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Lecture Seven [92-93]

principle now says, however, easily falls prey to a misinterpretation. "Ground/reason belongs to being"--one might be inclined to understand this in the sense of "being has a reason," that is, "being is grounded. " The popularly understood and presumably valid principium rationis never speaks of this. According to the principle of reason, only beings are ever grounded. On the contrary, "ground/ reason belongs to being" is tantamount to saying: being qua being grounds.[32] Consequently only beings ever have their grounds.

The new tonality reveals the principle of reason as a principle of being. Correspondingly, if we now discuss the principle in the new tonality, we move in the realm of what one can, with a general term, call the "question of being." If we understand the principle of reason as a principle of being, then we drop, or so it seems, the question of the essence of ground/reason. But the exact opposite holds true. The discussion of the essence of ground/reason first reaches its proper realm through the other intonation of the principle of reason. It may now be worthwhile to bring into view the fact that, and in which sense, something like ground/reason belongs to the essence of being. Being and ground/reason belong together. Ground/reason receives its essence from its belonging together with being qua being. Put in the reverse, being reigns qua being from out of the essence of ground/reason. Ground/reason and being ("are") the same—not equivalent—which already conveys the difference between the names "being" and "ground/reason". Being "is" in essence: ground/reason. Therefore being can never first have a ground/reason which would supposedly ground it. Accordingly, ground/reason is missing from being. Ground/reason remains at a remove from being.[33] Being "is" the abyss in the sense of such a remaining-apart of reason from being. To the extent that being as such grounds, it remains groundless. "Being" does not fall within the orbit of the principle of reason, rather only beings do.

If we painstakingly attend to the language in which we articulate what the principle of reason says as a principle of being, then it becomes clear that we speak of being in an odd manner that is, in truth, inadmissable. We say: being and ground/reason "are" the same. Being "is" the abyss. When we say something "is" and "is such and so," then that something is, in such an utterance, represented as a being. Only a being "is"; the "is" itself—being—"is" not. This wall in front of you and behind me is. It immediately shows itself to us as something present. But where is its "is"? Where should we seek the presencing of the wall? Probably these questions already run awry. Nevertheless the wall "is."

Hence, there is a peculiar state of affairs with the "is" and "being." In order to respond to it, we articulate what the principle of reason says as a principle of being as follows: Being and ground/reason: the same. Being: the abyss. As we remarked, to say "being" "is" ground/reason is inadmissable. This way of speaking, which is virtually unavoidable, does not apply to "being"; it does not hit upon its proper character.


The Principle of Reason (GA 10) by Martin Heidegger