How to say the same thing:
Heidegger's vocabulary
and grammar of being

Lee Braver

To say the same thing is what's difficult. To say the same thing about the same thing is the most difficult.1
Inevitably everything here depends on the correct saying.2
In proportion to the intrinsically manifold matter of Being and Time, all words which give it utterance (like reversal, forgottenness and mittence) are always ambiguous. Only a [commensurately] manifold thought succeeds in uttering the heart of this matter in a way that cor-responds with it.
This manifold thought requires, however, not a new language but a transformed relationship to the essence[-ing] [Wesen] of the old one.3


THE PROBLEM: WRITING OF BEING. Many have complained about Heidegger's writing. This author, for instance, objected to Being and Time:

With regard to the awkwardness and 'inelegance' of expression in the analyses to come, we may remark that it is one thing to give a report in which we tell about beings, but another to grasp entities in their Being. For the latter task we lack not only most of the words but, above all, the 'grammar.'4

Heidegger's final preparation of the reader at the close of his introduction is a warning about his writing. It will be difficult, but this is due to the ontological difference: While language is perfectly suited to speak of ontic matters, that is, beings, it is not able to discuss being in an appropriate manner. Metaphysics falls short, partly because language diverts it from its intended subject. "Language in principle has an ontic character, so that thinking finds itself in the situation of having to use ontic models for what it wishes to say ontologically." 5 Language has an ontic tendency in that it deflects us onto entities.

Heidegger's warning distinguishes between our lack of a vocabulary for being and, even more challenging ("above all"), a grammar for the task. In other words, even if we had other words, we wouldn't be able to put them together to speak of this topic fittingly. That requires both a proper vocabulary and a grammar that must deviate considerably from traditional ones.

This problem poses a serious threat because language carries a tacit theory, "already hid[ing] in itself a developed way of conceiving,"6 and an inappropriate conception misrepresents or screens out crucial phenomena. "Even though [the phenomenon] is something of which one has pre-phenomenological experience ..., it becomes invisible if one interprets it in a way which is ontologically inappropriate."7 A re-formed language is needed to think being,8 for only a way of speaking that is appropriate to being will render it visible instead of hiding or distorting it.

This raises the three questions of my paper: First, what is it that standard language cannot say? Second, what vocabulary and grammar could say it, and what does Heidegger say about them and how does he say them? Third, what does this fitting vocabulary and grammar of being say about other issues? My answers will be: First, what is concealed by our present grammar is being, especially in its unique relationships; second, this is said, among other ways, by supplementing our vocabulary with a new sense of "the Same" when spoken in the grammar of polysemy; third, we gather from this not only a better understanding of being and its peculiar kind of relationships, but also important insights into the nature of subjectivity, texts, and technology, as I will briefly survey.


What We Are Missing: Being in Its Relatedness. The problem of how to speak of being was always already one of Heidegger's central questions, starting when his "first philosophical text" presented him with Aristotle's statement, "Being is said in many ways."9 This confronted the young Heidegger with questions about how being can be both many and one, how difference and sameness relate, and how to speak of these matters—questions he never stopped asking. Appropriately, there are many ways in which being can be said in many ways, one of the most important being the ontological difference.

Being can be said in three main ways that correlate with three "levels" of being, a word that immediately illustrates Heidegger's complaint. I have been reading, teaching, and writing about this for three decades now, and I have yet to find a good word for these. They're not facets, or aspects, or ways, or types, or species of being. They're not levels either, but that is the least terrible word I have settled on, though it is terrible, to be sure. Despite this difficulty in naming them, Heidegger never stops insisting on the vital importance of keeping these three distinct, blaming the failure to do so for everything from philosophical confusion to contemporary nihilism to the atom bomb.

First, on one use of "being" that I will arbitrarily call Level 1, we talk about beings, the various entities around us we constantly interact with in various ways. This is where normal people spend their lives—shopping for beans, listening to music, writing mean comments online. However, a few among us look up from dealing with this or that being to wonder about what they are. The answer to this question moves us to Level 2, for which Heidegger has a number of names (the being of beings, mode of being), but I prefer beingness. This defines what it means to be, the criteria anything must meet if it is to enjoy the status of being at all, or an active way of be-ing like a way that things be-have—a what or a how of be-ing. He explored three of these in Being and Time (presence-at-hand, readiness-to-hand, and existence), and then several others in the later work, generally tied to epochs (ancient Greek physis, Medieval ens creata, modern substance, and contemporary Bestand). This is where metaphysicians do their work—they go beyond (meta) the array of beings around us (physis) to theorize about what it is that makes them what they are as a whole, in essence.

But there's something that everyone misses, partly because it isn't any-thing at all. It is universally neglected in thought and speech because it is universally pervasive throughout all thought and speech, ignored not because it is too complicated or esoteric or rare—but rather too simple to notice: "on account of its obviousness, Being is something forgotten."10 It's constantly in our experience because it is our experience. This is Level 3, which he variously calls Seyn (Beyng), being as such, the clearing, or Ereignis (the event), but I will stick with "being itself." Everyone overlooks this because one must look over it to look at the being (or beingness) one is focusing on.

Being reveals itself in a particular way.... It shows itself and withdraws at the same time. This vacillating self-refusal is what is properly lighted up in the clearing, and yet for the most part it goes unheeded.... If we stand in a clearing in the woods, we see only what can be found within it: the free place, the trees about—and precisely not the luminosity of the clearing itself.11

Being itself is the sheer manifestation or showing up of beings that does not itself show up. It's always there, it cannot not be there, because it is the there. It is "the most inconspicuous of inconspicuous things, the simplest of simple things, the nearest of things near and most remote of things remote, among which we mortals reside all our lives."12 This is quite difficult to capture in words, yet doing so is the central project of all of Heidegger's later writings.

Even more difficult to express than this third level are the interrelationships among the three, as these are deeply different from the kinds of relationships among beings, in at least two ways. First, each level conceals or covers over the others. We experience (Level 1) particular entities in terms of (Level 2) the kind of being they are (we use a hammer but talk with a friend because we implicitly recognize the two as different kinds of entities), but dealing with the entities draws us away from explicitly considering their mode of being—we just hammer or talk. Thinking of their (2) beingness, on the other hand, loses the particularity, the haecceity or thisness of (1) beings to focus on general traits or modes. And concentrating on either occludes the far more basic fact that (3) they are manifest to us at all, leaving us inexperienced in talking about being itself, the problem we started with.

The second puzzling feature of the levels' interconnection is summed up in two maxims from the Introduction to Being and Time:

(Ia) "The Being of beings 'is' not itself a being."

(Ib) "Being is always the Being of a being."13

These two dicta combine to assert one of those things elusive to our language, requiring extensive paraphrasing and explanation.

(Ia) emphasizes the ontological incommensurability among the three. You cannot think about (2) ways of being as any kind of (1) entity. The way a thing is is not at all a thing; the treeness that makes trees trees is not itself a tree—you can't climb it or cut it down to make a house out of it.14 Metaphysicians have consistently muddled this distinction by thinking of (2) beingness on the model of some kind of (1) being—a set of traits possessed by entities or the beingest being of all which/who epitomizes what it is to be, such as Forms or God. This radical distinction also applies to (3) manifestation; this cannot be (1) a thing or a (2) a way of being for these are the manifest. These levels exist on, or perhaps as, radically different ontological and conceptual dimensions, so being must be spoken of in vastly different ways in order to avoid construing any of the levels in terms of the others. We need a differentiation that results not merely in different entities—that would precisely flout the differentiation by casting them all on the same Level 1—but "such that the differentiated are not posited uniformly on the same plane of differentiatedness."15

(Ib), on the other hand, asserts their interdependence, stating that they are so deeply interrelated that none of the levels can be without the others. There cannot be (1) a being without it (2) being in some way or other, even in the nondescript mode of just occurring, and for us to be talking or thinking about it at all, it has to (3) be manifest to us. It must be (1) something (2) in some way (3) that we can perceive (broadly construed) and think about for us to be aware of and think about (1) it as (2) what/how it is. Beings need beingness needs being itself to be. Going the opposite direction, you cannot have (3) manifestation alone; there are only manifest (1) things. Nor can you have (2) a way of being just standing around without (1) something that is be-ing that way. Being itself needs beingness needs beings.16

All three levels, then, are so deeply interconnected that they can neither be separated nor be as separate, and yet so different that even differentiating them threatens to compromise that very difference. So radically heterogeneous that they cannot be on the same conceptual plane, they are so fused that every single experience you have ever had and ever will have weaves all three together. Looking at one overlooks the others, yet every look sees all three at once, as three and as one, subverting our grammar's singular/plural distinction like the holy mystery of the Trinity does.

