Consideration of Definition [32–33]

τὸ τί ἦν εἶναι is the “being of a particular,” οὐσία ἑκάστου,40 which is not “everything,” or even “what is singular” or “what is individual.” With such translations, one has gone astray. Εκάς means “far”; ἑκάστου means “what is particular” insofar as I linger with it, insofar as I see it at a certain distance. What is particular is precisely not what is seen initially and directly, but is accessible only when I take a certain distance from it, and it presents itself to me in this way at this distance. Τὰ καθ᾿ ἕκαστα are the aspects that constitute the particularity of a being. They become present only insofar as I occupy a distance from it. In natural dealings, familiar objects are not really there for me; I overlook them in seeing beyond them. They do not have the character of presence; they are altogether too everyday. They, so to speak, disappear from my everyday being-there. Only with some event of an unusual sort can something with which I deal on a daily basis become suddenly objectified for me in its presence. Particularity is not initially and directly given. Taking a distance is required to see everydayness in its being-there, to have it present; and the being-characters that explicitly show the being that is there in its being-there, that constitute the there-character of being, are determined in the τὸ τί ἦν εἶναι of Aristotle.

Aristotle now distinguishes as follows two τρόποι, “basic modes,” in which οὐσία is used: (1) the ὑποκείμενον ἔσχατον, that which is already there for every dealing with it and (2) beings in the character of τόδε τι ὄν, about which I say “that there,” χωριστόν, standing “in its own place,” being at hand “independently.”41

5. This independence is expressed by the εἶδος,42 “that which is seen, sighted,” the “look,” the “appearing” of a being. What I see here, and identify as being-there at hand independently, appears as a chair, and therefore is, for the Greeks, a chair.

γ. Οὐσία as Being-There: Being-Characters as Characters of the There

As we are in the process of an enumeration of being-characters, it behooves us to now see how a determinate conception of the there is expressed in these various being-characters, and thus how these various being-characters are fully determinate characters of the sense of the there as the Greeks understood it. We already have a clue for carrying this out in the customary meaning of οὐσία in the sense of the “available,” the “present,” that which is at hand in the sense of “estate,” or “possession.”

We are trying to attain a basic orientation toward being-characters by examining the extent to which all of these apparently different characters of being are linked as characters of the there. Οὐσία means “being-there,” and it does

40. Met. Δ 8, 1017 b 22 sq.

41. Met. Δ 8, 1017 b 23 sqq.

42. Met. Δ 8, 1017 b 26.

Martin Heidegger (GA 18) Basic Concepts of Aristotelian Philosophy page 3

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