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Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics [434-35]

combat for ourselves—and indeed even more seriously in the case of so-called followers than in that of so-called opponents, which is why the philosopher must treat both as equally important, i.e., as equally unimportant, if he or she understands the task at hand. True understanding never proves its mettle in repeating something after someone, but only in its power to lead understanding into genuine action, into objective achievement, which by no means primarily consists in the production of more philosophical literature. Thus this argument and our reference to the types of ordinary understanding can only help us if we grasp that this ordinary understanding is not peculiar to those who are too stupid or who are not fortunate enough to have heard things more clearly. Rather we all find ourselves afflicted in this way in varying degrees in each case.

If accordingly we now attempt a thematic exposition of the problem of world, we must take care not only to avoid understanding world as something present at hand, but also to avoid isolating the phenomenon of world. Consequently we must aim, in accordance with our theme, to let the intrinsic relationships between world, individuation, and finitude emerge together. In addition, however, we must not shirk the difficulty of leading ourselves into the problem through a genuine exposition and explication of it. We must renounce the apparently convenient but actually impossible path of providing a direct account of the essence of world, because we can know nothing about world, nor indeed about individuation or finitude, in this direct way.

Let us briefly summarize once again our methodological reflections in retrospect. We undertook a general excursus concerning philosophical concepts themselves, and the way in which they signify meaning: the fact that they do not directly intend what they mean as something present at hand, but that their meaning-function has the character of formal indication. The one who attempts to understand is thereby already challenged to comprehend that which is to be understood in their own Dasein, which does not imply that every philosophical concept is one that can be related to Dasein. We then elucidated the misinterpretations to which philosophical concepts as such are subject, using various examples: the concepts of death, freedom, and the nothing. We came to recognize two fundamental forms of misinterpretation which the conceptions of ordinary understanding tend to adopt, namely [1.] to take what is meant as something present at hand; [2.] to take what is meant as something isolated in each case. Just as death, freedom, and the nothing must be understood in their specifically philosophical sense, so too with the concept of world. And precisely before we begin the exposition of this concept it is particularly important to be clear about such misinterpretation, because this term in particular tends to encourage us to grasp its meaning as something present at hand, to grasp the world as an aggregate.

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