Existentialists are representative of those philosophers who have searched for the original state of human beings, or how they believe human beings should be. According to existentialists, human beings, existing in society, but having become alienated from their essential self, find themselves caught in a state of despair and dread. These thinkers have seriously considered how human beings may be delivered from that despair and dread. In this section, the views of five existentialists will be briefly discussed and compared with the Unification Thought view of human nature. Through this comparative analysis, it is hoped that the reader’s understanding of the Unification Theory of the Original Human Nature will be deepened.
A. Søren Kierkegaard (1813-55)
1. Kierkegaard’s Analysis of Human Existence
Søren Kierkegaard asked himself the question, “What is the human being?” His answer was, “A human being is spirit. But what is spirit? Spirit is the self. But what is the self? The self is a relation that relates itself to itself.” Then, who is it that establishes such a relation? It must be a third party, a reality other than one’s own self, and that reality is none other than God Himself. Therefore, Kierkegaard concluded, the original self is the self that stands before God.
Yet, human beings, who should thus live in a relationship with God, have become separated from God. Kierkegaard explained the nature of that separation, in his analysis of Genesis outlined in his book, The Concept of Dread, as follows: In the beginning, Adam was in a state of peace and comfort, but at the same time, he was in a state of dread (Angst). When God told Adam, “of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat” (Gen. 2:17), the possibility of freedom was awakened within Adam. This possibility of freedom caused Adam an extreme sense of dread. As Adam looked into the abyss of freedom, he became dizzy and clung to his own self. That was the precise moment when the original sin first came into being.
As a result, a division arose in the “relation that relates itself to itself,” and human beings fell into despair (Verzweifelung). People tried to remove this despair, regarding it as something that has come from the outside, but they can never remove it with such an understanding. Only through faith, by rediscovering their relationship to God, can they restore their original relationship to themselves, and escape from despair.
Kierkegaard criticized the public for its irresponsibility and lack of conscience, saying, “A public is everything and nothing, the most dangerous of all powers and the most insignificant.” He asserted that, in order for people to actualize their true human nature, they must depart from the world of the public and stand before God all by themselves―each as an individual. He explained the stages through which people return to their original selves in terms of three stages of existence.
The first stage is the stage of “aesthetic existence.” Persons in this stage simply follow their sensual desires exactly as they are, and live just as they please. The purpose of this kind of life is pleasure. The position of someone in the stage of aesthetic existence is that of a seducer, a pursuer of erotic love. But since the moment of pleasure is not something that can be maintained continuously, persons in the aesthetic stage are trapped by fatigue and dread. They become frustrated and fall into despair―but, through their making a decision they proceed to the next stage.
The second stage is that of “ethical existence.” Persons in this stage seek to live according to their conscience, with good and evil as their standard of judgment. They seek to live as good citizens with a sense of responsibility and duty. Yet, no matter how hard they may try, they can not live totally in accordance with their conscience. So, they become frustrated and fall into despair. Again, through making a decision they can proceed to the next stage.
The third stage is that of “religious existence.” Here, each person stands alone, with faith in the presence of God; only by doing so can the person become a true existential being. In order to enter this stage, a leap of faith is required. Such a leap is possible if one believes in a paradox that can not be understood with the intellect. It is to believe that which is irrational, such as Abraham’s obedience to God’s commandment to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice, or the irrational statement that the eternal God became incarnate in the finite time spectrum and became a man (Jesus). Only by such a leap of faith can people truly recover their relationship to God. Kierkegaard considered.
Abraham’s obedience to God’s commandment to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice, which seems contrary to any sense of human ethics, as a typical model of the religious life.
This being the case, when individuals who have become true existences centered on God―in other words, who have become their original selves―come to love one another, through the mediation of God, by following Jesus’ words to “love your neighbor as yourself,” only then, said Kierkegaard, through such “works of love,” can a true society be established.
