Etyka 4:119-138 (1969)

The article makes a critical assessment if Heidegger’s conception of an authentic life. After presenting a number of social reasons which account for the current expansion of anthropological problems within philosophy, the author observes that the criticism of contemporary philosophical anthropologies – first and foremost of existentialism – is one of the fundamental tasks confronting the marxist philosophy. The reason for the critical studies on existentialism rests not only in the fact of its dealing with certain problems arising in definite social circun1stances, which, incidentally, marxism has to face too, but also because the problems of the philosophy of man are an integral part of Marxism itself, and have so far been rather neglected. The author further presents the basic tents of Heidegger’s philosophy, his conception of atheism, the thesis of human solitude and the necessity of making choice without a chance of learning beforehand anything about the things to be chosen. He lays the main stress on the problems of an „authentic life”. As Heidegger put it, the authentic life is nothing else but our courage to face the whole truth about our existence. An authentic man is he who „realises that he is a nonentity, and from that position evaluates his whole life”. Only the authentic man is free in the full meaning of the word, „since he knows that all he has achieved will eventually be blotted out, that he is alone and condemned to death”. Therefore, terror and anxiety constitute the essence of our existence. Understanding of the essence of death and conscious acceptance of fear and the necessity of choice determine our freedom. Living through our existence, understood as being-to-death, delivers us from the non-authentic life. That is how – concludes the author – rebelling against the bourgeois-style life, which strips a man of his identity is reduced to the dimension of the deliverance within an individual consciousness – „an apparent deliverance”, as Marx put it while criticizing Stirner’s nihilism, to which Mounier added the term „the alienation of Narcissus” – the deliverance which emancipates an individual not only from „conformism resulting from living in a community”, but also life understood as a realisation of life itself through social expression. What only remains is the sense of nullity of one’s own existence. That is how the rebellion turned into a self-contradicting value – freedom became synonymous with the alienation of inter-human ties. The alienation of individuals, the sense of absurdity of everything that surrounds them, and questioning and subsequent rejection of all social value and forms – all this has been advanced to the rank of a virtue, and recognized as the hallmark of freedom and the „authentic life”.
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DOI 10.14394/etyka.229
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