Authenticity, Inauthenticity and Being-toward-death – Heidegger

When we realise how Heidegger’s care structure affects our behaviour, the relationship of meaningfulness with respect to things, people and to ourselves create the possibility for two modes of Being: authenticity or inauthenticity.

Inauthenticity occurs when a person embodies only their facticity (the reality they have been thrown into) and their fallenness (falling into tasks that other people tell them to do). They live as Das Man, without ever considering the possibilities at their disposal about other ways of living life, their existentiality.

The experience of inauthenticity creates dread and anxiety. One moves right to the frontier between nothingness, absurdity, death and making sense.

For Heidegger, the experience of this thin line that separates us from nothingness, throws us back into the sense-making world, now with the awareness that there is no ground under our feet, that we are doing this alone.

Heidegger walks us through a phenomenological analysis of our whole world, everything that gives meaning to us, fall apart.

We need to develop authenticity. A lifelong process of radically considering the possibilities at our disposal, to understand our facticity and be immersed in it, embracing it, including what Heidegger calls our “historicity” (the cultural and historical context with their rituals and traditions), to be introspective about our fallenness and to avoid the trap of Das Man and become Dasein.

It is to be responsible to one’s whole human nature, to have accepted oneself as thrown, finite and mortal. Authenticity can come into existence when we arrive at the realisation of who we are and grasp the fact that each human being is a distinctive entity.


Out of this authenticity comes the idea of Being-toward-Death. The ultimate possibility and inevitability that we all have to deal with is death. This is not a fatalistic orientation that brings Dasein closer to its end, in terms of clinical death, but is rather a way of being.

It is too easy to get lost in the everyday, until we face death and start thinking about who we truly were, ironically, for the first time we actually live for ourselves, without spending time thinking about the approval of other people on who we are.

When asked how we might recover authenticity, Heidegger replied that we should simply “spend more time in graveyards.”

To live authentically, is to recognise the inevitability of death in the context of our everyday living, so as to live life to the fullest. This is Being-toward-Death. 

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Greatest Philosophers in History | Martin Heidegger

This video explores Heidegger’s key terms as an introduction to his philosophy. Most importantly: Being-in-the-world, ready to hand and present-at hand, facticity, thrownness, existentiality, fallenness, Das Man, temporality, being-toward-death and the fourfold.

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3 thoughts on “Authenticity, Inauthenticity and Being-toward-death – Heidegger

  1. Very good summary! I read some of Heidegger’s works and find him endlessly interesting and you presented some of his big ideas very well. Kudos! I love that first image too!

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