2. A Unification Thought Appraisal of Kierkegaard’s View of the Human Being
According to Kierkegaard, as people separated from God, a division arose in the “relation that relates itself to itself,” causing people to fall into despair. From the perspective of Unification Thought, this “relation that relates itself to itself” can be regarded as the relation between one’s mind and body or the relation between one’s spirit mind and physical mind. This means that, as human beings are separated from God, our mind and body have become divided. This implies that the mind and body, in an original being, are united, centering on God. Then, how can one’s mind and body become one? This is possible once the spirit mind and the physical mind restore their proper relationship of subject and object, and perform harmonious give and receive action.
Søren Kierkegaard said that “when someone stands before God as an individual,” that person stands in an absolute relationship to the Absolute Being (or God). This corresponds to the concept of a “being of individuality” referred to in Unification Thought. Yet, Kierkegaard did not explain why this individual can be considered to be absolute. From the Unification Thought perspective, the reason why a human being, as a “being of individuality,” can be considered as absolute is that a human being resembles an Individual Image in God, the Absolute Being. Thus, Kierkegaard’s views of a human being as a “relation that relates itself to itself” and as an “individual” correspond easily to the “united being of mind and body” and the “being of individuality,” respectively, as found in Unification Thought.
Nevertheless, this is not all there is to the original human nature. The most essential aspect of the original human nature is that of heart. Moreover, it would only be a partial understanding to say that a person stands before God alone as an individual, namely as a being of individuality. When man and woman get married and stand before God as husband and wife, they truly become perfect as human beings, namely as a harmonious couple of yang and yin. They are also beings of logos and creativity. Moreover, they are beings with position, endowed with both the nature of a subject and the nature of an object. An “individual” standing before God, as proposed by Kierkegaard, although sincere, is but a solitary and lonely figure.
Why have human beings become separated from God? Unless the cause of this separation is clarified, it will be impossible for one to return to one’s original self, that is, to the person of the original ideal of God. Kierkegaard said that Adam fell into sin through the dread that arose from the possibility of freedom. Can this be true? According to the Divine Principle, neither freedom nor dread was the cause of the human fall. The first human ancestors, Adam and Eve, did not observe God’s Word, but followed the temptation of the Archangel instead, thus misdirecting their love. The force of the non-principled love that arose as a result is what made them fall away from God. As Adam and Eve began to deviate from the right path, in violation of the Word of God, the freedom of their original mind is what gave rise to their dread, the dread of having violated God’s Word. Thus, freedom and dread worked, instead, in the direction of trying to prevent them from deviating. Yet, the power of their non-principled love suppressed this feeling of dread, making them cross the line of the fall. As a result, human beings became separated from God, and dread and despair came into being due to the guilt they experienced as a result of their disobedience to God’s Word, and their separation from the love of God. Accordingly, unless the problem of the fall is correctly solved, it is impossible to fundamentally solve people’s dread and despair.
Kierkegaard’s concept of God’s love is also ambiguous. God’s love arises from Heart, which is the limitless emotional impulse to warmly give everything to His object partners. When God’s love appears on earth, it manifests as various directional loves. In a family, it manifests as the directional, divisional loves of parents’ love for children, husband’s and wife’s mutual love, brothers’ and sisters’ love, and children’s love for parents. When these basic loves are extended or expanded in various ways, they manifest as one’s love for humankind, one’s love for one’s nation, one’s love for one’s neighbors, one’s love for animals, one’s love for nature, and so on. Thus, God’s love is not an ambiguous love, but rather it appears as various concrete and directional expressions of love.
Kierkegaard asserted that in order for us to recover our authentic state we must fight against the falsity of the crowd and return to God. This reflects his own personal path in seeking to encounter God, a path which he walked while enduring persecution and ridicule from his contemporaries. It was, moreover, his appeal to the religious people of his time to become true persons of faith. His efforts should be deeply appreciated.
At the age of twenty four Kierkegaard fell in love with, Regina Olsen, who was fourteen, and three years later became engaged to her. The next year, however, out of fear that he might plunge her into unhappiness through marriage, he unilaterally broke off the engagement and began looking for a love of a higher dimension than mere romantic love. Because of this, he was criticized by his society. From the viewpoint of Unification Thought, we can understand that his desire was to realize a true love between man and woman centered on God, after having perfected his character. It can be said that the original image of the human being pursued by Kierkegaard was basically in accord with Unification Thought in terms of its direction.
B. Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900)
1. Nietzsche’s View of the Human Being
In contrast to the view of Kierkegaard, who held that only by standing before God can people become their original selves, Friedrich Nietzsche claimed that it is only when they free themselves from faith in God that they can become their original selves.
Nietzsche deplored what he saw as the leveling and demeaning of people in the European society of his time, and he attributed that to the Christian view of the human being. Through its preaching of asceticism, Christianity denied life in this world and, instead, placed ultimate human value in the next world. Moreover, it preached that all people are equal before God. For Nietzsche, such views deprived human beings of their vitality, pulled talented human beings down, and tended to equalize everyone.
In response, Nietzsche proclaimed that “God is dead,” and vehemently attacked Christianity. He felt that it was Christian morality which oppressed human life and the physical body, by means of such concepts as “God” and “soul,” and as a result of its negative view of the reality of life, blocked the way toward the development of stronger people. He felt that Christian morality aided only the weak and the suffering, and he called it a “slave morality.” He also rejected the Christian life of love and spirituality, wholeheartedly affirming, on the contrary, one’s instinct and life.
For Nietzsche, life is the force to grow, or the force to develop. He argued that behind every human action there exists a “will to power” (Wille zur Macht), a will which seeks to increase the individual’s strength. In his words, “Where I found the living, there I found will to power; and even in the will of those who serve I found the will to be master.” He thus rejected Christianity’s “slave morality” and promulgated instead a “master morality,” which made power itself the standard of all values. Nietzsche described the standard of good and evil as follows:
What is good? Everything that heightens the feeling of power in man, the will to power, power itself. What is bad? Everything that is born of weakness. What is happiness? The feeling that power is growing, that resistance is overcome…. The weak and the failures shall perish: first principle of our love of man. And they shall even be given every possible assistance. What is more harmful than any vice? Active pity for all the failures and all the weak: Christianity.
The ideal of the human being, according to master morality, is the “superman” (Übermensch). The superman is a being that has realized all human potentiality to the utmost limits, and is the embodiment of the will to power. The possibility of the superman lies in the endurance of any kind of pain in life and in the absolute affirmation of life itself. The absolute affirmation of life comes about through one’s acceptance of the idea of “eternal recurrence,” which Nietzsche expresses as, “Everything goes, everything comes back; eternally rolls the wheel of being.” This is the idea that the world repeats itself forever, without any purpose or meaning. The absolute affirmation of life means the endurance of any kind of fate. He said that this becomes possible through “regarding the inevitable as beautiful” and through “loving one’s fate”; thus, he preached the “love of fate” (amor fati).
2. A Unification Thought Appraisal of Nietzsche’s View of the Human Being
Nietzsche asserted that Christianity’s extreme emphasis on life after death crippled people’s ability to value their actual everyday life, and so weakened it. His sincere effort in endeavoring to understand the original human nature merits our esteem. His views were an accusation towards, and a warning to, Christianity, which he regarded as having deviated from its original spirit. Nietzsche saw the God of Christianity as a judgmental and otherworldly being, sitting on the high throne of heaven, promising resurrection after death to those who did good, and meting out punishment to those who did evil. What Nietzsche was denouncing, however, was not the teachings of Jesus himself, but rather the teachings of Paul, who had transformed Jesus’ teaching into a teaching that placed too much emphasis on life after death.
From the perspective of Unification Thought God is not an otherworldly being who denies reality, while situated in a high place somewhere in heaven. God’s purpose of creation is not only the realization of the Kingdom of Heaven in the world after death, but, more importantly, the prior realization of the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth. Once the Kingdom of Heaven is established here on earth, those who have experienced life in the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth will subsequently build the Kingdom of Heaven in the spirit world. Jesus’ mission, originally, was the realization of the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth. Therefore, Nietzsche’s assertion is reasonable in that Jesus’ teaching was changed by Paul into a teaching placing too much emphasis on one’s life after death. Nevertheless, it is also true that, since Jesus was crucified, as a result of the chosen people’s disbelief in him, the extent of the salvation that he was able to accomplish was limited to spiritual salvation, which means that people here in the real, day-to-day world of the flesh continue to live under the yoke of Satan, the subject of evil. Therefore, it was a serious misjudgment for Nietzsche, beyond criticizing Paul, to go so far as to deny Christianity itself, even declaring the death of God.
