147 I. V
Being and Time

call meaning. The concept of meaning includes the formal framework of what necessarily belongs to what interpretation that understands articulates. Meaning, structured by fore-having, fore-sight, and fore-conception, is the upon which of the project in terms of which something becomes intelligible as something. Insofar as understanding and interpretation constitute the existential constitution of the being of the there, meaning must be conceived as the formal, ·existential framework of the disclosedness belonging to understanding. Meaning is an existential of Dasein, not a property that is attached to beings, which lies "behind" them or floats somewhere as a "realm between." Only Dasein ''has" meaning in that the disclosedness of being-in-the-world can be "fu1filled" through the beings discoverable in it. Thus only Dasein can be meaningful or meaningless. This means: its own being and the beings disclosed with that being can be appropriated in an understanding [Verstandnis] or they can be confined to incomprehensibility [Unverstandnis].

This interpretation of the concept of "meaning" is fundamentally [152] ontological-existential. If we adhere to it, then all beings whose mode of being is unlike Dasein must be understood as unmeaningful [unsinniges], as essentially bare of meaning as such. "Unmeaningful" does not mean here a value judgment, but expresses an ontological determination. And only what is unmeaningful can be absurd [widersinnig]. Objectively present things encountered in Dasein can, so to speak, assault its being [Sein]; for example, events of nature which break in on us and destroy us.

And when we ask about the meaning of being, our inquiry does not become profound and does not brood on anything which stands behind being, but questions being itself in so far as it stands within the intelligibility of Dasein. The meaning of being can never be contrasted with beings or with being as the supporting "ground" of beings, for "ground" is only accessible as meaning, even if that meaning itself is an abyss [Abgrund] of meaninglessness.

As the disclosedness of the there, understanding always concerns the whole of being-in-the-world. In every understanding of world, existence is also understood, and vice versa. Furthermore, every interpretation operates within the fore-structure which we characterized. Every interpretation which is to contribute some understanding must already have understood what is to be interpreted. This fact has always already been noticed, even if only in the realm of derivative ways of understanding and interpretation, in philological interpretation. The latter belongs to the scope of scientific cognition. Such cognition demands the rigor of demonstration giving reasons. Scientific proof must not already presuppose what its task is to found. But if interpretation always already has to operate within what is understood and nurture itself from this, how should it then produce scientific results without going in a circle


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