On the Grammar and Etymology of “Being” • 79

3. The third stem appears only in the inflection of the German verb sein: wes; Sanskrit: vasami; Germanic: wesan, to dwell, to abide, to sojourn; to ves belong: westia, wastu, Vesta, vestibulum. From this we have the German form gewesen and additionally: was, war, es west, wesen. The participle wesend is still retained in an-wesend, ab-wesend <pre-sent, ab-sent>. The substantive Wesen does not originally mean what-ness <Was-sein>, quidditas, but rather enduring as present <Gegenwart>, pre-sencing and ab-sencing. The sens in the Latin prae-sens and ab-sens has been lost. Does Dii con-sentes <usually translated “the gods willing”> mean the gods who together are pre-sencing?

From the three stems we derive three initial and vividly definite meanings: living, emerging, abiding. Linguistics establishes them. Linguistics also establishes that today these initial meanings have died out, that only an “abstract” meaning, “to be,” has survived. But here a decisive question announces itself: how are the three stems above unified? What carries and leads the saga <Sage> of Being? What is our speaking <Sagen> of Being based on—after all its linguistic inflections? This speaking and the understanding of Being, are they the same, or not? How does the distinction between Being and beings essentially unfold in the saga of Being? As valuable as these conclusions of linguistics are, we cannot be satisfied with them. For after these conclusions, the questioning must first begin.

We have a chain of questions to pose:

1. What kind of “abstraction” came into play in the formation of the word sein?

2. May we even speak of abstraction here?

3. What is the abstract meaning that is left over, then?

4. Can one explain the happening that opens itself up here—the fact that different meanings, which also imply experiences, grow together into the inflections of one verb, and not just any verb—simply by saying that something has been lost in the process?

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