We can next examine Nietzsche’s assertion that all living beings have a “will to power.” According to Genesis, God gave human beings the blessing to “have dominion over all things” (Gen. 1:28). In other words, God gave human beings the way to become qualified to rule. This implies that the desire to rule (or desire to dominate) is one of the characteristics of the original human nature as endowed by God. The “position” to rule corresponds to the “subject position” among the characteristics of the original human nature, according to Unification Thought. With regard to the subject position, however―as mentioned earlier―true dominion is based on love rather than power. The condition for a human being to exercise dominion is that they must first perfect their personality, centering on God’s Heart, and practice the ethics of love in family life. It is upon that basis, and that basis only, that true dominion can be expressed. Nietzsche, however, was not able to understand about that basis, and thus he stressed only the “will to power.” This is another part of his misunderstanding.
Nietzsche asserted that Christian morality is the morality of the weak, which denies the strong―but this view is misleading. Christianity taught true love in order for people to come to exercise true dominion. People must first fight against the evil forces coming through the instinctive desires of the physical body. These instinctive desires of the body are not evil in themselves, but if fallen people, whose spiritual level of heart is not yet perfect, live according to the instinctive desires of their body, they tend to be dominated by evil forces. Only when the level of heart of the spirit person is raised, whereby the spirit mind comes to have dominion over the physical mind, can the activity of the body be considered good in the true sense.
Emphasizing only the values of the body, instinct and life, Nietzsche neglected the aspects of spirit, love, and reason. In other words, he disregarded the human spirit self. If the spirit self is disregarded, what will remain of the human being? What will remain is nothing but the animal-like physical self. This would certainly drag people down to the level and position of animals. Therefore, even though Nietzsche may be calling on people to become strong, in reality he is actually encouraging them to become animalistic. That is definitely not the level for which God created human beings. Nietzsche’s effort to try to guide people back to their original image should be respected, but the method he proposed for doing so was wrong. A human being is a united being of Sungsang and Hyungsang, with the Sungsang as the subject and the Hyungsang as the object. Nietzsche, however, emphasized only the Hyungsang aspect, neglecting the Sungsang aspect. Still, Nietzsche is to be respected for having issued a warning against those Christians who, because of their ignorance of Jesus’ original purpose of realizing the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, had a tendency to think too lightly of the importance of our human life on earth.
C. Karl Jaspers (1883-1969)
1. Jaspers’ View of the Human Being
For Karl Jaspers, existence refers to the state of a human being truly awakened to oneself as an individual. He says, “Existence is the never objectified source of my thoughts and actions…. It is what relates to itself, and thus to its transcendence.” This way of thinking is basically the same as Kierkegaard’s.
An existence that is in the process of attaining the original existence, having not yet encountered Transcendence, or the Comprehensive (das Umgreifende), is called a “possible existence.” Usually, human beings are only possible existences that live in various circumstances; but by acting upon their given circumstances, they can live positively. Jaspers points out, however, that there exist certain situations beyond which we can not go, and which we can not change, including “death,” “suffering,” “struggle,” and “guilt.” These he calls “boundary situations.” Even though people may wish to live eternally, yet not a single person can escape death. Death is the denial of one’s own existence.
Also, human life involves various kinds of suffering, such as physical pain, disease, senility, and starvation. As long as people live, such struggles can not be avoided. Moreover, people live with the unavoidable guilt that their own existence can not but reject others.
Also, human life involves various kinds of suffering, such as physical pain, disease, senility, and starvation. As long as people live, such struggles can not be avoided. Moreover, people live with the unavoidable guilt that their own existence can not but reject others.
In the face of such boundary situations, people can not but despair and eventually become frustrated, becoming aware of their own limitations. At such times, the way people experience and respond to that frustration will determine what will become of them. If they face their frustration head-on, and endure it silently, honestly, and without trying to escape from the situation, then they will come to experience the reality that “originally exists, transcending the world of existence.”
