86 • The Question of the Essence of Being

But something contradictory cannot be. There is no square circle. And yet, there is this contradiction: Being as determinate and completely indeterminate. We see, if we do not deceive ourselves, and if for a moment amid all the day’s hustle and bustle we have time to see, that we are standing in the midst of this contradiction. This standing of ours is more actual than just about anything else that [60|83] we call actual—more actual than dogs and cats, automobiles, and newspapers.

The fact that Being is an empty word for us suddenly takes on a completely different aspect. In the end, we become suspicious of the supposed emptiness of the word. If we meditate more closely on the word, then it finally becomes apparent that with all the blurred, blended universality of its meaning, we still mean something definite by it. This definite meaning is so definite and so unique in its own way that we must even say:

Being, that which pertains to every being whatsoever and thus disperses itself into what is most commonplace, is the most unique of all.

Everything else besides Being, each and every being, even if it is unique, can still be compared with another being. These possibilities of comparison increase every being’s determinability. Because of this, every being is multiply indeterminate. But Being, in contrast, can be compared to nothing else. Its only other is Nothing. And here there is nothing to be compared. If Being is thus what is most unique and most determinate, then the expression “to be” cannot remain empty either. And in truth, it is never empty. We can easily convince ourselves of this by a comparison. When we perceive the expression “to be,” either by hearing it as a sound or seeing it in its written form, then it does present itself differently than does the sequence of sounds and letters “abracadabra.” Of course, this too is a sequence of sounds, but, as we say at once, it is meaningless, even if it has some sense as a magical formula.

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