§15. Phenomenological Critique [234-236]

observation on the concept of world. Elucidation of the world-concept is one of the most central tasks of philosophy. The concept of world, or the phenomenon thus designated, is what has hitherto not yet been recognized in philosophy. You will think that this is a bold and presumptuous assertion. You will raise these objections: How can it be that the world has not hitherto been seen in philosophy? Didn't the very beginnings of ancient philosophy lie in asking about nature? And as for the present, do we not seek today more than ever to re-establish this problem? Have we not repeated attached great importance, in our discussions so far, to showing that traditional ontology grew out of its primary and one-sided orientation to the extant, to nature? How then can we maintain that hitherto the phenomenon of the world has been overlooked?

Nevertheless—the world is not nature and it is certainly not the extant, any more than the whole of all the things surrounding us, the contexture of equipment, is the environing world, the Umwelt. Nature—even if we take it in the sense of the whole cosmos as that which we also call, in ordinary discourse, the universe, the whole world—all these entities taken together, animals, plants, and humans, too, are not the world, viewed philosophically. What we call the universe is, like everything that may be important or not important, not the world. Rather, the universe of beings is—or, to speak more carefully, can be—the intraworldly, what is within the world. And the world? Is it the sum of what is within the world? By no means. Our calling nature, as well as the things that surround us most closely, the intraworldly and our understanding them in that way already presuppose that we understand world. World is not something subsequent that we calculate as a result from the sum of all beings. The world comes not afterward but beforehand, in the strict sense of the word. Beforehand: that which is unveiled and understood already in advance in every existent Dasein before any apprehending of this or that being, beforehand as that which stands forth as always already unveiled to us. The world as already unveiled in advance is such that we do not in fact specifically occupy ourselves with it, or apprehend it, but instead it is so self-evident, so much a matter of course, that we are completely oblivious of it. World is that which is already previously unveiled and from which we return to the beings with which we have to do and among which we dwell. We are able to come up against intraworldly beings solely because, as existing beings, we are always already in a world. We always already understand world in holding ourselves in a con texture of functionality. We understand such matters as the in-order-to, the contexture of in-order-to or being-for, which we call the contexture of significance [Bedeutsamkeit]. Without entering into an investigation of the very difficult phenomenon of the world in its different possible aspects, we must strictly distinguish the phenomenological concept of world from the ordinary pre-philosophical concept of world, according to which world

Basic Problems of Phenomenology (GA 24) by Martin Heidegger