In other words, they will come to realize that behind nature, behind history, behind philosophy, and behind art―all of which seemed meaningless until then―there is Transcendence, or God, who embraces us and speaks to us. On that occasion, Transcendence will appear to us, not directly, but by means of coded messages. In the form of such codes, Transcendence reaches out to us through nature, history, philosophy, art, and so on. Those who have experienced frustration in boundary situations will be able to interpret those coded messages. This he called the “reading of ciphers”(Chiffredeutung). By interpreting or reading such coded messages, a human being, alone, comes to stand face to face with Transcendence. This is what he means by awakening to one’s true self.
After encountering God in this way, a human being engages in the practice of love in their communication with others. The original way of life for human beings is to stand in an equal position with one another, loving one another, while yet recognizing one another’s independence. Through fellowship with others, existence is perfected. Jaspers said, “The purpose of philosophy, which alone gives a final ground to the meaning of all purposes, that is to say, the purpose of perceiving existence internally, elucidating love, and perfecting comfort, is only attained in communication.” Communication is the relationship of loving struggle.
2. A Unification Thought Appraisal of Jaspers’ View of the Human Being
Jaspers said that human beings are normally only possible existences that are unable to perceive Transcendence, but that once they pass through boundary situations, they can become existences that relate to Transcendence, that is, original selves.
But why do human beings normally remain only as possible existences, separated from Transcendence? And why do they become connected with Transcendence only after going through such boundary situations? Jaspers is quiet concerning these questions. Yet, unless these questions are answered, we can not understand concretely what the original self is, or how to recover it.
According to the Divine Principle, human beings were created to fulfill the purpose of creation. The fulfillment of the purpose of creation means fulfillment of the three great blessings (Gen. 1:28), that is, perfection of one’s personality, perfection of one’s family, and perfection of one’s dominion. However, Adam and Eve, the first human ancestors, failed to keep the Word of God during their growth period, and while their personalities were still imperfect they fell, becoming separated from God, becoming husband and wife centering on non-principled love and giving birth to sinful children. As a result, all humankind came to be separated from God. Therefore, the true path for recovering the original self is for people to separate themselves from non-principled love and return to God, thereby fulfilling the purpose of creation centering on God’s love.
The original human nature is meant to manifest itself fully once people fulfill their purpose of creation. Like Kierkegaard, Jaspers said that existence is to become a being that relates to Transcendence, while at the same time relating itself to itself. In saying this, Jaspers was referring to the perfection of one’s personality, which is the first among the three great blessings. Among the various different aspects of the original human nature discussed in Unification Thought, Jaspers was concerned only with the “united being of Sungsang and Hyungsang,” while neglecting the others. Jaspers does say that we must practice love in our communication with others, but just as with Kierkegaard, his concept of love is vague.
True love (God’s love) is an emotional impulse, in accord with which one can not help but giving, with a warm heart, what one has to others. This love is manifested divisionally through the family, as different ways of loving one’s object partner: children’s love for their parents, conjugal love for one’s spouse, parental love for one’s children, and siblings’ love for one’s brothers and sisters. Truly harmonious love in one’s communication with others can be realized on the foundation of these four types of love. Jaspers said that communication among existences is a relationship of loving struggle. According to Unification Thought, however, the essence of love is joy. Original love is not something that can be described as any kind of struggle.
Another question is why human beings become connected with Transcendence only by passing through boundary situations. Jaspers said that people encounter God by facing the frustration of a boundary situation head-on and by honestly accepting it. Yet, among those who have, indeed, faced the frustration of the boundary situation head-on and have, indeed, honestly accepted it, there are some who, like Nietzsche, became further separated from God and some who, like Kierkegaard, became even closer to God. Why do such different results come about? The reason for this difference is not clarified in Jaspers’ philosophy.
