Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics [422-24]

exposed to that essential substantive misinterpretation for which ordinary understanding inevitably falls. For ordinary understanding examines everything it finds expressed philosophically as though it were something present at hand and, especially since it seems to be essential, takes it from the outset on the same level as the things it pursues everyday. It does not reflect upon the fact and cannot even understand that what philosophy deals with only discloses itself at all within and from out of a transformation of human Dasein. Ordinary understanding struggles against this transformation of man demanded by every philosophical step on account of a natural idleness which is grounded in what Kant once called the 'idle flaw' in human nature.1 Put in terms of our guiding problem, that means: By the term 'world', and here perhaps more strongly than anywhere else, we initially try to seek something that is present at hand in itself and ascertainable, something that we can always appeal to. We must appreciate from the very beginning that this is not how things are, even though we are tempted to make just this mistake. Or to put it in another way: philosophical knowledge of the essence of world is not and never can be an awareness of something present at hand. It is rather a comprehending disclosure of something in a specifically determined and directed questioning, which as a questioning never allows what is questioned to become something present at hand. This specifically determined and directed questioning is itself necessary in order to make world and suchlike thematic in an appropriate manner and to maintain it as such.

If with reference to what was said above we now ask ourselves what we have actually achieved in the preceding characterization of the structure of the 'as', and how we proceeded in that connection, we can express it in the following way: World was indicated by reference to the character of the manifestness of beings as such as a whole. The 'as' belongs to manifestness—beings as such, as this or that. Closer examination of the 'as' led us to consider the assertion and propositional truth. Now how did we elucidate the 'as'? What was the first step we took in order to bring the 'as' closer to us? We said that the 'as' cannot exist on its own account, that it is a relation which moves from one term to the other-something as something. This characterization is formally correct insofar as we can in fact bring the 'as' closer to us in the form of a relation. But we can easily see that with this utterly vacuous determination of the 'as'—an 'as'-relation—we have already relinquished its proper essence. For the 'and' is also a relation between two terms, and furthermore the 'or'—'a and b', 'c or d'. Now one might object that there is no danger in characterizing the 'as' in terms of a 'relation' as long as we remember that the characterization

1. Kant, Die Religion innerhalb der Grenzen der bloßen Vernunft. Kants Werke. Ed. E. Cassirer. Vol. 6 (Berlin, 1923), p. 178. [Trans. T. Greene and H. Hudson, Religion Within the Limits of Reason Alone (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1960), p. 34 (translation modified).]

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