My "freedom toward death" (Being and Time, p255, SUNY Press, 1 Jan 1996) is key for authenticity, according to Heidegger.

It seems obvious that he means that this freedom is me, and that claim for be found in the secondary literature (where it is called "freedom for myself", Time of Life, The: Heidegger and Ethos, By William McNeill, p62).

Does any of the secondary literature claim that freedom towards death is for others, not for me? Either correcting Heidegger, or his interpreters.

I don't think Levinas (whom I've read) does, despite his work with Heidegger's philosophy and over-arching interested in the "Other".

I'm asking because I've read it claimed that authenticity is freedom to be whatever you want (a fascist, a communist, whatever).

I think that if my freedom is for others then my authenticity would not fall foul of that.

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    Is "freedom toward death" the opposite of "freedom from death"? In, "I've read it claimed..." what does "it" refer to? - I do these kinds of things too; I find that my intent comes out clearer when I try to explain as on to the mediocre, but read as from a teacher.
    – christo183
    Aug 5, 2019 at 5:55
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    I am down-voting this because I cannot make sense of the post; I cannot parse this into an answerable question. "Freedom toward [x]" is not proper English, it has no generally recognised meaning. I have no idea what you mean by "Levinas". And "authenticity is freedom to be whatever you want" demands at least a link to en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Authenticity_(philosophy). The post should be edited to better explain what the question is about. Until then I am keeping my -1, because post cannot be answered without an edit.
    – MichaelK
    Aug 5, 2019 at 8:48
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    @another_name I think there is certainly an interesting germ of a question here, but we simply need more context from you to be able to provide a targeted answer. Your question involves some reasoning that you have done on your own that is opaque to us, and includes non-standard terminology. Try to reconstruct the reasoning you are doing here more slowly, defining terms, and explaining the references you make, etc. At least briefly. It is not that you don't have a legitimate question in your head, but rather that we do not see that question communicated clearly in what you've written. Aug 5, 2019 at 18:08
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    @another_name It remains that no one understands your question. If you are unwilling to work with us on that, then I'm not sure what you expect out of this. Aug 5, 2019 at 18:38
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    @another_name I have plenty of familiarity with B&T, and I can see the outlines of what you're gesturing towards. It sounds like the start of an interesting discussion, but you haven't provided me with enough material to provide any kind of authoritative answer to the question. Having a chat about a vague idea is different than posing a targeted question that actually has a legitimate exegetical answer on a Stack Exchange. Hopefully someone else will come along that disagrees and answers the question. Aug 5, 2019 at 18:42

1 Answer 1


There's a helpful question here on the notion of "freedom toward death" (Can "freedom toward death" have 'freedom' translated out of it?).

For this question, I find the first sentence to be a bit imprecise:

My "freedom toward death" (Sein und Zeit, p266) is key for authenticity, according to Heidegger.

Authenticity for Heidegger is precisely to be conscious of one's being towards death. So my freedom towards death is the ability to relate to the possibility of one's own death freely and without looking away from it.


Does any of the secondary literature claim that it is for others, not for me? Either correcting Heidegger, or his interpreters?

it does not make sense to speak of "it" (this freedom?) as being for others rather than for the Da-Sein (the I) because the freedom is precisely to face up to one's own utmost possibility in death.

I'm asking because I've read it claimed that authenticity is freedom to be whatever you want (a fascist, a communist, whatever).

This definition of freedom as radical freedom is more Sartre than Heidegger. For Sartre, authenticity is to be the source of one's own values and to not merely receive anything passively. In other words, it is to recognize that all choices and all of the contexts for choices stem from a radically free self. (This is Sartre's view -- I am not claiming it is true here).

In contast, Heidegger's idea of authenticity (more properly Eigentlichkeit) is being one's own self -- which for Heidegger is a being that will eventually die. Thus, the "authentic" element here is not that I believe I make all of the choices about my life and values but rather that I recognize that my existence is predicated on the possibility and eventual actuality of my own death. The only sense in which others can have my "freedom towards death" is that they can kill me and that is one possible way that I can die.

It should be noted that a common accusation against Heidegger is that he lacks a political philosophy and an ethics. In fact, authenticity (again Eigentlichkeit) is according to Heidegger not a moral category. (This does not mean Heidegger is right about its nature).


  • great answer, thanks.
    – user38026
    Aug 6, 2019 at 1:30
  • relate to the possibility of one's own death freely I may be mistaken but it seems to me this "freely" is not necessary and not very Heideggerian. There is being towards death (with its concomitant authenticity if it is experienced as my and the true possibility), not freedom towards death. Freedom is rather an important consequence of this, of the being and the authenticity. To repeat, I may be incorrect.
    – ttnphns
    Aug 6, 2019 at 8:18
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    I think you're putting something into freely that occurs in the normal definition but that I am not trying to say in my answer here. Specifically, I'm addressing the quoted wording "freedom towards death" which is definitely not Heidegger's most normal articulation, but appears to be what he writes. My adverbially usage is perhaps inept to express that because it might invite the very point you are raising, but I took the more salient question here to be the one about whether others can experience Da-Sein's "freedom towards death" -- to which the answer is no.
    – virmaior
    Aug 6, 2019 at 14:11

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