In contrast, Unification Thought provides a clear rationale behind these different results. In failing to observe God’s Word, human beings became separated from God and fell under the dominion of Satan, the subject of evil. Because of this, they can not go back to God unconditionally. Only by establishing some condition of compensation, that is, some condition of indemnity, can human beings return to God. Accordingly, what Jaspers described as the despair and frustration experienced in boundary situations corresponds to a condition of indemnity. Once that condition is successfully fulfilled, human beings come to be in a position closer to God. To achieve this, however, one must, while enduring the pain inherent in the boundary situation, remain humble and must maintain an attitude of object consciousness in seeking the absolute subject, as is taught in the Bible, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (Matt. 7:7). Those who maintain an attitude reflecting a self-centered subject consciousness, or who continue to harbor a spirit of revenge, can never encounter God, even though they may experience such boundary situations. Jaspers believed that we can meet Transcendence through reading the cipher of frustration; but the God we come to know in this manner is merely a symbolic God. We can not comprehend or appreciate the true image of God through such means alone. We must learn about the human fall and God’s purpose of creation, and must endeavor to realize the three great blessings through a life of faith. When we do these things, we will be able to experience the Heart of God and become a true human being with a genuine existence.
D. Martin Heidegger (1899-1976)
1. Heidegger’s View of the Human Being
Unlike much of modern philosophy, the philosophy of Martin Heidegger did not regard the human being as a self facing the world. For him, the human being is “Dasein.” Dasein refers to a being (Sein), an individual human being, who lives in the world. A being relates to other beings, attends to the environment surrounding itself, and cares for other people. This is a being’s fundamental way of existence, which Heidegger described as “being-in-the-world” (In-der-Welt-sein). Being in the world means that human beings have been cast into the world without being informed as to the origin from which they came or the destination towards which they are going. Such a state Heidegger calls “throwness” (Geworfenheit), or “facticity” (Faktizitat).
Normally, people come to lose their subjectivity (or independence) when they strive, through their daily lives, to adjust themselves to their external circumstances or to other peoples’ opinions. This is the situation of the “they” (Das Man) who has lost the original self, according to Heidegger. Such a “they” spends its daily life indulging in idle talk, distracted by curiosity, and living in peaceful ambiguity. This is called the “falling” of Dasein.
This Dasein, which has been thrown into the world, seemingly without any reason, exists also in anxiety (Angst). If we inquire deeply into the nature of this anxiety, we eventually reach the fundamental anxiety one experiences concerning death. When, however, a person does not simply spend time waiting, in anxiety, for some vague future, but rather positively accepts the fact that he or she, as a human being, is a “being-towards-death” and, with that in mind, lives with a serious determination toward the future, that person can progress toward the original self. In this way, human beings project themselves toward their future; in other words, they put stake in their future. Heidegger calls this “projection” (Entwurf). This nature of the being he calls “existentiality.”
At such a time, based on what do people project themselves? They project hemselves based on the “call of conscience.” The call of conscience is that inner voice that calls people to abandon their fallen selves and go back to their original selves. Heidegger speaks of the call of conscience as follows: “The call undoubtedly does not come from someone else who is with me in the world. The call comes from me and yet from beyond me.”
Heidegger grasps the meaning of being in terms of temporality (Zeitlichkeit). When being is seen from the perspective of casting itself, it can be grasped as “ahead-of-itself,” and when seen from the aspect of having already been cast, it can be grasped as “being-already-in”; and when seen from the aspect of tending the environment and caring for others, it can be grasped as “being-alongside.” Human beings do not proceed toward a solitary self, separate from the world. If these aspects are seen in the light of temporality, they correspond, respectively, to the future, the past, and the present. Human beings proceed toward the future potentiality by listening to the call of conscience, in order to save the self from present falling, while taking on the burdens of the past. This is Heidegger’s view of the human being seen from the viewpoint of temporality.
2. A Unification Thought Appraisal of Heidegger’s View of the Human Being
Heidegger asserted that the human being is a being-in-the-world, a “they” who has lost the original self; he also said that the characteristic feature of that situation is anxiety. He did not, however, clarify why human beings have lost their original selves, or what the original self is like. He speaks of projecting oneself toward one’s original self, but if the image of the self to be attained is not clear, there is no way we can verify that we are indeed proceeding toward the original self. Heidegger said that the call of conscience guides human beings to go back to their original selves, but this is not an adequate solution to the problem. Actually, this is little more than a philosophical expression of the common knowledge that people ought to live in obedience to their conscience. In a world that does not recognize God there can be only one of two possible ways of life, namely, living according to one’s instinctive life, as proposed by Nietzsche, or according to one’s conscience, as Heidegger proposed.
