Martin Heidegger is one of the most influential and highly regarded existential philosophers of the 20th century. Born in Meβkirch, Germany on September 26th 1889, Heidegger began his plight with life and theories of existentialism. Early in his life, Heidegger was influenced by Kierkegaard, and Edmund Husserl, which taught him the ideas of hermeneutics and phenomenology. Together, their ideas helped create one of Heidegger’s main ideas, his emphasis on being an authentic human being or “Dasein,” which translates “there Being.” The authenticity or Eigentlichkeit (own-ness) Heidegger preached was that a human being should strive to be an individual, to bring meaning to our lives. And if one does not seek to be an individual, Heidegger warns that they are doomed to dissolve into society and have no real life, a life controlled not by the ideas of the being, but of the society they belong to. Ultimately resulting in a life wasted because the being never formulated their own meaning to life.
Heidegger’s notion of authenticity can be found in other philosopher’s ideals like Fredrick Nietzsche’s Ubermensche, as well as in cinema illustrated in the movie the Seventh Seal, and literature such as the story “the Death of Ivan Ilyich.” These works together help exemplify the need to find authenticity as a means of living a true worthwhile existence, and also bring to light the result of what can happen if one does not seek authenticity. In the words of Fredrick Nietzsche “This is my way; where is yours? – Thus I answered those who asked me ‘the way.’ For the way – that does not exist.” A true authentic life does not come from a guide or teacher, but from what one creates themselves, in whi...
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...ive. Heidegger’s notion of authenticity is apparent throughout the entire story on the grounds that Ivan never sought to be authentic, or different.
Heidegger’s notion of authenticity finds itself in multiple outlets, whether it be in other philosopher’s work like Frederick Nietzsche, cinema work such as the story of Antonius Bloc in The Seventh Seal, or Literary works like the story of The Death of Ivan Ilyich. But they serve as more than just a way to possibly receive a meaningful and authentic life. They also serve as a warning to what happens if one does not truly seek for a meaning and authenticity in one’s own life. Kierkegaard is quoted as stating “The most common form of despair is not being who you are.” And if one does not seek to be an individual, they are doomed to mental despair when they are made to confront death for the first and final time.
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