Our present vocabulary and grammar consistently skew this. Even my speaking of relationships among the three levels here has fallen into the linguistic trap that Heidegger describes in a similar phenomenon.

To take our orientation from this [relationship] 'between' would still be misleading.... The "between" is already conceived as the result of the convenientia of two things But to assume these beforehand always splits the phenomenon asunder, and there is no prospect of putting it together again from the fragments. Not only do we lack the 'cement'; even the 'schema' in accordance with which this joining-together is to be accomplished, has been split asunder, or never as yet unveiled. What is decisive for ontology is to prevent the splitting of the phenomenon. 17

Simply describing it as a relationship, the word our vocabulary virtually forces on us, foils the description. The attempt to connect by asserting a relationship between the members actually disconnects them, undermining the holism it intends. Once this holistic interconnection has been lost, it cannot be regained by putting the pieces together since they remain pieces that can never achieve true wholeness, according to what I call the Humpty-Dumpty Thesis.18 We lack the "schema," a way to think and say such a togetherness, as our present schemas of joining disjoin in at least two ways. First, our present relationship schema relates things, confining us to Level 1 in accordance with language's ontic tendency.

Second, a relationship that tacitly posits the levels as entities casts them as independent relata that first exist on their own and then enter into relationships with each other, making their connection secondary, external, accidental to what they really are. The levels are what they are, this way of expressing it implies, and happen to possess the property of a relationship to the others. This does not capture the true nature of this intertwining where none of the levels of being can either be or be understood apart from the others. Heidegger has worried about the way describing holistic phenomena undermines their holism from Being and Time through the later work. "We cannot then even continue to say [they] ... belong together; for when we say it in this way, we continue to let both subsist independently—Inevitably everything here depends on the correct saying."19

As Heidegger says of a similar problem, "by speaking in this way, [the speaker] speaks against what he means. He contra-dicts himself."20 This is not a logical contradiction but a matter of the grammar of the saying conflicting with what is being said, thereby confusing and confounding its intended meaning. Our grammar contra-dicts attempts to speak of being because it distorts the utterly unique relationship among the three levels, for which we have no word. "Here we are thinking within that realm (i.e., the realm of the truth of being) where all relations are completely different from those in the region of beings."21 There are other forms of distortion, of course, but this is a particularly important one. Heidegger, especially in the later work when the three-level view of being fully emerges, is trying to develop a vocabulary and grammar to say this in an appropriate way, that is, in a way that will not contra-dict itself. My thesis is that he does this with his innovative use of the word "the Same" and the rhetorical technique of polysemy, an ontological vocabulary and grammar I will take up in turn.


The Solution: Finding the Missing Vocabulary and Grammar of Being

The Ontological Vocabulary: The Same. Heidegger uses the word "the Same" (das Selbe, sometimes capitalized in translations) for this paradoxical relationship, especially in the writings from the 1950s. This is not the same old sameness—simple identity as a homogeneous oneness or exact equivalence, which he often calls das Gleiche22—but describes "things" that cannot be separated despite, or because of, their radical difference.

"The same" does not mean the empty oneness of the one and the other.... Thought in the sense of what in essence belongs together, the same indeed bursts the indifference of what belongs together, even more it holds them apart in the most radical dissimilarity; it holds them apart and yet does not allow them to fall away from each other and hence disintegrate. This holding-together in keeping-apart is a trait of what we call the same and its sameness. This holding pertains to a "relation" that still stands before thinking as what is to be thought.23

What is the Same strives against and with each other because they are "what in essence belongs together" while still maintaining "the most radical dissimilarity,"24 both held together and kept apart simultaneously.

Heidegger appropriates this word the way he did with Dasein or Ereignis because we have none for this enigmatic notion—we lack the proper vocabulary—but he does not want to coin an entirely new word (which would presume too much subjective control over language).25 It is enigmatic because our ontically oriented language and concepts either collapse the togetherness into simple equivalence or pull the apartness into two distinct entities standing in an external, contingent relationship—the dilemma of identity and difference. This linguistic resistance is why he writes the word "relation" in scare quotes: We must be on our guard with these terms, ever vigilant of their misleading senses. It remains "to be thought" because without a proper word for it, it has proven elusive to philosophy,26 but now we can think it, and now we must. The ontological difference can be said as ontological Sameness.

Formulating it as a relationship contra-dicts itself by separating the matters in order to unite them, a union that of necessity is too little and comes too late. The only solution, as he noted in Being and Time, is to avoid breaking it up in the first place, to maintain the "holding-together in keeping-apart" that gets covered over by our present vocabulary. Heidegger therefore takes over a term whose standard sense abuts what he wants to say and imbues it with this divergent sense. Armed with this vocabulary, one starts seeing examples of Sameness all over Heidegger's work, as he concedes—"of course, as soon as we have for once brought this curious belonging-together into view, it is, as always in such cases, easy to find and point it out everywhere"27—often at very important points: being and the nothing in anxiety,28 unconcealment and concealment,29 technology's saving power and danger,30 and many more.

The Ontological Grammar: Polysemy. Now that we have supplemented our vocabulary with "the Same" to call the (non)relationship among the levels of the ontological difference, we have to figure out how to say it—the grammar of being. Using a better word just to join the levels still speaks of them as if they needed to or even could be joined and hence were independent. "In truth we cannot then even continue to say that 'being' and 'the human being' 'are' the Same in the sense that they belong together; for when we say it in this way, we continue to let both subsist independently."31 However, it would seem that any attempt to say Sameness would run into the same problem—the Same problem—simply because linear language must speak of the "components" one at a time, even to say they are wholly fused at the same time.32 The only way to avoid separating them would be to somehow say them all at once—which is precisely what polysemy does.

Polysemy is a form of ambiguity, but ambiguity is itself ambiguous, having multiple forms. There is pure homonymy where a word has multiple meanings, one of which counts as the right one. Here disambiguation is required for understanding—I must know whether you are speaking of the financial institution or the side of a river if I am to meet you by the bank. Another type is Aristotle's pollachos legetai pros hen of Brentano's book, where a term has various senses that all derive from a single focal meaning. Aristotle's example is that a healthy diet and a healthy complexion both get their meaning by referring to the health of the body—they contribute to, or constitute a sign of, physical well-being. Polysemy, however, occurs when words or phrases mean more than one of several possible meanings at the same time. Here disambiguation would actually produce a misunderstanding instead of avoiding one. "The words of a thinker say what they say in a way that is different from everyday language, so that in each common surface meaning of his speech a subtext necessarily conceals itself."33 This multiplicity of meanings—a more literal translation of the German word, with more positive connotations than the English ambiguity (Vieldeutigkeit, Mehrdeutigkeit, that is, much or more meaning)—allows polysemous words or phrases to say a variety of senses without having to speak each separately and thereby separate them.

If the same words can say very different things at the same time, then they could talk about the different levels of being not sequentially, as distinct entities that get united, but in one and the same breath, in the same words, at the same time. This would properly express the holding-together in keeping-apart of the Same by instantiating it. On the one hand, the meanings reside within the same words, thus achieving the greatest possible unity. As the same set of letters, they are literally the same—literally literally. On the other hand, their polyvalence allows them to say potentially radically different things, as happens with the ones that Heidegger analyzes. Such phrases thus possess a complex relationship that combines identity and difference without letting either absorb the other. They can say the Same because their structure embodies Sameness, an isomorphism that gives these phrases a lot of significance. "This multiple meaning of the word is not looseness of language, but ... a multiplicity that preserves the essential traits of Being in the word."34 Given the deep difference among the levels of being, proper sayings must be fundamentally divergent while, being the Same, they must be said in the same words. This is why "to say the same thing is what's difficult. To say the same thing about the same thing is the most difficult."35


Saying the Same Polysemically: The Principle of Reason. Heidegger engages in polysemy most creatively and discusses it most thoroughly in the 1955-56 lecture series, The Principle of Reason:36 He shows how this principle—the law that nothing is without reason, nihil est sine ratione—can be heard in what he calls here multiple tonalities, each of which says something quite different.