From the perspective of Unification Thought, however, it is not sufficient merely to live in accordance with one’s conscience. Instead, people should live in accordance with their “original mind.” Conscience may be oriented toward what each individual person regards as good and, therefore, the standard of conscience and of what is good, will vary according to each individual. Hence, when people live according to their conscience, there is no guarantee that they are indeed moving toward their original selves. Only when people live in accordance with their original mind, which possesses God as its standard, will they indeed be moving toward their original selves.
Heidegger said that human beings can be saved from anxiety when they become seriously determined to accept the future, instead of aimlessly waiting for the future to come to them. But, again, how can we be saved from anxiety when the original image of the self is not clearly defined? Seen from the viewpoint of Unification Thought, the cause of anxiety lies in our separation from God’s love. Therefore, when human beings go back to God, experience the Heart of God, and actually become beings of heart, only then will they be delivered from anxiety and be filled with peace and joy.
Heidegger also argued that the way for human beings to transcend the anxiety of death is for them to accept death positively as part of their destiny. This, however, is not really a true solution to the problem of the anxiety of death. Unification Thought sees the human being as a united being of spirit self and physical self, or a united being of Sungsang and Hyungsang in such a way that the maturation of the spirit self is based on the physical self. When human beings fulfill the purpose for which they were created, during their physical lives on earth, their perfected spirit selves, after the death of their physical selves, will go on to the spirit world, where they will live eternally. Therefore, a human being is not a “being-towards-death,” but rather a “being-towards-eternal-life.” Therefore, the death of one’s physical self corresponds to the phenomenon of ecdysis as found among insects. The anxiety one has of death originates from the ignorance of the meaning of death not to mention the feeling, either conscious or unconscious, that one has not yet perfected oneself.
Such a task can not generally be accomplished in only one generation; it is accomplished after being passed on from generation to generation. Specifically, in the present generation, we are entrusted with those conditions of indemnity that were not completed by our ancestors. Hence, we attempt to establish those conditions in our own generation, thus bearing responsibility for the future and for our descendents. This is the true meaning, seen from Unification Thought, of the fact that human beings have temporality.
E. Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-80)
1. Sartre’s View of the Human Being
Dostoevski said, “If God did not exist, everything would be possible.” The denial of the existence of God is the very starting point of the philosophy of Jean-Paul Sartre. In contrast to Heidegger, who asserted his existentialism without any reference to God, Sartre went further and advocated an existentialism that altogether denied God’s existence. He explained that, in human beings, “existence precedes essence,” as follows:
What is meant here by saying that existence precedes essence? It means that, first of all, man exists, turns up, appears on the scene, and, only afterwards, defines himself. If man, as the existentialist conceives him, is indefinable, it is because at first he is nothing. Only afterward will he be something, and he himself will have made what he will be. Thus, there is no original human nature, since there is no God to conceive it.
The use or purpose of a tool, that is, the essence of that tool, is already determined by its manufacturer even before it is produced. In this case, essence precedes existence. In the same way, if God exists, and if He has created human beings based on His idea, then it must be that, in the case of human beings, essence precedes existence as well. But Sartre denied the existence of God; therefore, for him, the essence of the human being is not determined from the very beginning. According to him, people appeared not from essence, but rather from nothing.
Moreover, Sartre says that “existence is subjectivity.” Human beings are accidental beings that appeared from nothing. They are not defined by anyone. Therefore, they themselves plan what they will be like. They choose themselves. This is what Sartre means by “subjectivity.” In other words, human beings choose what they will become―whether they will be Communists or Christians; whether they will choose to marry or remain single.
