Death in the Ontological Sense

“The ‘they’ does not permit us the courage for anxiety in the face of death. What is ‘fitting’ according to the unuttered decree of the ‘they’ is indifferent tranquility to the fact that one dies. The cultivation of such a ‘superior’ indifference alienates Dasein from its ownmost non-relational potentiality-for-Being.”
–Martin Heidegger
Being and Time

Death is not an external threat waiting to erase the life of the biological being nor is it an internal threat which slowly erodes the soul of the spiritual being. Death is neither inside the human being nor outside the human being. Death is the human being.

But what does this imply? What does it mean to say that death is the human being? This means that death, not as an event, but as a constitutive element of our existence is that which allows the human being to reach their full potentiality. The human being cannot be complete until they have died.

The existential wealth of the human life can be derived from the notion that we are future seeking creatures. No matter how far along we are in our lives our mind will always be ahead of us. This rupturing of the mind and body is the essence of our being-towards-death (death being the universal end which all biological organisms lean towards).
Keeping this in mind, the idea that death does not oppose our humanity but validates our humanity we arrive at not only a deeper conception of death but a correspondingly deeper conception of the human being. The human being becomes ‘whole’ through death. This wholeness, once attained, tears us away from our existence as fragmented beings.

But this tearing away from ourselves is not to be recognized as a dispersion of our being rather it is to be recognized as a metamorphosis of our being. This death is not a mere modification of the human being in the sense that we are being reformed. For reformation implies a mere reorganization of parts. Rather, this is more akin to a rebirth. The human being as a fragmented being is annihilated and this creates the vacuum whereby the human being as whole being can be born.

In this context, the life and death of Christ becomes infinitely more profound in that his resurrection can no longer be viewed as a rising up from the dead but rather a rising up from the existential warzone of the fragmented being. Christ did not rise from death, for this implies that death is some external phenomenon which constrains us from without. Christ went through death, in that he was able to surmount the seemingly irreconcilable conflict which lies at the base of human existence. That conflict between the ever expanding demands of life and the apparent absurdity of death. By going through death Christ became the archetypal whole and this wholeness was that which enabled the rising up, not from death, but from a fragmented existence. This is death in the ontological sense.


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