Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics [8-9]

toward this whole, or better, we are always already on the way to it. But we are driven on, i.e. , we are somehow simultaneously torn back by something, resting in a gravity that draws us downward. We are underway to this 'as a whole'. We ourselves are this underway, this transition, this 'neither the one nor the other'. What is this oscillating to and fro between this neither/nor? Not the one and likewise not the other, this 'indeed, and yet not, and yet indeed'. What is the unrest of this 'not'? We name it finitude.

We are asking: What is that—finitude?

Finitude is not some property that is merely attached to us, but is our fundamental way of being. If we wish to become what we are, we cannot abandon this finitude or deceive ourselves about it, but must safeguard it. Such preservation is the innermost process of our being finite, i.e., it is our innermost becoming finite. Finitude only is in truly becoming finite. In becoming finite, however, there ultimately occurs an individuation of man with respect to his Dasein. Individuation—this does not mean that man clings to his frail little ego that puffs itself up against something or other which it takes to be the world. This individuation is rather that solitariness in which each human being first of all enters into a nearness to what is essential in all things, a nearness to world. What is this solitude, where each human being will be as though unique?

What is that—individuation?

What is all this, taken together: world, finitude, individuation? What is happening to us here? What is man, that such things happen to him in his very ground? Is what we know of man: the animal, dupe of civilization, guardian of culture, and even personality—is all this only the shadow in him of something quite other, of that which we name Dasein? Philosophy, metaphysics, is a homesickness, an urge to be at home everywhere, a demand, not blind and without direction, but one which awakens us to such questions as those we have just asked and to their unity: what is world, finitude, individuation? Each of these questions inquires into the whole. It is not sufficient for us to know such questions. What i s decisive is whether we really ask such questions, whether we have the strength to sustain them right through our whole existence. It is not sufficient for us to simply abandon ourselves to such questions in an indeterminate and vacillating manner. Rather this urge to be at home everywhere is in itself at the same time a seeking of those ways which open up the right path for such questions. For this, in turn, we require the hammer of conceptual comprehension [Begreifen], we require those concepts [Begriffe] which can open such a path. We are dealing with a conceptual comprehension and with concepts of a primordial kind. Metaphysical concepts remain eternally closed off from any inherently indifferent and noncommittal scientific acumen. Metaphysical concepts arc not something that we could simply learn in this way, nor something which a teacher