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The Danger of Being Ridden by a Type: Everydayness and Authenticity in Context – Reading Heidegger with Hegel and Diderot

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The critical analysis of habit is regularly complemented by scenarios of how to defy it. Heidegger’s conceptual pairing for taking on this twofold task is “everydayness” and “authenticity.” In this paper, his account is put to test. By choosing an unusual line-up of authors – Heidegger, Hegel, and Diderot –, it identifies three different strategies for overcoming the danger of being ridden by a type. They appeal to authenticity, universality, or individuality. After discussing Hegel’s and Diderot’s accounts, the paper turns to Heidegger’s confrontation between everydayness and authenticity and shows that it remains inconclusive. In order to create a bulwark against habit Heidegger establishes a link between authenticity and the anticipation of death which makes Dasein turn away from the “multiplicity of possibilities” and secures the “simplicity” of resoluteness. This total demolition of particularities and differences paves the way to a totalitarian conception of overcoming customs: The individual is prone to affirm a destiny marked by total homogeneity and equalization. The paper comes to the conclusion that, among the different readings of habit and its discontents, Diderot’s account is the most plausible.

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