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Heidegger's Philosophy of Being

Heidegger's Philosophy
of Being

CopyrightÓ1998 by Princeton University Press
Published by Princeton University Press, 41 William Street, Princeton, New Jersey 08540
In the United Kingdom: Princeton University Press, Chichester, West Sussex
All Rights Reserved
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Philipse, Herman.
Heidegger's philosophy of being : a critical interpretation / Herman Philipse.
p. cm.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 0-691-00117-0 (cloth : alk. paper). Ð ISBN 0-691-00119-7 (pbk. : alk. paper)
1. Heidegger, Martin, 1889±1976ÐContributions in ontology. 2. Ontology. I. Title.
B3279.H49P48 1998 111ÐDC21 98-34876
This book has been composed in Times Roman
Princeton University Press books are printed on acid-free paper and meet the guidelines for
permanence and durability of the Committee on Production Guidelines for Book
Longevity of the Council on Library Resources
Printed in the United States of America


The real community of man, in the midst of all the self-contradictory simulacra
of community, is the community of those who seek the truth, of the potential
knowers, that is, in principle, of all men to the extent that they desire to know.
But in fact this includes only a few.
Allan Bloom,The Closing of the American Mind

Introduction 3
§ 1. HeideggerAbsconditus 4
§ 2. Heidegger on Logic 9
§ 3. The Philosophy ofSein und Zeit 15
§ 4. The Question of Being: Six Problems 31
§ 5. Ways of Interpretation 45
Analysis 67
§ 6. An Interpretative Hypothesis 68
§ 7. The Meta-Aristotelian Theme 77
§ 8. The Phenomenologico-Hermeneutical Theme 98
§ 9. The Transcendental Theme 121
§ 10. The Neo-Hegelian Theme 151
§ 11. The Postmonotheist Theme 172
Synthesis 211
§ 12. Forms of Synthesis 214
§ 13. The Turn (die Kehre) 233
§ 14. Heidegger and Hitler 246
§ 15. Heidegger and Nietzsche 276
Critique 291
§ 16. The Later Works 296
§ 17. An Evaluation ofSein und Zeit 317
§ 18. Death and the Multitude 346

PHILOSOPHERS seek to acquire not only knowledge but also wisdom, as Voltaire
tells us in hisDictionnaire philosophique. This holds undisputedly for the greatest
philosophers of ancient Greece, Plato and Aristotle, and for the Christian thinkers
in the medieval tradition. They all believed that knowledge and wisdom are
closely related. No logical gap yawns between the scienti®c system of the world
of Plato or Aristotle, for instance, and the idea of human sapience they advocated.
The latter follows from the former, since their teleological worldviews imply an
account of thetelosor sense of human existence.
However, since the scienti®c revolution in the seventeenth century, which sub-
stituted a mechanical view of the world for the old, teleological one, the connec-
tion between knowledge and wisdom in Western culture has become more and
more problematic. Unlike the mainstream Greco-Judeo-Christian tradition, mod-
ern science teaches that man is not the center and purpose of the universe. Man-
kind is but an accidental outcome of an aimless evolution of matter, and will
sooner or later be crushed by cosmic processes. If this is what science teaches us,
one might feel, like young Ludwig Wittgenstein, that even when all possible
scienti®c questions have been answered, the problems of life remain completely
The modern tension between knowledge and wisdom causes a centrifugal ten-
dency in philosophy itself. Some philosophers consider scienti®c integrity as the
highest philosophical virtue. In their eyes, to voice one's opinions on human wis-
dom and the ªmeaning of existenceº is a symptom of bad taste in intellectual
matters. Others stress the sterility and irrelevance of scienti®c philosophy for life,
and seek to revitalize the discipline by linking it to the arts, or by an attempt to
®nd inspiration in alien cultures or in earlier stages of Western civilization, in
which science and wisdom were still closely intertwined. This rift in modern
philosophy explains in part the ®erce and contradictory responses to the work of
a philosopher who is, according to many scholars on the Continent, the greatest
thinker of the twentieth century: Martin Heidegger.
InSein und Zeit(1927,Being and Time), Heidegger's ®rst major publication,
which caused his celebrity overnight and radically transformed the continental
philosophical scene, there is an intimate connection between the epistemic pro-
gram of a fundamental ontology and a speci®c ideal of an authentic human life
(eigentliche Existenz). As Heidegger stresses in the ®nal paragraph of section
62, his fundamental ontology presupposes the existential ideal, and he says that
presupposing it is a positive necessity.
2Because of this connection between philo-
sophical knowledge and wisdom, betweenWissenschaftand an ideal of human
life, Heidegger squarely belongs to the great philosophical tradition of the West.
Yet this very connection accounts for the critique of scienti®cally minded philoso-

phers such as Husserl, who reproached Heidegger for having written a book which
is, though unmistakably of genius, thoroughly unscienti®c.
3It also explains the
fascinationSein und Zeitexerts on ever new generations of readers.
I vividly remember the impactSein und Zeitmade on me when I read it for the
®rst time, about a quarter of a century ago, during my years as an undergraduate.
Whereas Heidegger's elaborate ontological characterization of human existence
as being-in-the-world purported to liberate philosophy from the dusty epistemo-
logical problems over which I had agonized to no avail, his existential ideal of
an authentic life, inciting one to a passionate ªfreedom toward death,º seemed to
justify and aggrandize my personal history as a young man who tried to break
free from the limitations of his background, and who took irresponsible risks
during reckless mountaineering tours. Here ®nally was a philosopher for whom
philosophy meant more than an intellectual game concerned with arti®cial prob-
lems such as the problem of the external world, a philosopher who tried to inten-
sify life itself. As Heidegger said at the end of theDisputatiowith Ernst Cassirer
in Davos (1929), philosophy has the task of kicking man out of the lazy attitude
in which he merely uses the works of the mind, and of throwing him back, as it
were, into the harshness of his destiny.
4What attracted me toSein und Zeit, apart
from the dazzling phenomenological analyses of human existence, were what
seemed to be a sober-minded and yet heroic acceptance of human ®niteness, the
absence of any attempt to reconcile oneself to one's mortality by postulating a
transcendent realm, and the glori®cation of individual independence.
Shortly afterwards, however, doubts overcame me as to whether my interpreta-
tion ofSein und Zeithad been correct. I had read the celebrated ªquestion of
being,º which Heidegger raises in the introduction to the book, as a question
concerned with the meaning of human existence. Accordingly, the central thesis
ofSein und Zeit, thattimeis the horizon of each and every ªunderstanding of
being,º seemed a natural one: if human existence is essentially ®nite, we have to
®nd its meaning within the horizon of the limited time of our life, and not in an
imaginary eternal realm. Yet I got the impression that Heidegger's later writings
refuted this atheist and existentialist interpretation of the question of being.
ready inWas ist Metaphysik?(What Is Metaphysics?), the inaugural lecture of
1929, Heidegger wrote thatbeingitself (das Sein selbst) reveals itself in human
existence (Dasein), when Dasein transcends itself, exposing itself in nothingness.
According to the postscript of 1943, human thought should obey and listen to
ªthe voice of being.º 7What disturbed me was not only the fact that these and
similar phrases echo traditional theological sayings, but also and particularly the
contempt for logic and rationality Heidegger expressed in the lecture. Was his not
a deeply theological mind, which wanted to ªbreakº the power of reason and to
ªresolve the idea of logic in a turbulence of more original questioningº concerning
being and nothingness?
8What else was this than the traditionalsacri®cium intel-
lectusin order to reach God in faith? And how is one to interpret Heidegger's
question of being, if the word ªbeingº refers both to human existence and to a

mysterious nonentity, called ªbeingº in a participial sense, which reveals and
conceals itself and to whose voice the thinker has to listen? What is Heidegger's
relation to traditional monotheistic theology?
In the course of time, other questions were added to these. Heidegger is often
called a master of philosophical questioning. Pupils such as Hannah Arendt and
Hans-Georg Gadamer testify how in his seminars Heidegger was able to restore
the great philosophical texts of the past to their original expressive power, and
how he inspired his students to question the seeming philosophical self-evidences
of the present. However, there is one type of question Heidegger rarely asks and
apparently considers philosophically irrelevant: biographical questions about the
philosophers whose works he endeavors to elucidate. The laconic phrase with
which Heidegger began a lecture course on Aristotle the ®rst of May 1924, that
Aristotle ªwas born, worked, and died,º functions as an annulment of Aristotle's
tragic and interesting life, as if the lives of philosophers do not matter at all for
the interpretation of their works.
9Now this may be true of philosophers such as
Frege, whose writings barely give us a reason to consider his life story. But what
about Heidegger himself, who advocated a speci®c existential attitude inSein und
Zeit, and whose work is deeply rooted in theLebensphilosophie(philosophy of
life) of Kierkegaard, Dilthey, and Nietzsche, according to which one's philosophi-
cal convictions express one's life as it is shaped by physiological, historical, politi-
cal, religious, or social conditions?
On this issue philosophersÐJaspers, LoÈ
with, and Habermas are among the
notable exceptionsÐoften have been naõÈ
ve, while journalists like Paul HuÈ
feld, sociologists such as Christian Graf von Krockow, and historians such as
Hugo Ott, have taught us to ask the proper and improper questions about Heideg-
ger's life, and to hear the political resonances concealed in Heidegger's texts. No
wonder that these questions focus on Heidegger's Nazism, even though Heideg-
ger's adherence to Hitler is not the only, and perhaps not even the most important
biographical fact relevant to the interpretation of his works. Discussions of Hei-
degger's involvement with the National Socialist movement have come in at least
three waves: the ®rst directly after the war, when Heidegger was deprived of his
professorial rights on 19 January 1946; the second after the publication of the
hrung in die Metaphysik(An Introduction to Metaphysics) in 1953, which
occasioned the young student JuÈ
rgen Habermas, writing in theFrankfurter All-
gemeine Zeitungof 25 July 1953, to raise the question as to whether Heidegger's
later philosophy did not declare National Socialism innocent of its crimes; and
the third after the new publication in 1983 of Heidegger's rectoral address of
27 May 1933, accompanied by Heidegger's own of®cial version of the events of
1933±34, and edited by Heidegger's son Hermann Heidegger.
11This publication
triggered Hugo Ott's historical investigations into Heidegger's life, because Ott
was asked to review the pamphlet, which was, as he ironically observes, a ªcontri-
bution to the ®ftieth anniversary of Hitler's rise to power.º
12The third wave has

not stopped yet, and especially after Victor Farias's study on Heidegger and Na-
zism appeared in 1987, it tends to swamp all other Heidegger scholarship.
I do not intend to add another book to this ever-growing stream. Yet questions
regarding the relation between Heidegger's work and his life cannot be ignored
by those who want to understand his philosophy. Certainly, the texts are the only
and ®nal authority where interpretation is concerned, but one cannot decide in
advance which contexts will be relevant to interpreting these texts. Should one
study the philosophical tradition only? Should one draw in great religious writers,
such as Luther and Eckhart? Should one also study the cultural and political
situation in Germany after the Great War and Heidegger's personal life in order
to grasp the meaning of his teachings? There can be no a priori ban on any of
these directions of research.
Heidegger suggests in the pamphlet published in 1983 that he renounced his
adherence to National Socialism in the spring of 1934. However, according to
Karl LoÈ
with, Heidegger expressed his loyalty to Hitler during a conversation in
Rome in 1936, and agreed that his political involvement was based on his philoso-
phy, especially on his notion of historicity.
13What, then, is the relation between
Heidegger's philosophy and his political stance? The task of the historian will be
to unearth the facts on the basis of testimonies and of documents which, for a
large part, still are locked up in archives. Such a fact is the case of the prominent
chemist Hermann Staudinger, who was denounced by Heidegger, as Hugo Ott
14But if the historian ®nds texts neglected by the philosopher, texts in
which Heidegger says, for instance, that ªtheFuÈ
hrerhimself and aloneisthe
present and future German reality and its law,º what is the signi®cance of such
texts for Heidegger's philosophical thought?
15Doesn't the fact that in this exam-
ple the verb ªisº is italicized indicate that there is a relation between this text
and Heidegger's question of being, as Ott suggests? What is this relation? Do
Heidegger's political texts move at the periphery of his thought, or do they occupy
its very center?
In order to answer these and similar questions, a philosophical interpretation
of Heidegger's oeuvre is needed that distinguishes the essential from the acciden-
tal, the center from the periphery, the fundamental structures from the incidental
details. To develop such an interpretation is the ®rst major objective of this book.
Initially, it may seem easy to ®nd the center of Heidegger's thought. For Hei-
degger endorsed a conception of philosophy that might be called monogamous,
or, less kindly, monomaniac. According to Heidegger, a philosopher should
merely think one thought, or ask only one question. This one question, at least in
Heidegger's own case, is the celebratedquestion of being, and my interpretation
of Heidegger's philosophy focuses on the question of being. However, as soon as
one tries to concentrate on the question of being, one will get the feeling that, to
paraphrase Nicholas of Cusa, the center and the periphery of Heidegger's philoso-
phy coincide. It is hard to determine what Heidegger's question of being amounts

to, and its meaning seems both to manifest and to conceal itself in the most
peripheral details of his texts.
More speci®cally, the interpreter of Heidegger's question of being has to face
a great number of nearly insuperable dif®culties. One is that Heidegger under-
stood his thought as aDenkweg(path of thought) and compared this road to
Holzwege(forest trails), which may lead to nowhere. Between 1930 and 1940, a
Kehre(turn) occurred in the path of Heidegger's thought, and the second part of
Sein und Zeitwas never published. Much later, in 1953, Heidegger added a pref-
ace to the seventh edition ofSein und Zeit, in which he said that nevertheless ªthe
road it [Sein und Zeit] has taken remains even today a necessary one, if our Dasein
is to be stirred by the question of being.º
16Was Heidegger stirred by one and the
same question inSein und Zeitand in the later works, as he suggests in 1953? Or
didSein und Zeitturn out to be a dead end, so that the question of being in the
later works is not precisely the same question as the one in the earlier book?
Other dif®culties stem from the sheer bulk and the textual nature of Heidegger's
works. To begin with, the edition of the collected works (Gesamtausgabe) will
amount to about one hundred volumes of an average of four hundred pages each.
Heidegger did not want the edition to be a critical one in the usual philological
sense. He ruled, for instance, that later additions should be incorporated into the
original texts without notice. This fact should render the scrupulous scholar ex-
tremely cautious about using it.
17Second, Heidegger wrote texts of a great variety
of philosophical genres. Whereas the published part ofSein und Zeitis a system-
atic treatise in the grand German philosophical style, with a pretension so high
as Germany had not seen since Hegel'sPhaÈ
nomenologie des Geistes(Phenome-
nology of the Spirit), the later works are mostly modest and short: essays, talks,
letters, dialogues, and lectures. What explains this change in the genre of Heideg-
ger's publications? Is it somehow related to the turn in his thought? In the third
place, Heidegger developed the question of being often in a dialogue with other
philosophers, from Anaximander to Kant and Nietzsche, and with poets such
as Rilke, HoÈ
lderlin, and Trakl, a dialogue disguised as an interpretation. As a
consequence, Heidegger's thought is characterized by a special elusiveness, be-
cause in hisEroÈ
rterungen(elucidations) his own intentions and those of the phi-
losopher or the poet he tries to elucidate merge imperceptibly into each other. In
fact, one has to know the works of the philosophers and poets interpreted by
Heidegger as least as well as Heidegger himself did in order to be able to distill
the Heideggerian essence out of these texts. Fourth, Heidegger cannot be accused
of explaining clearly and unambiguously what he means by ªthe question of
beingº and by many other key expressions in his works. As Paul Edwards says,
ªHeidegger and his followers appear to operate on the principle that, if it is re-
peated often enough, even the most nebulous locutions will become familiar and
seemto be intelligible.º
18Add to this the great variety of interpretations of Heideg-
ger's question of being in the existing literature, and the fact that quite often
Heidegger's German is dif®cult, if not impossible, to translate, and one will under-

stand the degree of overcon®dence, or of derangement, which one must possess
in order to intend what I want to do: to add one more book to the existing literature
on Heidegger.
There can be only one justi®cation for such an undertaking: that the interpreta-
tion proposed is new, at least to some extent, that it is clearer than the existing
interpretations, at least at some substantial points, and that it is historically correct,
however problematic these notions of clarity and correctness will be according
to followers of Heidegger. At best, an interpretation of Heidegger's question of
being should also explain why there are so many con¯icting interpretations of
this question, and it should explain, and not merely state, some of the dif®culties
noted above, such as that of the relative untranslatability of Heidegger's works.
These indeed are the merits I am claiming for my book.
In calling my interpretationcritical, I mean three things. First, I insist on a
traditional distinction between two kinds of interpretation, applicative and objec-
tive, historical, or critical ones (see § 5, below), a distinction that is obfuscated
by authors such as Gadamer and Heidegger. I am aiming at an interpretation
of the second, critical and purely historical kind. Second, I claim that only an
interpretation of this critical nature is a legitimate basis for making up one's mind
about the truth of Heidegger's philosophy, at least to the extent that his philosophy
purports to be true. In other words, such an interpretation should be the basis
for a critique of Heidegger's thought. However, as I said before, Heidegger's
philosophy not only aspired to truth or knowledge; it also and even more aspired
to wisdom, to acquiring a speci®c ªfundamental attitude.º As in the case of Pascal,
for instance, this attitude can only be obtained on the basis of anEntscheidung
(decision), which Heidegger's thought is meant to induce. If this is the case, the
proper reaction to Heidegger's writings is not only to try to understand them; it
is also to try to make the decision Heidegger wants us to make, or, perhaps, to
make the opposite decision. The Greek word for a decision iskrisis, and my
interpretation is in the third place critical in the sense that it is meant to induce a
decision regarding Heidegger's question of being. Inducing such a decision is the
second major objective of this book.
My earlier critical publications on Heidegger gave rise to an interesting type
of response. Colleagues whose work is deeply inspired by Heidegger asked me,
not without a certain degree of hostility: Why don't you leave Heidegger alone,
if you are so critical? An astonishing reaction: as if it is not legitimate to study
the works of a philosopher unless one entirely agrees with what he says. Hugo
Ott reports a similar response to his attempts to discover the historical truth about
Heidegger's past, a truth that is sometimes at variance with what Heidegger him-
self wanted us to believe. Ott's attempt to maintain his mental independence was
at once catalogued as an attack on Heidegger's philosophy by an enemy, as a
sacrilege that made Freiburg into ªan unholy place.º
19These reactions are symp-
tomatic of two features of Heideggerian thought that make the attempt to under-
stand and assess it into an exciting intellectual and personal challenge: ®rst, the

fact that Heidegger is not so much concerned with purely intellectual puzzles as
with fundamental human attitudes and deep moral choices; and second, the fact
that it seems to be dif®cult to keep one's independence and intellectual integrity
when one immerses oneself in Heidegger's writings, dif®cult to such an extent
that a more or less independent mind is perceived as a menace by some followers
of Heidegger.
I have tried to write a lucid and relatively short book, and to avoid the dreary
habit of many authors on Heidegger to offer endless paraphrases and summaries
instead of a substantial interpretation. For those who know Heidegger's texts well,
I hope to be provocative. For those who do not know Heidegger's works at all, I
aim at making them more easily accessible. There is one thing an interpretation
of a great philosopher should never pretend to be: a substitute for reading the
original texts. I will argue that, for speci®c reasons pertaining to the nature of
Heidegger's thought and to his highly innovative use of the resources of the Ger-
man language, it is impossible to translate his texts without destroying their struc-
ture, their power, their magic. This is why I decided to quote Heidegger in German
in the notes, even though this might be felt as an impoliteness to English and
American readers. Quotes in the main text are in English, but where I seem to
translate Heidegger, I intend merely to paraphrase him. All paraphrases and trans-
lations are mine, unless indicated otherwise.
The structure of the book is as follows. In the introductory ®rst chapter I offer
a number of reasons as to why an interpretation of Heidegger's question of being
is still needed and why it is dif®cult to give one. I summarize several main themes
fromSein und Zeitin order to show why Heidegger's work is relevant to issues
all philosophers, analytic and naturalist philosophers included, are trying to deal
with. Furthermore, I state six of the problems that an interpretation of Heidegger's
question of being has to solve, and I explain what kind of interpretation I intend
to provide.
In chapters 2 and 3, I develop my interpretation of Heidegger's question of
being, using the method of resolution and composition. Chapter 2 is analytical;
it speci®es ®ve aspects of or strands in the question of being, which each deter-
mine a different meaning of Heidegger's question. Indeed, it is the central thesis
of my interpretation that Heidegger's question of being has four or ®ve very
different meanings or ªleitmotifs,º as I call them. In the synthetical third chapter,
I attempt to show how these leitmotifs hang together, and I try to solve a number
of speci®c problems, such as the problem of the untranslatability of Heidegger's
texts, the problem of the turn, the problem of the unity of Heidegger'sDenkweg,
the problem of Heidegger's involvement with Hitler, and problems inherent in
Heidegger's relation to Nietzsche. I hold that reading Heidegger's works resem-
bles listening to Wagner's overtures. Different leitmotifs are interwoven in the
texts, and one will not understand the question of being unless one analyzes these
distinct themes and their complicated interweavings.

Chapter 4 is critical. On the basis of my interpretation, I assess the fundamental
structures or leitmotifs of Heidegger's thought. Such an assessment of the work
of a great philosopher will rarely lead to total adherence, nor to total rejection.
It must be critical in the sense that the attempt is made to separate the valid
from the invalid, the true from the false, the fruitful from the sterile. There is
a tendency among Heidegger's disciples to claim that a critical assessment of
Heidegger's thought is impossible, because, it is suggested, it would be impossi-
ble both to understand what Heidegger wants to say and simultaneously to be
critical of what he says. Analytical philosophers will retort that this is nothing
but a rhetorical strategy of immunization. However, in the ®nal part of section
17, which is a short study of Heidegger's rhetoric, I purport to show that such
rhetorical stratagems are not mere rhetoric: they are rooted in the fundamental
structures of Heidegger's thought.

VARIOUS institutions, audiences, friends, and students offered me assistance and
support while I was writing this book. After my long years as a dean of the faculty,
the University of Leiden generously allowed me the research time needed in order
to complete a book of this size. In spite of the fact that Dutch universities do
not have a sabbatical system, I was able to spend a leave of six months as a
visiting fellow at Princeton University in the spring of 1995 and a shorter leave
as a guest of St. John's College, Oxford, in the spring of 1996. I am grateful to
Bas Van Fraassen for inviting me to Princeton and to Peter Hacker for sponsoring
my stay in St. John's. In January 1996, Jean Franc
Ëois Courtine kindly allowed
me to use the phenomenological library of the Ecole Normale SupeÂ
rieure at the
Rue d'Ulm in Paris, enabling me to study with ef®ciency the French literature on
Drafts of this book were used as lectures at the universities of Leiden, Oxford,
and Edinburgh, all in 1996, and I bene®ted from the ensuing discussions. Peter
Hacker took the trouble to read and comment on my entire manuscript, and I
greatly pro®ted from his sharp-witted mind. Parts of the manuscript were read by
Han Adriaanse (University of Leiden), Michael Inwood (Trinity College, Oxford),
Menno Lievers (University of Utrecht), Wouter Oudemans (University of
Leiden), Thomas Pavel (Princeton University), Lambertus M. de Rijk (Universi-
ties of Leiden and Limburg), C. J. M. Sicking (University of Leiden), Barry Smith
(State University of New York at Buffalo), Fritz Stern (Columbia University), Bas
van Fraassen (Princeton University), and Ad Verbrugge (University of Leiden). I
am much obliged for their criticisms and encouragements. During the spring of
1996, I used my manuscript as the main text for an advanced seminar on Heideg-
ger at the University of Leiden, and many of my theses were ®ercely discussed
by my students. Especially helpful were comments by Nicole Bodewes and Wybo
Houkes. Lastly, I wish to thank the referees of Princeton University Press for their
generous and stimulating comments on the penultimate draft.


Heidegger's question? Is it possible to give an adequate interpretation of the ques-
tion of being at all?
In this chapter, I ®rst discuss two fundamental dif®culties that seem to stand
in the way of any attempt to interpret Heidegger's question of being. The ®rst
dif®culty pertains to the fact that the question of being appears to be hidden, or
concealed, or somehow essentially inaccessible (§ 1). The second stems from
Heidegger's view on logic (§ 2).
Interpreting Heidegger's question is not only dif®cult; it is also necessary in
order to unravel the mysteries contained in Heidegger's masterpieceSein und
Zeit, of which I give a synopsis in section 3. This book is considered by many as
one of the great classical texts of twentieth-century philosophy, and it raises prob-
lems that are vital to philosophers of all persuasions. Focusing on the introduction
toSein und Zeit, in which Heidegger unfolds his question of being, I then state
six problems that an interpretation of the question of being has to solve. These
problems are contained in the text, even though sometimes one needs to scrutinize
it to discover them, and one is advised to read Heidegger's introduction toSein
und Zeitalong with my comments (§ 4). Of these problems, the sixth and ®nal
problem is the most important one: What is the relation between Heidegger's
question of being and his revolutionary analysis of human existence inSein und
Zeit? Why did Heidegger think that he had to develop an ontology of human
existence in order to be able to raise the question of being properly?
Heidegger held speci®c views on interpretation, and he may be considered
as the founder of a new school of interpretation theorists, to which belong authors
such as Gadamer and Derrida. Should an interpretation of Heidegger's thought
be internal in the sense that it aims at conforming to Heidegger's own views
on interpretation? We have a choice here, and many types of interpretation of
Heidegger's philosophy are conceivable, internal and external ones. I argue
that we should not conform to Heidegger's own notion of an interpretation or
elucidation (EroÈ
rterung) in order to be as fair to Heidegger's intentions as one
can be (§ 5).
If we want to assign a starting point to the way of Heidegger's thought (Denkweg),
it seems to be most appropriate to single out an event that took place in 1907, the
year of Heidegger's eighteenth birthday.
9In that year Dr. Conrad GroÈ
ber, the later
archbishop of Freiburg, who was born in Meûkirch like Heidegger and had been
rector of the Konradihaus in Konstanz where young Martin lived during his time
at theGymnasium, gave Heidegger a copy of Franz Brentano's dissertation,On
the Manifold Sense of Being in Aristotle.
10Looking back on his life, Heidegger
wrote that this book incited him to raise the question of being. 11Clearly, Heidegger
wants us to interpret his philosophical journey as starting from Brentano and

Aristotle. What, then, are the contents of Brentano's dissertation, and how could
the dissertation give rise to Heidegger's question of being? In this ®rst section, I
give a provisional answer to these questions. As the reader will see, however, the
answer leads us into dif®culties that may seem insuperable.
In his concise book of 220 pages Brentano attempted to solve the traditional
interpretative problems of Aristotle's doctrine of being. The introduction explains
why, according to Aristotle, the question of being is the ®rst and most fundamental
question a philosopher should investigate. Being (to on), says Aristotle, is the
primary thing our mind conceives, because it is the most universal and the most
fundamental to thought.
12Furthermore, (®rst) philosophy is de®ned as the study of
being as such (to on hei on), which establishes the ®rst principles of the sciences. 13
Finally, the more abstract a word is, the easier we are misled by its equivocations,
so that we do well to analyze the meaning of ªto be.º For these reasons, Aristotle
in hisMetaphysicsinvestigates only one question, what is being, and he holds
that this question is fundamental to the sciences.
However, as Brentano argues in his ®rst chapter, this unique question does
admit of a multiplicity of answers, because according to Aristotle ªbeingº is said
in many ways (pollachoÅ
15In fact, Aristotle even recognizes various distinctions
among the ways in which ªbeingº is used. Of these, the distinction between four
ways of saying ªbeing,º which Aristotle mentions in book V.7 of hisMetaphysics
(1026a: 33), is the most basic one. The four ways are: (1)kata sumbebeÅ
something is said to be incidentally), (2) ªbeingº in the sense of being true, (3)
ªbeingº in the sense of being potentially or being actually, and (4) ªbeingº as it
is said in the ten categories. Accordingly, Brentano discusses Aristotle's analysis
of each of these senses of ªbeingº respectively in the remaining chapters 2, 3, 4,
and 5 of his book.
For readers who are not familiar with Aristotle'sMetaphysics, I come back to
it below, and try to explain clearly why, according to Aristotle, the question of
being is the fundamental question of philosophy (see § 7). At this point, I do
not assume any familiarity with Brentano or with Aristotle, nor, of course, with
Aristotle's question of being. Even without understanding Aristotle we may draw
some conclusions concerning Heidegger's question of being. Why did Brentano's
dissertation give rise to Heidegger's question? Heidegger learned from Brentano's
dissertation, it seems, that the philosopher has to answer one and only one ques-
tion, the question of being. Furthermore, he learned that this question is more
fundamental than the problems of the special sciences, and that, in fact, it is the
most fundamental question a human being can ask. Should we conclude that
Heidegger's question of being is identical with Aristotle's question of being, and
that the reason Heidegger wanted to raise it anew was simply that he was not
satis®ed by Aristotle's solution to the problem of being?
This is at least what Heidegger suggests when he explains with hindsight how
Brentano's dissertation motivated his philosophical journey. In ªMein Weg in
die PhaÈ
nomenologieº (My Way into Phenomenology) Heidegger expresses his

question of being as follows: ªif being is said in many ways, what then is the
leading and fundamental meaning? What does to be mean?º
16It seems that Hei-
degger was not satis®ed with Aristotle's answer for the following reason. Al-
though Aristotle analyzed different meanings of ªbeing,º he did not discover the
one leading and fundamental sense (Sinn) from which the other meanings are
somehow derived. If so, Heidegger's question of being is identical with, and yet
more focused than Aristotle's: it aims at discovering one fundamental sense that
underlies the other senses of ªto be.º This provisional interpretation is con®rmed
by section 3 ofSein und Zeit, where Heidegger says that we have to elucidate the
sense of beingtout courtin order to be able to construct the various possible
modes of being.
Let us provisionally adopt as an interpretative hypothesis the assumption that
Heidegger's question of being aimed at ®nding the one and fundamental sense of
ªto be,º from which the others can be derived, even though we do not yet grasp
at all what this obscure formula means. A clear expression and articulation of the
fundamental sense of ªto beº would then provide the answer to Heidegger's ques-
tion of being. Do we ®nd such an answer in Heidegger's writings? If this is what
we expect, we will be disappointed. Our disillusionment comes in phases, when
we read somewhat super®ciallySein und Zeitand the later works.
A ®rst reason for worry is contained in the second half of section 5 ofSein und
Zeit. In this section, Heidegger elucidates the provisional aim of the book, which
is to show that time, or temporality, functions as the ªhorizonº of all understanding
of being.
18Heidegger argues that philosophers of the past used a notion of time
as an implicit background for understanding being, because they distinguished
the temporal being of nature and history from the atemporal being of numbers
and geometrical relations. But was the traditional conception of time a fundamen-
tal one? It is a central thesis ofSein und Zeitthat the proper notion of time or
temporality, which must function as a horizon of understanding being, should be
developed on the basis of an interpretation of the temporality of human existence
(Dasein). In the third paragraph of section 5, Heidegger concludes that ªthe ques-
tion of the meaning of being will ®rst be concretely answered by the exposition
of the problematic of temporality.º
But what form will such a concrete answer have? Will it consist in a clear and
unambiguous articulation of the one and fundamental sense of ªbeing,º which
Aristotle failed to ®nd, expressed in one or more propositions? This is what Hei-
degger denies in the next paragraph of section 5: ªBecausebeingcannot be
grasped except by taking time into consideration, the answer to the question of
being cannot lie in any blind and isolated proposition.º He concludes the para-
graph by specifying the positive form an answer to the question of being will
have: ªaccording to its most proper sense, the answer gives us an indication for
concrete ontological research, that it must begin its investigative questioning [un-
tersuchenden Fragen] within the horizon we have laid bare; and this is all that
the answer tells us.º

Our ®rst disappointment, then, is this: Heidegger's answer to the question of
being consists in an indication as to how we should start our ontological query.
In other words, the answer to the question of being will merely teach us how to ask
the question of being properly. We now understand, apparently, why Heidegger
concludes the published part ofSein und Zeitby saying that the book is only a
way, a way to the clari®cation of the fundamental ontological question, a way that
we must seek andfollow.
21For only if we have followed the way ofSein und Zeit,
Heidegger seems to tell us, are we able to ask the real question of being and to
conduct our ontological investigation in the right manner.
So far, so good, the reader will observe. As soon as we have learned to ask the
question of being properly, will we then not be able to answer this question and
to express clearly the one and fundamental sense of ªbeingº or of ªto beº that
Heidegger was looking for? Heidegger's procedure seems to be a traditional one
in philosophy, which is inevitable because philosophical questions rarely are clear
as they stand, so that a clari®cation of the question has to be the ®rst stage in a
philosophical inquiry. What we now expect is that Heidegger, having clari®ed the
meaning of the question of being inSein und Zeit, proceeds to answer the question
in his later works. In this expectation we will be disappointed as well.
There are a great number of texts in the later works in which Heidegger sug-
gests that we cannot provide an answer to the question of being at all. InGelassen-
heit(Resignation, 1959), he intimates that thinking in the proper sense requires
resignation. ªWe should do nothing, but wait,º says the teacher in the short dia-
logue that is meant as an elucidation of this notion of thinking.
22More than twenty
years earlier Heidegger propounded a similar view in lectures he gave in the
summer term of 1935, which were published in 1953 asEinfuÈ
hrung in die Meta-
physik(An Introduction to Metaphysics). At the end of this text, he stresses that
in the context of philosophical re¯ection (Besinnung), the titleSein und Zeitdoes
not refer to a book but to what is assigned to us (das Aufgegebene). ªThat which
is properly assigned to us is something we do not know and which, to the extent
that we know itreally[echt], to witasassigned to us, we always know it onlyin
our questioning.º And he concludes: ªTo be able to question means: to be able
to wait, even a life long.º
23Thinking in the sense of the later Heidegger seems to
be a speci®c kind of questioning, that is, of asking the question of being, and
asking this question is equivalent to a speci®c kind of waiting. According to the
later Heidegger, then, the question of being is not a question we should attempt
to answer. It is a question we should learn to ask properly and with resignation.
To quote Heidegger's celebrated phrase in ªDie Frage nach der Technikº (The
Question Concerning Technology), ªquestioning is the piety of thinking.º
In view of these and similar texts, we will perhaps cease to expect that Heideg-
ger provides an answer to the question of being. What he seems to aim at is rather
to induce his readers to adopt the right kind of questioning attitude. Asking the
question of being is nothing but adopting this attitude. But is it at least clear what

this attitude consists in? Did Heidegger succeed in clarifying the meaning of the
question of being?
Quite often in the later works Heidegger suggests that he did notÐand perhaps
even could notÐsucceed in doing so. According to the introduction (1949) to the
inaugural lectureWas ist Metaphysik?(1929), the philosophical community
passed over the question of being with the self-assurance of a somnambulist. This
is not due to a misunderstanding ofSein und Zeit, caused by unclear writing or
careless reading. Heidegger rather claims that inattention to the question of being
is due to the fact that we are ªabandoned by being.º
25In 1969, during the only
television interview Heidegger ever gave, the then eighty-year-old thinker
stressed once more that the question of being was not yet understood. Again
he did not attribute this lack of understanding to careless reading of his texts,
but to the fact that being had concealed itself, that it had withdrawn in our time.
Were Heidegger alive today, I imagine that he would not express himself differ-
ently. We may safely assume that, according to Heidegger, we do not understand
the question of being that he wanted to raise, and this will be our third
Let me summarize and conclude. In texts such as ªMein Weg in die PhaÈ
nologieº Heidegger endorses Aristotle's conviction that the question of being is
the basic and only question of philosophy. It seems that he wanted to raise this
question anew because he was not satis®ed with Aristotle's answer. In particular,
he wanted to grasp the fundamental sense of ªbeingº from which the other
senses are derived. What we expect on the basis of these texts is that the meaning
of Heidegger's question of being is identical to the meaning of Aristotle's question
of being, and that Heidegger provides a new answer to this question. But
this expectation is disappointed in three ways. First,Sein und Zeitmerely aims at
a clari®cation of the question of being, not at answering it. Second, many later
texts suggest that we are not able to answer the question of being. Finally, Heideg-
ger repeatedly af®rms that we simply do not understand the question of being.
Yet the question of being is said to be the most crucial question a human being
can ask.
Sober-minded readers will conclude that we had better leave Heidegger alone.
What are we to think of a philosopher who raises pompously and ponderously an
allegedly central question of philosophy, and ends up by telling us that we cannot
answerÐindeed, cannot even understandÐthis question? However, in view of
Heidegger's profound in¯uence on contemporary philosophy, the mysteriousness
of the question of being may arouse our curiosity. How can Heidegger claim to
be able to raise a question that nobody understands? How are we to interpret
Heidegger's statement that our ignorance of the question of being is due to the
fact that being conceals or withdraws itself? These claims seem to be alien to the
atmosphere of Aristotle's thought, from which Heidegger allegedly derived his
question of being.

One might think that the concealed nature of Heidegger's question of being
stands in the way of an attempt to interpret this question. No doubt Heidegger's
repeated assertion that we do not understand the question of being complicates
its interpretation. Nevertheless, I do not conclude that interpretation is impossible.
On the contrary, the very fact that we do not understand the question of being,
even according to Heidegger himself, makes an attempt at interpretation more
urgent than ever. If Heidegger suggests that we cannot understand his question in
principle, we should not be discouraged. This suggestion may be taken simply to
be yet another feature of Heidegger's question of being, a feature that an interpre-
tation of the question of being should be able to explain. I call this feature the
concealmentof the question of being. To the extent that the name ªHeideggerº
stands for the unique question that the bearer of the name wanted to raise, we
might speak ofHeidegger absconditus.
Apart from the concealment of the question of being, there is another dif®culty
that seems to block from the outset any attempt at interpreting Heidegger's ques-
tion of being. This dif®culty is raised by Heidegger's pronouncements on logic
inWas ist Metaphysik?and elsewhere.
29Let me expound the dif®culty by a partial
analysis ofWas ist Metaphysik?
In this inaugural lecture, which Heidegger gave at the University of Freiburg
on 24 July 1929, he did not talk about metaphysics, as the title might suggest, but
elucidated (eroÈ
rtern) a metaphysical question, in order that metaphysics might
ªpresent itselfº to us.
30At ®rst sight, this question is concerned with ªthe Nothingº
or with ªnothingnessº (das Nichts). But because Heidegger in a sense endorses
Hegel's pronouncement from the ®rst book of theWissenschaft der Logik(Science
of Logic), that ªpure being and pure nothingness are the same,º the question raised
in the lecture is equivalent to the question of being itself.
31Heidegger unfolds the
question in the ®rst part of the lecture, elaborates it in the second part, and answers
it in the third part. Characteristically, he says that we have already obtained the
answer that is essential for our purposes, if we take heed that the question concern-
ing the Nothing remains actually posed. This allegedly requires that we actively
complete the transformation of man into his Da-sein, a transformation that every
instance ofAngstoccasions in us.
According to Heidegger, the dominance of intellect and logic has to be ªbro-
kenº in order that we may raise the question concerning being and nothingness. 33
A brief summary of the ®rst part of Heidegger's lecture will show why he thinks
that this is the case. In this ®rst part Heidegger unfolds the question of the Nothing.
He starts with two observations on metaphysical questions in general: these ques-
tions are always concerned with the totality (das Ganze) of metaphysics, and they
somehow call into question the questioner himself. The latter observation leads

Heidegger to a succinct analysis of scienceÐin the broad sense of the German
WissenschaftenÐbecause his inaugural lecture is addressed to the scienti®c com-
munity of the University of Freiburg. How is the scientist called into question by
metaphysics? What Heidegger wants to show in part 1 is that science essentially
implies or suggests the metaphysical question of nothingness.
Heidegger says in 1929 that science is characterized by a speci®c relation
(Bezug) to the world, by an attitude (Haltung) in which we freely choose to let
things speak for themselves, and by the fact that in science one being, namely,
man, ªbreaks into the totality of beingsº (Einbruch) in such a manner that being
ªbreaks openº and ªis restored to what and how it is.º
34In all three respects,
Bezug,Haltung, andEinbruch, the scientist is concerned with beings and with
nothing else. Heidegger repeats the phrase ªand with nothing elseº six times in
different variations in order to prepare his conclusion: that when the scientist tries
to say what he is up to, he inevitably speaks of something else, namely, the Noth-
ing, or nothingness (das Nichts). It follows that in re¯ecting on science we cannot
avoid the metaphysical question: What about the Nothing?
Is this a sound argument? Rudolf Carnap criticized Heidegger'sWas ist Meta-
physik?in his 1931 essay on ªThe Elimination of Metaphysics through Logical
Analysis of Language.º
36According to Carnap, metaphysical discourse is not true
or false: it is meaningless and consists largely of pseudosentences, even though
it often appears to make sense. Pseudosentences may be generated in two ways.
The metaphysician might use a word in a manner that seems to be meaningful,
although in fact he has emptied the word of all signi®cation. This has happened,
Carnap says, in the case of the word ªGod,º which was originally used with
reference toÐor in forming empirical hypotheses about the causes ofÐphenom-
ena such as the plague, thunder, and lightning, but which lost its empirical mean-
ing in the later development of religion. Second, the metaphysician might form
sentences that violate logical syntax, even though they are correct according to
the rules of ordinary grammar. Carnap criticizes the ®rst type of pseudosentence
on the basis of his veri®cation principle, whereas in the second case logical analy-
sis of language will reveal that metaphysical discourse is meaningless.
It is important to distinguish these two sources of meaninglessness, for even if
one rejects the veri®cation principle, one still has to admit that violations of logi-
cal grammar may generate meaningless pseudosentences. This is precisely what
seems to have happened in the ®rst part ofWas ist Metaphysik?In the premise of
Heidegger's argument, that science is concerned with beingsand with nothing
else, the word ªnothingº expresses a negation and an object-variable. It means:
there is not something that science is concerned with, except beings.
38But in his
conclusion Heidegger mistakes this expression of a negation and an object-vari-
able for a de®nite description, as if there were something, namely,nothingness
or the Nothing, about which we might ask meaningful questions. Clearly, then,
Heidegger's conclusion does not follow from his premise, and it is meaningless
because it violates the rules of logical syntax.

Does this settle the matter of Heidegger's question of being and nothingness?
Should we conclude that it is a pseudoquestion? We are tempted to do so. Yet this
would be rash, for Heidegger seems to have anticipated Carnap's critique, albeit
in an informal way.
39In the second part of the lecture, Heidegger admits that his
question of nothingness is paradoxical. The question presupposes that there is
something whose nature we might investigate. Of this something it is then said
that it is nothing. But is this not a contradiction? Indeed, Heidegger explicitly
admits that raising the question of nothingness violates the principle of noncontra-
diction. ªThe commonly cited fundamental rule of all thought, the principle of
noncontradiction, universal `logic,' crushes the question.º
Heidegger adds, however, that this violation knocks out the question of noth-
ingness only if we accept the presupposition that logic is the highest authority
concerning nothingness, and that ªnothingº is derived from ªnot,º from the nega-
41He goes on to argue in the second and third parts of the lecture that things
are the other way around. Negation, he claims, is derived from (an experience of)
the Nothing. There is a fundamental experience (Grunderfahrung) or fundamental
mood (Grundstimmung)ofAngst, and inAngstwe experience the Nothing, be-
cause in this experience everything, the totality of beings, becomes indifferent to
us and slips away from us.Angstreveals nothingness, and nothingness is more
fundamental than negation, since ªthe Nothing itself nots,º Heidegger claims.
Moreover, he contends that from the experience of nothingness inAngstoriginates
the original openness of being (das Seiende) as such: that it is being and not
43This is why Dasein (Heidegger's term for human existence) is being
exposed in nothingness, and why nothingness is the condition of the possibility
of beings being manifest to us.
44If this is so, the experience of the Nothing in
Angstis more fundamental than science, because science presupposes that beings
are manifest. In the third part of his lecture, Heidegger concludes that because
ªnegation is based on thenot[das Nicht], which originates from thenottingof
the Nothing [das Nichten des Nichts],º the ªpower of the intellect in the ®eld of
inquiry into nothingness and being is shattered,º and that this ªdecides the destiny
of the authority of logic in philosophy. The very idea of logic disintegrates in the
whirl of a more original questioning.º
The reader will wonder what Heidegger intends to say by all of this, and he
will probably conclude with Carnap thatWas ist Metaphysik?is an incomprehen-
sible and even meaningless text. I assume that after having read my book, the
reader will be able to decide for himself, on the basis of my interpretation, whether
he agrees with Heidegger that the authority of the intellect has to be destroyed.
This introductory chapter of my book aims at raising questions and arousing won-
der, and I will not state my interpretation ofWas ist Metaphysik?and similar
texts in the present section. However, even without fully understanding what is
happening in Heidegger's inaugural lecture, we may distinguish two strands in
his pronouncements on logic, which he himself does not keep apart.

The ®rst is the idea, which Heidegger inherited from Husserl, that logical con-
stants such as ªand,º ªor,º and ªnotº are referring expressions, which derive their
meaning from (an experience of) the referent. This notion was common in the
®rst quarter of this century, and probably Wittgenstein was the ®rst philosopher
to reject it, in theTractatus.
46If this idea is correct, logic stands in need of a
philosophical foundation, as Husserl argued in hisLogische Untersuchungen
(Logical Investigations).
47Such a foundation would consistinter aliain a descrip-
tion of the referents of logical constants, from which their meanings would be
derived. Following Hume, Husserl calls the experience of the referents the ªori-
ginº (Ursprung) of meanings. Against this background, Heidegger's inaugural
lecture might be read as an original contribution to foundational research in logic:
he argues that the meaning of the logical constant ªnotº is derived from, or rooted
in, an experience of nothingness inAngst.
48This theory is fanciful, but it is not
much more so than Russell's view that the meaning of the word ªorº originates
from the coexistence of two incompatible motor impulses in our nervous system,
neither of which is strong enough to overcome the other.
According to this ®rst strand inWas ist Metaphysik?there is no reason to doubt
the validity of logic, and the ªmore original questioningº is nothing but the quest
for a foundation of logic. But if this ®rst strand were the only one, Heidegger's
violent condemnation of logic, and the idea that the authority of logic and of
reason has to be destroyed, would be irrelevant and inappropriate. We must con-
clude that there is a second strand in Heidegger's pronouncements on logic, apart
from the attempt to ground logic on something else, and that this second strand
is in con¯ict with the ®rst. According to this second strand, raising the very ques-
tion of being and nothingness isincompatiblewith the most fundamental logical
principle, the principle of noncontradiction. We saw that Heidegger himself
stresses the incompatibility and that he accepts it. This is why, if he nevertheless
wants to ask the question of nothingness, the authority of logic has to be de-
stroyed. But what happens if the authority of logic, and more in particular the
principle of noncontradiction, is abolished?
Much of Heidegger's early work is inspired by Aristotle. We will be tempted
to say, however, that there is one chapter in Aristotle'sMetaphysics, the fourth
chapter of book IV, which Heidegger did not suf®ciently take to heart. In this
chapter, Aristotle tries to refute those philosophers who deny the principle of
noncontradiction, confronting them with a dilemma. Either they implicitly accept
the principle, even though they of®cially reject it, or they will not be able to use
language at all. For on the one hand it is not possible to deny the principle of
noncontradiction unless one at the same time presupposes its validity, because to
deny it is to state that something is not true. How can one assert sincerely that
something is not true if one really thinks that it is true at the same time? The very
speech act of denying involves the principle of noncontradiction. In other words,
what onemeansby saying that something is not true is that it isnotalso and at
the same time true. On the other hand, it is equally impossible to give up the

principle of noncontradiction implicitly, for instance, by using language without
applying it, because as soon as one allows that simultaneously and in the same
respect a statement might be true of a thing and not true of that thing, this state-
ment loses its sense. As a consequence, each and every meaningful use of lan-
guage involves the principle of noncontradiction. If one wants to give it up implic-
itly, one cannot but keep silent.
Should we not conclude that we must accept the principle of noncontradiction
and forget about the question of being, if at least we have to choose between the
question of being and the principle? How can one take seriously a philosopher
who claims to reject a principle without which meaningful discourse is impossi-
ble? Even merely pretending that one rejects the principle of noncontradiction
seems to be an absurd and irresponsible act. Suppose that you are mistakenly
accused of murder, and that you refute the accusation by producing evidence that
contradicts it. Yet you may be sentenced to death if the jury and the judges pretend
to reject the principle of noncontradiction. From a more philosophical perspective,
one might point out that Heidegger's expression ªthe authority of logicº (die
Herrschaft der ªLogikº) is misleading, as if the rules of logic were an external
authority that one might shake off. Rules of logic are not like the laws of taxation,
which one may try to dodge. They are rather like rules of grammar: if one does
not stick to them, one will end up producing meaningless noises or empty marks.
There seems to be no point at all, then, in attempting to interpret the question of
being, if raising this question really violates the principle of noncontradiction.
In his book on Heidegger's critique of logic, Thomas Fay argues that we should
interpret Heidegger's invectives against logic as polemical statements, aimed at
those who defend on logical grounds the thesis that metaphysics is nonsensical.
This thesis was indeed propounded by Wittgenstein in theTractatus, and members
of the Vienna Circle such as Carnap endorsed it.
51But what does Fay mean when
he stresses that Heidegger's invectives against logic must be evaluated as polemi-
cal statements? Is this to suggest that one should not take them literally, and
that raising the question of being does not really violate the principle of non-
contradiction? Fay in fact denies this, writing that we should ªeschew the path of
a too facile concordism,º and that ªif one takes logic as it has traditionally been
understood...,oneisforced to say that it is incompatible with Heidegger's way
of thought.º
It seems inevitable to draw the conclusion that Heidegger's question of being
and nothingness is nonsensical because it is ruled out by the principle of noncon-
tradiction. If so, any attempt at an interpretation of the question is misguided,
because there are no meaningful interpretations of nonsensical questions.
Shouldn't one commit to the ¯ames all writings in which such interpretations
are proposed?
I would not have written the present book if I endorsed these conclusions with-
out quali®cation. Let me provisionally indicate how one might try to avoid them.
Admittedly, the way Heidegger introduces the question of nothingness in the ®rst

part ofWas ist Metaphysik?is illegitimate, because it violates logical grammar.
But, one might ask, does Heidegger not ostensively de®ne the wordNichts(noth-
ingness) in the second part? Should we not apply the principle of charity and
assume that Heidegger meantNichtsfrom the outset in the sense given by his
ostensive de®nition, so that his introduction of the question of nothingness is
needlessly misleading? On the basis of this interpretation, we might perhaps dis-
cover that there still is a meaning to the thesis of the incompatibility of logic and
the question of nothingness, and that this incompatibility is such that it does not
rule out the question of being.
In a crucial passage in part 2 ofWas ist Metaphysik?Heidegger says that there
is a basic demand (Grunderfordernis) for the possible advancing of the question
of nothingness, namely, that the Nothing ªmust begivenbeforehandº and that
ªwe must be able toencounterit.º
53According to Heidegger, we experience the
Nothing in the fundamental mood (Grundstimmung)ofAngst. If we want to apply
the principle of charity, the term ªnothingnessº or ªthe Nothingº as Heidegger
uses it should not be taken as a symptom of misunderstanding logical grammar,
but as ostensively de®ned inAngst. According to this interpretation, ªnothing-
nessº simply means or refers to what we experience inAngst. What, then, do we
experience inAngst?
Both inSein und Zeit(§ 40) and at the end of the second part ofWas ist
Metaphysik?Heidegger gives an elaborate phenomenological description of this
experience. According toSein und Zeit, what we experience inAngstis that the
meaningful world, in which Dasein leads its day-to-day life, sinks away into
meaninglessness. Everything becomes insigni®cant. This is whyAngstis not fear
of a speci®c entity in the world. No particular thing is the object ofAngst, and in
this sense,Angstreveals no-thing or nothing.
54But because of the very fact that
inAngstall particular things become insigni®cant,Angstwould annul what Hei-
degger callsVerfallenÐthe alleged fact that we ¯ee from ourselves into worldly
occupationsÐand it brings us back to ourselves as contingent and ®nite beings-
in-the-world, that is, it reveals in an obtrusive way the very phenomenon ofworld
and ofDasein(see § 3, below). It follows that ªnothingnessº in Heidegger's
sense refers to a positive phenomenon, the phenomenon that all things become
insigni®cant inAngst. Moreover, Heidegger pretends that the experience of noth-
ingness (das Nichts) is a prerequisite for thematically experiencing being (Sein)
in the sense of our being-in-the-world as such. This is why according toWas ist
Metaphysik?the Nothing and being belong together.
If this is the correct interpretation of the term ªnothingnessº inWas ist Metaphy-
sik?Carnap's critique of the lecture is uncharitable, because Heidegger de®nes
the term ostensively by reference toAngst. It seems, however, that on this assump-
tion it becomes dif®cult to understand why Heidegger thought that raising the
question of being and nothingness is incompatible with logic. If Heidegger's term
ªnothingº is used in a sense very different from the way it is used in ordinary
language and in logic, there is no incompatibility between his question of nothing-

ness and the principle of noncontradiction. What, then, explains Heidegger's cal-
umnies against logic?
An analogy betweenWas ist Metaphysik?and Wittgenstein'sTractatusmay
point the way to a possible answer. According to theTractatus, logic de®nes the
bounds of what it makes sense to say. Furthermore, all statements describe possi-
ble facts, and the totality of facts is the world. It follows that logic de®nes the
totality of possibilities in the world, given the totality of objects. But if the world
consists of facts, the sense of the world, that which makes the world valuable to
us, must lie outside the world.
57Wittgenstein concludes that the signi®cance of
the world and of life transcends the bounds of sense. It cannot be expressed in
language and lies, therefore, beyond logic. Nevertheless, there is such a signi®-
cance. Wittgenstein calls it the mystical.
One might suggest that Heidegger could mean something similar when he says
that raising the question of nothingness is incompatible with logic. For the ques-
tion of nothingness and of being is concerned with the signi®cance (Sinn)of
being. This question cannot be raised as long as we remain within the bounds of
logic in Wittgenstein's sense, that is, as long as we merely try to formulate state-
ments about things or events in the world, where the world is conceived of as a
meaningless multiplicity of facts.
58This might be one of the reasons why Heideg-
ger says inSein und Zeitthat the answer to the question of being cannot be
expressed in a set of propositions, and, indeed, that it cannot be formulated at all.
At this point, I am only suggesting the possibility of an interpretation. We
wondered whether Heidegger's liquidation of logic justi®es a disquali®cation of
Heidegger as a philosopher and whether it renders super¯uous the attempt to
interpret his question of being. We now see that we need an interpretation of the
question of being in order to grasp the precise meaning of Heidegger's liquidation
of logic. Surely this reason for trying to interpret the question of being is a scanty
one. More convincing reasons are to be found in Heidegger's masterpiece,Sein
und Zeit.
If Heidegger had not publishedSein und Zeit, he would not have ranked as one
of the greatest philosophers of the twentieth century. None of Heidegger's other
works equalsSein und Zeitin scope, analytical depth, philosophical nerve, and
conceptual creativity. The later writings in part derive their signi®cance from their
relation toSein und Zeit, and, indeed, as Heidegger wrote in the preface to its
seventh edition (1953), the road thatSein und Zeithas taken ªremains even today
a necessary one, if our Dasein is to be stirred by the question of being.º
59In other
words, it is impossible to understand the question of being in the later works if
one has not studiedSein und Zeit®rst. In this section I try to arouse the reader's
interest in Heidegger's question of being by means of a brief summary ofSein

