42 • The Fundamental Question of Metaphysics

closely, what more is "Being'' to us than a mere locution, an indeterminate meaning, intangible as a vapor? Nietzsche's judgment, of course, is meant in a purely dismissive sense. For him, "Being'' is a deception that never should have happened. "Being"-indeterminate, evanescent as a vapor? It is in fact so. But we don't want to evade this fact. To the contrary, we must try to get clear about its factuality in order to survey its full scope.

Through our questioning, we are entering a landscape; to be in this landscape is the fundamental prerequisite for restoring rootedness to historical Dasein. We will have to ask why this fact, the fact that "Being'' remains a vaporous word for us, stands out precisely today; we will have to ask whether and why it has persisted for a long time. We should learn to know that this fact is not as innocuous as it seems at first sight. For ultimately what matters is not that the word "Being'' remains just a noise for us and its meaning just a vapor, but that we have fallen out of what this word is saying, and for now cannot find our way back; it is on these grounds and on no others that the word "Being'' no longer applies to anything, that everything, if we merely want to take hold of it, dissolves like a shred of cloud in the sun. Because this is so, we ask about Being. And we ask because we know that truths have never yet fallen into a people's lap. The fact that even now one still cannot understand this question, and does not want to understand it, even if it is asked in a still more originary way, takes from this question none of its inevitability.

Of course, one can show oneself to be very clever and superior, and once again trot out the well-known reflection: "Being" is simply the most universal concept. Its range extends to any and every thing, even to Nothing, which, as something thought and said, "is" also something. So there is, in the strict sense of the word, nothing [31] above and beyond the range of this most universal concept "Being'' in terms of which it could be further defined. One must be satisfied