Fear, anxiety and death in Freud and Heidegger.
This mini-thesis attempts to understand what it means to fear death. It does this by first investigating how Heidegger and then Freud explain fear of death. Heidegger believes that the relationship Dasein has towards its own death allows it the possibility of 'authenticity'. Death presents to Dasein its ownmost potentiality for being. Heidegger explains that this means that in facing death Dasein has the possibility of completeness and absolute individuality. Dasein is called to this possibility of authenticity by the anxiety it experiences in the face of its own death. However, Dasein does not necessarily respond to this call. By reducing anxiety to a fear it is possible for Dasein to disregard its fear of death and correspondingly not respond to the call of authenticity. Thus, for Heidegger, fear of death is symptomatic of inauthentic Dasein's relationship towards its own death. For Freud, on the other hand, death cannot be conceptualised without reference to the social world. Freud believes that the relationship we have towards our own death is learnt through living in this world. Furthermore, Freud argues that it is impossible for the human being to ever understand that death can be an annihilation. When the human being dreads, fears or even desires death, Freud believes it does so symbolically. In this regard Freud explains, by way of the death instinct, that the psyche understands death as a return to before birth. One of Freud's explanations of fear of death is that this fear is actually for the loss of Eros. This fear, however, is in conflict with the phantasy to return to before birth. One of the results of this conflict is the arousal of anxiety. The differences and similarities between Freud's and Heidegger's explanations are detailed in the final chapter. Examining these details leads to a closer investigation of Freud's and Heidegger's explanations of anxiety. On this issue this mini-thesis finds that Freud's and Heidegger's explanations of anxiety are in conflict with each other. After attempting to avoid placing Freud and Heidegger against each other, this mini-thesis demonstrates that Heidegger's explanation of anxiety is lacking in detail.