Anxiety and Authenticity

by CT on February 4, 2014

It is not a recent revelation that modernity comes with a peculiar form of loss of humanity. We are lost in fear, subject to anomic and anonymous forces claiming for themselves the name of Society. In this context:

“Anxiety  can  mount authentically only in  a Dasein which is  resolute.  He who is  resolute knows no fear; but he understands the possibility of anxiety as the possibility of the very mood which neither  inhibits  nor bewilders  him.  Anxiety liberates him from possibilities which “count for  nothing”, and lets  him become free for those  which are authentic.”  (Martin Heidegger)

This is very carefully explained by James Magrini as follows:

“If, on the one hand, Angst is interpreted in an inauthentic manner, as a constant threat to one’s healthful existence, Dasein flees in  fear from anxiety’s disturbing effects to  the  safety  and  familiarity  of the interpretations of the status quo. If, on the other hand, Angst is perceived as the bridge to a unique form of understanding, which connects Dasein to the finite realities of its Being-in-the-world, then as opposed to prefiguring horror and passivity, anxiety announces  itself  as  the  harbinger of Dasein’s  authentic enactment of freedom for its  possibilities.  As anxiety is disclosing the insignificance of the world, authentic  Dasein is  reinterpreting  the meaninglessness and  impossibility  of existence  as  revelatory.  This  radical conversion  of  the  inauthentic  view  “signifies that one is letting the possibility of an authentic potentiality-for-Being be lit up,” i.e., one is behaving philosophically, awakened by the sense of wonder.”

(J. Magrini, “Anxiety in Heidegger’s Being and time: The Harbinger of Authenticity”, 2006 – – Magrini quotes from “Being and Time” in the Macquarrie and Robinson’s translation, 1962)

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