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the same time, the rejection of all relations between absolute and relative. If one cannot speak in this sense of an absolute truth, neither can one speak of relative truth.105

This is the idea I am calling “groundless grounds:” while they lack absolute grounding themselves, they nevertheless provide us with all the ground we need. Wittgenstein also indicates the difficulty of formulating the point: “one would rather say ‘it rests on nothing’; but this gives a feeling of insecurity.”106

With beings, man, and an overall Hegelian pattern of epochs107 ruled out as ways to legitimate a particular understanding of being, we might be tempted to have being endow them with a seal of approval. After all, “Being is akin to grounds, it is ground-like.”108 Were being to say, “Let there be beings” and declare them good, then the way things are would be right and just. Heidegger calls this attempt to use being, often represented in a particular entity like God or substance, “ontotheology,” and he considers it a profound mistake since being is the ultimate groundless ground. It gives us ways to understand and live, but no form of legitimizing can apply to it.

Being . . . offers us a reliance whose reliability cannot be surpassed anywhere. And yet Being offers us no ground and no basis—as beings do—to which we can turn, on which we can build, and to which we can cling. Being is the rejection of the role of such grounding: it renounces all grounding, is abyssal [ab-gründig].109

In making this point, Heidegger and Wittgenstein are both trying to escape the traditional, inappropriate conceptual framework: being is “both groundless and abyssless” (CPC 130) for Heidegger, while Wittgenstein says that “you can’t in fact call language or grammar unsupported because there is no question of its being supported.”110

Heidegger’s tripartite theory of being which distinguishes between beings, beingness, and being itself accords with the Framework Argument: “Being ‘is’ in essence: ground/reason. Therefore being can never first have a ground/reason which would supposedly ground it. Accordingly, ground/reason is missing from being. Ground/reason remains at a remove from being. Being ‘is’ the abyss [abgrund] in the sense of such a remaining-apart of reason from being. To the extent that being as such grounds, it remains groundless.”111 Like Wittgenstein’s form of life, that which determines our thinking and acting cannot itself be grounded in anything deeper. “The groundlike is groundless, what grounds, what presences as basis does not need the ground; that is, it is without something to which it could go back as something outside of it, there is no longer any back, no behind itself but pure presencing itself: the primordial.”112 All attempts to justify it already depend on a particular understanding to justify the source of

105 Heidegger later develops this attribution of the beginning of metaphysics to Plato in works like The Essence of Truth and “Plato’s Doctrine of Truth.” See Braver 2007, 291–303, for more.

106 BT 88/61; see also LQT 237, PM 26, PIRA 362/7, 385/41, BCAP 146, Supp 84, 95, 115–116, PS 117–122, HCT 188; Sallis 1993, 9.

107 BT 190/149, all italics in original; see also BT 103/73, 129/96, 147/112, 177/138, 200–201/158, 238/193, 413/361–362, 474–475/422–423, HCT 187, 195–196, 219, BW 101–103, LQT 122–123; Rouse 1987, 60–61, 66; Carman 2003, 56, 66, 207; Richardson 1986, 17, 19; Guignon 1983, 201; Versényi 1965, 27; Pöggeler 1970, 293. Heidegger accuses Husserl of building this mistake into his version of phenomenology with the epochê (see, e.g., MF 134; Ihde 2010, 43).

108 PO 310, BB 150, 165, PI §114, OC §601.

109 BB 177; see also BB 150, 165, 174, RFM 64, PI §113.

110 PI §132; see also PO 425, BB 66, 174; Malcolm 1994, 73, 82, 87; McManus 2004, 250; Edwards 1990, 140; Sass 1994, 9, 14, 36. Karsten Harries connects the two on this idea (1968, 283–286).

111 PI §175; see also PI §166, §428, §503, §507, RFM 36–37, 41; McGuinness 1982, 41–42; Baker and Hacker 1985, 74; Stroud 2000, 171; Taylor 1995, 167; McDowell 2009, 94.

112 PI §322, PO 212, 434.

Lee Braver - Groundless Grounds