Chapter Two

The Beginning of Metaphysical Questioning with the Question of World. The Path of the Investigation and Its Difficulties

§42. The path of a comparative examination of three guiding theses: the stone is worldless, the animal is poor in world, man is world-forming

We begin with the first of our three questions: What is world? Even now we tend to take this explicit question as a free-floating question asked along the way just like any other. Initially we do not know where we should look for an answer to it. Indeed, if we consider the matter more closely, we do not even know what we are asking about, or in what direction our questioning is moving. The first path toward an initial clarification entails, as in all such cases, that we pay close attention to the word and pursue the history of the word 'world' and the historical development of the concept it contains. I have attempted to pursue this path in my essay On the Essence of Ground.1 It is true that the exposition offered there of the concept of κόσμος, mundus, 'world' merely indicates the characteristic stages of this history and above all remains wholly within the parameters set by the theme of the essay. The exposition given there can, however, serve as a preliminary orientation as far as the concept of the term is concerned. Yet the theme treated there not only requires a broader and more concrete exposition, it also needs to be supplemented, or rather founded for the first time by that history of the concept of world which is not expressed in the history of the word at all. The history of the word provides only the exterior. The inner history involved can only be perceived in connection with the fundamental problem of metaphysics and along the lines of a clarified understanding of the problem of world. I shall not repeat here what I said in that context, but acquaintance with the earlier discussion could be useful in this connection, and all of Section II of the essay is important generaJy concerning this problem. Here I would just like to give a very general indication of the context in which, from an external point of view, the problem of world initially arises. The most familiar aspect of the problem reveals itself in the distinction between God and world. The world is the totality of beings outside of and other than God. Expressed in Christian terms, such beings thus also represent the realm of created being as distinct from

1. Vom Wesen des Grundes (Frankfurt: Klostermann, 1973), pp. 23-37 (sixth edition). First published in 1929. [Trans. T. Malick, The Essence of Reasons (Evanston, Illinois: Northwestern University Press, 1969).]

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