Anxiety/dread/angst is unfocused fear. If a man stands on the edge of a tall building or cliff and looks over the edge, he experiences a focused fear of falling. At the same time, the man feels a terrifying impulse to throw himself intentionally off the edge. That experience is anxiety or dread because of our complete freedom to choose to either throw oneself off or to stay put. The mere fact that one has the possibility and freedom to do something, even the most terrifying of possibilities, triggers immense feelings of dread. This is our “dizziness of freedom.”

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The photo above was taken during Heidegger’s Paris visit in 1955. The photo shows him with Lacan and their wives in Lacan’s house in Guitrancourt, near Paris. During the visit in Paris, Heidegger delivered the lecture ‘What is Philosophy?’ at Cerisy-la-sale. Left to right: Heidegger, Axelos, Lacan, Jean Beaufret (recipient of the Letter on Humanism), Elfriede Heidegger, Sylvia […]

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Martin Heidegger was an important German philosopher in the 20th century, who is famous for his theories on existentialism and phenomenology. He was associated with existentialism, despite his efforts to distance himself from it. He had a strong influence on the French existentialist Jean Paul Sartre, for instance. He developed a phenomenological critique of Kant […]

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Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) is one of the most important philosophers of the last 200 years. He foresaw the downfall of Europe, even though he died in 1900, and he influenced many thinkers in the 20th century. He is commonly seen as an existentialist philosopher, but he can be viewed easily  as a precursor to postmodernity as […]

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Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche: Also sprach Zarathustra. Ein Buch für Alle und Keinen.  Zarathustra’s Vorrede. 1 Als Zarathustra dreissig Jahr alt war, verliess er seine Heimat und den See seiner Heimat und ging in das Gebirge. Hier genoss er seines Geistes und seiner Einsamkeit und wurde dessen zehn Jahr nicht müde. Endlich aber verwandelte sich sein […]

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The following quote is from “The Birth of Tragedy,” (1872), Sections 1 and 2. Nietzsche discusses the two faces of art, The Apollonian and the Dionysian, but it is striking that his analysis can also be seen as a forerunner of Freud’s drive theory: Eros and Thanatos, or as Lacan’s distinction between desire and jouissance. […]

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Kierkegaards’ works are interesting to read, they have a freshness and intensity that separates them from other philosophical writings. It is easy to get lost in his aphorisms – but what are the main features of his thought? Here is a summary: Becoming a Christian Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) was, in many ways, the first existentialist. He […]

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