und Zeit, Heidegger's ®rst major philosophical publication.
60Why studySein und
Zeit? 61Let me begin by saying some words about its composition.
According to the original plan of the book, which Heidegger discloses in its
eighth section,Sein und Zeitwas to consist of an introduction and six divisions
(Abschnitte), divided into two parts of three divisions each. Heidegger published
merely one-third of the work: the introduction and the ®rst two divisions of part
62One might say that part 1 is predominantly systematic or constructive, and
that part 2 was meant to be historical and destructive. We will see presently why,
according to Heidegger,Sein und Zeithad to consist of a constructive and a de-
structive component. In the unpublished part 2 Heidegger wanted to deconstruct
the history of ontology, taking the problem of temporality as a guiding principle.
Its three divisions were to be concerned with Kant, Descartes, and Aristotle, re-
spectively. The material on Kant was published separately in 1929 asKant und
das Problem der Metaphysik(Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics) and one
might read this book in order to get an idea of what Heidegger meant by notions
such asDestruktion(historical de[con]struction) andWiederholung(retrieval) of
traditional philosophical problems and programs.
As far as the unpublished third division of part 1 is concerned, it is crucial to
note that its title,Zeit und Sein(Time and Being), is an inversion of the title of
the work as a whole. We may conclude that this third division was meant to
perform a pivotal function, but we grope in the dark as to its precise contents.
Thirty-®ve years after the publication ofSein und Zeit, on 31 January 1962, Hei-
degger held a conference under the title of the unpublished third division,Zeit
und Sein. However, as he says inZur Sache des Denkens(Concerning the Topic
of Thinking), the volume in which this conference was published, the conference
does not ®t in withSein und Zeit, even though it is still concerned with the same
question, the question of being.
64Heidegger adds that the publication ofSein und
Zeithad been broken off after the second division of part 1 because at the time
he was not up to the task of elaborating the themeZeit und Sein.
In reading the published fragment ofSein und ZeitÐfrom now on I will often
use the titleSein und Zeitto refer to this fragment onlyÐit is important to keep
in mind the original plan of the book and to remember that four of its six divisions
were never published. But of course its fame rests on what was published,
especially on divisions 1 and 2 of part 1. In these divisions Heidegger develops
his ªfundamental ontology,º that is, his ontology of human existence. It is above
all this ontology that profoundly transformed the European philosophical
scene in the second and third quarters of the twentieth century, even though the
in¯uence of Heidegger's later thought took over during the 1960s and 1970s.
Without Heidegger's fundamental ontology of human existence, books such as
ant(Being and Nothingness), Merleau-Ponty'sPheÂ
nologie de la Perception(Phenomenology of Perception), Emmanuel Levinas's
et In®ni(Totality and In®nity), and Gadamer'sWahrheit und Methode
(Truth and Method) could not have been written. Perhaps it is true that these

authors neglected the main question ofSein und Zeit, the question of being, which
Heidegger unfolds in the introduction to the book (I will discuss some aspects
of the introduction in the next section). Nevertheless, what impressed the ®rst
generations of readers ofSein und Zeitwas the fundamental ontology of human
existence (Dasein) in divisions 1 and 2, and this ontology remains Heidegger's
most striking achievement. For this reason I will now brie¯y discuss some of its
main themes.
Heidegger inherited from Husserl and Scheler the notion that the factual, empir-
ical sciences must be underpinned by a priori ontologies, which are concerned
with the fundamental concepts or with the essence of types or regions of being,
such as history, nature, space, life, Dasein, language, and the like.
Heidegger distinguishes between anonticalor factual level and an ontological
level of analysis of Dasein. He severely criticizes some of the philosophers who
in¯uenced him most inSein und Zeit, such as Kierkegaard and Dilthey, for having
moved merely on the ontical, empirical-psychological, or edifying plane, and for
not providing us with an ontology of human existence.
68An ontology of human
life or Dasein should aim at essential, a priori generality, and not merely at the
empirical generalities discovered by anthropology, psychology, or biology.
Heidegger says, the structures of Dasein he wants to exhibit are ªnot just any
accidental structures, but essential ones which, in every mode of being that Dasein
in fact may realize, persist as determinative for the character of its being.º
implies that we do not know these essential structures by means of empirical-
theoretical generalizations and empirical investigations into diverse cultures; we
know them on the basis of a generalization that is ontological and a priori.
Heidegger claims that the essential structures of Dasein somehow are the ªcondi-
tions of possibilityº for all ontical or factual manifestations of human life. 72Taken
together they constitute the ªfundamental constitution of beingº of Dasein.73In
Sein und Zeit, Heidegger often uses the term ªbeingº ([das]Sein) for such a
constitution of being, whereas ªa beingº (ein Seiendes) refers to an entity that has
a speci®c constitution of being. Put into this terminology, ontology aims at analyz-
ing being, that is, the constitution of being of entities, whereas ontical analysis
describes the empirical properties and merely contingent characteristics of enti-
ties. In the case of human existence, the ontology of Dasein analyzes the funda-
mental constitution of being that we humans have, whereas history, sociology,
and psychology move at the ontical level: they describe diverse factual manifesta-
tions of human life.
Heidegger barely discusses the crucial methodological or epistemological ques-
tion as to how we are able to obtain a priori general knowledge of the basic
structures of human existence. We cannot derive it from knowledge of our biologi-
cal substratum, for instance, because biology is an empirical science.
75Ye t i t i s
quite clear what he would have answered. Dasein is able to obtain general knowl-
edge of the essential structures of its constitution of being because it pertains to
this ontological constitution that italready graspsits own constitution. In other

words, Dasein has understanding not only of its ontical possibilities, but also of its
essential constitution of being (SeinsverstaÈ
76If this is the case, Heidegger
assumes, Dasein will be able to articulate conceptually its understanding of its
essential constitution of being, that is, to develop an ontology of itself, indepen-
dently of empirical research on the varieties of human life and culture.
we allegedly possess this possibility, Heidegger says that Daseinisontological. 78
Unfortunately, in giving this answer Heidegger assumes what is to be explained,
to wit, how it is possible to understand the essence of being human without doing
ample empirical research in anthropology.
According to Heidegger, we cannot characterize the essence of our constitution
of being as a static content orwhat, because it is not the case that we simply
obtain as a fact does, or occur as an event, or are extant as a stone or a plant. We
arenot simply, but we have to be our being, that is, we have to realize our life as
our own and to de®ne ourselves while doing so. What we will be like is a result
of the way in which we live out our existence, and this result cannot be static, for
we have to construct and reconstruct our life all the time. The essence of Dasein
lies in its existence, as Heidegger says.
79This is why the word ªDaseinº does not
designate an entity with a static nature; rather, it expresses the dynamic mode of
being of beings like ourselves.
80Heidegger rede®nes the traditional term ªexis-
tenceº as a technical term for our constitution of being: we ek-sist in the sense
that we have to effectuate our being. Having to construct our life, we are always
ahead of ourselves, anticipating future possibilities. For the same reason, the word
ªessenceº in the context ofSein und Zeitreceives a more dynamic sense than in
traditional philosophy, a shift of meaning that is facilitated by the fact that the
GermanWesencan also be used as a verb. What Heidegger wants to characterize
inSein und Zeitis the way we perform our life (one of his pet words in this
connection isVollzug). He purports to show that we can only properly understand
this way on the basis of an acceptance of the ®nite time structure inherent in
our Dasein. In other words,®nite time or temporality has to be the horizon of
understanding the structure of our existence. This is the ®rst main thesis ofSein
und Zeit, a fairly trivial one.
However, accepting our temporal ®niteness implies confronting death, and Hei-
degger claims that really confronting death is impossible withoutAngst. Because
of the terrifying nature ofAngst, he says, we have the tendency to ¯ee from it
and to engage frantically in worldly affairs. We try to hide our ®niteness from
ourselves, and to make ourselves feel at ease in everyday life. The tendency to
¯ee from ®niteness, as revealed inAngst, and to ¯ee from it into worldly occupa-
tions is what Heidegger callsVerfallen, the ªfallingº of Dasein. Even though
we implicitly understand our own being, we allegedly try to escape from self-
understanding and from accepting our condition as it is.
Accordingly, Heidegger contends that Dasein is faced with a fundamental
choice: the choice between being oneself (eigentlich, authentic) and ¯eeing from
oneself (beinguneigentlich, inauthentic). It may seem that the choice between

inauthenticity and authenticity is merely a choice at the ontical level. It appears
to be concerned with the question of how we want to live out our existence. But
in fact the choice has ontological and epistemological implications. How can we
interpret the constitution of our being ontologically as it really is, if we ¯ee from
this very constitution of being in our actual life? While ¯eeing from it, we will
inevitably misinterpret our constitution of being. We now understand why ac-
cording toSein und Zeitliving up to the ideal of authentic life, at least during
some exceptional moments, is a prerequisite for developing an adequate ontology
of existence. As Heidegger says in section 62, an adequate ontology of human
existence would be impossible without a speci®c ontical ideal, the ideal of being
authentically oneself. A particular mode of being, authentic existence, is a neces-
sary condition for being able to obtain a speci®c kind of knowledge, ontological
knowledge of Dasein. This intimate connection between an ideal of authentic life
and the prospect of obtaining knowledge of the deep structures of existence makes
Sein und Zeitsuch an exciting book. Philosophy ceases to be merely an academic
endeavor. It presupposes an authentic experience of life and Heidegger intimates
that it may lead to a more authentic life.
Heidegger's view of humans as self-interpreting and self-misinterpreting be-
ings raises two questions, which he wanted to answer respectively in the ®rst and
the second parts ofSein und Zeit. First, what is the authentic interpretation of
Dasein, the interpretation that reveals Dasein as it really is? Heidegger deals with
the ®rst question in the published fragment ofSein und Zeit. What makes this
fragment especially gripping is Heidegger's claim that he is the ®rst philosopher
who consistently develops an authentic ontological interpretation of human
The unpublished part 2 ofSein und Zeitwas meant to discuss the second ques-
tion: How does Dasein interpret its own existence and the world from within its
inauthentic mode of existence, its falling? According to Heidegger,the entire
philosophical and scienti®c tradition from Plato and Aristotle on remains within
an inauthentic self-interpretationbecause it tries to understand human existence
on the model of another type of entity. The philosophical and scienti®c tradition
conceives of human existence in terms of the same set of ontological categories
(substance, property, state, and the like) that it also applies to animals, inanimate
objects, and artifacts. According to Heidegger, we overlook the ontological deep
structures of human existence as long as we apply this set of categories to it.
Dasein has the tendency to understand itself on the model of things in the world,
as if, whenever Dasein re¯ects upon itself, these things cast their re¯ections on it.
But by understanding itself in terms of worldly things, Heidegger claims, Dasein
misunderstands itself, and the temptation to understand itself in this manner is
part of Dasein's ¯ight from itself, its falling.
82This is a very radical claim, and it
is the second main thesis ofSein und Zeit. Let me brie¯y explore some of its

First, if the entire philosophical and scienti®c tradition of the West is based on
an inauthentic misunderstanding of Dasein, Heidegger will have to develop a
radically new set of categories to capture the deep structures of human existence.
In order to distinguish these new categories from the traditional ones, such
as substance, for instance, Heidegger calls themExistenziale(existentialia). The
distinction between the ontological and the ontical level of analysis, if applied
to human existence, becomes the distinction between the existential level and
the existentiell level.
83Because Heidegger claims that he is the ®rst to develop a
set of existentialia, he also has to invent a philosophical terminology to express
theseexistentialia. His attempt to do so makes for dif®cult reading. Heidegger
introduces convoluted technical terms such asAlltaÈ
(potentiality-for-being),Sein-zum-Tode(being-toward-death),das Woraufhin(the
upon-which),Zuhandenheit(readiness-to-hand), and the like. Yet this is another rea-
son whySein und Zeitis such an exciting book: even though Heidegger in developing
his existentialia draws on many sources, such as Aristotle, St. Paul, St. Augustine,
Eckhart, Luther, Pascal, Hegel, Kierkegaard, Count Yorck von Wartenburg, and Dil-
they, his ontology of human existence is one of the most original philosophical ven-
tures of this century.
The second implication of the radical claims that we tend to misinterpret our
ontological constitution and that the entire history of philosophy and of the human
sciences consists mainly of a series of misinterpretations, is that we will not be
able to develop adequate existentialia unless we simultaneously criticize the tradi-
tional interpretations, which allegedly obscure the deep structures of human exis-
tence. Accordingly, the construction of new categories (existentialia) has to be
coupled with a destruction of traditional conceptual structures, as Heidegger ar-
gues in sections 5 and 6 ofSein und Zeit. This explains the global organization
of the book. The ®rst, constructive part has to be followed by a second, destructive
part. Ideally, construction and destruction should go hand in hand, and Heidegger
in fact anticipates quite often in part 1 the destructions of part 2, because he
cannot develop his existentialia without showing why the traditional categories
are inadequate. Conversely, the philosophical point of Heidegger's destructions,
such as hisKant und das Problem der Metaphysik, cannot be grasped without at
least some of his constructive insights.
I have naõÈ
vely translated Heidegger's termDestruktionby ªdestruction,º and
indeed this is what the word means. Much ink has been spilled to argue that this
translation is misleading, and that we should prefer the term ªdeconstruction.º
However, Heidegger chose his terminology with care.Sein und Zeitis a revolu-
tionary book, and like all revolutionaries, Heidegger wanted to destroy the tradi-
tion and make a new start. As we will see later, it is no accident that Heidegger

borrowed the termDestruktionfrom Luther, who used it in connection with his
attempt to dismantle the tradition of the Schools which, according to him, had
perverted original Christianity by conceptualizing it in terms of Greek philoso-
84There is no harm at all in using the word ªdestructionº as long as one
clearly sees what is required, according to the Heidegger ofSein und Zeit:to
ªdestroyº a conceptual tradition and what is achieved by doing so.
Heidegger claims that in the course of our intellectual tradition its basic con-
cepts have become entirely natural and inconspicuous to us. We use these con-
cepts unwittingly, without paying attention to the original sources from which
they were genuinely drawn in the past.
85With a Husserlian term, we might say
that traditional concepts are ªsedimentationsº of past conceptual life, so that a
tradition not only transfers concepts of the past but also conceals their nature. As
Heidegger says, what a tradition transmits is often made so inaccessible that it
becomes concealed.
86In order to destroy a conceptual tradition, then, we should
®rst explicitly reappropriate it. More particularly, we must uncover the original
sources of our traditional concepts. Like Hume and Husserl, Heidegger assumes
inSein und Zeitthat concepts must somehow be derived from some kind of
87Allegedly, the experiential origin or ªsourceº of the basic concepts
of our philosophical tradition has long been forgotten, and it has been concealed
by layer upon layer of interpretation. Reappropriating the tradition means that we
reconstruct the experiences that once gave rise to the basic concepts of
The example of the Aristotelian notion of a substance as aconcretumof matter
and form will illustrate what Heidegger means. One might argue, and in fact it
has been argued quite often, that the traditional concepts of matter and form origi-
nated from the domain of artifacts, because in producing an artifact, we form
89 Aristotle then generalized these concepts into categories which, he
claimed, would hold for all beings, that is, for beings as such. This generalization
is the move that Heidegger objects to.
90He assumes, like Husserl and the Neo-
Kantians, that each major domain or type of being has its own basic constitution
of being, so that we should develop a proper set of basic concepts for each domain.
As a consequence, a deconstruction of traditional concepts, that is, a reconstruc-
tion of the experiences from which these concepts were once derived, may amount
to a destruction: the deconstruction shows that the traditional concepts have a
much more limited scope than is generally assumed.
Heidegger concludes that his ªdestruction is . . . far from having thenegative
sense of shaking off the ontological tradition.º On the contrary, it would show
the positive possibilities of that tradition, ªand this always means keeping it within
91However, this passage is misleading and even disingenuous, for by
the very act of showing the limited scope of ontological concepts such as matter
and form, one destroys the ontological tradition that claimed universal validity for
these concepts. The fact that destruction requires that one uncover the experiential
origin of traditional concepts, and that it in this sense shows their ªpositive possi-

bilities,º does not at all imply that Heidegger's destruction of the tradition is not
a real destruction. As I said, the word ªdeconstructionº should not be preferred,
although I will use it as an equivalent for purely stylistic reasons. Derrida, who
made the term popular, does not share the Husserlian view of basic concepts as
originating in experiences that Heidegger endorsed inSein und Zeit. As a conse-
quence, Derrida's notion of deconstruction is entirely different from Heidegger's
concept of destruction, and one should not confuse the two. Nor should one con-
fuse Heidegger's notion of destruction with his later idea of aVerwindung(coping
with, mourning for) the tradition of metaphysics.
I come now to a third implication of Heidegger's second main thesis inSein
und Zeit, the thesis that it is impossible to understand Dasein authentically in
terms of the traditional ontological categories. This third implication is that
Heidegger's thesis amounts to a radical variety of antinaturalism. Philosophical
naturalism, in the widest possible sense, is the doctrine that in order to explain
the structures of human existence, we have to use the scienti®c worldview
as the background of our explanation and to regard ourselves as products of bio-
logical evolution. According to the naturalist, no other worldview is a reasonable
option, given what we know in ®elds such as elementary particle physics, cosmol-
ogy, organic chemistry, genetics, and evolutionary biology.
92There are many vari-
eties of naturalism. A scientistic naturalist claims that all valid explanations are
of the type developed in mathematical physics, and that the usual explanations
provided by psychology, history, or economics must be either reduced to, or elimi-
nated in favor of, natural science explanations. A more moderate naturalist will
hold that many structures of human existence ªsuperveneº on biological structures
without being reducible to them. It has been argued, for instance, that human
consciousness is in part a product of social structures, especially the rule-governed
structure of language, and that for this reason the mind cannot be reduced to, or
signi®cantly explained by reference to, structures of and causal processes in the
brain only. There are many kinds of nonreductive naturalism, as contemporary
philosophy shows.
According to a weak interpretation of Heidegger's second main thesis, Heideg-
ger is merely an antireductionist. He is supposed to be claiming that we cannot use
the categories of biology or of traditional ontology in interpreting the fundamental
structures of human existence because these structures supervene on, and cannot
be reduced to, their biological basis. If this is what he means, Heidegger is not
necessarily an antinaturalist in the most radical sense; he might reject scientistic
naturalism and yet be a more moderate naturalist himself. However, I will argue
in this book that in fact Heidegger defends a much stronger thesis, a thesis that
is incompatible with all varieties of philosophical naturalism. Such a stronger
interpretation is also borne out by the details of Heidegger's philosophical devel-
opment. As Kisiel suggests, Heidegger's earliest lectures were already ªmotivated
by the desperate struggle to salvage meaning against the scienti®c worldview.º

Thus far, I have concentrated on the most fundamental theses and on the philo-
sophical pretensions ofSein und Zeit. Let me now round off this section by dis-
cussing the two published divisions of part 1 in some detail. There can be no
question of summing up the existential analyses in these divisions. Heidegger
develops his new categories of Dasein (existentialia) by means of elaborate de-
scriptions, and the existentialia are mutually dependent, so that they form a com-
plex conceptual network. Furthermore, in order to construct his new conceptual
framework, Heidegger constantly has to be on his guard to prevent contamination
of the existentialia by the traditional ontological categories, such as body and
mind, which have become our habitual vehicles of self-interpretation. No brief
summary of Heidegger's analyses can do justice to the complexity of his concep-
tual structures, and summaries will be easily misunderstood, because the reader
will tend to interpret them in terms of his habitual ontological framework, the
very framework Heidegger wants to destroy. In section 18 I provide a detailed
analysis of two notions that are central inSein und Zeit, the notions ofdas Man
(the One, the They, or Everyman) andSein-zum-Tode(being-toward-death).
According to Dreyfus's recent commentary onSein und Zeit, division 1 is the
most original and most important section of that book.
94This cannot have been
Heidegger's own view because, as its title says, division 1 is merely a preparatory
fundamental analysis of Dasein. Indeed, the analysis of the ®nite temporality of
Dasein, which is the objective of Heidegger's fundamental ontology, is to be
found in division 2. We might say that in division 1 Heidegger gives a preliminary
and static sketch of the existential structure of Dasein, focusing on its average
everyday mode of existence, whereas in division 2 the analysis of temporality
and of authentic being-toward-death explains how this structure hangs together
and why our existence is characterized by the dynamic existential that Heidegger
callsSorge(care or concern). Nevertheless, there is an explanation for Dreyfus's
preference for division 1. This division relates more clearly than division 2 to
traditional preoccupations of analytic philosophy and to a central theme of tradi-
tional epistemology. One of Heidegger's aims in division 1 was to undermine a
conception of philosophy that prevailed around the turn of the century, the concep-
tion of ®rst philosophy as epistemology. In order to introduce division 1 ofSein
und Zeit, it is useful to digress brie¯y and explain the conception of philosophy
Heidegger wanted to refute.
Modern epistemology originated in the scienti®c revolution of the seventeenth
95The problem of the external world, which was to become the main
epistemological problem in the second half of the nineteenth century, arose as a
consequence of the ontological aspect of the scienti®c revolution. Seventeenth-
century philosophers and scientists substituted a corpuscular ontology for Aristo-
telian hylemorphism. In order to avoid the circular explanations of Aristotelian
science, it was postulated that the theoretical corpuscular mechanisms, by which
empirical phenomena such as sound, color, and heat were to be explained, would
lack these ªsecondary qualitiesº as they appear to the observer.
96It seemed to

follow, however, that macroscopic objects, which were thought to be aggregates
of corpuscles, must also lack secondary qualities. How can a macroscopic object
that is composed of colorless particles be really colored itself? The seventeenth-
century physicists and philosophers concluded, misleadingly, that the material
world is very different from the way we perceive it to be: it is a purely material
multiplicity without colors, sounds, temperatures, and other secondary qualities.
Physics was supposed to have refuted the commonsense conception of the
The new corpuscular ontology had drastic implications for the theory of percep-
tion, and it eventually led to the problem of the external world. First, the original
explanandaof corpuscular physics, phenomena such as color and sound, had
to be conceived of as subjective impressions in the mind, caused by physical
mechanisms, for it was thought that they could not be real physical phenomena.
Second, because these phenomena nevertheless seem to be perceivedasexisting
in the world, perception had to consist of an unconscious projection of impres-
sions into external reality. This projective theory of perception was then general-
ized to all contents of perception. According to modern philosopher-scientists,
from Descartes and Berkeley to Kant, Helmholtz, Husserl, and Freud, the world
as we perceive itÐthe phenomenal world, in Kant's terminologyÐis nothing but
a projection by the mind. The projective theory of perception directly implies the
problem of the existence of the external, physical world: if the world we perceive
is a projection of the mind, how can we know that there is a real physical world
that causes the impressions and that existsan sich(in itself), independently of the
perceiving mind?
Rationalists such as Descartes and Leibniz could easily defuse the problem,
because they claimed to possess an extraperceptual access to physical reality. The
problem of the external world became a central worry for empiricists, since it
seemed to invalidate the only source of knowledge that empiricists acknowledge.
In periods of scienti®c advance, which refuted the a prioristic convictions of the
rationalists and corroborated empiricism, the problem of the external world para-
doxically tended to become the central problem of philosophy. This happened
both in the eighteenth century and in the second half of the nineteenth century.
During the latter period, philosophers gradually reached the conclusion that epis-
temology must be the basic philosophical discipline because it deals with the
problem of the external world. Epistemology had to replace metaphysics as ®rst
philosophy because it deals with a fundamental presupposition of all sciences,
the presupposition that there is a material world independent of the knowing mind.
Eduard von Hartmann, Edmund Husserl, and many Neo-Kantians explicitly de-
®ned epistemology as ®rst philosophy.
It is this conception of philosophy that Heidegger attempts to refute in the ®rst
division ofSein und Zeit. Heidegger agreed with logical positivists such as Carnap
that the epistemological problem of the external world is a pseudoproblem, but
he disagreed with them about its diagnosis.
97Whereas Carnap thought that the

problem is spurious because it cannot be decided by empirical and scienti®c
means, Heidegger argues in section 43a ofSein und Zeitthat its spuriousness is
caused by the fact that Dasein and its relation to the world were conceived of on
the model of objects and external relations in the world, that is, in the way science
had conceived of them since Antiquity. If one thinks of Dasein as an entity in the
world, and of the world as a collection of things to which Dasein is merely exter-
nally related, then it seems possible that Dasein might exist without the world.
According to Heidegger, however, this very conception is due to the falling of
Dasein, and the problem of the external world will disappear as soon as one
begins to understand Dasein and the world properly. Whereas Carnap blamed the
epistemological problem for not being suf®ciently scienti®c, Heidegger rejected
epistemology because its problems arise only within a scienti®c conception of the
world. Such a conception is inadequate, he argued, because it misunderstands the
constitution of being of Dasein and of the world. As the epistemological tradition
is based on mistaken assumptions about our and the world'sbeing, the question
of being, and not epistemology, has to be elevated to the status of ®rst philosophy.
Moreover, because the problem of the external world is raised within a scienti®c
conception of the world and of ourselves, we have to restrict the scope of science
in order to eliminate this problem.
How, then, does Dasein relate to the world according to division 1 ofSein und
Zeit, and how should we specify itsbeing? With a term borrowed from Bradley
and Wittgenstein, we might say that according to Heidegger Dasein and the world
areinternally related. World is a constitutive structure of Dasein.
Heidegger says that all existentialia of Dasein must be understood on the basis of
the fundamental ontological structure of being-in-the-world (SZ, § 12). The pri-
mary phenomenon of the world is not a meaningless totality of things or of facts,
but a ªmeaningfulº structure of mutually referring means, resources, and human
institutions, such as tools, houses, roads, libraries, cities, woods, ®elds, and the
like. This meaningful world-structure ultimately refers to a ªfor-the-sake-of-
whichº that is rooted in Dasein, because Dasein exists for the sake of itself (§§
14±18). Furthermore, beinginthe world is not an external relation of two entities,
one of which is located inside the other, but it primarily means dwelling and
cultivating, working and being at home in an environment. The spatiality proper
to Dasein consists in the fact that Dasein always ®nds itself in situations that
open up possibilities of action and manipulation. Dasein and world are internally
related, then, because it is impossible to conceive of Dasein without taking into
account its everyday world, and it is impossible to conceive of the world as a
meaningful referential structure without considering Dasein. However, if Dasein
and world are internally related, it is nonsensical to raise the traditional question
of epistemology as to whether Dasein does perhaps exist without the world. The
problem of the external world could only arise on the basis of an abstract and
inadequate picture of the world as a meaningless multiplicity of entities, a picture
that is the product of Dasein's falling. At least this is what Heidegger claims.

Heidegger initially de®nes Dasein as that entity ªwhose being is in each case
mine.º Dasein is always concerned with itself.
100 It has to effectuate its being, so
that its essence (Wesen) consists in the fact that it has to be. In other words, its
essence must be understood on the basis of existence, and its existence is in each
case mine. Heidegger coins the existentialeJemeinigkeit(mineness) to express
this characteristic of our mode of being (§ 9).
In view of this de®nition of Dasein as in each case mine, it may come as a
surprise that according to Heidegger you and I are not the real actors of our daily
existence-in-the-world. The one who leads everyday life, Heidegger claims, is
what he callsdas Man(the They, the One, the Anyone Self, or Everyman, §§ 25±
101 Like the world, Everyman is an existential structure of Dasein, because the
world that opens up in daily existence does not derive its meaning from you or
from me, as philosophers of consciousness such as Husserl had argued; it already
has the meanings that They take it to have. World as meaningful structure is
impossible without the others, of past and present generations, and because basi-
cally we always live, act, and think as Everyman lives, acts and thinks, Heidegger
says that in our daily existence we stand in subjection to the inde®nite other or
to Everyman (das Man). Our being has been taken away by the Others.
On further consideration, then, Heidegger's claim that Everyman is the real
subject of our average daily being-in-the-world seems to be inherently plausible.
We are born into a speci®c culture, acquire a particular language, and live in a
world that has been shaped by past generations. The cultural matrix into which
we are ªthrownº by being born of parents who happen to belong to a particular
culture, nationality, class, and profession is partly constitutive of our personal
identity, of our ªself.º As a consequence, it is inevitable that all our more personal
ways of living out our life move within and are based on these shared and imper-
sonal forms of life that open up the possibilities of structuring our life which in
fact we have, so that our being-in-the-world is fundamentally shared and imper-
sonal. In Heidegger's words, ªout of this [average, everyday] kind of beingÐand
back to it againÐis all existing, such as it is.º
As soon as we have accepted the idea that the One or Everyman is the subject
of our average daily life, we will be confronted by a second surprise. If the One
is the inevitable basis of all our more personal endeavors, because it partly consti-
tutes our identity, why does Heidegger identify the One with inauthentic exis-
104 Heidegger's description of Everyman or the One is punctuated with neg-
ative connotations. He says, for instance, that because in using public transport
or in reading newspapers we are like everyone else, our Dasein ªcompletely dis-
solves into the mode of being of `the others,' º and that in this inconspicuous
way, ªthe real dictatorship of the One is unfolded.º
105 He also says that the One
deprives particular Dasein of its responsibility, 106 and that individual Dasein is
dispersed (zerstreut) into Everyman, so that it must free itself from it in order to
®nd itself.
107 Furthermore, he argues in sections 35±38 that Dasein-as-Everyman
is disclosed to itself inGerede(idle talk),Neugier(super®cial curiosity),

andZweideutigkeit(ambiguity), and that being so disclosed constitutes the falling
of Dasein.
It seems that in the expressiondas ManHeidegger mixes up two different
although connected notions. This fact explains a persistent contradiction or ten-
sion inSein und Zeit: Heidegger on the one hand stresses that we cannot free
ourselves from the One or Everyman, and on the other hand claims that we have
to liberate ourselves from it in order to become authentic. The ®rst of these notions
captures the insight that our personal existence would be impossible without a
shared cultural background or form of life that partly constitutes our identity. It
would be absurd to say, however, that this background deprives us of our responsi-
bility, because, on the contrary, the very phenomenon of responsibility is impossi-
ble without such a background. We learn to be responsible for ourselves within
the matrix of our culture. The second notion is that of what is sometimes called
the dictatorship of public opinion, or the terror of mediocrity, which Heidegger
associates, like Kierkegaard and Nietzsche, with democracy and reading daily
newspapers. There is a connection between the second notion and the ®rst. The
dictatorship of Everyman might be seen as a conservative, unimaginative, narrow-
minded, and conformist way of endorsing a common cultural background, in
which one identi®es oneself entirely with traditional stereotyped roles. But the
two notions are not identical. One cannot free oneself from one's cultural back-
ground, even though one might move into a different one, but one might try
to escape from the dictatorship of public opinion by gradually becoming more
independent and by realizing that one is more or less free to de®ne one's life on
the basis of one's background.
The ambiguity in Heidegger's notion of the One or Everyman affects his con-
cept of authenticity, because the latter concept is de®ned as the opposite to being
lost in the One. We become authentic, Heidegger says, as soon as we take hold
of our Self in our own way (ªdas Selbst eigens ergreifenº).
110 How are we able
to take hold of our Self if, as Heidegger claims, in our daily existence we ¯ee
from our Self into Everyman and into worldly occupations? Heidegger argues in
the dazzling section 40 of division 1 that the very phenomenon of ¯ight from our
Selves is a clue here. We would not ¯ee from ourselves unless seeing ourselves
as we really are is frightening. And indeed, such an insight immediately provokes
Angst. If so, the experience ofAngst, from which we attempt to ¯ee in daily life,
will reveal the entire existential structure of Dasein as it really is.
What we experience inAngstis that the world as a meaningful structure col-
lapses. Everything becomes insigni®cant. If we ask someone who experiences
Angstwhat he is afraid of, he will answer: nothing. And indeed,Angstis not an
apprehension for particular things or events. Rather, it is a comprehension of the
essential reliance of ®nite and vulnerable Dasein on a meaningful world, which
is revealed by the very collapse of this world. In short,Angstreveals the world
asworld, and it discloses Daseinasa ®nite being-in-the-world. It is at this point
that Heidegger's concept of authenticity emerges, and, as I said, it is contaminated

by the ambiguity within his notion of the One. For Heidegger claims that in
confronting one's Self inAngst, we do not reveal ourselves in our reliance on
our cultural world, but, on the contrary, in a radical individuality (Vereinzelung).
Because of the very fact that inAngstthe meaningful world collapses, we cannot
¯ee from ourselves into this world and into the They anymore, and our Dasein
stands naked, as it were.
112 We realize that we are ªthrownº into existence, and
that we have freely to construct our existence by ourselves and to choose our
course in life. Because Heidegger does not clearly distinguish between the phe-
nomenon of a shared cultural background and the dictatorship of public opinion,
he suggests that liberating oneself from the latter amounts to freeing oneself from
the former as well. Authenticity, then, consists in a radical af®rmation of our
existential solitude. As Heidegger says, ªanxiety individualizes Dasein and thus
discloses it as `solus ipse.' º
113 Although, as Heidegger admits, this cannot imply
that in existential solipsism the structure of being-in-the-world is dissolved, au-
thenticity at ®rst sight seems to consist in a complete autonomy of the Self, in
which the individual does not rely on his cultural background except in the sense
that he freely chooses the possibilities he wants to realize, or, as Heidegger says,
his ªheroes.º
Division 1 ofSein und Zeitculminates in an articulation of the existential struc-
ture of Dasein revealed inAngst(§§ 41±42) and in a critical discussion of the
traditional notions of reality and truth (§§ 43±44). The totality of Dasein's existen-
tial structure is calledSorge(concern or care), which means that Dasein is a being
that makes an issue of its being, and it consists of three aspects that are all dis-
closed inAngst. That in the face of which we haveAngstis the fact that we are
thrown into existence, so that in a sense we are radically contingent (Geworfen-
t). That which we haveAngstabout is our freedom or potentiality
to realize our being-in-the-world (Ex-sistenz,Entwurf). Finally, that into which
we ¯ee from ourAngstis being absorbed in worldly affairs, handing over the
responsibility for our existence to the They, and trying to understand Dasein in
terms of worldly things. This ¯ight is the falling of Dasein (Verfallen).
Heidegger stresses that the ontological analysis of Dasein in division 1 is
merely preparatory, because, ®rst, it concentrates on Dasein in its daily inauthentic
mode of existence; second, it does not grasp Dasein in its totality (Ganzsein);
and, ®nally, it does not explain the fundamental unity of the existential structure
of concern (§ 45). In division 2 ofSein und ZeitHeidegger attempts to ground
this preparatory analysis by what he calls a primordial existential interpretation
of Dasein. It seems that in order to conceive of Dasein in its totality, we have to
survey its existence from birth to death. But this is impossible in our own case,
because as long as we are able to survey anything, our death has not yet arrived.
Heidegger argues that we may nevertheless grasp our Dasein in its totality and
that we maybewholly ourselves if we adopt an authentic relation to our death,
and, indeed, that authenticity is nothing but being myself ªin an impassioned
freedom toward deathÐa freedom that has been released from the illusions of

the One, and which is factical, certain of itself, and anxiousº (§§ 46±53).
115 The
possibility of being authentic in this sense is disclosed to us in the call of con-
science, which incites us to being ready forAngstand to being resolute in realizing
what we have decided to do (§§ 54±60). Authenticity is de®ned as a resolute
anticipation of our own death, which enables us to be our Self as a whole. Only
by being resolute can we integrate the phases of our life into a meaningful whole,
whereas without resoluteness human life iszerstreut(dispersed).
Authenticity in this sense is the clue to understanding the unity of the structure
of concern, because by resolutely anticipating our death, the ®nite temporal struc-
ture of existence is revealed, whereas the unity of the three aspects of concern
(Existenz,Geworfenheit,Verfallen) is founded on the three dimensions of existen-
tial temporality (future, past, present). This is why Heidegger repeats his prepara-
tory existential analysis of Dasein by elaborating in division 2 the temporal sense
of the existentialia of division 1 (§§ 61±71). Finally, Heidegger claims that the
temporal structure of Dasein explains why it is a historical being, so that historic-
ity is another existential of Dasein (§§ 72±77). In the ®nal chapter of division 2,
Heidegger attempts to account for the origin of the ordinary concept of time as
an endless continuum of equivalent moments, a concept that is very different
from that of the existential time in which we live into a ®nite future. The ordinary
conception of time, with which we calculate in daily existence and by which we
often measure out our life, allegedly is derived from existential time, and Heideg-
ger claims that it is due to the falling of Dasein (§§ 78±83).
As I stressed before, I do not pretend to give a comprehensive summary of the
published divisions ofSein und Zeit. My succinct hints as to the contents of this
complex book merely aim at arousing the interest of the reader in Heidegger's
question of being. It has been argued that Heidegger's ontology of Dasein is
akin to American pragmatism as developed by John Dewey, so that analytical
philosophers would be already familiar with some elements of Heideggerian
thought. The main reason for this purported rapprochement is that in discussing
the notion of world Heidegger focuses on our manipulation of tools. He argues
that the world is primarily disclosed to us as a meaningful background in which
we work and use tools and instruments. Accordingly, the primordial way in which
things manifest themselves to us is as beingZuhanden(ready-to-hand), and not
at all as things that areVorhanden(simply exist and occur, are extant). In section
69b ofSein und Zeit, Heidegger tries to explain the genesis of the scienti®c view
of the world as a collection of meaningless things on the basis of a breakdown of
the primordial meaningful world of work. He argues that the scienti®c image of
the world and the theoretical attitude in general are derivative, and that pseu-
doproblems arise if we try to regard the scienti®c worldview as the fundamental
one. This analysis resembles Dewey's well-known critique of the ªspectator the-
ory of knowledge,º which allegedly dominated Western thought from Plato on.
The spectator theory of knowledge assumed that the theoretical attitude is the
basis of the practical one, instead of the other way around.

Notwithstanding these resemblances between Heidegger and Dewey, I think
that manifest and important differences prevail. Whereas Dewey stressed the con-
tinuity between practical life and scienti®c inquiry, and reinterpreted science
within the context of pragmatism as a process of inquiry that aims at resolving
vital problems, Heidegger inSein und Zeitsquarely opposes the existential ac-
count of Dasein and world to the scienti®c view of the world. One might say
that Heidegger wants to cancel the ontological aspect of the scienti®c revolution,
according to which the corpuscular image of the world would have refuted the
manifest image of common sense. Heidegger not only restores the primacy of the
manifest image; he also argues that Dasein still misinterprets itself even in its
commonsense interpretation, because it understands itself in terms of entities in
the world.
This ®rst difference is related to a second one. Dewey also stresses another
continuity, the continuity between higher animals and man. His account of science
as inquiry ®ts in well with evolution theory, and he often uses biological catego-
ries in the interpretation of human life.
118Dewey is a naturalist, whereas according
to Heidegger any naturalist interpretation of Dasein will necessarily fail to do
justice to the fundamental structures of existence. Assimilating Heidegger's anal-
ysis of human existence to Dewey's pragmatism will easily lead to a super®cial
interpretation of Heidegger's works, which overlooks the radical and antinatural-
ist character of his philosophical enterprise.
Sein und Zeitraises many questions of interpretation. Some of them are con-
cerned with Heidegger's notion of authenticity. Apart from the tension within this
concept due to the ambiguous notion of the One, there is a second dif®culty. The
ideal of authenticity, as developed in sections 40, 53, 60, and 62, is extremely
individualistic and even ªsolipsistic,º as Heidegger says. He argues thatAngst
and being free for death individuate (vereinzeln) us, and call our Self back from
being lost in Everyman. The ideal of authentic resoluteness seems to require a
radical independence from all others. But in section 74, which deals with the
existential of historicity (Geschichtlichkeit), Heidegger proposes a very different
ideal of authenticity. He claims that ªDasein's fateful destiny in and with its `gen-
eration' goes to make up the full authentic performance of Dasein,º where ªdes-
tinyº is de®ned as the performance of aVolk(people).
120 What is the relation
between Heidegger's individualistic notion of authenticity and this gregarious or
lkischnotion, and how can the former suddenly turn into the latter, as it seems
to do in section 74?
Among the many problems of interpretation concerningSein und Zeitthere is
one problem that must be singled out as most fundamental.Sein und Zeitaims at
raising the question of being. This question is the single and only question that
Heidegger asked during his entireDenkweg. The question of being is also the
theme of the present study. But what does this question amount to? And what is
its relation to the fundamental ontology of Dasein in divisions 1 and 2 ofSein

und Zeit? These problems will turn out to be dif®cult and complex. In order to
reveal at least some of the dif®culties involved, I now partly discuss the introduc-
tion toSein und Zeit.
Heidegger's question of being aims at revealing ªthe sense [Sinn] of being.º To
the extent that being (das Sein) is always the ontological constitution of a speci®c
being (ein Seiendes), and for the reason that Heidegger inSein und Zeitattempts
to disclose the temporal sense of Dasein, one might suppose that Heidegger's
question of being aims at revealing the ontological sense of human existence.
According to this interpretation, what Heidegger means bydas Seinis the tempo-
ral sense of our constitution of being, as Walter Schulz argued in the 1950s, or at
least that which enables us to make sense of our existence and of the world.
Hubert Dreyfus endorses the latter view when he characterizes Heidegger's ques-
tion of being as the attempt ªto make sense of our ability to make sense of
122 It seems, then, that the relation between the question of being and the
existential analysis of Dasein is unproblematic. They amount to the very same
thing. This implies that there is no separate problem of interpretation with regard
to the question of being. To the extent that we understand what Heidegger's exis-
tential analysis of human existence amounts to, we also understand the meaning
of his question of being.
Unfortunately, things are not simple as that. According to the original plan of
Sein und Zeit, its six divisions are preceded by an introduction, which is entitled
ªExposition of the Question of the Sense of Being.º This introduction was pub-
lished along with divisions 1 and 2 of the book. In order to ®nd out what Heideg-
ger's question of being means, and how it relates to the fundamental ontology
of Dasein inSein und Zeit, we have to study the introduction. But no one who
penetrates into this condensed and complex text will be able to subscribe to
the elegant and simple interpretation of the question of being and its relation
to the analysis of Dasein that I just outlined. In fact, the introduction raises
more problems than it answers, problems that an interpretation of Heidegger's
question of being has to solve. In the present section, I state six of these problems.
A reader who is not interested in minute textual exegesis may skim through
this section. One should remember, however, that we are preparing the grounds
for an interpretation of Heidegger's thought, and that the only adequate basis for
such an interpretation is a scrupulous analysis of the texts and of the problems
they contain.
Heidegger's introduction consists of eight sections, divided into two chapters
of four sections each. In the second chapter, Heidegger argues on the basis of a
preliminary description of Dasein that there is a twofold taskÐa constructive and

a destructive task (§§ 5 and 6)Ðin working out the question of being, maintains
that the method of investigation has to be phenomenological or hermeneutical (§
7), and sketches the structure of the book (§ 8). I have touched upon sections 5,
6, and 8 already, and I discuss section 7 below (in §§ 5, 8C, and 17B). This is
why I concentrate now on the ®rst chapter (§§ 1±4) of Heidegger's introduction.
However, my ®rst problem concerns page 1 ofSein und Zeit, a page that precedes
the introduction and that is not referred to in the table of contents.
1.Page 1 ofSein und Zeitmay be considered an introduction to the introduc-
tion. With reference to a quote from Plato'sSophistes, Heidegger introduces the
question of being. He claims that we do not know an answer to the question, so
that we have to raise the question once again. Moreover, because we are not
perplexed by the question of being, Heidegger ®rst has to reawaken an under-
standing of the meaning of the question. Having stated the objective (Absicht)
and the provisional aim (Ziel) of the book, he says that its objective, its investiga-
tions, and its aim call for some introductory remarks. Most readers will turn over
this ®rst page without much re¯ection. Yet it contains one of the most vexing
problems regarding the interpretation of Heidegger's question of being.
The reason is that the way in which Heidegger introduces the question of being
is blatantly ambiguous. Page 1 ofSein und Zeitcontains ®ve formulations of the
question of being, which fall into two kinds. According to one kind, the question
of being is concerned with ªwhat you mean when you use the expression
`being,' º or with ªwhat we really mean by the word `being.' º It aims at grasping
the meaning (Sinn) of the word or expression ªto be.º The second kind of formula-
tion suggests that the question of being rather seeks to make sense of a phenome-
non. This time the word ªbeingº is not put within quotation marks, and the ques-
tion of being is characterized as ªthe question of the sense [Sinn] of being.º Our
®rst problem, then, is this: Does Heidegger's question of being aim at analyzing
the meaning of a word, or does it seek to determine the ªsigni®canceº or ªsenseº
of a phenomenon, such as human existence? Depending on which interpretation
we prefer, we must translate the German termSinneither by ªmeaningº (What
are the meanings of the verb ªto beº?) or by signi®cance (What is the signi®cance
of the phenomenon of human existence?).
One might object that seeing a problem here is splitting hairs, because by de-
termining the signi®cance of the phenomenon of human existence, for instance,
we may also ®x the meaning of the expression ªhuman being.º But this objection
does not annihilate the dif®culty at all. Heidegger suggests in section 1 ofSein
und Zeitthat the question of being is concerned with ordinary uses of ªto beº
such as in ªThe skyisblueº and ªIammerry.º
124 Surely, in order to determine
the meaning of the verb ªto beº one has to analyze these ordinary uses, and this, it
seems, is the task of linguists and logicians. Logicians usually distinguish among
various functions of the verb ªto beº: it may express identity, as in ªThe morning
star is the evening star,º or predication, as in ªThe sky is blue,º or existence (in

the usual sense), as in ªThere is no greatest prime number.º Most modern logi-
cians will hold that the verb ªto beº as used in these three ways is not a referring
expression, so that there simply is no phenomenon called ªbeingº in these senses.
This does not exclude, the linguist will observe, that we may decide to use the
expression ªbeingº also in nonlogical ways, for instance, as a synonym for ªthe
universeº or for ªhuman life.º But it seems that there is no reason at all to assume
that an analysis of the signi®cance or of the ontological constitution of human
existence will have any bearing on the meanings of ªto beº in its logical uses. Let
me summarize the ®rst problem as follows. Is Heidegger's question of being
concerned with the meanings of expressions such as ªbeingº and ªto be,º or is it
concerned with a phenomenon, such as human existence? And if the answer turns
out to be that it is concerned with both words and phenomena, what, according
to Heidegger, is the relation between the two?
2.According to section 1 ofSein und Zeit, the question of being, which inspired
the researches of Plato and Aristotle, has today been forgotten, and ªwhat they
wrestled . . . from the phenomena, fragmentary and incipient though it was, has
long since become trivialized.º
125 Moreover, on the basis of initial Greek contribu-
tions toward an interpretation of being, a number of prejudices have been devel-
oped that declare the question of being super¯uous and sanction its neglect. Hei-
degger brie¯y discusses three of these prejudices, in order to show that it is
necessary to raise the question of being once again. He concludes that the question
of being lacks an answer and is itself obscure. It is interesting to see how Heideg-
ger argues that an answer to the question of being is still lacking, for his argument
contains some clues as to the precise meaning of the question of being as he
understands it. His argument also raises problems, and I will state a problem
concerning Heidegger's discussion of each of the three prejudices (problems 2,
3, and 4).
According to the ®rst prejudice, the word ªbeingº expresses the most universal
126 Yet its generality cannot be the generality of a highest class or genus,
as Heidegger observes, following Aristotle and the Scholastics. If we interpret
Aristotle's categories (usually translated as substance, quantity, quality, relation,
location, time, position, state, action, and passion) as the highest genera of every-
thing there is, it would be misleading to say that ªbeingº is an even higher genus
that embraces everything. And if we interpret the ten categories as classes of
different modes of saying something of an individual, we might say that the word
ªbeingº transcends the categories because it is used in each and every category.
In this sense, ªbeingº is atranscendens, as the Schoolmen said. According to
Aristotle, at least in the traditional interpretation, the unity of this transcendental
universal (ªbeingº) is a unity of analogy in contrast to the multiplicity of the
categories (see § 7, below, for discussion). Heidegger claims that Aristotle put
the problem of being on a new basis with this discovery, although even Aristotle
ªfailed to clear away the darkness of these categorial interconnections.º Heideg-

ger further claims that at the end of the metaphysical tradition, Hegel no longer
paid heed to Aristotle's problem of the unity of being as over against the multiplic-
ity of categories. Accordingly, from the fact that ªbeingº expresses the most
universal concept it does not follow that the notion of being is clear. It is rather
the darkest notion of all, and this is why the question of being has to be raised
once again.
Heidegger's discussion of the ®rst prejudice raises the problem as to how much
of the ontological tradition he endorses inSein und Zeit. DoesSein und Zeitaim
at solving Aristotle's problem of the unity of being, to which Hegel allegedly no
longer paid heed? This is suggested by texts such as ªMein Weg in die PhaÈ
nologie.º More particularly, does Heidegger accept the idea that ªbeingº is atrans-
cendens? We have to answer this question in the af®rmative, for he writes in section
7ofSein und Zeit:
Being, as the basic theme of philosophy, is no genus of an entity; yet it pertains to every
entity. Its ªuniversalityº is to be sought higher up. Being and the structure of being lie
beyond every entity and every possible character that an entity may possess.Being is
the transcendens pure and simple....Every disclosure of Being as the transcendens is
If Heideggerian being is thetranscendenspure and simple, what does Heideg-
ger mean by transcendens and ªtranscendentalº? Does he want to say that the
verb ªto beº is used in all categories, and that ªbeingº therefore is transcendent(al)
in the Aristotelian and Scholastic sense? Or is being transcendent in the sense of
the Neo-Platonic and Christian tradition, which usedesseas another word for
ªGodº and argued that Being is transcendent to the created temporal world? Or,
®nally, does Heidegger use the word ªtranscendentalº in the Kantian sense, so
that being is transcendent(al) because allegedly understanding being is a transcen-
dental condition of the possibility of perceiving particular entities? The problem
is that the text ofSein und Zeitdoes not enable us to answer these questions
There is some discussion of the notion of transcendence in section 69, where
Heidegger argues that the characteristic of Dasein, that it discloses itself and the
world, is rooted in its temporality.
130 This characteristic is called the transcendence
of Dasein. Furthermore, the world itself is called transcendent because the world,
in Heidegger's sense of a meaningful background, allegedly is a condition of the
possibility of our using tools or encountering entities. Heidegger draws attention
to the fact that it is not possible to understand something as a piece of equipment
(a hammer, for instance) without the pragmatic background of standardized proce-
dures, other pieces of equipment, and institutionalized human practices and objec-
tives. But it would be rash to conclude that the transcendence of the world or of
Dasein is the same as the transcendence of being, and Heidegger nowhere inSein
und Zeitclearly explains what he means when he calls being transcendent. The
present problem of interpretation, then, is concerned primarily with the notion of

a transcendence of being. As we will see, Heidegger's discussion of the second
prejudice raises a related problem.
3.The second prejudice says that the concept of being is inde®nable. We can
neither derive the concept of being from higher concepts by de®nition, nor can
we present it through lower ones. However, the inde®nability of ªbeingº does not
eliminate the question of its meaning; it rather demands that we look that question
in the face.
Heidegger's discussion of this second prejudice seems to be altogether trivial.
Surely the verb ªto beº and the noun ªbeingº cannot be de®ned in the traditional
way of ade®nitio per genus proximum et differentiam speci®cam, and surely this
does not exempt us from analyzing their meanings.
132 Heidegger infers from the
inde®nability of ªbeingº and ªto beº (Sein) that these expressions cannot denote
an entity.
133 This seems to be a trivial result as well. Did Kant not already argue
that ªbeingº in the sense of ªexistenceº cannot be a real predicate? Yet, Heideg-
ger's brief discussion of the second prejudice raises a number of crucial questions.
How can we determine the meaning of ªbeingº if ªbeingº cannot be de®ned?
Why does Heidegger not turn to logic and to linguistic analysis in order to clarify
the meaning of ªto beº? Finally, how does Heidegger distinguish being (das Sein)
from beings (Seiendes)? In his later works, he stresses this distinction again and
again, and calls it the ªontological difference.º
134 He claims that the distinction
has been forgotten in the tradition of metaphysics. But what does the distinction
amount to? How doesbeingrelate tobeings, and what does Heidegger mean
bybeing(without quotation marks)? Should we conclude that the ontological
difference and the idea that being is thetranscendenspure and simple are two
sides of the same coin? Isbeingtranscendent tobeingssimply because it is not
abeing itself? If so, how can Heidegger attach such importance to the trivial fact
that the verb ªto be,º at least in its logical uses, does not denote an entity?
These questions are not easily answered, and Heidegger seems to contradict
himself concerning the relation between being and beings. There is a marked
tendency inSein und Zeitto interpretbeingas the ontological constitution of
speci®c beings, such as ourselves.
135 Wearein a way different from that of tools
and from that of a stone or a mountain. When I say, ªCharles is worried,º this
statement presupposes a constitution of being of Charles that is very different
from the constitution of being expressed by ªThis stone is heavy.º The statement
that Charles is worried would not make sense unless Charles lived into his future
and unless the deep structure of his existence were characterized by what Heideg-
ger calls concern. If Heidegger uses the word ªbeingº (Sein) as a technical term
for the ontological constitution of speci®c beings, it follows that to specify the
sense of being is nothing but to analyze different constitutions of being. Moreover,
it follows that being is never without beings, and this is precisely what Heidegger
af®rms inSein und Zeit.
136 However, in the postscript to the fourth edition (1943)
ofWas ist Metaphysik?Heidegger wrote that beingdoesact (west) without beings,

even though beings are never without being. This seems to contradict the idea
that being is nothing but the ontological constitution of speci®c beings. Six years
later, in the ®fth edition (1949), Heidegger changed the text and wrote that being
neveracts without beings, so that the ®fth edition ofWas ist Metaphysik?contra-
dicts the fourth edition, which, in turn, contradictedSein und Zeit. What are we
to make of these contradictions?
137 How are we to explain the fact that Heidegger
speci®ed the relation between being and beings in contradictory ways? Let me
call this the problem of the ontological difference.
4.According to the third prejudice, the notion of being is self-evident. The
various uses of ªto be,º as in ªThe sky is blueº and ªI am merry,º are intelligible
without further ado. Heidegger's reaction to this prejudice is surprising:
But here we have an average kind of intelligibility, which merely demonstrates that it
is unintelligible. It makes manifest that in any way of comporting oneself toward entities
as entities and in any being toward entities as entities there lies a priori an enigma. The
very fact that we already live in an understanding of being and that the meaning of
being is still veiled in darkness proves that it is necessary in principle to raise this
question again.
Many analytic philosophers will admit that our ability to use the verb ªto beº
without problems does not automatically imply that we are able to state and
clearly distinguish its diverse meanings. Our knowing how to use a certain expres-
sion does not necessarily involve our knowing that such and such is true of this
expression, and this explains why one easily commits fallacies of ambiguity when
the verb ªto beº is involved. However, analytical philosophers would not speak
of an enigma in this context. Having the competence of applying linguistic rules
enables us in principle to make them explicit and also to make them more precise.
This is what we try to do in the study of grammar and in philosophical logic. I
think that the ®rst sentence of the quotation is the most interesting one. How can
Heidegger claim that the fact that we understand the ordinary uses of ªto beº
demonstrates theirunintelligibility? Does he perhaps presuppose a conception of
meaning and language that linguists and analytical philosophers would not en-
dorse? If so, what is this conception of meaning and language? Furthermore, what
is, according to Heidegger, the connection between our understanding of the verb
ªto beº and an ªenigmaº that ªlies in any way of comporting oneself toward
entities as entities,º an enigma that allegedly is revealed by the fact that we are
able to use the verb ªto beº?
5.In section 2 ofSein und Zeit, Heidegger discusses the ªformal structureº of
the question of being. He ®rst tells us that each and every questioning is character-
ized by four different aspects: (1) it is based on a preliminary grasp of what it is
aiming at; (2) there is a content (das Gefragte) that has to be speci®ed; (3) there
is something that is interrogated or investigated (das Befragte); and (4) the inquiry
reaches its goal with that which is to be found out by questioning (das Erfragte).

