The Fundamental Question of Metaphysics • 9

That is then theology. Only ages that really no longer believe in the true greatness of the task of theology arrive at the pernicious opinion that, through a supposed refurbishment with the help of philosophy, a theology can be gained or even replaced, and can be made more palatable to the need of the age. Philosophy, for originally Christian faith, is foolishness. Philosophizing means asking: “Why are there beings at all instead of nothing?” Actually asking this means venturing to exhaust, to question thoroughly, what is inexhaustible and belongs to this question by unveiling what the question demands that we ask. Wherever such a venture takes place, there is philosophy.

If we now wanted to talk about philosophy, giving a report, in order to say what it is in more detail, this beginning would be fruitless. But whoever engages in philosophy must know one thing. It can be stated briefly.

All essential questioning in philosophy necessarily remains untimely, and this is because philosophy either projects far beyond its own time, or else binds its time back to this time’s earlier and inceptive past. Philosophizing always remains a kind of knowing that not only does not allow itself to be made timely, but, on the contrary, imposes its measure on the times.7

Philosophy is essentially untimely because it is one of those few things whose fate it remains never to be able to find an immediate resonance in their own time, and never to be permitted to find such a resonance. Whenever this seemingly does take place, whenever a philosophy becomes fashion, either there is no actual philosophy or else philosophy is misinterpreted and, according to some intentions alien to it, misused for the needs of the day.

7. Heidegger puns on zeitgemäß (“timely”), meaning literally “in measure with the times.”