Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics [478-80]

and directly, in the direction of the being referred to in it, but also in relation to the statement itself as a statement, or in the direction of the words used in it. "The circle"—is round: The theme now is not what is referred to in the subject of the assertion, but the subject-term as a word that is meaningful and whose meaning is now provided by the assertion. The circle is round, 'circle' means something round, the word 'circle' means ... However contrived we may find this interpretation, it has played a major role in logic under the title nominalism. It is primarily oriented toward the linguistic and meaningful character of the statement and not toward that which the statement itself refers to, not toward the relation to beings themselves.

Let us, however, return anew to our example 'The board is black'. The 'is' expresses and refers to the board's being such and such. The board is not any arbitrary board, however, for instance some board that I am imagining right now, but which is not at hand; nor does it refer to a board that was perhaps once at hand somewhere and is now no longer at hand. Rather it is the board at hand right here and now that 'is' black. The 'is' in the statement does not only refer to something's being constituted in such and such a way, but also to the board's being constituted, its being at hand in such and such a way, i.e., it refers also to the fact that the board at hand is at hand as black. In this case, the 'is' also refers to the blackboard's being at hand, even though we do not necessarily think specifically of this. One could of course say: This statement is intended to say that the board is black and not red. What is at stake is only the way the board is constituted. However, precisely in any possible dispute over how it is constituted, it becomes clear that in order to decide, we have recourse to this board at hand as such and to what is at hand in it. In other words, in the assertion 'The board is black', we have always already had recourse to the board as this one at hand, and we are referring to its being constituted as a board that is at hand.

We have now already extracted two fundamental meanings of the 'is', if we disregard the first meaning of the 'is' as connection and the meaning of the 'is' as 'it means', which we also mentioned. The two fundamental meanings are, on the one hand, what-being in the broader sense of being such and such, and in the narrower sense of essential being, and on the other hand the 'is' in the sense of being at hand We shall see that with these two fundamental meanings of the 'is', which always belong together in some form or other, we have not yet exhausted the ultimate content of the copula—indeed, there is one quite central meaning that we are not yet familiar with. Only when we have elaborated this meaning will we be in a position to understand the enigmatic essence of this unlikely 'is' in its full richness and also in its overall problematic.

To begin with, we shall provide a summary of what has been said so far about the copula. We became acquainted with the structural moment that

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