Heidegger then speci®es the ®rst three aspects for the case of the question of
being. Signi®cantly, he omits a discussion of the fourth aspect. Perhaps this is only
to be expected because, as we know from section 5, the answer to the question of
being tells us merely how to conduct our concrete ontological research.
According to Heidegger, the preliminary grasp of what the question of being is
aiming at is what he calls our average understanding of being (durchschnittliches
ndnis). We have seen that Dasein is characterized by an understanding
of being. However, Heidegger's notion of an understanding of being is a dif®cult
one, and it seems to contain many ambiguities. When Heidegger introduces the
notion in section 4, he derives it from the fact that Dasein has a relation to its
own being, because it has to live out its own existence. This relation is called
ªunderstanding of beingº (SeinsverstaÈ
ndnis). What it means is ®rst of all that we
more or less know how to live, and ªunderstandingº in this context is a capacity
word. This existentiell know-how would be impossible if we were not able to
®nd our way in our environment, and this is why our understanding of being
concerns both Dasein and the world. However, when Heidegger introduces the
notion of understanding of being in section 2, he suggests that we possess under-
standing of being because we know how to use the verb ªto be,º even though we
cannot state its meanings. In short, Heidegger's notion of an understanding of
being is affected by the same ambiguity as the question of being itself: Is it con-
cerned with a word or with a phenomenon, or with both? (see problem 1).
The content (das Gefragte) of the question of being, Heidegger continues, is
being itself, whereas its aim (das Erfragte) is the sense of being. He speci®es
beingas ªthat which determines a being asa being, that with regard to which
entities are already understood, however we may discuss them in detail.º
140 This
is an obscure and ambiguous formula. Its ®rst half, ªthat which determines a being
as a being,º reminds us of Plato and of medieval philosophical theology, whereas
its second half, ªthat with regard to which entities are already understood,º has a
Kantian ¯avor. Heidegger stresses thatbeingis nota beingand that, therefore,
we need both a special method and a special kind of concept in order to reveal
the sense of being. My ®fth problem is concerned with being as the content of
the question of being. In order to introduce this problem, I have to turn to section
3ofSein und Zeit, in which Heidegger argues for the ªontological priorityº of
the question of being on the basis of a rudimentary philosophy of science. In the
remainder of section 2 and the entire section 4 ofSein und Zeit, Heidegger dis-
cusses that which has to be interrogated or investigated if we want to raise the
question of being (das Befragte). He argues that this is Dasein, so that the question
of being has to be developed by analyzing Dasein. The sixth problem I want to
raise concerns this argument and its validity.
Let me ®rst turn to section 3 ofSein und Zeit, in order to introduce my ®fth
problem. As the title indicates, Heidegger in this section wants to demonstrate
the ontological priority of the question of being, or, as he calls it in the ®nal
sentence of the section, its objectively scienti®c priority.
141 In the two introductory

paragraphs of section 3, he makes clear that by showing its ontological priority,
he will have speci®ed the function of the question of being, namely, that it is
the most fundamental and the most concrete question.
142 However, in section 3
Heidegger merely explains why the question of being is the most fundamental
question, omitting an explanation of its concreteness, and, as I said before, he
does so on the basis of a rudimentary philosophy of science.
Somewhat anachronistically, we might characterize this philosophy of science
as a blend of Husserl's philosophy of science and Thomas Kuhn's notion of scien-
ti®c progress by means of revolutions. The third and sixth paragraphs of section
3 are Husserlian, whereas the fourth and ®fth are Kuhnian. According to Husserl's
philosophy of science, each special science investigates a speci®c region or do-
main of being. Heidegger mentions history, nature, space, life, Dasein, and lan-
guage as examples of these domains. Implicitly or explicitly, the special sciences
are founded on what Husserl calls regional ontologies, which articulate the ªes-
senceº (Husserl) or the ªfundamental constitution of beingº (Heidegger:Grund-
verfassung seines Seins) of the entities in their domain. According to both Husserl
and Heidegger, these founding ontologies are a priori, and the general insights
they contain are essential and not contingent.
144 They both hold that the fundamen-
tal concepts which constitute a regional ontology may be ªdemonstratedº or
ªgroundedº by a descriptive analysis of the essence or of the ontological constitu-
tion of entities in the domain under investigation.
145 Such a descriptive grounding
of regional-ontological concepts is the proper task of the philosophy of the special
sciences. With a sneer to the Neo-Kantians and logical positivists of his time,
Heidegger says that a regional ontology is very different from the epistemology
or methodology of the special sciences, a logic of science that would be sterile
because it limps along with scienti®c progress. In contrast, regional ontologies
areproductivelogics that precede scienti®c progress because they disclose regions
of beings in the structure of their being, and make these structures available to
the positive sciences as transparent assignments for their inquiry.
According to the Kuhnian aspect of Heidegger's rudimentary philosophy of
science, ªthe real `movement' of the sciences takes place when their basic con-
cepts undergo a more or less radical revision.º Heidegger adds that ªthe level
which a science has reached is determined by how far it iscapableof a crisis in
its basic concepts,º and he brie¯y discusses such crises in mathematics, physics,
biology, history, and theology.
147 Unfortunately, Heidegger does not explain how
he intends to resolve the tension or even contradiction between the Husserlian
and the Kuhnian aspects of his philosophy of science. Husserl's notion of science
is fundamentally static. As soon as the philosophical foundation of a special sci-
ence has been made explicit by means of a regional ontology, it has been laid
once and for all, because it is a priori, and scienti®c progress can only consist in
accumulating empirical results obtained within the conceptual framework of the
relevant regional ontology. How is Heidegger able to endorse Husserl's concep-
tion on the one hand, accepting the idea that regional-ontological concepts can

be justi®ed a priori by a descriptive analysis of ontological structures, and on the
other hand to acknowledge the fact, which had become obvious by 1927, that the
basic concepts of the sciences may undergo fundamental revisions?
148 The tension
between a Husserlian aspect and a Kuhnian aspect of Heidegger's philosophy of
science is connected to other tensions inSein und Zeit, such as the tension between
the phenomenological and the hermeneutical aspects of Heidegger's own method.
(I come back to the latter tension in §§ 8C and 9B, below, whereas the former
tension will be resolved in § 9A.)
How does Heidegger argue for the ontological priority of the question of being
on the basis of his apparently ambivalent philosophy of science? His argument is
contained in the seventh and eighth paragraphs of section 3:
Ontological inquiry is indeed more primordial, as over against the ontical inquiry of the
positive sciences. But it remains itself naõÈ
ve and opaque if in its researches into the
being of beings it fails to discuss the meaning of being in general....Thequestion of
being aims therefore at ascertaining the a priori conditions not only for the possibility
of the sciences that examine entities as entities of such and such a type, and, in so doing,
already operate with an understanding of being, but also for the possibility of those
ontologies themselves which are prior to the ontical sciences and which provide their
This passage could have been endorsed by Husserl as it stands, and indeed
Heidegger derived his idea of a three-story edi®ce of knowledge from Husserl's
mature philosophy. According to both Husserl and Heidegger inSein und Zeit,
the special sciences are founded on regional ontologies, which, in their turn, are
founded on transcendental ®rst philosophy. However, within this formal tripartite
framework, Heidegger is highly critical of Husserl's conception. Husserl argued
in the Fundamental Meditation (Fundamentalbetrachtung)ofIdeasI that the
beingof regional entities consists in their being constituted by the transcendental
ego. He explained this process of constitution as a multilayer interpretation by
the transcendental ego of its hyletic data, its sensations. As a consequence, the
constituted world allegedly is ontologically dependent on the transcendental ego,
which itself exists as an independent and temporally in®nite substance. As Husserl
explained in the terminology of his third Logical Investigation,beingfalls apart
into two types: ontologically independent being (the being of the transcendental
ego or egos), and ontologically dependent being (the being of entities in the
world). He later called this ontology ªtranscendental idealism.º
One might say, then, that Husserl already answered Heidegger's question of
being. But it is also clear why Heidegger rejected Husserl's idealist answer. 151 I
have argued elsewhere that Husserl's transcendental idealism is a solution to the
traditional problem of the external world.
152 We have seen in section 3, above,
that Heidegger rejects this problem as a pseudoproblem, and that he attributed
the fact that the problem arose to a mistaken (scientistic) conception of thebeing
of Dasein and world. This is a suf®cient reason for asking the question of being

anew, and for investigating thebeingof world and Dasein. In short, section 3 of
Sein und Zeitshows that Heidegger derived his argument for the ontological prior-
ity of the question of being from the philosophical tradition, a tradition that started
with Plato and Aristotle and led to Husserl. One of the reasons for raising the
question anew was the rejection of Husserl's transcendental idealism.
There was yet another reason related to Husserl, and this second reason brings
me to the ®fth problem I want to raise. As Heidegger says at the end of section
1.1 ofSein und Zeit, the philosophical tradition was not able to solve the problem
of the unity of being as over against the multiplicity of categories. Heidegger
objected to Husserl that transcendental idealism did not solve this problem of the
unity of being either, because it divided beings into two classes, independent
transcendental egos or monads and dependent mundane beings. What was the
unitary meaning of the verb ªto beº that allowed Husserl to say that both monads
and mundane entitiesare?
Interestingly, Husserl gave an answer to this question, and the problem I want
to raise is why Heidegger did not accept this answer. The answer is implied by
Husserl's notion of a formal ontology. In section 13 ofIdeasI, Husserl clari®es
his distinction between regional or material ontologies on the one hand and
formal ontology on the other hand by means of a distinction between generalizing
and formalizing. By ªgeneralizingº he means the activity of ®nding ever more
general concepts under which something falls. If we start withdog, for instance,
we might end up with the conceptliving being. Husserl calls such a most general
concept a ªhighest material genus.º A highest material genus de®nes a region of
being, and regional ontologies have the task of articulating thematerial categories
that determine the ontological structure of the various regions. Husserl seems
to assume that the whole of being is unambiguously carved up into ontological
Formalizing, on the other hand, is what we do in mathematics and formal logic,
when we substitute variables for material expressions. The range of these vari-
ables is de®ned by what Husserl callsformal categories, such as property, relation,
entity, predicate, proposition, class, part, whole, and the like. Formal disciplines
whose variables range over propositions or parts of propositions are called apo-
phantic logic, whereas formal disciplines whose variables range over entities and
their parts, properties, relations, and classes of these are called formal ontology.
Now Husserl says, echoing and also clarifying Aristotle's notion of the transcen-
dence of being, that it would be a fatal mistake to conceive of the notion of an
entity in general (Gegenstand uÈ
berhaupt) as a highest material category, for this
would amount to mistaking the operation of formalization for a kind of generaliza-
tion. The notions ofbeingandto be, then, areformalnotions and not material
ones, and Aristotle's doctrine that being is not agenusand transcends the catego-
ries is a confused way of expressing the difference between formalizing and gen-
eralizing. It follows that the question of being, to the extent that it aims at clarify-
ing the nonregional meanings of ªbeingº and ªto be,º belongs to formal ontology

or to philosophical logic. Material ontologies conceptualize the ontological struc-
ture of various regions of being. But the unity of the notions of ªbeingº and ªto
beº is purely formal. This is an attractive view. It explains the universal scope of
logic and arithmetic, that is, the validity of these disciplines for all material re-
gions of being. Why did Heidegger reject this view? How are we to understand
Heidegger's conviction that we even have to destroy formal logic in order to raise
the question of being properly?
6.Let me now come back to section 2 ofSein und Zeit, in order to state the
®nal problem concerning the interpretation of the question of being that I want
to raise. We have seen that Heidegger stresses the ontological difference in section
1.2 ofSein und Zeit, and that he says that being (das Sein) is thetranscendens
tout court.
155 Being is notabeing, nor a property or characteristic of beings. If
so, it will come as a surprise that according to section 2 we need aBefragtes,
something to be investigated, in order to be able to answer the question of being.
Why should we investigateabeing (ein Seiendes) in order to answer the question
of being, if being (das Sein) is neither a property nor some other kind of character-
istic of beings?
Even though being is thetranscendenstout court, Heidegger af®rms in sections
2 and 3 that being is always the being of a being.
156 In section 2 he speaks of ªthe
characteristics of the beingº of beings, and in section 3 of the basic constitution
of being (Grundverfassung seines Seins) of a being. We may conclude that the
question of being requires that we investigate particular beings to the extent that
it aims at making explicit the various ontological constitutions of the beings of
different regions. Only if ªbeingº means the ontological constitution of regional
entities, such as animals, Dasein, material objects, tools, linguistic units, and so
on, will we need aBefragtesin order to answer the question. This is precisely
what Heidegger stipulates at the beginning of the eighth paragraph of section 2.
In this and the next paragraph of section 2, Heidegger argues that there is one
regional being that is privileged, namely, Dasein. If we want to disclose the sense
of being, we should start by investigatingitsontological structure.
158 We may
wonder why Heidegger thinks that there is such a privileged region of being at
all. Admittedly, most philosophers of the tradition took a speci®c type of being
as a paradigm in developing their general notion of being. As Heidegger says in
section 6, the ancient notion of being, as instantiation of aneidosor as a concretum
of matter and form, was based on the model of artifacts and then generalized to
all beings.
159 But we have also seen, in section 3, above, that Heidegger objects
to this kind of conceptual generalization in ontology. It is inherent in the very
notions of a regional ontology and of a destruction of the history of ontology that
ªbeingº has a different sense relative to the various regions of being. As Heideg-
ger himself says, ªthere are many beings that we designate as `being,' and we do
so in various senses.º
160 If this is the case, why should there be one privileged
region of being? Why did Heidegger not simply develop a series of regional

ontologies, adding, as an answer to the general question of being, that he means
by ªbeingº the particular ontological constitution of each different region? What
justi®es Heidegger's favoritism with respect to Dasein? Why did he reject plural-
ism in ontology, which consists in the view that entities of different regions have
different ontological constitutions, and that no region is more fundamental or
more privileged than any other one? Or, ®nally, if ontological favoritism is permit-
ted, why did Heidegger not choose the region of physical being as the fundamental
one, an option more in harmony with the evolution of the universe?
This problem of the priority of Dasein for elaborating the question of being
tout court is perhaps the most crucial problem we have to solve if we want to
understand Heidegger'sDenkweg. One hypothetical solution consists in the thesis
that the primacy of Dasein inSein und Zeitshould be regarded as a parallel to
and an implicit critique of Husserl's notion that the transcendental ego is the
privileged and fundamental region of being. We saw in section 3 and under point
5, above, that Heidegger rejected the problem of the external world, which Hus-
serl's transcendental idealism purported to solve. He considered the problem as
a pseudoproblem due to a scientistic misinterpretation of Dasein and world. This
may have been a reason to analyze Dasein and its relation to the world ®rst, before
turning to the other regional ontologies. Even so, the primacy Heidegger claims
for the ontology of Dasein is stronger than a mere priority of order, and there are
other solutions to the problem of the primacy of Dasein. I discuss several of them
in sections 9, 11, 12C, and 13 of the present book.
It would have been helpful if Heidegger had given a clear and convincing
argument for the primacy of Dasein in the introduction toSein und Zeit. Heidegger
in fact argues for the primacy of Dasein both in section 4 and in paragraphs 8 and
9 of section 2. However, his arguments are neither clear nor convincing. Ac-
cording to section 2, we have to analyze the ontological constitution of Dasein in
order to raise the question of being in a fully transparent way, because the various
aspects of this question, such as a preliminary understanding of being, belong to
the activity of questioning, whereas that activity is an activity of Dasein. This
argument is invalid, as a logical analogy shows. For we may just as well argue
along the same lines that in order to raise the question as to the nature and causes
of photosynthesis in a fully transparent way, we have to analyze Dasein's mode
of being, which is patently absurd.
Perhaps Heidegger himself did not regard the argument of section 2 as a conclu-
sive one, for at the end of the section he declares that ªso far, our discussion has
not demonstrated Dasein's priority,º although ªsomething like a priority of Dasein
has announced itself.º
161 This contrasts with the penultimate paragraph of section
4, where Heidegger assures us that this time he has shown the priority of Dasein,
so that the ontological analytic of Dasein is what makes upfundamentalontol-
162 Accordingly, we have to look at section 4 in order to discover the argument
for the primacy of Dasein that Heidegger regarded as conclusive. What is this

In section 3 of his introduction, Heidegger argued for the ontological primacy
of the question of being on the basis of an objective conception of science (Wis-
senschaft)Ðobjective in the sense that the sciences are regarded as systems of
propositions. He opens section 4 by declaring that this conception of science is
not complete, and that it does not reach the sense (Sinn) of science.
163 Heidegger
suggests that we will grasp the true sense of science only by considering science
as an activity of Dasein, because, ªas ways in which man behaves, sciences have
the manner of being which this beingÐman himselfÐpossesses.º
164 Moreover,
because Dasein has a specialonticalprimacy as compared to other entities, the
ontologyof Dasein is the fundamental ontology in relation to the other regional
ontologies. In order to spell out this argument for the primacy of Dasein, Heideg-
ger ®rst speci®es the ªspecial ontical primacyº of Dasein (paragraphs 2±6). He
then draws the conclusion that the ontology of Dasein is fundamental ontology
(paragraphs 7±10), points out that the philosophical tradition has been dimly
aware of the ontical-ontological primacy of Dasein (paragraph 11), and summa-
rizes his conclusion (paragraphs 12±13). Let me now highlight the main points
of Heidegger's argument. What is the special ontical primacy of Dasein, and why
does this primacy imply that the ontology of Dasein is more fundamental than
the other regional ontologies?
According to Heidegger, Dasein is ontically privileged because (a) it does not
just occur among other entities but, in its very being, this being is an issue for it:
Dasein has to effectuate its existence. In other words, Dasein has an understanding
of being, which concerns its own being, the world, and worldly entities at the
same time (paragraphs 2 and 7). Furthermore, (b) because the mode of being of
Dasein is what Heidegger calls ªexistenceº (paragraph 4), Dasein always has (c)
the choice to be itself or not to be itself (paragraph 5). Surely one cannot say of
a tree, a stone, or a hammer that it has such a choice. One will admit to Heidegger,
then, that Dasein has many ontical privileges. But why does it follow that the
ontology of Dasein is fundamental to other ontologies, and that developing such
an ontology is the primary task if we want to elaborate the question of being?
The crucial step of Heidegger's argument is contained in paragraphs 7 and 8 of
section 4:
Sciences are modes of being in which Dasein comports itself toward entities which it
need not be itself. But to Dasein, being in a world is something that belongs essentially.
Thus Dasein's understanding of being pertains with equal primordiality to an under-
standing of something like a ªworld,º and to the understanding of the being of those
entities that become accessible within the world. So whenever an ontology takes for its
theme entities whose character of being is other than that of Dasein, it has its own
foundation and motivation in Dasein's own ontical structure, in which a preontological
understanding of being is comprised as a de®nite characteristic.
Thereforefundamental ontology, from which alone all other ontologies can take their
rise, must be sought in theexistential analytic of Dasein.

As I have said already, one might endorse Heidegger's premise that Dasein is
an ontically privileged being because it understands its own being and that of
other entities. This is why Dasein is able to develop the sciences. But does it
follow from thisonticalpriority of Dasein that theontologyof Dasein is more
fundamental than the other regional ontologies, as Heidegger claims in the conclu-
sion of his argument? The problem with section 4 is that Heidegger's argument
for the ontological primacy of Dasein seems to be identical to the patently invalid
argument of section 2, of which even Heidegger himself admits that it does not
amount to a demonstration.
166 For in section 4, as in section 2, Heidegger infers
from the fact that Dasein is the entity which asks questions and develops sciences
and ontologies, that the answer to the question of being must be based on the
fundamental ontology of Dasein. However, from the fact that astronomy is a
human activity it does not follow that the sciences of man are somehow more
fundamental than astronomy. Similarly, from the fact that Dasein is able to de-
velop ontologies of worldly things, it does not follow without more ado that the
ontology of Dasein is the fundamental ontology, ªfrom which alone all other
ontologies can take their rise.º In short, the ontic privileges of Dasein do not imply
its ontological primacy, and from the fact that Dasein is the author of ontology and
science it does not follow that Dasein should be its privileged topic.
We may conclude that the problem of the primacy of Dasein in relation to the
question of being remains acrux interpretumofSein und Zeit. In the introduction
to that book, Heidegger neither explains clearly why the ontology of Dasein is
fundamental ontology, nor does he clarify the sense in which this ontology is
ªfundamentalº in relation to regional ontologies or in relation to the question of
being as such. The problem is all the more crucial because, according to the
received interpretation of Heidegger'sKehre(turn), Heidegger gave up the onto-
logical primacy of Dasein in his later works. Whereas inSein und ZeitHeidegger
tried to grasp ªbeing itselfº on the basis of an interpretation of Dasein's under-
standing of being (SeinsverstaÈ
ndnis), he reversed this priority in later works such
as theBrief uÈ
ber den ªHumanismusº(1947,Letter on ªHumanismº), and de®ned
Dasein on the basis of the relation (Bezug) that Being itself has to the essence of
man. He said of being that it ªisabove all,º and that the task of thinking is to
accomplish what alreadyis, namely, being and its relation to man.
167 However,
six years after the ®rst publication of theBrief uÈ
ber den ªHumanismus,ºHeideg-
ger wrote in the preface to the seventh edition (1953) ofSein und Zeitthat ªthe
road this book has taken remains even today a necessary one, if our Dasein is to
be stirred by the question of being.º We may wonder, then, what justi®ed the
primacy of Dasein as against being inSein und Zeit, why Heidegger reversed this
primacy later, and, ®nally, why even after this reversal the road ofSein und Zeit
remains a necessary one. Moreover, we may also wonder what the relation is
between the ontological primacy of the question of being argued for in section 3
ofSein und Zeitand the primacy of Dasein of section 4. I call this complex of
questions the problem of the primacy of Dasein.

It would be tedious to spell out all problems of interpretation concerning the
question of being that are concealed in Heidegger's introduction toSein und Zeit,
let alone the problems added by the body of the book and by the later works. My
aim in the previous section was merely to show that there are a number of prob-
lems that call for an interpretative solution. For this purpose, it was suf®cient to
focus on the ®rst chapter of Heidegger's introduction and to develop a small
sample of dif®culties. But what type of interpretation will be suitable for resolving
these and similar problems? This is the question I discuss in the present section.
I do not intend to delineate a comprehensive theory of interpretation. My pur-
pose is to point out what assumptions regarding interpretation I am making in
interpreting Heidegger's question of being. One reason for laying my cards on
the table is that it is often objected to critical interpretations of Heidegger's work
that they are naõÈ
ve in that their authors have not understood the very nature of
interpretation. The objector usually assumes that the account of interpretation
given by Heidegger inSein und Zeit, or by Gadamer inWahrheit und Methode
(Truth and Method), is the correct account. I will argue, however, that in order to
do justice to Heidegger's works, we should not apply Heidegger's own doctrine
of interpretation in interpreting his thought.
Everyone who has even a limited understanding of disciplines such as law,
theology, history, classical philology, or literary criticism will know that there are
many methods, techniques, and types of interpretation.Interpretatioand its Greek
equivalenthermeneiawere originally used for reading signs of the divine, like
smoke, ¯ights of birds, or con®gurations of the intestines of sacri®cial animals,
and the termhermeneiawas seen as akin to ªHermes,º the name of the Greek
messenger of the gods.
168 Poets were often thought to be privileged interpreters
or harbingers of deities.169 Later, the notion of interpretation became restricted to
attempts to make sense of unclear passages in written texts. However, both Dil-
they and Heidegger inSein und Zeitargued that this notion of textual interpreta-
tion is too narrow. First, all manifestations of human life, to the extent that they
might be meaningful, may stand in need of an interpretation, whether they be
linguistic or not. As a consequence, interpretation is the fundamental method of
the moral sciences orGeisteswissenschaften. Second, they argued that in order to
lay the foundations of theGeisteswissenschaften, and to explain why interpreta-
tion is the fundamentalmodus operandiof these disciplines, it must be shown
that human life or Dasein itself is fundamentally ªinterpretativeº and historical.
As Heidegger says in section 32 ofSein und Zeit, interpretation (Auslegung)is
rooted in Dasein's ontological structure. Whereas the term ªhermeneuticsº is
often used for the methodology of interpretation, in the context of Heidegger's
philosophy it primarily refers to the ontology of Dasein.
170 Because the ontology
of Dasein allegedly is the foundation of all regional ontologies, Heidegger argues

in section 7 ofSein und Zeitthat hermeneutics works out the conditions for the
possibility of any other regional ontology.
171 Furthermore, since special sciences
are founded on regional ontologies, hermeneutics is supposed to be transcendental
philosophy, the ultimate foundation of the scienti®c enterprise.
We saw that Dasein is conceived of by Heidegger as an essentially self-inter-
pretative being. As a consequence, divisions 1 and 2 ofSein and Zeitshould
be viewed as an ontological autointerpretation of Dasein by Heidegger. This au-
tointerpretation is itself a philosophical text. In fact, it is an extremely dif®cult
philosophical text, mainly because Heidegger develops a new and idiosyncratic
terminological network (the existentialia) in order to chart the ontological consti-
tution of Dasein. This network and each of its key terms call for an interpretation
in their turn, if only because there seem to be many ambiguities and dif®culties
in Heidegger's existentialia. By which type of interpretation should we try to
make sense of Heidegger's ontological autointerpretation of Dasein and of his
question of being?
It is often assumed, implicitly or explicitly, that in interpreting the existentialia
ofSein und Zeitand Heidegger's oeuvre in general, one is not allowed to use a
terminology or conceptual structure other than the one invented by Heidegger
himself. The reason for this drastic restriction on our means of interpretation is
not dif®cult to ®nd. As we saw in section 3, above, Heidegger claims inSein und
Zeitthat traditional understanding of Dasein and of being (Sein) is inadequate,
because it is due to our falling. Traditionally, philosophers tried to understand
Dasein's ontological constitution on the model of entities in the world, such as
artifacts and tools (Zeug), or of things that are merely present (Vorhanden), and
they interpreted being in general as being present in this sense. Because according
to Heidegger Dasein is not such an entity, and because Dasein's ontological con-
stitution is different from that of these entities, the traditional conceptual struc-
tures are inadequate, and Heidegger has to construct a new network of concepts,
the existentialia. In particular, Heidegger rejects the traditional conception of a
human being as a material substance to which some extras are added, such as
consciousness or an immortal soul. He would have rejected, for instance, John
Searle's notion of consciousness as an aspect of humans that causally supervenes
upon their brains and yet is ontologically irreducible. Although Searle claims to
have shown that the traditional vocabulary of the philosophy of mind is obsolete,
Heidegger would have thought that Searle's own vocabulary still belongs to the
tradition and that it is not less obsolete than the conceptual dichotomies that Searle
allegedly repudiates.
172 Heidegger's rejection of traditional terminology and of
traditional philosophical problems purports to be a radical one. It is much more
radical than Searle's similar move, and indeed, Heidegger's strategy of philosoph-
ical radicalism aims at radically surpassing all other philosophical radicals.
If Heidegger's conceptual structure is radically novel, all attempts to clarify
what he wants to say by means of traditional terms such as ªconsciousnessº or
ªintentionalityº are misguided, because they translate Heidegger back into the

traditional conceptual structures that he tried to supersede. Accordingly, Heideg-
ger's orthodox followers would dismiss from the outset attempts such as Mark
Okrent's, in his bookHeidegger's Pragmatism, to explain Heidegger's thought
in terms of the problems of analytic philosophy. Only interpretations such as those
by PoÈ
ggeler, Richardson, Schulz, and Kockelmans, which arestrictly internalin
the sense that they try to clarify Heidegger's texts in Heideggerian terms, would
be acceptable from the orthodox point of view.
I do not want to deny that strictly internal interpretations have a use. They
might make Heidegger'sDenkwegsurveyable by summarizing it, and clarify
many passages by collating them with other more intelligible passages. Strictly
internal interpretations may be compared to induction in scienti®c procedure: they
do not provide us with essentially more than the textual basis, because they merely
offer a survey of this basis. However, there are at least three reasons for rejecting
the strictly internalist doctrine if one wants to interpret the Heideggerian corpus.
First of all, Heidegger's conceptual network is not as new as he seems to claim
at ®rst sight. He borrows many technical terms from traditional philosophy, such
as ªbeingº and ªtranscendence,º and he himself discusses terminological parallels
with the tradition, such as the parallel between his notion ofSorge(concern) and
the Latincura(SZ, § 42). In fact, the great majority of Heidegger's key terms are
traditional, and even when he transforms the meanings of these traditional terms,
such asAngst, ªconcern,º ªconscience,º and ªguilt,º there is a motivated path
from the traditional meanings to Heidegger's new notions. Moreover, a novel
conceptual structure would be unintelligible if it were not accessible from our
existing language, and indeed Heidegger uses ordinary language in explaining
the meaning of his neologisms. We must conclude that the strictly internalist
requirement is both due to an exaggeration and based on misunderstandings con-
cerning the nature of conceptual innovation.
Second, and more important, it is not possible to resolve crucial problems of
interpretation if one uses Heideggerian terminology only. This is the case, for
instance, where Heidegger's technical terms are ambiguous, as I argued with re-
spect to his notion ofdas Man(the One), or if what he says remains mysterious
even to someone who has studied his works thoroughly in the internalist or induc-
tive manner. I would claim that this is our situation with regard to many themes
of the later Heidegger, such asEreignis(event of becoming ourselves),Ankunft
he(nearness), anddie Stimme des Seins(the voice of being).
Finally, there is an internal reason for rejecting the internalist dogma in general.
Strict internalism in the sense de®ned above is not Heidegger's own method of
interpretation when he elucidates texts of other philosophers and of poets. As a
consequence, there is a contradiction between two different internalist require-
ments for interpreting Heidegger, both of which are rooted in the Heideggerian
corpus. Thestrictlyinternalist requirement con¯icts with another requirement,
which might be called there¯ectivelyinternalist requirement: that we apply Hei-
degger's conception and method of interpretation when we interpret Heidegger's

texts. If strict internalism is incompatible with re¯ective internalism, no interpre-
tation of Heidegger's philosophy can be internal in all senses. I have given two
reasons why strict internalism is undesirable if we really want to discover the
meaning of Heidegger's writings. Let me now go into the questions whether and
to what extent we must be re¯ective internalists. What is Heidegger's view of
interpretation? Should we apply this view in interpreting his texts?
During his long career, Heidegger interpreted the works of many religious
thinkers, philosophers, and poets.
174 In hisHabilitationsschriftonDie Kategorien-
und Bedeutungslehre des Duns Scotus(1916,Scotus's Doctrine of Categories and
Meaning), he elucidated the tractDe Modis Signi®candi, attributed to Scotus at
the time, but which was in fact written by Thomas of Erfurt, and he planned a
philosophical interpretation of Eckhart's mystical writings. Between 1909 and
1914 Heidegger had already discovered HoÈ
lderlin, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, and
Dostoiewski, and had begun to study Husserl, Hegel, Schelling, Rilke, Trakl,
and Dilthey. In his early lectures at Freiburg University directly after the First
World War, he discussed Aristotle, Dilthey, St. Paul, St. Augustine, Luther, and
Kierkegaard, and tried to reconstruct the manner in which early Christianity expe-
rienced human life before it was ªcontaminatedº by Greek philosophy. He argued
that, according to this experience, the arrival of the saving supreme moment of
Christ's second coming (kairos,Augenblick,Ereignis) is essentially unpredictable
and beyond description. Human life allegedly is doomed as soon as we try to
predict, calculate, characterize, or otherwise attempt to make available to our-
selves this future moment. According to PoÈ
ggeler, Heidegger's thought was to be
inspired forever by the conjecture that we are ill-fated as soon as we try to ®x
and calculate the moment yet to come.
175 As we will see in section 11, this is one
of the most signi®cant hints concerning the interpretation of Heidegger's later
thought, the germs of which were already present in his early courses.
Heidegger's lectures in Marburg between 1923 and 1928 were devoted to an
interpretation of the metaphysical tradition from the pre-Socratics to Thomas
Aquinas and Kant. In these lectures, Heidegger gradually developed the insight,
incisively expressed inSein und Zeit, that the philosophical interpretation of our
factual, historical life requires a destruction of traditional philosophy, because the
traditional conceptual structures betray and conceal the way we perform the task
of living. This is why an ontological interpretation of Dasein is inseparable from
a destructive interpretation of the history of metaphysics, and why our Dasein,
although it is ontically nearest and even identical to us, is ontologically furthest.
In Heidegger's later philosophy, the interpretation of the great metaphysicians of
the past, such as Plato, Descartes, Kant, Schelling, Fichte, Hegel, and Nietzsche,
acquired an even more central role. Metaphysics was now seen as the way in
which Being revealed itself in the very act of its concealment, so that the meta-
physical tradition supposedly is a veil or mask of Being. The thinker had the task
of commemorating and elucidating traditional metaphysics, in order to enable us
to cope with Being's concealment (Verwindung der Metaphysik) and to prepare a

future advent of Being (see § 11, below). Interpretation, then, is the very medium
of Heidegger's thought.
It would be misleading to say that Heidegger in all these interpretations applied
one and the same method or doctrine of interpretation. However, in Heidegger's
later writings there are a number of signi®cant and startling pronouncements on
the nature of interpretation or elucidation (ErlaÈ
rterung). I will begin
my discussion of Heidegger's notion of interpretation with one of these pro-
nouncements, which Heidegger apparently regarded as important because he
stressed its point repeatedly:
Of course an elucidation [ErlaÈ
uterung] does not have to derive the matter [die Sache]
from the text only. It must also add to it something of its own, out of its matter [aus
ihrer Sache], and it has to do so covertly [unvermerkt], without boasting about it. It is
this extra [Beigabe] which, if compared to what he considers to be the content of the
text, the layman experiences as something read into it [ein Hineindeuten], and which
he censures as whimsical with the right which he claims for himself. However, a real
elucidation never understands a text better than its author understood it, although it
understands the text differently. And this different manner must be such, that it touches
the same matter [das Selbe] about which the elucidated text is re¯ecting.
Having rejected the requirement of a strictly internal interpretation, at least for
interpreting Heidegger's texts, we will agree with Heidegger that an interpretation
should add anextrato the text, an interpretative hypothesis, which sheds light on
passages that would otherwise remain obscure. However, Heidegger claims two
quite astonishing things about this procedure of adding an extra, a procedure that
clearly is incompatible with the requirement of strict internalism, as I claimed
above. He asserts in the ®rst place that we should add the extra without marking
it as such, that is, covertly or unobtrusively (unvermerkt), and in the second place
that it should be derived from the matter or from the concerns of the interpreter
or the interpretation (aus ihrer Sache), even though he also says that the extra
should touch the subject matter of the text.
178 Heidegger's requirement of covert-
ness is perhaps most shocking to those who are professionally engaged in the
activity of interpreting texts. They will argue, as I will do at the end of this section,
that the scrupulous interpreter should carefully and clearly distinguish between
his interpretative hypotheses and the texts he is studying. This is why I will con-
centrate on therequirement of covertnessin discussing Heidegger's hermeneutical
To begin, Heidegger's hermeneutical practice usually conforms to the herme-
neutical doctrine of covertness. His critics complain again and again that Heideg-
ger does not suf®ciently distinguish between what he himself is up to and what
the author whose works he interprets wanted to say. As Zimmerman rightly ob-
serves, ªthe reader is never sure whether Heidegger was speaking for the other
thinker or for himself.º
179 It has often been argued, in relation to Heidegger's
interpretations of Nietzsche, for example, that ªHeidegger projected his own con-

cepts onto Nietzsche's texts and forced them to speak an alien Heideggerian lan-
180 If this practice is based on an of®cial doctrine, it cannot be due to
negligence on Heidegger's part. What, then, explains Heidegger's doctrine of
interpretation? How are we to interpret his requirement of covertness?
Our ®rst reaction will be that the Heideggerian requirement of covertness can
never be justi®ed, and that we should reject it without further ado. However, in
doing so we risk overlooking important clues as to the overall meaning of Heideg-
ger's philosophy. If this philosophy consists of interpretations through and
through, it is crucial to discover the rationale for Heidegger's view of interpreta-
tion, because this view must somehow be central to his thought. Moreover, there
are cultural and institutional situations of interpretation in which the requirement
of covertnessisjusti®ed, even though perhaps we will be prone to think that these
situations themselves are not desirable. I will now brie¯y discuss two of these
situations, in order to derive from them an interpretative hypothesis concerning
Heidegger's requirement of covertness. After having tested this hypothesis, in
part by analyzing what Heidegger says on interpretation inSein und Zeit, and in
part by anticipating my interpretation of his later works, I will conclude by speci-
fying the kind of interpretation of Heidegger's philosophy I want to develop.
The requirement of covertness is justi®ed in situations where on the one hand
interpretation cannot be avoided and on the other hand interpretation cannot be
allowed. In these situations, interpretation has to go underground, as it were, and
it has to conceal the fact that something is added to the text. Interpretation
cannot be avoided if texts that were written in the past and that cannot be changed
have to be applied to present situations in order to enable us to live or to do
certain things. One may be convinced that the application of religious texts is
needed for living a moral life or for illuminating our present existence. It is neces-
sary to apply legal texts (laws, precedents) for resolving many practical dif®cul-
ties and for doing things that have some kind of of®cial status. In such situations
interpretation is inevitable for many reasons. Usually the texts are fairly general
and not written with the details of the present situation in mind, so that we need
to make them more speci®c, or even change their original sense, in order to be
able to do what we have to do on their basis. Let me call the kind of interpretation
needed to apply texts to practical situations or to our present lifeapplicative
In modern law and Western religions, it is generally acknowledged that applica-
tive interpretations cannot be avoided, and there is no need to be covert about
them. However, the maxim of covertness is called for in situations in which the
authority of the text is assumed to be absolute, so that each and every interpreta-
tion is seen as a derogation from this authority. If, for instance, a holy book is
accepted as a revelation by a deity, authoritarian religions might claim that the
book should speak directly to us, without human interpretations. Because an ap-
plicative interpretation of passages of the book cannot be avoided if we want to
apply holy texts to actual situations, the interpreter, usually a priest, should either

dissimulate the fact that he is giving an interpretation (the maxim of covertness),
or he should claim that his interpretation is directly inspired by the deity. Apart
from authoritarian religions, there are legal situations in which the maxim of
covertness is justi®ed. During the French Revolution, for instance, the revolution-
aries feared that conservative judges would pervert the intentions of revolutionary
laws by interpreting them in a reactionary spirit. In order to prevent this, they
professed the doctrine that the judge is nothing but the mouthpiece of the law (la
bouche de la loi), a doctrine that simply prohibited interpretation. Yet the judges
realized that in most cases the application of laws is impossible without an inter-
pretation, so that they had to use the maxim of covertness in order to be able to
do their job. We may conclude that the maxim of covertness is justi®ed in cases
of applicative interpretations of authoritative texts, where interpretation is thought
to derogate from textual authority.
Later in this section, I develop a distinction between applicative and theoretical
(objective, historical, critical) interpretations. In the case of applicative interpreta-
tions, we have particular situations in mind to which the text has to be applied in
order to obtain speci®c results. However, when an archaeologist tries to decipher
and interpret texts on Roman tombstones, he will not have in mind a present
situation on which he wants to bring to bear the text, even though in Antiquity
the text was used at the occasion of a funeral. The aim of his interpretation is a
purely theoretical, historical, or epistemic one: to understand a culture of the past.
I do not think that within the context of such a theoretical interpretation the
maxim of covertness can ever be justi®ed. Consequently, the distinction between
applicative and theoretical interpretations suggests an interpretative hypothesis to
explain the fact that Heidegger endorses the maxim of covertness as an element
of his doctrine of interpretation. If we will be able to discover in Heidegger's
views on interpretation a bias toward applicative interpretation and an authoritar-
ian conception of philosophical texts, we will have explained Heidegger's maxim
of covertness. I will now argue, ®rst, that the theory of interpretation ofSein und
Zeitalready shows such an applicative bias, and second, that Heidegger's later
philosophy implies an authoritarian and applicative reading of metaphysical texts.
As I said, Heidegger claims inSein und Zeitthat hermeneutics as a methodol-
ogy of interpretation must be based on hermeneutics in the sense of the fundamen-
tal ontology of Dasein, because the activity of interpretation is rooted in Dasein's
ontological structure. Consequently, we will not understand what interpretation
is and can be, unless we understand ontologically our own mode of being. More-
over, this implies that Heidegger's own hermeneutical method inSein und Zeitis
rooted in the results ofSein und Zeit, so that the book unwinds in a spiraling
way. Having made some preliminary remarks on hermeneutics in section 7C,
Heidegger in division 1 interprets the basic ontological structure of Dasein as
being-in-the-world. This ªpreparatoryº analysis enables him to see how interpre-
tation (Auslegung) is founded on the fundamental ontological structure of Dasein,
and to develop the structural aspects of interpretation (§§ 31±33). The elucidation

of the nature of interpretation, in its turn, enables Heidegger to repeat the existen-
tial analysis of Dasein in a methodologically more self-conscious manner in divi-
sion 2. In particular, Heidegger is now able to acknowledge that the ontological
interpretation of Dasein inevitably is based on the projection (Entwurf) of a spe-
ci®c ideal of authentic life (§§ 62±63). Again and again, new insights into the
ontological structure of Dasein lead to a deeper methodological consciousness,
which, in its turn, yields deeper insights concerning Dasein's mode of being. In
principle, this spiraling movement could be repeated until the point is reached at
which no new results emerge. For our purposes, however, it is suf®cient to analyze
two turns of the spiral, which Heidegger develops respectively in sections 31±33
and 62±63.
After an introductory ®rst chapter, which explains the very idea of a preparatory
analysis of Dasein, Heidegger in division 1 discusses Dasein's fundamental onto-
logical structure. In chapter 2, this structure is de®ned as being-in-the-world. Hei-
degger stresses that the fundamental ontological structure of Dasein is a complex
whole, which has to be understoodasa whole. Such a holistic understanding will
not be possible unless the various aspects of the structure are analyzed in detail,
even though each aspect cannot be understood properly without a grasp of the
other aspects and of the whole to which it belongs. As a consequence, the spiraling
movement I mentioned above is merely a special case of the inevitable method
for the autointerpretation of Dasein in general: each analysis of particular aspects
of Dasein's ontological structure sheds new light on the other aspects and on the
whole of this structure, and each global analysis of the whole enables us to under-
stand better the particular aspects. This is why the analysis of division 1 starts
with a grasp of the whole (second chapter), then proceeds to discuss three aspects
of being-in-the-worldÐ(1) the worldlihood of the world (third chapter), (2) the
ªwhoº of our everyday being-in-the-world (fourth chapter:das Man), and (3)
being-in as such (®fth chapter)Ðand ends up with rediscovering the whole on a
deeper level, namely, as concern (sixth chapter). Sections 31±33 belong to the
®fth chapter, in which Heidegger discusses being-in as such.
Heidegger's main purpose in chapter 5, as indeed in division 1 in general, is
to show how Dasein's being differs from the ontological constitution of things
we ®nd in the world (Vorhandenes) and of other types of beings, such as tools
(Zuhandenes). Heidegger wants to demonstrate this difference, we remember,
because the metaphysical tradition applied the categories developed for things
and artifacts also to Dasein's being, and thereby concealed the real ontological
structure of Dasein (cf. § 3, above). Consequently, Dasein, although it is ontically
nearest, is ontologically furthest from itself. The way Dasein is in the world, for
instance, is radically different from the way in which things are in a container, or
at a place, although we usually overlook this difference. Heidegger argues in
chapter 5 that our being-in is constituted by three more speci®c aspects of being-
in-the-world:Be®ndlichkeit(®nding oneself in a situation, §§ 29±30),Verstehen
(understanding, §§ 31±33), andRede(discourse, § 34). He stresses that these

aspects are equiprimordial (gleichurspruÈ
nglich), so that they cannot be derived
from each other. Moreover, because they pervade each other, one cannot under-
stand one without understanding the others. Even so, I will only brie¯y comment
onBe®ndlichkeitin order to focus onVerstehen. According to Heidegger, the
structure ofVerstehenis the ontological basis of the activity of interpretation.
It is seriously misleading to translateBe®ndlichkeitby ªstate of mind,º because
the category of a state typically applies to material substances, or to artifacts such
as machines, while the notion of a mind is infected by traditional metaphysics.
Heidegger coined the neologismBe®ndlichkeitfrom a series of German idiomatic
expressions, such as ªWie be®nden Sie sich?º (How are you?), ªIch be®nde mich
wohl heuteº (I feel well today), and ªWo be®nde ich mich?º (Where am I?). The
existential ofBe®ndlichkeitexpresses the structural characteristic of our ontologi-
cal constitution that we always already ®nd ourselves in a meaningful situation,
and that, ®nding ourselves in a situation, we are disclosed to ourselves as having
to live in it. InBe®ndlichkeit, the situation, our fellow humans, and our facticity
t) are disclosed to us simultaneously. Because we are not the architects
of the situations in which we ®nd ourselves, Heidegger says thatBe®ndlichkeit
reveals ourGeworfenheit: that we are ªthrown intoº existence. As we have to live
and act in the situations in which we ®nd ourselves,Be®ndlichkeitalso reveals
our existence as a burden (Last), which we either assume or try to shake off. We
might translate Dasein as ªbeing there,º and Heidegger plays with the word, split-
ting it up intoDaandsein. He says that weareourthere, because we are thrown
into situations, and that we®ndourselves in ourthere. He identi®es the There
(das Da) with the disclosure to ourselves of situations, of ourselves, and of others.
It follows that the There (das Da) is the fundamental openness (Erschlossenheit)
or clearing (Lichtung) we have for ourselves, the world, and the others.
The philosophical tradition identi®ed this fundamental openness with the outer
or inner perception of an object by a subject. It is Heidegger's revolutionary thesis
in the ®fth chapter of division 1 that what Husserl called ªobjectivating acts,º
such as perceptions of objects and the detached theoretical attitude, are not funda-
mental but derived, and that the most fundamental openness for ourselves and the
world consists inStimmungen(moods) such as boredom and in what he calls
Verstehen(understanding). Reversing the famousdictumof Brentano and Husserl
that an affection such as fear must be based on a representation (Vorstellung),
Heidegger claims that ªthe mood has already disclosed, in every case, being-in-
the-world as a whole, and makes it possible ®rst of all to direct oneself toward
182 In other words, intentionality is not a fundamental characteristic
of our openness, as Husserl and Brentano claimed, but a derived one. Fundamental
are moods and understanding. Moods are the modes of ®nding ourselves in situa-
tions (Be®ndlichkeit), but what is, according to Heidegger, the existential of un-
derstanding (Verstehen), and how does this existential determine the structure of

