90 • The Question of the Essence of Being

For saying beings as such involves understanding beings as beings, that is, their Being, in advance. Presuming that we did not understand Being at all, presuming that the word “Being” did not even have that evanescent meaning, then there would not be any single word at all. We ourselves could never be those who say. We would never be able to be those who we are. For to be human means to be a sayer. Human beings are yes- and no-sayers only because they are, in the ground of their essence, sayers, the sayers. That is their distinction and also their predicament. [63|88] It distinguishes them from stones, plants, and animals, but also from the gods. Even if we had a thousand eyes and a thousand ears, a thousand hands, and many other senses and organs, if our essence did not stand within the power of language, then all beings would remain closed off to us—the beings that we ourselves are, no less than the beings that we are not.

Thus, as we review our discussion up to this point, the following state of affairs becomes apparent. When we set out by proposing this as a factthis [which shall for now remain nameless],2 that for us Being is only an empty word with an evanescent meaning—then we deposed it and thus demoted it from its authentic rank. In contrast, for our Dasein, this—that we understand Being, if only in an indefinite way—has the highest rank, insofar as in this, a power announces itself in which the very possibility of the essence of our Dasein is grounded. It is not one fact among others, but that which merits the highest worth according to its rank, provided that our Dasein, which is always a historical Dasein, does not remain a matter of indifference to us. Yet even in order for Dasein to remain an indifferent being for us, we must understand Being. Without this understanding, we could not even say no to our Dasein.

2. In parentheses in the 1953 edition.

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