On the Grammar and Etymology of the Word “Being”

If for us Being is just an empty word and an evanescent meaning, then we must at least first try to grasp fully this last remnant of a connection. So we ask, to begin with:

1. What sort of word is this anyway—“Being”—as regards its formal character as a word?

2. What does linguistics tell us about the original meaning of this word?

To put this in scholarly terms, we are asking 1) about the grammar, and 2) about the etymology of the word “Being.”1

The grammatical analysis of words is neither exclusively nor primarily concerned with their written or spoken form. It takes these formal elements as clues to definite directions and differences in direction in the possible meanings of words; these directions dictate how the words can be used within a sentence or within a larger discursive structure.

1. In regard to this section, see now Ernst Fraenkel, “Das Sein und seine Modalitäten,” in Lexis (Studien zur Sprachphilosophie, Sprachgeschichte und Begriffsforschung), ed. Johannes Lohmann, vol. II (1949), 149 ff. <Heidegger’s note in the 1953 edition.>

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