As a philosopher of “Being”, Martin Heidegger is mainly concerned on the very essence of existentialism using a diverse critique of the word “dasein”, the German term denoting the meaning of human existence of presence. As the German term for existence, Heidegger signifies that human existence should not be taken mainly as a subject or an object that can be defined in terms of consciousness or a self. In this sense, the German philosopher asserts that through an analysis of Dasein, an individual can fully apprehend the meaning of Being.
His contribution on the study of the essence and meaning of Being gives a valuable insight on how to reach a total authentic personhood (George 2000). His idea of Dasein tells of human beings as consisting of temporality and that their ultimate goal is the experiencing of Being. According to George (2000), Heidegger says that human beings are “transcendence by his very nature and has a destiny to goes beyond is everyday concerns” (p. 17).
In this sense, it is derived that human beings are not to be called as mere creatures which set foot on the earth because they are yet to give their lives meaning through their destiny. In the fulfillment of their destiny, then human beings will be able to obtain the total authentic personhood. The destiny of human beings can be found beyond their daily chores and its main goal is to open humans to Being. George (2000) stresses that the Heideggerian perspective emphasizes that human beings are “called to transcend the former and be a being-toward-Being, and in the process experience of Being” (p. 7).
Heidegger furthers his explanation of Being by exploring the meaning of a thing. In the fourfold mechanism of being, Heidegger expresses that a thing must be understood in relation to the four aspects of Being, the Earth, the Sky, the divinities and the mortals (George 2000). The Earth and the Sky made up the natural component of Being, the divinities and mortals build up the divine and human components of Being (George 2000).
In the Heideggerian perspective, the fourfold of earth, sky divinities and mortals constitute ‘dwelling’ (Guignon 2006). According to the philosopher, ‘dwelling’ is the human essence and to dwell means to belong within the fourfold of sky, earth and gods and mortals because these four elements are what makes a place a dwelling space. Guignon (2006) says that the ‘Earth’, according to Heidegger is the “building bearer, nourishing with its fruits, tending water and rock, plant and animal” (p. 374).
Guignon (2006) tells of the ‘Sky’ as referred to by the philosopher as the “sun’s path, the course of moon, the glitter of the stars, the year’s seasons, the light and dusk of day, the gloom and the glow of night, the clemency and inclemency of the weather, the drifting cloud and the blue depth of the aether” (p. 374). Humans dwell under the sky. According to Heidegger, the divinities or the gods are the role models who are the messengers of the godhead (Guignon 2006). The role models voice out that which is most sacred and valuable to human beings serve as an inspiration to humans to live right.
Heidegger terms human beings as mortals to separate them from the animals which merely perish. Human beings are called mortals not because their lives have an end but because they are capable of good death (Stambaugh 1992). The philosophy of Martin Heidegger concerning the existence of human beings substantiates man’s capacity to interact with the nature, the gods, and their fellow human beings. The moral philosophy of Heidegger, as reflected upon the fourfold, declares that human beings are not mere creatures or objects, they are capable of defining their own destiny and their existence through their interaction with the fourfold.
The relatedness of the fourfold is what helps man define their destiny and the meaning of their existence by giving them the choices and options as dwellers of the earth. The Heideggerian perspective tells of the transformation of human beings into people or dwellers by living according to what the gods have commanded. The inclusion of the gods, nature and immortality in defining the existence of mankind supports man’s capacity to advance and to transit to beings (Stambaugh 1992). In the advancement of man and acquaintance with the nature and the gods, man is able to define his being and to take full control of his interaction to nature.
In the exercise of freedom, man is given the choices and options on how to assert himself within the relatedness of the fourfold. Man’s advancement is unlimited and so are his options and choices as a dweller. Man is provided with abundant ways on how to reap nature’s goodness such as vegetables, frits and other edible products. It is in the manner of man’s consumption of nature’s harvest and the way he treats the environment that e is able to define his existence as well as his being.
The options that human beings choose render an important insight on the kind of existence and being that they have. It is either man chooses to become stewards of nature or become its destruction. Human beings become people through the sense of belongingness to a community of dwellers. As a community, dwellers are guided by rules, ethics and laws which declare what gods want their people to become. As man is given the privilege of free will is obedience and disobedience with the rules and laws define his being and existence.
The Heideggerian perspective tells that the experience of Being is the main essence of the existence of human beings and in this, it can be derived that what mainly constitutes man’s being is his experience or interaction in the earth, sky, divinities and the mortals. Even though man’s experience and interaction with the fourfold are guided by rules and laws and the divinities, man has been fully equipped with free will that allows him to advance himself as a dweller and define his existence and being later on.