Our being-in situations has two opposite aspects, which traditional philoso-
phers would have called a passive and an active one. On the one hand we ®nd
ourselves in a meaningful situation and on the other hand we have to construct
our life in this situation. As we saw, Heidegger calls our disclosure of ®nding
ourselves in situationsBe®ndlichkeit, whereas he identi®es the existential of un-
derstanding (Verstehen) with our opening up possibilities of effectuating our-
selves (§§ 31±32). Finding oneself reveals one's thrownness (Geworfenheit), but
understanding one's possibilities always reveals theprojects(EntwuÈ
rfe) one has
wittingly or unwittingly projected: it is the capacity to live into the future. Because
we live into the future, wearein a sense the possibilities we project. And only
because we already are the possibilities we have projected, we may say to our-
selves: ªbecome who you are.º Combining the two modes of disclosure of our
There,Be®ndlichkeitandVerstehen, Heidegger says that Dasein is ageworfener
Entwurf(a thrown project). The best translation of the existentialVerstehen, then,
is ªknow-how to live in a situation,º and understanding in Heidegger's sense of
Verstehenis primarily a capacity word.
Heidegger's notion of understanding (Verstehen) as projection of existentiell
possibilities is an idiosyncratic one, and it both stretches and narrows down the
usual notion of understanding.
184 However, Heidegger's rede®nition of the con-
cept of understanding has a philosophical point. Heidegger claims that all other
kinds of understanding, such as understanding texts and even understanding natu-
ral phenomena in science, are rooted in the existentiale of understanding, so that
they share its structure. What, then, is the structure of the existentiale of under-
standing? And what are the implications of Heidegger's claim for his theory of
interpretation and for his theory of science?
According to Heidegger, Dasein exists for the sake of itself. This implies that
the ultimate ªfor-the-sake-of-whichº (Worumwillen) of all Dasein's projects is
Dasein's own existence: it is the kind of human being an individual Dasein wants
to be. Projecting our being as possibility, we not only open up possibilities for
self-realization. Our project (Entwurf) also involves an open space or framework
of possibilities (Spielraum), and a referential structure (Bewandtnisganzheit,Welt)
that gives signi®cance to tools and entities that we encounter. For instance, my
global project of becoming a just man involves a certain world, the world of the
just, and my particular project of climbing the Matterhorn implies that each fea-
ture of the crest before me will take on the signi®cance of a possible grip or of a
dangerous trap to be avoided.
Because our projects and the referential structures they involve give meaning
to our actions, and also to instruments and natural phenomena we need in order
to effectuate these projects, Heidegger de®nes the notion of meaning or sense
(Sinn)astheWoraufhin des Entwurfs: that toward which we project our projects
(p. 151). We might say that the sense of our life is our ultimate direction, as
structured by a space of possibilities and by a referential structure, and that, in
Heidegger's view, it is only in the light of this ultimate direction and its referential

structure (Woraufhin) that all other meaningful entities, occurrences, relations,
things, and instruments get their signi®cance. A hammer, for instance, is inter-
pretedasa hammer in the light of a project of making a cupboard or of building
a house, and such projects ultimately derive their meaning from the fact that each
Dasein exists for the sake of itself with other Daseins in a world. All understand-
ing of somethingassomething is rooted in Dasein's ultimate project. Of course,
the term ªprojectº in this context should not be understood as a deliberate plan.
Heidegger rejects the traditional thesis that we have to be able to perceive
something in order to be able to understand itassomething. He claims, on the
contrary, that understanding somethingassomething, as a hammer for instance,
is more fundamental than ªobjectiveº perception. The latter allegedly is an impov-
erished derivative of the former (p. 149). In short, all objective ways of perceiving
and understanding are based on understanding in the sense of projecting possibili-
ties. As a consequence, they share its basic structure (§ 32).
Because understanding in the basic sense of knowing-how-to-live consists in
projecting possibilities, understanding (Verstehen) and its explicit mode (Ausle-
gung) are characterized by what Heidegger calls aVor-struktur(fore-structure; §
32). In understanding something, we always interpret it in the light of a projected
and future ªtoward whichº (Sinn). In the case of understanding explicitly (Ausle-
gung), this fore-structure has three aspects, which Heidegger callsVorhabe,Vor-
sicht, andVorgriff(p. 150). The ®rst of these terms is a Heideggerian neologism,
whereas the second and third are used in an idiosyncratic way. The wordVorhabe
is derived from the German verbvorhaben, which means to intend, to have
planned. The termVorhabecalls attention to the fact that in pro-jecting our Da-
sein, we ªhave in advanceº (vor-haben) a referential structure of instruments,
institutions, and possibilities (Bewandtnisganzheit) that derives its point from Da-
sein as the ultimate ªfor the sake of which,º and that functions as a background
for interpreting entities or texts. The German wordVorsichtmeans circumspection
or prudence. Heidegger uses it, however, as connected toHinsicht: it refers to the
point of view (Sicht) from which we want to understand something, a point of
view we always have already adopted in advance (vor-) by projecting a project.
Vorgriff, ®nally, literally means anticipation, and it is related to bothvorgreifen
(to anticipate) andbegreifen(to understand). It denotes the conceptual structure
that we beforehand have decided (entschieden) to use in order to understand
something. Heidegger's explanation of this threefold fore-structure of understand-
ing is not very clear. What is clear, though, is the fact that according to Heidegger
all understanding has a fore-structure because it is rooted in Dasein's projective
manner of being. I will now brie¯y discuss the consequences of this theory of
understanding for Heidegger's theories of interpretation and of science.
The crucial question here is whether Heidegger's projective theory of under-
standing, if applied to interpretation and scienti®c method, leaves room for more
or less objective tests of interpretative or explanatory hypotheses and conceptual
structures. There are ample grounds for thinking that the theory excludes in princi-

ple the possibility of such tests. First, if everything that has meaning ultimately
derives its meaning from ªthat toward whichº (Woraufhin) we project our pro-
jects, all meaning is determined beforehand byourexistentiell project. It seems
that in order to assign meaning to something at all, we have to envisage it in the
light of an endeavor to construct our life, and of the referential structure involved.
Moreover, since interpretations primarily reveal possibilities of self-realization,
they will simply not be evaluated in terms of ªtrue,º ªfalse,º ªcorrect,º or ªincor-
rect,º but rather in terms of success or authenticity. Second, Heidegger's notion
of an inevitableVorgriffin all interpretation and explanation expresses the idea
that we always have decided beforehand in terms of which conceptual structure
we are going to understand something, because our projecting implies such a
structure. It seems to follow from these two points that one and the same text or
one and the same natural phenomenon will be capable of being interpreted quite
differently by interpreters who assume different projects of their life, and that
the interpretations or explanations will be incommensurable. As a consequence,
Heidegger's theory of understanding destroys the crucial distinction between cor-
rect and incorrect interpretations and explanations.
In the third place, this conclusion is further substantiated by what Heidegger
says on the ontological interpretation of Dasein itself in sections 62 and 63 of
Sein und Zeit. If interpretation is only possible in the light of an existentiell or
ontic project, the existential or ontological interpretation of our constitution
of being must presuppose a particular ideal of life, an ideal of authentic existence.
This is the very conclusion Heidegger stresses at the end of section 62. But this
conclusion raises a powerful objection, which Heidegger discusses in section 63.
Assuming that the ontological interpretation of Dasein is based on a presupposed
ontic ideal, will its results not be arbitrary, because the presupposed ideal is a
matter of free choice? Will we not interpret the ontological structure of Dasein
differently if we choose another ontic ideal of authentic existence? If this is the
case, as it seems to be in view of the many different interpretations of human
existence by Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, Levinas, and others, should we not abandon
the claim that the ontological analysis of Dasein yields knowledge?
In section 63, Heidegger denies that this skeptical conclusion is justi®ed. But
his argument confronts him with a dilemma. He stresses that there are formal
aspects of the ontological structure of Dasein as interpreted by him, such as the
self-interpretative nature of Dasein in general, which do not depend on a particular
ontical project.
186 The problem is that this thesis con¯icts with Heidegger's theory
of interpretation, according to which all features of Dasein's ontological structure
can be discernedonlyin the light of aspeci®cexistentiell project and its fore-
structure. As a consequence, Heidegger should either admit that he contradicts his
theory of interpretation, or he should restrict the scope of this theory to applicative
interpretations and leave room for other types of interpretation, such as objective
or theoretical interpretations. In the latter case, he could draw a distinction within
the analysis of Dasein inSein und Zeitbetween purely ontological analyses, which

are independent of any speci®c ontic ideal, except of course the ideal of seeing
the ontological constitution of human life as it is, and ontically contaminated
analyses, which presuppose a speci®c ontical ideal. I argue below that amending
Sein und Zeitin the latter sense is mandatory.
Heidegger does not resolve this dilemma. On the one hand he defends his
projective theory of interpretation as a completely general theory on the basis
of the allegedly projective structure of understanding, and on the other hand he
says things which suggest that there must be a more ªobjectiveº kind of interpreta-
tion, which is independent from speci®c existentiell projects. What does he mean,
for instance, when he writes that either ªthe way in which the entity we are inter-
preting is to be conceived can be drawn from the entity itself, or the interpretation
can force the entity into concepts to which it is opposed in its manner of beingº
(p. 150)? How are we to interpret his claim that genuine knowledge can be
achieved only if we ªmake the scienti®c theme secure by working out these fore-
structures in terms of the things themselvesº (p. 153)?
187 Does Heidegger mean by
ªthe entity itselfº and ªthe things themselvesº beings as they manifest themselves
independently of any speci®c existentiell project and fore-structure? Or does he
imply that things themselves areconstitutedby such projects, so that a river, for
instance, is in itself a different phenomenon within the projects of, say, early
Greek civilization and modern technological society? The latter interpretation
(internal realism) coheres with Heidegger's projective theory of understanding,
whereas the former contradicts it. Heidegger might object that there is no contra-
diction in the former case, because it might be in the very nature of our existentiell
project to reveal things as they are. However, this attempt to avoid a contradiction
with the projective theory of understanding will not do. If it is possible that our
conceptual structure is adapted to the things as they are in themselves, and not
determined in its content by an existentiell project, understanding in such a case
isreceptiveand not projective in Heidegger's sense.
188 Yet Heidegger's projective
theory of understanding means that there can never be a mere receptive under-
standing. The real problem is not only that Heidegger fails to elaborate his projec-
tive theory of understanding in a coherent way; it is also that the very conceptual
apparatus he uses in attempting to do so is based on dubious assumptions. He
seems to think that a conceptual structure that we use in understanding something
is either ªdrawn from the entity itselfº or ªforces the entity into concepts to which
it is opposed in its manner of beingº (p. 150). The assumption is that concepts
simply originate in experiences of entities, as Hume and Husserl thought, and
that concepts are either adequate or not adequate in relation to the ontological
constitution of these entities. (I criticize this assumption in § 17B, below.)
Finally, when Heidegger argues in section 63 that interpretations must bege-
waltsam(violent), does he not presuppose an objective standard without which
interpretations cannot be judged to be violent? Heidegger suggests that we have
such an objective standard at our disposal in the case of the ontological interpreta-
tion of Dasein. He says that this interpretation is violent because it has to destroy

the concealing self-interpretations due toVerfallen(falling) in order to reveal the
ontological structure of Dasein as it really is. Violence is done, then, to the alie-
nating self-interpretations of the philosophical tradition, and ultimately to Da-
sein's own tendency to cover things up, butnotto the ontological structure of
Dasein as it is, or to Heidegger's own interpretation of this structure, which is
assumed to be the objectively adequate one. But if it is possible to violently
destroy Dasein's misinterpretations of itself on the basis of an adequate interpreta-
tion, how can Heidegger go on to claim that, even though this violent nature of
interpretation ªis specially distinctive of the ontology of Dasein, it belongs prop-
erly toanyinterpretation, because the understanding that develops in interpreta-
tion has the structure of a projectionº?
189 Either some interpretations may be called
violent, if measured by the standard of more objective and historically adequate
interpretations, or, if all interpretations are ªprojective,º it simply does not make
sense to speak of violent interpretations.
Heidegger does not succeed, then, in formulating his projective theory of inter-
pretation unambiguously and consistently. This should not surprise us, because
the theory confronts him with something like the paradox of the liar. Heidegger's
view of interpretation, as indeed his view of truth, which I have not yet discussed,
resembles Nietzsche's claim that truth is a product of a will to power, or Marx's
claim that truth is a product of class interests, in that it is re¯ectively incoherent.
Because these theories purport to be general theories about the nature of theory
or interpretation, they immediately invite us to ask: Is the theory itself also a
projection, or a product of a will to power, or an outcome of class interests? If
so, why should we accept it? If not, it cannot be a completely general theory. In
theProlegomenato hisLogical Investigations, Husserl analyzed theories of this
type (§§ 32±40). According to his diagnosis, which we should endorse, Heideg-
ger's theory of interpretation is skeptical in the strict sense that its content contra-
dicts necessary (constitutive) conditions for the possibility of theories of interpre-
tation in general.
I conclude that even though some interpretations may conform to Heidegger's
projective theory of interpretation and understanding, it cannot be the case that
all interpretations conform to it. There must be another, objective or theoretical,
type of interpretation. Only if we measure interpretations of the former type by
the standard of the latter type, may we say that they are ªviolent.º In formulating
his projective theory of interpretation, Heidegger implicitly presupposes the pos-
sibility of a more objective kind of interpretation, even though he explicitly denies
this possibility. The reader will easily see that the interpretations that conform to
Heidegger's projective theory are what I have called ªapplicativeº interpretations.
The very point of these interpretations is to make sense of phenomena, instru-
ments, or texts in the light of a preconceived project and of our present situation.
Clearly, applicative interpretations have to add an extra to the text, an extra that
derives from the matter or the interests (Sache) that is or are vital to the

When one keeps applicative and theoretical interpretations clearly apart, there
is no point in calling the former violent as compared to the latter. There is no point,
for instance, in telling a judge who interprets the legal term ªmaterial objectº as
encompassing electricity that he misinterprets the law because the law was written
before electricity was discovered. The judge wants to apply the interdiction of
theft in penal law to tapping electricity, even though ªtheftº is de®ned as illegally
taking a material object that belongs to someone else. Such an application may
be juridically justi®ed, even though the interpretation is incorrect from a purely
historical point of view.
190 While theoretical, historical interpretations aim at dis-
covering what a text meant in the historical circumstances in which it was written,
applicative interpretations purport to apply texts in order to do speci®c things in
present situations, that is, to carry out ªprojects,º or in order to illuminate our
present existence. In order to do so, applicative interpretations often have to read
into the text meanings that its author did not intend.
Heidegger's projective theory of interpretation, then, shows anapplicative bias
because he generalizes to all interpretations a theory of interpretation that is cor-
rect for applicative interpretations only.
191 As we have seen, this cannot be done
without inconsistency. Moreover, such a generalization yields a destructive ideol-
ogy, which explodes the ideal of objectivity inherent in historical or theoretical
interpretations, the ideal that they should try to reconstruct what the text meant
in the historical circumstances in which it was written. For if each and every
interpretation presupposes an existentiell project, which derives its ultimate point
from the fact that the interpreter's Dasein exists for the sake of itself, and which
®xes in advance the conceptual framework in terms of which a text is read (Vor-
griff), we will get as many different interpretations of a text as there are different
existentiell projects, and interpretation will become an arbitrary game of ªdissem-
ination,º as indeed it has become in the hands of Heidegger and his pupils. More-
over, we will never really learn from the author whose works we are trying to
interpret. Having decided in advance in terms of which conceptual structure we
are going to interpret these works, we are always forcing them into our own mold,
projecting our preconceptions into them. There is also a moral matter involved.
By interpreting someone else's words projectively, we will violate his or her and
our integrity because we disregard what he or she wants to say.
It is no coincidence, of course, that this is the very objection that is raised
against Heidegger's interpretations of other philosophers. Heidegger's practice of
interpretation was based on his doctrine of interpretation and on the maxim of
covertness in particular, and this maxim is explained, in part, by the applicative
bias of Heidegger's projective theory of interpretation inSein und Zeit. In order
to explain the maxim of covertness more fully on the basis of my interpretative
hypothesis as developed above, I have to show as well that Heidegger endorses
an authoritative view of the metaphysical texts he interprets in his later works.
As we will see (§ 11, below), in the later works Heidegger interpreted the canoni-
cal corpus of metaphysical texts as some sort of revelation by Being, in which

Being revealed itself in the very act of dissimulating itself. Because Being dissim-
ulates itself in these texts, we should add something (Beigabe) in order to discover
their meaning. On the other hand, because Being also reveals itself in these texts,
the texts have an authority similar to that of religious revelations, so that explicitly
adding an extra would derogate from their authority. Moreover, because Heideg-
ger conceived of his later interpretations of metaphysics as preparing a future
advent of Being, they also have an applicative function.
The maxim of covertness is explained, then, by the applicative bias of Heideg-
ger's theory of interpretation inSein und Zeit, and by the authoritative and applica-
tive conception of metaphysical texts in the later works. At the present stage of
my argument, this interpretation of the maxim of covertness remains speculative
as far as Heidegger's later work is concerned, and it has yet to be substantiated
(see § 11).
We are now fully prepared to answer the question as to what extent we should
apply Heidegger's own doctrine of interpretation in interpreting his oeuvre, that
is, to what extent we should apply the maxim of re¯ective immanence. What
would it mean to use Heidegger's projective theory of interpretation in the inter-
pretation of his philosophy? It would mean that we would read Heidegger in the
light of a project of our own, and that the ªtoward whichº (Woraufhin) of this
project constitutes the meaning (Sinn) that Heidegger's oeuvre will have. Now I
do not deny that the ultimate aim of my book is to decide what signi®cance
Heidegger's philosophy can have for us. Yet we should distinguish between the
signi®cance of a philosophy for us and the meaning of the relevant texts. Perhaps
the fact that the German termSinnis used both for signi®cance and for textual
meaning was instrumental to Heidegger's neglect to make this crucial distinction.
To my mind, it would be begging the question if we wanted to decide about the
signi®cance of Heidegger's philosophy on the basis of a projective interpretation
of his works. A critical decision about the signi®cance of Heidegger's philosophy
will be premature and corrupt unless it is based on a scrupulous historical and
nonapplicative interpretation of what Heidegger himself wanted to say. In other
words, critical decisions must be based on an optimally objective and historical
interpretation. Signi®cance is the proper object of criticism, not of interpretation,
whose exclusive object is verbal meaning.
193 Only by attempting to interpret Hei-
degger in a nonprojective way, and to determine what he himself wanted to say,
will we be able to learn from him and to do justice to his texts.
It is this very aspiration to objectivity that is usually rejected by followers of
Heidegger. It would be a naõÈ
ve illusion that objectivity is possible, even to a
limited extent. Objectivity would be excluded by the hermeneutical circle and by
the nature of understanding. At the risk of being repetitive, I will round off this
section by analyzing Heidegger's discussion of the hermeneutical circle inSein
und Zeit. The problem with this discussion is that some elements of what Heideg-
ger calls the hermeneutical circle pertain to all interpretations, whether applicative
or theoretical, whereas other elements are typical of applicative interpretations.

Because Heidegger in his analysis of interpretation does not bother to distinguish
between these and other types of interpretation, what he says about the hermeneu-
tical circle is confusing.
When we speak or write, we use an existing language, and this is also true
when we use this language partly in an idiosyncratic and innovative manner. As
was clearly realized by most philosophers of the German romantic movement,
such as Herder, whose insights strikingly resemble typical Heideggerian themes,
it is impossible to understand a language fully unless one shares the historical
form of life (Lebensform) of which the language is part and parcel.
194 Even con-
temporaries who share a language may have dif®culties in understanding each
other, because there may be differences between local forms of life and because
there is a linguistic division of labor. No individual masters a language com-
pletely. In fact we do not know what ªcompletenessº would mean here. Languages
are ever-evolving structures, and each speaker may try to add new uses and ex-
pressions to existing ones, although this does not happen very often.
As linguistic structures are relatively stable over time, we are able to understand
texts that were written long ago in a language we know. However, because quite
often the point of textual passages, if it was clear at all, was clear only within the
contingent historical circumstances, which change more rapidly than linguistic
structures, texts written in the past will contain passages that are obscure to us.
We will misinterpret such passages if we naõÈ
vely read them in the light of the
form of life of which we are part ourselves. One of Heidegger's crucial insights
was that in interpreting texts, we cannot but begin to read them within the situation
of our form of life. As Heidegger says in section 32 ofSein und Zeit, ªan interpre-
tation is never a presuppositionless apprehending of something presented to us.
If, when one is engaged in . . . exact textual interpretation, one likes to appeal to
what `stands there,' then one ®nds that what `stands there' in the ®rst instance
chst] is nothing other than the obvious undiscussed assumption of the person
who does the interpreting.º
195 In interpretation, then, one cannot but begin with
implicit or partly explicit presuppositions and an implicit background, just as
in scienti®c investigations one cannot but begin with implicit or partly explicit
hypotheses and a background of accepted theory and customary practices of re-
search. This is true even in the case of conversations with friends, though in this
case the presupposed forms of life will be nearly the same, so that ªinterpretationº
is usually super¯uous.
196 We may conclude that understanding and interpretation
have a presuppositional nature, which is one aspect of what Heidegger calls the
hermeneutical circle. As he says, we cannot avoid this circle: ªWhat is decisive
is not to get out of the circle but to come into it in the right way.º
197 Even this
warning is an understatement. For being raised into a form of life, we always
already are in the hermeneutical circle.
The crucial question is, as I said, whether it is possible in principle to test our
interpretative presuppositions in a more or less objective manner. Is it not obvious
that by exploring the historical background of a text, we might discover that our

initial reading is mistaken, and that the mistake was due to our underestimating
the differences between ourLebensformand that within which the text was writ-
ten, or to the fact that we overlooked crucial connections with other texts or
with historical events? Admittedly, in many cases it is dif®cult to discover
much of a past form of life, because it is lost forever and not many traces may
remain. But this is a factual and incidental matter. In other cases the background
of a text is an existing form of life, or a past one about which we have a great
deal of information. The question is not whether in fact we have the means to
reconstruct the historical situation of a particular text, or even to reconstruct texts
themselves, but whether theidealof objectively testing our presuppositions is
legitimate in principle, so that it makes sense to try to attain it, even though we
will often fall short of realizing it fully. Heidegger's analysis of the hermeneutical
circle is so alarmingly ambiguous because on the one hand he denies that the
ideal of objectivity makes sense, whereas on the other hand he uses expressions
that presuppose it.
Heidegger discusses the hermeneutical circle in three sections (2, 32, 63) of
Sein und Zeit. As he says in passing in section 32, there are two mutually con-
nected aspects of the circle, which I will call the holistic aspect and the presuppo-
sitional aspect. Understanding Dasein and its historical or cultural worlds isholis-
ticbecause the various aspects and elements refer to each other, so that they
form some kind of organized whole. Furthermore, interpreting texts and other
manifestations of human life ispresuppositionalbecause we cannot but begin the
interpretation within the situation of our own form of life.
199 In sections 2 and 63,
the discussion of the hermeneutical circle focuses on its holistic aspect, in particu-
lar, on the holistic structure made up by Dasein and being (Sein). Heidegger
argued in sections 2 and 4 ofSein und Zeitthat we have to analyze Dasein in
order to graspSein. But if Dasein is said tobeitself, must we not clarify the
notion of being in order to be able to analyze Dasein? Heidegger resolves this
circle by means of what I have called the spiraling movement of interpretation.
In order to analyze Dasein, we must indeed presuppose some vague notion of
being, but not a developed concept of being. This vague notion belongs to our
average understanding of being. Having developed an ontological interpretation
of Dasein, we will then be able to articulate the notion of being more fully, and
so on.
200 Only if we overstate the holistic thesis and claim that it is impossible to
have even a partial understanding of parts unless we have an entire understanding
of the whole ®rst, would it lead to a vicious circle and to skepticism. This is not
what Heidegger claims.
In section 32, on the other hand, Heidegger concentrates on the presupposi-
tional aspect of the circle. Because this aspect is due to the fact that we always
already ®nd ourselves in a form of life and in a language that belongs to that form
of life, it is surprising that Heidegger connects the presuppositional aspect to
Verstehenand the projective nature of Dasein and not toBe®ndlichkeitand
ªthrownness.º However this may be, nobody will object to Heidegger's notion of

the hermeneutical circle to the extent that it draws attention to the presuppositional
nature of interpretation. It is a platitude in the philosophy of science that no
research is possible without some kind of hypothesis and without a background
of existing knowledge and skills. Why should this be different in the case of inter-
preting texts? To repeat, the crucial question is whether Heidegger allows for a
more or less objective testing of interpretative presuppositions or hypotheses. In
order to answer this question, we must carefully follow the argument concerning
the hermeneutical circle of section 32 ofSein und Zeit(pp. 152±153).
Heidegger starts the argument by comparing the presuppositional circle in in-
terpretation with an ideal of scienti®c knowledge, according to which science
should prove its results without presupposing them. Does the presuppositional
nature of interpretation not exclude that we ever realize this ideal in the case of
historical interpretation? Should we not exclude interpretation and history from
the province of scienti®c knowledge (in the broad sense of the GermanWis-
201 Heidegger stresses that the historian himself endorses the ideal of
objectivity: ªeven in the opinion of the historian himself it would admittedly be
more ideal if the circle could be avoided and if there remained the hope of creating
some time a historiography that would be as independent of the standpoint of the
observer as our knowledge of Nature is supposed to be.º
Heidegger could have continued by pointing out that making presuppositions
is not at all incompatible with the ideal of scienti®c objectivity, as long as some
form of objective testing of the presuppositions remains possible. He could have
argued that even in science research is impossible without hypotheses and a back-
ground of knowledge and skills, and that, therefore, science and interpretation
possess the very same hypothetical-deductive structure. In other words, he could
have argued that the ideal of presuppositionlessness as defended by Husserl, for
example, is not the only possible conception of objectivity in science, and that in
fact the idea of objectivity as presuppositionlessness is hopelessly inadequate as
a philosophy of science. But this is not at all how Heidegger continues. On the
contrary, he endorses the idea that the presuppositional nature of understanding
excludes the ideal of objectivity, and goes on to argue that this ideal is an illusion
because it stems from misunderstanding the circular nature ofVerstehenand,
indeed, the circular nature of projective Dasein: ªthis circle of understanding is
not an orbit in which any random kind of knowledge may move; it is the expres-
sion of the existentialfore-structureof Dasein itself.º And: ªan entity for which,
as Being-in-the-World, its being is itself an issue, has, ontologically, a circular
Clearly, then, Heidegger rejects the ideal of objectivity in historical research
as an illusion, based on a misunderstanding of the nature of Dasein, even though
he uses again the confusing expression ªthings themselvesº on which I have al-
ready commented.
204 Perhaps his argument was inspired by Nietzsche's famous
1874 essay ªOn the Use and Abuse of Historiography for Life,º to which Heideg-
ger refers in section 76 ofSein und Zeit. Nietzsche also argued that the three

functions of historiography that are useful for life were incompatible with scien-
ti®c objectivity. And like Nietzsche, Heidegger claims in section 32 that the ideal
of objectivity in the natural sciences is itself an illusion, because these sciences
are mere subspecies ofVerstehenor interpretation (p. 153).
205 We may conclude
that Heidegger's analysis of the hermeneutical circle con®rms my diagnosis of
his theory of interpretation, that it shows an applicative bias. According to Hei-
degger, the circular structure of interpretation is an expression of the circular
structure of Dasein, which projects its existence, a space of possibilities, and a
referential structure, for the sake of itself.
We saw that Heidegger did not succeed in formulating his projective theory of
interpretation consistently. He could not succeed in doing so, because the projec-
tive theory is confronted with the paradox of the liar. In Husserl's terms, it is a
skeptical theory in the strict sense. We concluded that Heidegger's theory holds
at best for applicative interpretations, and that we should aim at a maximally
objective and historical interpretation of Heidegger's works in order to do justice
to his thought and to be able to assess it. But what should one say when someone
objects, like Heidegger in section 32 ofSein und Zeit, that the ideal of objectivity
is an illusion because it is founded on misunderstanding the projective nature of
I suggest that we do not sever the link between the ontological analysis of
Dasein and the nature of interpretation. If, therefore, Heidegger's analysis of Da-
sein implies the projective theory of interpretation, and if the projective theory is
re¯ectively inconsistent, we should conclude bymodus tollensthat there is some-
thing wrong with Heidegger's analysis of Dasein. Indeed, it is patently absurd to
conceive of all interpretation and knowledge as based onVerstehenin the sense
of projecting projects for realizing Dasein. Heidegger's analysis should be cor-
rected on two points. First, the presuppositional nature of interpretation is related
toBe®ndlichkeitrather than toVerstehen, because it derives from the fact that we
always already ®nd ourselves in a common form of life that we did not invent.
Only in the case of applicative interpretations is the content of our interpretative
hypothesis determined in part by the project we want to realize by means of the
interpretation. Second, I think that Heidegger in his revolutionary ardor overstated
his case when he reversed the traditional thesis of Brentano and Husserl. Ac-
cording to this thesis, emotive experiences such as fear are founded on (re)presen-
tational acts such as perception, imagination, or thought, in the sense that the
former are not possible without the latter. Similarly, interpreting somethingas
something would be founded on a simple representation or perception. In sections
29 and 32 ofSein und Zeit, Heidegger argues that, on the contrary, moods and
projects are the fundamental ways in which the world is revealed to us, and that
ªobjectivatingº perception and thought are privative derivations of moods and
projects. This is why, correlatively, the world is primarily the world of equipment
and work (Zuhandenheit), whereas the world of objective perception and science
(Vorhandenheit) allegedly is an alienating abstraction. Is it not more plausible to

assume that the ways in which objective perception and science reveal the world
are at least equiprimordial (gleichurspruÈ
nglich) with other ways, such as moods
and projects? Why does Heidegger not apply the notion of equiprimordiality here,
whereas he stresses this notion again and again elsewhere? Such a move would
have saved the ideal of objectivity, an ideal that we cannot reject consistently.
Let us then admit to Heidegger that all science and all interpretation begin with
presuppositions or hypotheses within the framework of a shared form of life, and
that, in this sense, interpretation is presuppositional. However, this hermeneutical
a priori is not at all incompatible with the ideal of objectivity, because in itself it
is a defeasible a priori and does not exclude a more or less objective testing of
hypotheses. Depending on the type of interpretation we want to develop, there
are different sets of constraints on permissible hypotheses, and different rules and
criteria for testing them. Let me brie¯y comment both on these constraints and
on these rules or criteria.
All interpretation inevitably starts within the language and form of life of the
interpreter. Against the background of this implicit ªpresupposition,º explicit
hypotheses of interpretation may be formulated. In the case of applicative inter-
pretation, these interpretative hypotheses will derive their point from a project
(Entwurf). In law, for instance, we want to resolve practical problems in a way
that is acceptable to present-day society. The ultimate criteria for evaluating the
quality of the interpretation are both pragmatic and normative: Does the interpre-
tation yield a ªjustº solution that ªworksº in the present-day situation? However,
depending on the province of law and on the structure of the legal system, there
will also be a set of purely legal or juridical criteria for evaluating or testing an
interpretation. In penal law, for instance, interpretation should not be ampliative,
so that purely historical interpretations to a large extent function as boundary
conditions for admissible applicative interpretations. Interpretation in civil law
may be much less restrictive. Libraries of books have been written on interpreta-
tion in law. My aim here is merely to distinguish clearly applicative interpretation
from another type of interpretation, which I have called objective, critical, or
historical interpretation.
In this latter type of interpretation, our only aim is to discover what the author
wanted to say, or, in other words, what the historical meaning of an unclear text
is. This objective is not at all ªpragmatic.º Our objective is truth or historical
correctness. In order to realize the purpose of critical interpretations, we must try
to locate the text within the historical circumstances in which it was written, and
we must understand its language as it was understood at the time and within the
form of life of the author. Sometimes we also have to reconstruct the individual
situation of the author: we must study her or his life and its major events, and we
must read what the author read, in order to discover clues to obscure passages in
her or his works. In the case of critical interpretations, interpretative hypotheses
are admissible only if they aim at historical adequacy. We may suppose, for in-
stance, that an unclear passage should be understood against the background of

works of another author only if our text is written by someone who, directly
or indirectly, was acquainted with these works. In testing such hypotheses, we
investigate whether they are in fact historically adequate, and we also verify to
what extent they make sense of the passages we want to interpret.
It would be trivial to object that even objective or historical interpretations will
be part of an existentiell project of the interpreter, because it is an existentiell
project to search for a historically correct interpretation. Maybe our ultimate aim
(Woraufhin) of such an epistemic project is to become happy, to lead a noble life,
or to have a successful academic career. The crucial point is, however, that this
Woraufhin, which Heidegger callsSinn, should in no way determine the meaning
that we will attribute to the text we are interpreting. If it does, our interpretation
should be rejected as subjectively biased, and our existentiell project of dis-
covering the correct interpretation would be frustrated. The name of the game of
historical interpretation is truth or correctness, even if we play this game for
ultimate reasons of our own.
In this book, I am aiming at such an objective historical interpretation. In some
cases, such as those of the pre-Socratics, the aim of objective interpretation is
dif®cult to attain because only textual fragments survive. In Heidegger's case, the
task of objective interpretation is dif®cult to carry out because we suffer from the
opposite problem: there is an abundance of information and textual material, and
it would take many scholarly careers to explore all the contexts and historical
situations that might be relevant to the interpretation of Heidegger's oeuvre.
206 As
a consequence, interpretations of Heidegger's philosophy will be partial. How-
ever, being partial, they nevertheless may be historically adequate. It must be
possible to understand aspects of Heidegger's thought correctly without fully un-
derstanding the whole. If not, Heidegger himself could not have understood what
he wrote until he had written his very last word. Focusing on Heidegger's main
and unique question, the question of being, I will try to elucidate the fundamental
structures of his thought. As far as the textual basis of my interpretation is con-
cerned, I have decided to take the texts published by Heidegger himself as the
maininterpretandum, and to use lecture notes and other materials published in
theGesamtausgabeas secondary sources.
207 The most important exception to this
rule isBeitraÈ
ge zur Philosophie, a book that I consider as a primary source, in-
deed, as the hidden fountain from which Heidegger's later publications ¯owed
forth. In the next two chapters, my interpretative hypothesis is developed and
partly tested.


being. If one then analyzes everyday practices or other phenomena in Heidegger's
name, one's analyses may very well turn out to be Wittgensteinian or pragmatist
rather than Heideggerian. As I argued in section 5, an evaluation of Heidegger's
signi®cance for our own philosophical stance must be based on a strictly historical
interpretation of his works. This is why the interpretative chapters 2 and 3 precede
the critical analyses of chapter 4.
In the existing secondary literature there are a large number of interpretative
hypotheses regarding Heidegger's question of being. Although I do not want to
commit the error of discussing them all, it is useful to present the two most ex-
treme types of interpretation, and to explain why one should avoid them. Avoiding
these two extremes implies that one will have to accept an interpretation of the
type to which the one I am proposing belongs, even if one does not agree with
the details of my proposal.
As Heidegger suggests that during his entireDenkweghe was stirred by one
unique question, the question of being, the ®rst interpretative hypothesis we
should try out is what I will call theunitarianinterpretation. According to this
interpretation, there isonemore or less precise meaning of Heidegger's question
of being that remains the same throughout his philosophical career. Interpretations
of the unitary type incur the risk of being vacuous if they are coupled with the
admission that there are a number of quite drastic shifts or turns in Heidegger's
philosophical development. Unitary interpretations that tell us, for instance, that
Heidegger's question of being aims at discovering ªwhat the being of beings
consists in,º or at disclosing ªthe source of the intelligibility of beings as beings,º
do not clarify very much. Obviously, we should aim at a more substantial interpre-
tation. Let me brie¯y discuss one arbitrarily chosen example of such a substantial
unitarian exegesis.
Without any doubt, Hubert Dreyfus's discerning view of the question of being
should be regarded as a unitarian interpretation. According to his commentary
on division 1 ofSein und Zeit, Heidegger means by ªbeingº the ªintelligibility
correlative with our everyday background practices.º
2By asking the question of
being, Heidegger wanted to explore the various ways in which we understand
beings as beings of a speci®c type, for example, as tools, as occurrent things, as
works of art, or as fellow men. Heidegger's assumption would have been that this
ªintelligibilityº of beings, that is, the framework within which we understand
them as meaningful, ªis in our background practices.º
3Dreyfus's interpretation
may be called Wittgensteinian or pragmatist. Wittgenstein argued in his later
work that it is impossible to understand language games if one abstracts from the
forms of life or from the background practices with which they are connected.
Because according to Heidegger the phenomenon of meaning is not restricted to

languageÐall beings we encounter have some meaning for usÐ it seems plausi-
ble to extend Wittgenstein's insights and to interpret Heidegger as saying that all
ªmeaningº or intelligibility is rooted in, or connected to, background practices.
If this is correct, Heidegger's central insight resembles that of American
pragmatism. 5
Dreyfus defends this interpretation of Heidegger's question of being also with
regard to the later writings. As he writes in a footnote to his commentary, Heideg-
ger's claim that ªbeing needs man,º put forward in works such asUnterwegs zur
Sprache(On the Way to Language), just means ªthat intelligibility is correlative
with those skills that make up human background practices or customs and thus
needs human beings.º
6However, this interpretation of the later works is altogether
implausible. Heidegger elaborates the idea that being needs man by saying that
man should be attentive to the ªvoice of beingº (ªAchtsamkeit auf die Stimme
des Seinsº), that being claims man in his essence (ªden Menschen in seinem
Wesen in den Anspruch nimmtº), and that man should be prepared forAngstin
order to experience being in nothingness.
7How will one manage to ®t such pro-
nouncements into the idea that Heideggerianbeingis nothing but the intelligibility
of beings that is rooted in our background practices? Dreyfus's Heidegger is a
domesticated Heidegger, madesalonfaÈ
higfor American academic circles by re-
ducing him to a pragmatist or to a Wittgensteinian philosopher.
In order to domesticate Heidegger, Dreyfus has to exorcise those aspects of
Heidegger's later thought which suggest that the ªungrounded groundº of all
intelligibility does not reside in social practices at all, but in Being as some kind
of absent god. This latter, ªtheologicalº interpretation, which would explain the
phrases in Heidegger's later works I just quoted, squarely contradicts Dreyfus's
conviction that according to Heidegger the source of all intelligibility is not hid-
den but lies open to view in our background practices.
It is interesting to see how this exorcising is done. In the introduction to a
collection of essays on Heidegger published a year after Dreyfus's commentary
appeared, Dreyfus and Hall discuss the theological interpretation I am referring
8They admit that ªthe professional interpreters of Heideggerº have been at-
tracted to the idea that Heideggerian Being, the alleged ground for understanding
the meaning or signi®cance of everything, lies ªin an intelligibility that was con-
cealed from the common run of people.º Instead of showing on the basis of textual
evidence that such an interpretation is mistaken, Dreyfus and Hall argue that a
theological interpretation of Heidegger's philosophy leads to ªdisappointment
with the master.º For if the meaning of being cannot be found in our social prac-
tices, ªwhere was a scholar to search for Heidegger's elusive meaning of being?
Once everyday practices are eliminated, there simply is no other place, no point
of reference for seeing what Heidegger is talking about, except the Heideggerian
texts themselves.º Unfortunately, ªthe secondary literature on Heidegger that tries
to capture Heidegger's powerful new insights by looking solely within his texts
has been largely a huge and growing wasteland.º For this reason, we should try

to put Heidegger's ªjargon into clear terms,º ªto examine and extend the range
of phenomena he introduced into philosophy, and to continue his attempt to relate
his thinking to current practices.º
I want to make two points in relation to Dreyfus and Hall's discussion. The
®rst is that exorcising recalcitrant texts is an inevitable subterfuge for all unitarian
interpretations, for the simple reason that there is no unique substantial sense of
Heidegger's question of being, as I argue below. Second, the exorcising practice
endangers our intellectual integrity, because it confuses two questions that we
should keep separated: the interpretative question as to what Heidegger meant
and the evaluative question as to what we are to think of what he meant. There
is no point in trying to answer the evaluative question before we have answered
the interpretative question as scrupulously as we can, because, in doing so, we
risk projecting our own preferred doctrines onto Heidegger and overlooking pas-
sages that refute our preconceptions. I admit that such a projective interpretation
is a way to prevent ªdisappointment with the master,º because we will agree with
the projection of our own views. In trying to answer the interpretative question,
however, the argument that a certain type of interpretation will lead to disappoint-
ment with the master is irrelevant. We cannot rule out in advance the possibility
that what Heidegger really meantisdisappointing to us.
Furthermore, the interpretative question is concerned with the texts only: it
aims at establishing the textual meaning of unclear passages. Even though it may
be necessary to investigate the subject matter of a text in order to be able to
understand the text, we should always distinguish between what the author writes
about the subject matter and what we ourselves think of it. We may understand
the subject matter better than the author appears to do. It does not follow that in
this case we understand the text better than the author did, as is often claimed.
Admittedly, if a text deals with a subject matter that is hidden or concealed, such
as an absent god, we will not be able to investigate its subject matter, and it will
be dif®cult to understand the text. However, is it really plausible to suggest that
we would be able to understand the text better if only we assumed that it speaks
of something else than it appears to do, something that wecaninvestigate?
Let me come back to my ®rst point. Unitarian interpretations will provide a
uniform explanation of the wide in¯uence of Heidegger's thought. We are not
surprised to read that according to Dreyfus and Hall this in¯uence is due to the
fact that Heidegger grounds his thinking ªin average, everydaypractice,º and
not, for instance, in some hidden source of intelligibility such as an absent deity.
But there are other unitary interpretations that squarely contradict the interpreta-
tion by Dreyfus and Hall. Karl LoÈ
with, one of the most sensitive and well-in-
formed readers of Heidegger's works, who was intimately acquainted with Hei-
degger before the Second World War, attributes Heidegger's immense in¯uence
to the fact that at the basis of everything Heidegger said lies something he never
clearly expressed but which he strongly suggested: the religious theme, which is
the more effective because it has been detached from Christianity, and appeals to

those who want to remain religious even though they have grown dissatis®ed with
the traditional churches.
9Clearly, there are contradictory unitarian interpretations
of Heidegger's question of being, which imply contradicting unitarian explana-
tions of Heidegger's in¯uence. Since each of these unitarian interpretations is
based on a large sample of Heidegger's texts, we must conclude that the very
project of a unitarian interpretation is doomed to fail. If the best unitarian interpre-
tations that can be developed on the basis of Heidegger's texts are mutually exclu-
sive and each neglect important texts that are taken into account by rival unitarian
interpretations, there probably cannot be a unique substantial unitarian interpreta-
tion of the question of being that accounts for the entirety of his works.
Thus disillusioned, we will perhaps be tempted to resort to the other extreme
of the scale and endorse a patchwork interpretation of Heidegger's writings. Hans
Vaihinger and Norman Kemp Smith once proposed a patchwork theory in order
to explain the unclarities and contradictions in Kant's ®rst Critique. TheKritik der
reinen Vernunftwas written very quickly after ten years of research. According to
the patchwork theory, it is a collage made up of jottings written down over the
years. Similarly, one might propose a patchwork interpretation of Heidegger's
Sein und Zeit, and indeed of his entire oeuvre. Even though I have not found a
proponent of the patchwork interpretation in the secondary literature on Heideg-
ger, I will brie¯y sketch such an interpretation, because in the past I have been
attracted to the idea myself.
According to the patchwork interpretation, there is no substantial meaning of
Heidegger's question of being. The formula of the question of being is an empty
one, or at best a chameleon that changes its meaning from passage to passage,
and it suggests a unity of Heidegger's work that in fact does not exist. Heidegger's
philosophy is a patchwork made out of many different materials that Heidegger
borrowed from others and transformed to suit his purposes, materials that do not
®t together very well. The biographical argument in favor of the patchwork theory
in the case ofSein und Zeitis the same as in Kant's case. Heidegger composed
Sein und Zeitin a relatively short time on the basis of materials collected over
ten years.
11This holds especially for the second division, which Heidegger had
to complete in a hurry in order to get Hartmann's chair in Marburg. The patchwork
interpretation may seem to be a lazy exegesis, because it excuses us from the task
of inventing a coherent interpretation of Heidegger's philosophy. Still, it is less
lazy than most interpretations because its rationale is derived from the fact that
there are many tensions and contradictions in the text. In order to justify the
patchwork interpretation, its proponent has to present clearly these tensions and
contradictions on the basis of minute textual analysis, and he has to argue that
the patchwork interpretation is the best explanation for them. Justifying the patch-
work interpretation requires more textual analysis than we ®nd in most books on
I should add that the patchwork interpretation, if correct, rules out some of the
central questions of my book. For example, in the preface I wondered whether

Heidegger's National Socialist pronouncements, such as the passage where he
says that ªtheFuÈ
hrerhimself and aloneisthe present and future German reality
and its law,º move at the periphery of his thought or occupy its very center.
According to the patchwork interpretation, however, we cannot distinguish a cen-
ter from a periphery of Heidegger's thought. What, then, pleads in favor of the
patchwork theory? It is not easy to establish its correctness, because the patch-
work theorist has to argue that each and every more or less uni®ed interpretation
is refuted by obstinate passages, so that he needs an enumeration of all possible
interpretations in order to substantiate his case. Let me give some examples of
the tensions and contradictions that the patchwork theorist wants to explain by
his hypothesis.
Sein und Zeitseems to contain a large number of such tensions and contradic-
tions. If one makes a list of everything Heidegger says about being (Sein) in this
book, one ends up with a plethora of heterogeneous passages. As we saw, Heideg-
ger takes being both as the word ªbeingº and as a phenomenon. On the one hand
he says that being is thetranscendens schlechthin(p. 38), and on the other
hand he stresses that being is always a particular ontological constitution of a
particular type of being (pp. 6±7). Furthermore, he identi®es being both with ªthat
which determines beings as beingsº and with ªthat in the light of which [worauf-
hin] beings are already understoodº (p. 6). Finally, ªbeingº (Sein) is quite often
used as a term for human existence.
12If one despairs of giving a coherent interpre-
tation that unites these different claims, one will resort to a patchwork interpreta-
tion and explain them as a miscarried attempt to combine what, say, Plato, Aris-
totle, Duns Scotus, Eckhart, Kant, Kierkegaard, and Husserl said about being.
Another example of a tension where the patchwork interpretation has a foothold
is the notion of authenticity (Eigentlichkeit)inSein und Zeit. As we saw in section
3, Heidegger seems to defend two quite different conceptions of authenticity, a
solipsistic or individualistic one and a communal one. In sections 40 and 53 of
Sein und Zeit, Heidegger stresses thatAngstand the anticipation of death individu-
alize us (vereinzeln) and disclose our Dasein assolus ipsein the sense that they
bring it face to face with itself as Being-in-the-world. This is why authenticity
would consist in a passionate and anguished ªfreedom toward our own death,º
which is essentially individual. According to section 74, however, full authenticity
consists in resolutely assuming the possibilities provided by our heritage (Erbe)
and thereby endorsing our fateful destiny (Geschick) ªin and with our generation.º
Instead of trying to smooth over the apparent contradiction between these two
notions, the patchwork theorist might explain it as the result of an attempt to
combine two incompatible ideals of authenticity, that of Kierkegaard on the one
hand and that of Hegel, Herder, or Dilthey on the other hand. According to Kier-
kegaard, authenticity consists in facing the fact of our solitary, sinful, and para-
doxical existence. Facing it inAngst®nally motivates the jump to religion and
will bring the isolated individual before God. In order to become authentic in this
sense, we have to disrupt our social relations and concentrate on our individual

spiritual and eternal self, which constitutes our real identity. Hegel, Herder, and
Dilthey stressed, on the contrary, that our personal identity is thoroughly deter-
mined by the historical culture in which we grow up, so that authenticity would
consist in consciously endorsing a contingent cultural heritage. Heidegger muti-
lated Kierkegaard's individualistic conception of authenticity beyond recognition
by secularizing it, and ran into contradictions because he wanted to blend it with
the historicist and communal conception of Hegel, Herder, and Dilthey, so the
patchwork theorist might argue.
Compared to the later works,Sein und Zeitis a relatively uni®ed whole. Indeed,
the later oeuvre provides the real playground for the patchwork theorist. He will
argue that the main themes of Heidegger's later philosophy were borrowed from
others and that, even though Heidegger transformed what he borrowed, they do
not ®t together at all. Let me draw attention to some of the most striking examples.
Heidegger's preoccupation with authentic producing and his critique of modern
technology were consonant with the ®rst stage in the of®cial Nazi propaganda,
which around 1933 ªalmost demonized technology and . . . af®rmed the impor-
tance of human-scale workshops that promoted the well-being of theVolk.º
many Germans from a rural background, Heidegger experienced Germany's rapid
industrialization as a threat to authentic life and to traditional spirituality, and
National Socialist propaganda cleverly took advantage of this widespread feeling.
Heidegger's notion of art as a world-disclosing event, which might renew the
German nation, was also in the air and it was equally exploited by the National
Socialists. ªIt was no accident,º Zimmerman writes, ªthat Heidegger read the ®rst
version of his essay `The Origin of the Work of Art' in 1935, not long after
Hitler's Nuremberg speech about art and architecture.º
16While Hitler claimed
that National Socialism ªwould provide the German people with the new work
of art, the new myth, necessary to lead them out of the wasteland of modernity
and industrial technology,º Heidegger's interpretation of art ªwas at least in part
an attempt to provide National Socialism with a proper understanding of the role
of art in the `new' Germany.º
17Furthermore, the idea that Germany has a preferen-
tial relation to ancient Greece had been a theme in German philosophy and litera-
ture since romanticism; one should not be astonished that Heidegger and the Na-
tional Socialists took it up. The same holds for the notion that Germany, as the
Middle Realm, has a world-historical vocation, and that it has to realize this voca-
tion by ®nding a third way between Russian Bolshevism and American capitalist
Heidegger's surprising interpretation of Nietzsche, according to which
Nietzsche's metaphysics of the will to power expresses the advance of modern
technology, was inspired by Ernst JuÈ
nger, who argued inDer Arbeiter(The
Worker, 1932) that the eternal will to power expressed itself around 1930 in the
Gestaltof the worker, and that humanity should adapt itself to thisGestaltby a
ªtotal mobilization.º
nger de®nedGestaltas a transcendental ordering princi-
ple that shapes a new age, and it has been shown that JuÈ
nger'sGestaltof the

worker pre®gures Heidegger's later notion ofGestell(frame, violent setting-
20After 1934, Heidegger grew more and more dissatis®ed with the of®cial
line of the National Socialist Party. Farias has argued, not quite convincingly, that
Heidegger belonged to the RoÈ
hm faction, and that the purge of 30 June 1934
eliminated him as a candidate for being the of®cial Party philosopher.
reason for Heidegger's disillusionment with the dominating Nazi factions may
have been that from 1936 on, the ªearlier veneration of pre-industrial ways of life
was suppressed in favour of the exaltation of . . . industrial technologyº in the
Party propaganda, obviously because Hitler wanted to prepare a next war.
haps Heidegger could not join in thisvolte-face, and began to use JuÈ
nger's inter-
pretation of theGestaltof the worker as an expression of the will to power against
nger himself. The will to power was not an eternal force, as JuÈ
nger thought,
following Nietzsche, but merely a historical metaphysical stance, expressing itself
in the domination of technology, a stance that should be overcome.
23When Hei-
degger ®nally delivered his lecture on the essence of technology at the polytechnic
in Munich on 18 November 1953, he could join in a debate on technology and
its autonomous power that had been started before by the evangelical church,
politicians, and authors such as Alfred Weber and Friedrich Georg JuÈ
nger, Ernst
nger's brother.
24Many reactionary Germans embraced a pessimistic interpreta-
tion of technology after the end of the Second World War, implicitly blaming the
powers of technology for Germany's defeat.
Both inSein und Zeitand in the later works, Heidegger developed his notion
of the world in opposition to the scienti®c worldview. Whereas inSein und Zeit,
the worldliness of the world consists in a meaningful referential framework within
which tools and human institutions manifest themselves as such, he later came to
embrace a mythical notion of the world as the fourfold (Geviert) of earth and sky,
gods and mortals.
25As Zimmerman argues, Heidegger's account of the world as
fourfold is borrowed from HoÈ
lderlin. 26And Rilke's re¯ections on CeÂ
zanne's por-
trait of Madame CeÂ
zanne may have in¯uenced Heidegger's ruminations over The
Thing (in ªDas Dingº), for both according to Heidegger and to Rilke, a thing such
as a work of art or a jug provides a focal point around which the world ªworlds.º
Exploiting the many tensions in Heidegger's oeuvre and drawing on a contex-
tual investigation of Heidegger's sources, the patchwork theorist will propose his
own explanation of Heidegger's immense in¯uence. Heidegger was not an un-
timely philosopher, as Nietzsche wanted to be, far ahead of his age.
28On the
contrary, Heidegger should be seen as a master patchworker, who ably cashed in
on the popular themes of the period and country he lived in, condensing these
themes into his abstract and abstruse jargon and lending them the appearance of
deeper truths by carefully disguising their time-bound origins.
29Because there is
such a large number of these themes, and because their plurality is concealed by
the uniform but empty formula of the question of being, numerous readers are
able to ®nd in his texts what they fancy to be there, and many incompatible
interpretations coexist.

However attractive it may seem at ®rst sight, I suggest that we reject the patch-
work interpretation, as we had to reject interpretations of the unitarian genre, but
for different reasons. In my view, substantial unitarian interpretations always will
be shipwrecked because Heidegger's textual corpus admits of different incompati-
ble unitarian interpretations, as I showed using the examples of Dreyfus and LoÈ
with. It follows that there is no unique substantial meaning of the question of
being, and I predict that all unitarian interpretations will be confronted with tex-
tual passages that refute them. However, it would be premature to rush to the
other extreme, and to suggest that there is no substantial meaning of Heidegger's
question of being at all. In interpreting Heidegger's question, we should apply
the principle of charity as extensively as we can. If unitarian interpretations are
ruled out, so that we have to admit plurality in the question of being, we should
try to restrict plurality and to show that plurality does not altogether exclude unity.
The patchwork interpretation, which would destroy many of the claims Heidegger
made in behalf of his philosophy, cannot be established unless we possess a com-
plete enumeration of other possible interpretations, for we should not resort to
the most uncharitable interpretation before having tried out more charitable views.
This methodological maxim implies that we should attempt ®rst to develop an
interpretation of Heidegger's question of being that, although it admits of multiple
substantial meanings, also shows that these meanings are interconnected, so that
unity is restored to some extent. The interpretation I am proposing is of this type.
In a pilot study of my interpretation, I compared Heidegger's texts with the
overtures of Richard Wagner.
30In his overtures Wagner sketches the content of
the opera in question by means of so-called leitmotifs, musical phrases that each
suggest a personage, an idea, or a theme of the plot, and that will be repeated and
interwoven, so that the plot is not only told by the text of the libretto but also by
the music itself. The overtures are enchanting pieces of music, and one may be
enthralled by their spell without having analyzed the interplay of leitmotifs. In
this case, however, one does not really understand what is going on in the music.
Similarly, I propose that in Heidegger's texts on the question of being there are a
number of leitmotifs that are skillfully interwoven to produce the desired effect.
One may be deeply impressed by these texts and feel that something important
is going on, but will not clearly understand what it is unless one analyzes the
leitmotifs and studies their interweavings.
In sections 7±11 of this chapter, I analyze the ®ve leitmotifs or themes which,
according to my interpretative hypothesis, constitute the meaning of Heidegger's
question of being. They may be regarded as the fundamental structures of Heideg-
ger's philosophy. If there are fundamental structures, it will make sense to ask
questions such as whether Heidegger's National Socialist pronouncements belong
to a fundamental structure of his philosophy or whether they are contingent details
which, even though they are connected to the relevant structure, are not necessi-
tated by it. I argue that the latter alternative is the correct one. For ease of exposi-
tion, I have labeled the ®ve leitmotifs as follows: (A) the meta-Aristotelian theme,

(B) the phenomenologico-hermeneutical theme, (C) the transcendental theme, (D)
the Neo-Hegelian theme, and (E) the postmonotheist theme.
These labels will sound familiar to those who are acquainted with Heidegger's
works. One might object that the proposed interpretation means no news in the
trench war of Heidegger scholarship, but this is not true at all. First, although the
main substantial interpretations in the ®eld all acknowledge that Heidegger was
deeply in¯uenced by, say, Aristotle, Husserl, Dilthey, Kant, Hegel, and the reli-
gious tradition, they aim at a unitarian interpretation of the question of being. I
am arguing that such a unitarian interpretation is impossible, and that there is a
fundamental plurality of meanings in Heidegger's question of being. Second, only
by developing the ®ve themes separately will we get a clear view of their intercon-
nections and of the tensions between them, and be able to suggest a host of new
ªrelational problems.º It will become clear in detail why unitarian interpretations
must fail. Finally, the pluralistic interpretation that I propose will enable us to
assess the ®ve fundamental structures of Heidegger's question of being separately
(ch. 4), whereas, taken as an unanalyzed whole, Heidegger's philosophy is as
dif®cult to assess as it is dif®cult to swallow a whale. If we try to do so without
dissection, we will risk being swallowed by it.
As far as the unity of Heidegger's question of being is concerned, I distinguish
various types of unity (ch. 3). Let me mention two of them here. First, there is
material unity, effected by motivational links between the different fundamental
structures or leitmotifs. I will explore a number of these links, especially in the
next chapter. Second, there is a formal framework of the question of being, which
is the same in each of the ®ve leitmotifs. We might say that the ®ve fundamental
structures of Heidegger's question of being are interconnected by means of a
formal analogy, or by a common ªgrammar,º which consists of nine formal fea-
tures. In each of the ®ve leitmotifs, these formal features are provided with a
somewhat different semantic content.
This formal structure is as follows. According to Heidegger, there is (1) one
unique and fundamental question of philosophy or thought: the question of being
(Seinsfrage). Man has (2) an understanding of (this question of) being, and this
understanding characterizes man in his essence (SeinsverstaÈ
ndnis). Nevertheless,
(3) we live in forgetfulness of the question of being, and, indeed, of being itself
(Seinsvergessenheit), because (4) we do not distinguish between being and beings,
that is, we fail to observe the ontological difference (ontologische Differenz).
Implicitly or explicitly we endorse (5) the ontology of presence (Ontologie der
Vorhandenheit). The task of the thinker is (6) to wrest us from the oblivion of
being by (7) raising the question of being anew and by (8) retrieving the tradition
of metaphysics, which embodies the ontology of presence (Destruktion,Verwin-
dung). Only in this manner (9) will man turn in upon his essence and origin again.
In the following ®ve sections, I will develop each of the leitmotifs of Heideg-
ger's question of being, and show what semantic content the nine formal features
of their common grammar take within each leitmotif. I will partly substantiate

the interpretative adequacy of the ®ve hypothetical leitmotifs by presenting the
relevant texts in the notes. Readers will be able to assess my hypothesis further
by examining its clarifying power for other Heideggerian texts of their own
choice. In doing so, one should be on one's guard against Heidegger's interpreta-
tions of his earlier texts. As is now generally acknowledged, these autointerpre-
tations mostly are reinterpretations, and they should not have a special authority
if one aims at a strictly historical interpretation of Heidegger's oeuvre. Instead of
being a privileged and authoritative ingredient of our interpretation, they belong
to the material to be interpreted (see §§ 12B and C).
Heidegger claims that the question of being is the fundamental question of philos-
ophy, and according to his autobiographical sketch ªMein Weg in die PhaÈ
logie,º he derived this question from Brentano's dissertation on the Aristotelian
doctrine of being.
32This is why I propose the Aristotelian theme as the ®rst leitmo-
tif in Heidegger's question of being. From a methodological point of view, it is
mandatory to investigate in the ®rst place to what extent Heidegger's question of
being may be elucidated by taking the Aristotelian theme as a guiding principle.
Heidegger not only insists that he derived the question of being from Aristotle.
He also holds that Aristotle did not really manage to develop the problem of
being, let alone solve it, and that the problem of being fell into oblivion, even
though the conceptual structures of Aristotelian ontology allegedly determine our
ways of thinking up until the present day.
33Although Heidegger claims to have
inherited the question of being from Aristotle, he aims at stating and solving the
problem of being in a more adequate manner. Consequently, the Aristotelian
theme in Heidegger's question of being is in fact a meta-Aristotelian theme: Hei-
degger uses, or seems to use, Aristotle with the objective of going beyond
In order to develop the meta-Aristotelian theme, we have to address three ques-
tions. First, (A) why do Aristotle and Heidegger assume that there is one and only
one fundamental question, the question of being, and why do they hold that it is
the task of philosophy to raise and answer this question? We will never understand
the content of the question of being unless we will have resolved what I will call
the problem of the primacy of the question of being.
Whereas Heidegger fully endorsed the primacy of the question of being, he
criticized Aristotle for not having adequately developed the problem of being.
Heidegger's relation to the Aristotelian doctrine of being is characterized by a
similar ambiguity. On the one hand, his philosophical terminology is quite often
inspired by Aristotle's, and many Heideggerian neologisms, such asWoraufhin
(the upon-which),Lichtung(clearing), andUmsicht(circumspection), can be
traced back to Aristotle's Greek. Heidegger justi®es his strained usage of the

German language inSein und Zeitpartly by reference to ªthe altogether unprece-
dented character of those formulations that were imposed on the Greeks by their
35And indeed, comparing Aristotle's usage of Greek and Heideg-
ger's usage of German, one will conclude that Heidegger would never have in-
vented his highly original philosophical jargon had he not been inspired by Aris-
totle and, to a lesser extent, by Plato. On the other hand, Heidegger rejects
Aristotle's doctrine of being for the reason that Aristotle's ontological concepts
originated from experiences that do not touch the heart of the ontological matter.
In order to see clearly, then, to what extent Heidegger accepted Aristotle's
doctrine of being, and to what extent and for which reasons he rejected this doc-
trine, we have to answer two further questions: (B) What is Aristotle's doctrine
of being? (C) Why and to what measure did Heidegger reject this doctrine? In
developing the meta-Aristotelian theme, I will discuss these three questions in
this order, and I will be brief and somewhat dogmatic, skipping many exegetical
subtleties regarding Aristotle's texts to prevent this section from growing into a
book on Heidegger's relation to Aristotle.
A. The Primacy of the Question of Being
The problem of the primacy of the question of being is related to that of grasping
Aristotle's notion of ®rst philosophy, because according to Aristotle it is the task
of ®rst philosophy to deal with the question of being. There is yet another com-
plexity: we are interested in Heidegger's interpretation and reception of Aristot-
le's question of being. Heidegger conceived of his relation to philosophers of the
past as ªretrievalº (Wiederholung). By tracing their concepts and problems back
to the experiences from which they originated, he wanted to renew and reanimate
these problems and concepts, and to show their positive possibilities and their
limits (cf.Destruktion, § 3, above).
36Hence, two separate issues are involved in
the problem of the primacy of the question of being: How did Heidegger retrieve
Aristotle's question of being and his notion of ®rst philosophy? How did Aristotle
himself justify the primacy of the question of being and his notion of ®rst
I will argue that Heidegger's retrieval was a partial one, and that he failed to
discuss and assess Aristotle's main justi®cation for the notion of ®rst philosophy,
which was based on the Aristotelian philosophy of science, that is, on his view
of true knowledge (episteÅ
). Heidegger's idea of retrieval derives its point from
an insight common to German historians of the nineteenth century: that we will
be in¯uenced unwittingly by traditional conceptions unless we explicitly digest
and assess them. If so, the fact that Heidegger's retrieval of Aristotle was only a
partial one is a serious defect, for it implies that in assuming the primacy of the
question of being, Heidegger's thought may have been determined inadvertently
by Aristotle's philosophy of science. As we will see, this is indeed the case.

