78     Plank Three: Being and Disclosing, Part I

essence of the student essay, it might seem that, together, they are the being of the student essay. They certainly give us what it means to be a student’s essay—a norm or standard on the basis of which we make sense of things as students’ essays. That on the basis of which (woraufhin) an entity makes sense is significance (SZ: 143), meaning (SZ: 151, 324), or possibilities (SZ: 145)—and that on the basis of which (woraufhin) entities are understood is their being (SZ: 6). So, the being of an entity seems to be its involvement, meaning, essence, or definition.

But, as I have said, meanings, norms, and definitions are entities. Involvements are entities, and they are part of the world, which is itself an entity. It is hard to see how such entities could be the being of an entity without violating the ontological difference. There are also textual grounds for rejecting the normative interpretation of being. Meaning is ‘the “upon-which” [Woraufhin] of a projection in terms of which something becomes intelligible as something’ (SZ: 151, original italicised, cf. SZ: 324). If being were meaning, then it would be the ‘upon-which’ of the projection. But it is (Dasein’s) being that is projected (SZ: 143), and Heidegger in fact identifies the upon-which of this projection as what makes care possible (SZ: 324), which we know to be temporality. So, being cannot be meaning. Indeed, being is not meaning but has meaning: ‘this being [implied: Sein], as projected upon its “upon-which”, is what “really” “has meaning” first of all’ (SZ: 324, insertion mine). Finally, collapsing being into meaning makes nonsense of Heidegger’s project of finding the meaning of being, as well as his claim that meaning is an existentiale of Dasein (SZ: 151).

So, what ‘is’ being? The being (Sein) of an entity (das Seiende) is whatever happening we note when we use a form of the verb ‘to be’ (sein). When we say of an entity that it is, we are flagging that something is happening such that there is an entity there rather than not (i.e., its being that it is) and such that the entity is of some sort rather than another (i.e., its being what it is). Just as what makes for a dancer is that they are dancing, what makes for something that is is is-ing or be-ing. Or again: ‘[t]he way the singing [singend] bird comports itself we call singing [das Singen]. The way the extant [seiend] being comports itself we call being [das Sein]’ (BWP: 8/GA35: 10,


Heidegger on Being Self-Concealing by Katherine Withy