Community Group Week Three: Martin Heidegger and Living an Authentic Life

This week in our community group we discussed the thought-provoking German philosopher Martin Heidegger, who lived from 1889 to 1976.  The video preceding the discussion can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Br1sGrA7XTU

Heidegger thought that we frequently forget to notice that we are alive.  He believed we often run away from ‘Das Sein’ (being) and typically only experience ‘being’ on occasionally odd moments.  What we typically embrace is ’Das Nichts’ (the nothing.)

He believed that we have forgotten to appreciate our connectedness with others, and with nature, refusing to live in the moment while accepting a low-level view of the world where nothing is connected, neither through time nor through proximity.  Heidegger wanted humanity to recognize the uniqueness of our time to achieve a greater generosity and appreciation for the brief time that remains for us in this life.

Heidegger believed we have, since birth, been thrown into a narrow social and philosophical stratus. One ruled by archaic attitudes, rigid prejudices, and necessities not of our own making. He wanted humankind to rise above this and achieve an ‘authenticity’ where we live not to please others, but to achieve our own goals.  He postulated that we normally live superficially in a mode he called ‘they-self,’ instead of the better mode of living, he called ’our-self.’    He said we should not follow the ‘chatter’ found in the newspaper and on TV (obviously this was before Facebook!)

This philosopher’s solution was to focus on one’s death, and the limited amount of time we have here on earth, as a way to overcome ‘the nothings’ and worrying about what others think so we didn’t waste our lives trying to impress people who never really liked us in the first place. He advised that to live a better life, we should spend more time in graveyards, to give us perspective.

From this, there arises several questions:

  1. What do you do to rise above the mundane and the chatter, and live in the moment, appreciating the here and now?
  2. How much of your life do you live to please others?  Does this affect you negatively?  How so?
  3. What do you want to accomplish, by the end of your time on Earth?

If any of these questions make you think you have room to improve your life, I heartily encourage you to make a plan to improve your life.  And if you do, please share in the comments below.

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