The fundamental feature of such an existence is “anguish,” according to Sartre. Man chooses himself, which means, at the same time, that “in making this choice, he also chooses all men.” Therefore, to choose oneself means to take responsibility for the whole of humankind―a responsibility that incorporates anguish, according to Sartre. Anguish, however, does not prevent human beings from acting; on the contrary, it is the very condition for their action, and it is a part of that action itself.
In Sartre’s view, human beings are “free” beings. Since existence precedes essence, they are not determined by anything, and are allowed to do anything. Being free, however, implies that the entire responsibility for their deeds lies with themselves. In that sense, being free is a kind of burden for them; therefore, human beings are “condemned to be free.” In other words, human beings experience anguish because they are free. Sartre explained it this way:
Man is free, man is freedom. On the other hand, if God does not exist, we find no values or commands to turn to which legitimize our con-duct. So, in the bright realm of values, we have no excuse behind us, nor justification before us. We are alone, with no excuses. That is the idea I shall try to convey when I say that man is condemned to be free.
A human being, who is subjectivity, will exercise his or her subjectivity. In order for a human being to exercise subjectivity, there must exist an object that can receive dominion from him or her. Among the types of beings, there are the “being-in-itself” and the “being-for-itself.” The being-in-itself refers to all things and the being-for-itself is the being which is conscious of itself, namely, the human being. When a person exercises subjectivity, there is no problem so far as he or she deals with a being-in-itself as his or her object. But, once a person faces another person (i.e., a being-for-itself), problems arise. The reason for this is that in such a relationship both will assert their subjectivity.
When one person faces another, their human existence becomes a “being-for-others”; that is, a being that is opposite to another being, according to Sartre. The fundamental structure of the being-for-others is the relationship in which one is either a “being-looking-at” or a “being-looked-at”―that is, a relationship in which “the Other is an object for me” or “I myself am an object-for-the-Other.” This means that human relationships are in constant conflict. As Sartre explained it,
It is therefore useless for human reality to seek to get out of this dilemma: one must either transcend the Other or allow oneself to be transcended by him. The essence of the relations between consciousnesses is not the Mitsein [co-existence]; it is conflict.
2. A Unification Thought Appraisal of Sartre’s View of the Human Being
Sartre said that “existence precedes essence,” and that human beings create themselves. Along this same line, Heidegger contended that people must project themselves toward the future. For Heidegger, the “call of conscience,” though vague, guides people toward the original self. For Sartre, however, the original self is totally denied. According to Unification Thought, the absence of the original self is a natural consequence of the fact that human beings have become totally separated from God. If we were to accept Sartre’s views, we would be left without any standard at all to judge between good and evil. In that situation, no matter what people did, they would always be able to rationalize their actions by saying that they had acted on their own volition. That would necessarily create a society without ethics.
Sartre also said that the human being is subjectivity. In contradistinction to that, Unification Thought asserts that the human being is both subjectivity and objectivity, at the same time. In other words, a person of original nature is both in the subject position and in the object position. What Sartre calls subjectivity refers to the fact that human beings are free to choose themselves and to objectify others; in contrast, what Unification Thought calls subjectivity refers to the human ability to have dominion over an object being, with love. In order to exercise true subjectivity, people must first establish their own objectivity. In other words, they must first have object consciousness in an object position. Going through the experience of being in an object position, they grow and are promoted to stand in a subject position, and thus become able to exercise subjectivity.
Furthermore, according to Sartre, the characteristic of a mutual relationship between human beings is that of conflict between subjectivity and subjectivity, or a conflict between freedom and freedom. This is similar to Hobbes’ concept of a “war of all against all.” Needless to say, such concepts of subjectivity and freedom are mistaken. Unless such mistaken views regarding subjectivity and freedom are corrected, the confusion now existing in democratic society can not be resolved. Only when people learn to establish both subjectivity and objectivity, whereby harmonious give and receive action between subject and object takes place in every sphere, can a world of love and peace be actualized. Moreover, Sartre says that human beings are “condemned to be free.” From the viewpoint of Unification Thought, however, freedom is anything but such a sentence. Freedom can not exist apart from the principle, and the principle is the norm for actualizing true love. Accordingly, true freedom is freedom for the sake of actualizing true love.