Heidegger’s Authenticity

Lets look at two people:

Man 1 is what you might call a standard middle aged man. He has a house in the suburbs, 2 cars in the garage, the nuclear family, he coaches his daughters soccer team and his idea of getting away from it all is two schooners at his local rsl club on a Sunday afternoon.

Man 2 is a young struggling punk musician, living in an inner city council flat where empty vodka bottles and cockroaches abound, messy parties are a standard weeknight feature and the smell of vomit is ubiquitous.

These two men are both authentic because they live in a way that considers who they find themselves to be and what they care about in the light of their mortality.

Lets move man 2 into the life of man 1. Now here we have a man who doesn’t care about being a father, a pillar of the community, a loyal husband, a moderate drinker etc. All these lifestyle choices make no sense to the hedonist in the light of his mortality. It is easy to see man 2 becoming restless and either acting out or breaking free completly if he is authentic.

Neither way of life is wrong since neither of these men feel pressured by society to live the way they do. Lest imagine the young punk gets to a point where he no longer feels the scene is interesting, or that life is slipping by and he wants to try family life or travel. The authentic move would be to abandon his old ways and start anew, risking all this world has on him: friends, guitar skills, respect etc. He needs to have the balls to make himself vulnerable, to sail out into the ocean not knowing where he’ll end up or what perils await him out there. Heidegger promises the man that does this the richness of experience that can only be found in passionate living for the things we care about. The inauthentic punk is the one who stays. His life becomes dull and he recieves no inspiration. He is pushed and dragged around by questions like ‘what will my friends think if i…’, ‘i invested so much time on playing punk riffs, i can’t let that go to waste..’. Questions like these show us that the individual is not considering his life in the light of his mortality. He is not ‘passing them under the eyes of death…’.

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