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PHILOSOPHY OF THE HUMAN PERSON

University of San Agustin


AY: 2014-2015: First Semester

CHAPTER 2: INTERPERSONAL DIMENSION


Lecture 1C: The Human Person as a Social Being

Individuality

Sren Kierkegaard
The Crowd
For him, there are no longer human beings in this age. There are no human
beings because the individual man has taken refuge in the collective idea: the
masses, the group, the crowd, and the public. This compelled Kierkegaard to complain
that nothing becomes personal in this age of the crowd. At the lowest level, for
Kierkegaard, the individual is no more than an anonymous member of a crowd; accepting
unquestioningly the opinions, sentiments, and goals of the mob.
For Kierkegaard it is not of any help to lose oneself in the crowd. A crowd in its
very concept is the untruth by reason of the fact that it renders the individual
completely impenitent and irresponsible, or at least weaken his sense of
responsibility by reducing it to a fraction. being in a crowd in short unmakes ones
nature as an individual by diluting the self.
According to him, man must struggle to exist by dissociating himself from the
crowd-existence. when man is detached from the crowd, only then he can consider
his life a significant existence, when one realizes his personal freedom, his subjectivity,
his commitment, and his responsibility. Man has to consider his being a human individual
who is designated to his own life, to master his life, to frame his life and to consider his
own values. Kierkegaard asserts that man can attain authentic individual existence when
man detaches himself from the crowd and binds himself to commit to his responsibilities
and options in life. In sum the Kierkegaardian concept of existence requires and
individual to recover his being a person from the crowd by shattering all his
attachments to it. He is lost in the crowd, and, therefore, he must find himself again.

Martin Heidegger
The They
Coming to Grips with Who You Are
Heidegger notes that existing in-the-world means existing along-side others.
Without them to structure and create the world Dasein (human being in

PHILOSOPHY OF THE HUMAN PERSON

University of San Agustin


AY: 2014-2015: First Semester

Heideggerian language) can live in, Dasein could not exist in a meaningful way.
The They or the faceless masses or others make human life possible. Without
Them Dasein is nothing. Of course, it is easy to lose this point because Heidegger
also thinks that we get lost and entangled in our worldly immersion, and he thinks we also
have to be capable of understanding our existence in a way not defined by Them.
Even though the world as it is created by Them is necessary for you to
meaningfully exist, Dasein does not need to get lost in the world of Them. Of
course, it is natural to do this; we tend to express and live the identity of the faceless,
anonymous mass. In the everyday, we tend to fall away from what we are, existing not as
individual I-Selves but as They-Selves. Although They are necessary to your
existence, dont forget that part of what being-in-the-world means is to maintain a sense
of self apart from Them. This, of course, raises the question of authenticity. Can
you be authentic? Is conformity your fate? Heidegger seems to stress that without a
background of conformity, as an individual you couldnt really exist. Still, authenticity is
possible if you can succeed in living in-the-world in a way that discloses what you are fully,
and part of what you are is an individual. On the other hand, inauthentic people hide
what they are capable of by happily living in a contented way as part of the They.
Heidegger maintains that Dasein not only encounters others in the world, Dasein is
absorbed in the world of these others. He says, we are absorbed in the They.

Authenticity and the They


In authenticity, I always comes first, although this I is not a subject. If
one is led by anxiety to protect oneself through absorption into the mass
authenticity and the anonymous they, as people generally do, then that
person leads an inauthentic existence. As we become initiated into the practices of
our community, we are inclined to drift along with the crowd, doing what one does,
enacting stereotyped roles, and thereby losing our ability to seize on and define our own
lives.
In inauthenticity, they comes first, and ones own existence is lost. This
attitude is what Heidegger calls Daseins falleness. It is Daseins turning away from
itself and allowing itself to be engrossed in day-to-day preoccupations and to
drift along with trends of the crowd. Falling is the term that Heidegger uses to
describe the entanglement of Dasein in the superficiality of the they. Authenticity is
through living in a self-determining way rather than following the crowd. Since it
would seem we want to be authentic, it would also seem that we would want to avoid
returning to everydayness and its fascination with the they.
The marriage can illustrate this point. Perhaps those who are marrying are simply
caught up in the they. They are caught up in the idle chatter that surrounds romantic
love. It is also possible that being caught up in the they in the social pressure to marry,

PHILOSOPHY OF THE HUMAN PERSON

University of San Agustin


AY: 2014-2015: First Semester

inauthentic aspects of the social institution itself. They end up perpetuating social
practices that keep individuals from being authentic and that also keep communities from
authentic traditions.
Heidegger claimed that the individual man has fallen into the they. That is
why man has to stand out from his falleness into the they so that man can soar up and
make his existence his own. So when Dasein relates himself to others, he must see to it
that he is himself. Man has to establish a relation to others, but not that he has to
depend on others in terms of realizing his existence.

Sensing Others All Around You


Heidegger thinks that one of the essential components of your existence
lies in the fact that you are what he calls being-with. What Heidegger means by this
is that existing in-the-world means also existing alongside other entities entities similar
to you. You are with them in the very way that you go about living your life, engaging with
your daily routine, taking on roles, and working with tools. Simply by being-in-the-world,
you are always sensing the existence of others in what you do. You make houses for them
with the hammers they build. The electricity in your own house tells you that they are still
at the job. At the end of your property lies the boundary with the others.
In short, engaging with your experience in a meaningful way demands that
you sense them. In fact, even when you are physically alone, you are never by yourself.
For human beings, existing always points to their presence. You are never really alone,
even when there is no one actually around.
According to Heidegger, being inauthentic is perfectly natural. It is where you start.
Never forget the social character of what you are. Without a social environment that
makes the meaningful character of human life possible, you could not exist in a
significant fashion.

Friedrich Nietzsche
The Herd
According to the existentialists, being an individual means creating a meaning
for your own life that reflects your own uniqueness without the need to borrow
or rely on external values. In this section, we talk about another way to lose control and
fail to be an individual: giving in to conformity through joining what Nietzsche calls the
herd. Nietzsche believes that the herd, his term for the crowd or the masses, fears the
emergence of the unique individual. In response, the herd pressures people to
cultivate a love for mediocrity and passivity. The herd does this by discouraging
people from cultivating a sense of their own difference and uniqueness, instead urging
them to develop only those traits that they share with everyone else.

PHILOSOPHY OF THE HUMAN PERSON

University of San Agustin


AY: 2014-2015: First Semester

The herd takes away self-control. Everyone has succumbed to the pressures of
parents or friends. They want you to do something their way, and you wind up doing it
because they see it as right. When this happens, you allow external values to determine
your direction and to take control of your life.
Sometimes you give up control not to a friend or to a parent, but to the crowd. Think
of what your parents have probably said (or used to say) to you numerous times. They
say, Dont do that; what will they think? or Is that what people do? Who exactly
are your friends or parents talking about? Who are they, and who are people?
They clearly do not mean particular people, but the voice of common opinion or of society
in general. If you cede control of your life to the masses by letting their values determine
your life, you give up on being an individual. What is for the individual is necessarily
in conflict with the motivation to simply conform to what is for the grouporiented. This does not mean that the individual and the group always do different
things, but it does mean that the way in which they come to decide what to do is different.

References
Babor, Eddie R. The Human Person: Not Real, But Existing, Second Edition.
Philippines: C & E Publishing, Inc. 2007.
Dale. Existentialism For Dummies.
Solomon, Robert C. From Rationalism to Existentialism. London: Harper and Row, 1972.
Stumpf, Samuel Enoch. Socrates to Sartre: A History of Philosophy.