Seminar in Le Thor 1969 [101–103]

of being, through which alone the particular being is. One can name it an origin, assuming that all ontic-causal overtones are excluded: it is the event [Ereignis] of being as condition for the arrival of beings: being lets beings presence.

It is a matter here of understanding that the deepest meaning of being is letting. Letting the being be, this is the non-causal meaning of “letting” in “Time and Being.” This “letting” is something fundamentally different from “doing.” The text “Time and Being” attempted to think this “letting” still more originarily as “giving.”

The giving meant here speaks in the expression Es gibt [“There is”] (usually translated by “Il y a,” regarding which Heidegger explained that “Il y a” is too ontic insofar as it refers to the presence of beings).

Es gibt”:

Es gibt, in Latin: habet. Constructed with the accusative it expresses an ontic relation.

Here one must take pains to avoid possible errors. For as we have just seen, the expression “Es gibt” is not safe from an ontic conception. We note therefore:

1) It is tempting to understand “Es gibt” as meaning “It lets [something] come to presence.” And through this emphasis upon letting come to presence, the giving in “Es gibt” is ontically conceived. Hence, if I say in French: there are trout in this stream [Il y a des truites dans ce ruisseau], the “Il y a” is understood in regard to the presence of beings, to their presenting [Anwesung]—and the “to let come to presence” is already on the verge of being understood as “to make present.” Heard in this way, the “Es gibt” is grasped ontically so that the emphasis lies upon the fact of being.

2) But if the “Es gibt” is thought in regard to an interpretation of the letting itself, then the emphasis changes.

Presence is no longer emphasized, but rather the letting itself. “Es gibt” then has the precise meaning: “to let the presencing.” Thus it is no longer the presence of a being which draws one’s attention, but the ground which that being covers over, in order to make itself independent from it: letting as such, the gift of a “giving which gives only its gift, but in the giving holds itself back and withdraws.”97

Now a possibility is perhaps offered to find a way out of the insoluble difficulty which here tempts one to say “the impossible”: “Being is.” Perhaps one should sooner say, “There is being” [“Es gibt Sein”], in the sense of, “it lets being” [“Es läßt Sein”].

We can say, in summary,98 that three meanings can be emphasized in “letting-be.”

The first refers to that which is (to the being). Over against this first sense, there stands another sense for which the attention is drawn less towards what is given (towards what is), than towards the presencing

97 Martin Heidegger, “Time and Being,” in Zur Sache des Denkens (Tübingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag, 1969), p. 8. English translation: Martin Heidegger, On Time and Being, trans. Joan Stambaugh (New York: Harper & Row, 1972), p. 8.

98 Cf. Martin Heidegger, Zur Sache des Denkens, p. 40/On Time and Being, p. 37.