DOI: 10.1177/00221678231218030 ISSN: 0022-1678

Authenticity, Releasement, and Mindfulness

Laura Kate Matthews
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Philosophy
  • Social Psychology

The concept of mindlessness is tacitly present in Heidegger’s earlier and later works. In Being and Time, Dasein is mindless insofar as it engages with the world in ways already publicly interpreted by das Man. In Heidegger’s later work, mindlessness reaches its peak in the technological mode of revealing, according to which reality is disclosed as a standing reserve. In this technological mode, efficiency becomes an end in itself. Mindlessness is present here in two senses: (a) efficiency is a publicly dictated norm, which we adopt more or less automatically and (b) efficiency demands that we are never fully absorbed in our work, but always concerned to move on to the next task. The question then arises as to what extent mindfulness is associated with the structures Heidegger describes as being opposed to inauthenticity and technology, namely authenticity and releasement. In what follows, I argue that mindfulness can be understood as a tool to cultivate the distance from the they-self necessary to engage more authentically with the world or to cultivate a free relation to technology. Mindfulness can also be viewed as a tool to dwell in the fourfold. I conclude by drawing distinctions between Heidegger’s thought and the practice of mindfulness.

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