Many sentences that we speak allow for various intonations of the individual words. In the present case the change in tonality is no random matter; rather, it is a main issue, even the main issue that determines the coming path. For through the change of tonality we hear the principle of reason become a totally different principle, different not only in reference to what the principle means as a principle of being, but also in relation to the manner in which it says what it says.37

The principle's polysemy forms "the main issue" of the second half of the course. Instead of "a mere matter of linguistic expression" needing disambiguation, "multiplicity of meanings is the element in which all thought must move in order to be strict thought."38 Heidegger's polysemic reading of the principle of reason solves the problem of contra-diction by saying all three levels of being at once, expressing their Sameness the Same way.

The principle states that everything that is has a reason for why it is and why it is the way it is, making it a statement about every thing—a claim about Level 1 beings. But notice that this is a statement about every thing, about all things that are, that is, beings qua beings. By laying down a condition for what it means to be, it is also a statement about Level 2 beingness: What it means to be is to have an answer to the why question. The raison d'etre of beings is literally to have a reason to be.

These are decidedly different things to say, indeed, different kinds of things to say, each perfectly appropriate to its respective level, said by the same four words. As a Level 1 statement, it says something about particular beings—any entity you happen to run across will have an explanation—while at Level 2 it makes a proclamation about what it is that makes beings be—having a reason is the condition and meaning of being a being. Furthermore, the principle intertwines the two conceptually as well as semantically, saying one by and through saying the other: it is because (1) each being has a reason that (2) beingness means having a reason to be, and it is because (2) the meaning of being is to have a reason to be that (1) any particular being will have one. These are neither a single simple notion nor a conjunction of two separate ideas, but the inextricably interdependent Same.

So far, we have been converting the double negative (nothing without a reason) into a positive (everything has a reason), a move Heidegger endorses in a number of places,39 and this yields the standard interpretation of universal intelligibility.40 To grasp Level 3, the real challenge, we need to return the words to their original form. Instead of taking "nothing is" as a negated existential quantification (there are no beings such that they lack a reason), we can instead read it as a positive existential qualification (there is something that is without a reason, namely, the nothing), while remaining perfectly true to the letter of the text.

While this may strike some readers as forced or ad hoc, Heidegger had been arguing since Being and Time and "What Is Metaphysics?" thirty years previously that we can think and talk about the nothing that "is" in some way. He often says that it is not identical but profoundly intertwined with being—a relationship we now have the word for.41 Because metaphysics only has the categories of (1) beings and (2) beingness, the radically different (3) being itself cannot show up for or be acknowledged by it.42 As we saw earlier, (3) manifestation is neither (1) a manifest thing (remember (Ia)) nor (2) a property of them, so it simply does not register as something that is when the real is considered exhausted by these lower two classifications. Being no thing, being can only be nothing. When he reads "nothing is without reason," then, it is no great leap to hear it as speaking of (3) being itself.

This third tonality of the principle of reason has lain concealed under the other two, similar to the way that being itself is covered over by the other levels in its uncovering of them. This reinforces polysemy's status as the appropriate ontological grammar since the relationship among the principle's senses is parallel to that among the levels of being. It says being differently by saying it the Same, thereby avoiding contradiction.

So the principle of reason, which is offered as a statement about [1] beings ... proves to be not only a statement about beings; even more, what we bring into view is that the principle of reason speaks of [2] the being of beings.... The principle of reason is an uttering [Sagen] of [3] being. It is this, but in a concealed manner. What remains concealed is not only what it says; what also remains concealed is that it speaks of being.43

This unheard tonality is what Heidegger calls the unsaid in what is said. The unsaid is not missing in the sense of simple absence; if the said can be said to be missing the unsaid, it misses it the way one is missing a loved one. Unsaying is not a simple not saying but unsaying an active semantic force exerted through and in the saying.

Learning to hear this unsaying teaches us about what the principle says and "the manner in which it says what it says." This particular tonality as well as the fact of multiple tonalities itself have been concealed in our usual focus on unequivocal meaning. Heidegger says this tonality is Un-erhort,44 which means unheard of, never before conceived, but the hyphen points to an alternative sense as unheard, that is, hitherto unperceived. This polysemic reading turns the word into a description of its own polysemic reading technique: Listening for an unheard tonality in our readings is an unheard-of way of reading, simultaneously bringing out a new meaning and a new kind of meaningfulness, each by way of the other, all indicated in an unheard-of way of hearing an unheard sense of "un-heard (of)."

Now we can hear the principle anew: Nothing (being itself) is without reason. While (1) beings show up (2) all with reasons, (3) the fact that they show up this way, or at all, cannot have a reason. There can be no explanation for the existence of all, even if all existents are explicable. We cannot understand why it is that we can understand, though we can understand why we cannot understand why we can understand—indeed, this is precisely what the principle of reason tells us, when unpacked.

Read polysemically, the principle's three tonalities possess the Sameness relationship we have been examining, calling each other forth to clash, combine, and reform into a greater complex. This larger idea preserves each component's identity instead of treating them as identical, while also blurring their independent identities. The principle of reason unsays this third tonality by saying the other two, and vice versa. They exclude each other—universal intelligibility versus ultimate unintelligibility—but they are so far from a contradiction that each actually entails the others as flip sides of the same idea, the way the three levels of being are inextricably divergent and convergent.45 They occur in the Same words and as the Same argument, depending on which way it is read.

The argument is that if everything has to have a reason, then this principle must have one too; there must be a reason why there must be a reason for everything, as demanded by this very demand. "The principle of reason itself compels us, in a manner apropos of the principle of reason, to ask about reasons even in relation to the principle of reason."46 Indeed, this application of the principle to itself precedes all others as the foundation of reasoning, the Grund of Grund or ground of reason, alternate senses of the polysemic Grund: "[T]he principle of reason is the fundamental principle of all fundamental Principles.'"47 This is what makes it rational to be rational, what gives us a reason to ask for reasons, telling us that to do so is reasonable and is what it is to be reasonable, for reasons can be given in all cases, at least in principle.

And yet, the principle itself cannot be justified. Any reason given for the principle of reason must itself fall to the principle—for it applies to everything—and so justify itself with a further reason, which in turn demands rational grounding, and so on. As Hume argued, the demand for reasons inescapably falls into an infinite regress.48

Being "is" in essence: ground/reason [Grund]. Therefore being can never first have a ground/reason which would supposedly ground it. Accordingly, ground/reason is missing from being. Ground/reason remains at a remove from being. Being "is" the abyss [der Ab-Grund] in the sense of such a remaining-apart of reason from being. To the extent that being as such grounds, it remains groundless [grundlos]. "Being" does not fall within the orbit of the principle of reason, rather only beings do.49

The words I italicized indicate the peculiar situation that this is a rational argument undermining reason's ultimate pretension, an abyss generated by reason's inherent attempt to make itself completely rational. The project of following the principle of reason all the way out and so being wholly rational runs aground on this very project of grounding reason, the project that defines reasoning as justified thinking. It is the nature of reason to seek grounds, as German tells us polysemically (Grund means both ground and reason), but this determination to be rational down to the ground runs itself into the ground on its own grounding (further senses of Grund). The end of reason confronts us with the end of reason.

The principle thus evinces a conceptual polysemy in addition to its verbal one: The Same argument entails that everything is intelligible and that that is fundamentally unintelligible. This syllogistic ouroboros is generated by the interplay among the principle's tonalities, almost the way all the events that happen to a monad are folded into its complete notion, or the way Heraclitus's way up is the Same as the way down, or the way the entire argument of the book Was Heisst Denken? occurs in the reciprocal interchange among the four interpretations of the title.50 The principle that lays the ground of reason also leaves it groundless (grundlos) or abyssal (ab-gründig) in the Same reasoning when heard in an unheard key, showing reason's grounds to be the Same as its groundlessness.51

The first two tonalities are haunted by the third, unsaid and unheard, unsaid and unheard of, outlining it as they bend to avoid it. They turn us toward the total intelligibility of beings and the beingness of total intelligibility and away from the unintelligibility of the totality, but this "away from" leaves a provocative trace of the "from whence." It leads us to the "why the why" question, "the question: from where does this demand of reason stem? Who or what makes the demand to render reasons in and for all cognition?"52 Level 1 supplies the explananda (what is to be explained), while 2 offers the explanans (the conceptual means to explain them). Level 3 directs us to the supplying and offering themselves, however, the solicitation that calls on us to explain and that gives us the particular kinds of explanation that strike us as plausible and obvious. Why we reason at all and why we find these reasons reasonable are the ultimate questions about questions and answers that admit of no answer. We ask and answer because the world reveals itself to us in these terms: "[I]n some manner we are constantly addressed by, summoned to attend to, grounds and reason."53 Being itself stops the infinite regress of whys; it "becomes, from out of its truth, what gives a measure. The manner in which thinking thinks must conform to this measure.... For us it remains that which is immeasurable."54 This marks the gap between levels 1 and 2, on the one hand, and 3, on the other, a gap both installed and leapt over by the principle's multiple tonalities.

