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November 01, 2022 2 min read

heidegger-on-death-cigarettes-meme

Death was a central theme in Heidegger's thought throughout his philosophical work. The immense popularity of "Being and Time" owes much to its emphasis that "preparation for death" is a fundamental key to authentic existence-that the revelation of authentic being occurs only when Dasein faces its own finitude by resolutely accepting that it is always and inevitably on a journey toward its own death.

Heidegger points to our everyday, inauthentic relationship to death. It is a relationship of trivialization and avoidance that obscures the personal reality and inevitability of one's own death. He also elaborates on this by also discounting the cosmological consideration of the finitude not only of human existence, but also that of the entire universe.

Through our (natural) inauthentic repression of death, however, the mirrored view of being is also obscured. Only when we are in full consciousness of our own finitude can we make any statements at all about existence. This is the basic thesis of Heidegger's existential philosophy.

Practically speaking, this does not lead directly to a Carpe Diem demand - as, for example, with the Stoics, but neither does it lead to an ethical nihilism. Instead, the fundamentally anthroplogical fact that death is the most probable option is to be understood as a correction of his pre-thinkers, who try to compensate precisely the insincerity towards this probability by metaphysical speculation. The human being as such would behave differently, quasi change his very being, if he can instead face death without excuses.

Since the fact of mortality is not omnipresent but concealed, his predecessors also could not use this certain knowledge as the foundation of their own philosophical edifices, or if they did, they were simply not sincere and correct in dealing with death.


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