Primordial Care

Peter Oye Sagay

Care is an English word for a positive universal concept. Etymologists believe that care in its English usage, was derived from the Old English word caru which meant sorrow, anxiety and grief. The word caru was perhaps derived from the Latin word cura. So it is not surprising that we generally associate care with activities that seek to sooth or eliminate causes of emotions such as sorrow, anxiety and grief. But the existential role of care is primordial and precedes the awareness of these emotions. In other words, if emotions such as sorrow, anxiety and grief were to be no more, care will still be existentially relevant. In fact, primordial care is essentially intended to prevent emotions such as anxiety and minimize the occurrences of emotions such as sorrow and grief. In his Being and Time, philosopher Martin Heidegger wrote:"As a primordial structural totality, care lies "before" every factical "attitude" and "position" of Da-sein, that is, it is always already in them as an existential a priori...The phenomenon of care in its totality is essentially something that cannot be split up; thus any attempts to derive it from special acts or drives such as willing and wishing or urge and predilection, or of constructing it out of them, will be unsuccesssful."

So what is this primordial care that Heidegger characterized as "an existential a priori"? It is the means by which entities and their environment are sustained. For example, the ingestion of nutrients by living beings is primordial care. So is securing the environment from danger. Care in its primordial sense is the existential guardian of an entity's health-state. As guardian, care is integrated into the being of entities so as to make the structural totality of being possible. It is in this sense that care is unsplitable. This guardianship is subject to the Power of the Creator Who reserves the right to determine an entity's ultimate fate.

The guardianship of primordial care is finite. In other words, all entities eventually die either due to natural causes, or self-induced causes, or causes induced by others. The finiteness of primordial care implies that there is an end to its role as existential guardian. As it approaches this end, its capacity to guard an entity's health degenerates until it is eventually lost. The performance of primordial care can be impaired by an entity's carelessness - the inadvertent or deliberate disregard of the information primordial care provides entities with respect to their health-state. The consequences of carelessness range from mild to dire.

Although primordial care is an integral part of being, it is projectable in space. The projection of primordial care into space becomes urgently necessary when space is out of balance. Disequilibrium in space can manifest itself in various forms. It could be individual or collective existential hardship or a universal ecological disaster. No matter the form of the disequilibrium, spaces in relative equilibrium project primordial care to spaces in disequilibrium so that balance can be restored to the space. The methodology for the delivery of care is a function of variables such as the nature of the disequilibrium and the resources available.

Fundamentally, primordial care has a dual nature. On the one hand, primordial care is internally localized and focuses on self and self's immediate environment, and on the other hand, primordial care is far-reaching and focuses on others and others' environment - a consequence of its projectability in space.

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