We can hear the principle of reason in a twofold manner: on the one hand, as a supreme fundamental principle about [1] beings, and, on the other hand, as a principle of [3] being. In the second case ... we begin trying to think [3] being qua being. This means: No longer explaining [3] being by way of [2] some sort of [1] being.55

The principle both speaks and argues polysemically, the Same argument reinforcing philosophy's unthinking assumption of reason while also presenting the opportunity to genuinely think about thinking.

According to one view, we understand the principle without further ado and, without scrutiny, lend credence to it. According to the other view, the principle seems to thrust our thinking into groundlessness as soon as we take what the principle says seriously in relation to the principle itself.56

What is strange here is that only by failing its own demand for grounds can it succeed at grounding. Being serves as grounds not because it possesses ultimate grounds itself but precisely because it has and can have none.

Insofar as being essentially comes to be as ground/reason, it has no ground/reason. However this is not because it founds itself, but because every foundation—even and especially self-founded ones—remain inappropriate to being as ground/reason.... Being qua being remains ground-less.57

This is how the source of all reasoning must be, and this is what the principle says of being itself in the third tonality—the nothing is without grounds. This shows the limits of our autonomy, for we receive the call to reason and the means to respond to it in an essentially arational, ungroundable way. The quest for absolute grounding that ground/reason itself demands inverts into a demonstration of its ownmost groundlessness.

What I am focusing on in this paper is the way these ideas require and result from an altered form of language. Early on in the lecture series, when he first starts investigating the reflexive infinite regress of the principle, Heidegger explicitly connects it to grammar.

What reason is there for the principle of reason? Where does the principle of reason have its own ground? With these questions we touch upon what is insidious and enigmatic about this principle. ... The sentences [Sätze] we mention are, taken roughly, grammatically built in the same manner. They are simple statements [einfache Aussagen]. We also first hear the principle of reason from this perspective. So long as this perspective is established as the only normative one, we cannot unfetter the principle of reason from the compass of this sentence-form [Satzform].
What the principle of reason posits, and how it posits it—the manner in which it is, strictly speaking, a principle [Satz]—is what makes it incomparable to [nicht vergleichen—not the same in the sense of identical with, das Gleiche] all other sentences [Sätze]. This we assert. If our assertion is true, then we cannot help but wonder whether the principle of reason is at all a sentence [ein Satz] understood in the grammatical sense of a statement [Aussage]. Presumably what it says and how it says it can remove [versetzen] us to an entirely different manner of speaking.

We naturally take the principle to be a grammatically straightforward sentence since this has been "the only normative" perspective we have to think about language: der Satz vom Grund is a Satz with the standard Satz form. This grammar is tied to logic and metaphysics, limiting our thinking, sentencing us to sentences. But if we can "unfetter" and free it for a different grammar—show that it is not "at all a sentence understood in the grammatical sense of a statement," that its "manner" makes it "incomparable to all other sentences"—then what is "enigmatic" may cease to be "insidious," letting it "remove us to an entirely different manner of speaking." This is what I have been trying to do.

This strange lesson about saying is polysemously unsaid within the principle of reason itself, der Satz vom Grund, with its extraordinarily polysemic words. The word Satz alone announces the connection with language since it can mean sentence as well as principle, indicating that we are already thinking of language in thinking about the principle. As Heidegger puts it, "der Satz des Grundes ist der Grund der Sätze,"59 an untranslatable, multiply ambiguous phrase that means, among other things, that the principle of reason is the ground or reason of propositions. He emphasizes this reading a few pages later:

[T]he principle of reason—which means, that about which it speaks—is the ground/reason for what a principle [Satz] is, for what a statement [Aussagen] is, for what an utterance per se [das Sagen alssolches] is. That about which the principle of reason speaks is the ground of the essence of language. A wide-ranging thought.60

He also connects our unthinking obedience to the principle with our meager way of listening to its words: "[E]verywhere we move in the aura of the demand to render reasons and at the same time we have an uncommonly difficult time simply paying attention to this demand so as to hear that language in which it genuinely speaks."61

If unfettered, the Satz (principle) can become a Satz (leap) away from Sätze (grammatical sentences), to add yet another meaning of what he calls "the polysemic word Satz."

A leap from out of the principle of reason as a fundamental principle about [1] beings into the principle of reason as an utterance of [3] being concealed itself behind the change of tonality [polysemy] of one and the same principle [Sameness]. As a recollective anticipatory principle, the principle [Satz] is thus a 'vault' [Satz] in the sense of a leap [Sprung].62

This work's title, like that of Was Heisst Denken?, comprehends the book's central argument about language within its words' multiple meanings, just as the single principle contains the multiple steps of its argument about groundless grounding reason.63 If we bring in the ambiguity of vom, we see that the leap from reason is a leap of reason, since it is reason (Grind) itself that pushes us beyond its demand for absolute grounding (Grund). Thus, not just the argument but the words themselves lead us through these leaps or radical changes "if we painstakingly attend to the language in which we articulate what the principle of reason says," "if we fully think through the polysemic word Safe"64 "Behind the change in tonality is concealed a leap of thinking. Without a bridge, that is, without the steadiness of a progression, the leap brings thinking into another realm and into another manner of speaking."65 Thinking and speaking change together since they go together in their being about being, as Parmenides proclaimed at the inception.

Heidegger connects this transformation of language to the Sameness of the ontological difference that he has been struggling to articulate for so long.

When we say something "is" and "is such and so," then that something is, in such an utterance, represented as [1] a being ... This way of speaking, which is virtually unavoidable [ontic tendency], does not apply to [3] "being"; it does not hit upon its proper character. On the one hand we say: being and ground/reason [Grund]—the same. On the other hand we say: being—the abyss [der Ab-Grund]. It would be worthwhile to think the univocity of "sentences" [Sätze], of phrases [Sätze] that are no longer "propositions" [Sätze]. This requires nothing less than that the manner of our thinking transform itself, transform itself such that it responds to the state of affairs that the principle of reason means when speaking as a principle of [3] being.66

The ontic tendency of language restricts meaning within "the univocity of 'sentences' [Sätze]," keeping it from saying being itself in "its proper character." However, the third tonality of the principle, speaking "as a principle of [3] being," can transform our thinking, enabling us to respond in a proper character. This happens when we grasp the Sameness of being and Grund, of Grund and Ab-Grund, a combination that could only be understood as an identity or contradiction without the notion of the Same. The polysemous saying of the Same is what lets our saying say being.


What This Saying Says. Heidegger repeatedly insists that the polysemic saying of the Same is not mere rhetoric or an accidental feature of language. It is a telling way of telling the truth of being, a saying that really says something about saying. Indeed, the longer I study this topic, the more I find intertwined with it. Limitations of space restrict me to a brief discussion of just a few of the many lessons Heidegger draws from it.

Most obviously, this gives us a better understanding of being. Negatively, this word and grammar help us avoid the inappropriate descriptions of relationships that rendered it invisible to metaphysics and lead our thinking away from being. Positively, polysemous language gives us a kind of model for thinking about the levels of being, something nearly impossible to find. Being, and especially the relationship among its levels, is utterly unique and there is nothing among beings that is at all like it—it is no-thing.67 Still, we look for aids in thinking this most difficult thought, and the relationships among the meanings of a polysemous utterance resemble those of the three levels of being, which makes sense since Heidegger often says that language and being itself are the Same.68 Each meaning/level, radically heterogeneous in what they say/are, obscures the others while maintaining a connection so close that even calling it a connection distorts it, residing within the Same words/beings.

