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Mariano Juan Crespo Sesmero,, researcher of project 'Natural Law and Rationality internship' of the Institute for Culture and Society

About anxiety

Wed, 10 Dec 2014 12:52:00 +0000 Posted in Philosophy today (issue 38)

At first glance, it may seem that anxiety is a purely psychological phenomenon, a pathology of the human psyche. However, this is not the case. Anxiety has a profound philosophical relevance, the highlighting of which has to start from a terminological clarification. "Anxiety" is one of the possible translations of the German term Angst. This has usually been translated to Spanish as anguish, but perhaps it would be more correct to speak of anxiety.

In any case, longing is a concept that is often related to the thoughts of Soren Kierkegaard (1913-1855) and Martin Heidegger (1889-1976), who, in turn, have had a great influence on thinkers who are often labeled "existentialists". In both authors, longing does not have a theoretical character, but an affective one that, at the same time, reveals something extremely important about the human being. For the first of these authors, longing awakens in man the possibility of freedom. For Heidegger, it is an affective disposition that plays a fundamental methodological role in his existential analytic. His examination of longing takes as its starting point his analysis of what he calls the fall, namely the absorption in the "self" and in the world we are dealing with. This sample a kind of flight of Dasein (being-there) before itself. The yearning will, precisely, allow it to be brought before itself. But before what do we feel longing? We do not feel longing before an object in the world that presents itself to us as threatening. That happens in fear. That which makes us despondent in longing is nowhere to be found, but, as Heidegger argues, "it is so close that it oppresses and cuts one's breath." We feel longing, rather, before our being-in-the-world as such. What longing, at final, makes possible is to bring "Dasein back from its cadent absorption in the world" of which it is concerned and in the anonymity of being by opening up the world as world.

Be it one way or another, the philosophical analysis of craving sample a fact to which the Philosophy has paid throughout history, with more or less intensity, special attention. I am referring to the observation that affectivity, and not exclusively the theoretical knowledge , reveals central elements of the human person. There are affective experiences that reveal more than others the depth or interiority of the person, that which they are.