§72 [468-69]

relate to what we came to know as the fundamental structure-to σύνθεσις and διαίρεσις, to the 'as'? How do things stand concerning the 'is', the copula?

First of all, it is not superfluous to emphasize that—however unlikely the problem of what the 'is' means may appear—we stand at a decisive point, one that is decisive in two senses. [1.] We have already seen in general that the λόγος in the broadest sense, as discourse and language, as the distinction of man, evidently has to do with world. This must indeed be so if world-formation is likewise distinctive for man, or is such as to harbour within it the possibility of language. Wherever there is world, we find a comportment toward beings as beings. Wherever beings are manifest in such a way, they can be dealt with as something that is, is not, has been, or will be. Something like being can be said of beings in a strangely manifold way. Precisely this fact that in the λόγος, in language, and thereby within man's formation of world, being can be said, is what the simple assertion expresses in the 'is'. From here we can understand why the assertion—precisely because it carries the 'is' up front—was able to achieve central significance for metaphysics, which asks concerning being. However, for the very reason that the λόγος, distinguished by this 'is', seems to have a central metaphysical significance, the point at which we have arrived is decisive in a second sense. [2.] We must ask and clarify whether the assertion should be allowed to play the leading role in the question concerning being, concerning the essence of world and so on, just because being and the 'is' so prominently come to light in it, or whether, conversely, it is not a matter of seeing that this prominent form of being, the 'is', indeed rightly and necessarily contains being as manifest, but that this manifestness is not originary. In short, metaphysics is decided by our position with respect to the problem of the copula, the manner and way in which we deal with it, and how we fit it into the whole. We know that metaphysics since Aristotle has oriented the problem of being toward the 'is' of the proposition, and that we are faced with the massive task of unhinging this tradition, which simultaneously means: demonstrating its limited legitimacy. You can see from here the far-reaching significance of what is apparently this special problem concerning the dry question of what is meant by the 'is' in the proposition.

Before we systematically develop this problem according to the perspectives that are important for us, we should first examine how far-seeing Aristotle was here, and whether this strange 'is' in the proposition came to his attention here. I shall attempt to provide a brief interpretation of the conception of the 'is' and of being in Aristotle. This should also give you some estimation of how, in these simple interpretations from antiquity, which cannot be related at all to the contemporary literary nonsense in philosophy, the most central problems are seized upon with an assurance and with a power that we ourselves as epigones can never again achieve.

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