It is hard to believe in reincarnation or any type of afterlife because no one is really the same person even
in this lifetime. People always tend to believe they were naive or stupid only a few years ago in comparison to the person
they are today. While there is some overall consistency, our values and beliefs are constantly changing for the better or
for the worst. Even, physically, the cells that constituted my body only eight years ago have been replaced by newer cells
that make up the Thomas Cummins of today.
Speaking on the illusion of causality, David Hume writes "Custom, then, is the great guide of human life." It
is easy to see why we might repeat experiences to maintain predictable outcomes but what is it that compels people to perpetually
relive traumatic experiences? This is, in part, due to the fact that trauma necessarily entails a highly memorable experience
that one will continually think about, consciously or unconsciously, for the rest of one's life. Sartre speaks of the gambler
who attempts to quit his addiction yet when s/he approaches the blackjack table, his/her resolutions merely crumble in the
compulsion to repeat the past. Grave consequences that normally deter most are overwhelmingly belittled by an exaggerated
desire warped to a point where it is undeniable. A person knows they are a certain way because it has already been proven
to be such in the past. Indeed, the only way a person can identify themself is through their past. To deny this past, no matter
how bad it is, is to deny your self.
We have a firm faith in our beliefs because, as John Locke states, "Each man believes only his experiences."
It is impossible to comprehend anything outside one's own experience. This inherient correlation with past events is what
necessarily makes us a person and we must compulsively uphold this identity in order to constitute any worth as a person.
It is as if the individual is consantly forced to say 'I exist and this is who I know I am because I've been this way before.'
As Aristotle first observed "We are what we repeatedly do." To deny this repetition is tantamount to denying our
self. So when the gambler sees a deck of cards he unconsciously remembers his/her father gambling with the other adults or
the time when his/her friend told him/her 'Wow. Youre a good card player.' To deny gambling now would be to deny all of these
memories. Self-destructive values are perpetually upheld, paradoxically, to maintain identity. It is like the noble warrior
who commits suicide in order to maintain pride. One equates themself with prominent features of their past and traumatic ones
just tend to stick out.
Should we simply realize this is who we are and resign our self to our self? No, of course not. One has to struggle to
pick and choose which idiosyncratic attributes are most beneficial to empower one's will according to a particular social
setting. As Nietzche was often fond of saying "Dare to become what you are." This is a lot more difficult than it
sounds, however, and is easier said than done.
Heidegger believes that all of us begin our lives undifferentiated in which we blindly accept the arbitrary values
imposed upon us by the family and community in which we just happen to live in (what Heidegger calls throwness.) Every person
(a Dasein) is determined by their original culture and can only work with the cards dealt to them. As naive infants, we have
no option but to naturally assimilate to the parents and culture given to us by birth but most people continue to simply accept
these imposed ideals as the truth for the rest of their life. It is only when one comes to realize that their inherient beliefs
are merely a random happenstance dependent on the parents, teachers, friends, books, etc. given to them from birth, that a
person (a Dasein) can consciously attempt to change his/her life. Metaphorically speaking, it is impossible to build the home
we grew up in but we can redecorate it, remodel it, or eventually move somewhere else. However, it is not merely enough to
exchange one random lifestyle for another. Heidegger calls this being inauthentic because the Dasein is still not living a
unique life of his/her own accord, no matter what 'type' of person s/he tries to become. Eventually, the Dasein will experience
anxiety when s/he comes to realize the impossibility to become truly independent because society (what Heidegger calls the
'They' or the 'One') is always shaping our decisions no matter what. We can either experience 'fallen-ness' and regress back
into normalcy or eventually become being-towards-death. When one is being-towards-death, s/he realizes the inevibility of
their 'own' nothingness in the permanent form of death and, since there is nothing to lose, the Dasein chooses any life it
wants, knowing full well that this 'choosen' life is still culturally predicated. We cannot choose where we were born but
we have some say in where we die. Heidegger, however, seemed to advocate a reembracement of our original homeland's culture
and he, personally, exemplified this in his outspoken German pride. Once the Dasein reaches this stage, s/he has supposedly
become truly authentic, according to Heidegger, in showing a care for his/her world.