This understanding of language also illuminates Heidegger's way of reading the canon, a crucial part of all thinking for him.69 These readings are no mere repetitions of the texts' most obvious, surface meaning. Rejecting Plato's complaint that texts can only say the same thing to every reader, Heidegger finds texts saying the Same—new meanings constantly given by these old words. "Saying the same here does not mean simply to parrot, but rather to say something again so that the same is said in a different way."70 Der Satz vom Grund teaches us the unheard-of leap (Satz) from the univocity of the grammatical sentence (Satz) to spying overlooked senses within overheard words. This both binds us to and frees us from the past in the Same gesture.

The path into such a thinking is nothing but the hearing of the principle of reason as a principle of being. Indeed we reach the path of such a hearing only by way of a leap. The leap leaps off of and out of a leaping-off realm. The leap relinquishes this realm and nevertheless does not leave it behind. Through this relinquishing the leap regains the leaping-off realm in a new manner, and indeed not just incidentally, but necessarily.71

Leaping into a new way of thinking does not mean abandoning previous thought but regaining it "in a new manner ... necessarily" by hearing it anew.

We move forward on a new path through the old ways, which is why "ways of thinking hold within them that mysterious quality that we can walk them forward and backward, and that indeed only the way back will lead us forward."72 This Heraclitus-style utterance says that the path of thinking reaches both ahead of and behind us in such a way that the two directions cannot maintain a strict, opposing relationship. They are the Same in that traditional metaphysical as well as liberating readings can both be found in these texts, intertwining past and future into a Sameness different from their interconnection in Being and Time. Heidegger shows this to us in this lecture series with his innovative readings of Leibniz, Kant, Heraclitus, and Parmenides, reading them so as to unfetter new meanings. This anticipates Derrida's criticism of attempts to escape metaphysics, including Heidegger's, in favor of endlessly new readings of metaphysical texts that reveal the future outside of metaphysics to have already been within it, blurring the meaning of the distinction or, in Heidegger's terms, making them the Same: "[T]he passage beyond philosophy does not consist in turning the page of philosophy (which usually amounts to philosophizing badly), but in continuing to read philosophers in a certain way."73

It is because the Same words can bear fundamentally different meanings that Heidegger's readings are not the absurd, willful misreadings they are sometimes considered. He knows perfectly well that the authors often did not intend the interpretations he gives.

But perhaps we are here developing arbitrary trains of thought of which Heraclitus himself was not aware. Where in the cited fragment is there mention of presencing, absence and presence, or of the relationship between presencing and absencing, or of the difference between presencing and presentness (which are usually one and the same for us)? It is indeed the case that nothing concerning this is to be found, at least not in the text. But perhaps what 'stands written' in such a text by such a thinker is always what is present and not what presences. Perhaps a thinker also thinks more than what he knows, thinks he knows, and speaks about. Perhaps this 'more' is what brings the thinker to think and what first thinks him.74

Objections to Heidegger's readings are based on a traditional conception of language, where words have univocal senses determined by their author, the kind of thing capable of violation. But he is reading the sentences as leaps (Satze) that have leapt away from their author as soon as they escaped her lips or pen; as Derrida likes to say, they depart from us at the departure.75

This gives a new meaning to Heidegger's saying that language speaks and we listen to it, and Heraclitus's instruction to listen to the logos rather than to him—a meaning that, as new, presupposes itself. The more common interpretation of Heidegger's saying is that speakers must subordinate themselves to the language they find themselves in in order to speak it, rejecting traditional notions of the subject determining the sense of his words; Heraclitus is usually read as referring to some kind of cosmic rationality as the true authority, transcending all individuals. However, we can also hear these words saying that when we read, say, Leibniz's principle of reason, we are not listening to Leibniz but to what the words say. The question is not, what did Leibniz mean but, rather, what can the saying mean? Leibniz presumably intended the principle in senses [1] and [2], asserting fundamental grounding and universal groundedness. Yet, despite himself, he also said—or unsaid—it as [3], the ultimate groundlessness of all grounding and grounds. His principle unsaid it and his argument unargued it by the Same reasoning, and our task is not to figure out what the human being thought but "to make visible Leibniz's unfathomably multifarious way of questioning."76

This fits Heidegger's general hermeneutic outlook. He once wittily said, there is no such thing as a "Kant in himself,"77 that is, a literary noumenon housing a work's literal meaning apart from all phenomenal readings, something that can authoritatively judge interpretations in place of the author. Just as phenomenological ontology defines phenomena's being as their appearings, so texts mean their meanings in their readings. Reading takes place in light of the reader's epoch's understanding of being and the connotations of her language, making them destined to vary and hence produce a historical polysemy.

Language speaks, not humans. Humans only speak inasmuch as they respond to language on the basis of the Geschick.... Therefore the polysemy of a word does not primarily stem from the fact that when we humans talk and write we at times mean different things with one word. Polysemy is always an historical polysemy. It springs from the fact that in the speaking of language we ourselves are at times, according to the Geschick of being, struck, that means addressed, differently by the being of beings.78

These understandings differ fundamentally, each governing their epoch wholly, each reading true for that time.

What determines beings with respect to their being in Aristotle's sense, and how this happens, is experienced differently than in the medieval doctrine of ens qua ens. Yet it would be silly to say the medieval theologians misunderstood Aristotle; rather, they understood him differently, responding to the different manner in which being proffered itself to them. Then again, the Geschick of being is different for Kant. A different understanding becomes a misunderstanding only where it comes to a peak in a uniquely possible truth.79

Polysemic language liberates divergent readings, following in the footsteps of being's sendings. As with Derrida, the works Heidegger unfetters from standard grammar say a great deal more than we are used to hearing, although their readings must always be grounded in the words. "Philosophical speculation can go in whatever directions it wants with its interpretations, but it must first nevertheless stay true to the text and what it is saying."80 It's just that the truth of a text far exceeds its surface sense, echoing with deep, unheard resonances, so being true to that multifaceted revealing requires polyvalent reading. "The true is the unsaid that remains the unsaid only in what is strictly and properly said. To think essentially: this means to listen to what is unsaid in the consideration of what is said."81

Early on, Heidegger called his readings violent, but actually they are procreative, exploratory, and discovering, adventurous rather than adventitious.

The realm from which one leaps first becomes surveyable when one makes the leap—surveyable in a different way than before ... inasmuch as it vouchsafes to recollective thinking new insights. In all that has-been there is harbored a vouchsafing whose treasures often remain unmined through long periods of time, treasures that nonetheless place recollective thinking again and again before an inexhaustible wellspring.82

After the leap, we survey the history of philosophy "in a different way than before" by reading familiar texts as harboring unmined treasures, yielding "new insights." We read them differently both by reading different ideas in them and just by this process of reading them for different, unheard ideas. We uncover both the polyvalent and polyvalence, echoing beings and be-ing, the true and the truth. The traditional notion of correspondence suggests a right or wrong bivalence to which we must remain faithful, whereas truth as unconcealing allows multiple truths and gradations of revelation. What matters is not what explicit thoughts the author had but what their words can light up for us.

It is not being asserted that Heraclitus explicitly thought and said all of this. But if we think through what was just said, and continue to think through it in the days to come, then what is obscure, inceptual, and far-reaching in the saying can emerge to us, and the saying may indeed come to address us for the first time.83

Heidegger always finds the Same thing in his many readings, letting the texts teach us about being itself.

