27 INT. I
Being and Time

Thus to work out the question of Being adequately, we must make an entity—the inquirer—transparent in his own Being. The very asking of this question is an entity's mode of Being; and as such it gets its essential character from what is inquired about—namely, Being. This entity which each of us is himself and which includes inquiring as one of the possibilities of its Being, we shall denote by the term "Dasein".1 If we are to formulate our question explicitly and transparently, we must first give a proper explication of an entity (Dasein), with regard to its Being.

Is there not, however, a manifest circularity in such an undertaking? If we must first define an entity in its Being, and if we want to formulate the question of Being only on this basis, what is this but going in a circle? In working out our question, have we not 'presupposed' something which only the answer can bring? Formal objections such as the argument about 'circular reasoning', which can easily be cited at any time in the study of first principles, are always sterile when one is considering concrete ways of investigating. When it comes to understanding the matter at hand, they carry no weight and keep us from penetrating into the field of study.

But factically2 there is no circle at all in formulating our question as we have described. One can determine the nature of entities in their Being without necessarily having the explicit concept of the meaning of Being at one's disposal. Otherwise there could have been no ontological knowledge [8] heretofore. One would hardly deny that factically there has been such knowledge.3 Of course 'Being' has been presupposed in all ontology up till now, but not as a concept at one's disposal-not as the sort of thing we are seeking. This 'presupposing' of Being has rather the character of taking a look at it beforehand, so that in the light of it the entities presented to us get provisionally Articulated in their Being. This guiding activity of taking a look at Being arises from the average understanding of Being in which we always operate and which in the end belongs to the essential constitution4 of Dasein itself.

1 The word 'Dasein' plays so important a role in this work and is already so familiar to the English-speaking reader who has read about Heidegger, that it seems simpler to leave it untranslated except in the relatively rare passages in which Heidegger himself breaks it up with a hyphen ('Da-sein') to show its etymological construction: literally 'Being-there'. Though in traditional German philosophy it may be used quite generally to stand for almost any kind of Being or 'existence' which we can say that something has (the 'existence' of God, for example), in everyday usage it tends to be used more narrowly to stand for the kind of Being that belongs to persons. Heidegger follows the everyday usage in this respect, but goes somewhat further in that he often uses it to stand for any person who has such Being, and who is thus an 'entity' himself. See H. II below.

2 'faktisch'. While this word can often be translated simply as 'in fact' or 'as a matter of fact', it is used both as an adjective and as an adverb and is so characteristic of Heidegger's style that we shall as a rule translate it either as 'factical' or as 'factically', thus preserving its connection with the important noun 'Faktizität' (facticity'), and keeping it distinct from 'tatsächlich' ('factual') and 'wirklich' ('actual'). See the discussion of 'Tatsächlichkeit' and 'Faktizität' in Sections 12 and 29 below (H. 56, 135)·

3 '... deren faktischen Bestand man wohl nicht leugnen wird'.

4 'Wesensverfassung'. 'Verfassung' is the standard word for the 'constitution' of a nation or any political organization, but it is also used for the 'condition' or 'state' in which a person may find himself. Heidegger seldom uses the word in either of these senses; but he does use it in ways which are somewhat analogous. In one sense Dasein's 'Verfassung' is its 'constitution', the way it is constituted, 'sa condition humaine'. In another sense Dasein may have several 'Verfassungen' as constitutive 'states' or factors which enter into its 'constitution'. We shall, in general, translate 'Verfassung' as 'constitution' or 'constitutive state' according to the context; but in passages where 'constitutive state' would be cumbersome and there is little danger of ambiguity, we shall simply write 'state'. These states, however, must always be thought of as constitutive and essential, not as temporary or transitory stages like the 'state' of one's health or the 'state of the nation'. When Heidegger uses the word 'Konstitution', we shall usually indicate this by capitalizing 'Constitution'.

Being and Time (M&R) by Martin Heidegger