The Self-Concealing of Being      149

that ‘there is no way out [. . .] to explain the most unusual and thereby make it again the usual’ (BQP: 150/GA45: 174)—that is, like entities in having determinate contrasts. Being’s shining out is thus only metaphorically an ‘inconspicuous shining [unscheinbare[s] Scheinen]’ (H: 109/GA55: 144). It is rather an unconstrained, upsurgent appearing—an unbounded bounding forth.

It is because it is unbounded in this way that being can be forgotten, not only in Dasein’s absorption in entities but in the history of metaphysics. Lacking any contrast cases, being is indefinable (SZ: 4). It cannot be defined in the ways that entities are defined—namely, by being collected under a genus and distinguished by specific difference. It thus appears as a simple, universal concept (SZ: 3), at work in all our recognition of entities as entities, and so as self-evident (SZ: 4) and undifferentiated. Metaphysics comes to forget that being involves any difference at all. It forgets that there are different ways of being—that, for example, Dasein’s existing differs from the being involved of the ready-to-hand, and that both differ from the being present-at-hand of the substance or merely present entity. For reasons that Heidegger (not always plausibly) details, this latter way of being comes to dominate in the history of Western metaphysics and to occlude the very possibility of other ways of being. All entities, including we ourselves, show up as mere objects, simply there—or, at most, as there to be exploited. ‘Entities then appear in that way, namely as objects and as things objectively present, as if beyng were not occurring essentially [weste]’ (C: 91/GA65: 115).

Of course, the reason for this flattening of ways of being is precisely that being’s essential occurring involves self-concealing. As Heraclitus put it, phusis kruptesthai philei. We can now return to Heidegger’s interpretation of this fragment, which I discussed in §3, and make sense of what Heidegger says of it. To say that phusis kruptesthai philei, that being loves to conceal itself, is to say that being is essentially self-concealing. As I have interpreted it, this says that it is essential to the happening of being that it be ultimately concealed by virtue of the inaccessibility of its various others than, including its ground and lēthē. That being’s self-concealing is a consequence of the inaccessibility of lēthē to disclosing begins to


Heidegger on Being Self-Concealing by Katherine Withy