Let me ®rst discuss Heidegger's retrieval of Aristotle's notion of philosophy
and inquire whether this retrieval explains why Heidegger considered the question
of being the most fundamental question that a human being can ask. Between
1921 and 1927, the year in whichSein und Zeitwas published, Heidegger lectured
on Aristotle a great number of times: in the winter semester of 1921±22 and the
summer of 1922 at Freiburg University, and at Marburg University during the
winter semester of 1923±24, the summer semester of 1924, in his important course
on Plato'sSophistesof the winter semester 1924±25, during his course on philo-
sophical logic in the winter semester of 1925±26, his course on the fundamental
notions of ancient philosophy in the summer of 1926, and in the course on the
fundamental problems of phenomenology of 1927.
37He held seminars on Aris-
totle a great many times as well. 38Moreover, between 1919 and 1923, Heidegger
was working on a book on Aristotle, due to appear as volume 7 (and perhaps
8) of Husserl'sJahrbuch, but which was never published. Doubtless, the most
interesting text on Aristotle from this period is a ®fty-page manuscript that Hei-
degger wrote between 22 September and 30 October 1922, and which Husserl
sent to Natorp in order to get Heidegger a position asextraordinariusin Mar-
39This manuscript, usually called the ªNatorp essay,º is a densely written,
more or less programmatic summary of Heidegger's studies on Aristotle. Al-
though it was thought to be lost because Natorp's copy perished in the bombings
of Leipzig,
40Heidegger's own copy has been found in Josef KoÈ
nig's papers. The
essay was published in theDilthey-Jahrbuchof 1989. How did Heidegger retrieve
Aristotle's notion of ®rst philosophy in this summary of hisPhenomenological
Interpretations concerning Aristotle, as the book was to be called?
The Natorp essay is of crucial importance for understanding the genesis ofSein
und Zeit, for Heidegger said that he took the ®rst steps towardSein und Zeit
around 1922±23.
41What strikes us primarily when we read the essay is that its
composition resembles the bipartite scheme of the original plan ofSein und Zeit,
according to which a constructive part about Dasein is followed by a destruction
of the ontological tradition.
42Heidegger's summary of his interpretations of Aris-
totle is preceded by an elaborate ªindication of the hermeneutical situation,º
which takes up the ®rst twenty-eight pages of the manuscript. In this ªindicationº
Heidegger analyzes the ontological structure of Dasein, and he anticipates many
of the themes ofSein und Zeit. It is easy to imagine that in the subsequent years,
the focus of Heidegger's investigations shifted from the destructive to the con-
structive enterprise, and that the published divisions ofSein und Zeitgrew out of
the ªindication of the hermeneutical situationº written in 1922.
Heidegger starts his ªindicationº by arguing that as our present situation inevi-
tably is the starting point for interpretations of earlier philosophers, the better we
understand this situation, the better we will be able to reveal the meaning of their
works. In particular, our present conception of philosophy will determine the
attitude we have toward its history. This implies that Heidegger has to state his
own conception of philosophy in order to elucidate the hermeneutical situation

from which he is going to interpret Aristotle. In 1922, Heidegger does not de®ne
philosophy as the search for being as such. Rather, the object of philosophy is to
investigate human Dasein in its manner of being (Seinscharakter).
has to interpret factical human life out of itself, so that philosophical research is
part and parcel of our Dasein. It is the attempt to grasp the fundamental movement
(Grundbewegtheit) of human life, and in this manner to intensify its questionable
nature. Philosophy is the act of explicitly performing (expliziter Vollzug) the
movement of factical existence.
44It is easy to see why historical investigations of
a speci®c kind are relevant to philosophy in this sense. They should reveal the way
in which philosophers of the past interpreted human existence. A confrontation
between our and their view of Dasein will lead to a fruitful antagonism (fruchtbare
Gegnerschaft), which enables us to criticize both past and present human self-
understanding and to grasp decisive possibilities of existence.
This conception of philosophy, which Heidegger derived from Luther, Kierke-
gaard, and Dilthey rather than from Aristotle or Husserl, is the basis both of the
structure of the Natorp essay and of Heidegger's interpretations of Aristotle.
Heidegger ®rst develops a hermeneutic of human Dasein as it experiences itself
in Heidegger's own generation, for it ªfollows from the notion of facticity
that in each time only theauthentic[eigentliche], in the literal sense ofone's
own, life, that is, the perspective of one's own time and generation, is the real
object of investigation.º
46However, because he claims, as inSein und Zeit, that
Western self-understanding is unwittingly determined by the concepts of Greek
philosophy in general and by Aristotle's philosophy in particular, we have to
retrace or ªdestroyº the Aristotelian tradition in order to liberate ourselves and to
reach a proper understanding of the movement and possibilities of our Dasein.
Clearly, the Natorp essay has the same constructive-destructive composition as
Sein und Zeit. 48
Let me now focus on Heidegger's retrieval of Aristotle's notion of ®rst philoso-
phy. Does Heidegger reveal Aristotle's reasons for regarding the question of being
as the fundamental question of ®rst philosophy? In the Natorp essay, Heidegger
studies the genesis of Aristotle's notion of (®rst) philosophy or wisdom (sophia)
on the basis of the ®rst two chapters ofMetaphysics(Met. A, 1±2). The fundamen-
tal sense (Grundsinn) of ªphilosophy,º Heidegger argues, is determined both by
the way in which Aristotle gains access to the phenomenon ofsophia, a phenome-
non that Heidegger calls ªpure understandingº (reines Verstehen), and by the
manner in which Aristotle interpretssophia.
49Heidegger stresses that inMeta-
physicsA, 1±2, Aristotle develops the notion ofsophiaas the last stage of a
series of degrees of knowledge. The ®rst stages of the series, such as sensation
sis), memory (mneÅ
), and art (techneÅ
), clearly derive their point from the
concerns of practical life.
50In other words, Aristotle gains access to his notion of
sophiavia the point of view of practical human concerns. From this observation
on the genesis of the notion ofsophiaHeidegger draws a conclusion that also
stands out prominently inSein und Zeit: that purely theoretical knowledgeÐthat

is, bothepisteÅ
andsophiain AristotleÐsomehow originates from the fact that
we are concerned with our own life. Apparently, in its tendency to gain more and
more insight, factical life comes to the point of giving up its concerns with acting
and making, for factical life does not ®gure in Aristotle's interpretation ofsophia
51This exegesis leads Heidegger to a radical critique of Aristotle's notion
of (®rst) philosophy. If Aristotle derives his notion of philosophy from an interpre-
tation of a factical tendency of human concern, it is paradoxical that insophia,
the last stage of this tendency in human life, human life disappears as an object
of our concern: according to Aristotle, philosophy is not concerned with human
life, but with ®rst principles and with the Deity.
52Furthermore, Heidegger rejects
also Aristotle's notion of the Deity, according to which the Deity is not concerned
with humans but merely re¯ects on itself. As Heidegger says, ªfor Aristotle . . .
the idea of the divine did not derive from an explication of something that became
accessible in a religious fundamental experience.º On the contrary, Aristotle's
conception of the Deity is the result of his analysis of movement, which requires
an unmoved mover as a highest being.
53In other words, both Aristotle's notion
of (®rst) philosophy and his notion of the Deity, which have decisively in¯uenced
the Christian conception of God's relation to man and of man's relation to himself,
disguise the fact that they originated from human concerns. These notions are
articulated in categories that were derived from the analysis of movement
sis) in Aristotle's physics, not from the phenomenon of human existence. As
a result of Aristotle's in¯uence on Christianity, human life and man's relation to
God have been understood in the Christian tradition in terms of categories that
have been borrowed from another ontological region; hence the Christian tradition
has been alienated from itself.
Although the critical tendency of Heidegger's retrieval is not as clear in the
Natorp essay as it would become later, we may conclude that Heidegger wanted to
destroy the Aristotelian notions of philosophy and of God, because they allegedly
express an alienation. Whereas their origin lies in human concerns, Aristotle de-
rived their content from the physical analysis of movement. This tension between
origin (human) and content (nonhuman) supposedly explodes the Aristotelian
conceptions. One might say that Heidegger used Aristotle in order to criticize
Aristotle. Accepting the Aristotelian genesis of the idea of philosophy, he felt
himself justi®ed in rejecting its content, because the content allegedly contradicts
the genesis. Heidegger's retrieval of the Aristotelian notion of philosophy seems
to be a prime example of internal criticism or deconstruction.
However, there is another view of the Natorp essay that comes nearer to the
truth. According to this alternative view, which I endorse, the essay is not an
internal criticism of Aristotle at all. Heidegger interpreted Aristotle's notion of
philosophy from the point of view of his own notion, which he derived from
Luther, Kierkegaard, and Dilthey. Only because he had decided in advance that
philosophy has to be an autointerpretation of human existence, he felt justi®ed
in rejecting the content of Aristotle's notion of philosophy, according to which

philosophy is concerned with the ®rst principles and with the Deity. Heidegger's
destruction of Aristotle is motivated not by internal tensions in Aristotle but by his
own preconceptions, and in the Natorp essay he already practices the applicative
method of interpretation he advocates inSein und Zeit. There is no attempt at all
in Heidegger's retrieval of Aristotle to list everything Aristotle says about ®rst
philosophy and to explain the latter's notion of philosophy in a purely historical
manner. Heidegger's retrieval is a partial one, and it explains neither the notion
of ®rst principles nor, interestingly, the fact that ®rst philosophy should raise the
question of being, even though in Aristotle these two topics are narrowly related.
To the extent that the question of being emerges at all in the Natorp essay, it is
primarily concerned with our own human mode of being, and Heidegger claims,
as he does inSein und Zeit, that the point and sense of regional ontologies is
derived from the ontology of our factical life.
55In short, Heidegger's retrieval of
Aristotle in 1922 neither explains nor justi®es the primacy of the question of
being at all.
Having analyzed Heidegger's retrieval of the Aristotelian notion of (®rst) philoso-
phy, we should now compare his retrieval with a purely historical attempt to
interpret this Aristotelian notion. What was Aristotle's conception of ®rst philoso-
phy and why did Aristotle hold that ®rst philosophy is concerned with the question
of being? What is the meaning of this question in Aristotle? Only by using such
a historical reconstruction as a standard of comparison will we be able to see
clearly to what extent Heidegger's retrieval is contaminated by his own preoccu-
pations. I will also discuss the important question as to whether Heidegger's
thought was determined inadvertently by the aspects of Aristotle's notion of phi-
losophy that Heidegger failed to retrieve, and, for that reason, was unable to assess
In hisMetaphysics, Aristotle characterizes ®rst philosophy orsophiain a great
number of ways. The most important characterizations are as follows. (1)Sophia
is concerned with the ®rst principles and causes (Met. I.1), so that the search
forsophiais ®rst philosophy in contradistinction to second philosophies such as
physics. Furthermore, knowledge of the ®rst principles and causes is the most
true knowledge, about which one cannot be mistaken because it is necessary, and
it is purely theoretical.
56Because what is ®rst in virtue of itself is the most dif®cult
thing to discover, ®rst philosophy, which in itself precedes physics, can be ac-
quired only after physics, so that in the pedagogical order ®rst philosophy is
ªmeta-physics,º a term introduced by early followers of Aristotle.
(2) According to a second series of characterizations, ®rst philosophy is the
science that embraces everything, because the ®rst principles are the most univer-
58It is the theoretical science about each being in so far as it is (to on heÅ
on) and, accordingly, about beings as such. Much later, the term ªontologyº was
introduced for ®rst philosophy in this sense.
59According to Aristotle, the main

topic of the science of beings as such is what the Greeks calledousia(substance),
that whichisin the fullest sense of the word.
(3) Finally, Aristotle characterizes ®rst philosophy as theology, both in the
sense that it is the most divine knowledge, which the Deity possesses, and in the
sense that it is concerned with the Deity. InMetaphysicsI.2, Aristotle suggests
that ®rst philosophy isalsotheology, because the Deity is the ultimate or ®rst
®nal cause of all movement in the cosmos, so that a science of the ®rst causes
should be concerned with the Deity. But there are two other texts in which Aris-
totle seems to claim that ®rst philosophy is theologyonly. For the most noble
science should be concerned with the most noble entity, that is, an entity that
exists in itself and eternally. Although the objects of physics exist in themselves,
they are not eternal. The objects of mathematics, on the contrary, may be eternal
but they do not exist in themselves. For this reason, there must be a third theoreti-
cal science, ®rst philosophy, which investigates an eternal entity that exists in
itself, the Deity.
There are many interpretative problems regarding Aristotle's notion of ®rst
philosophy. Why, according to Aristotle, should there be something like ®rst phi-
losophy at all? Why is it concerned with being as such? How is a science or
doctrine of being possible if, as Aristotle says, being is not a highest genus,
whereas all scienti®c disciplines are de®ned by the highest genus of objects they
are concerned with? Finally, how can ®rst philosophy be both ontology and theol-
ogy? The latter problem, concerning the ontotheological unity of metaphysics,
was elegantly solved by the Neo-Platonic reception of Aristotle within the Chris-
tian tradition. Ontology is concerned with Platonic forms for it studies of each
being what-it-is-in-itself-in-virtue-of-itself; these forms are ideas in God's mind,
and because in the act of creation God modeled the world on these ideas, the
all-embracing science of the world (ontology) coincides with theology. It is not
surprising that when secularization set in, this solution lost its hold. In Aristotle-
scholarship, Paul Natorp raised the problem of the ontotheological unity of Aris-
totle's thought in 1888. According to Natorp, whom Heidegger got to know well
during his years in Marburg (1923±28), the ontological and theological character-
izations of ®rst philosophy contradict each other, and he tried to eliminate the
latter, interpreting them as later interpolations.
62Werner Jaeger agreed with Na-
torp about the contradiction, but he argued in 1923 that the theological de®nition
of ®rst philosophy re¯ects an early stage in Aristotle's development that was
overcome later.
Heidegger was right, I think, to apply the principle of charity and to reject
the hypothesis that there is a contradiction in Aristotle on this point. However,
Heidegger did not go far enough in applying the principle of charity. According
to the lectures of 1926 on the fundamental concepts of ancient philosophy, the
ontological and theological determinations of ®rst philosophy ªwith objective
necessity belong to a problem that Aristotle did not manage to solve and did not
even formulate as such,º to wit: the problem of being, or more precisely, the

problem of the ontological difference between being and beings.
64It would be
more charitable to assume that the determinations ®t into Aristotle's doctrine of
being, and that an interpretation of this doctrine should attempt to show why this
is the case.
Although Heidegger rejects Aristotle's doctrine of being (see under B and C,
below), he fully accepts the primacy of the question of being and the formal idea
of a fundamental science. This means that apart from merely giving an interpreta-
tion of Aristotle, Heidegger must also have thought that Aristotle's arguments for
the primacy of the question of being and for the existence of ®rst philosophy as
a fundamental science are convincing. Here we come to the most astonishing
fact about Heidegger's retrieval of Aristotle, not only in 1922 but also in 1926:
Heidegger does not even attempt to trace Aristotle's argument in favor of the
primacy of the question of being, and consequently he was not able to assess it.
This argument heavily relies on the philosophy of science (episteÅ
) that Aristotle
developed in hisPosterior Analytics. Heidegger nowhere discusses this tract and
its relation to the Aristotelian conception of ®rst philosophy. In the lectures of
1926, for instance, he starts by stipulatively de®ning philosophy as a critical disci-
pline, which distinguishes (krinein) between beings and being. In other words,
philosophy should acknowledge the ontological difference and raise the question
of being. Although Heidegger pretends to show in the body of the lectures that
Greek philosophers aimed at raising this question, he in fact demonstrates that
they did not succeed in doing so. He concludes that the question of being has to
be raised anew, and that the difference between being and beings is as yet to be
made. According to Heidegger, then, there is merely an implicit tendency in Greek
philosophy toward raising the question of being in the sense in which he wants
to raise it himself, a tendency that culminated in Aristotle. As a consequence,
Heidegger is able to disregard the arguments for raising the question of being in
Aristotle's sense, arguments that Aristotle explicitly formulated. This implies that
Heidegger's retrieval of Aristotle neither provides us with a justi®cation of his
idea that there must be a fundamental discipline, philosophy, which raises the
question of being, nor enables us to elucidate the content of this question. It
follows that the meta-Aristotelian theme cannot be the only, or even the most
fundamental, leitmotif in Heidegger's question of being, because it does not pro-
vide us with explicit reasons for raising this question at all.
There were such reasons in Aristotle's case, and, as I said, these reasons are
based on Aristotle's philosophy of science or true knowledge (episteÅ
). In his
Posterior Analytics, Aristotle de®nes scienti®c knowledge as knowledge of truths
by demonstration. We cannot be said to know thatpunless we have validly de-
ducedpfrom premises that we know to be true. However, this de®nition of scien-
ti®c knowledge leads to a trilemma. Either (1) the chain of proofs ofpand its
premises goes back in(de)®nitely. In this case we will never be able to possess
knowledge, because the capacities of the human mind are ®nite. Or (2) the chain
of proofs is circular. If so, we do not possess knowledge either, for although

circular deductions are logically valid, they do not amount to proofs of the truth
of the conclusion. This implies that Aristotle's de®nition of knowledge leads to
skepticism, unless (3) the chains of proofs are based on ®rst principles, which we
are able to know without proof, because they are necessary and self-evident.
In this manner, Aristotle's conception of scienti®c knowledge as knowledge by
proof leads to the conclusion that there must be a more fundamental kind of
knowledge, knowledge of the ®rst principles. It is interesting to compare Aristot-
le's philosophy of science withThe Elementsof Euclid, who practiced Aristotle's
ideal. Euclid must have ¯ourished around 300
B.C., and he was somewhat younger
than Aristotle (384±322
B.C.). However, his mathematical works stand in the Pla-
tonic tradition, and probably he received his training from pupils of Plato. It is
not far-fetched to assume that Aristotle's philosophy of science was inspired by
a tradition in mathematics that culminated in Euclid. Both according to Aristotle's
theory and to Euclid's practice, sciences should be construed as axiomatic-deduc-
tive systems. Aristotle stresses more than Euclid, however, that the ®rst principles
must be evidently and necessarily true if we are to be able to derive truly scienti®c
knowledge from them.
Both Euclid and Aristotle distinguish between two kinds of ®rst principles:
postulates and axioms proper. The difference is that postulates belong to a particu-
lar scienti®c discipline and specify ªessential attributesº of the objects of its do-
main, whereas the axioms are ªcommon notionsº: they hold for all disciplines.
One might express this distinction differently, in order to show the relation be-
tween Aristotle's philosophy of science and his conception of ®rst philosophy.
The postulates are concerned with beingsin so far asthey have some speci®c,
regional essence. Geometry studies beings to the extent that they have shapes;
psychology studies beingsquahuman, to the extent that they are gifted with
perception and thought. In contrast, the axioms are concerned with beings in
general, or with beingsin so far asthey are or exist at all, beingsquabeings.
And this is precisely Aristotle's formula for the subject matter of ®rst philosophy:
to on heÅ
ion. First philosophy, then, is ontology because it is concerned withto
on heÅ
ion, beingsquabeings, and it is the general foundation of all scienti®c
disciplines or ªsecondº philosophies because it contains the universal principles
underlying these disciplines.
One must conclude that Aristotle's conception of ®rst philosophy as ontology,
and indeed his question of being as a primary question, are derived from his
philosophy of science. Only if one conceives of scienti®c knowledge as knowl-
edge of truths by proof will one have to assume that there is another kind of
knowledge (sophia), which is more fundamental than the sciences: unprovable
knowledge of the general ®rst principles and of fundamental concepts that hold
for beings as such.
66Aristotle's philosophy of science implies the notion of ®rst
philosophy, which raises the question of being in the sense of the question of
what characterizes all beings as beings. Conversely, the idea that the question of
being(s) is the most fundamental question we might raise, and that ®rst philosophy

has the task of raising it, will lose its justi®cation as soon as one rejects Aristotle's
philosophy of science.
Aristotle's view of science, and his concomitant conception of ontology as ®rst
philosophy, have been extremely in¯uential in the history of philosophy. During
the scienti®c revolution the Aristotelian sciences and ontology were rejected.
They were rejected, however, for the very reason that they failed to realize the
ideal of science that was formulated in Aristotle's philosophy of science, an ideal
that was endorsed by philosophers such as Descartes and Newton. Descartes ar-
gued in thelettre-preÂ
faceto the French translation of thePrincipia Philosophiae
(Principles of Philosophy) that Plato and Aristotle were not able to know with
certainty the ®rst principles, because they did not possess the correct method,
methodical doubt and intellectual intuition. Similarly, Kant accused his predeces-
sors of not having been able to justify the synthetic a priori principles of science,
and he argued that we need a transcendental philosophy for doing so.
It is not dif®cult to see that Heidegger was in¯uenced by this Aristotelian tradi-
tion in the philosophy of science. Like Kant and Husserl, Heidegger assumes in
Sein und Zeitthat philosophy is more fundamental than the sciences. Moreover,
philosophy consists of two levels. Regional ontologies have the task of elaborat-
ing a priori the fundamental concepts of speci®c regions of being.
67First philoso-
phy, however, is concerned with the nature of being as such, and with the way
being is related to the knowing subject (see § 9, below, for details). As Heidegger
says in sections 3, 4, and 7 ofSein und Zeit, (®rst) philosophy is fundamental
ontology, concerned with being as such and with human understanding of being.
Heidegger never really abandoned this Aristotelian, foundationalist conception
of philosophy, even though he gave up the notion of a fundamental ontology. In
his rectoral address of 1933, Heidegger de®nes science (Wissenschaft) as ªmain-
taining one's questioning attitude amidst the totality of being, which hides itself
68and he stresses that there is an intimate connection between sci-
ence and the GermanVolk(people). The ªfull essence of scienceº would be consti-
tuted by three ªservicesº for the nation or theVolk: labor service, military service,
and service of knowledge.
69Apart from thisvoÈ
lkischand perhaps even National
Socialist notion of scienti®c knowledge, the rectoral address also shows the in¯u-
ence of the Aristotelian conception of science: Heidegger claims that all science
is philosophy, and that it remains attached to its origins: the emergence of Greek
70Five years later, in a text from 1938 on ªDie Zeit des Weltbildesº
(ªThe Age of the World Viewº), Heidegger raises the question as to which concep-
tion of being and truth grounds the essence of modern science. He assumes, with-
out further argument, that science is founded on a ªmetaphysical basis,º an as-
sumption inherent in the Aristotelian conception of science.
71In his celebrated
lecture on the origin of the work of art, which dates back to 1935, Heidegger
derives from his Aristotelian conception of science and philosophy the conclusion
that science is not an ªoriginal happening of truth.º
72We discern traces of the
Aristotelian foundationalist conception of science and philosophy even in Heideg-

ger's last writings, such as the essay entitled ªDas Ende der Philosophie und die
Aufgabe des Denkensº (ªThe End of Philosophy and the Task of Thinkingº),
published in 1969, where Heidegger claims that the sciences implicitly speak
about the being of beings when they posit their regional categories, and that they
cannot get rid of their origin in philosophy.
We are justi®ed in concluding that Heidegger maintained the Aristotelian thesis
of the primacy of philosophy and of the question of being in relation to the sci-
ences during his entire philosophical career, even though he did not retrieve and
critically assess the Aristotelian argument for this thesis. Because Heidegger
never re¯ected on the connection between the primacy thesis and Aristotle's phi-
losophy of science, he did not bother to rethink his own rudimentary philosophy
of science, although he was acutely aware of the scienti®c revolutions of the
®rst half of this century, revolutions that in fact necessitated a revolution in the
philosophy of science as well.
74This revolution in the philosophy of science,
which in fact took place in the works of many philosophers of science in this
century, dethroned metaphysics and the Aristotelian question of being from the
position of ®rst philosophy. As a consequence, Heidegger is faced with a dilemma.
Either the justi®cation for the primacy of the question of being is derived from
Aristotle. If so, the primacy thesis is refuted by later developments in the philoso-
phy of science. Or the primacy of Heidegger's question of being, and perhaps
this question itself, was not derived directly from Aristotle, but from, say, Neo-
Scholastic philosophical ontotheology such as that of Heidegger's master Carl
75But this contradicts what Heidegger says on the matter in ªMein Weg in
die PhaÈ
B. Aristotle's Doctrine of Being
My reconstruction of Aristotle's notion of ®rst philosophy, and of the primacy
of the question of being in Aristotle's sense, leaves unexplained a number of
characteristics that he attributes to ®rst philosophy. We have seen why according
to Aristotle there must be a ®rst philosophy about being(s) in general. But we do
not yet understand why ®rst philosophy studies the ®rst causes, and how it can
be concerned both withousiaand with the Deity. To put it differently, I have only
retrieved Aristotle's formal conception of ®rst philosophy, and his rationale for
the primacy of the question of being, but not the way in which Aristotle tried to
realize this conception, that is, his doctrine of being. However, in order to under-
stand Aristotle's doctrine, we must ®rst reconstruct his problem of being.
The problem of being, as Aristotle saw it, may be put as follows: How is ®rst
philosophy, the study of being(s) as such, possible as a rigorous science? Ac-
cording toPosterior AnalyticsI.7, a scienti®c discipline is always concerned with
objects of one highest genus. However, being as such is not a genus. The general
axioms of the sciences, which hold for beings in general, such as the axiom that
if equals be subtracted from equals, the remainders are equal, apply only analogi-

cally in different sciences: the axiom means something different in geometry and
in arithmetic.
76But analogy destroys the unity of a genus. Moreover, ªbeingº is
said in many ways (pollachoÅ
s), as Aristotle repeatedly af®rms. For these reasons,
it seems, ®rst philosophy as a science of being(s) as such is impossible. Whereas
Aristotle's philosophy of science on the one hand implies that there must be such a
science, it on the other hand excludes there being one. I will argue that Aristotle's
doctrine of being should be understood as an attempt to solve this problem of the
possibility of a science of being(s).
Aristotle's problem of being is very different from the problem of being that
Heidegger wanted to elaborate, the problem of the ontological difference, and it
should not astonish us that from the point of view of his own problem, Heidegger
said that Aristotle never formulated the problem of being. As in the case of the
primacy of the question of being, Heidegger only partially retrieved Aristotle's
problem of being. Because he did not bother to reconstruct Aristotle's problem
in a purely historical manner, he never discovered how according to Aristotle the
different characterizations of ®rst philosophy hang together. Nevertheless, there
is a formal or structural resemblance between Aristotle's and Heidegger's prob-
lems of being. Both problems consist of a tension between two poles, which I
will call the pole of differentiation and the pole of unity.
In Aristotle's case, there is a pole of differentiation because he af®rms that
ªbeingº is said in many different ways (pollachoÅ
77As I noted in section 1,
above, the most important distinction between ways in which ªbeingº is said is
that ofMetaphysicsV.7, where Aristotle distinguishes between (1) being in the
sense of things that are named according to a coincidental mode of being (kata
kos), (2) being in a substantial sense (kath' hauto), as speci®ed in the ten
categories, (3) being in the sense of being true, and (4) being in the sense of
being something potentially or actually. If this plurality of senses of ªbeingº were
irreducible, a science of being as such would be impossible, because each science
must be concerned with one homogeneous domain or genus. In order to solve the
problem of the possibility of ®rst philosophy, then, Aristotle has to show that
the plurality of senses of ªbeingº somehow reduces to one, and that there is one
genus with which ®rst philosophy is primarily concerned. In other words, apart
from a pole of differentiation, there is also a pole of unity.
Aristotle's doctrine of being is an attempt to effectuate this reduction. I now
try to reconstruct this doctrine, which has to be reassembled from Aristotle's
Metaphysics. Then I state Heidegger's criticisms of the Aristotelian doctrine as
he saw it in subsection C. We will see that Heidegger's problem of being also has
a pole of differentiation and a pole of unity, but that his problem is different from
Aristotle's, among other reasons because Heidegger did not conceive of the unity
of being as reducibility to one genus.
We may distinguish three stages in Aristotle's reduction of the plurality of
being to a generic unity. First, he eliminates two senses of the term ªbeingº as
irrelevant to ®rst philosophy. ªBeingº in the sense of (1) being something coinci-

dentally is irrelevant because what something is coincidentally must escape seri-
ous scienti®c examination.
78And ªbeingº in the sense (3) of being true does not
belong to the province of ontology either, for being true and being false do not
exist in the world: they pertain to thought.
79As a consequence, the problem of
being is primarily concerned with the second and the fourth ways of saying being,
that is, with (2) being as it is divided into the categories, and with (4) being
potentially and actually. Aristotle discusses categorial being in books VII and
VIII ofMetaphysics, while actuality and potentiality are dealt with in book IX.
However, because act and potentiality are modes of being of the ®rst category,
substance (ousia), the problem of being is in fact reduced to a problem concerned
with one way of saying being only: (2) being in the sense of the categories.
This ®rst reduction of four ways of saying ªbeingº to one, that of the categories,
does not yet solve the problem of being. As soon as we focus in on the categories,
we see that a new differentiation emerges, because there are ten categories. This
is why Aristotle repeats thepollachoÅ
s-dictum in the ®rst sentence of book VII of
theMetaphysics. ªBeingº is used differently in the various categories, such as in
ªSocrates being a manº (category of substance), ªPlato being taller than Socratesº
(category of relation), or ªSocrates being well trainedº (category ofhexis).
then, is a homogeneous science of being possible if being is not said homoge-
neously in the categories? Clearly, a second reduction is needed. Because there
is much confusion about this second reduction in the secondary literature, we
must brie¯y pause and wonder what Aristotle means by hispollachoÅ
In the ®rst chapter of theCategories, Aristotle discusses homonymy and par-
onymy as two ways in which something may be saidpollachoÅ
s. It is important to
remember that quite often Aristotle does not distinguish between talking about
words, as when we say that the noun or gerund ªbeingº is used in many ways,
and talking about beings, for he in fact claims that things and not words are
homonymous or paronymous.
81Many commentators have observed that Aristotle
assumes a harmony between language and reality, and that theCategoriesare
about thingsasthey are addressed in language. This is not as strange as it may
seem. If we say that the Morning Star is identical with the Evening Star, we
neither assert something about the thing as it is in itself (this would be uninforma-
tive: each thing is identical with itself), nor about the names only (if so, the
identity would merely express a convention about names, and not an empirical
discovery): we assert something about the thingsasthey are addressed by us in
According to theCategories, things are homonyms if they have the same name
but not the same de®nition. They are synonyms if they share both name and
de®nition. Homonymous things are saidpollachoÅ
s, synonymous things are not.
Apart from homonymy, Aristotle mentions a second kind of being saidpollachoÅ
paronymy. Paronymous things are addressed by the same (or nearly the same)
name, and they almost share the de®nition, because name and de®nition are re-
lated to one paradigmatic thing or focal entity. The best example of paronymy is

health. We call food, or sports, or a way of living ªhealthyº because they are
positively related to the health of a human being.
If ªbeingº were said synonymously, Aristotle's problem of being would not
arise, for being would be a homogeneous genus. If, on the other hand, ªbeingº
were said homonymously, the problem of being would be insoluble, because the
different ways of using ªto beº would have nothing in common. Since it is quite
clear that Aristotle considered the problem of the possibility of ®rst philosophy
as a soluble problem, he must have assumed a relation between the ways in which
ªbeingº is said in the ten categories that is both stronger than mere homonymy
and weaker than synonymy. There are two interpretative hypotheses in the litera-
ture about the nature of this relation, which both seem to ®nd support in the text
ofMetaphysics. According to some, the relation is one of analogy. Others suppose
it to be a relation of paronymy. I will defend the latter alternative.
It is important to distinguish clearly between analogy and paronymy, because
they are often confused with each other. 85In his retrieval of Aristotle's metaphys-
ics, Heidegger does not even differentiate between these two relations. 86Analogy
in the usual sense of the term should also be distinguished from metaphor. In
speaking metaphorically, we make use of a similarity between states or properties.
We say, for instance, that someone has agreen thumbif he is good at gardening
(in producing green things). Analogy is based on a similarity between relations.
We say that old age is theautumn of lifebecause A (the autumn) relates to B (the
year) as C (old age) to D (life). Aristotle uses analogy quite often in de®ning the
basic concepts of his metaphysics. A piece of marbleisa statue in the same way
as a sleeping studentisstudying, namely, potentially. Similarly, a waking man
relates to a sleeping man in the same way as someone who is looking relates to
someone who has his eyes closed, to wit, as actuality to potentiality. Aristotle
claims that it is not necessary to de®ne explicitly the notions of actuality and
potentiality. It is suf®cient to grasp the stated analogies in order to grasp these
notions. One might say that Aristotle de®nes them by analogical abstraction.
Analogy is a relation very different from paronymy. In the case of analogy, there
are similar relations between heterogeneous terms. In the case of paronymy, how-
ever, things are called F (healthy, for instance) because they have different rela-
tions to one thing (pros hen) which is called F in a primary or fundamental way.
Unfortunately, Aristotle uses the term ªanalogyº at least once for thepros hen
relation of paronymy as well.
There is no doubt that according to Aristotle there is an analogy between the
ways we use ªbeingº in the ten different categories. He says, for instance, that
being evenrelates tobeing a numberasbeing whiterelates tobeing colored.
Moreover, the formal axioms of the sciences apply analogically in each science. 90
It does not follow, however, that Aristotle tried to solve his problem of being by
means of this type ofanalogia entis: such an attempt would have been doomed
to fail from the start. In order to solve Aristotle's problem, we have to ®nd a
homogeneous genus ªbeingº as the subject matter of ®rst philosophy or ontology.

But the relation of analogy is a formal one only, and it cuts through genera.
According to the doctrine of the analogy, we use ªbeingº analogously in the differ-
ent categories. There is an analogy of being, for instance, betweenSocrates being
a manandcourage being a virtue, because in both cases we subsume an individual
under a general name. This formal analogy holds in spite of the difference be-
tween the categories substance and quality. Now we might conceive of the ten
categories as highest genera: the category substance is the highest genus of all
substances; the category quality the highest genus of all quality; and so on.
follows that theanalogia entisin this strict sense of ªanalogyº will never specify
a homogeneous genus as the subject matter of ®rst philosophy.
The situation is different in the case of paronymy, thepros henrelation. We
may conceive of Aristotle'sCategoriesin a second way: as a classi®cation of
different kinds of things we say of a concrete individual. One might speak of
Socrates, for example, calling him a man (substance), saying that he is in Athens
(place), or that he was living a long time ago (time). According to this latter
conception of the categories, using the notion of being in all categories is related
to the ®rst category of concrete individuals. Because a concrete individual or
substance such as Socrates is neitherinsomething else nor saidofsomething else,
itisin the most fundamental way, and all other ways of saying ªisº and talking
about something are related to it as to the one, primary being. Combining this
latter conception of the categories with the former conception of the categories
as highest genera, we may say that the use of ªbeingº in the categories 2±10 is
paronymically related to saying ªbeingº in one highest genus, namely, the ®rst
category of substance (tode ti). Aristotle endorses this solution to his problem of
being explicitly inMetaphysicsIV.2 and VII.1. Because all ways of saying
ªbeingº are relatedpros hento one fundamental way, that of the ®rst category,
substance orousiahas to be the primary subject matter of ®rst philosophy. Aris-
totle refers to this solution at the beginning ofMetaphysicsVIII and IX as some-
thing which by now should be clear. And he repeats it inMetaphysicsXI.3 and
92We must conclude that the second reduction that Aristotle needs in order
to explain how ®rst philosophy is possible is a paronymous reduction of using
ªto beº in all categories to using it in the ®rst category, that ofousiaor substance.
According to the conception of the categories as highest genera,ousiais a highest
genus, so that ontology is possible as a science of one homogeneous genus, the
genus of substance. Indeed, Aristotle's doctrine of substance is the heart of his
In order to complete my brief summary of Aristotle's doctrine of being, I will
now discuss the problem of the so-called ontotheological unity of his metaphysics.
Why does Aristotle say that ®rst philosophy is both concerned withousiaand
with the Deity? And what is the relation between this ontological or ousiological
de®nition of ®rst philosophy and its theological de®nition? Heidegger mistakenly
claims that Aristotle never formulated this problem as such.
93But even if he were
right, this would not exempt us from the obligation of trying to reconstruct Aris-

totle's problem and his solution. In doing so, I will heavily rely on Routila's
94According to Routila, ®rst philosophy as ontology or ousiology reduces
paronymically to theology. This is the third stage in the reduction of the differenti-
ation of being to unity, and, like the second, it is apros henreduction. Why is
this third reduction necessary? Did we not already ®nd a homogeneous domain
for ®rst philosophy, the domain ofousia? Again, we must try to reconstruct Aris-
totle's problem before we can understand his solution. And again, the problem
concerns the possibility of a science of being as such.
This time, the requirement that causes the problem is not that of generic unity.
Rather, it is the requirement that scienti®c knowledge (episteÅ
) should be con-
cerned with eternal objects, a requirement that applies to metaphysics as well,
because metaphysics is the highest and most fundamental kind of true knowledge.
All scientists aim at universal knowledge, because universal knowledge, if true,
does not become obsolete: it is applicable in all situations of the relevant kind.
Plato and Aristotle erroneously assumed that universal knowledge, because it is
in itself immutable, must be concerned with immutable objects, such as ideal
geometric forms. Consequently, scienti®c knowledge is impossible unless there
are immutable entities. In Plato's case, these entities are the immutable Forms,
which are supposed to exist apart from temporal reality, and Plato identi®esousia
with Form. However, the immutability requirement causes a problem for Aris-
totle, because Aristotle denies that the Forms exist separately, apart from spatio-
temporal reality. According to Aristotle's view ofousiaor substance, theousiais
typically a concrete individual entity consisting of Form and Matter, such as an
individual animal, plant, or human being. But if theousiais a concrete individual,
which changes over time and perishes in the end, how is a science ofousiapossi-
ble? Aristotle's conception ofousiaseems to exclude that ®rst philosophy as a
science ofousiais possible, because science requires immutable objects, whereas
the individualousiais perishable. This, Routila suggests, was the problem that
forced Aristotle to connect ousiology and theology. Why and how did he do so?
The clue to this problem is to be found in the composition of book XII of
Aristotle'sMetaphysics, the book on theology. In chapter 1, Aristotle distin-
guishes three kinds of substance (ousia): (1) sensible and perishable, (2) sensible
and eternal, and (3) not sensible and eternal. Substances of the ®rst kind, such as
plants and animals, are the object of Aristotelian physics; substances of the second
kind are the object of astronomy; and substance of the third kind is the object of
theology. In chapters 2±5 of book XII, Aristotle discusses change and perishable
objects, whereas he starts his discussion of theology in chapter 6 and discusses
astronomy in chapter 8. Now Routila suggests ÐcorrectlyÐ that the composition
of book XII is explained by the hypothesis that according to Aristotle perishable
substances arepros henconnected to the Deity in the same sense in which heav-
enly bodies are connected to the Deity.
In chapter 6, Aristotle proves the existence of the Deity by arguing that time
is eternal (it cannot begin or stop, for in that case there would be something before

or after time, and ªbeforeº and ªafterº presuppose time), and that according to
theCategoriestime cannot exist without substance, so that there has to be an
eternal substance.
95Moreover, time is impossible without movement; hence the
eternity of time requires an eternal movement, which has to be circular because
space is ®nite. This eternal movement is the rotation of the outer heavenly sphere,
the sphere of the ®xed stars, and Aristotle thinks that its rotation is caused teleo-
logically by the Deity, which he calls the unmoved mover. According to Aristotle,
the cosmos is a ®nite spherical entity, consisting of an inner sublunary realm and
®fty-six concentric rotating spherical shells, in which the heavenly bodies are
®xed. The Deity causes the rotation of the outer shell directly and the other rota-
tions indirectly. Consequently, Aristotle's astronomy and his theology are closely
connected: both the rotations of the heavenly bodies and time presuppose the
Deity, which provides time by inspiring movement.
Although local movements in the sublunary sphere are never in®nite or circular,
Aristotle nevertheless assumes some kind of eternal recurrence in the domain of
perishable living beings as well. He thinks that the speci®c Forms of plants, ani-
mals, and man are in some sense eternal, because they are transferred eternally
by procreation from one individual to another. Routila's hypothesis is that this
eternal recurrence of Forms solves Aristotle's problem of the possibility of a
science of theousia: although individual substances are perishable, they can be
known scienti®cally as far as the recurrent Form is concerned. Within the frame-
work of Aristotle's philosophy, this solution would not work if the movement of
eternal recurrence of Forms were not inspired by the Deity in the same way as
the heavenly rotations are. Moreover, Form as an eternal substance without matter
can only exist if it is perceived by the Deity, as Aristotle suggests in chapter 9 of
book XII.
96For these reasons, ontology as ousiology is related to theology: the
eternal recurrence of Forms is not possible without the unmoved mover as its
telos, and the Form as an eternal structure exists only in the mind of the Deity.
This Aristotelian doctrine of apros henrelation between Deity and individual
substances was modi®ed by the Scholastics during the thirteenth century in order
to ®t Christian creationism. The creatures arepros henrelated to God, because
Godisprimarily and transfersbeingto the creatures in the act of creation. Ac-
cording to Eckhart, for instance, God has being (esse) in the primary sense,
whereas the creatures have being only from God and in God. Eckhart concludes
that to the extent that weareat all, our being is fundamentally God's being.
Misleadingly, this idea of a paronymic relation between God and creatures has
been called the doctrine of theanalogia entis.
C. Heidegger and Aristotle on Being
Having reconstructed Aristotle's doctrine of being, I now come to my third ques-
tion: Why, and to what extent, did Heidegger reject this doctrine? It is crucial
to see that Heidegger could not accept Aristotle's doctrine of being because

his conception of philosophy, and indeed of the question of being, were already
different from Aristotle's. Admittedly, both Aristotle and Heidegger believed that
(®rst) philosophy is the most fundamental discipline, and that it raises the question
of being. They also believed that philosophy is essential to human life, because
by doing philosophy we become really ourselves, either by actualizing our spe-
ci®c Form (Aristotle) or by grasping the possibility of authentic existence
However, this formal similarity masks a fundamental difference between Aris-
totle's and Heidegger's conceptions of philosophy. Whereas according to Aris-
totle, philosophy is the science of the ®rst principles and causes, which studies
being(s) in general and provides man with a comprehensive view of the cosmos,
Heidegger de®nes philosophy in the Natorp essay as the attempt to grasp explic-
itly the fundamental movement of human life. In 1922, Heidegger's question of
being is primarily concerned with our own mode of being, and this is still the
case inSein und Zeit, even though Heidegger's formal de®nition of philosophy
in 1927 is nearer to Aristotle's than in 1922. Moreover, whereas according to
Aristotle philosophy makes man divine, because philosophy consists in the pure
activity of contemplation that characterizes the Deity, Heidegger stresses in Pau-
linian manner that philosophy should make life more human by making it more
dif®cult, because the human conditionisdif®cult. By explicitly grasping the fun-
damental movement of human life, philosophy annuls the alienation that consists
in our attempt to make ourselves comfortable and to ¯ee into worldly
In the Natorp essay, Heidegger stresses that philosophy should be atheistic, and
I will argue in chapter 3 thatSein und Zeitis also atheistic in this sense. But
Heidegger's atheism does not consist in the conviction that God does not exist.
It rather springs from the notion that philosophy, which seeks to grasp the most
authentic possibilities of human existence, should restrict itself to possibilities
that are within its own power, and that theorizing about GodaÁ
laAristotle is a
temptation that leads us astray. Heidegger says that only in this manner can philos-
ophy stand honestly before God.
98If Heidegger read Aristotle from the vantage
point of his own notion of philosophy, we must conclude that Heidegger's ques-
tion of being cannot be derived primarily from Aristotle. On the contrary, Heideg-
ger approached Aristotle from an external, Christian point of view, and Heideg-
ger's ªdestructionº of Aristotle resembles Luther's attempt to liberate the
Christian experience of life from the Scholastic, Aristotelian tradition, as I will
argue in section 11.
There is a similar tension between formal similarity and material divergence
with regard to Aristotle's problem and doctrine of being. Both Aristotle's and
Heidegger's questions of being possess two opposite poles: a pole of differentia-
tion and a pole of unity. The task of the pole of differentiation is to explore the
many different ways in which ªbeingº is said. The pole of unity, on the other
hand, consists in the attempt to relate or even to reduce these different ways to

one fundamental sense of ªbeing.º The Aristotelian leitmotif in Heidegger's ques-
tion of being is a meta-Aristotelian theme, because Heidegger both radicalizes
the pole of differentiation and transforms the pole of unity of Aristotle's question
of being. As Heidegger rejected Aristotle's doctrines concerning the differentia-
tion and unity of being, he wanted to raise the question of being anew. I will
now brie¯y specify what Heidegger rejected, and thereby show why, according
to Heidegger, the question of being had to be raised again.
Aristotle's differentiation of the ways in which we say ªbeingº is twofold: he
®rst differentiates among the four ways ofMetaphysicsV.7 and then among the
ten categories. Unity is restored by eliminating ªbeingº in coincidental designa-
tions and ªbeingº as being true, and by twopros henreductions: one of the catego-
ries to the ®rst category,ousia, and a second of theousiato the Deity.
Heidegger's retrieval of the Aristotelian doctrine of being in the Natorp essay
is based on one guiding question: How does Aristotle interpret human existence?
Is Aristotle's interpretation of human life derived from a fundamental experience
of life itself, or does he simply conceive of human Dasein as being an entity
that belongs to a more comprehensive domain of entities? How does Aristotle
conceptualize our human mode of being, and being in general?
99This guiding
question is implied by Heidegger's conception of philosophy in 1922. Moreover,
it presupposes the antinaturalist assumption that if one wants to interpret human
life on the basis of a fundamental experience of Dasein itself, one should not
conceive of Dasein primarily as an entity belonging to a more extensive domain,
for instance, the domain of all living beings.
Heidegger argues in 1922 that Aristotle's ontological concepts, such asousia,
form,matter,dunamis,energeia, andentelecheia, are drawn from the sphere of
artifacts or manufactured goods. Although these notions originate in Aristotle's
analysis of change (kineÅ
sis) and growth in hisPhysics, their real empirical source
is the structure of artifacts, which are Aristotle's typical examples where he devel-
ops his ontological concepts. When an artifact is completed, amatterisformed
and anentelecheiahas passed fromdunamistoenergeia. Being is being at rest,
being completed, being manufactured, and being available.
100 Aristotle general-
izes these concepts and applies them in his analysis of human existence in the
Nicomachean Ethicsand inDe Anima. According to Heidegger this implies, how-
ever, that Aristotle analyzes human existence in terms that are alien to Dasein, so
that Aristotelian ontology is an alienation that has to be destroyed if we want to
be able to grasp the movement of our life as it really is.
101 We have seen in section
3, above, that this very same thesis informsSein und Zeit.
According to section 3 ofSein und Zeit, there is a plurality of ontological
domains or ªregions.º Each of these regions has its own structure of fundamental
concepts. The destruction of the traditional, Aristotelian ontology purports to trace
back traditional ontological concepts to their regional origin, so that both their
positive meaning and their limited validity are revealed. This thesis of the region-
ality of being, which Heidegger inherited from Husserl and, indirectly, from Aris-

totle, is a radicalization of the pole of differentiation in the question of being.
Instead of one system of categories for being, we now have a plurality of sys-
102 According to Heidegger, Aristotle's system of categories is rooted in the
ontological domain of artifacts. 103 Instead of generalizing this system into a uni-
versal ontology, we should recognize its limits and develop other systems as well,
primarily a system of existentialia that characterize our own mode of being.
Heidegger not only radicalizes the pole of differentiation in the question of
being; he also transforms the pole of unity, and he does so in two ways. First,
the notion of the regionality of being does not exclude, either in the Natorp essay
or inSein und Zeit, that there is a privileged or fundamental region, to which
the other domains arepros henrelated. In this respect, Heidegger's analysis
formally resembles Aristotle's ®rstpros henreduction to the region of the
ousia. But whereas Aristotle mistook theousiafor a general region, even though
his analysis was inspired by the domain of artifacts, Heidegger singles out the
domain of human Dasein as the fundamental ontological region to which the
others are related. As he says in the Natorp essay, the analysis of factical life is
prinzipielle Ontologie, because the speci®c mundane regional ontologies receive
the ratio and the sense of their problems from the ontology of factical existence.
Clearly, Heidegger already in 1922 endorsed the thesis of the primacy of Dasein
and the notion of a fundamental ontology, which stand out so prominently inSein
und Zeit.
This primacy of Dasein is also why Heidegger rejects Aristotle's secondpros
henreduction, the reduction of theousiato the Deity. As we saw, Heidegger
repudiates Aristotle's conception of the Deity as an unmoved mover precisely
because this conception was derived from the analysis of movement and was not
inspired by something that is accessible in religious fundamental experience.
In other words, according to Heidegger the experience of human life has to be
the origin of the notion of, and of our quest for, God, and not the experience of
animal life and cosmic movement. The same holds for the notion of time. As
inSein und Zeit, Heidegger argues in the Natorp essay that only by resolutely
anticipating our death can we get a clear view of human life, and thatSein-zum-
Tode(being-toward-death) is the phenomenon that reveals the fundamental sense
of time.
106 The notion of time, then, should not be derived from cosmic movement
but from human existence as being-toward-death. Finally, Heidegger draws simi-
lar conclusions with regard to logic. Traditional logic mirrors traditional, Aristote-
lian ontology, for the subject-predicate structure is akin to the substance-property
structure. Logic too has to be derived from the analysis of human existence, not
from the ontology of theousia.
107 The ultimate point of this Heideggerian critique
of Aristotle will become clear in the course of the present book. What can be
established now is merely that its source of inspiration must be external to
A second transformation of the pole of unity was probably developed after
1922. As we saw, Heidegger argues in the lectures on the fundamental concepts

of ancient philosophy of 1926 that philosophy is the critical discipline that distin-
guishes between beings and being. Even though Aristotle's ontology aimed at
raising the question of being, he did not succeed in doing so because he reduced
thebeingof entities to yet another entity, the Deity. In other words, Aristotle did
not fully acknowledge the ontological difference; he was unable to grasp the
fundamental distinction between beings (entities) and being. Unfortunately, Hei-
degger does not explain this distinction clearly in the lectures of 1926 either, so
that Heidegger's question of being remains nearly as obscure. We can only con-
clude that a study of Aristotle's writings does not allow us to elucidate the content
of Heidegger's question of being, because this question turns out to be derived
from a source external to Aristotle. There is merely a formal resemblance between
Aristotle's question of being and Heidegger's question of being. Both questions
are regarded as ultimate and fundamental, and both questions have a bipolar
In elaborating the meta-Aristotelian leitmotif, we have discovered in passing
the formal structure of the question of being as speci®ed in section 6, above.
Although Aristotle raised the question of being (1), Heidegger claims that he did
not succeed in really doing so, because he reduced being to an entity, God, and
because he applied alien categories to human existence. That is, Aristotle alleg-
edly overlooked the ontological difference (4). As a consequence, he became the
founding father of (3) forgetfulness of being and (5) the ontology of presence.
This is why we have to destroy Aristotelian ontology (8) and raise the question
of being anew (7), in order to wrest us from the oblivion of being, that is, of our
own being (6). Heidegger rejects Aristotle's notion of philosophy because Aris-
totle betrays the fact that philosophy should be concerned with the mode of being
of us humans, that is, with our understanding of our own manner of being (2).
Finally, we saw that Heidegger's question of being, like Aristotle's, has two poles,
a pole of differentiation and a pole of unity, and that Heidegger transforms both
poles. Nevertheless, we are still groping after the content of Heidegger's question
of being.
At ®rst sight, the meta-Aristotelian theme may seem to have originated from a
purely internal criticism of Aristotle, as Heidegger himself suggests in his lectures
of 1926. But we have discovered that this is not true. Heidegger's conception of
philosophy of 1922 as ªexplicitly grasping the movement of human lifeº is not
Aristotelian, and Heidegger only in part retrieves Aristotle's own conception of
philosophy, which, for that reason, he was unable to assess critically. A similar
point can be made with regard to Heidegger's rejection of the Aristotelian notion
of God as a prime mover. How is Heidegger able to say that this notion did not
derive from a religious fundamental experience? Could it not have been the case
that the Greek religious experience was partly cosmological, so that, if the Greek
conception of heavenly rotations gave rise to Aristotle's notion of the Deity, one
cannot conclude that this notion is areligious? Is it rash to assume that Heidegger
read Aristotle's texts with a notion of religious experience in mind which was

