Are our lives different from “Cavemen” ?! ….by Martin Heidegger
We were born into a world of quiet conformity. Initially everything we do and say and think and believe have been done and said and thought and believed before. The activities we regard as worthy of our time and effort (learning, work, play), the ultimate values and meanings we pursue (achievement, love, children), and the particular styles and forms thru which we pursue these goals have all been provided by our various human cultures.
How different our lives are from the lives of ancient ‘cavemen’!
Unless we find ways to wrest control of our own lives from society, all of our decisions will continue to be made for us by the unnoticed forces of the cultures in which we live. We may not be told which spouse to ‘choose’ or which job to take, but how free are we to reject both marriage and work as basic styles of life? How have we been carried along so successfully by culture without noticing it?
‘They’ even hide the process by which ‘they’ have quietly relieved us
of the ‘burden’ of making choices for ourselves.
It remains a complete mystery who has really done the choosing.
We are carried along by the ‘nobody’, without making any real choices,
becoming ever more deeply ensnared in inauthenticity.
This process can be reversed only if we explicitly
bring ourselves back from our lostness in the ‘they’.
But this bringing-back must have that kind of being
by the neglect of which we have lost ourselves in inauthenticity.
[Martin Heidegger Being & Time, Macquarrie p. 312-313; Stambaugh p. 248; paraphrase]