Consumption and Production and Heidegger

So my posting once a week schedule hasn’t worked out.  Life’s busy, I apologize to all my loyal readers (however many of you there are, I really can’t tell).  But I’m making a post today (or possibly tomorrow, since I need to leave in an hour and a half from the time of this sentence).

In the past I’ve talked about Heidegger’s conception of authentic living.  The core idea is that we need to live in full acknowledgement of our impending death.  Most people, Heidegger claims, live in fear of death, and so they pretend that they will live forever by living like everyone else.  They fear death, so they refuse to acknowledge its approach by living as if there is no hurry, no urgency to life.  Heidegger thinks we should instead stand in full awareness of death, and therefore actualize our potential.

I do not think this is a criticism of Heidegger, but I think that there is a somewhat ironic element to this story as it is acted out in the present day.  I think that many would agree with me when I say that the conception of authentic living in today’s society is, to a significant degree, the entrepreneur and the artist.  Though it is certainly theoretically possible to actualize oneself as an accountant, I don’t think that is most people’s dream.  I’m fairly prepared to write off a desire for wealth as mainly behaving like ‘the they’ because the pursuit of wealth is often for no purpose beyond consuming artistic goods produced by others. Materialistic consumption seems easily cast as one of human’s main habitual and unthinking activities.  That leaves the most common story of authentic living as the artists and the entrepreneur (I know this is not the most exhaustive taxonomy ever written, but oh well.)

So, let’s get to the irony.  The irony is that the caricature of authentic living as it is understood today is the person who produces the goods that are in-authentically consumed.  In other words, authenticity, as a means of self-sustenance, is built upon in-authenticity.

I don’t think this is any kind of substantive critique of Heidegger, but I do think its an interesting thought.

Thanks for reading, let me know what you think,


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