as the “nearness” of death in dying. The metaphysical thought of a pure presence, and with it a pure absence, is disrupted by death. Death is no pure presence in Dasein, the presence of which entails a pure absence of being. Rather, “as the end of Dasein, death is in the being of this being toward its end” (GA 2: 343/SZ 259). What has passed for being (that which “is”) is really the “toward.” What is is toward. Dying names a way of being in which Dasein is toward its death (GA 2: 328– 29/SZ 247). A marginal note to Heidegger’s copy of Being and Time reiterates the point: “The relation of Dasein to death; death itself = its arrival—entrance, dying” (GA 2: 319 n. a/SZ 240 fn.). Death is in an arriving that will never have done with it. The point hearkens back to Epicurus: there is no death beyond the dying. Thinking death in terms of this “toward” means rethinking the very “possibility” of death, and breaking with the idea that it would be something that has “not yet” occurred or would even be something in the least realizable.
Nevertheless, a “not yet” is said to belong to Dasein insofar as it exists as a potentiality of being (GA 2: 310/SZ 233). Dasein is not yet dead. Yet this not yet is nothing lacking from or outstanding to Dasein. It cannot be thought of like the last quarter of a three-quarter’s full moon, for example. The not yet of this quarter moon is a problem of our perception, not of its being; that outstanding quarter of the moon is really there. The situation is otherwise with Dasein. The not-yet in this case “‘is’ not yet ‘real’ [wirklich] at all” (GA 2: 324/SZ 243). The quotation marks tell the story here. Our not yet cannot be said to “be” anything, when being is only thought of as “reality.” The not-yet is not real in a reality that has been thought as actuality. And insofar as actuality is taken to be a realm of activity (specifically of causal activity) that likewise includes in its functioning its counter-concept of passivity, the death of Dasein will not be ascertainable in terms of a passivity either. We can see this in Heidegger’s remarks on “suffering.” It is those who remain behind the dead person who suffer the loss of the death. The dying person does not suffer, i.e., does not passively undergo, any loss of being, and this is so much the case that Heidegger must again resort to quotation marks when discussing our presumed access to this loss, “the loss of being as such, which the dying person ‘suffers,’ does not become accessible” (GA 2: 318/SZ 239). Neither an activity nor a passivity, the not yet of Dasein names our way of being, neither active agent nor passive recipient of the world, but rather an inclination “toward” it. This is being-toward-death.
Consequently, the temptation must be resisted of thinking being-toward-death as a way of being that is running toward death or has death as its goal. And even when Heidegger expressly speaks of a Vorlaufen, literally a “running ahead,” to death (less literally, an “anticipation” of