Heidegger views that Dasein exists in a state that he calls being-towards-death, being that only in death can have its wholeness. Later he goes on to explore two ways of being-towards-death, the inauthentic, and the authentic, he then goes on further to make the claim that to be authentic in being-towards-death makes strides in being authentic towards Dasein itself. The authentic being-towards-death will rely heavily upon social ness, and the “they”, or to be more implicit, on losing the they and grasping Dasein itself.
To make things more clear, Heidegger explains being-towards-death as being towards a possibility, and since he equates Dasein with being-towards death, this possibility is Dasein. Meaning, logically, that anything that take us away from this possibility, takes us away from Dasein, his view of authenticity lies in this concept. Dasein must accept Dasein, to be authentic Dasein.
We must first grasp what it means to be inauthentic being-towards-death. Heidegger explains this in terms of contrast to authentic being-towards death; it cannot evade its own possibility. It cannot “cover up” this possibility, which he takes to mean flee from its possibility. And we cannot explain it away, by this he means we cannot redefine death since this would be to put it into the hands of the other.
Being-towards-death also cannot take the form of suicide to be authentic, since this would make being-towards-death ready-at-hand, or present-at-hand, which is not the nature of this form of Being. To be flippant, you can’t be towards something you are, especially death; meaning death loses possibility in its actualization. We cannot take control over death; this taking control would be inauthentic, since we are shaping death.
Also we cannot dwell on death. Focusing on death weakens it, since we are trying to conceive of it in more than a possibility, since in picturing it, we try to control it, but placing it at times, and giving it means, when in fact the nature of being-towards-death is only possibility, not these other things we attach to it, we lose what death is itself.
Authentic being-towards-death resides in anticipation, in which we take it in its possibility. We accept death as a possibility, and no more, since that is all of what death is. In this anticipation we can experience Dasein in its fullness, or in authenticity. We can take this authentic Being as grasping death as what is, possibility, and doing nothing more, letting death be death, absent from the they-self, or other.
Death is the ends of our possibility, this shows us our finiteness, and it brings to question our being itself. Anticipation of death shows Dasein what it is, since it is Dasein contemplating itself, free of the “they”. From this we can see that an authentic being-towards-death opens the way to an authentic Dasein itself, since it clears the they-self from its relation to itself, it can, to be simplistic, simply be.
Rather than summarize this argument, I will allow Heidegger to do so himself, with the following quote:
“…Anticipation reveals to Dasein its lostness in the they-self, and brings it face to face with the possibility of being itself, primarily unsupported by concernful solicitude, but of being itself, rather, in an impassioned freedom towards death – a freedom which has been released from the Illusions of the ‘they’ and which is factical, certain of itself, and anxious.” ( Being and Time §53, H. 266)
Related Tags: philosophy . heidegger . dasein . death . being . existentialism . being and time . authenticity