alien to Aristotle, and which he acquired during his Catholic upbringing and his
studies of St. Paul, the Scholastics, Luther, and Kierkegaard? Such a hypothesis is
the more probable because Heidegger argued in his lectures of the winter semester
1920±21 that the problem of characterizing the movement of factual human life
was discovered by early Christianity.
108 Finally, what justi®es Heidegger's critical
view, developed in the lectures of 1926, that Greek philosophy did not succeed
in acknowledging the ontological difference between being and beings, although
acknowledging this difference would have been its internaltelos? Should we not
rather conclude that Heidegger projected the notion of an ontological difference
onto the Greeks? If this was the case, what does this notion mean and where does
it come from?
These questions are of crucial importance. If Heidegger read Aristotle from the
point of view of a notion of philosophy and of being external to Aristotle, there
must be other leitmotifs in Heidegger's question of being, apart from the meta-
Aristotelian theme.
109 One of these other leitmotifs is the phenomenologico-her-
meneutical theme.
Heidegger claimed in ªMein Weg in die PhaÈ
nomenologieº that he derived his
question of being from Brentano's dissertation on the manifold sense of being in
110 For this reason, I introduced the meta-Aristotelian theme as the ®rst
leitmotif in Heidegger's question of being. By exploring the meta-Aristotelian
theme, we hoped to discover why Heidegger holds that the question of being is
the most fundamental question man can raise (primacy of the question), what this
question amounts to (content and structure of the question), and, ®nally, how it
might be answered (doctrine of being).
Concerning the primacy of the question of being we were disappointed by the
meta-Aristotelian leitmotif. Admittedly, Aristotle himself justi®es the primacy of
the question of being on the basis of his philosophy of science. The dif®culty
was, however, that Heidegger neither retrieved nor critically assessed Aristotle's
justi®cation for the primacy of the question of being. Although Heidegger's
thought turned out to be in¯uenced by the Aristotelian conception of scienti®c
knowledge, Heidegger never argued explicitly for the primacy of the question of
being on its basis. As a consequence, we still do not know why, according to
Heidegger, the question of being is the most fundamental question man can raise.
To the extent that Heidegger develops a doctrine of being inSein und Zeit, this
doctrine turned out to be very different from Aristotle's doctrine. Yet we discov-
ered a structural similarity between the two doctrines, due to the fact that both in
Heidegger's and in Aristotle's question of being there are two poles: a pole of
differentiation and a pole of unity. Heidegger transforms both the pole of differen-
tiation and the pole of unity of the question of being. According to Aristotle, the
notion of being is used in various ways within the system of the categories,

whereas this system and its basic category of a substance would hold universally.
Heidegger claims, on the contrary, that the traditional notion of a substance at
best ®ts artifacts and occurrent things; it does not ®t Dasein. In other words,
according to Heidegger, ªbeingº is not only differentiated within a system of
categories. We must acknowledge different systems of categories. In particular,
we must develop a proper system of categories (existentialia) in order to grasp
the mode of being of Dasein.
As we will see, Heidegger's point inSein und Zeitis not simply that Dasein is
capable of having another range of properties, states, dispositions, or modi®ca-
tions than, say, artifacts such as tables or occurrent things such as stones. We will
easily admit that a human being may be courageous, for instance, and that it is
nonsensical to say of a stone that it is, or is not, courageous. Heidegger's point
purports to be a deeper one: that what itisfor a human being to have such a
property is different from the way a stone has a property. Being courageous is a
manner in which we pro-ject our Dasein into the future. Dasein can onlybecoura-
geous because it is already concerned with itself, because its own being is an
issue for it, and because it has to live out its being. The possibility of Dasein's
being courageous or not courageous presupposes the entire existential and tempo-
ral structure of concern and being-with-others-in-the-world as the ªcondition of
its possibility.º Being courageous is a way of ªperformingº (vollziehen) our exis-
tence. Logically speaking, Heidegger claims that our uses of the copula ªisº are
not topic-neutral. When we say that Alexander is brave, the verb ªisº expresses
an existential project, not a state or property of a substance. In expressing an
existential project, the verbal form ªisº indicates the speci®c ontological constitu-
tion of humans, Dasein.
In view of this radical differentiation of being, we may wonder why Heidegger
in his question of being assumes a pole of unity at all. Why does Heidegger
postulate that there is one fundamental sense of being? Why does he not simply
acknowledge multiple senses of the expressions ªbeingº and ªto beº? It is not
dif®cult to understand why Heidegger inSein und Zeitrejects the way Aristotle
uni®ed the senses of being. Aristotle reduced all senses of ªbeingº to being as a
substance, and ultimately to being as the Deity. He did so because he assumed, like
Plato, that only what is immutable and eternal reallyis. In other words, Aristotle
implicitly presupposed that the verb ªto beº has the fundamental meaning of
always being present. As a consequence, beings that are neither eternal nor immu-
table have a derived and secondary kind of being. InSein und Zeit, Heidegger
rejects Aristotle's doctrine of the unity of being for two reasons: (1) Aristotle did
not explicitly distinguish between beings, such as the Deity, and the sense of ªto
beº; he did not re¯ect on his fundamental assumption that ªbeingº ultimately
means ªbeing eternally presentº; (2) this implicit sense of ªto beº does not suit
at all the way Dasein is, for Dasein is in the manner of ®nite temporality.
111 Pro-
jecting its ®nite possibilities, Dasein is always ahead of itself, anticipating its
death. Accordingly, in order to understand the sense of being-there (Da-sein), we
must explicitly re¯ect on the temporal structure of our existence. Finite temporal-

ity is the horizon of understanding our own being, and, indeed, the horizon of our
being itself. But again, why does Heidegger not infer from his rejection of Aristot-
le's uni®cation of being that there simply is no pole of unity in the question of
being? How does he justify the ®rst main thesis ofSein und Zeit, that ®nite tempo-
rality is not only the horizon of understanding being as Dasein, but also of under-
standing beingtout court(cf. § 3, above)? Why should there ªbeº something like
a unitary being (Sein)? The meta-Aristotelian theme does not provide an answer
to this question.
Unfortunately, it does not provide a clear solution to the problems of interpreta-
tion I stated in section 4 either. Why does Heidegger assume, for instance, that
the question of being is concerned both with the meanings of the verb ªto beº
and with the sense (Sinn) of certain phenomena (§ 4.1)?
112 What does he mean by
the transcendence of being (§ 4.2)? How does Heidegger conceive of the relation
between being and beings, and why do we ®nd contradictory statements on this
relation in his works (§ 4.3)? What conception of language enables Heidegger to
claim that we do not really understand the meaning of the verb ªto be,º even
though we are able to use this verb correctly and explain its uses to others (§
4.4)? Why does Heidegger not endorse Husserl's distinction between formal-
ontological categories and material categories (§ 4.5)? And ®nally, how should
we understand the problem of the primacy of Dasein inSein und Zeit(§ 4.6)?
In the present section, I argue that the problems of sections 4.1±4.5 may be
solved at least in part by introducing a second leitmotif, the phenomenologico-
hermeneutical theme. This theme will be developed in three stages. As Heidegger
says in his autobiographical essay ªMein Weg in die PhaÈ
nomenologieº (1963),
Husserl'sLogische Untersuchungenplayed a decisive role in elaborating the
question of being. By investigating (A) what exactly this role may have been, we
will be able to solve the problems of sections 4.1 and 4.4. The solution to these
problems will raise (B) the question I elucidated in section 4.5: Why did Heideg-
ger not endorse Husserl's distinction between formal and material categories?
Since Heidegger nowhere argues against this distinction in a clear manner, I will
offer a somewhat speculative answer to this question, an answer that also explains
in part why Heidegger could not accept the ªauthorityº of formal logic (see § 2,
above). Finally, (C) we have to understand why Heidegger transformed Husserl's
notion of phenomenology in section 7 ofSein und Zeit, and why, according to
Heidegger, phenomenology has to be ªhermeneutical.º This will solve the prob-
lems of sections 4.2 and 4.3. We will see that there is a tension inSein und Zeit
between the phenomenological and the hermeneutical aspect of the phenomeno-
logico-hermeneutical leitmotif.
A. The Principle of Referentiality
As I argued in section 4.1, Heidegger introduces the question of being inSein
und Zeitboth as a question concerned with the meaning(s) of the verb ªto beº and
as a question concerned with a phenomenon called being (das Sein). According to

section 7 ofSein und Zeit, being is indeed thephenomenon par excellence.
113 This
duality in Heidegger's formulations cannot be due to careless writing. A charita-
ble interpreter ofSein und Zeitshould assume that the duality is intentional. Only
by taking seriously Heidegger's text in this manner will we be able to raise a
productive problem of interpretation: how to explain the fact that for Heidegger
the question as to the meaning(s) of the verb ªto beº coincides with a question
concerning the sense (Sinn) of a phenomenon, the phenomenon of being. I will
argue that this coincidence is not accidental. On the contrary, it is due to a speci®c
theory of language, which Heidegger never states, a theory of language he inher-
ited from Husserl.
114This theory explains why Heidegger thought that the question
concerning the meaning(s) of ªto beº may be answered by the phenomenological
method. In order to substantiate my interpretation, I ®rst summarize what Heideg-
ger says about the question of being taken as a question regarding the meaning(s)
of the verb ªto be,º and I stress that at ®rst sight what he says is not at all plausible.
Next, Heidegger's pronouncements about Husserl's in¯uence on his thought will
be considered, and we will see that they point the way to the view on the workings
of language that Heidegger presupposes in his question of being.
InSein und Zeit, Heidegger suggests that the question of being is concerned
with all uses of the verb ªto beº and its gerund ªbeing.º He quotes uses as a
connecting verb, such as in ªThe skyisblueº and ªIammerryº (p. 4), and he lists
some uses of ªto beº that traditional philosophy distinguished, such as existence,
predication, being in the sense of reality, being present, continued existence, being
valid, being there (Dasein), and the expression ªthere is . . . º (es gibt). He stresses
that we might call ªbeingº everything we talk about, everything we have in view,
and everything toward which we comport ourselves in any way.
115 Heidegger
explicitly acknowledges the pole of differentiation in the question about the mean-
ings of ªto be.º As he says, we use ªbeingº in many different senses.
If the question of being is really concerned with the meanings of the verb ªto
beº and its in¯ections, we may wonder why Heidegger did not resort to the works
of linguists and logicians in order to answer his question. Linguists will distin-
guish various uses of ªto be,º like the uses as an auxiliary verb or as a connecting
verb, which show in the structure of sentences. They will note that the German
verbseinlacks some of the uses of ªto be,º such as in forming the continuous
tenses of verbs (ªI am writingºÐªIch schreibeº) or in expressing what must or
must not happen (ªYou are not to smoke in this roomºÐªSie muÈ
ssen nicht
rauchen in diesem Zimmerº). Logicians, on the contrary, are neither concerned
with the grammatical structure of sentences nor with the particular features of
speci®c languages. They will take the logical powers of propositions as a criterion
for distinguishing senses of ªto be.º First, they will differentiate between uses of
ªto beº as a logical word, on the one hand, and nonlogical uses on the other hand,
as in ªa human being.º Next, various logical uses, such as existence (ªThere is a
queen of The Netherlandsº), class membership (ªLouis is baldº), class inclusion
(ªThe dog is a mammalº), and identity (ªThe Morning Star is the Evening Starº),
are distinguished, and their interrelations are analyzed.

In Heidegger's oeuvre, we ®nd neither extensive linguistic analyses of the uses
of ªto be,º nor interesting logical discoveries, although Heidegger did study what
traditional logicians had to say on the matter.
116 He thought, apparently, that nei-
ther linguistics nor logic is quali®ed to answer the question of being, and that the
correct approach isphenomenological. Why did he think so? Heidegger made at
least three important assumptions concerning the question of ªbeing,º that is, the
question of being taken as a question regarding the meanings of ªto be,º and these
assumptions will point the way to understanding the rationale of Heidegger's
phenomenological approach.
First, Heidegger assumes that if ªbeingº is used in many ways, there must be
a ªleading fundamental meaningº of ªto be.º He even tends to identify his ques-
tion of being with what I called the pole of unity. Recall, for instance, the way
Heidegger expresses the question of being in ªMein Weg in die PhaÈ
(1963): ªif being [das Seiende] is said in multiple meanings, what, then, is the
leading fundamental meaning? What does to be mean?º
117Linguists and analytical
philosophers will retort that there need not be one fundamental meaning of ªto
be,º from which the other meanings are derived. Words may be simply ambigu-
ous, or there might be a family of interrelated meanings, no one of which is more
ªfundamentalº than the others. One of Heidegger's pupils, Karl-Otto Apel, once
argued that the logical uses of ªto be,º existence, predication, and identity, have
one common root of meaning, but his arguments are fallacious.
118Instead of postu-
lating an underlying unity that would explain the diverse uses of ªto be,º we
should rather make a survey of the ways in which the verb is actually used. This
is not at all the manner in which Heidegger proceeds. What, we may wonder
again, justi®es Heidegger's assumption that there must be one fundamental mean-
ing of ªto beº? Why does his question of being have a pole of unity?
Second, Heidegger assumes that in order to elucidate the meanings of ªto be,º
we must not only analyze these meanings: we should also and primarily analyze
the ªthings themselves.º As he says in section 20 ofSein und Zeit, where he
discusses the traditional notion of being as a substance: ªBehind this slight differ-
ence of meaning . . . there lies hidden a failure to master the basic problem of
being. To treat this adequately, we must `track down' the equivocationsin the
right way. He who attempts this sort of thing does not just `busy himself ' with
`merely verbal meanings'; he must venture forward into the most primordial prob-
lematic of the `things themselves' to get `nuances' straightened out.º
119 Why
should we study ªthings themselvesº in order to analyze the equivocations of
words such as ªto beº? The expression ªthings themselvesº is an implicit refer-
ence to Husserl, for Husserl used the slogan ªback to the things themselvesº as
the slogan of phenomenology, meaning that we should carefully describe the way
in which things appear to us in mental acts instead of formulating speculative
theories about the relation between consciousness and world. Why, then, does an
analysis of the meanings of ªto beº require a phenomenology of things them-
selves, and what are these ªthingsº?

Finally, in section 4.4, above, I have already commented on Heidegger's sur-
prising statement in section 1.3 ofSein und Zeitconcerning the fact that in ordi-
nary language our uses of ªto beº are mostly unproblematic. As Heidegger says,
the expression is intelligible ªwithout further ado.º We are able to use the verb
ªto be,º and, if we have some training in logic and grammar, we are able to
explain its diverse uses to others. Surely this is what knowing the meaning of a
word consists in. Why, then, raise the question concerning the meanings of the
verb ªto beº at all? Heidegger apodictically replies: ªBut this average kind of
intelligibility only demonstrates that it is unintelligible.º
120 Apparently, he as-
sumes that there must be a level of understanding the meaning of ªto beº which
is deeper than ordinary linguistic competence, so that we may be fully competent
in our uses and elucidations of the verb ªto beº without really understanding its
According to my interpretative hypothesis, these three surprising assumptions
concerning the question about the meanings of ªto beº are due largely to Husserl's
in¯uence on Heidegger. What was this in¯uence, and how does it explain Heideg-
ger's three assumptions?
Let me begin by reviewing Heidegger's own statements on the manner in which
Husserl's philosophy helped him develop the question of being. In ªMein Weg in
die PhaÈ
nomenologie,º Heidegger is relatively clear about Husserl's importance.
He describes the birth of the question of being as the fruit of a combined reading of
Aristotle, triggered by Brentano's dissertation, and of Husserl. Because Heidegger
knew that Husserl's way of thinking had been decisively in¯uenced by Brentano,
Husserl'sLogische Untersuchungen(Logical Investigations) was lying on his
desk from his ®rst semester in theology in 1909±10 on. Heidegger hoped to re-
ceive fromLogische Untersuchungenan important stimulus for resolving the
question suggested by Brentano's dissertation: ªIf being is used in diverse senses,
what is the leading and fundamental meaning?º
Heidegger seems to have been so deeply fascinated by Husserl's book that he
read and re-read it without coming to understand the source of his fascination.
ªThe spell emanating from this work spread out over its external aspect, its typog-
raphy and its title page,º he remembers in 1963.
122 Indeed, Heidegger's way to
phenomenology seems to have been paved with theLogische Untersuchungen.
According to ªMein Weg in die PhaÈ
nomenologie,º Heidegger plunged into the
recesses of theInvestigationsat least four times, in 1909, in 1911±12, after 1913,
and again in 1919. Which aspect of Husserl's book turned out to be crucial for
developing Heidegger's question of being? Heidegger is clear on this point:
When, from 1919 on, I began to practice the phenomenological manner of seeing, teach-
ing, and learning in proximity to Husserl, and at the same time tried out in the seminar
a modi®ed approach to Aristotle, my interest was once again drawn towardLogische
Untersuchungen, especially the ®rst edition of the sixth investigation. The distinction

worked out there between sensible and categorial intuition revealed itself to me in all
its importance for the determination of the ªmanifold meaning of being.º 123
What Heidegger says here is corroborated by many other texts. For instance,
during the seminar at ZaÈ
hringen, held in 1973, Heidegger said that ªin order to
be able to unfold the question concerning the meaning of being, being had to be
given, so that one could inquire its meaning from it.º Husserl's achievement alleg-
edly consisted in showing that being, as a category, is phenomenally present.
Because of this discovery, Heidegger ª®nally gained groundº: being turned out
to be ªnot a mere concept, not a pure abstraction.º
124 In his important lectures of
1925 on the history of the concept of time, which contain an early version ofSein
und Zeitpreceded by an extensive critical survey of Husserl's phenomenology,
Heidegger also stressed the ªdecisive importanceº of the discovery of categorial
intuition in Husserl's sixth investigation: ªby means of the discovery of the cate-
gorial intuition one has gained for the ®rst time the concrete method of a disclosing
and real investigation of the categories.º
125 We may conclude that it was Husserl's
doctrine of categorial intuition as developed in his sixth logical investigation,
which meant a breakthrough in the development of Heidegger's question of being.
As Heidegger says, this doctrine provides the ªconcrete methodº for an in-
vestigation of the categories. We know that Heidegger's method for resolving the
question of being was phenomenological. What, then, is Husserl's doctrine of ca-
tegorial intuition? Why does it imply that the problem of being has to be resolved
by the phenomenological method?
Husserl's doctrine of categorial intuition is a corollary of the theory of meaning
stated in the ®rst of hisLogical Investigations. Husserl would never have devel-
oped the doctrine of categorial intuition, had he not endorsed a fairly traditional
principle in the theory of meaning, which I will call the principle of referen-
126 According to Husserl's ®rst investigation, linguistic signs have two as-
pects: their physical aspect (sounds, marks in ink) and their meaning. The main
task of a philosophical theory of meaning is to make clear what the meaning of
expressions consists in. Assuming the dualistic framework of the Cartesian tradi-
tion, Husserl argues from the fact that the meaning of a sign is not a physical
property to the conclusion that meaning must be mental. The meaning of an ex-
pression in its concrete use allegedly consists in (an ingredient of) a special mental
act, a ªmeaning-intentionº (Bedeutungsintention), and the expression expresses
this very intention. However, Husserl develops this traditional view in two ways.
First, he carefully distinguishes between meaning as a token and meaning as a
type. Whereas the former consists in an ingredient or aspect of a mental act, which
exists in time, the latter is an ªideal speciesº or Platonic form of such an ingredient
or aspect, which exists separately in a timeless realm. Husserl holds that formal
logic is about meanings and propositions in a timeless sense, and this doctrine
enables him to avoid psychologism in logic.
127 Second, Husserl is much more
sophisticated than, say, the British empiricists, in determining precisely in what

kind of mental acts meaning consists. He distinguishes between ªsignitiveº and
ªintuitiveº mental acts, and holds that acts of meaning are not intuitive (such as
mental images, for instance), but signitive: these acts are essentially mental acts
of interpreting signs and cannot exist without a ªsignitive content.º John Searle's
theories of meaning and intentionality may be regarded as grandchildren of Hus-
serl's views.
Two aspects of Husserl's theory of meaning are especially relevant for the
theory of categorial intuition. Because Husserl de®nes the notion of a mental act
by means of the notion of intentionality or object-directedness, he assumes that
signitive acts not only provide signs with meanings but also with references. As
he says in section 15.2 of the ®rst investigation, ªIn the meaning the relation to
the object is constituted. Therefore, to use an expression meaningfully and to refer
to the object by means of the expression (to represent the object) are one and the
same thing, irrespectively of whether the object exists.º
128 As Husserl says that
each meaningful part of speech (morpheme) counts as an expression, it follows
that all morphemes are referential: we cannot use them meaningfully without
referring to something.
129 This principle, according to which there is no meaning
without reference, is what I call the principle of referentiality. 130
The principle of referentiality is narrowly related to the second aspect of Hus-
serl's theory of meaning, which I want to stress. If all meaning is referential,
it seems natural to assume that perceptual acquaintance with the referent of an
expression will show us what the meaning of the expression is. Husserl indeed
endorses such a principle of acquaintance. He holds that meaning-intentions may
be satis®ed (ªful®lledº) by intuitive mental acts, such as perceptions, re¯ections,
or acts of the imagination, and that the process of ful®llment will clarify the
relevant meanings. Somewhat misleadingly, he calls this process the analysis of
the origins (UrspruÈ
nge) of meaning.
131 We will see presently why Husserl's princi-
ples of referentiality and of acquaintance compelled him to invent the doctrine of
categorial intuition.
InLogische Untersuchungen, Husserl not only wanted to develop a coherent
nonpsychologistic philosophy of logic; he also wanted to elucidate the basic con-
cepts of logic. He conceived of logic as an axiomatic-deductive system, consisting
of logical truths.
132 Whereas the truths of the theorems could be proved by deduc-
ing them from the axioms, a task that Husserl delegated to the mathematician,
the truth of the axioms, being analytical, should be established by elucidating the
relevant concepts, and Husserl held that this was a job for the philosopher of
133 In the introduction to volume 2 ofLogische Untersuchungen, Husserl
calls it the ªgreat task of restoring the logical ideas, that is, the concepts and
laws, to their epistemological clarity and distinctness.º
134 Logical concepts may
be divided into two classes: concepts of the second order (concepts of concepts)
such as ªproposition,º ªconcept,º ªmeaning,º ªknowledge,º and ªtruthº on the
one hand, and concepts of logical constants or logical forms such as conjunction,
disjunction, and implication on the other hand.

Husserl's sixth investigation is especially concerned with the notions of knowl-
edge and truth, and with the logical constants. In its ®rst division, Husserl analyzes
knowledge as the ful®llment of signitive acts (meaning-intentions) by intuitive
acts. When we perceive what we at ®rst only thought to be the case, our thought
is veri®ed by perception. Self-evidence consists in the awareness of such a veri®-
cation, that is, in the fact that we explicitly identify what we perceiveasthe
very thing which we merely meant before. Husserl rejects the empiricist
notion that self-evidence is a feeling of being convinced, because this notion leads
to skepticism. The concept of truth is de®ned primarily as the identity between
what we meant and what is really given in perception, and truth is experienced
in the act of veri®cation. In a derived sense, the perceived object may be called
ªtrueº to the extent that it satis®es a judgment, and the judgment may be called
ªtrueº if it can be veri®ed.
136 Perceptions may be more or less adequate, and
Husserl distinguishes many degrees of evidence, degrees that point to the ideal
of absolute adequacy, where the perceptual act as it were wholly includes the
perceived object.
Because Husserl takes ªbeingº and ªto beº as logical constants or meaning-
forms (Bedeutungsformen), we now have to turn to the second division of the
sixth investigation, which is concerned with logical form, to see how according
to Husserl these forms may be elucidated and ªful®lled.º Husserl's principle of
referentiality implies what I have called elsewhere an atomized correspondence
theory of truth.
137 As each meaningful part of language allegedly owes its meaning
to an intentional mental act that refers to something, the complex referent of a
true statement must contain a speci®c partial referent or objective counterpart for
each meaningful expression, and the latter may be said to be true of the former.
Moreover, Husserl endorses the traditional distinction between complex expres-
sions, which can be de®ned verbally, and simple expressions, which cannot. Like
the British empiricists, he assumes that all simple meaningful expressions must
be elucidated on the basis of perception, re¯ection, or some other kind of intuition.
This is precisely what the principle of acquaintance says. Combining the princi-
ples of referentiality and of acquaintance, we come to the conclusion that ac-
cording to Husserl, each simple meaningful expression must have a possible refer-
ent of which it is true, and that we have to perceive or otherwise intuit the referent
in order to elucidate the meaning of the expression.
These assumptions explain the way in which Husserl stages the problem of
logical form in chapter 6 of the sixth investigation. We agree, he says, that we
are able to verify the statement ªthis paper is whiteº by looking at this paper. But
what do we have to perceive in order to verify the statement? Surely, we perceive
visually the paper and its white surface. However, Husserl's atomized theory of
truth requires that there must also be objective counterparts to the expressions
ªthisº and ªis.º His problem is, of course, that there are no such counterparts that
are possible objects of sense perception or re¯ection on mental phenomena.

Husserl does not conclude, as Wittgenstein did in theTractatus, that the princi-
ple of referentiality must be rejected for logical form.
138 On the contrary, he claims
that the simple model of a name and its bearer holds for language in general, and
that this model must be the ªguiding thoughtº for resolving the problem of logical
139 If, as Husserl stresses, there is neither a material nor a mental referent for
the expression ªis,º there must be a nonmaterial and a nonmental referent. And
if we cannot perceive this referent by sense perception or re¯ection, there must
be a third kind of perception that enables us to perceive theisitself. Husserl
calls this third kind of perceptioncategorial perception, and the perceived forms
categorial objects. The categorial, then, is the formal, and it does not belong to
reality de®ned as what is a possible object of sensation or re¯ection. Apart from
real elements, such as paper and its whiteness, the state of affairs that this paper
is white also contains irreal, formal, or categorial elements, such as theis, which
may be perceived by categorial perception. If we are acquainted with theisby
means of categorial perception, we will be able to elucidate the meaning of the
word ªis.º This is part of what the philosophy of logic should do.
Without going deeper into the subtleties of Husserl's theory of categorial intu-
ition, we are now able to see why Heidegger could think that this theory was of
crucial importance for his question of being. Indeed, Husserl's theory of categorial
intuition explains to a large extent the three assumptions of Heidegger's question
of ªbeingº that I discussed above. It entirely explains Heidegger's second assump-
tion, the assumption that in order to elucidate the meanings of ªto be,º we have
to analyze not only the uses of words but also a phenomenon, the phenomenon
of being. This solves the problem of interpretation I raised in section 4.1, above.
The theory of categorial intuition partly explains Heidegger's third assumption,
the assumption that we may not really know the meanings of ªto beº even though
we are able to use this verb correctly. For if it is supposed that really knowing
the meaning of a word involves acquaintance with its referent and identifying it
as such, we might perhaps use a word correctly without really knowing its mean-
ing, that is, without being acquainted with its referent. In most cases, Husserl
would deem this improbable, as improbable as it is that we always correctly use
the word ªredº without being able to identify some red objectasred. But Heideg-
ger added to Husserl's principle of acquaintance a theory of tradition which, I
suggest, he derived from the theology of revelation (see § 11). As is clear from
section 6 ofSein und Zeit, Heidegger thought that the acquaintance with the refer-
ents of crucial philosophical terms such as ªbeingº may have been an event in
the distant past, an event that has long since been forgotten. Because we go on
using these terms without renewing the acquaintance with their referents, our
ªaverage intelligibilityº of these terms merely demonstrates ªthat they are unintel-
ligible.º In our ordinary uses of ªto beº we supposedly do not really know what
we are talking about because we are not acquainted with the phenomenon of
being. Finally, Husserl's theory of categorial intuition is also a possible, though
not at all suf®cient, condition for understanding Heidegger's postulate that there

must be one fundamental meaning of ªbeing.º For it could be that the verb ªto
be,º in all its diverse uses, ®nally refers us back to one unique phenomenon of
being. However, there is nothing in Husserl that would justify this assumption of
unity, so that we are still far removed from understanding the pole of unity in
Heidegger's question of being.
I conclude that Husserl's theory of categorial intuition fully explains why Hei-
degger thought that the question of being, interpreted as a question concerning
the meanings of the verb ªto be,º should be answered by the phenomenological
method and not by mere linguistic or logical analysis. Meanings of ªto beº have
to be elucidated by analyzing the phenomenon or the phenomena of being. Yet
the Husserlian background leaves many aspects of Heidegger's question of being
unexplained, in particular, its pole of uni®cation. It equally leaves unexplained
Heidegger's obsession with the verb ªto be.º For according to Husserl, ªbeingº
is only one of many logical forms. From a logical point of view, there is no reason
why we should concentrate on ªbeingº only, and not also raise the question as to
the meanings of ªor,º ªand,º ªall,º ªsome,º ªnot,º ªif . . . then,º and so on. Al-
though Heidegger developed a view on negation, as we saw in section 2, he
wholly neglected the other logical constants such as ªor,º ªif . . . then,º, and ªand.º
Moreover, my interpretation raises a number of new questions. First, we might
ask the critical question as to whether Husserl's theory of categorial perception
is not a philosophical delusion, produced by his mistaken principle of referen-
tiality, as I will indeed argue in chapter 4 (§ 17B). Such a criticism, if valid, has
devastating consequences for Heidegger's idea that the question of being can be
concerned both with the verb ªto beº as we use it in ordinary language and with
speci®c phenomena, at least to the extent that this idea is based on Husserlian
assumptions. Second, my exegesis raises at least two problems of interpretation.
(1) Husserl thought that the categorial phenomenon of copulative being is an
aspect or dependent part of a state of affairs, the state of affairs thataisF. But
Heidegger seems to think that we may discern the phenomenon of being in all
beings, not only in states of affairs but also in Dasein, for instance. What explains
this extraordinary generalization of Husserl's notion of the categorial? Further-
more, (2) Husserl in the sixth investigation sharply distinguishes between the
formal or the categorial on the one hand, and the material on the other hand. One
and the same matter, belonging to mental or physical reality, may be categorially
formed in many ways. For instance, ªThis paper is whiteº and ªthis white paperº
are two different categorial formings of one and the same matter.
140 Even though
Husserl changes his terminology in the ®rst book of theIdeenof 1913, where he
uses the term ªcategoryº also for the highest concepts of material regions, he
maintains his sharp distinction between the formal and the material. Material
categories such as ªspatial shapeº or ªsensuous qualityº belong to material or
regional ontologies, whereas formal categories such as ªsomethingº or ªbeingº
belong to formal ontology.
141 We do not ®nd this crucial distinction between the
formal and the material inSein und Zeit. Instead, we come across another distinc-

tion, the distinction between phenomena in the ªvulgarº sense, by which Heideg-
ger means empirical phenomena, and the ªphenomenologicalº phenomenon of
142 The latter cannot be Husserl's formal category of being, because this
category is the same in all ontological regions, whereas Heidegger claims that
ªbeingº has different senses in the different ontological regions. Obviously, Hei-
degger rejects Husserl's distinction between the formal and the material, between
formal ontology and regional ontologies, as I already noted in section 4.5, above.
Why does he do so? In the next subsection I will try to answer these two interpreta-
tive questions.
B. Formal Ontology and Formal Indication
Let me begin with problem (1)Ðwhy Heidegger thought that the phenomenon of
being is inherent in all entities. At ®rst sight, this is a drastic departure from
Husserl's view on the categorial. I stressed that Husserl in sections 60±62 of
his sixth logical investigation sharply distinguishes between the categorial or the
formal, and the material or the sensuous. Sensuous concepts such as ªcolor,º
ªhouse,º ªjudgment,º or ªwishº are derived from the data of sensation or re¯ec-
tion, whereas categorial concepts such as ªunity,º ªplurality,º ªrelation,º and
ªconjunctionº are derived from categorial intuition. Husserl's empiricist principle
of acquaintance implies that differences in origin must correspond to differences
in concepts or meanings. He also acknowledges mixed concepts, which have both
a sensuous and a categorial origin, such as ªbeing-colored,º but he denies that all
concepts are mixed. He stresses, for instance, that copulative being is an aspect of
states of affairs only.
143 Clearly, then, Heidegger's thesis that being as a categorial
phenomenon is present inallentities contradicts Husserl's theory, and we may
wonder what justi®es Heidegger's departure from Husserl's views.
However, if we analyze the text of Husserl'sLogische Untersuchungenmore
closely, we will see that Heidegger's thesis about the omnipresence of being is
implied by what Husserl says in one, somewhat isolated, passage in section 40 of
the sixth investigation. As we have seen, Husserl de®nes the categorial as the
formal, and opposes it to matter in the sense of each possible object of sensation
or re¯ection. Accordingly, in order to circumscribe the domain of the categorial,
Husserl delimits those elements of language that do not refer to possible objects
of sensation or re¯ection. In ªThis paper is white,º for instance, ªthisº and ªisº
do not refer to such objects. Husserl goes on to claim that even an expression
such as ªwhite paperº implies a reference to a categorial form, because it means
ªpaperbeingwhite.º Then follows a revealing passage, which contradicts what
Husserl says in sections 60±62:
And does not the same form repeat itself also in the noun ªpaper,º although in an even
more concealed manner? Only the meanings of words for properties, which are united
in the concept of paper, are ful®lled in sensation. Yet the whole object is recognized as

paper. Here also we have a completing form, which contains being, although being is
not the only form. 145
According to this text, nouns such as ªpaperº express categorially mixed con-
cepts, whereas in section 60 Husserl says that the noun ªhouseº expresses a purely
sensuous concept. There clearly is a contradiction between section 40 and section
146 However, the passage of section 40 is the more sophisticated one, and
it is not dif®cult to see what Husserl means when we take into account his
empiricist background. Husserl seems to assume that paper is a substance with
a number of perceptible characteristics. The experiential origin of the concepts
of these characteristics lies in sense perception or sensation. But how can sensa-
tion be the origin of the notion of asubstanceor athing that hasthese characteris-
tics? In other words, each noun that refers to a concrete particular implicitly con-
tains the categorial notion of ªbeingº (of an xbeingF, G, H . . . ), so that each
concrete entity also contains being itself, in the double sense of abeingor entity
beingF,G,H...This, I suppose, is also Heidegger's view, and in his lectures of
1925 on the history of the concept of time he repeatedly stresses that a categorial
intuition is implied in each and every experience.
147 As Husserl says, being is
ªconcealedº in all particulars, and this is one possible explanation of why Heideg-
ger claims, in section 7C ofSein und Zeit, that the being of beings, which is the
phenomenon that his phenomenology purports to investigate, ªlieshiddenº and
ªshows itself onlyin disguise.º
148 Moreover, because the phenomenon of being
is not present in sensation, it must have been added by the intentional mental act.
Hence an ªunderstanding of beingº must be implicit in each and everyintentio.
We may conclude that Heidegger was justi®ed in considering his thesis of the
onmipresence of being as an interpretation of Husserl's doctrine of the categorial,
and our ®rst problem of interpretation arose because Husserl contradicts himself.
Incidentally, Heidegger never realized that in proclaiming the ubiquity of being
in this manner, he was implicitly endorsing Husserl's empiricist, Lockean
I now turn to problem (2), which I raised in section 4.5. One might say that
Husserl had already answered the question of being by his conception of formal
ontology. Categorial or formal concepts such as ªbeingº or ªentityº should be
strictly distinguished from material concepts such as Dasein in the sense of human
existence, or ªspatial form.º Whereas the latter are the products of a generalizing
abstraction, the former arise by formalization, and we may use them in the same
sense for entities of all material regions of being. This is why formal ontology
and formal logic apply universally, and why universal logical laws are very differ-
ent from universal material statements. Because ªbeingº is a formal category,
Heidegger should have turned to formal logic and to formal ontology in order to
answer his question of being, so Husserl might have thought. As Husserl con-
ceived of formal logic and ontology as being topic-neutral, he would have deemed
it a serious mistake that Heidegger wanted to solve the problem of being primarily

by means of an analysis of human existence, that is, by elaborating a speci®c
regional ontology. Why, then, did Heidegger not endorse Husserl's distinction
between formal ontology and material ontologies as a basis for elaborating his
question of being?
My solution to this problem is somewhat hypothetical, because, as far as I
know, there is no explicit attempt in Heidegger's own published writings to criti-
cize Husserl's distinction.
149 The only elaborate critical discussion of Husserl's
notion of formal ontology is to be found in Heidegger's lectures of November
1920. The original manuscript of these lectures seems to be lost. Although we
know about their contents from the edition inGesamtausgabevolume 60, which
has been established on the basis of lecture notes made by Oskar Becker and
others, we do not know enough to resolve this problem with certainty. According
to Kisiel, Heidegger's methodological considerations in these lectures are ªab-
struse,º and the notion of aformale Anzeige(formal indication), which Heidegger
develops as an alternative to Husserl's notion of formal ontology, is ªever more
150 Finally, the lectures were broken off at a crucial point on 30 Novem-
ber 1920, probably as a result of student complaints to the dean of the philosophi-
cal faculty about the lack of religious content in a course on the philosophy of
151 As a result, we will have to resolve our problem of interpretation by
a hypothesis developed on the basis of the Husserlian background, the lecture
courses of 1920 and 1925, and ofSein und Zeit.
I suggest that Heidegger rejected Husserl's notion of a formal ontology as an
answer to the question of being for two reasons. First, while he derived from
Husserl's sixth investigation the thesis that being as a categorial aspect is present
in all particulars, he rejected the notion that ªbeingº as a category is topic-neutral.
As I argued in the introduction to this section, Heidegger held that what it is for
anxtobeF is different in the different material regions. The way in which a
particular Daseiniscourageous is different from the way in which a stoneis
heavy, and this difference is due to a difference between the respective ªmodes
of beingº or ontological constitutions of Dasein and a stone.
152 Only because
Dasein has the ontological constitution of future-directed concern can it be brave
or cowardly. Now Husserl uses inIdeenI the expression ªmode of beingº (Seins-
weise) in order to characterize the differences between material regions. He says,
for instance, that consciousness has a different mode of being from material ob-
jects. But he distinguishes sharply between these regional modes of being on the
one hand, and being in the formal sense on the other hand. If, however, being in
the formal-categorial sense is not topic-neutral, this distinction is illegitimate.
The formal category of being would in fact be determined by material, regional
categories, that is, by speci®c modes of being in the material sense. Indeed, Hei-
degger argued already in the Natorp essay of 1922 that the traditional category
of substance had been derived from a particular ontological region, the region of

Heidegger's rejection of the formal-material distinction has drastic conse-
quences for the status of formal logic. If formal categories are materially condi-
tioned, one might either conclude that although logic applies to (statements about)
all regions of being, it only applies analogously. There would be differences of
sense between the logical operators from region to region. It has been argued by
the later Wittgenstein, for instance, that the universal quanti®er is not topic-neu-
tral. We may analyze ªall countries of the worldº as a logical product, but not
ªall real numbers.º However, Heidegger's thesis would be more speci®c and more
problematic: he supposedly holds that the formal categories have different mean-
ings relative to the respective material regions in which they are applied. For
example, the copula ªisº would have a different meaning if used in the domain
of history from the meaning in which it is used in biology. This is not a very
plausible thesis.
153 Or, alternatively, one might conclude that formal logic does
not apply to all regions. There is a tendency in Heidegger's writings to suggest
that formal logic is related to traditional ontology. Indeed, traditional Aristotelian
logic, which conceives of propositions as having a subject-predicate structure,
mirrors the ontology of substances and attributes.
154 If the traditional ontology of
presence is due to the falling of Dasein and does not apply to it, as Heidegger
argues inSein und Zeit, this would hold for logic as well.
155 (In § 17B of chapter
4, I will critically assess these claims, which constitute one of the possible expla-
nations for Heidegger's rejection of logic inWas ist Metaphysik?of 1929.)
The second reason why Heidegger rejected Husserlian formal ontology stems
from a very different source. Thus far, I have traced the in¯uence of Husserl's
theory of categorial intuition on Heidegger's question of being, taking Heideg-
ger's own statements about this in¯uence as a lead. To this end, I began by con-
struing the question of being as a question concerned with the meaning of the
verb ªto be.º We have seen why Heidegger assumes that we have to analyze a
phenomenon of being in order to elucidate the meaning of ªto be,º and also why
Heidegger drops Husserl's distinction between the formal and the material. In this
manner, we may try to understand that Heidegger's question of being seems to
be concerned both with a material region such as Dasein and with formal catego-
ries. In his lectures of 1920, however, Heidegger entirely rejects Husserl's pro-
gram of a formal ontology. He does so on the basis of a de®nition of philosophy
that has no relation whatsoever to Husserl's theory of categorial intuition.
In 1920, Heidegger de®nes philosophy as the attempt to come to terms with
factical life experience. Philosophy springs from life experience and then jumps
right back into life experience again.
156 This de®nition pre®gures the one of the
Natorp essay of 1922, that philosophy is the attempt to grasp explicitly the way
we ªperformº (vollziehen) life, in order to intensify life itself. It is still echoed in
section 7C ofSein und Zeit, where Heidegger says that philosophy ªtakes its
departure from the hermeneutic of Dasein, which . . . has made fast the guiding-
line for all philosophical inquiry at the point where itarisesand to which it
157 Because the aim of philosophy in this sense is to intensify life, and

especially to deepen our sense of ªfalling,º the philosophical attitude is very dif-
ferent from the theoretical attitude. Instead of aiming at a rigorous science, as
Husserl did, philosophy in Heidegger's sense (1920) should reject all theoretical
and scienti®c enterprises as dangerous temptations: it should try to be pretheoreti-
cal, and it should destroy all theoretical objectivations.
Traditional philosophy, when it wanted to conceptualize how we experience
ourselves in factical life, tended to assume some theoretical concept of the mental,
such as soul, stream of mental acts, or transcendental consciousness. According
to Heidegger these concepts alienate us from our life experience. They are an
expression of a tendency of factical life to lapse (abfallen) toward objective deter-
minations, a tendency that philosophy indulged in from Plato on.
159 Heidegger
wanted to revolutionize philosophy in order to liberate it from the danger of secu-
larization into science or into a doctrine of worldviews.
160 Because he claims that
the categories of formal ontology entirely belong to the domain of the theoretical,
Heidegger in 1920 squarely rejects Husserl's project of a formal ontology.
If we compare this second reason for rejecting the project of a formal ontology
with the ®rst, we may be tempted to conclude that we have exhausted the possibil-
ities of a rational reconstruction of Heidegger's philosophy on this point. It seems
that there is an unbridgeable gap between Heidegger's question of being as in¯u-
enced by the doctrine of categorial intuition, and Heidegger's question of being
as the attempt to grasp explicitly, and to intensify, the movement of our life.
Whereas the ®rst aims at a theoretical elucidation of meanings, the second is
®ercely antitheoretical. And whereas the ®rst is primarily concerned with the
meanings of logical words, the second is concerned with the signi®cance of
human existence. Because these two entirely different ªquestions of beingº both
enter into ªtheº question of being inSein und Zeit, it seems to follow that this
book is a patchwork of incompatible elements, and that Heidegger's question of
being is a hollow formula that covers a number of disparate philosophical prob-
lems and programs.
Yet it is rash to take recourse to the patchwork interpretation even at this point.
One of the reasons why Heidegger may be considered as a ªgreatº philosopher
is that he was able to meld many disparate elements into a uni®ed whole. There
is indeed a unifying link between the theoretical program of elucidating logical
categories and the antitheoretical attempt to grasp the movement of human life,
an attempt that derives from Kierkegaard, Dilthey, and the Christian tradition
rather than from Husserl's philosophy as a rigorous science. This link is forged
from Husserl's idea, already present in section 65 of hisProlegomena, that in
order to understand the conditions of possibility of the sciences, we should distin-
guish between subjective conditions, pertaining to the knowing subject, and ob-
jective conditions, pertaining to logical form.
162 Whereas Husserl stressed the ob-
jective conditions inProlegomena, his attention shifted to the subjective
conditions already in the second volume ofLogische Untersuchungen. In his later
phenomenology, Husserl held that in order to understand science philosophically,

we should not primarily consider it as a system of propositions, but rather study
the way in which its objects and propositions are ªconstitutedº in our subjective
conscious activities.
Heidegger echoes this Husserlian conception when he says in his lectures of
November 1920 that the sciences can no longer be regarded as objective forma-
tions of sense or ordered constellations of true propositions. They too must now
be grasped concretely ªin act,º realizing themselves practically, developing his-
torically, and actively assuming the ª®nishedº shapes out of factical life experi-
163 Likewise, Heidegger argues inSein und Zeitthat in order to establish the
meaning (Sinn) of science (Wissenschaft), we have to conceive of science as an
activity of Dasein and not as a system of propositions. Science, he claims, has
the mode of being of Dasein, and further on inSein und Zeitscience turns out to
belong to a special modi®cation of Dasein called its falling (Verfallen).
164 Eluci-
dating logical categories and grasping pretheoretical life, then, are linked together
because constituting logical forms is an activity in life, and because we should
understand this activity in order to elucidate the categories, at least according to
Husserl's later conception of phenomenology. But in Heidegger's view, the link
between life and logic is degrading rather than fruitful. Heidegger argued in 1920
that logical categories are correlates of a speci®c attitude (Einstellung), the theo-
retical attitude, and that this attitude precludes an understanding of life as it really
is. For this reason, a phenomenology of human life should eliminate the theoreti-
cal attitude by what Heidegger calls aformale Anzeige(formal indication).
This notion of a formal indication replaces in Heidegger's early works the
Husserlian notion of a formal ontology. However, its sense is a totally different
one. In his lectures of November 1920, Heidegger tried to pull off the dif®cult
feat of developing his notion of a formal indication on the basis of Husserl's
conception of formal ontology.
166 Whereas he pretends to ªdevelopº (weiterbil-
den) Husserl's notions of formalization and of a formal ontology, in fact he repudi-
ates them radically. To the extent that Heidegger's argument on this point is clear
at all, it may be reconstructed as follows. According to Husserl, material catego-
ries that belong to a regional ontology refer to speci®c ªmaterialº features of
entities. Formal categories such as ªobject,º ªrelation,º or ªproperty,º however,
cannot refer to speci®c material features of entities, because they apply to all
entities whatsoever. Heidegger concludes that formal categories must express a
way in which human beingsrelateto entities, and that they spring from thesense
of the attitude that we adopt vis-aÁ
-vis entities.
167 But what is the ªsenseº of the
attitude in which we predicate formal categories of entities? Heidegger claims
that this attitude is the ªtheoreticalº attitude and that the theoretical attitude con-
ceals the way in which human beings relate to the world in the most fundamental
168 It follows that phenomenology, which wants to study the way in which
human beings relate to the world, must reject Husserlian formal ontology. Phe-
nomenology, especially the phenomenology of religion, should not adopt the theo-
retical attitude at all. On the contrary, it shouldprecludethat phenomena are

envisaged in the theoretical attitude. To prevent this attitude is the very function
of what Heidegger calls ªformal indication.º
169 Clearly, in this expression Heideg-
ger uses the word ªformalº in a sense that is radically different from Husserl's. 170
He has only a weak justi®cation for using it. Because formal categories express
the theoreticalmanner of relatingto entities instead of capturing features of enti-
ties, we might ªformalizeº on a deeper level by leaving even our manner of relat-
ing to entitiesundetermined. This is what we do when we envisage phenomena
by means of ªformal indications.º
171 Heidegger's ªdevelopmentº of Husserl's no-
tion of a formal ontology leads him to a position that is diametrically opposed to
Husserl's. Instead of Husserl's program of phenomenology as a rigorous science,
Heidegger now calls for a phenomenology that essentially adopts an antiscienti®c
attitude. (We will discover the ultimate rationale for this Heideggerian revolution
in phenomenology later on, in §§ 12C and 13C, below.)
C. Phenomenology and Hermeneutics
It seems, then, that there are two different reasons why Heidegger claims that his
question of being is to be answered by phenomenology. First, in order to elucidate
the meanings of ªto be,º we must study the phenomenon or phenomena of being.
This claim is rooted in Husserl's theory of categorial intuition. Second, to the
extent that the question of being is concerned with human being, that is, with the
ontological constitution of our own factical life, we have to use the phenomeno-
logical method as speci®ed by Heidegger's notion of a formal indication (formale
Anzeige). Interpreting the concepts that we use in re¯ecting on our factical life as
ªformal indications,º we will ward off scienti®c conceptions of life, which con-
ceal life as it really is and which belong to the falling of Dasein.
172 But even
though we understand why, according to Heidegger, the question of being has to
be answered by phenomenology, we do not yet know what phenomenology is.
As Heidegger took his conception of phenomenology primarily from Husserl,
I will now turn to Husserl's notion of phenomenology as it developed fromLo-
gische Untersuchungen(1901) toIdeen I(1913), and try to explain brie¯y how
and why Heidegger transformed this notion in section 7 ofSein und Zeit.
In 1901, when he published the ®rst edition of the second volume ofLogische
Untersuchungen, Husserl identi®ed phenomenology with descriptive psychol-
173 This de®nition has a history, which goes back to Locke's and Hume's
attempt to establish psychology as a complementary science to Newton's mechan-
ics; the notion of descriptive psychology came from Franz Brentano, who had
been deeply in¯uenced by the British empiricists. Brentano distinguished between
descriptive psychology, which should scrupulously describe and conceptualize
mental phenomena, and genetic or explanatory psychology, which should causally
explain these phenomena. Because Brentano thought that the origin of mathemati-
cal and logical concepts lies in mental operations, he conceived of descriptive
psychology as the philosophical basis of the a priori sciences, a conception Hus-

serl still adhered to inPhilosophie der Arithmetik(Philosophy of Arithmetic,
1891). According to this early version of Husserl's principle of acquaintance,
describing the relevant mental operations elucidates the fundamental concepts of
logic and arithmetic, and thereby establishes the fundamental analytical laws of
these sciences.
Although this conception of phenomenology both as descriptive psychology
and as the philosophical basis of the a priori sciences is still present in the intro-
duction to volume 2 of the 1900±1901 edition ofLogische Untersuchungen,
Husserl in fact undermines it in the second part of the sixth investigation. In
sections 44±51 of the sixth investigation he forcefully argues, as we have seen,
that the experiential ªoriginº of the fundamental concepts of logic does not lie in
re¯ection on mental operations, but in categorial intuition of objective categorial
aspects of states of affairs. The concept of number, for instance, cannot have the
same origin as the concept of counting. The origin of the ®rst is categorial,
whereas the origin of the second is mental. The conception of categorial intuition,
then, landed Husserl in a dilemma: either phenomenology grounds logic and
mathematics, but then it cannot be identical with descriptive psychology, or phe-
nomenology is descriptive psychology, but then it cannot ground logic and mathe-
matics. Husserl chose the ®rst horn of this dilemma, and launched a series of
transformations of his conception of phenomenology, which resulted in the doc-
trine expressed inIdeenI of 1913.
Apart from the notion of categorial intuition, there was a second motive for
transforming the concept of phenomenology, which I will call the Cartesian or
epistemological motive. Husserl held, as Brentano did, that our own mental life
is present with absolute certainty in re¯ection, or inner perception as he called it,
whereas physical reality can never be given in perception with this degree of
certainty. Furthermore, he conceived of epistemology as the fundamental philo-
sophical discipline that has to solve the problem of the external world. In doing
so, epistemology should draw its concepts from the sphere of the apodictically
given only, that is, from the sphere of consciousness. This is why in the introduc-
tion to volume 2 ofLogische Untersuchungen(1901), Husserl accepts the follow-
ing equations: epistemology = (part of) descriptive psychology = phenomenology.
As I have explained elsewhere at great length, Husserl came to reject the equa-
tion phenomenology = descriptive psychology, while maintaining the equation
epistemology = phenomenology.
175 In 1903, he acknowledged that the notion of
psychology involves claims that transcend the sphere of apodictically given con-
sciousness, because psychology purports to investigate conscious phenomena that
belong to human beings and causally depend on human organisms. Furthermore,
in 1907 he claimed that the objective correlates of mental acts as such, which
he later callednoemata, belong to the sphere of the apodictically given, hence
phenomenology should study thecorrelationbetween conscious mental acts and
their intentional correlates as such. And in 1913 he ®nally argued that studying
the way in which these intentional correlates are ªconstitutedº in mental acts is

equivalent to an elucidation of the ontological status of whatever exists, because
the world is nothing but an intentional correlate of consciousness, whereas the
latter exists in itself as a transcendental substance. Such is Husserl's doctrine of
transcendental idealism. InIdeenI, phenomenology is de®ned as a transcendental
science of consciousness and its intentional correlates.
Husserl's mature conception of phenomenology is characterized by four ele-
ments: (1) phenomenology is a purely descriptive discipline, which avoids all
theorizing; (2) phenomenological description of the way in which entities are
ªgiven toº or ªconstituted inº transcendental consciousness is equivalent to an
ontological elucidation of their mode of being (Seinsweise,Seinssinn), because
(3) the ªbeingº of entities is identical with their being constituted in transcendental
consciousness. Finally, (4) transcendental phenomenology is possible as an ªei-
deticº discipline, which consists of synthetic a priori propositions about essential
structures. Clearly, each of these four tenets is problematic. The principle of de-
scription (1) presupposes that theory-free description is possible. The idea of a
phenomenological ontology (2) assumes that the manner of being of entities or
their ontological constitution is identical to the manner in which they appear to
us, and this, in its turn, presupposes Husserl's transcendental idealism (3), that is,
the view that the world, and all entities other than transcendental consciousness,
are ontologically dependent on transcendental consciousness because they are
constituted by it.
176 Element (4), ®nally, will be rejected by the great majority of
modern philosophers, for they repudiate the notion of a synthetic a priori
In section 7 ofSein und Zeit, where he elucidates his notion of phenomenology,
Heidegger at ®rst endorses (1), (2), and (4), whereas he rejects Husserl's transcen-
dental idealism (3). Heidegger thought, correctly, that transcendental idealism
was nothing but yet another solution to the problem of the external world. Hus-
serl's solution, although different from Berkeley's and Kant's, strikingly resem-
bles these traditional idealisms. According to Husserl, worldly entities are corre-
lates of transcendental consciousness, and they are ontologically dependent on it.
Transcendental consciousness, on the other hand, is a substance in the traditional
sense that it does not need anything else in order to exist.
177 As we have seen
in section 3, above, Heidegger of®cially rejected the Cartesian epistemological
tradition of which Husserl's transcendental idealism was a ®nal offspring. Heideg-
ger objects to Husserl's argument for transcendental idealism that it does not at
all start with a re¯ection on the way we experience ourselves in ordinary life, as
Husserl claims.
178 By using the traditional notions of consciousness, material ob-
ject, and substance, Husserl infected his analysis with concepts that do not derive
from pretheoretical human experience, but from a scienti®c conception of the
world that goes back to Descartes and, ultimately, to Aristotle.
179 This criticism
by Heidegger resembles what Gilbert Ryle argues inThe Concept of Mind, and
perhaps it is not far-fetched to assume that Ryle borrowed his criticisms of
Cartesian dualism in part fromSein und Zeit, a book that he reviewed in 1929,

and transposed them from a phenomenological to a linguistic level. Our life, as
we experience it in the very movement of living, is Dasein or the whole person,
and not a substance called consciousness mysteriously linked to a body.
Heidegger's diagnosis and rejection of transcendental idealism, according to
which the very start of Husserl's argument for idealism was already misconceived
because Husserl misunderstood the manner of being of us, humans, can be seen
as a radicalization of Husserl's principle of theory-free description (1). It also
explains to some extent that the phenomenological ontology of Dasein assumes
such a central role inSein und Zeit. Finally, although Heidegger does not explicitly
criticize transcendental idealism in section 7 ofSein und Zeit, it explains the
®rst of two fundamental changes that Heidegger made in Husserl's conception of
Whereas phenomenology in Husserl's sense had to study the correlation be-
tween beings in their constitution of being and transcendental consciousness, Hei-
degger drops the idea of transcendental consciousness. Having distinguished sev-
eral notions of a phenomenon in section 7A, such as appearance and symptom,
he argues that the most fundamental notion of a phenomenon is ªthat which shows
itself in itselfº (das sich-an-ihm-selbst-zeigende). He goes on to argue in section
7B that the most fundamental meaning oflogosorlegeinin Greek is ªto show
something as it is.º Hence phenomenology means ªto let that which shows itself
be seen from itself in the very way in which it shows itself from itselfº (§ 7C).
This, however, is only a ªformalº notion of phenomenology, which characterizes
its method but says nothing about its subject matter. The latter is speci®ed by
Heidegger's distinction between ªvulgarº or empirical phenomena, which are
studied and explained by the empirical sciences, and the phenomenological phe-
nomenon of being (das Sein). Phenomenology studies being (das Sein), not beings
(das Seiende).
In a great number of passages ofSein und Zeit, being is conceived of as the
manner of being or ontological constitution (Seinsweise) of speci®c kinds of be-
ings, such as Dasein, artifacts, natural phenomena, mathematical objects, and so
182 According to this conception, which I will call Heidegger's phenomenologi-
cal notion of being, phenomenology has to elucidate and conceptualize the onto-
logical constitution (Seinsweise) of the various types of being (ªregionsº) by pre-
theoretically describing these modes of being (1). Phenomenology in this sense
is ontology, as Husserl already held (2), and it analyzes essential structures, not
bare facts (4).
183 Because Heidegger holds that each region or kind of being has
a speci®c ontological constitution, the phenomenological notion of being implies
that there must be a number of different regional ontologies, as Heidegger stresses
in section 3 ofSein und Zeit. He also argues, as we saw, that one of these regional
ontologies, that of Dasein, is more fundamental than the others (§ 4 ofSein und
Zeit). This thesis of the primacy of Dasein implies a second fundamental change
with respect to Husserl's conception of phenomenology, which occurs quite sud-
denly, at the end of section 7C ofSein und Zeit.

