§14. The authentic determination of being

So, what is procured in this making-present (that is, in the uncovering of something) is the uncoveredness or presence-now of something present; and presence is what characterizes beings themselves insofar as they are. In other words, being is understood as presence, and presence and presence-now are understood as presenting. To that extent, being can and must be determined, via truth, as presence, such that presence-now is the highest form of presence.

Plato already characterizes being as presence-now. And the word οὐσία (which gets peddled around absurdly in the history of philosophy as “substance”) means nothing other than “presence” in a sense that we still have to specify. But in all this it is necessary to emphasize that, yes, the Greeks (Plato and Aristotle) do determine being as οὐσία, but they were very far from understanding what is really entailed in defining being as presence and as presence-now. Presence-now is a characteristic of time. To understand being as presence on the basis of presence-now means to understand being in terms of time.

The Greeks had no suspicion of this unfathomable problematic, which opens up before us once we have seen this connection [between being and time]. This connection also lets us explain for the first time the difference between presence and presence-now, as well as between presence-now and its modes. At the same time [194] it lets us understand why it is possible, especially in a preliminary state of the interpretation of being, to identity the two of them [viz., being and time]. Once we have understood the internal coherence of understanding being in terms of time, we will have a light, as it were, to shine back over the history of the problem of being (and the history of philosophy in general) so that finally it acquires some sense.

In that process we come to see that Kant is the only philosopher who even suspected that the understanding of being and its characteristics is connected with time. But his very conception of time blocked him from achieving a fundamental understanding of the problem—that is, blocked him from asking the question at all. In his Critique of Pure Reason, Kant did not attain the appropriate basis for synthesizing the schematism of the concepts of the understanding (where time is the really fundamental concept) with the basic function of consciousness, transcendental apperception. If this inner connection had opened up to him, he certainly would have taken an essential step beyond the whole of ontology—but on an inadequate basis, to be sure.

To take this step you need an understanding of time that breaks radically with the traditional understanding. Kant, however, held firm to the traditional concept of time. Not only that, but from the outset and throughout his entire problematic, he oriented the concept of time to knowledge and the question about the possibility of knowledge, viz. intuition. Nonetheless, his discussion of time—and above all the prob

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