To bring to language ever and again this advent of Being that remains, and in its remaining waits for man, is the sole matter of thinking. For this reason essential thinkers always say the Same. But that does not mean the identical. Of course they say it only to one who undertakes to think back on them.84

Thinkers all say the Same because they are all saying the Same because this is how one brings being to language because this is the bringing of being to language. We have seen Leibniz doing so eloquently with the principle of reason, but only readers who can hear unheard meanings within the Same words—who can read polysemically—can hear it. We read metaphysics with new eyes, allowing us to see what it unsays about being itself in what it says about beings and beingness, finding that they "say the language of beings as the language of beyng. This transformation of language presses into realms which are still closed to us because we do not know the truth of beyng."85

The leap away from the attempt to capture an author's intentions and the author's intention to control the meaning of his words helps undermine traditional notions of subjectivity, one of Heidegger's main targets. We cannot fully know what it is that we are saying since we cannot know what others will hear—the phenomenal appearing of our meaning—thus subverting any pretension to transparency or control of mind; we lack the ultimate self-possession philosophy has always sought. The command to know thyself must make peace with the Socratic wisdom that we know nothing. My words just don't mean what I mean them to or, rather, don't just mean my own meaning, overflowing with possibilities simultaneously opened up and concealed by what I mean. Derrida has always been cognizant of the significance of this move:

[T]his essential drifting, due to writing as an iterative structure cut off from all absolute responsibility, from consciousness as the authority of the last analysis, writing orphaned, and separated at birth from the assistance of its father, is indeed what Plato condemned in the Phaedrus. If Plato's gesture is, as I believe, the philosophical movement par excellence, one realizes what is at stake here. 86

This transformation of language cracks traditional conceptions of subjectivity that also form part of modernity's technological revealing, which assures us of total control, first and foremost over our own revealing. Heidegger finds this reaching its zenith, or at least one of them, in Leibniz's articulation of the principle of reason.87 This is the moment that thinking fully becomes calculating representation, requiring reality to meet our expectations of explicability if it is to be deemed being. To see all the world as compelled to render reasons to us is to see all as pliable resources for our comprehension. Yet the cracks come from the Same principle in its ringing its multiple tonalities. The third tonality says that this entire frame of reasoning lacks reasons, and the multiplicity of meanings shows that the act of laying down the law of total control is not itself within our control as the words of the law rebel against the legislator's intentions, in an echo of Heidegger's best known argument against technology.88

Heidegger sees the view of language as a resource or tool as a cornerstone of our technological age.

Man acts as though he were the shaper and master of language, while in fact language remains the master of man. Perhaps it is before all else man's subversion of this relation of dominance that drives his essential being into alienation. That we retain a concern for care in speaking is all to the good, but it is of no help to us as long as language still serves us even then only as a means of expression.89

As an instrument of communication, univocity is the most efficient way to transmit information in order to effect one's will, requiring us to disambiguate the element within which poetry and historical polysemy play.90 But if language is an instrument, it is better understood as a musical instrument, playing out connotations and connections as it strums multiple intonations in musical movements—another meaning of "the polysemic word Satz.91 It doesn't just carry meaning for us; it carries us beyond our intentions into new meanings. Instead of attempting to control them, we can let these meanings be by letting language speak and by listening to its speaking.

Heidegger wants nothing less than a transformation in our thinking, in particular our thinking about our thinking and speaking. As with his views on technology, this recommendation is fraught because one of the things that must be transformed is the notion that we could induce such a wholesale change in our thinking and speaking. "In order to think back to the essence of language, in order to reiterate what is its own, we need a transformation of language, a transformation we can neither compel nor concoct.... The transformation touches on our relation to language."92 The ontic tendency of metaphysics distorts our thinking of being, forcing it into thoughts appropriate instead to beings and their relationships. Poetry and creative rereadings of canonical texts offer a different way of saying.

It must remain an open question whether the nature of Western languages is in itself marked with the exclusive brand of metaphysics, and thus marked permanently by onto-theo-logic, or whether these languages offer other possibilities of utterance—and that means at the same time of a telling silence.93

These sayings are the Same as telling silences as they unsay so much in their wordplay. This play is the most serious business there is—"if we may talk here of playing games at all, it is not we who play with words, but the nature of language plays with us"94—as suggested in the aphorism of Heraclitus that closes Heidegger's lecture series, usually translated as "time is a child playing a game of draughts; the kingship is in the hands of a child." The play of language is important because "this wordplay, if we are able to hear it, passes along to us an essential insight."95 Time disperses readings of texts across epochal perspectives, splaying out the multiple interpretations lying fallow within the words, and language recollects and gathers them together in a way befitting being's multiplicity. Being must be said in many ways because being is given in many ways, and the many ways of saying must befit its distinctive multiplicity. The levels of being are the Same, which is properly said polysemically. Heraclitus, the great philosopher of polysemy, captured this long ago in his writings on logos. "Λόγος is at once presencing and ground. Being and ground belong together in λόγος. Λόγος names this belonging-together of being and ground. It names them insofar as it, in one breath, says: ... being and ground/reason."96 Just as Satz's double sense as sentence/leap contains a self-commentary on its various meanings in its various meanings, so the etymological roots of logos tell us that language is a "gathering" of meanings for us to "harvest." Our logos can say the cosmos logos by being in the Same way. "The two are the same and therefore sayable with the same word. This is not an empty play on words, but rather the concealed play of the word that we ourselves should not disrupt."97

This parallel carries out Heraclitus's homolegein, on Heidegger's reading: Our logos must match or co-respond to the Logos of being, also known as φύσις (physis), which Heraclitus said loves to hide in its ever-emergence—the two aspects of un-concealment (a-lētheia) that are the Same.

The essence of the sign is this revealing concealing. The essence of the sign is not, however, pieced and patched together from out of both of these functions: rather, the showing of the sign is the originary way in which what is only later and elsewhere separated—namely, revealing itself and concealing itself—preside inseparably. To show in the manner of the sign, however, means to make visible the essence of [phrase omitted] in a way that accords with that essence and corresponds to the favor prevailing in φύσις. Φύσις itself is the self-showing that essentially shows itself in signs.98

Language can say being properly because it too conceals the Same as revealing. Hearing words one way blocks other readings, "in a way that accords with" the manner in which presence-at-hand and readiness-to-hand exclude each other in the same entity, or the three levels of being hide each other by coming out of hiding, covering by uncovering.

We cannot bring about the needed transformation of thought and speech by ourselves because we mean to mean what we mean, that and nothing but that. Polysemy is a way that language eludes our grasp and reveals its speaking to us, as indicated by the ambiguous genitive that Heidegger favors.

We should recall what it is we want to achieve. It is an insight into the fact that and how "being" and "ground/reason" "are" the same. In other words, we want to hear what the principle of reason says in the second tonality [my third] as an utterance of being. Such a hearing does not simply bear something in mind. Rather, if it occurs correctly, a hearing [Hören] that thinks experiences that to which we always already, that is genuinely, belong [ge-hören].99

Understanding the Sameness of being and Grund by hearing the alternate tonality, understanding language polysemically, reveals the principle to be "an utterance of being." The genitive "of" here can be read in two ways: It is an utterance about being, and it is an utterance from or by being. "The principle of reason now speaks as a word of being."100 Polysemy is the speech of being. It is the way to speak about it that is in accord with its proper character, thus allowing being to come to language in the way it reveals itself—through multiple revealing-concealings. This shows us that we do not control language, a loss for modern subject-centric philosophy but a gain for the overcoming of nihilism. We saw earlier the etymological connection with unheard of (Unerhört) and unheard (ungehört), and now Heidegger adds a third layer: Hearing the unheard allows us to belong (ge-hören). Language is given to us as much as the understanding of being is sent and "we must listen our way into that place where we ourselves belong."101 It is our fate and our inheritance, our thought and our breath, which is only ours because we did not make it. We may find a home upon this earth in the house of language.

University of South Florida

1 Martin Heidegger, Zollikon Seminars Protocols-Conversations-Letters, trans. Franz Mayr and Richard Askay (Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 2001), 24.

2 Martin Heidegger, Pathmarks (hereafter, PM), trans. William McNeill (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 309.

3 William J Richardson, Heidegger: Through Phenomenology to Thought (New York: Fordham University Press, 2003), xxii.

4 Martin Heidegger, Being and Time (hereafter, BT), trans. John MacQuarrie and Edward Robinson (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1962), 63/38-39. Being and Time will be cited by both English and German pagination, separated by a slash.

5 Martin Heidegger, On Time and Being, trans. Joan Stambaugh (New York: Harper & Row, 1972), 51; see also PM, 287; Martin Heidegger, Heraclitus: The Inception of Occidental Thinking; Logic: Heraclitus's Doctrine of the Logos (hereafter, Her), trans. Julia Goesser Assaiante and Montgomery Ewegen (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2018), 226, 245.

6 BT, 199/157; see also BT, 211/167-68.

7 BT, 85-86/59.

8 "All ways of thinking, more or less perceptibly, lead through language in a manner that is extraordinary." Martin Heidegger, Basic Writings, from Being and Time (1927) to the Task of Thinking (1964) (hereafter, BW), ed. and trans. David Farrell Krell, 2nd ed. (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1993), 311.

