objectively present those here and now? But where would the enclosing circle be drawn? Or do we mean "the" human being as such? Yet "the" human being "is" unhistorical only as being historical. Do we mean ourselves as this particular people? Even then, however, we are not the only ones but are a people with other peoples. And how is the essence of a people determined? It is clear at once: the way in which the questioned, namely the "we," is initially established in the question contains already a decision about the "who." That means we cannot, untouched by the question of the "who," postulate the "we" and the "us" as, so to speak, something objectively present to which only the determination of the "who" would be lacking. Even this question reflects the turning. It is a question that cannot be either asked or answered straightforwardly. Yet as long as the essence of philosophy is not grasped as meditation on the truth of beyng and as long as the necessity of the meditation on oneself, which thereby arises, has not become effective, the question as a question is already exposed to severe misgivings
1. Despite the "we," the question is still directed back to ourselves and is thereby "reflected." It requires a retrospective attitude that runs counter to the straightforwardness of acting and producing.
2. Yet the question seems wrongheaded not only on account of this reflective attitude but also simply as a question. Even if the question were not "reflective" and merely made us "occupy" ourselves "with ourselves," it would be a "theoretical" preoccupation with humans that would distract them from acting and effecting or would at least weaken these. Both misgivings unite in the one claim: we should be ourselves by acting and effecting and should not question—and thereby undermine—ourselves.
3. Already indicated in this way is the fact that it does not become evident for what purpose this question is supposed to be asked, which is connected to the difficulty of finding out whence we are at all supposed to draw an answer.
Here again the most intelligible solution seems to lie in the familiar claim: we should be ourselves by acting. And it is precisely this way to be that answers the question of who we are, before it is even asked.
The will to be ourselves makes the question moot.
This consideration is obvious, but only because it strives—almost unintentionally—to remain on the surface.
For, what does it mean to be ourselves? Is the human being—are we—only in virtue of the fact that we simply let run its course that which is joined to us and with which we are closely bound up? The sense in which a human being is, and we are, is thoroughly unclear. The reference to acting and effecting is insufficient as well. All "bustle," all