ON BEING

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We don’t create Being, but we illuminate it through our perception of it. Being, through us, who are part of Being, is able to perceive itself, understand what it is and what it has accomplished. Here may lie the root of all psychological difficulties – for how much does a human mind conform to the needs of Being? In the objectification needed for reason to know, isn’t there also an alienation occurring that pulls us away from the pure experience of Being into the experience of knowing Being? But even if this is the case, that experience must be desired by Being because of the illumination it receives in exchange.

Heidegger expressed this idea when he says that man is “gathered toward preserving, by that which opens itself.”[1] Heidegger’s poetic-philosophical image is that of a world that opens itself before us, drawing us towards it, in a certain sense seducing us. A seduction which is irresistible because the nature which desires to be illuminated by human intellect is the same nature that has created that intellect, and through illumination becomes Being.

From this it becomes useful to separate the concept of nature from that of Being. Existence is that which is whether it is perceived or not, whereas Being is existence fulfilled by illumination.

The human relationship to Being is not the only one, and all life that perceives illuminates, but this is not our debate. The real essence of what we’re saying is that our real meaning for being-in-the-world needs to be found, perhaps even measured, by the way that we can illuminate existence and contribute to Being. From this comes a simple ethical statement: that which illuminates and contributes to Being is fulfilling experience and therefore good; that which contributes to Non-Being is bad.

In this way our relationship to Being can be analysed qualitatively through the notion of knowing. Presencing existence maybe enough to illuminate it, but understanding it establishes a relationship on a deeper level. To be is to be known, but to be understood is to be enriched in that knowing, and it is through that relationship of enrichment that we come to the concept of authentic Love. Through knowing the object or thing, through knowing its reasons and objectives, we enrich it. The search for truth is always a search for authenticity in knowing. Only truthful knowledge can really be enriching for the Being of the object at hand. Only an authentic relationship built on an authentic desire to know and understand can be considered an authentic relationship through the process of being cognised. The perverted love, on the other hand, masks its authenticity in order to be taken for something it would be, but is not. But herein lies the psychological condition of the human being as the inauthentic one, the one who lives behind, not one, but a collection of masks, all designed to embellish themselves before the humanity we are all made to stand before. Lacan’s mirror stage – we face the world and try to become as they would have us. Human psychology, and the cultures and civilisations that this psychology itself perpetuates, drags us away from authenticity itself. Before we are capable of knowing who we are, we are already convinced that we should be something else. But, if this is the case, how can human consciousness ever authentically know anything else? Yet, this question is irrelevant because self-cognition is impossible, and for this reason our cognising of the other is so important. The subject can only know itself through the judgement of the observer. And so we come back to the starting point – our authenticity lies in our being-known. In fact, what is important is not how we see ourselves, but how we are perceived by others. Yet, how should we take this – that the embellishment is good if we are favoured by it? Of course this contradicts our earlier conclusions, or seems to. Perhaps it just describes our perverted condition of continually turning our backs on authenticity in order to embellish our reality. It does not negate the existence of those who through concerted effort through spiritual exercise or perhaps even through what we would call innocence, reject the mask and strive for, or maintain, an authenticity. Neither does it negate the idea of authenticity as an ideal of a goal. Mankind is not forged from metal and the psychological make-up of our natures is malleable, depending very much as Heidegger pronounced it, on the metaphysical perspective of our age. What we are proposing is the alteration of that metaphysic which will have an effect on the very psychological condition of our age.


[1] Martin Heidegger from the essay THE AGE OF THE WORLD PICTURE, in The Question Concerning Technology, p. 131

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