GA 51


Basic Concepts

In the first part of this Summer Semester 1941 lecture course, Heidegger understands basic concepts as those concepts that ground everything. They invite us to reflect upon the ultimate ground of our being-there as being-in-the-world. Ever since the beginning of metaphysics, human beings have in their essential nature been touched by being. The disclosedness of being-there is the gift of the truth of being and thus the true abode of human beings. Being is the ground of all entities. The grounding of being is a double movement. Being reveals itself as the beingness of entities and at the same time conceals itself as being. The concealment of being in the revelation of its truth, as being-there is the origin of both the forgottenness of being in metaphysics and the abandonment of being in the age of nihilism. Metaphysics can only think being as the beingness of entities and ground being in a highest entity, for example, God.

To go beyond the onto-theo-logical nature of metaphysics, we have to overcome the forgottenness of being. This is only possible by coming to experience fully the distress of the abandonment of being. We have to retrieve the beginning of thinking and try to commemorate the saying of being in early Greek philosophy. In a careful meditation on Periander’s saying, “care about the whole of entities” (metéta to pan), Heidegger explains the ontological difference between being, on the one hand, and beingness and entities, on the other, as the differentiation that grounds being-there. Logical thought can never reach being itself, because we cannot grasp being with concepts. Every concept would reduce being to an entity. Being can only be understood as the abground (Abgrund) from which everything springs.

The second part of the lecture course is an interpretation of the saying of Anaximander, which is a different version of his interpretation in the later published article: The Anaximander Fragment.