Hegel > 187


Heidegger therefore says, “For, when Hegel conceives being as the indeterminate immediate, he experiences it as what is posited by the determining and conceiving subject” (HG, 333). This makes it impossible for Hegel to incorporate a crucial moment in the Greek beginning of philosophy, without which, Heidegger wants to say, philosophy has not reached the most fundamental issue. “Accordingly, he is not able to release εἶναι, being in the Greek sense, from the relation to the subject, and set it free into its own essence. This essence, however, is presencing, that is to say, an enduring coming forth from concealment into unconcealment. In coming to presence, disclosure is at play” (HG, 333).

In other words, Hegel draws exactly the wrong lesson from the unthinkability of Being as such, a generality that is so general it dissolves into something unavailable. But its unavailability to discourse, and by contrast its presencing in disclosure, is precisely the point. It ought to have led Hegel to question the identification of the Absolute as absolute intelligibility. In fact, Heidegger claims in his 1925/1926 seminar on the Logic that the problem of this beginning is the “greatest predicament [Verlegenheit] of Hegelian logic as a whole” (W, 24). The true Hegelian beginning is not being or its identity with nothing but becoming, Werden, but all that means is the expression of the already presupposed, the condition of differentiation itself. In effect the beginning is the assertion of thinking as discursive differentiation. Hegel “actually begins with becoming, and only apparently with being; he wants to fool us” (W, 31).15 Moreover, even becoming is not becoming, temporal change from one state to what it is not, but a merely formal category. In other words, thinking is really “the first, substantive beginning” (W, 42).

In Identity and Difference, Heidegger even uses one of Hegel’s own examples, which Hegel intended to dismiss the attempt to think such generality, or Being as such, against him. “Hegel at one point mentions the following case to characterize the generality of what is general: Someone wants to buy fruit in a store. He asks for fruit. He is offered apples and pears, he is offered peaches, cherries, grapes. But he rejects all that is offered. He absolutely wants to have fruit. What was offered to him in every instance is fruit and yet, it turns out, fruit cannot be bought” (ID, 66). For Hegel, we should conclude by the analogy that Being in itself cannot be discursively thought and must be determined initially as becoming, not that the shopper’s request is a confusion that should be cleared up by pointing out the Being is not a being. (The shopper conflates the ontological difference, just like Hegel. He tries to think of “fruit” as if it were another object.) Th is allows Heidegger to make the main claim in his philosophy again. “But here,


15. See also Henrich 1971.


The Culmination by Robert Pippin