There Heidegger claims that Dasein is disclosed to itself primarily because it
understandsits own being (SeinsverstaÈ
ndnis). In section 3, above, I explained
that for Heidegger the most fundamental mode of understanding ourselves is a
pretheoretical know-how-to-live, and this consists in projecting concrete possibil-
ities of existence. Making explicit such a self-understanding, and ontologically
elucidating its structures, is not description in Husserl's sense, but interpretation
(Auslegung). As we saw in section 5, above, Heidegger claims that interpretation
has the same projective structure as understanding (Verstehen), so that the ultimate
sense which an interpretation reveals is a ªthat-toward-whichº (Woraufhin)ofa
project. Consequently, Heidegger's ontology of Dasein turned out to depend on
a speci®c ontic ideal, an ideal of authentic existence. The second fundamental
change in Husserl's conception of phenomenology is, then, that according to Hei-
degger phenomenology must be interpretative or hermeneutical. As Heidegger
says, the phenomenology of Dasein is hermeneutics.
The phenomenologico-hermeneutical leitmotif implies a particular way of un-
derstanding the formal structure of Heidegger's question of being, as speci®ed at
the end of section 6, above. This structure has nine elements, which take the
following semantic contents within the framework of the phenomenologico-her-
meneutical theme. (1) The question of being is concerned with the ontological
constitution of regional beings, such as nature, space, life, Dasein, language, and
the like. Heidegger presupposes, like Husserl, that the totality of what there is
may be carved up neatly into ontological regions. He also believes, in contradis-
tinction to Husserl, that formal categories are bound to regions. An analysis of a
mode of being pertaining to such a region yields a regional ontology. In order to
distinguish them from formal logic and from philosophy of science, Heidegger
calls such regional ontologies ªproductive logics.º
185 (2) We have an implicit un-
derstanding of our own regional being (SeinsverstaÈ
ndnis), and, indeed of the
being of other regions. (3) If, however, we live in forgetfulness of being, this is
because we conceive of our own mode of being on the traditional model of things
or artifacts (the ontology of presence [5]), and because, in general, we conceive
of the being of all beings in terms of this particular ontological model. Forgetful-
ness of being (Seinsvergessenheit) means, then, that we overlook the categorial
differences among the various ontological regions, and that we misconceive our
own mode of being. (4) This is because we do not observe the ontological differ-
ence (ontologische Differenz), that is, the difference between beings and their
respective modes of being. Forgetfulness of being may be abolished, however, by
(7) explicitly raising the question as to the different modes of being and by (8)
showing that the fundamental concepts of traditional ontology were derived from
one ontological region only and illegitimately applied to the other regions. In this
manner, (9) Dasein will be able to construct an adequate ontology of itself, and
to distinguish the ontology of Dasein clearly from other regional ontologies. By
doing so, Dasein will ®nally understand itself as it really is and become authentic.

In elaborating the phenomenologico-hermeneutical theme, most of the prob-
lems of section 4 were solved. Since Heidegger implicitly endorsed Husserl's
principle of referentiality, he thought that the meanings of the verb ªto beº should
be analyzed by studying phenomena of being, using the phenomenological
method (§ 4.1). If Heidegger calls being ªtranscendent,º he might mean that the
mode of being of an entity is not one of its properties and that being in the sense
of an ontological constitution is different from beings (§ 4.2). As a consequence,
the relation between being and beings is such that there is no being without beings:
being is the mode of being, or ontological constitution, of a being (§ 4.3). Further-
more, Heidegger's principle of acquaintance implies that we might be able to use
the words ªbeingº and ªto beº even though we do not know their real meaning,
because we do not pay heed to the phenomena of being (§ 4.4). Finally, I suggested
that Heidegger rejects Husserl's distinction between the material and the formal,
and between regional ontologies and formal ontology, because he believed that
logical form is not topic-neutral (§ 4.5).
Not all problems of interpretation are solved by the phenomenological leit-
motif, however, and new problems emerged. Apart from problems of interpreta-
tion, we should consider an intrinsic problem in the method ofSein und Zeit,
which is due to a tension within the phenomenologico-hermeneutical theme. This
tension may be brought out in two ways. First, Husserl claimed that phenomenol-
ogy is a theory-free description of phenomena, and that the concepts which phe-
nomenology uses are derived from the phenomena themselves. According to Hei-
degger's notion of hermeneutics, however, interpretation has a projective nature,
and the concepts it uses derive their meaning from the ultimate sense or direction
of a project. How, then, can a philosophical investigation be both phenomenologi-
cal and hermeneutical? The very coinage ªphenomenologico-hermeneuticalº
seems to imply a contradiction. Husserl's method of theory-free description rests
on the so-called principle of presuppositionlesness, according to which only the
phenomena themselves should justify our descriptions. Heidegger's notion of a
hermeneutical circle is incompatible with Husserl's principle, as I argued in sec-
tion 5. The dif®culty is that Heidegger often uses Husserl's rhetoric of objectivity,
of things themselves, of phenomena that show themselves, and of phenomenology
as the method of letting us see beings as they are, but that his conception of
hermeneutics and of the hermeneutical circle undermines the justi®cation for
using this rhetoric.
Second, Husserl conceived of phenomenology as an eidetic science, which is
able to yield synthetic a priori descriptions of essential structures. These essential
structures were assumed to be ahistorical. On the other hand, interpretation, as
Heidegger conceives it, is radically historical. We start our interpretations always
in a historically determined situation, and as we saw in section 5, above, Heideg-
ger tends to deny that we are able to transcend the limitations of this situation in
interpreting expressions of life of another epoch. Again, we see inSein und Zeit
that Heidegger goes on using the rhetoric of essential structures. He claims in

section 5, for instance, that the ontology of Dasein analyzes ªnot just any acciden-
tal structures, but essential ones which, in every mode of being that factical Dasein
may possess, persist as determinative for the character of its being.º
186 How is
Heidegger able to justify this essentialist claim, if he holds that phenomenology
is hermeneutical and that hermeneutics is historical?
187 Although Heidegger no-
where inSein und Zeitspeci®es the extension of the notion of Dasein, it seems
that the book purports to provide an ontology of adult human existence that holds
for all times and all places. Such an essentialist claim is undermined by what
Heidegger says about the historical nature of interpretation. In short,Sein und
Zeitseems to be caught in a contradiction between Husserlian essentialism and
historical relativismaÁ
laDilthey. It has been argued that Heidegger solved this
problem by considering historicity itself as an essential structure of Dasein. We
will see in section 10, below, that this solution was adopted inSein und Zeitbut
rejected later.
Do we get an adequate interpretation of the question of being as it unfolds in
Sein und Zeitif we add the phenomenologico-hermeneutical theme to the meta-
Aristotelian leitmotif? The answer must be negative. Although many points of
interpretation have been clari®ed, other issues remain obscure. Let me mention
three unresolved problems in particular.
A ®rst problem concerns the primacy of the question of being. Admittedly, the
phenomenological interpretation of being as the mode of being or ontological
constitution of speci®c regional entities sheds some light on the primacy of Hei-
degger's question. The question of being in this sense is fundamental because
Heidegger conceives of regional ontologies as ªproductive logics,º which ªrun
ahead of the positive sciences,º disclosing the ontological structure of regional
entities in an a priori manner.
188 However, as there are many regional ontologies,
the phenomenological notion of being merely explains the primacy of the question
of being in the sense of its pole of differentiation. Heidegger claims in section 3
ofSein und Zeitthat differentiation of being presupposes unity. Accordingly, the
question as to the unity of being would be even more fundamental. Why is this
the case?
Second, it is problematical why there must be a pole of unity in the question
of being at all. If Heidegger rejects Husserl's notion of a formal ontology, should
he not conclude that the plurality of regional ontologies is irreducible? For what
reasons does Heidegger hold that there is one fundamental meaning of ªto beº
from which the other meanings are derived? In other words, why does he presup-
pose that the phenomenological analysis of the various regions of being needs a
fundamental sense of being and a fundamental ontology in which this sense is
investigated? Could we not say that ªbeingº inSein und Zeitjust means regional

constitution of being (Seinsweise), and then add that there are as many ontological
constitutions as there are ontological regions? Heidegger seems to claim that the
regions are uni®ed in a more substantial way, because they are founded upon a
fundamental ontology, but it is neither very clear why this ontology is needed nor
what it embraces.
Third, the issue of the primacy of Dasein (see § 4.6, above) has not been settled.
We saw that Heidegger in 1920 and in 1922 de®nes philosophy as an attempt to
grasp the dynamics of human existence, so that in philosophy Dasein would be
primary by de®nition. But in his lectures of the summer terms of 1926 and of
1927 he de®nes philosophy as the ªcriticalº discipline that distinguishes between
beings (Seiendes) and being (Sein). According to this latter de®nition, which is
also that ofSein und Zeit, being (Sein) is the theme of philosophy.
189 It is from
the point of view of the second de®nition that the problem of the primacy of
Dasein has to be raised: Ifbeingis the theme of philosophy, why should the
disclosure of being take its departure from one regional ontology, the ontology
of Dasein, as Heidegger unconvincingly argues in sections 2 and 4 ofSein und
Zeit? Correlatively, why should Dasein's ®nite temporality be the horizon not
only of understanding Dasein's mode of being, but also of understanding other
regions of being, and, indeed, of understanding beingtout court? Furthermore,
why does the hermeneutical nature of the phenomenology of Dasein imply that
allphenomenology is hermeneutical? In other words, why does Heidegger say
that the ontology of Dasein isfundamentalontology?
These problems may be solved by introducing a third fundamental structure or
leitmotif into Heidegger's question of being, which I will call the transcendental
theme. Heidegger amply uses the jargon of transcendental philosophy, and there
can be no doubt that there are transcendental arguments inSein und Zeit.
Heidegger explicitly draws parallelisms between his question of being and the
Kantian question concerning the conditions of the possibility of experience. In
section 7A ofSein und Zeithe says that Kantian space and time as forms of
intuition are instances of the phenomenon of being. Empirical phenomena alleg-
edly presuppose the phenomenon of being, because the latter shows itself unthe-
matically prior to the former.
192 And according to section 31, it is not accidental
that the question about X'sbeingaims at ªconditions of its possibility.º 193 We
might conclude thatbeingin one of Heidegger's senses is the totality of transcen-
dental structures that condition the possibility that speci®c beings become mani-
fest to us.
Transcendental arguments proceed in two stages. First, it is argued that some
set of ªsubjectiveº conditions is necessary forexperiencingentities, or for some
other kind of intentional behavior vis-aÁ
-vis entities. Second, one argues that these
very same conditions specify the necessary conditions that these entities must
satisfy in order tobe, in the sense of being accessible to us.
194 If we identify
Heideggerian understanding of being (SeinsverstaÈ
ndnis) with the set of conditions
for experiencing entities, and Heideggerian being (Sein) with the set of conditions

for entities being accessible to us, we get the following interpretation of the ques-
tion of being inSein und Zeit. In order to answer the question of being, we ®rst
have to interpret our implicit understanding of being, for doing this is the ®rst
stage of the transcendental argument ofSein und Zeit. Analyzing our understand-
ing of being means analyzing the temporal existential structure of Dasein, because
Dasein is characterized by understanding (Verstehen). The ®rst stage in Heideg-
ger's transcendental argument explains, then, why an analysis of Dasein is pri-
mary in developing the question of being.
Within this ®rst stage, there are a number of more speci®c transcendental argu-
ments. Heidegger contends, for instance, that a ªscienti®cº encounter of entities as
meaningless multiplicities of objects presupposes a more fundamental ªpracticalº
involvement with the world as a meaningful structure, within which we meet our
fellow humans, manipulate tools and equipment, and construct our lives. This
practical involvement, in its turn, presupposes the existential structure of under-
standing as pro-jecting, which is one aspect of the complex existential structure
of concern or care (Sorge). The reason is that understanding something as a tool
presupposes a framework of means-end relations, future-directed human projects,
and a horizon of human institutions and standardized social roles. At a still deeper
level, the future-directed and ®nite time structure of Dasein is the condition of
the possibility of understanding as projecting. This time structure allegedly is
ªtheº ultimate condition of the possibility of understanding being (Seinsver-
ndnis), not only of understanding our own being, but of understanding the
mode of being of other entities as well.
According to the second stage of Heidegger's transcendental argument,Seins-
ndnis, which is the condition that enables us to experience entities, is identi-
cal to, or at least equivalent to,Sein, which enables entities tobe. Being is simply
whatwe understand in understanding being, and it isaswe understand it. This
implies that the time-structure of Dasein is also the ultimate condition of the
possibility of being. Heidegger expresses the second stage of his argument in
sections 43c and 44c ofSein und Zeit, where he says that ªonly as long as Dasein,
the ontical possibility of understanding of being, is, `there is' beingº; that
ªBeingÐnot entitiesÐis something which `there is' only in so far as truth is,º
and that ªtruthisonly in so far and as long as Dasein is.º
195 Heidegger interprets
truth in its most fundamental sense as being-uncovering or being-disclosing, as
the fundamental disclosure (Lichtung) that Dasein is in relation to itself, to others,
and to worldly entities. Clearly, the thesis that ªthere isº being only in so far as,
and as long as, there is Dasein's fundamental disclosure is nothing but the second
stage of a transcendental argument.
The transcendental interpretation of the question of being inSein und Zeitnot
only explains the primacy of Dasein. It also explains why the ontology of Dasein
is a fundamental ontology rather than a regional ontology of human life.Da-sein
is the fundamental disclosure of beings, the condition of the possibility that beings
manifest themselves. Although Heidegger claims that only humans have or are

Dasein in this sense, it is misleading, at least from the transcendental point of
view, that he sometimes identi®es the ontology of Dasein with the ontology of
human life.
196 The ontology of Dasein is transcendental philosophy, an ontological
analysis of the transcendental structureinhuman beings. As Heidegger explains
inKant und das Problem der Metaphysik, fundamental ontology should not be
confused with philosophical anthropology, and in this book of 1929 he consis-
tently speaks of Daseininman.
197 Furthermore, the transcendental interpretation
shows why and how there can be a pole of unity in Heidegger's question of being,
because regional ontologies are rooted in Dasein's understanding of the mode of
being of regional entities, so that the fundamental ontology of Dasein is the pole
of unity. Both the question regarding time and the question concerning hermeneu-
tics are answered by the transcendental interpretation. As in Kant and Husserl,
transcendental time is the horizon of understanding being in general. And since
the conditions of understanding being (SeinsverstaÈ
ndnis) are the conditions of
being (Sein), the hermeneutical phenomenology of Dasein ªbecomes a `herme-
neutic' in the sense of working out the conditions on which the possibility of any
ontological investigation depends.º
198 Finally, the transcendental interpretation
explains the primacy of the question of being itself: this question is even more
fundamental than regional ontologies, because it is concerned with the conditions
of the possibility of these ontologies. It is the most fundamental philosophical
question man can ask.
One cannot doubt, then, that the transcendental interpretation is a correct exege-
sis of Heidegger's question of being inSein und Zeit, or, more precisely, of one
strand in this question. The interpretation is corroborated byKant und das Pro-
blem der Metaphysikof 1929, which covers the same grounds as the unpublished
®rst division of the ªdestructiveº second part ofSein und Zeit.
199 In this book,
Heidegger interprets Kant's ®rstCritiquefrom the point of view of human ®nite-
ness.Sein und Zeitis staged as a ªretrievalº (Wiederholung) of Kant's transcen-
dental problem. Kant was the ®rst who conceived of the question of being, raised
in Antiquity, as a question about ªthe inner possibility of understanding being.º
Heidegger tries to show that in exploring this inner possibility, Kant shrinks back
or withdraws (zuruÈ
ckweichen) when confronted with its deepest root or source,
transcendental imagination and its time structure.
201 As Heidegger says inSein
und Zeit, Kant failed to provide a proper ontology of Dasein, because he took
over Descartes' ontological position, according to which the subject is an eternal
202 The retrieval of Kant's transcendental problem has the task of show-
ing that Kant's analysis, which starts with human ®niteness, points to the transcen-
dental phenomenon of ®nite time or temporality. In Heidegger's hands, Kant's
transcendental imagination becomes Dasein's projective understanding, which is
rooted in future-directed ®nite time as being-toward-death.
In spite of its overwhelming plausibility, the transcendental interpretation of
Sein und Zeitas a retrieval of Kant's problem is also problematical. According to
Heidegger, a ªretrievalº of a traditional philosophical problem is not merely an

attempt to obtain historical knowledge. Rather, it is an endeavor to grasp the inner
dynamics of the problem, to open up its future possibilities, and to transform
the problem in a fruitful way.
203 We saw that in the case of Aristotle, Heidegger
interpreted Aristotle's question of being within thefore-structureof a notion of
philosophy that is alien to Aristotle, and that he did not succeed either in elucidat-
ing Aristotle's own problem of being or in retrieving Aristotle's reasons for the
primacy of the question of being. By analogy, we expect that there may be many
different reconstructions of the inner dynamics of Kant's transcendental problem,
and that Heidegger's reconstruction is perhaps not the most adequate one from a
historical point of view. In the preface to the fourth edition of his book on Kant
(1973), Heidegger with rare candor admits the biased nature of his interpretation.
He says that the question of being as raised inSein und Zeitfunctioned as a
Vorgriff(fore-conception) for the attempted interpretation of Kant.
204 He con-
cludes that ªKant's text became a refuge for seeking in Kant an advocate of the
question of being as raised by me.º
205 Not very much is gained, then, in stating
thatSein und Zeitis a treatise in transcendental philosophy. 206 It is crucial to
develop the transcendental leitmotif, and to discern how Heidegger's retrieval of
Kant's transcendental problem is related to a purely historical reconstruction of
the problem. Only in this manner might one succeed in specifying the precise
sense in which the question of being inSein und Zeitis ªtranscendental.º
I develop the transcendental theme in three stages. First (A), we may wonder
what makes Heidegger's transcendental turn necessary. In Kant's case, the tran-
scendental turn or Copernican revolution was necessitated by the problem of the
possibility of synthetic a priori propositions. Heidegger in his book on Kant plays
down the importance of this problem. What justi®es the Copernican revolution
in Heidegger's case?
Second (B), we may be puzzled about the possibility of Heidegger's transcen-
dental turn. In the philosophy of Kant, the transcendental turn was possible only
because Kant assumed, in line with the theories of perception of Descartes and
the empiricists, that in perception a manifold of sensations is given, which is then
synthesized by operations of the mind, especially of thesensus communisand the
imagination. Moreover, Kant's transcendental turn was inextricably bound up
with transcendental idealism. This holds for Husserl's transcendental turn as well,
albeit in a somewhat different manner.
207 InSein und Zeit, Heidegger rejects both
the traditional sense-datum theories of perception and transcendental idealism.
How is his transcendental turn possible, if he repudiates the notion of perception,
which was a necessary condition for its possibility in Kant's and Husserl's case?
What does Heidegger's transcendentalism mean, if he rejects transcendental
According to Kant's celebrated de®nition of transcendental philosophy, tran-
scendental knowledge is not concerned with objects, but with the manner in which
we are able to obtain a priori knowledge of objects.
208 This de®nition ®ts in well
with the transcendental interpretation ofSein und Zeit: being (Sein) in Heidegger's

sense is a priori because in understanding being (SeinsverstaÈ
ndnis) a speci®c
sense of being, such as being-available as equipment or being-occurrent, is pro-
jected by Dasein as a global framework, without which entities cannot manifest
themselves to us. Heidegger calls the projective understanding of a sense of being
by Dasein thetranscendenceof Dasein, both because Dasein transcends itself
by projecting a sense of being and because such a global framework transcends
individual entities.
209 In the latter sense, the world as a meaningful global frame-
work in which we live and act is also called transcendent. 210
We should carefully distinguish this Heideggerian notion of transcendence both
from Kant's notion of the transcendental and from the of®cial sense in which
Kant understood the term ªtranscendentº in opposition to ªimmanent.º According
to Kant's de®nitions, something is transcendent if it is beyond any possible experi-
ence, whereas things within the domain of possible experience, including the a
priori structure of this domain, are called immanent.
211 Accordingly, Kant distin-
guishes between immanent metaphysics, which is the synthetic a priori ontology
of the phenomenal world, and transcendent metaphysics, which is concerned with
God, the immortal soul, and the cosmos as creation. His transcendental turn im-
plies that immanent metaphysics is possible as a science, whereas transcendent
metaphysics is not. Kant's de®nitions do not entirely cohere with Heidegger's.
Heidegger calls the world as a global meaningful structure ªtranscendentº; Kant
would have called it ªimmanent,º although it transcends the experience of individ-
ual entities.
212 In spite of these terminological differences, Heidegger's views may
be called transcendental in a Kantian sense.
My third problem (C) is concerned with the possible senses of Heidegger's
expression ªthe transcendence of being.º I raised this problem in section 4.2 of
the ®rst chapter. According to the transcendental interpretation as developed up
to this point, being is ªtranscendentº because it is a global meaningful framework
or horizon whose a priori projection by Dasein's understanding of being is a
condition for the possibility of entities showing up for us. Is this the only sense
in which Heidegger calls being ªtranscendentº? In section 7C ofSein und Zeit,
Heidegger says that being is the ªtranscendens pure and simple.º
213 What does
he mean by ªpure and simpleº (schlechthin)? Moreover, in the last section ofSein
und Zeit, Heidegger claims that the fundamental-ontological analysis of Dasein
and its temporal structure is merelya way, and that the ultimate destination or
objective of this way is to work out the question of being as such.
214 This seems
to be surprising from the point of view of the transcendental interpretation: If the
sense of being is identical to what is projectively understood by Dasein as the
sense of being, why does something remain to be ªworked outº in the question
of being once the transcendental analysis of Dasein and its understanding of being
has been completed? Should one conclude that the expression ªtranscendence of
beingº has yet another sense than the transcendental one? Does section 83 ofSein
und Zeittranscend the limitations of the transcendental interpretation?

A. Why Is Heidegger's Transcendental Turn Necessary?
Concerning the necessity of the transcendental turn, there is not much room for
interpretation in Kant's case. In the ®rstCritique, Kant explains clearly why he
claims that the transcendental or Copernican revolution is justi®ed. In the intro-
duction to theCritiqueKant raises a problem, and in the body of the book he
argues that the Copernican revolution is the only possible solution to this problem.
I will summarize Kant's justi®cation for his transcendental turn, then discuss the
question as to whether Heidegger in his interpretation of Kant ªretrievedº Kant's
justi®cation, and ®nally make a guess about Heidegger's own reasons for his
transcendental turn inSein und Zeit.
Kant's problem has three parts. It is primarily concerned with the possibility
of metaphysics as a science (Wissenschaft). Although we are naturally inclined
to raise metaphysical questions, it had become doubtful in Kant's time whether
a scienti®c answer to these questions was possible. Because metaphysics was
conceived of as a nonempirical informative science, it would consist mainly of
so-called synthetic a priori propositions, that is, propositions that are both neces-
sarily true or independent of experience (a priori), and which cannot be discovered
to be true by mere conceptual and logical analysis (synthetic). This is why the
problem of whether metaphysics is possible reduces to the question as to whether
metaphysical synthetic a priori propositions can be known to be true. Kant's strat-
egy for investigating this question depended on his philosophy of science. For he
assumed that we in fact know that speci®c synthetic a priori propositions are true
both in mathematics and in Newtonian physics. On the basis of this assumption,
he could raise two other questions that were also part of his problem: How are
synthetic a priori propositions possible in mathematics? And how are they possi-
ble in physics? Kant answered the question of whether metaphysics is possible
by ®rst investigating how synthetic a priori propositions in mathematics and phys-
ics are possible.
In the body of the ®rstCritique, he argues that mathematics is possible in an a
priori manner, that is, without having recourse to experience, because the struc-
tures that mathematics explores are inherent in the knowing subject. Kant takes
for granted that these structures are absolute space and absolute time in Newton's
sense, and he concludes that space and time are subjective ªforms of intuition,º
which may not belong to the world as it is in itself. Similarly, the fundamental
principles of Newtonian physics, such as the deterministic law of causality, are
argued to be known a priori because categories such as causality are part of the
workings of the knowing subject. The categories and forms of intuition are subjec-
tively necessary in that we cannot think and form representations unless we do
so in terms of the categories and in the forms of space and time. Here we recognize
the ®rst stage in Kant's transcendental argument. But if space, time, and causality

are subjective in this sense, how can the a priori propositions of mathematics and
of physics be (known to be) true of the real world? How can they be synthetic?
It is at this point that Kant's Copernican revolution becomes relevant. Ac-
cording to Kant's preface to the second edition of the ®rstCritique, all disciplines
that have become scienti®c (wissenschaftlich), such as logic, mathematics, and
physics, have become so because of a revolution in their manner of thinking.
Kant claims that his Copernican revolution is such a revolution, which will make
metaphysics into a science. It consists in assuming that the objects of our knowl-
edge are constituted in part by the epistemic mechanisms of the knowing subject,
instead of assuming, as traditional philosophy did, that knowledge must be de-
rived from its objects. This revolution explains how a priori propositions can be
synthetic, because the objects of which these propositions are true have been
constituted by the very same epistemic mechanisms which, because they inhere
in the knowing subject, explain that such propositions can be known in an a
priori manner. For example, Euclidean geometry is true of actual spatial objects
(synthetic), because these objects are constituted by the spatial form of intuition
that enables us to develop Euclidean geometry in an a priori way. This is the
second stage of Kant's transcendental argument.
Kant's transcendental turn implies a distinction between on the one hand the
objects as we may experience them (phenomena), which are partly constituted by
the knowing subject, and on the other hand entities as they are in themselves
(noumena). Because Kant's transcendental turn explains the possibility of syn-
thetic a priori judgments for the phenomenal world only, he claims that mathemat-
ics, physics, and metaphysics, to the extent that they are scienti®c, are concerned
with the phenomenal world and not with the world in itself. In other words, scien-
ti®c metaphysics must be ªimmanent.º Since Kant thought that Newtonian phys-
ics was the most fundamental science of material nature, he identi®ed scienti®c
metaphysics of material natureÐthemetaphysica generalisof the phenomenal
material worldÐwith the synthetic a priori principles of Newtonian physics.
However, to the extent that metaphysics transcends the boundaries of the phenom-
enal world, because it aims at knowledge of God, the immortal soul, or the cosmos
as creation (metaphysica specialis), it is not possible as a science. Kant tried to
show in his transcendental dialectics that transcendent metaphysics inevitably
runs into contradictions.
Most modern cognitive scientists would agree with Kant that there is a distinc-
tion between the phenomenal and the noumenal worlds, a distinction that is rela-
tive to speci®c organisms. If we conceive of knowing organisms as information-
processing machines, we might say that the input of these machines is provided
by the world as it is in itself, whereas the output is the world as it is experienced
by the organism. A ¯y will see the world differently from us, even if its visual
input is the same, because its eyes and nervous system are different from ours. As
the output is constituted by two factors, the input and the information-processing
mechanisms in the organism, it follows that, given the output, the input must be

poor if the information added by the processing mechanisms is rich andvice versa.
In the limiting case that there is no information added during the processing, the
organism will perceive the world as it is in itself, and this is what Gibsonians
argue. In the opposite limiting case, there is no input and the information-pro-
cessing machine creates its own world. This is God's case.
216 What makes Kant's
theory special, then, is not that Kant distinguished between a noumenal and a
phenomenal world. It is, rather, that he attributed fundamental features such as
time, space, and causality to the information-processing mechanism in the know-
ing subject instead of to the input, so that he conceived of information processing
asaddingvery substantial information (spatial structure, linear temporal ordering,
causal relations) to the input instead of merely decoding it. Consequently, the
input of perception had to be thought of as a pure manifold, of which we cannot
even say that it is in time and space. This implies that if Kant's theory is true, the
noumenal world must be unknowable. This peculiar theory could be justi®ed,
Kant thought, as being the only solution to the problem of how mathematics and
the principles of physics are possible.
Kant's justi®cation of his transcendental turn may be criticized in two ways.
One might either claim that there are other possible solutions to Kant's problem,
such as the solution of Descartes, who thought that God guarantees that there is
a harmony between clear and distinct a priori principles and nature, and a Darwin-
ian solution, according to which the truth of innate knowledge might be accounted
for by the notion of natural selection. Kant argued, however, that we cannot know
God, and he might have argued that a Darwinian solution leaves unexplained the
necessary nature of synthetic a priori knowledge. Or, alternatively, one might
reject Kant's problem, and this is what most critics have done in the twentieth
century. Kant's assumption that mathematics and the principles of physics are
synthetic a priori is essential to his problem. Without this alleged ªfact,º an expla-
nation of its possibility is super¯uous. Subsequent developments in mathematics
and physics have shown that there is no such fact. The invention of non-Euclidean
geometries compelled philosophers of science to distinguish between pure and
applied mathematics. Because the application of geometry to space requires a
physical interpretation of mathematical concepts such as ªstraight line,º the ques-
tion as to whether space is Euclidean becomes a complex and partly empirical
question, which was answered in the negative by Eddington's con®rmation of
Einstein's theory of relativity. Furthermore, the idea that a deterministic principle
of causality is a priori true of nature has been undermined by quantum mechanics.
Both the development of physics and the subsequent philosophy of science have
refuted the assumption of Kant's problem that there is in fact true synthetic a
priori knowledge. Consequently, Kant's justi®cation for his transcendental turn
collapsed at the beginning of the twentieth century.
Before I pass on to Heidegger's retrieval of Kant's transcendental problem, I
should stress that although Kant claims to have discovered the notion of synthetic
a priori propositions, this notion ®ts in well with the traditional philosophy of

science of Aristotle and Descartes. Aristotle, Descartes, and Kant conceived of
science as a system of true propositions that must be based ultimately on ®rst
principles that are necessary and apodictically true.
217 Because Descartes' a priori
foundation of physics was refuted by empirical ®ndings such as Rùmer's discov-
ery of the ®nite speed of light, many philosophers became empiricists at the end
of the seventeenth century. However, the empiricist philosophy of science led to
skepticism, because on the one hand it did not radically abandon the notion of
science as true knowledge by proof, whereas on the other hand the problem of
induction showed that empirical proofs of scienti®c laws are impossible. Kant
saw a contradiction between the skeptical philosophy of science of the empiricists,
according to which science is impossible, and the brute fact of Newtonian me-
chanics, which in the eighteenth century was widely acclaimed as a paradigmatic
science. Instead of concluding, as Popper, Reichenbach, and many others did in
our century, that the empiricist revolution in the philosophy of science had not
been suf®ciently radical, because it did not reject the Aristotelian notion of science
as knowledge by proof, Kant took refuge in the old rationalist conception of a
priori principles of physics. This historical background explains why Kant felt
safe in assuming the existence of synthetic a priori propositions in mathematics
and physics, in spite of the poor arguments by which he tried to substantiate this
assumption in the introduction to the ®rstCritique.
What strikes us most when we read Heidegger's interpretation of the ®rstCritique
inKant und das Problem der Metaphysikis the fact that Heidegger altogether
disregards this historical background. Newton is not even mentioned, and Heideg-
ger attempts to reconstruct Kant's transcendental problem by a purely internal
reading of Kant's texts.
219 Moreover, the relevance of Kant's assumption that there
are synthetic a priori propositions in mathematics and in physics to his strategy
for solving the problem of the possibility of metaphysics is left unnoticed in
Heidegger's discussion of the introduction to the ®rstCritique.
220 In his zeal to
combat the epistemological interpretations of the Neo-Kantians, Heidegger even
claims that theCritique of Pure Reasonhas nothing to do with epistemology or
philosophy of science.
221 In fact, Kant could not justify his Copernican foundation
of metaphysics without a theory of mathematics and of physics, as he himself
makes abundantly clear. We should conclude that Heidegger only partially re-
trieves Kant's transcendental problem, and that he eliminates the essential role
that Kant's conception of science as knowledge by proof played in the construc-
tion of the problem. In this respect, Heidegger's partial retrieval of Kant resembles
his partial retrieval of Aristotle.
As a result, Heidegger is not able to explain the necessity of Kant's Copernican
revolution. According to Heidegger's reconstruction inKant und das Problem
der Metaphysik, Kant wanted to show the inner possibility of ontology or meta-
physics. He did so by re¯ecting on the essential ®niteness of human knowledge.
As Heidegger correctly observes, Kant contrasted ®nite human knowledge with

in®nite divine knowledge. God's knowledge is creative intuition,intuitus ori-
ginarius, because when God intuits individual beings, heeo ipsocreates them.
Human knowledge consists of thought and intuition. In contrast to God's intuition,
however, human intuition is receptive and not creative. Because human intuition
is ®nite, it needs an external stimulus, and according to Heidegger this explains
the necessity of the senses for human intuition. Human intuition also needs the
detour of the understanding (Verstand), because without understanding, human
knowledge would be limited to particular cases. Starting from the mere topic
of the ®niteness of human knowledge, Heidegger reconstructs Kant's notions of
receptivity, the senses (Sinnlichkeit), and understanding. As the interaction be-
tween sensibility and understanding is mediated by transcendental imagination,
imagination becomes the pivotal concept of Heidegger's interpretation.
How does this meditation on the ®nite nature of human knowledge solve Kant's
problem of the possibility of ontology or metaphysics? Ontology is a priori knowl-
edge of objects. From the ®nite nature of human knowledge it does not follow that
ontology must be possible. Rather, it seems to follow that all human knowledge is
empirical, since ®nite knowledge needs external stimuli. How does Heidegger
solve this crucial problem in his interpretation? He claims, without further argu-
ment, that objects can only manifest themselves to us in perception if we ®rst
give them the possibility of doing so by turning ourselves to them (zuwenden).
This preliminary turn toward objects is then identi®ed both with Kant's a priori
epistemic mechanisms and with the preliminary understanding of being (vorgaÈ
giges SeinsverstaÈ
ndnis)ofSein und Zeit.
223 Now it may be admitted that in some
cases we must turn to an object in order to be able to perceive it, for instance, if
we want to see something that is behind our backs. But this is not true for all
cases (hearing, for example), and it is arbitrary to identify this ªturn toward ob-
jectsº with an a priori structure in the knowing subject that incorporates time,
space, and the categories. We must conclude that Heidegger is not able to eluci-
date the main problem of theCritique of Pure Reason, the problem of how meta-
physics is possible as a science, because he tries to reconstruct Kant's theory
merely from the point of view of human ®niteness, and omits the epistemological
problem of how synthetic a priori propositions are possible in physics and mathe-
matics. Heidegger's attempt to eliminate the philosophy of science from Kant's
transcendental philosophy is a blatant failure.
Perhaps the reader will wonder why this analysis of Heidegger's retrieval of
Kant in contrast with a historical reading of the ®rstCritiqueis relevant to the
interpretation of the question of being inSein und Zeit. Yet its relevance is quite
direct. The transcendental interpretation ofSein und Zeitexplains both the pri-
macy of the question of being and the primacy of Dasein. According to Heideg-
ger's transcendental turn, understanding of being (SeinsverstaÈ
ndnis) is somehow
a priori. Moreover, if understanding of being is a preliminary condition for the
possibility of experience and intentional behavior, being-as-understood is a condi-
tion for the possibility of entities, to the extent that they are accessible for us.

Here we recognize the two stages of a transcendental argument. But what, we
may wonder, justi®es Heidegger's transcendental turn? If Heidegger did not re-
trieve the justi®cation of Kant's transcendental turn, did he perhaps take over the
transcendental theme from the philosophical tradition without critically assessing
it? In this case, Heidegger was unwittingly in¯uenced by the superseded philoso-
phy of science which Kant still presupposed, and this conclusion con®rms what
I said in section 7, above.
Even so, Heidegger must have had his own reasons for going transcendental.
What justi®es his view that the meaning of being that we ªpro-jectº in projective
understanding is a priori, in the sense that it constitutes a global meaningful hori-
zon without which entities cannot become manifest to us? This connotation of
the term ªprojectº (Entwurf) is certainly not included in the ªexistentialistº notion
of Dasein as a project, according to which human life is a project because we
have to construct our life by projecting it into the future. In other words, which
philosophical problems did Heidegger want to solve by this theory? Heidegger,
like Husserl, did not state explicitly the problems that explain his views. They
both held that philosophy is purely descriptive, and this descriptivist ideology
prevented them from developing their problems thematically. For this reason,
an interpretation has to reconstruct Heidegger's problematic, and a hypothetical
reconstruction is adequate if it is the best explanation of the texts. My hypothesis
is that Heidegger took the transcendental turn because he wanted to solve the
problem of the manifest image and the scienti®c image, to use Wilfrid Sellars'
terminology, and that he solved it in an antinaturalist way.
The problem of the manifest and the scienti®c image is one of the most funda-
mental problems of modern philosophy.
224 IfSein und Zeitcan be read as an
attempt to solve it, Heidegger ceases to be what he is according to most analytic
philosophers, an obscure German sage from the Black Forest. His work becomes
relevant to mainstream analytical philosophy. Let me ®rst elucidate the problem
of the manifest and the scienti®c image, and then attempt to show that Heidegger
inSein und Zeitproposed a solution by means of a transcendental turn.
The problem of the manifest and the scienti®c image originated during the
scienti®c revolution in the seventeenth century. According to Aristotle and com-
mon sense, human beings live in a world which is meaningful to them, and which
appeals to them because it contains a wealth of qualities that we perceive by the
senses, such as colors, thermal properties, odors, and sounds. The philosopher-
physicists of the scienti®c revolution rejected this manifest image of the world.
They argued that the material world, as it really is in itself, lacks both signi®cance
and the ªsecondaryº qualities as we perceive them by the senses. Material objects
merely possess the ªprimaryº and measurable properties and powers that theoreti-
cal physics attributes to them, because such objects consist of imperceptible parti-
cles (corpuscles) that cannot have sensible qualities. Material reality is a meaning-
less multiplicity of corpuscles, and both meaning and sensuous qualities are

projections of the knowing subject. In other words, the scienti®c image of the
world is incompatible with the manifest image. Let me call this result the incom-
patibility thesis.
The incompatibility thesis yields the problem I am referring to: Which image
of the world is the true or the most fundamental one, assuming that they are
mutually incompatible? Is the manifest image merely a useful subjective illusion,
as Descartes argued, or should we conclude that the scienti®c image is somehow
misconceived? It is not dif®cult to map all possible solutions to this problem on
an intellectual chart. The philosopher-scientists of the seventeenth century opted
for the primacy of the scienti®c image. Physics would characterize the material
world as it really is. If physics contradicts common sense, common sense must
be mistaken. I call this position classical naturalism. As I explained in section 3,
above, classical naturalism leads to a number of tricky ontological and epistemo-
logical problems. At the end of the nineteenth century, all possible solutions to
these problems had been developed, and none of them was satisfactory. My hy-
pothesis is that Heidegger inSein und Zeitconcluded that we must reject classical
naturalism, ordie Ontologie der Vorhandenheit(the ontology of occurrentness),
as he calls it. Because he endorsed the incompatibility thesis, he had to argue that
the meaningful world of everyday life (AlltaÈ
glichkeit) is more fundamental than
the scienti®c image. What, then, were the problems raised by classical naturalism,
and why are they insoluble?
Let me start with the ontological problem of secondary qualities such as color.
According to common sense, the color of a material object is a real property of
this object, which humans are able to perceive if they are not color-blind. Classical
naturalism claims, however, that material objects cannot possess secondary quali-
ties or ªqualiaº such as colors as we perceive them. What, then, is the ontological
status of colors? Galileo argued that colors are subjective impressions in the per-
ceiving organism, which are caused by colorless physical processes. However, if
the perceiving organism is a material object among others, as Descartes held, and
if colors as we perceive them cannot exist in matter, this solution will not do.
Descartes concluded that at least in our own case the perceiving subject must be
an immaterial soul or mind, which contains colors as immanent sensations, and
that mind is essentially different from matter. If one accepts the incompatibility
thesis, Cartesian dualism follows from classical naturalism. Naturalism leads to
the paradoxical conclusion that the knowing subject cannot belong to the natural
material world, because it is a mind that is essentially different from matter. Des-
cartes welcomed this conclusion on religious grounds. It must be unacceptable to
the scientist, however, who wants to include the knowing subject among the ob-
jects to be studied by science. Accordingly, contemporary materialists have tried
to eliminate qualia and consciousness altogether, in order to vindicate naturalism
as an unrestricted image of the world. This solution will not do, because it con-
¯icts with the obvious fact that we do perceive colors.

The thesis that secondary qualities such as colors are sensations in the mind
instead of objective properties of material objects, whereas these objects merely
possess the powers to cause sensations in us, may be called the principle of imma-
nence. The principle of immanence not only implies ontological dualism. It also
raises epistemological problems concerning perception. If colors as we perceive
them are sensations in the mind, perception must consist of a projective mecha-
nism, because we do not perceive colorsassensations in the mind, but as objective
properties of material objects. According to the theories of perception necessitated
by the principle of immanence, the psychological aspect of perception consists in
our having immanent sensations, which are projectively interpreted as objective
properties. However, if perception is projection, how can we know that the world
that we perceive exists independently of the perceiving mind? According to the
classical naturalist, our subjective impressions are caused by objective physical
processes, but we do not perceive these processes; we perceive our own projected
sensations that allegedly are caused by them. Classical naturalism, then, implies
the problem of the external world, and it is not accidental that this problem
emerges for the ®rst time in Descartes'Meditations. As Russell says, ªthe ob-
server, when he seems to himself to be observing a stone, is really, if physics is
to be believed, observing the effects of the stone upon himself. Thus science
seems to be at war with itself: when it most means to be objective, it ®nds itself
plunged into subjectivity against its will.º
The paradox of classical naturalism, if coupled to empiricism, is that it starts
with a theory of matter and ends up doubting the existence of matter. If we do
not perceive material objects as they are, but our own projected sensations instead,
we should prove the reality of the material world by arguing that it causes our
sensations. Both Berkeley and Husserl denied that we can have a conception of
matter as distinct from sensuous qualities. They inferred that God causes our
sensations, and became idealists. Hume argued that a causal proof of the external
world on the basis of our sensations is impossible, because we have to be able to
observe both cause and effect in order to establish causal laws. He held, however,
that this impossibility demonstrates the impotence of the human intellect, and that
we should trust our instinctive belief in the reality of the external world. Kant
tried to refute idealism by proving the existence of the external world. What he
proved was merely the existence of the mind-dependent phenomenal world,
which no one ever doubted, not the existence of a worldan sich. The assumption
of the latter as a cause of our cognitive input contradicts Kant's transcendental
theory, which says that the category of causality cannot be applied outside the
domain of possible phenomena. The hypothetical realists, ®nally, argued that
the hypothesis of a mind-independent material world is the best explanation of
our having the sensations we happen to have, even though we will never be
able to prove this hypothesis. But it is peculiar to say that the existence of a mind-
independent world is a hypothesis only. Why should this hypothesis be better
than the theological one, which has the virtue of simplicity? Neither the idealist

nor the realist solutions to the problem of the external world seem to be accept-
able. Contemporary ontology and philosophy of mind, as practiced by Quine,
Rorty, Searle, or Churchland, have not been able to free themselves from the
assumptions of classical naturalism.
227 As a consequence, these philosophers still
wrestle with the problem of realism, and old solutions, made sophisticated by
means of theories of language, are presented under new labels, such as internal
realism. Should we not rather admit that the problem is insoluble, and reject the
assumptions that implied it in the ®rst place? This is what Heidegger attempted
to do inSein und Zeit.
According to the interpretation put forward here, Heidegger endorsed the in-
compatibility thesis. As a consequence, he could only reject ontological dualism
and the problem of the external world by repudiating classical naturalism. InSein
und Zeit, Heidegger claimed that the manifest image is fundamental, and that the
scienti®c image is derived, impoverished, and even false in a sense. I will now
try to substantiate this interpretation by brie¯y summarizing the relevant parts of
Sein und Zeit. Heidegger's argument consists of two steps: he argues that the
scienti®c image is possible only on the basis of the manifest image, and he argues
that the scienti®c image is the product of a project (Entwurf). Because Heidegger's
argument is a transcendental one, he concludes that the verybeingof the objects
that science claims to discover depends on the framework of the projected scien-
ti®c image of the world.
Heidegger argues in sections 12 and 13 ofSein und Zeitthat Dasein is primarily
being-in-the-world. The world in which Dasein exists is a meaningful structure
or horizon, within which we lead our daily life (AlltaÈ
glichkeit). As I said in section
3, above, world is a constitutive existential of Dasein. Accordingly, Dasein, if
well understood ontologically, cannot be thought of as without its world. From
this point of view, the problem of the external world is a nonsensical problem (§
43a). In sections 15±18, Heidegger develops his notion of world by analyzing the
way in which we manipulate equipment (Zeug). The mode of being of equipment
(Zuhandenheit: usually translated as ªreadiness-to-handº), Heidegger argues, is
fundamental for our daily existence in the world. In daily life, we manipulate
equipment and other meaningful entities, and manipulating equipment presup-
poses the world as a global meaningful structure (Bewandtnisganzheit).
The scienti®c view of the world as a multiplicity of meaningless entities must
be due to ade®ciencyin our daily commerce with equipment and fellow humans,
if the world in reality is a meaningful structure.
229 It is the product of a new
ontological attitude (Seinsstand) vis-aÁ
-vis the world which always is already re-
vealed as meaningful in daily life.
230 This new ontological attitude, which opens
up the world as a totality of purely present things (Vorhandenheit), is secondary
in relation to, and based on (fundiert in) our primary dwelling in the world. It
passes over (uÈ
berspringen) the phenomenon of the world in the primary sense
(§§ 14, 21). For instance, a knife loses its instrumental meaning of a tool that is

useful for realizing speci®c practical aims as soon as it is studied by physics and
reduced to a piece of matter.
If Heidegger says that the scienti®c view of the worldpasses overthe phenome-
non of the world, should we not conclude that according to him the scienti®c
image of the world is in some sense false, because it leaves out the phenomenon
of the world as it really is? By arguing that the scienti®c view of the world is due
to ade®ciency, that it issecondaryin relation to the manifest image of daily life,
and that itskips(uÈ
berspringt) the phenomenon of world, Heidegger in fact
chooses the antinaturalist horn of the dilemma of the manifest versus the scienti®c
image. He further argues in section 21 ofSein und Zeitthat it is impossible to
understand the meaningful world of daily life on the basis of the scienti®c image.
We cannot reconstruct this meaningful world as a higher stratum, built on the
basic stratum of physical objects, as philosophers such as Nicolai Hartmann, who
was Heidegger's colleague in Marburg, tried to do.
We will be interested to know how, according to Heidegger, the attitude of
theoretical discovery arises out of the more original practical involvement with
the world. Heidegger sets out to deal with this topic in section 69b ofSein und
Zeit. The way in which he words his question has a Kantian ¯avor: ªWhich of
those conditions implied in Dasein's ontological constitution are existentially nec-
essary for the possibility of Dasein's existing in the way of scienti®c research?º
How is this revolution (Umschlag) to be accounted for? We expect that in this
section Heidegger will explain what in our daily manipulation of equipmentmoti-
vatesthe revolution in ontological attitude from practical involvement in the
world to theoretical investigation. Indeed, he starts with an (abortive) attempt to
do so. Is it perhaps the case that the theoretical attitude emerges when we simply
hold back from any kind of manipulation of equipment?
232 This cannot be so,
because ªtheoretical research is not without a praxis of its ownº: we have to set
up experiments, make measurements, excavate archaeological data, and so on.
Or is it rather the case that the theoretical attitude, which takes entities as purely
present objects (vorhanden) without instrumental signi®cance, emerges when
tools turn out to be unusable or damaged, not properly adapted for the use we
had decided on?
234 On the contrary: we discover the unusability of tools not by
detached theoretical research, but by the very kind of practical circumspection
that is typical of our primary involvement with the world.
When in section 69b Heidegger ®nally characterizes the way in which ªcircum-
spective concernº changes over into ªtheoretical discovering,º we must conclude
to our disappointment that he does not offer a substantial explanation of this
change. Heidegger is not able to identify a motive in our practical involvement
with the world for changing over into the theoretical attitude. What he comes up
with seems to be a mere tautology. Why is it that we ®rst manipulate a hammer
as a hammer, and then suddenly perceive it as a physical object with measurable
properties? ªThe understanding of beingby which our concernful dealings with
entities within-the-world have been guidedhas changed over.º
236 To what else

does this amount than to saying that we understand the hammer differently be-
cause we understand it differently?
Yet there is a nontautologous explanation here. Heidegger assumes that our
understanding of being (SeinsverstaÈ
ndnis) implies a global framework of implicit
categories and relations, which we project onto beings. Only because we project
such a global framework will individual entities become manifest to usastools
orasphysical objects. For instance, we cannot understand something as a hammer
in isolation. A hammer only shows up for us as such within a framework of other
tools and materials, such as planks and nails, which is structured by a social
world of practices and standardized procedures, and by our purposeful actions.
Heidegger holds that this framework is pro-jected by Dasein and that this projec-
tion is made possible, ultimately, by the transcendental time-structure of concern
and being-toward-death. I discussed Heidegger's projective theory of understand-
ing in section 5, above. He applies this theory in section 69b, when he character-
izes the worldview of mathematical physics as a ªprojectionº (Entwurf). This
substantiates the Kantian interpretation ofSein und Zeitas follows.
In order to be able toperceiveentities as physical objects, Dasein must project
the ontological framework of mathematical physics onto entities. This is the sub-
jective aspect of Heidegger's transcendental deduction, or the ®rst step in his
transcendental argument. Heidegger also subscribes to the objective aspect of the
transcendental deduction. The second step in his argument consists in claiming
that thebeing, or the sense of being (Seinssinn), of entities is determined by such
a projection. ªWhat is decisive for the development of mathematical physics,º
Heidegger says in section 69b, ªdoes not lie in its higher esteem for the observa-
tion of `facts,' nor in its `application' of mathematics in determining the character
of natural processes; it lies rather in theway in which Nature herself is mathemati-
cally projected....Only `in the light' of a Nature which has been projected in
this fashion can anything like a `fact' be found.º
237 The facts of natural science
only show up for us on the basis of a global conception of natural being, which
is a priori in the sense that it is a projection without which we cannot discover
scienti®c facts at all. What is more, there simplyareno scienti®c facts apart from
such a projection. That Heidegger's notion of understanding of being (Seinsver-
ndnis) may be interpreted in this Kantian sense is also con®rmed byKant
und das Problem der Metaphysik. In that book, Heidegger often uses the term
ndnisfor the Kantian a priori structures of experience.
Heidegger's Copernican turn, according to which a holistic projective under-
standing of being determines the mode of being in which entities show up for us,
is an antinaturalist solution to the problem of the manifest and the scienti®c image.
This interpretation is supported by the following grounds:
1. According to Heidegger, the scienti®c view of the world is not established
as true, probable, or plausible, or warranted on the basis of more or less neutral
facts. On the contrary, we can only discern scienti®c facts on the basis of an a
priori projection of nature-as-scienti®c. In terms of contemporary philosophy of

