our culture pulls in the opposite direction,
keeping us uncentered but functional for the social processes?
We have become interchangeable parts of the huge social mechanism:
If we become unavailable for our roles—in family or occupational—
someone else can easily step into our places,
perhaps playing 'our' roles even better than we did.
70 BECOMING MORE AUTHENTIC: THE POSITIVE SIDE OF EXISTENTIALISM
by JAMES PARK
to cite the above page from Becoming More Authentic
Students and scholars are
invited to quote
anything from the above page.
Here is the proper form for the footnote or other reference:
James Park Becoming
The Positive Side of Existentialism
(Minneapolis, MN: www.existentialbooks.com, 2007—5th edition)
to the table of contents for
Authentic: The Positive Side of Existentialism.
The contents shows the outline for this chapter on Heidegger.
September 11, 2008