Problem of Ontological Difference [399-400]

whether of being or of beings-and regardless of the fundamental diversity in the two cases-has the function of explicitly projecting what is antecedently given upon that on which it has already been projected in pre-scientific experience or understanding. If being is to become objectified—if the understanding of being is to be possible as a science in the sense of ontology—if there is to be philosophy at all, then that upon which the understanding of being, qua understanding, has already pre-conceptually projected being must become unveiled in an explicit projection.

We confront the task not only of going forth and back from a being to its being but, if we are inquiring into the condition of possibility of the understanding of being as such, of inquiring even beyond being as to that upon which being itself, as being, is projected. This seems to be a curious enterprise, to inquire beyond being; perhaps it has arisen from the fatal embarrassment that the problems have emanated from philosophy; it is apparently merely the despairing attempt of philosophy to assert itself as over against the so-called facts.

At the beginning of this course we stressed that the more fundamentally the simplest problems of philosophy are posed, without any of the vanities of the allegedly more advanced moderns and without the host of secondary questions arbitrarily snatched up by the mania for criticism, the more immediately will we stand by ourselves in direct communication with actual philosophizing. We have seen from various angles that the question about being in general is indeed no longer explicitly raised but that it everywhere demands to be raised. If we pose the question again, then we understand at the same time that philosophy has not made any further progress with its cardinal question than it had already in Plato and that in the end its innermost longing is not so much to get on further with it, which would be to move further away from itself, as rather to come to itself. In Hegel, philosophy—that is, ancient philosophy—is in a certain sense thought through to its end. He was completely in the right when he himself expressed this consciousness. But there exists just as much the legitimate demand to start anew, to understand the finiteness of the Hegelian system and to see that Hegel himself has come to an end with philosophy because he moves in the circle of philosophical problems. This circling in the circle forbids him to move back to the center of the circle and to revise it from the ground up. It is not necessary to seek another circle beyond the circle. Hegel saw everything that is possible. But the question is whether he saw it from the radical center of philosophy, whether he exhausted all the possibilities of the beginning so as to say that he is at the end. No extensive demonstration is needed to make clear how immediately, in our attempt to get beyond being to the light from which and in which it itself comes into the brightness of an understanding, we are moving within one of Plato's fundamental