caprice’, an ‘absence of constraint with respect to what we can or cannot do’, free will, or any other ‘property of the human being’.72 In short, this concept of freedom is not that of a human capacity for choosing. When the term is first presented in this text, it operates more or less as a placeholder. It designates whatever it is that enables the openness involved in Dasein’s comportment to be bound or determined by beings, such that that comportment is directed in a pre-thematic, pre-predicative manner and might on that basis formulate thematic or predicative statements correctly presenting those beings. Freedom designates Dasein’s ability to be informed by the world, not merely project upon it. In Heidegger’s words, it is a ‘freedom for what is opened up in an open field’.73 But this is vague. What is this freedom more precisely?

According to Heidegger, freedom ‘lets beings be the beings they are’ and thus (tentatively) ‘reveals itself as letting beings be [das Seinlassen von Seiendem]’.74 Despite this rather off-putting turn of phrase, its meaning can be clarified by distinguishing two distinct senses of freedom as ‘letting beings be’. I shall refer to them as ‘freedom 1’ and ‘freedom 2’. Freedom 1 is a manner of comportment for Dasein. Freedom 2 is an ontological structure that enables beings to be.

Let us take the first first. Freedom 1 is a manner of comportment. As such, we might be tempted to think of it as something like an ability of Dasein to simply ‘will’ what is and what occurs in the world. However, this is not the idea. If it were, it would be meaningless to say that Dasein’s comportment is bound, directed, or informed by beings. Rather, freedom 1 has to entail a reticence or restraint on Dasein’s part that gives things room to be as they are: Dasein ‘withdraws in the face of beings in order that they might reveal themselves with respect to what and how they are’.75 Yet, this cannot be a disengagement from beings, for that would also preclude being informed by them and, consequently, preclude propositional adequation. Thus, to let beings be is ‘to engage oneself with beings’ in a particular way.76 In Heidegger’s use, we ‘let beings be’ by being attentive to the ontological ground that enables them to be, or, in temporally dynamic terms, to come into and recede from presence. Since beings are always distinctive and concrete, our attention cannot treat their ground as something abstract or disengaged from them. That is, it is an attention to this ground insofar as this or that distinctive set of beings is in fact in the process of being, and it preserves the presentation of those beings as so grounded. To capture the idea more concisely, freedom 1 is an attentiveness to the being of beings that tries neither to dominate nor disengage from them. Thus far, the nature of the ground involved has been described in terms of structural openness, and, in this regard, to let beings be is ‘to engage oneself with the open field and its openness into which every being

72 Heidegger, Martin, ‘Vom Wesen der Wahrheit’, in [GA9] Wegmarken (Frankfurt am Main: Klostermann, 1976), 177–202. English: ‘On the Essence of Truth’, trans. John Sallis, in Pathmarks, ed. William McNeill (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 136–54. 186/143, 189/145, 187/143.

73 Ibid. 187/144, translation modified.

74 Ibid. 188/144. For a later account of Heidegger’s related concept of Gelassenheit, see GA77.

75 Ibid. 188-9/144.

76 Ibid. 188/144.

James Bahoh - Heidegger's Ontology of Events