Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics [475-77]

Yes and no. Yes, insofar as we are referring to the board's being black. No, insofar as in our everyday saying and understanding the statement we do not specifically think of the connectedness of the two as such. We find the interpretation that the 'is' refers to a connectedness at once too contrived and far-fetched. In part—disregarding the fact that we are factically orienting our interpretation around formal logic in its questionableness—this is linked to the fact that the statement chosen as an example is perhaps altogether too contrived and hackneyed to serve as an example—a statement that we seldom or indeed never tend to make in our immediate factical existence [Dasein] here in this room. A better example is the statement: The board is badly positioned. You and I have perhaps already made this statement, if only to ourselves. In so doing—in making the statement spontaneously for ourselves—we are not thinking of any connectedness of the board to its unfavourable position. The board is badly positioned.

In all such interpretations, we are still sticking too closely to the linguistic form of the enunciated statement and failing to pay attention to what we are directly referring to. Only by looking at what is directly understood, therefore, will we manage to grasp the genuine meaning of the 'is'. Initially, we are not contesting the fact that the 'is' indeed ultimately has to do with something like synthesis and connection. If we take up the first example again, 'The board is black', and if, in keeping with this, we try to understand the statement directly, then we are inclined to take the 'is' (being) in a different way. In what sense is being expressed in the 'is'? Evidently, in the sense of what the board is, its what-being. The what-being of something is also designated as its essence. But does the statement 'The board is black' state the essence of the board, i.e., does it state what belongs to a board as such and in general? By no means. The board could be and can be a board, i.e., it could be to hand as something we use and as an item of equipment, even if it were white—we would only need to write on it with black or blue chalk. Being black does not necessarily belong to a thing being able to serve as a board, it does not belong to the possibility of its being a board. The statement in question, then, does not state what-being qua essence, but it does state something that the board is: its being such and such. Being such and such is not equivalent to what-being (essence). However, there are statements whose linguistic construction is entirely identical, and which express such a thing: 'The circle is round'. If we note this distinction, and at the same time keep in view both possibilities of saying what-being, grasping them formally as what-being in the broad sense (which does not necessarily mean essence), then we can see that the thesis that the 'is' refers to what-being in this broad sense is closer to the primary meaning of the 'is'. This interpretation thus provides a more workable basis for a more extensive interpretation of the copula. Thus the English philosopher Hobbes developed a theory of the copula which is especially significant in the history

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