The Event of Thinking the Event 129

to be-ing with appropriate language, but it is impossible to say be-ing directly—or indirectly (79). Nothing we can say will make be-ing show itself with perfect clarity.

The “logic” of this silence is “sigetic” (§§37–38), from the Greek sigan, to keep silent.85 “Sigetic” is a rejoinder to the logical tradition, just as sigan is a counterpart to legein. “Sigetic” is an artificial term, and Heidegger warns us not to be satisfied with introducing it as a technical concept that will replace “logic” in some “system” of Heideggerian philosophy (79). Neither is sigetic an irrationalist rejection of logic; it does not invalidate the correctness of logic within its own domain, but this domain is limited and made possible by the domain of sigetic. Telling silence includes the logic of beingness, just as the grounding question incorporates and transforms the guiding question (79). In other words, the question of how be-ing essentially happens includes the search for the universal characteristics of beings, while changing the meaning of this search; in just the same way, sigetic incorporates logic. In order to understand this, we need to consider the relation between be-ing and beings, and Heidegger’s interpretation of logos.

In chapter 3 we will look more closely at be-ing and beings, but we can already see that be-ing cannot be put into words as beings can. The givenness of beings depends on a givenness of their being; our everyday encounters with things are sustained by a prior familiarity with what is, as such and as a whole. This prior familiarity normally lies in oblivion; we take it for granted. Being, as it were, gives way to beings: it gives them a way to present themselves, but at the same time, it fades into the background. Experiences such as anxiety can wake us up from our immersion in entities and make us aware of their being, but awareness of the being of beings is not the same as the ability to put it into words. In fact, in moments of anxiety words may fail us, returning only when we return to beings. The dis-quieting experience of the difference between something and nothing calls for an infinity of words— but also shows that no words are adequate.

Metaphysicians have tried to put the being of beings into words, to articulate the structures of presence. But even if we grant for the sake of argument that they have succeeded, further challenges face anyone who tries, with Heidegger, to raise the question of be-ing—the question of how the being of beings is itself given. First, “every saying already speaks from the truth of be-ing and can never directly leap over itself to get to be-ing itself” (79). Be-ing always lies behind our backs: it enables the articulation of beings, so

85. Cf. Jean Greisch, “La parole d’origine, l’origine de la parole: Logique et sigétique dans les Beiträge zur Philosophie de Martin Heidegger,” Rue Descartes 1–2 (1991): 210–12; Daniel Panis, “La Sigétique,” Heidegger Studies 14 (1998): 111–27.

Richard Polt - The Emergency of Being