The Restriction of Being • 219

4. Being and the Ought


If we use our diagram as a guideline to represent this separation, it goes in still another direction. The separation between Being and thinking is drawn downward. This indicates that thinking becomes the ground that sustains and determines Being. The separation between Being and the ought, however, is drawn upward. [150|205] This suggests that whereas Being is grounded in thinking, it is surpassed by the ought. What this means is that Being is no longer what is definitive, what provides the measure. But is it not the idea, the prototype? Yes, but precisely because of their character as prototypes, the ideas no longer provide the measure. For as that which offers a look, and thus in a certain way is something that is (ὄν), the idea, as such a being, demands in turn the determination of its Being, that is, once again a single look. According to Plato, the idea of ideas, the highest idea, is the ἰδέα τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ, the idea of the good.

The “good” here does not mean what is orderly in the moral sense, but the valiant, which achieves and can achieve what is proper to it. The ἀγαθόν is the standard as such, what first grants Being the potency to unfold essentially as ἰδέα, as prototype. What grants such potency is the primally potent. But now, insofar as the ideas constitute Being as οὐσία, the ἰδέα τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ, the highest idea, stands ἐπέκεινα τῆς οὐσίας, beyond Being.114 Thus Being itself, not in general but as ἰδέα, comes into opposition to something else to which it itself, Being, remains assigned. The highest idea is the archetype of the prototypes.

We need no far-reaching discussions now in order to make it clear that in this separation, as in the others, what is excluded from Being, the ought, is not imposed on Being from some other source. Being itself, in its particular interpretation as idea,


114. Plato, Republic 509b.


Introduction to Metaphysics, 2nd ed. (GA 40) by Martin Heidegger

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