We have already said frequently before that being is already understood in advance in grasping beings; the precursive understanding-of-being provides light, as it were, for every grasp of beings. "In advance," "precursive"—are these not the prior? Certainly I But we said too that the prior does not pertain to the order of conceptualization, and now we are speaking of a precursive understanding-of-being, an understanding in advance. The πρότερον of οὐσία, of the ἰδέα, is nevertheless not a πρότερον γνῶσει [prior by knowledge]. We should note that γνῶσις here always means knowing beings, and the rejection of this kind of πρότερον has only a negative meaning, when understood correctly. It means being is not a being and its conceptualization is not of the order of conceiving beings. Thus being is, in the end, indeed prior with regard to its being grasped in the broadest sense of the term, prior to grasping beings. And, in the end, being is [gibt sich das Sein] in a way that differs totally from our grasping of beings. Being is "in itself" [gibt sich 'an sich'] in an original sense: it is a πρότερον φύσει and πρὸς ἡμάς—only if understood correctly, and not as one ontic thing among others. Being is the solely and genuinely "in itself"; and hence the originary nature of the understanding-of-being and (as we shall see) of freedom.
Being is prior neither ontically nor logically, but prior in a primordial sense that precedes both. It is prior to each of them in a different way; neither ontically nor logically prior but ontologically. But this is the problem. It is precisely the problem of how being is "earlier," how it, qua being, originally relates to time. Being and time, this is the basic problem I And as long as this problem is not posed or only relatively solved, even the use of the term "a priori" remains unjustified and unwarranted, as does the talk of "a posteriori" and the distinction in general.
In an obscure sense, being is prior. It grows clearer, in a certain way, if we refer to something else that Plato, in particular, saw in his doctrine of ἀνάμνησις. Being is what we recall, what we accept as something we immediately understand as such, what is always already given to us; being is never alien but always familiar, "ours:' Being is, accordingly, what we always already understand, and we only need to recall it once again to grasp it as such. In grasping being we do not conceive anything new, but something basically familiar; we always already exist in an understanding-of-being, insofar as we relate to what we now call "beings." This recollection pertains to being and thus reveals an original connection of being with time: always already there and yet always grasped only in coming back to it. This is not the common recollection of something ontic that happened, a being; it is rather