Martin Heidegger

A significant feature of existentialism is that existence precedes essence. Heidegger makes a sharp distinction between essence and existence or being as according to him man is thrown into a particular situation (hineingeworfen) and burdened with certain inborn character and intelligence. The situation is not chosen by the individual but it all happens without his knowledge and assistance. This determining factor in man’s existence, Heidegger calls ”fate” (schicksal). For Heidegger, “anguish” (Angst) is another fundamental experience which runs through human life. Anguish does not refer to death, it is the anguish of death which is the end, the nothing (das Nichts). When the individual experiences anguish he experiences a state of nothingness. This indirectly drives home the point that human existence is uncertain and in our inner being we are alone. Human individual has the knowledge, will and freedom to act as the situation demands. Heidegger insists on obeying its demands rather than run after dreamy ideas. Anita Desai does not advocate escapism in her novels and they tend to reflect the rise and fall of currency of these ideas.

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