Four Seminars [47–48]

reflection. . . ,” Heidegger recalls that Reflection is the movement that turns back upon itself, to the self, which is actually thinking insofar as it reflects. Hence the general sense of thinking for reflection is as follows: to reflect is to think about something, to think a thought. Reflection is thus a mediation between the one who thinks and what he or she thinks: consciousness becomes self-consciousness. Heidegger ends the session by drawing our attention to the fact that Hegel does not say: “We are to reflect on the Absolute,” but rather: “The Absolute is to be reflected.”

September 5

The question that led the September 5 seminar was that of the danger of the ontological difference. “The danger is that, within the horizon of metaphysics, the difference leads to representing being as a being. However, when Aristotle defines being as ἐνέργεια, or Plato as εἶδος, ἐνέργεια and εἶδος are not beings. Metaphysics struggles against defining being as a being, however tempted it is to do so.” Hence the two stages of the seminar, to answer the questions:

1) What does “ontological difference” mean?

2) What fundamental experience determined Aristotle to experience beings (in their being) as ἐνέργεια, Plato as εἶδος, Kant as Object?

What does “ontological difference” mean?

It can be understood in two ways: a) First, the expression “ontological difference” appears to be constructed like the expression: “the green tree”; “ontological” is therefore the adjective of the substantive “difference.” From this first perspective, it would be the very difference between being and beings that is ontological, as one says of a leaf that it is green. b) But, and this is the second way of understanding, what if it were somehow the difference between being and beings itself that carried ontology along and rendered it possible as the fundamental discipline of metaphysics?

This second understanding is confirmed by the fact that all metaphysics indeed moves within the difference (this is constantly stressed, in particular by Aquinas), but that no metaphysics recognizes this difference as difference in the dimension that it unfolds.

The question thus arises: what is the relation between ontology and the difference of being from beings? Can metaphysics take up this question, since metaphysics, as ontology, is grounded upon this difference itself? Can difference, which renders metaphysics as metaphysics possible, be taken into consideration by the fundamental discipline of metaphysics, that is, ontology? In logical terms, can the consequence take into view the governing principle? No. I can, from the perspective of