9 Richardson, Heidegger: Through Phenomenology, x. Heidegger found the phrase in Brentano's On the Several Senses of Being in Aristotle. Heidegger reflected many years later that "latent in this phrase is the question that determined the way of my thought," citing the encounter as an illustration of a line from Hölderlin to the effect that, "for as you began, so you will remain." Richardson, Through Phenomenology, x; Martin Heidegger, On the Way to Language, trans. Peter D. Hertz (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1971), 7; see also Heidegger, On Time and Being.; 74.

10 Martin Heidegger, Basic Questions of Philosophy: Selected "Problems" of "Logic," trans. Richard Rojcewicz (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994), 159.

11 Heidegger, Basic Questions of Philosophy, 178.

12 BW, 415.

13 BT, 26/6; BT, 29/9, translation slightly modified. These passages describe the ontological difference in two parts, as Heidegger often does, but there are many passages, especially in the later work, that lay it out in three. Furthermore, I have come to the conclusion that much of his work only makes sense on a tripartite difference. For more detail, see Lee Braver, A Thing of This World: A History of Continental Anti-Realism (Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 2007), 326-30; Lee Braver, Heidegger: Thinking of Being (Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2014), 135-39; Lee Braver, Division III of Heidegger's Being and Time: The Unanswered Question of Being (Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press, 2015), 11-13.

14 BW, 311.

15 Martin Heidegger, Contributions to Philosophy (of the Event), trans. Richard Rojcewicz and Daniela Vallega-Neu (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2012), 368/§266.

16 For more on the necessary relationship between being and Dasein or thinking, see Braver, Heidegger: Thinking of Being, 157-76; Lee Braver, Heidegger's Later Writings: A Reader's Guide (London: Continuum, 2009), 118-25.

17 BT, 170/132.

18 Braver, Heidegger: Thinking of Being, 26, 90-91; Lee Braver, Groundless Grounds: A Study of Wittgenstein and Heidegger (Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press, 2012), 110-14.

19 PM, 309; see also Her, 256. The hyphens in "Being-in-the-world" represent his early attempt to modify language so as to avoid this problem. "The compound expression 'Being-in-the-world' indicates in the very way we have coined it, that it stands for a unitary phenomenon. This primary datum must be seen as a whole." BT, 78/53; see also BT, 169/131, 238/193, 275/232, 376/328, 402/351, 410/359.

20 Martin Heidegger, Introduction to Metaphysics (hereafter, IM), trans. Gregory Fried and Richard Polt, 2nd ed. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2014), 26/18. The problem he is discussing here is that talking about the nothing turns it into something. He makes a similar point about the principle of identity's contra-diction elsewhere: Because stating that A=A separates the subject into two A's just to identify them with each other, "the common formulation of the principle of identity thus conceals precisely what the principle is trying to say." Martin Heidegger, Identity and Difference (hereafter, ID), trans. Joan Stambaugh (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1969), 24.

21 Her, 282.

22 Heidegger frequently criticizes this simple understanding of the same (for example, Her, 50; ID, 25, 45; IM, 154/106).

23 Martin Heidegger, The Principle of Reason (hereafter, PR), trans. Reginald Lilly (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1991), 89-90.

24 Note my awkwardness in mixing singular and plural grammars here. I cannot say "the things that are the same" since this falls into the trap of treating them as separate entities, yet their striving against each other partakes of the plurality of multiple parties.

25 "A transformation of language ... does not result from the procurement of newly formed words and phrases. It touches on our relation to language." Heidegger, On the Way to Language, 135; see also Martin Heidegger, Four Seminars: Le Thor, 1966, 1968, 1969, Zahringen 1973, trans. Andrew Mitchell and François Raffoul (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2003), 51; Richardson, Through Phenomenology, xxii; Heidegger, Contributions to Philosophy, 340/§259.

26 Heidegger often attributes a proper understanding of Sameness to Heraclitus and Parmenides, a fuller discussion of which I will give in the book I am presently writing on the subject, Saying Being the Same: Polysemy in Later Heidegger.

27 PR, 109.

28 BW, 102.

29 PR, 62; BW, 128-32, 179-80.

30 BW, 233-34.

31 PM, 309, italics in original; see also BW, 235; ID, 30-32, 62.

32 He worries about this issue in pondering how to discuss the various components of being-in-the-world. BT, 78/53. "It is beyond question that the totality of the structural whole is not to be reached by building it up out of elements.... Thus we cannot Interpret this 'comprehensively' by a process of gathering up what we have hitherto gained and taking it all together." BT, 226/181. I am not sure he overcomes this problem, despite unifying the elements in the deeper enabling conditions of care and temporality.

33 Her, 9.

34 IM, 115/80.

35 Heidegger, Zollikon Seminars.; 24; see also BW, 276.

36 Other good resources are his 1943-44 Freiburg lectures on Heraclitus, "Basic Principles of Thinking: Freiburg Lecture 1957," and "What Is Called Thinking."

37 PR, 57; see also PR, 39.

38 Martin Heidegger, What Is Called Thinking? trans. Jesse Glenn Gray (New York: Harper & Row, 1968), 123, 71.

39 Her, 66, 73, 83; PM, 100.

40 See PR, 59; Hans Ruin, "Leibniz and Heidegger on Sufficient Reason," Studia Leibnitiana 30, no. 1 (1998): 59; Hans Ruin, "Heidegger, Leibniz, and the Abyss of Reason," in Paths in Heidegger's Later Thought (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2020), 249.

41 In his 1929 talk "What Is Metaphysics?" Heidegger struggles to express this. He finds phenomenologically that "in anxiety the nothing is encountered at one with beings as a whole" but is puzzled by this oneness between opposed phenomena: "what does this 'at one with' mean?" BW, 102. Reflecting on this essay years later, he articulates more fully: "[B]eing and nothing are not given alongside one another. The one employs itself for the other in a kinship whose essential fullness we have as yet scarcely pondered." PM, 317. He concludes even later about the same essay, in a grammar that resembles his rendition of Parmenides' Fragment, that we should "keep the guiding statement ever in view: Being: Nothing: The Same." Heidegger, Four Seminars, 58. Hegel had also claimed that being and nothing are the same a century earlier, albeit for different reasons (Heidegger occasionally mentions this precedent—BW, 108; Heidegger, Four Seminars, 49), so the notion even has philosophical pedigree.

42 "If it does not concern itself with beings and inquire about their first cause among all beings, then the question [why is there anything at all rather than nothing] must begin from that which is not a being. And this is precisely what the question names, and it capitalizes the word: the Nothing." PM, 290.

43 PR, 49, all italics in original.

44 PR, 46; see also PR, 98.

45 Without this idea of the Same, we can only think of the strife as a contradiction. "Now, does all we have just said simply stand next to all we said earlier: being and ground/reason: the same? Or does one even exclude the other? In fact, it seems so if we think according to the rules of ordinary logic. According to these 'being and ground/reason: the same' amounts to saying: being = ground/reason. Then how could the other one hold: being: the a-byss? This is what shows itself as what is to be thought now, namely, being 'is' the abyss insofar as being and ground/reason: the same. Insofar as being 'is' what grounds, and only insofar as it is so, it has no ground/reason." PR, 111; see also Her, 103, 256.

46 PR, 11.

47 PR, 8.

48 For a more detailed discussion of Hume and Heidegger (and Wittgenstein) on this subject, see Braver, Groundless Grounds.; 211-21.

49 PR, 51, all italics added; see also PR, 37, 125.

50 "What is called thinking? The question sounds definite. It seems unequivocal. But even a slight reflection shows it to have more than one meaning [mehrdeutig]. No sooner do we ask the question than we begin to vacillate. Indeed, the ambiguity of the question foils every attempt to push toward the answer without some further preparation. We must, then, clarify the ambiguity." Heidegger, What Is Called Thinking? 113. Clarifying the ambiguity does not mean disambiguating it but listening to it, in particular to the "relationship" among the meanings, which takes up a considerable portion of the course.

51 Kierkegaard covered this ground (lessness) before Heidegger: "[T]he understanding's paradoxical passion that wills the collision awakens and, without really understanding itself, wills its own downfall." Søren Kierkegaard, Philosophical Fragments, Johannes Climacus, trans. Howard Hong and Edna H Hong (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1987), 38-39, see also 47. Of course, since understanding tautologically entails the idea of understanding what it thinks, as Levinas argues, the idea of the understanding seeking out, welcoming, and dwelling on what it cannot understand is itself an idea it cannot understand. That means that as soon as it understands this new understanding of understanding, it has already begun transforming into it, thus presenting a solution to Kierkegaard's constant question of converting the reader. See Lee Braver, "On Not Settling the Issue of Realism," Speculations 4 (2013): 9-14, for a discussion of this issue which I call Transgressive Realism, and see Megan Altman and Lee Braver, "The Ethics of Thinking: Heidegger, Levinas, and Kierkegaard Rethinking Ethics," Gatherings: The Heidegger Circle Annual 11 (2021): 240-79, for a discussion of Kierkegaard's thoughts on thinking, especially in relation to Heidegger and Levinas.

