Four Seminars [100–101]

In human thinking, why do beings press into the foreground? Whence the forgetfulness, the nihilating nothing? In other words: what decrees the dominance of the “fall upon beings”? “Fall” is not to be understood ontically as a falling away from (or as a plunge), but rather, ontologically as an essential determination of everyday Dasein. This ontologically understood “fall” is just the natural condition of Dasein, insofar as it is only able to concern itself with things, by not letting itself into being. But the concern with beings is possible and understandable only through a departure from being. If being necessarily remains unthematized in human life, if, in other words, the aim of Being and Time does not lead everyday Dasein to a thematization of being—something which would not constitute its ownness anyway—it nevertheless remains the case that “human life” as such would not be possible without the prior and unacknowledged clearing of being.

This is the meaning of the celebrated and yet misunderstood analysis of equipmentality in Being and Time. The equipmental character of the thing does not need to become thematized in order to exist, and nevertheless, it is in the chair as chair that I am seated.

September 11

On the distinction between negating [Nichten] and denying [Verneinen]: is this covered by the Greek distinction between οὐκ and μή? If negating belongs to the Greek οὐκ, then nothing signifies total nothingness (nihil negativum); beings are simply denied: there are no beings. If, on the contrary, one understands the nothing in negating according to the meaning of m±, then it should indicate a certain defect in regard to being. But if being and nothing are the same, then the nothing in question cannot signify a lack. Therefore, one should not understand negating in a privative-negative way. It is a matter of something other, completely specific and unique.

We keep the guiding statement ever in view:

Being : Nothing : The Same

Nothing is a characteristic of being. It is not a being, but this in a manner that is thoroughly different from the sentence: The being is not (which would be an ontic proposition). On the contrary, one says: the nothing characterizes being, this is therefore an ontological proposition. Viewed from the ontic horizon, being is precisely not some being; viewed from the categories, it is not. Otherwise said: insofar as the nothing and its negating are not understood negatively, being is something entirely other than a being. It is essential to the participle form "nihilating" [nichtend] that the participle show a determinate “activity”

Martin Heidegger (GA 15) Seminar in Le Thor 1969