Approaching Being as Self-Concealing     3

Determining what Heidegger means by ‘the self-concealing of being’ is my task in this book. I interpret a range of Heidegger’s texts from over the course of his career, but my goal is not to give a history of the idea of being’s self-concealing in Heidegger’s thought—why he introduces it and when, how and why his treatment of it changes or develops over time. My goal is more modest and preliminary: to identify what phenomenon, or phenomena, Heidegger is most plausibly talking about. I do this by surveying various candidates for the self-concealing of being and eliminating what is not a self-concealing and what is not a concealing of being. What remains should be the self-concealing of being. My method is accordingly less narrative than is usual in philosophical monographs and more taxonomical: I sort the various things that Heidegger says about concealing and concealment, cataloguing, and categorising them.2 Having distinguished the self-concealing of being from other related phenomena, I conclude by assessing what this phenomenon means for the project of asking, ‘What’s up with being?’.

This book is indebted to Joan Stambaugh’s 1992 work, The Finitude of Being, in ways that are not obvious—particularly given that The Finitude of Being appears only once in the notes.3 First, Stambaugh raises the question of the sense in which, for Heidegger, being is finite, and she pursues that question by drawing distinctions between various types of concealment. My project is an heir to Stambaugh’s, and it was inspired in part by my own dissatisfaction with her answers to the question. Second, Stambaugh’s extensive references to the relevant Heideggerian texts that were available at the time she was writing were an invaluable resource and starting


2 Heidegger might be taken to reject my classificatory approach as too calculative. He says in particular with regard to concealment: ‘It would [. . .] be an error to claim that the rich essence of concealedness [Verborgenheit] could be gained just by counting the sundry modes of concealment [Verbergung], under the guidance of the various “word meanings”. If we speak of “kinds” of concealment [Verbergung] we do not mean that there would be a genus, “concealment [Verbergung] in general”, to which then, following the schema of the usual logical classification, various species and their sub-species and variations would be subordinated’ (P: 64/GA54: 94). But if Heidegger’s general point is that ‘the connection among the kinds of concealedness [Verborgenheit] is a historical one’ (P: 64/GA54: 94) rather than a lexical one, then in order to work out that history we must first distinguish among the kinds of concealedness phenomenologically, which is precisely what I undertake to do here.

3 Joan Stambaugh, The Finitude of Being.


Heidegger on Being Self-Concealing by Katherine Withy