52 IM, 5/4; PR, 39.

53 PR, 3.

54 PR, 111.

55 PR, 68, italics in original. See also: "[N]o matter where or to what extent all research investigates [1] beings, it nowhere finds [3] being. It only ever encounters beings, because from the outset it remains intent on explaining beings. [3] Being, however, is not an existing quality found in [1] beings. Unlike [1] beings, [3] being cannot be represented or brought forth in the manner of [1] an object [ontic tendency]. As that which is altogether other than all [1] beings, [3] being is that which is not [the nothing]. But this nothing essentially prevails as being." PM, 233.

56 PR, 12.

57 PR, 111.

58 PR, 6-7, see also Her, 54, 197.

59 PR, 13-14.

60 PR, 18.

61 PR, 28-29, italics in original.

62 PR, 89.

63 Heidegger has a proclivity for ambiguous titles: "the title of the course [Introduction to Metaphysics] is thus deliberately ambiguous." IM, 21/15, italics in original. He says of "Basic Principles of Thinking" that, "the sole issue of the lectures is their title" because "the multiply equivocal title of the lectures, assuming we now hear it contemplatively, is a hint into the question of how we keep to thinking." Martin Heidegger, Bremen and Freiburg Lectures: Insight into That Which Is and Basic Principles of Thinking, trans. Andrew J. Mitchell (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2012), 127, 93.

64 PR, 89, 51.

65 PR, 53.

66 PR, 51-52. Heidegger sometimes refers to the proper way of saying being as homolegein, taken from Heraclitus, since the way it says—its logos—is the Same—homo—as what it is talking about. "An aner philosophos is hos philei to sophon, he who loves the sophon, philein, to love, signifies here, in the Heraclitean sense, homolegein, to speak in the way in which the Logos speaks, in correspondence with the Logos. This correspondence is in accord with the sophon. Accordance is harmonia. That one being [ein Wesen] reciprocally unites itself with another, that both are originally united to each other because they are at each other's disposal—this harmonia is the distinctive feature of philein, of 'loving' in the Heraclitean sense." Martin Heidegger, What Is Philosophy? trans. Jean Wilde and William Kluback (New Haven, Conn.: College & University Press, 1956), 47.

67 "We represent Being in a way in which It, Being, never gives itself. The manner in which the matter of thinking—Being—comports itself, remains a unique state of affairs. Initially, our customary ways of thinking are never able to clarify it more than inadequately. This we shall try to show by an example, bearing in mind from the start that nowhere in beings is there an example for the active nature of Being, because the nature of Being is itself the unprecedented exemplar." ID, 65-66; see also Martin Heidegger, Early Greek Thinking: The Dawn of Western Philosophy, trans. David Farrell Krell and Frank Capuzzi (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1975), 52; IM, 86.

68 "Language is the clearing-concealing advent of Being itself." BW, 230. This of course needs far more discussion than I can give it here; see my Saying Being the Same: Polysemy in Later Heidegger.

69 "If we try to discuss the principle of reason, then such an effort, like every other one, is only possible as a conversation within and with the tradition." PR, 44

70 Her, 198. Heidegger has maintained this position since his discussion of repetition and reciprocative rejoinders in Being and Time. BT, 437-38/385-86. For more on this hermeneutics, see Lee Braver, "Why (Heidegger) Scholarship Is Generational," Gatherings: The Heidegger Circle Annual 11 (2021): 1-19.

71 PR, 68, all italics added.

72 Heidegger, On the Way to Language, 12. Heidegger makes claims like this often, for example: "[O]nly when we turn thoughtfully toward what has already been thought, will we be turned to use for what must still be thought." ID, 41.

73 Jacques Derrida, Writing and Difference, trans. Alan Bass (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1978), 288, italics in original.

74 Her, 231; see also PR, 65. "We cannot extract this knowledge regarding the essence of truth historiographically from the text of the first thinker of the ancient Greek world as though from some transcript. If we ourselves have not come to the nearness of being through prior inceptual experiences, then our hearing remains deaf to the inceptual word of inceptual thinking. Supposing, however, that we learn to heed what is essentially the to-be-thought, then the inceptual thinker and his sayings speak another language. Some may remark in regard to this event [Ereignis] that modern conceptions and a peculiar philosophy are being interpolated into earlier thought. Some may indeed see it that way. But this is merely a method of self-soothing to compensate for one's own triviality, about which not one word more should be spoken." Her, 132, italics added.

75 Jacques Derrida, Given Time, trans. Peggy Kamuf (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1992), 100. This phrase plays on a French expression lacking in English, "at the departure," meaning from the beginning. Perhaps it could be rendered "they startle from the start."

76 Heidegger, Contributions to Philosophy, 138/§88.

77 Martin Heidegger, Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics, trans. Richard Taft, 5th ed. (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990), 175.

78 PR, 96; see also BW, 201, 280, 433. Geschick is another extremely polysemic word that I cannot delve into here.

79 PR, 79; see also BW, 332.

80 Her, 90.

81 Her, 135.

82 PR, 60; see also PR, 102; BW, 235; Her, 225.

83 Her, 256. For more on Heidegger's nonbivalent understanding of truth, see Braver, A Thing of This World, 168-69, 200-01, 207, 298-99.

84 BW, 264, italics added.

85 Heidegger, Contributions to Philosophy, 62/§36.

86 Jacques Derrida, Margins of Philosophy, trans. Alan Bass (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1982), 316. Derrida often says that kettle logic—a strange, unself-aware inconsistent way of arguing coined by Freud—infects philosophers' arguments when they turn to the topic of writing. Plato's holding both that writings can only say one thing and that they need protection from incorrect readings seems to me a prime example of this, further entrenching its canonical status. See Braver, "Why (Heidegger) Scholarship Is Generational," for a brief discussion of Plato's gesture.

87 "When, as is the case of Leibniz's discovery and defining of the principle of sufficient reason, a mighty Principle comes to light, thinking and cognition in all essential regards enters into a new sort of movement. It is the modern manner of thinking.... The thinking of Leibniz supports and molds the chief tendency of what, thought broadly enough, we can call the metaphysics of the modern age." PR, 33.

88 "To what extent is man capable of such a revealing? Man can indeed conceive, fashion, and carry through this or that in one way or another. But man does not have control over unconcealment itself, in which at any given time the actual shows itself or withdraws.... Only to the extent that man for his part is already challenged to exploit the energies of nature can this revealing that orders happen." BW, 323

89 BW, 348, italics added.

90 "The technical precision of the word is the counterpart to the neglect of language that occurs when it is treated as a mere means of conveyance. Considered metaphysically, both relations stay on the level of that particular relation to reality which, since Nietzsche, appears as the 'will to power,' and both experience reality itself as the will to power." Her, 55; see also Her, 104, 225; PR, 19-20.

91 PR, 89.

92 BW, 425.

93 ID, 73. "'Subject' and 'object' are inappropriate terms of metaphysics, which very early on in the form of Occidental 'logic' and 'grammar' seized control of the interpretation of language. We today can only begin to descry what is concealed in that occurrence. The liberation of language from grammar into a more original essential framework is reserved for thought and poetic creation." BW, 218.

94 Heidegger, What Is Called Thinking? 118.

95 Her, 239; see also Her, 104.

96 PR, 107; see also PR, 98, 112.

97 Her, 104.

98 Her, 134. Heidegger makes a similar argument about artworks: "[T]he impulse toward the work lies in the essence of truth as one of truth's distinctive possibilities.... Truth wills to be established in the work as this strife of world and earth.... This being must therefore contain within itself the essential traits of the strife." BW, 187.

99 PR, 92.

100 PR, 125.

101 Martin Heidegger, Basic Concepts, trans. Gary Aylesworth (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1993), 16.

Lee Braver - How to say the same thing: Heidegger's vocabulary and grammar of being
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