Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics [520-21]

[9.] From all the eight moments listed above, we may infer the uniqueness of this distinction, as well as its universality.

We now have to see what essential problems this distinction impels us toward, and—since the unveiling of the being of beings is connected to the fundamental occurrence at issue—how this distinction is an essential moment of world, indeed the central one from which the problem of world in general can be comprehended.

Contrary to our expectations, then, we have already said many pertinent things concerning this distinction, without freeing it from its enigmatic nature. All these things have indeed taken us far beyond the problems of philosophy hitherto, if only by the very fact that we have specifically raised this distinction as such to the status of a problem in general. A broad field of questions is thereby opened up. Our question about the being of beings is not concerned with the specific beings that in each case come to be interrogated with respect to their proper content in the individual sciences. Furthermore, raising this theme exceeds the scope of what is commonly called the doctrine of categories, whether in the traditional sense or in the sense of the systematic study of regions of beings. For the thematic we have touched upon is centred precisely on the so-called universal questions concerning being: what-being, being such and such, that-being, being true. Accordingly, it must seek a new basis of possible appraisal (cf. the lecture course "The Basic Problems of Phenomenology," summer semester 1927).1 And yet we meet with a further obstacle in our exposition of this problem. We are tempted to pronounce ourselves content with the stage of the problem we have now arrived at, i.e., to drag it out into a question that can now be discussed objectively and thereby intrinsically connect it retrospectively with the way the problem has been treated hitherto in the history of metaphysics. All this is expressed in the fact that we give a thematic name to the problem of the distinction between being and beings: we call it the problem of the ontological difference. What 'difference' means here is initially clear: precisely this distinction between being and beings. And what does 'ontological' mean? In the first instance, 'logical' names that which belongs to the λόγος, that which concerns it or is determined by it. The 'ontological' concerns the ὃν insofar as it is grasped as seen from the λόγος. The λόγος expresses something concerning beings. Yet not every assertion or opinion is ontological, but only those which express themselves about beings as such, indeed specifically with respect to whatever makes beings beings, the 'is'—and this is precisely what we call the being of beings. The ontological is that which concerns the being of beings. The ontological difference is that

1. [Tr: M. Heidegger, Die Grundprobleme der Phiinomenologie. Gesamtausgabe, Vol. 24 (Frankfurt: Klostermann, 1975). Trans. Albert Hofstadter, The Basic Problems of Phenomenology (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1982).]

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