In The Week
, Damon Linker on Americans' anxiety about thinking
I'm inclined to follow philosopher Martin Heidegger down a different, deeper, and darker path of speculation.
Heidegger proposed that we human beings are uniquely terrified of our own mortality because we're more keenly aware than any other animal of all we have to lose by dying. Each of us inhabits a world overflowing with meaning. We care deeply, almost infinitely, about ourselves, our lives, our loved ones. And the prospect of losing it all — of the world and everything in it winking out of existence when we cease to be — is unspeakably horrifying.
Heidegger also suggested that we spend much of our lives fleeing from the fact of our finitude, throwing ourselves into the world and its concerns, including technological distractions and diversions.