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Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics [257-58]

All this suggests how we are to ask our three questions. This questioning can only ever serve to make us attentive to that fundamental attunement, i.e., to manifest the Dasein in contemporary man once more, so that he can in general perceive the possibility in which he must stand if he is successfully to respond to what presses upon him as a necessity, namely not acting counter to what is essential in Dasein. Not acting counter to the essential here means being held to oneself, Being held to oneself, however, can occur only by virtue of that truth in which Dasein manifests itself All this must be said lest we lose ourselves unawares in these very questions, lest these questions degenerate into a kind of free-floating speculation that turns entirely upon itself More essential by far than the acumen and rigor of conceptual incisiveness (which we may also need and which has a special character of its own compared to scientific thought) is the seriousness with which we strive to keep these questions on the right path. This is necessary if they are to serve the task which is given over to philosophizing: not to describe the consciousness of man but to evoke the Dasein in man. This evocation cannot come about through some kind of enchantment or mystical contemplation but only through sober conceptual questioning. It is certainly true that this questioning, in contrast to all scientific investigation, can never be accommodated within a determinate domain or activated within such an enclosed sphere. This questioning must first form its own interrogative space in the act of questioning, and only in the act of questioning is it capable of keeping this interrogative space open.


§41. The beleaguering of the three questions by tradition and by sound common sense.


If we take them as they initially presented themselves to us, then surely our three questions—What is —? What is finitude? What is individuation?—simply ask about something with which we are all already familiar. Certainly all the questions of philosophy are of a such a kind that we could almost say that the more philosophy concerns itself with a problem completely unfamiliar to everyday awareness, then the more philosophy is avoiding the central issues and concerning itself with the inessential. The more familiar and self-evident the object of its questioning is, the more essential is the question involved. But precisely because of this we must also say that the ambiguity involved is all the more pressing. As common sense usually sees the matter, philosophy does not merely inquire after what is already quite familiar to common sense, that which common sense itself no longer. really feels the need to ask about anyway. Rather it seems as though philosophy also asks its questions in just the same way as sound common sense tends


Martin Heidegger (GA 29/30) The Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics