4 INT. I
Being and Time

§ 2. The Formal Structure of the Question of Being [5]

The question of the meaning of being must be formulated. If it is a—or even the—fundamental question, such questioning needs the suitable transparency. Thus we must briefly discuss what belongs to a question in general in order to be able to make clear that the question of being is an eminent one.

Every questioning is a seeking. Every seeking takes its lead beforehand from what is sought. Questioning is a knowing search for beings in their thatness and whatness. The knowing search can become an "investigation," as the revealing determination of what the question aims at. As questioning about ... questioning has what it asks about [Gefragtes]. All asking about ... is in some way an inquiring of .... Besides what is asked, what is interrogated [Befragtes] also belongs to questioning. What is questioned is to be defined and conceptualized in the investigating, that is, the specifically theoretical, question. As what is really intended, what is to be ascertained [Erfragtes] lies in what is questioned; here questioning arrives at its goal. As an attitude adopted by a being [Seienden], the questioner, questioning has its own character of being [Sein]. Questioning can come about as "just asking around" or as an explicitly formulated question. What is peculiar to the latter is the fact that questioning first becomes lucid in advance with regard to all the above-named constitutive characteristics of the question.

The question to be formulated is about the meaning of being. Thus we are confronted with the necessity of explicating the question of being with regard to the structural moments cited.

As a seeking, questioning needs prior guidance from what it seeks. The meaning of being must therefore•already be available to us in a certain way. We intimated that we are always already involved in an understanding of being. From this grows the explicit question of the meaning of being and the tendency toward its concept. We do not know what "being" means. But already when we ask, "what is 'being' ['Sein']?" we stand in an understanding of the "is" without being able to determine conceptually what the "is" means. We do not even know the horizon upon which we are supposed to grasp and pin down the meaning. This average and vague understanding of being is a fact.

No matter how much this understanding of being wavers and fades and borders on mere verbal knowledge, this indefiniteness of the understanding of being that is always already available is itself a positive [6] phenomenon which needs elucidation. However, an investigation of the meaning of being will not wish to provide this at the outset. The interpretation of the average understanding of being attains its necessary guideline only with the developed concept of being. From

Martin Heidegger (GA 2) Being & Time (S&S)