Tuesday, September 15, 2009
On Hell Masquerading as Progress
On Hell Masquerading as Progress: In his essay What is Metaphysics? (Was ist Metaphysik?), Martin Heidegger asserts that humans are constantly on the edge of the Abyss. That is, each person faces the prospects of non-existence on a constant basis. A certain Being-toward-death (Sein-zum-Tode) exists to put each person in despair from time to time. It's that primordial feeling of anxiety, which subtly creeps into a person's unconscious, especially in times of extreme self-awareness. This anxiety constitutes an irrational fear, which is neither directed at a specific entity nor governed by personal insight. As a result, one becomes increasingly hardened in his attempts to repress the visceral fears that afflict him. For example, flying on an airplane demands a conscious trust of the aviation process (physics, machinery, etc.) by people. After attaining this trust, a basic co-relationship develops in which people effectively become machines. When the pilots grasp the controls, they are, for all intents and purposes, man-machines (Die Mensch-Maschinen). And whenever turbulence strikes, it reminds people of the greater-than-thou physical forces acting on the aircraft. At that point, death is merely an accepted risk that one assumes when flying.