The Fundamental Question of Metaphysics • 27

Whatever both disregards the fundamental law of thinking and also destroys faith and the will to construct is pure nihilism.

Given such considerations, we will do well to strike from our interrogative sentence the superfluous turn of phrase “instead of nothing?” and restrict the sentence to the simple and precise form: “Why are there beings at all?”

Nothing would stand in the way of this, if … if in the formulation of our question, if in the asking of this question altogether, we had as much license as it may have seemed up to now. But in asking the question we stand within a tradition. For philosophy has constantly and always asked about the ground of beings. With this question philosophy had its inception, in this question it will find its end, provided that it comes to an end in greatness and not in a impotent decline. Since the inception of the question of what is, the question of what is not and of Nothing has gone side by side with it. But it does not do so superficially, as an accompanying phenomenon; instead, the question about Nothing takes shape in accordance with the breadth, depth, and originality with which the question about beings is asked on each occasion, and conversely. The manner of asking about Nothing can serve as a gauge and a criterion for the manner of asking about beings.

If we think about this, then the interrogative sentence pronounced [19|27] at the start, “Why are there beings at all instead of nothing?” appears far more suitable to express the question about beings than the abbreviated version after all. Our introduction of talk about Nothing here is not a careless and overly enthusiastic manner of speaking, nor our own invention, but merely strict respect for the originary tradition regarding the sense of the fundamental question.

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