§16. Arguments in History of Logic [254-255]

Our problem is to answer the question of the connection between the "is" as copula and the basic ontological problems. To this end it would be necessary to begin by describing with sufficient concreteness the problem of the copula in the tradition. This would require that we run through the main stages in the history of logic. But the economy of the lecture format forbids this. We shall choose an alternative route and orient ourselves about some characteristic treatments of the problem of the copula as they have emerged in the history of logic. We shall first follow the rise of the problem in Aristotle, who is customarily called the father of logic. Then we shall portray an altogether extreme interpretation of the copula and assertion, that of Thomas Hobbes. In connection with his view we shall take note of the definition of the copula in John Stuart Mill, whose logic was of decisive significance for the nineteenth century. Finally we shall fix the problems that cluster around the copula as Lotze presented them in his logic. In this way we shall see how this apparently simple problem of the "is" has a many-sided complexity, so that the question arises for us, how the different attempts at a solution, at an interpretation of the "is," can be understood originally by way of the simple unity of the ontological setting of the problem.

§16. Delineation of the ontological problem of the copula with reference to some characteristic arguments in the course of the history of logic

We have already repeatedly met with being in the sense of the copula, being as the "is," in our discussions. We referred to it once when it was necessary to point to the fact that in our everyday existence, without actually conceiving being at all, we nevertheless always already understand something like being, since we always use the expression "is," as well as verbal expressions with various inflexions in general, with a certain understanding. Then again, when we were discussing the first thesis and had occasion there to consider Kant's interpretation of actuality as absolute position, we saw that Kant is acquainted with a still more general concept of being. He says: "Now something can be thought as posited merely relatively, or, better, we can think merely the relation (respectus logicus) of something as a mark to a thing, and then being, that is, the position of this relation, is nothing but the combining concept in a judgment."1 In accordance with what was discussed earlier, we must say that being is here equivalent in meaning to the

1. Kant, Beweisgrund, p. 77. [In Werke (Cassirer), vol. 2.]

Basic Problems of Phenomenology (GA 24) by Martin Heidegger