The Fundamental Question of Metaphysics • 37

So it is all the more necessary for us to get clear from the outset about how it stands for us at present with Being and with our understanding of Being. Here, it is important above all to impress on our experience again and again the fact that we are not able to lay hold of the Being of beings directly and expressly, neither by way of beings, nor in beings—nor anywhere else at all.

A few examples should help. Over there, on the other side of the street, stands the high school building. A being. We can scour every side of the building from the outside, roam through the inside from basement to attic, and note everything that can be found there: hallways, stairs, classrooms, and their furnishings. Everywhere we find beings, and in a very definite order. Where now is the Being of this high school? It is, after all. The building is. The Being of this being belongs to it if anything does, and nevertheless we do not find this Being within the being.

Moreover, Being does not consist in our observing beings. The building stands there even if we do not observe it. We can come across it only because it already is. In addition, the Being of this building does not at all seem to be identical for everybody. For us, as observers or passersby, it is not what it is for the students who sit inside, not just because they see it only from the inside, but because for them, this building really is what it is and how it is. One can, as it were, smell the Being of such buildings, and often after decades one still has the scent in one’s nose. The [26|37] scent provides the Being of this being much more directly and truly than it could be communicated by any description or inspection. On the other hand, the subsistence of the building does not depend on this scent that is hovering around somewhere.

How does it stand with Being? Can we see Being? We see beings—the chalk here. But do we see Being as we see color and light and dark?

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