The video for this post:

The recording for this post:

The book copy that I got ideas from:

What is the meaning of your life's actions?

Via very surprising path I have come to know about Heidegger and his main work Being and Time. It is known to be difficult and big, thus having a glimpse into his work is very important before starting the read. I decided to have a look, get this glimpse using Giani Vattimo's book that was recommended to me.

After reading it I was trying to focus on the core introduction to Being and Time as the book covers Heidegger's philosophy as w whole, referring to his later works and other ideas.

I realised that the core of his thoughts according to this book is around the following:

  1. Death (coming into being and fear)
  2. Freedom (authenticity)
  3. Life (being thrown into the world)
  4. Afterlife-now (temporal metaphysics)

All mentioned give enough understanding to answer the question from the header on meaning of life which I will do later. First, it's important to understand the mentioned points because they are part of the answer or how to arrive to it.

Death

Realisation of one's death is the key. Let's quote R. Sapolsky's (conversation from 14:00) here:

  • ROBERT: 15% of us succumb to major depression at some point in our lives. What's the genetics, what's the biochemistry of all of that is a secondary question. Much more fundamental one, a much more important one is to understand how it is, that 85% of us don't get depressed. Look, we're a smart primates, we know we're going to die we know that everybody we love is going to die we know that like oh my God you're sitting there, going to sleep and your heart is beating nice and slow and you know that someday your heart is gonna stop beating and like your blood is gonna congeal in your toes. One of the things that had to evolve with human capacity for cognition, for abstracting over space and time, into the future and all of that is us having to evolve a spectacular capacity to deceive ourselves and to ignore reality and to rationalise away. We're really good at it. We do all sorts of cognitively distorted things to make scary things go away and I think on a certain level that is what allows us as a species to have evolved with the knowledge that we have and what comes to the downside nonetheless is astronomically high rates of mental illness.
  • LONE: So basically it's the price we pay for the brains that we have and the cognition that we have.
  • ROBERT: Absolutely.
  • LONE: I’ve heard, depression is very aptly defined as a disease of a failure of rationalisation. You look at reality too frankly in the face.

Another person worth mentioning is Andrew Solomon (psychology PhD) who thinks that those numbers are higher and if fact there is more people suffering depression than Sapolsky says. Regardless of those numbers, we need to force one reality - that is death.

Heidegger says that living with the masses, with the culture that was produced and accepting it is a way of running away from the fear - fear of nothing that comes when we thing of death as the end. Heidegger tries to discover what is nothing and comes to a conclusion that the only way we know about it is through emotions which give us anguish.

Anguish - extreme unhappiness caused by physical or mental suffering.

We see now that the distress that people as animal beings can have is the key in Heidegger's philosophy. The awareness, the realisation, the Dasain, is avoided out of fear and in modern culture treated mainly as depression.

Dasein - is a German word that means "being there" or "presence" (German: da "there"; sein "to be"), and is often translated into English with the word "existence".

Nowadays, person that has this fear is out of the balance and is treated as sick. How does this fit into Heidegger's thought? Why is this mentioned by me?

Heidegger says, that it is very important to face death as the end of possibilities. As finitude. As the closing of possibilities. One does not have to constantly live with awareness of it but face it at least once. There is no mentions as per how to face it or how long should it take. I am assuming that this is individual but we should not avoid it, it's crucial, of summa importancia.

Quoting Heidegger's from Being and Time:

Anticipatory liberation by one's own death frees one from dispersion in the possibilities, so that the effective possibilities, that is, those located beyond that insurmountable possibility, can be understood and chosen authentically. (M.H.)

Meaning that life lived in avoidance of the fear of death is not authentic and is not being reveal as it should. This is tightly connected with the concept of freedom.

Freedom

The Dasein does not have conclusive information about the world and for this reason the freedom is not our property. We are being thrown into the world of given culture, given conditionals which cannot be chosen. Thrown by Being:

The one who launches the in the project is not the man, but it is the being itself. (M.H.)

We follow life living with those until we come to realisation of our death. This realisation of our finitude, through authentic life that can unveil, gives us possibility of living with Being.

Man does not possess freedom as his property, but it is true, precisely the opposite, freedom possesses man and possesses him so originally that only it allows a humanity to enter into that relationship with an entity as such. (M.H.)

In order to be possessed by freedom, man needs to open up and accept the norms and possibilities that will come. Once on the right path, the Being reveals itself and we can live authentic life.

Life

We are thrown into life, into current times, a state we did not choose. Thus we take the norms and thoughts of the culture and mundane life. The problem of life and it's meaning consists of revealing authentic existence. This is the core of life and it's main importance. It is tightly connected with Heidegger's life's work which was an attempt to revive ontology. He thought that metaphysics that we have did not do anything, we learnt nothing, we know nothing. As a field of philosophy it just entered into our language and made things more difficult to discover - the learning about Being and "what is" is now more difficult. Heidegger tries to reach out to presocratic philosophers to continue from there. Therefore all the attempts to create new words and highly valuing poetry as a form of transmitting ideas.

Metaphysics

We were thinking about metaphysics too much. Far too much. Because of that our language has gathered a lot of layers that unable us perceive being. Metaphysics can be understand as life.

"Life as a work of art"

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If you think that you might add to this idea or correct it, please use the link from the introduction and tell me about it!