51 INT. II
Being and Time

A. The Concept of Phenomenon

The Greek expression φαινόμενον, to which the term 'phenomenon' goes back, is derived from the verb φαίνεσθαι, which signifies "to show itself". Thus φαινόμενον means that which shows itself, the manifest [das, was sich zeigt, das Sichzeigende, das Offen bare]. φαίνεσθαι itself is a middle-voiced form which comes from φαίνω—to bring to the light of day, to put in the light. Φαίνω comes from the stem φα—, like φῶς, the light, that which is bright—in other words, that wherein something can become manifest, visible in itself. Thus we must keep in mind that the expression 'phenomenon' signifies that which shows itself in itself, the manifest. Accordingly the φαινόμενα or 'phenomena' are the totality of what lies in the light of day or can be brought to the light—what the Greeks sometimes identified simply with τὰ ὄντα (entities). Now an entity can show itself from itself [von ihm selbst her] in many ways, depending in each case on the kind of access we have to it. Indeed it is even possible for an entity to show itself as something which in itself it is not. When it shows itself in this way, it 'looks like something or other' ["sieht" ... "so aus wie ..."]. This kind of showing-itself is what we call "seeming" [Scheinen]. [29] Thus in Greek too the expression φαινόμενον ("phenomenon") signifies that which looks like something, that which is 'semblant', 'semblance' [das "Scheinbare", der "Schein"). Φαινόμενον ἀγαθόν means something good which looks like, but 'in actuality' is not, what it gives itself out to be. If we are to have any further understanding of the concept of phenomenon, everything depends on our seeing how what is designated in the first signification of φαινόμενον ('phenomenon' as that which shows itself) and what is designated in the second ('phenomenon' as semblance) are structurally interconnected. Only when the meaning of something is such that it makes a pretension of showing itself—that is, of being a phenomenon—can it show itself as something which it is not; only then can it 'merely look like so-and-so'. When φαινόμενον signifies 'semblance', the primordial signification (the phenomenon as the manifest) is already included as that upon which the second signification is founded. We shall allot the term 'phenomenon' to this positive and primordial signification of φαινόμενον, and distinguish "phenomenon" from "semblance", which is the privative modification of "phenomenon" as thus defined. But what both these terms express has proximally nothing at all to do with what is called an 'appearance', or still less a 'mere appearance'.1

1 '... was man "Erscheinung" oder gar "blosse Erscheinung" nennt.' Though the noun 'Erscheinung' and the verb 'erscheinen' behave so much like the English 'appearance' and 'appear' that the ensuing discussion presents relatively few difficulties in this respect for the translator, the passage shows some signs of hasty construction, and a few comments may be helpful. We are told several times that 'appearance' and 'phenomenon' are to be sharply distinguished; yet we are also reminded that there is a sense in which they coincide, and even this sense seems to be twofold, though it is not clear that Heidegger is fully aware of this. The whole discussion is based upon two further distinctions: the distinction between 'showing' ('zeigen') and 'announcing' ('melden') and 'bringing forth' ('hervorbringen'), and the distinction between ('x') that which 'shows itself' ('das Sichzeigende') or which 'does the announcing' ('das Meldende') or which 'gets brought forth' ('das Hervorgebrachte'), and ('y') that which 'announces itself' ('das Sichmeldende') or which does the bringing-forth. Heidegger is thus able to introduce the following senses of 'Erscheinung' or 'appearance':1
1a. an observable event y, such as a symptom which announces a disease x by showing itself, and in or through which x announces itself without showing itself;
1b. y's showing-itself;
2. x's announcing-itself in or through y;
3a. the 'mere appearance' y which x may bring forth when x is of such a kind that its real nature can never be made manifest;
3b. the 'mere appearance' which is the bringing-forth of a 'mere appearance' in sense 3a.
Heidegger makes abundantly clear that sense 2 is the proper sense of 'appearance' and that senses 3a and 3b are the proper senses of 'mere appearance'. On H. 30 and 31 he concedes that sense 1b corresponds to the primordial sense of 'phenomenon'; but his discussion on H. 28 suggests that 1a corresponds to this more accurately, and he reverts to this position towards the end of H. 30.

Being and Time (M&R) by Martin Heidegger