Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Secularization of Original Sin

The Secularization of Original Sin: In Section 38 of Being and Time (1927), German existentialist philosopher Martin Heidegger offers a secularized version of the Christian doctrine of Original Sin. Just as the birth of every Christian is fundamentally marked by sin, so to is the birth of every human being. Yet sin is not the term used to describe this affliction, since it is religiously loaded. For the most part, Heidegger asserts that man finds himself "thrown" into his worldly existence and that his subsequent life is "entangled" in a number of predetermined features like race, class, and gender. The two German terms Heidegger uses in his writing are Verfallenheit (Entanglement) and Geworfenheit (Throwness). Both terms are related to the basic element of chaos (non-existence) that constantly hangs over every human life. And it is precisely this notion of chaos which pushes man into a state of anxiety (Die Anfechtung) over his seemingly finite, fragile, and solitary existence in the world. For Christians, however, the sacrament of Baptism is the manner through which this Original Sin is wiped clean. Even so, Heidegger claims that man can never fully eliminate the affliction of anxiety in his life, especially since it constitutes an elemental aspect of being-in-the-world. In short, man is always on the verge of non-existence, and therefore, he will consistently find anxiety waiting to consume his everyday state-of-being.

No comments: