94 • The Question of the Essence of Being

1) by the blurring typical of the infinitive and 2) by the blending to which all three of the original root meanings have been subjected.

Once we had explained the fact in this way, we characterized it as the unshaken point of departure for all the traditional metaphysical questioning about “Being.” It begins with beings and is directed toward them. It does not begin with Being in the questionworthiness of its openness. Since the meaning and concept “Being” have the highest universality, meta-physics, as “physics,” cannot rise any higher to define them more precisely. Thus, it has only one way left: away from the universal, to the particular beings. In this way, to be sure, the emptiness of the concept of Being is filled, namely by beings. But now, the slogan “away from Being and toward the particular beings” has shown that it is mocking itself in some way it does not understand.

For the much-invoked particular beings can open themselves up as such to us only if and when we already understand Being in advance in its essence.

This essence has already lit itself up. But it still remains in the realm of the unquestioned.

Now let us recall the question that was posed at the start. Is “Being” merely an empty word? Or are Being and the asking of the question of Being the fate of the spiritual history of the West? [66|92]

Is Being just a last wisp of evaporating reality, and is the only attitude left for us to let it evaporate completely into a matter of indifference? Or is Being what is most worthy of questioning?

By questioning in this way, we complete the decisive step from an indifferent fact and the supposed emptiness of the meaning of the word “Being” to the happening that is most worthy of questioning: that Being necessarily opens itself up in our understanding.

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