science, this implies that facts and perception are radically theory-laden, and that
there is an incommensurability between the scienti®c and the manifest image. If
this radical view were correct, we would not be able to substantiate the claim
that scienti®c knowledge is superior to religious, mythical, or other prescienti®c
systems of knowledge.
2. In projecting the scienti®c view of the world, we skip (uÈ
berspringen) the
world as it is in daily existence: a meaningful world in which we live and work.
Heidegger claims that the meaningful world of daily existence is the worldas it
is ªin itself.º 240 This implies that the world as science sees it isnotthe world as
it is in itself. Moreover, Heidegger claims (but fails to argue effectively in § 69b
ofSein und Zeit) that the scienti®c view and scienti®c practice are parasitic on the
primary practice of daily life. As a consequence, the scienti®c image is de®cient in
relation to the manifest image (AlltaÈ
glichkeit), and the manifest image is primary.
3. Whereas Kant thought that the transcendental structures of experience are
operative necessarily, so that we cannot help viewing the phenomenal world in a
scienti®c, Euclidean, and deterministic manner, Heidegger claims that the scien-
ti®c view of the world is due to an antecedent projection (Entwurf) of nature
as a meaningless, ªmathematicalº multiplicity.
241 Admittedly, Heidegger warns
against interpreting the notion ofEntwurfas a deliberate plan or project. 242 This
warning is essential for understanding the sense in which Dasein may be said to
project its possibilities of self-realization. Yet, in relation to natural science, the
termEntwurfsuggests that the scienti®c view of the world is somehow optional,
and that we may decide to reject the scienti®c view of the world without going
against any independent evidence.
4. I now want to suggest that such an antinaturalist decision is one of the most
important objectives of Heidegger's quest. Even though he often seems to give
science its due, Heidegger's deepest intentions were to undermine the hold of the
scienti®c view of the world, because this view allegedly deprives the world of its
ªmeaningfulness.º As Heidegger says in his second book on Kant,Die Frage
nach dem Ding, philosophical questioning has the objective of preparing us for a
decision. We must decide whether science (Wissenschaft) provides the sole crite-
rion of knowledge. Heidegger suggests that there is a deeper kind of knowledge,
which ®xes the grounds and limitations of the sciences.
Let me conclude. Although Heidegger did not retrieve Kant's justi®cation for
the transcendental turn, he had reasons of his own for going transcendental. In
Sein und Zeit, he wanted to resolve the con¯ict between the scienti®c image and
the manifest image. His transcendental turn enabled him to argue in favor of an
antinaturalist stance, which restores our life and the world to their ªmeaning-
fulness.º Although Heidegger rejects transcendental idealism and overlooks
Kant's justi®cation for going transcendental in his book on Kant of 1929, his
transcendental turn brings him close to Kant's own solution to the con¯ict be-
tween the Newtonian picture of the world on the one hand and religion and moral-
ity on the other hand. Like Kant, Heidegger argues that the ªmeaningfulnessº of

life resides in the world as it isan sich, whereas the world of physics is merely
phenomenal. (The antinaturalist interpretation of Heidegger's question of being
will be corroborated more amply by §§ 11±13, below.)
B. How Is Heidegger's Transcendental Turn Possible?
Having put forward a hypothesis that explains why Heidegger's transcendental
turn was necessary, I now come to the topic of its possibility. Here, too, it is
instructive to compare Heidegger with Kant, and I will do so at the risk of being
somewhat repetitive. Kant's transcendental turn would not have been possible if
Kant had not inherited the theory of perception developed by Descartes. Ac-
cording to this theory, processes in the physical world impinge upon our sense
organs. Stimulations of the senses are transmitted to the brain by physical mecha-
nisms, and the physical effects in the brain cause mental impressions in our minds.
These impressions or sensations do not resemble their physical causes, because
they are representations of secondary qualities (such as warm and red), which
Descartes denied to the physical world. Impressions are then interpreted, pro-
cessed, and projected by a mental mechanism. As a result we perceive a (phenom-
enal) world that contains secondary qualities.
Kant radicalized this traditional theory of perception. In order to solve his prob-
lem of synthetic a priori propositions, he had to argue that structures such as time,
space, and causality are part of the information-processing mechanisms in the
mind, instead of being properties of the world as it is in itself. He could not
explain that a priori knowledge can be synthetic except by assuming that the
objects of a priori knowledge are constituted by the same epistemic mechanisms
that enable us to acquire such knowledge in an a priori manner. This Copernican
turn, which exploits the Cartesian distinction between a physical world in itself
and a subjectively constituted phenomenal world, implies that physics must be
concerned with the phenomenal world and not, as Descartes thought, with the
world as it is in itself. It also implies transcendental idealism in the sense
that the phenomenal world is subject-dependent. Kant's theory led to the paradox-
ical result that the theory of perception, which had to be assumed in order to
develop transcendental philosophy in the ®rst place, had to be rejected once this
philosophy had been accepted. According to Kant's transcendental theory, the
category of causality cannot be validly applied outside of the phenomenal world.
As a consequence, it would be incompatible with this theory to say that the sensa-
tions of which the phenomenal world is constituted are caused by processes in a
worldan sich. Jacobi was one of the ®rst philosophers to discern this paradox,
which became known in subsequent German philosophy as the problem of the
Ding an sich.
InSein und Zeit, Heidegger rejects both the traditional (Cartesian) theories of
perception and transcendental idealism.
244 This raises the question as to how a
transcendental theory is possible without them. What can be the content of such

a theory? In what sense can we say that the object of knowledge is constituted by
subjective conditions if we reject transcendental idealism? I will answer these
questions by brie¯y stating the differences and parallelisms between the transcen-
dental theories of Kant, the later Husserl (IdeenI), and Heidegger, respectively.
Let me choose three points of comparison: (1) their conceptions of the phenome-
nal world, (2) their conceptions of the worldan sich, and (3) their views on the
ontological status of the transcendental subject.
1.The Phenomenal World. According to Kant and Husserl, the phenomenal
world is constituted by transcendental subjectivity on the basis of a ªmatterº of
sensations that the transcendental subject ®nds in itself. As a consequence, this
world is ontologically dependent on the transcendental subject (transcendental
idealism). As far as its structure is concerned, Kant's phenomenal world consists
of material and mental phenomena. His conception of material phenomena is
modeled on Newton's physics, and the phenomenal material world is identical
with the physical world. In the second half of the nineteenth century, many Neo-
Kantians rejected this dualistic conception of the phenomenal world. After the
pace of history had been quickened by the French Revolution and the Napoleonic
wars, history had established itself as a major intellectual discipline. Conse-
quently, Neo-Kantians wondered whether the phenomenal world should not make
room for objective spirit and history. As a result of this development, Husserl
distinguished various ontological domains or regions in the world, such as mate-
rial object, animal nature, person, and objective spirit in Hegel's sense. Whereas
causality is a category basic to the region of matter, motivation would be a de®n-
ing category of the regions of persons and objective spirit. Heidegger borrowed
from Husserl and the Neo-Kantians this regionalization of being, which he also
found in Aristotle. There is another innovation of Husserl's that Heidegger en-
dorsed: the distinction between life-world and the world of physics. Husserl ar-
gues inIdeenI (§ 52) and inKrisisthat the life-world is ontologically fundamen-
tal, and that the world of physics should not be conceived of as a transcendent
cause, but rather as constituted on the basis of the life-world. As we saw under
(A), this is also Heidegger's opinion. Husserl's notion of a life-world is not incom-
patible with his transcendental idealism, as is often thought. On the contrary,
Husserl claims that the life-world is ontologically dependent on transcendental
The main difference between Husserl's and Heidegger's transcendental doc-
trines is that Heidegger rejects transcendental idealism. According to Heidegger,
the transcendental subject (Dasein) and world are equiprimordial, because Dasein
is being-in-the-world. As I argued in section 3, this new conception is a drastic
departure from the philosophical tradition of the West, because Heidegger claims
that being-in-the-world cannot be understood within the matrix of traditional phil-
osophical categories such as subject, object, substance, property, consciousness,
and matter. The question is, however, in what sense Heidegger's conception of
Dasein as being-in-the-world may be called transcendental. If the world is as

fundamental as Dasein, how can Heidegger endorse the second stage of a tran-
scendental argument, according to which phenomenal objects are constituted by
subjective conditions?
2.The World in Itself. Because Kant included space, time, and categories such
as substance and causality in the epistemic mechanism of the transcendental sub-
ject, he had to conclude that the input of this mechanism is nothing but a pure
manifold of sensations. The knowing subject cannot create sensations, because a
®nite knower is receptive. This is why Kant had to assume aDing an sich, which
causes our sensations. However, such an assumption is puzzling for two reasons.
First, if even time and space are subjective, we cannot know anything of this
world in itself. Second, the assumption contradicts the very idea of the Copernican
turn, which implies that the category of causality can only be applied to phenom-
ena. Both Fichte and Husserl felt that the Kantian notion of aDing an sichhad
to be eliminated. InLogische Untersuchungenand inIdeenI, Husserl argued that
the concept of an essentially unknowable object is nonsensical. He rede®ned the
notion of aDing an sichas an ideal limit, inherent in the process of sense percep-
tion. When we perceive ever more aspects of an object, we will form the concep-
tion of the object-as-completely-perceived, that is, of the object as it isan sich.
This conception is an ªidea in the Kantian sense,º because it can never be
Husserl's new de®nition of the notion of aDing an sichhad drastic implications
for his notion of the world. If an object as it is in itself is a mere ideal limit,
implied by a series of perceptions as the ultimate objective correlate of this series,
the phenomenal world is the only world there is, and the world is ontologically
dependent on the transcendental subject. Also, we should now say that the object
in itself is not an object different from the object that we perceive: the former is
an ideal limit of the latter. Heidegger inSein und Zeitfollows Husserl in abolish-
ing the distinction between a phenomenal and a noumenal world. According to
Heidegger, thingsmanifestthemselves to us primarily as tools. He concludes that
ªreadiness-to-hand (Zuhandenheit) is the way in which entities as they arein
themselvesare de®ned ontologico-categorially.º
247 InKant und das Problem der
Metaphysik, Heidegger projects back into Kant's texts his Neo-Kantian under-
standing of theDing an sich. Phenomena and noumena are not different kinds of
objects. Rather, there is only one object, which functions as a phenomenon when
it manifests itself to ®nite knowers, whereas God sees it as it is in the act of
creating it (noumenon).
248 Again, we should ask how Heidegger is able to set up
a transcendental argument inSein und Zeitif noumenon and phenomenon are
3.The Ontological Status of the Transcendental Subject. According to Husserl,
Kant never succeeded in de®ning unambiguously the ontological status of the
transcendental subject. On the one hand, Kant distinguished between transcenden-
tal and empirical egos. On the other hand, he assumed that even the transcendental
ego is affected by a worldan sich. Kant held both that the transcendental ego

constitutes the (phenomenal) world, and that the transcendental ego is somehow
inthe world. From Husserl's point of view, this amounts to a contradiction, be-
cause the phenomenal world and the noumenal world are in fact the same. If so,
Husserl ended up in a dilemma: either the transcendental subject constitutes the
world by making sense of its stream of immanent sensations. In that case the
transcendental subject cannot beinthe world, because it is the constitutive source
of the world. Or, alternatively, we assume that the transcendental subject is in the
world. In that case we have to give up the idea that the world is constituted by it.
This latter alternative seems to imply that one gives up transcendental philosophy.
Husserl chose the ®rst horn of this dilemma. His theory of perception implied
constitutionalism. He resolved the ªparadox of human subjectivity,º which con-
sists in the antinomy that the subject is both in the world and constitutes the world,
by making a radical distinction between empirical or ªmundaneº human subjects
in the constituted world and transcendental subjects (monads) that constitute the
world, and which therefore cannot beinit. Transcendental subjects are substances
in the Cartesian sense that they do not need anything else in order to exist, whereas
the constituted world is ontologically dependent on transcendental subjects. Hus-
serl's transcendental idealism is different from Berkeley's subjective idealism
because of this distinction between mundane and transcendental subjects.
249 It
also resembles Berkeley's view. Like Berkeley, Husserl claims that substantial
reality is purely spiritual and he ventures the hypothesis of a radically transcen-
dent God in order to account for the fact that the transcendental subject ®nds in
itself ordered series of sensations, which enable it to constitute a world.
Heidegger opts for the other horn of Husserl's dilemma. Dasein as a transcen-
dental subject is said to beinthe world. This ®ts into the manifest image, which
Heidegger endorses. As a consequence, Heidegger rejects Husserl's constitution-
theory of perception. It seems, however, that Heidegger's solution raises a second
dilemma. We should remember that transcendental arguments consist of two
steps. It is ®rst argued that speci®c conditions in the knower are necessary for
being able toexperienceobjects. Second, it is argued that these very same condi-
tions are necessary for objects in orderto be. The dilemma I am referring to can
now be stated as a dilemma between weak and strong transcendentalism. If one
identi®es by a stipulative de®nition an object's ªbeingº with our experiencing it,
the two stages of the transcendental argument collapse into one, and transcenden-
talism becomes a tautology. I call this trivial position weak transcendentalism. In
strong transcendentalism, the two stages must be clearly distinguished, as is the
case in Husserl and Kant. Husserl's view of the world as nothing but an ontologi-
cally dependent correlate of the transcendental subject is a clear example of strong
transcendentalism. Heidegger's problem is as follows: how to avoid weak tran-
scendentalism if one rejects transcendental idealism and a constitution theory of
the world. It seems that Heidegger has a choice between strong transcendentalism,
which implies transcendental idealism, and weak transcendentalism, which is triv-
ial. How does he resolve this dilemma?

Heidegger argues in section 43 ofSein und Zeitthat realentitiesdo not depend
on Dasein's understanding of being (SeinsverstaÈ
ndnis). This amounts to a rejec-
tion of transcendental idealism.
251 He claims that onlybeing itselfdepends on
understanding of being. 252 These two statements imply, however, that entities can-
not depend on being itself, because the relation of ªdepending onº is transitive.
If this is the case, how canbeingbe de®ned as that which determines entities as
entities, as Heidegger says in section 2?
253 Weak transcendentalism seems to be
the only plausible solution to this contradiction. The second stage of Heidegger's
transcendental argument (understanding of being determines being) must be iden-
tical to the ®rst stage (understanding of being is a condition of experiencing enti-
ties). What Heidegger must mean by ªbeingº is nothing but the sense in which
we understand entities ontologically, that is, as tools, or as purely present objects.
The expressions ªthe sense of beingº and ªbeingº must be equivalent. Does this
identi®cation of being with ontological sense reduce Heidegger's position to a
trivial one? It seems that his ambiguous terminology (ªbeingº instead of ªontolog-
ical senseº or ªsigni®canceº) only masks the fact that his view comes dangerously
close to the position that the entities which we manipulate and knowexistindepen-
dently of Dasein, even though Dasein determines thesigni®cancewhich these
entities have for it. This commonsensical view should not be called transcenden-
talism. It merely sounds like a transcendental view because Heidegger uses the
term ªbeingº in a new and idiosyncratic sense, as synonymous with ªsigni®-
cance.º Apart from ªbeingº in this peculiar sense, Heidegger still needs the usual
notion of being as existence in order to state his position: entitiesexistindepen-
dently of Dasein, even though theyarenot independent of Dasein. Clearly, Hei-
degger's antinaturalism threatens to collapse if this were his position, because a
scientist might claim that science merely abstracts from the ontological sense that
Dasein projects upon preexisting entities, and investigates them as they are in
themselves. This was Descartes' position, which is not at all ªtranscendental.º In
what sense, then, isSein und Zeita treatise in transcendental philosophy?
In the ®rst stage of his transcendental argument, Heidegger claims that we can
only encounter entities on the basis of a global understanding of being, which
projects on entities a holistic framework of signi®cance.
254 In the second stage,
he argues that entities derive their ontological sense from this global framework. 255
Because Heidegger rejects transcendental idealism, he has to deny that the exis-
tence of entities depends on this framework. 256 As a consequence, the two stages
of his transcendental argument collapse into one. Nevertheless, there is a real
Kantian ¯avor to Heidegger's position, because it is claimed that the sense or
signi®cance of entities depends on aholisticframework, projected by understand-
ing of being. In the case of tools, this framework is inherent in our human
As we saw under (A), the assumption of a holistic projected framework is
essential to Heidegger's solution of the problem of the manifest and the scienti®c
image. Because scienti®c facts allegedly do not show up for us except within a

projected framework of a holistic mathematical understanding of nature, there
areno neutral and independent facts that might compel us to accept the scienti®c
view of the world. Consequently, accepting this view must be a matter of free
choice or projection, not of facts. Heidegger's philosophy aims at preparing us
for such a choice. If, however, the assumption of holistic frameworks is false or
nonsensical, as I will argue in chapter 4, there is no room for choice here, and
Heidegger's antinaturalism is shipwrecked.
We must conclude that Heidegger's transcendental theory inSein und Zeitis a
variety of weak transcendentalism.
258 ªBeingº in Heidegger's idiosyncratic usage
is identical to the ontological sense projected by Dasein. Yet the theory is non-
trivially transcendental because Heidegger claims that entities can manifest
themselves to usasequipment orasmerely extant only on the basis of a global
a priori framework, which Dasein projects onto them. In the terminology ofKant
und das Problem der Metaphysik, he claims that we have to ªturn ourselves to-
wardº entities (Zuwendung), in order that they may manifest themselves. It is
merely this assumption that an a priori and holistic framework of signi®cance
must be projected on preexisting entities in order that they may show up for us,
which distinguishes Heidegger's weak transcendentalism from the trivial view
that humans give signi®cance to preexisting things. Unfortunately, Heidegger pro-
vides no arguments for his weak transcendentalism and it does not follow from
his phenomenological description of equipment. From the fact that a hammer
refers to nails and planks one cannot infer that something would not show up for
us as a hammer unless aglobalanda prioriframework of signi®cant relations
has been projected.
C. The Transcendence of Being
Up until now, I have speci®ed two different senses in which Heidegger uses the
term ªbeingº (Sein)inSein und Zeit. According to the phenomenological leit-
motif, ªbeingº means the fundamental mode of being or ontological constitution
(Seinsweise,Grundverfassung des Seins) of ontological regions such as history,
nature, space, life, Dasein, and language. It is the task of regional ontologies to
develop basic concepts that capture these different modes of being. According to
Heidegger, regional ontologies are a priori in that they disclose areas of being
and make the relevant conceptual structures available to the positive sciences.
Regional ontologies are the foundations of the speci®c sciences.
259 In a second,
Kantian sense, ªbeingº is a global meaningful structure, projected by Dasein,
which enables entities to manifest themselves with a speci®c ontological signi®-
cance, and ªbeingº is also used as a synonym for ªontological signi®canceº (weak
transcendentalism). For instance, Heidegger claims that we can encounter entities
such as tools only within the framework of what he calls aBewandtnisganzheit,
a global meaningful structure of instrumental relations. This framework is also a
priori, because according to Heidegger entities cannot show up for us without a

prior projection of such a framework. ABewandtnisganzheitis a condition of the
possibility that entities appear to usastools.
Heidegger nowhere inSein und Zeitdiscusses the interrelations between these
two concepts of being, and, indeed, he does not distinguish them explicitly. It is
clear, however, that they are not equivalent. The notion of a regional ontology
is logically independent from the Neo-Kantian notion of a holistic framework,
projected on entities, andvice versa. If the notion of a regional ontology seems
to presuppose that the furniture of the world is neatly divided into different do-
mains, a global projected framework does not need to respect these domains; it
may cut across them. Entities from different regions, such as animals, stones, and
pieces of wood, will be integrated into the primary framework of readiness-to-
hand (Zuhandenheit). Moreover, according to the phenomenological conception,
Dasein is a mere region of being, whereas in the Kantian conception it is funda-
mental or transcendental because it projects ontological frameworks. In section 2
ofSein und Zeit, Heidegger uses two different formulas to specify what he under-
stands by ªbeingº: ªthat which determines entities as entities,º and ªthat with
regard to which entities are already understood.º
261 One might say that the ®rst
formula ®ts the phenomenological interpretation of ªbeingº and that the second
expresses the Neo-Kantian conception.
Are these two notions of being the only ones inSein und Zeit? There is a
passage at the end of section 7C that suggests that Heidegger uses ªbeingº in yet
a third sense:
Being, as the basic theme of philosophy, is no class or genus of entities; yet it pertains
to every entity. Its ªuniversalityº is to be sought higher up. Being and structure of being
lie beyond every entity and every possible character which an entity may possess.Being
is the transcendens pure and simple.
For two reasons it is dif®cult to read this passage either in the phenomenologi-
cal or in the Kantian sense. First, there is a suggestion that being is one and unique.
This is not the case according to the phenomenological and the transcendental
interpretations. There are many ontological regions and there are various possible
transcendental frameworks. Second, there is a suggestion that being ishigherthan
beings. The phenomenological and transcendental interpretations do not enable
us to make sense of such a suggestion either.
Those who are familiar with the philosophy of the Schools, as Heidegger was,
will recognize the idiom of the quoted passage. In fact, there are two pre-Kantian
notions of transcendence of being that might be involved here, one derived ulti-
mately from Plato and another from Aristotle. According to Plato, real beings are
eternal Forms, which are transcendent in relation to the perishable world that we
perceive by the senses. The form of the Good even transcends the realm of Forms.
In the Platonic sense, the Good is a transcendens pure and simple, and it is
ªhigherº than ordinary beings. The Aristotelian notion of the transcendence of
being is less lofty. Aristotle observed that we may use ªbeingº in all categories.

We say, for instance, that Socratesisa man (substance), that itis®ve o'clock
(time), and that heis®ve feet tall (quality). In this sense, the verb ªto beº tran-
scends the categories: its usage is not limited to one of them. However, it does
not transcend the categories because it is a higher genus than the categories are.
The categories may be seen as highest genera of ontological kinds, whereas the
verb ªto beº does not denote entities that belong to a genus; it functions in speak-
ing about beings in all categories. What holds for ªto be,º that it transcends the
categories, also holds for ªtrueº and ªgood,º which may be used in all categories
as well.
The Scholastics, especially Thomas, tended to identify Plato's Good with the
Christian God, and to con¯ate the sense in which the Good is transcendent with
that in which ªto beº or ªgoodº are transcendent. ªBeingº (ens,esse) was also
used as another word for God, who was supposed tobepar excellence, and it was
thought that the plenitude of being in God ®lters though the Forms into created
entities. Clearly, Being in this sense is atranscendens pure and simple;itisone
of the celebratedtranscendentalia. It is both transcendent to experience and tran-
scendental in the sense that it is a condition for the possibility of all entities.
According to Thomas and to Eckhart's mysticism, the actuality of Being is shared
in some degree by all created beings, so that Being is a phenomenon hidden in
all entities. Is this what Heidegger means in the quoted passage? A great many
obscure sentences inSein und Zeitseem to receive a sudden illumination from
this interpretative hypothesis. For instance, what should we think of section 2, last
paragraph, where Heidegger intimates that Being has an ªessential pertinenceº to
Dasein, and that for this reason Dasein is perhaps related in a special way to the
question of being?
264 Heidegger's thesis in section 7C ofSein und Zeit, that being
is a phenomenon which is hidden in all entities, could also have this Eckhartian
sense, apart from its phenomenological interpretation. Yet, the text ofSein und
Zeitdoes not enable us to decide on the value of the hypothesis, and I will come
back to it in section 11.
265 Let me now try to derive from the text ofSein und Zeit
some hints as to the way in which we should interpret the notion of being as a
transcendens pure and simple (transcendens schlechthin). These hints are implied
in the hermeneutical structure of the book.
1. In section 5, above, I distinguished two mutually connected aspects of the
hermeneutical circle: a holistic aspect and a presuppositional aspect. According
to Heidegger, Dasein and being (Sein) make up a hermeneutical whole. We cannot
understand being without understanding Dasein, as Heidegger argues in sections
2 and 4 ofSein und Zeit, whereas the notion of being (Sein) is also implied in
that of Dasein, so that we cannot understand Dasein without understanding being.
The solution to this hermeneutical circle is what I have called the spiraling move-
ment of interpretation: Heidegger starts with a vague and implicit notion of being.
Using this notion, he develops an explicit ontological interpretation of human
understanding of being (SeinsverstaÈ
ndnis), that is, of Dasein.
266 Unfortunately,
the published part ofSein und Zeitbreaks off at the climax of this ontological

interpretation, the analysis of the temporality of Dasein. We will see later on that
this rupture is not at all accidental (§§ 12C and 13C).
2. As we know from section 8 ofSein und Zeit, Heidegger had planned a third
division of the ®rst, constructive, part of the book. The title of this division, ªZeit
und Sein,º is a reversal of the title of the book itself,Sein und Zeit. What does
this reversal of title mean? According to section 8, the ®rst part ofSein und Zeit
should develop two topics: the interpretation of Dasein in terms of temporality,
and the explication of time as the transcendental horizon for the question of
267 It is plausible to assume that the ®rst topic is dealt with in the two
published divisions, so that the unpublished third division of part 1 is reserved
for ªthe explication of time as the transcendental horizon for the question of
being.º From a purely formal point of view, we may say that the third division
(ªZeit und Seinº) is just the next turn in the spiraling movement of Heidegger's
hermeneutics. Having analyzed Dasein, he must now turn toSein, and develop
an explicit notion of beingtout court. After that, yet another turn might be neces-
sary, fromSeinback to Dasein, for the explicit notion ofSeinmight shed new
light on the ontology of Dasein.
268 This second turn was not planned in the setup
ofSein und Zeit.
3. What is the hermeneutical turn from Dasein toSeinin the third division of
Sein und Zeitsupposed to teach us? We do not possess a manuscript of this third
division. As Heidegger later said in the Letter on ªHumanism,º he held back the
third division of part 1 because ªthinking failed in the adequate saying of this
turning [Kehre] and did not succeed with the help of the language of metaphys-
269 He also says that in this division, ªthe whole is reversed.º 270 We must
conclude, perhaps, that Heidegger's attempt to develop the third division in his
lectures of the summer semester of 1927 was also a failure.
271 Should we even
conclude that the interpreter of Heidegger cannot answer the question as to what
Heidegger meant by the expression ªbeingº as a ªtranscendens pure and simpleº
inSein und Zeit? Heidegger intended to give an explication of this expression in
the third division of part 1. We do not possess this division. How can one interpret
a nonexisting text?
This latter conclusion, however, is somewhat rash. For Heidegger's view of
hermeneutics as a spiraling movement implies that what becomes explicit at the
next turn must be implicit in the present one. We should be able to derive hints
as to the content of Heidegger's notion of being as a transcendens pure and simple
from the extant divisions ofSein und Zeitand from the lectures of 1927. Even if
the relevant part of these lectures is a failure, this failure might reveal what Hei-
degger intended to do.
4. As far asSein und Zeitis concerned, we may infer from the inversion of
titles that in the third division the order between being and time was to be re-
versed. Whereas Heidegger in the ®rst two divisions starts with interpreting a
speci®c being, Dasein, and ends up with temporality, he seems to have anticipated
for the third division a route from temporality to being as atranscendens pure

and simple. One possible interpretation of such a route is a traditional religious
one: by re¯ecting on our ®nite temporality, that is, on our mortality, we might
®nd a route to Being or God as an eternal and even atemporal being. It may seem
that this cannot be Heidegger's objective inSein und Zeit.
272 The reason is that
his aim was a drastic reinterpretation of the notion of being itself, and that he
stresses again and again the ªontological differenceº between being and beings.
There are many hints as to the nature of this reinterpretation in the published
text ofSein und Zeit. Heidegger's revolution in the interpretation of being pur-
ported to overthrow two millennia of philosophical thought. From Parmenides
and Plato on, eternal or atemporal being has been considered as more ªrealº than
temporal being. According to this tradition, only what is eternal can be an object
of real knowledge. Greek philosophy decisively in¯uenced the interpretation of
Christianity. The Christian God was conceived of as an eternal or atemporal sub-
stance, as was man's immortal soul. We ®nd this Neo-Platonic view of God and
soul in Descartes and in much of subsequent philosophy. According to Kant, the
transcendental subject has to be immutable and timeless, because time itself is an
ordering structure in this subject. InIdeenI, sections 81±82, Husserl tried to
show that the stream of transcendental consciousness must be in®nite. We might
summarize the traditional notion of being in the maxim that if real being is time-
less, our own real being must be timeless or eternal as well. As Heidegger says,
the traditional notion of being is that of always being present (staÈ
It is in its application to human existence that the traditional notion of being
shows its absurd consequences in the clearest way. As Heidegger argues inSein
und Zeit, we will never understand our own mode of being as care (Sorge) unless
we accept and acknowledge our ®nite temporality as being-toward-death. How
could we be really concerned about our life if we did not live into a ®nite future?
This is why a destruction of the traditional notion of being should start with a
hermeneutical analysis of human existence. As Heidegger says in the second half
of section 5, temporality (Zeitlichkeit) is the horizon of understanding being, be-
cause temporality is the most fundamental ontological structure of Dasein, and
because Dasein has understanding of being.
274 Most modern readers ofSein und
Zeitwill have no dif®culties in accepting that human existence is inescapably
®nite, and that it should be understood on the basis of ®nite temporality. This
does not explain, however, why Heidegger thinks that beingtout courtis temporal
as well.
275 Heidegger's grandiose hermeneutical movement inSein und Zeitseems
to have been planned as follows. In the ®rst and the second division, the grip of
the traditional timeless notion of being is undermined by an analysis of the tempo-
rality (Zeitlichkeit) of Dasein. In the third division, Heidegger wanted to turn to
being as such, and show that it is temporal as well (TemporalitaÈ
t des Seins).
How should one interpret this idea of the temporality of being itself?
5. At this point, two possible interpretations suggest themselves. First, we
might stress the fundamental role of temporality in the transcendental philoso-

phies of Kant and Husserl.
277 According to Husserl, for instance, all regional enti-
ties, even the ªtimelessº spatial forms studied by Euclidean geometry, are consti-
tuted in transcendental time. Extrapolating this Husserlian doctrine to Heidegger,
we might suppose that according to Heidegger ªbeing itselfº is temporal in the
sense that the different regional notions of being are distinguished by temporal
characteristics, so that time functions as the ªhorizonº for interpreting being. This
could then be explained by the transcendental doctrine that all ontical regions are
somehow constituted (in the weak sense of projectively understood) by temporal
278 Such an interpretation ®ts in well with section 3 ofSein und Zeit, where
Heidegger says that we must have a preliminary understanding of the notion of
being as such in order to derive the different regional modes of being by means
of a ªnondeductive genealogy.º
279 As in the case of Kant and Husserl, Heidegger's
conception of transcendental philosophy implies a three-story edi®ce of knowl-
edge. The sciences and humanities are based on a priori regional ontologies,
which, in turn, are based on an even more fundamental science of the transcenden-
tal realm. According to Heidegger, Husserl and Kant failed to dwell on the univer-
sal notion of being that we use when we say that regional entities and the transcen-
dental subject ªare.º This universal notion should be arrived at by a re¯ection on
transcendental subjectivity. In Heidegger's case, it is the notion of being as ®nite
temporality, whereas Kant and Husserl assumed that the transcendental subject is
This transcendental interpretation solves one of the two problems raised by the
quotation I started with, the problem of why there should be one uni®ed notion
of being. However, as it fails to solve the other problem, concerned with the
suggestion that being as such ishigherthan beings, there remains room for a
second interpretative hypothesis. What can this second hypothesis amount to,
if the theological one, derived from Scholastic usage of ªBeing,º is excluded?
Regarding the ªhighnessº of being as such, there is a paradox in Heidegger's
writings, which becomes quite pressing in the later works. On the one hand, much
of what Heidegger says in relation to being becomes easy to understand if one
substitutes ªGodº for ªBeing.º On the other hand, Heidegger stressed many times
that philosophical thought cannot be theology.
By and large, Heidegger's lectures of the summer semester of 1927 on the
Fundamental Problems of Phenomenologyseem to corroborate the transcendental
interpretation. In part 2 of these lectures, Heidegger develops his conception of
the ®nite temporality of Dasein in contrast with Aristotle's notion of time. He
distinguishes three conceptions of time: (a) the traditional ªvulgarº notion of time
as an in®nite linear continuum of meaningless moments, (b) the everyday notion
of time as time for doing or not doing something, and (c) the fundamental ®nite
temporality ofDasein. Heidegger argues that Dasein's fundamental temporality
is a condition of the possibility of intentionality and of all human behavior and
experience, because it enables Dasein to understand being. In a Kantian manner,
transcendental time is conceived of as a precondition for projecting a priori holis-

tic schemes, which, in their turn, are preconditions for experience and for manipu-
lating tools. The transcendental interpretation explains why Heidegger says that
all time essentially belongs to Dasein.
281 Both in the lectures (§ 19) and inSein
und Zeit(§ 81), Heidegger argues that the ªvulgarº notion of time (a) is due to
Dasein's falling, that is, to the tendency of Dasein to interpret itself and its tempo-
rality on the model of purely present things. Because time in the most fundamental
sense is claimed to be transcendental, Heidegger has to explain the fact that most
people erroneously believe that time is primarily a cosmic phenomenon. Heideg-
ger also argues that time in the sense of the everyday-conception (b) is ªgivenº
beforehand by Dasein. Whenever we look at our watch, for instance, ªwe already
gave in advance time to the watch.º
282 Allegedly, Dasein is the transcendental
time-giving agency. 283 In our Dasein, original time (c,urspruÈ
ngliche Zeit,Zeitlich-
keit) brings about (zeitigt) time (Zeit), as Heidegger says with a pun on the verb
zeitigen(to bring about).
There is also another strand in the lectures of 1927. At crucial moments in this
text, Heidegger refers to Plato's notion of the Good as radically transcendent, and
to the Platonic image of the cave.
285 He claims that in our understanding of being,
we have to project being with respect to something, and that thisworaufhinis
transcendent even to being.
286 Theworaufhinof understanding being turns out to
be transcendental temporality. What is the relation between transcendental tempo-
rality and Plato's idea of the Good? Should we assume that transcendental tempo-
rality, which is the fundamental structure of Dasein, is somehow also radically
transcendent to Dasein and toSein? What, precisely, is the status of transcendental
At this point in the lectures, Heidegger's formulations become exasperatingly
ambiguous. He says both that temporality is Dasein's fundamental structure,
which enables Dasein to project itself, and that ªtemporality is in itself the original
auto-projection as such.º
287 What does he mean by this latter, obscure formula,
which seems to remind us of the notion of Divine creation? Why does Heidegger
continue the relevant passage by abstrusely discussing the notions of Light and
of Nothing? Again, the texts seem to acquire a theological ¯avor without being
theological. Should we suppose that there is yet a third meaning of ªbeingº after
all, apart from the phenomenological and the transcendental ones? I will come
back to this question in section 11, below.
By way of a summary, we may now specify the formal structure of the question
of being (see § 6 above,in ®nem) in terms of the transcendental leitmotif. Within
the framework of the transcendental theme, the nine aspects of this formal struc-
ture acquire the following meanings. (1) The unique and fundamental question
of philosophy is concerned with being in the transcendental sense. Because noth-
ing can be manifest to us except on the basis of a holistic interpretative scheme,
which is a priori in the sense that Dasein has to project it on entities in order to
enable them to become manifest, the question as to the nature of such a scheme

is more fundamental than questions of science or regional ontology. This question
may be called the question of being, for transcendental schemes specify the onto-
logical sense (ªbeingº) of entities. (2) Man has an implicit understanding of the
question of being, because projective Dasein is man's existence. By interpreting
our ontological constitution, we will make explicit the projective nature of our
understanding of being, and the difference between entities and being.
If (3) we do nevertheless live in forgetfulness of being, this means, on the
transcendental interpretation, that in ordinary life the projecting activity of Dasein
goes unnoticed. Similarly, Kant and Husserl claimed that usually we are not aware
of our transcendental activity of constitution.
290 Forgetfulness of being may be
annulled by some kind of transcendental reduction. In Heidegger's case, the tran-
scendental reduction consists in changing over from theexistentielllevel of re-
¯ection to theexistentiallevel, that is, from re¯ection on entities to re¯ection on
their being, more precisely, to re¯ection on our projectively understanding their
291 Because in daily life we have an implicit ontological understanding of
being, this changing over is motivated by daily life, especially by the fundamental
experience ofAngst, and it may be actualized by an explicit hermeneutics of
Dasein. (4) Forgetfulness of being consists in overlooking the ontological differ-
ence between entities and their ontological sense or ªbeing.º In the traditional
sense of ªexistence,º we may say that entities exist independently of Dasein.
But according to the transcendental leitmotif, the ontological sense or ªbeingº of
entities is due to a holistic framework, projected by Dasein. Since we do not
explicitly acknowledge the difference between beings and being, and because we
tend to be absorbed in the world, we (5) tend to endorse the ontology of presence,
according to which all entities, including humans,arein the sense of being purely
292 However, we may (6) wrest ourselves from the oblivion of being by
(7) raising the transcendental question as to the nature of being as projecting
ontological sense, and as to being in contradistinction to beings. In doing so we
will (8) destroy the tradition of metaphysics by means of a temporal interpretation
of the notion of being, which will enable us (9) to become authentic, and to
acknowledge the fact that we are beings who are-to-death, and who project or
understand being.
§ 10. T
According to the interpretative hypothesis I am proposing, the question of being
inSein und Zeitis an interplay among three different leitmotifs, the meta-Aristote-
lian theme, the phenomenologico-hermeneutical theme, and the transcendental
leitmotif. One might say that the meta-Aristotelian theme provides a formal
framework, consisting of a pole of differentiation and a pole of unity, while the
two other themes each materialize one of these poles. InSein und Zeit, the pheno-
menologico-hermeneutical leitmotif is the pole of differentiation, because there

are many different ontological regions, whereas the transcendental leitmotif is the
pole of unity, Dasein being the unique transcendental subject that uni®es beings
by projecting being. But how should we interpret the question of being in the
works written afterSein und Zeit? Is Heidegger's question in the later works
identical to the question of being in that seminal book? In order to provide an
answer to these questions, we must have a ®rm grasp of the chronology of Heideg-
ger's later oeuvre.
Heidegger's masterpieceSein und Zeitappeared in 1927, and it was his ®rst
major philosophical publication since the doctoral dissertation and theHabilita-
tionsschrift. Two years later, in 1929, Heidegger publishedKant und das Problem
der Metaphysik, which covers the grounds of the unpublished ®rst division of
part 2 ofSein und Zeit. In 1929 he also published the inaugural lectureWa s
ist Metaphysik?, delivered at Freiburg University on 24 July of that year, and a
contribution to the festschrift for Husserl's seventieth birthday, entitled ªVom
Wesen des Grundes.º Three divisions ofSein und Zeit, the third division of part
1, entitled ªZeit und Sein,º and the second and third divisions of part 2 would
never appear. Heidegger once told F.-W. von Herrmann that the third division of
part 1 had been drafted along with the published fragment ofSein und Zeit, but
that he burned the draft because it did not satisfy him.
Between 1929 and 1947, Heidegger did not publish much, even though he
wrote voluminous manuscripts, such asBeitraÈ
ge zur Philosophie, which counts
933 pages in autograph (1936±38), orBesinnung, a manuscript of 589 pages
(1938±39), and an impressive series of lecture notes, most of which are now
edited in theGesamtausgabe.
294 In 1933 Heidegger's rectoral address appeared,
in which he blended his philosophical idiom with terminology borrowed from
Nazi propaganda. He argued that if one wants to realize the essence of German
university, one should conceive of science (Wissenschaft) as the will to effectuate
the historical spiritual mission of the German people in its state.
295 Wissenschaft,
instead of being an international enterprise without essential links to speci®c na-
tions or peoples, had to be rede®ned by means of three relations to the German
nation-state. A ®rst relation, to the German people (Volksgemeinschaft), would
oblige students to take part inArbeitsdienst(labor service); a second relation, to
the German state, would oblige them to enroll inWehrdienst(military service);
and a third relation, to the spiritual task of the German people, would require
a commitment toWissensdienst(knowledge service), knowledge being de®ned
heroically as ªthe most acute risking of Dasein in the midst of the predominance
of being.º
296 Summarizing his description of these three relations, Heidegger
wrote that only together they constitute the original and full essence of science
297 Whereas Karl Jaspers could still read the ambiguous text of the
rectoral address as an attempt to revive Greek thought, interpreting the National
Socialist overtones as external to Heidegger's real intentions, Heidegger's speech
in TuÈ
bingen on 30 November 1933 clearly revealed what he was up to. He wanted
to replace Wilhelm von Humboldt's conception of a university, according to

which the state should not interfere with the universities funded by it, by a totali-
tarian conception.
298 Universities should become organic parts of the National
Socialist state, hence their traditional identity as islands of academic freedom had
to be destroyed.
At the beginning of the same month, Heidegger's appeal to the German students
appeared in theFreiburger Studentenzeitung. In this incriminating piece, Heideg-
ger insists that all students must take part in the Nazi revolution, which transforms
German Dasein, and that their life should not be guided by articles of faith or
ideas, because ªonly theFuÈ
hrerhimselfisthe present and future German reality
and its law.º According to Hugo Ott, the fact that Heidegger wrote the verb ªisº
in italics might betray a relation between his political engagement and the ques-
tion of being.
300 On the eleventh of November, Heidegger had summoned his
compatriots during a speech in Leipzig to vote for Hitler's decision to leave the
League of Nations, using again a sinister mixture of his philosophical jargon and
National Socialist slogans.
301 Heidegger remained rector of the Freiburg Univer-
sity until 23 April 1934, the day on which he abdicated. 302
Heidegger's ®rst philosophical publication after his ®asco as a rector was on
lderlin, entitled ªHoÈ
lderlin und das Wesen der Dichtungº (HoÈ
lderlin and the
Essence of Poetry), and it appeared in 1936 in the ultraconservative periodical
Das Innere Reich, in which only authors who more or less followed the line of
the National Socialist Party could publish.
303 This text contains many of the
themes that have become familiar from Heidegger's publications after the war,
themes that I explore in section 11. According to Heidegger/HoÈ
lderlin, language
is not a tool of humans, but theEreignis(Event) that determines ªman's highest
possibility.º Languageisessentially only inGespraÈ
ch(conversation). The conver-
sation that we humansareis nothing butNennen der GoÈ
tter(calling or naming
gods) andWort-Werden der Welt(the World becoming Word). Moreover, if we
call or name gods, our word is an answer to anAnspruch(claim) that they address
to us. The poet has the task of calling or naming the gods, and of founding being
(Stiftung des Seins) by naming beings. In doing so, the poet ªfoundsº or ªestab-
lishesº (gruÈ
nden) human Dasein: he gives its ground to it. Because the gods
merely speak to us by givingWinke(hints), the poet has to pick up these hints
and pass them on to his people. The act of founding being is bound by the hints
of the gods. Our time is a wretched one (duÈ
rftige Zeit), because the gods have
escaped (ent¯iehen), and the coming God has not yet arrived.
Until 1947, when the ªBrief uÈ
ber den `Humanismus' º (Letter on ªHuman-
ismº) appeared, Heidegger published only six other philosophical pieces: one
short piece called ªWege zur Ausspracheº (1937),
305 one on HoÈ
lderlin's hymn
ªWie wenn am Feiertageº (1941), one on Plato's doctrine of Truth (1942), the
essay ªVom Wesen der Wahrheitº (1943), based on a lecture that Heidegger deliv-
ered for the ®rst time in 1930 under the signi®cant title ªPhilosophieren und
306 an elucidation of HoÈ
lderlin's poem ªAndenkenº (1943), and an eluci-
dation of HoÈ
lderlin's poem ªHeimkunft / An die Verwandtenº (1944). After 1947,

Heidegger's publications became an ever growing stream, which ®nally dis-
charged itself into the majestic river of the collected works (Gesamtausgabe).
The ®rst volume of theGesamtausgabeappeared in 1975, one year before Heideg-
ger's death on 26 May 1976. With the project of the collected works Heidegger
secured himself a series of publications of®cially and misleadingly called ®nal
authorized editions (Ausgabe letzter Hand), which will continue to appear well
into the third millennium.
It is customary to designate all texts written by Heidegger after 1927 as his
ªlater works,º in contradistinction toSein und Zeit, which may be considered the
culmination point of the early Heidegger's development. With the exception of
Kant und das Problem der Metaphysik, which clearly ®ts into the project ofSein
und Zeit, the later works belong to literary genres different from that of Heideg-
ger's masterpiece. WhereasSein und Zeitis a philosophical treatise in the grand
German style of Kant and Hegel, the later works are lectures, essays, letters,
a few dialogues, occasional speeches, and elucidations of poetry. If Heidegger
published books, they were either collections of essays, such asHolzwege(1950),
ge und AufsaÈ
tze(1954),Unterwegs zur Sprache(1959),Wegmarken
(1967), andZur Sache des Denkens(1969), or they were polished editions of
often earlier lecture notes, such asEinfuÈ
hrung in die Metaphysik(1953),Wa s
heiût Denken?(1954), the two volumes ofNietzsche(1961), andDie Frage nach
dem Ding(1962), or, ®nally, they were a mixture of these two genres, such as
Der Satz vom Grund(1957). What explains this radical change in the literary
form of Heidegger's writings?
There is not only a shift in the form of Heidegger's publications after 1929;
the content undergoes a drastic metamorphosis as well. The notion of aFunda-
mentalontologie(fundamental ontology) is abandoned and the claim of Heideg-
ger's philosophy to bewissenschaftlich(scienti®c, academic) is dropped. The
jargon of transcendental philosophy nearly disappears, as do the methodological
claims of phenomenology and hermeneutics. Existentialia of Dasein, such as
Lichtung(clearing),Sorge(Concern), andStimmung(mood), to the extent that
they occur in the later works, receive an interpretation very different from that of
Sein und Zeit. Should we conclude that Heidegger's question of being, which
remains the focus of his thought, is subjected to a metamorphosis as well?
However this may be, it seems clear that the metamorphosis both in form and
in content of Heidegger's publications after 1929 must be related to the celebrated
Kehre(turn). The German wordKehre, which Heidegger himself uses to mark
the transition between the philosophy ofSein und Zeitand his later thought, has
the literal meaning of a sharp turn or bend in a road, and it ®ts in well with
Heidegger's characterization of his thinking as a road, a characterization we ®nd
already inSein und Zeit(§ 83). However, because the stem -kehr- also occurs in
German words such asBekehrung(conversion) andUmkehrung(reversal, inver-
sion, a change of one's ways, a turning back), many commentators have attributed

a deeper meaning to this term, such as conversion. I will translateKehreby ªturn,º
in order to avoid prejudging the issue of interpretation (see § 13, below).
Dating the turn in Heidegger's philosophy is not irrelevant for the interpretation
of the later works. Did the turn occur before Heidegger's involvement with the
Nazis or after the ®asco of the rectorship in 1934? In the former case there is no
doubt that Heidegger's political commitment, to the extent that it is philosophi-
cally relevant, has to be taken into account in an interpretation of his later thought.
In the latter case his thought after the turn might be interpreted in part as a re-
sponse to the events of 1933±34, and perhaps as an attempt to dissociate himself
from National Socialism. After the war, Heidegger dates the turn in two crucial
letters that he wrote to foreigners, the ªBrief uÈ
ber den `Humanismus,' º addressed
to Jean Beaufret in the fall of 1946 and published in 1947, and the letter to William
Richardson of April 1962, published as a preface to Richardson's book on Heideg-
ger of 1963.
In the ªBrief uÈ
ber den `Humanismus' º Heidegger suggests that the turn had
been anticipated already inSein und Zeit, and that the lecture ªVom Wesen der
Wahrheitº (On the Essence of Truth), delivered for the ®rst time in 1930 and
published in 1943, provides a certain insight into the thinking of the turn from
ªBeing and Timeº into ªTime and Being.º He adds that: ªThis turning [Kehre]is
not a change of the standpoint ofSein und Zeit, but in it the thinking that was
sought ®rst arrives at the location of that dimension out of whichSein und Zeit
is experienced.º
309 One will conclude that the turn must have occurred as early as
between 1927 and 1930. At ®rst sight, the letter to Richardson seems to con®rm
what Heidegger says in the ªBrief uÈ
ber den `Humanismus.' º He stresses again
that, although the turnisa change (Wendung) in his thought, it is not the conse-
quence of altering the standpoint or of abandoning the fundamental question of
Sein und Zeit. Rather, the thinking of the turn results from the fact that Heidegger
stayed with thezu denkenden Sache(matter-for-thought ) ofSein und Zeit. How-
ever, when it comes to dating the turn in the development of his thought, Heideg-
ger surprisingly refers to a period very different from 1927±30. He says that what
is designated as the turn was already at work in his thinking ten years prior to
1947, that is, around 1937, when he wroteBeitraÈ
ge zur Philosophie.
310 As a conse-
quence, it seems that Heidegger's own indications concerning the moment of the
turn do not enable us to decide whether it occurred before Heidegger's involve-
ment with Nazism or after the debacle of the rectorship.
This aporia concerning the dating of Heidegger's turn can be resolved only by
means of a detour. First, we have to interpret the question of being in Heidegger's
works written after 1934 and especially after 1937 (§§ 10±11). Having obtained
in this manner a clear view of Heidegger's thought after the turn, we then may
try to trace the incipience of the turn back to the period of 1927±30 (§§ 12±13).
Only then we will be able to decide whether Heidegger's question of being in
Sein und Zeitis the same question as the question of being in the later works, and
whether Heidegger was faithful to the original intentions he had in writingSein

und Zeitwhen he said much later that his thinking after the turn was not a conse-
quence of altering the standpoint of that book.
311 And only then will we be able
to decide whether Heidegger's political commitment to Hitler, if it has a philo-
sophical relevance, ®ts in with the philosophy ofSein und Zeit, as Heidegger told
Karl LoÈ
with during his visit to Rome in 1936, or with his thought after the turn,
or perhaps with both.
According to the letter to Richardson, there is one unique subject matter of
philosophical thought (Sache des Denkens). Because this unique subject matter
is intrinsically manifold (in sich mehrfaÈ
ltig) and abounds in plenitude (FuÈ
lle ber-
gend), it requires manifold thought (mehrfaÈ
ltiges Denken).
313 In compliance with
what Heidegger says here, I propose as an interpretative hypothesis that Heideg-
ger in the later works incessantly tried to say the same thing, albeit in many
different ways and from somewhat different perspectives.
314 Accordingly, the phil-
osophical deep structure of Heidegger's later thought is relatively simple. It may
be seen as an interplay of two fundamental themes or leitmotifs that complement
each other. I call these leitmotifs respectively the Neo-Hegelian theme and the
postmonotheist theme. Although the postmonotheist theme is more fundamental,
I start with discussing the Neo-Hegelian leitmotif.
As the Neo-Hegelian and the postmonotheist themes are fundamental to all
Heidegger's later works, they may be developed on the basis of an arbitrary selec-
tion of texts, and I refer to other texts in the notes. Yet some passages are clearer
than others. The Neo-Hegelian theme is particularly conspicuous in works such
asDie Frage nach dem Ding(The Question Concerning the Thing), based on
lectures given in the winter semester of 1935±36 and published in 1962; ªDie Zeit
des Weltbildesº (ªThe Time of the World Pictureº), a lecture of 1938 published
inHolzwege(1950); ªDie Frage nach der Technikº (ªThe Question Concerning
Technologyº), a lecture of 1953, and ªUÈ
berwindung der Metaphysikº (ªOvercom-
ing Metaphysicsº), which contains notes written between 1936 and 1946, both
published inVortraÈ
ge und AufsaÈ
tze(1954); ªZur Seinsfrageº (ªA Propos The
Question of Beingº), written for the sixtieth birthday of Ernst JuÈ
nger in 1955
and published inWegmarken(1967); ªDie Onto-Theo-Logische Verfassung der
Metaphysikº (ªThe Ontotheological Constitution of Metaphysicsº), which is the
concluding lecture of a seminar given during the winter semester of 1956±57 on
Hegel'sWissenschaft der Logik, published inIdentitaÈ
t und Differenz(1957); and
ªDas Ende der Philosophie und die Aufgabe des Denkensº (ªThe End of Philoso-
phy and the Task of Thinkingº), read during the colloquiumKierkegaard Vivant
in 1964 and published inZur Sache des Denkens(1969). Further important pas-
sages are to be found in the second volume ofNietzsche(1961), especially in
ªDie Metaphysik als Geschichte des Seinsº (ªMetaphysics as History of Beingº)
from 1941, inBeitraÈ
ge zur Philosophie(Contributions to Philosophy) and in a
great number of lecture notes edited in the collected works.
I develop the Neo-Hegelian leitmotif in three stages. First (A), I state and eluci-
date nine theses that in conjunction constitute the Neo-Hegelian theme in its most

complete version. Second (B), I try to reconstruct the relation between the Neo-
Hegelian leitmotif and the philosophy ofSein und Zeit: Why did the transcenden-
tal philosophy ofSein und Zeitturn into Neo-Hegelianism? Finally (C), I compare
Hegel's grand strategy with Heidegger's, and point to the need of a ®fth funda-
mental theme in Heidegger's question of being: the postmonotheist leitmotif.
A. The Composition of the Neo-Hegelian Theme
According to the celebrated de®nition of philosophy in the preface to Hegel's
Philosophy of Right, philosophy is ªits epoch comprehended by thought.º
315 On
this de®nition, it is the task of philosophy to conceptualize one's historical era
and to give a diagnosis of the state of one's culture. Because the present epoch
grew out of former epochs, philosophy must encompass diagnoses of the former
stages of civilization as well. In the later works Heidegger endorses a variety of
this Hegelian notion of philosophy. There is a Neo-Hegelian leitmotif in Heideg-
ger's question of being.
One may wonder how philosophy is supposed to be able to comprehend its
epoch by thought. The present state of our culture is investigated by many disci-
plines, such as economics, history, sociology, ecology, political science, art his-
tory, geography, and demography. Moreover, these disciplines, and indeed all
sciences, belong to the present state of culture, so that this state contains the most
recent developments in physics, astronomy, mathematics, biology, technology,
and chemistry. No human being is able to grasp even a billionth part of the amount
of information available in our epoch. How, then, should the philosopher compre-
hend his epoch by thought, and what is the relation between philosophy in this
sense and the empirical sciences of culture?
Clearly, the Neo-Hegelian notion of philosophy makes sense only if the amount
of information is drastically reduced by a number of methodological decisions.
Heidegger makes such decisions without explicitly discussing them. As a conse-
quence, he conceals the serious epistemological problems involved in the Neo-
Hegelian notion of philosophy. Depending on the methodological decisions that
reduce the amount of information involved, different varieties of Neo-Hegelian-
ism will arise. If one thinks, for instance, that economic structures are the essence
of a historical era, as Marxism did, one will adhere to an ªeconomicº variety
of Neo-Hegelianism. According to the economic variety, studying economical
phenomena is the main thing if one wants to grasp an epoch by thought.
The example of Marxism shows that Neo-Hegelianism will always be bound
up with some kind of foundationalism. In Marx's case, it is assumed that human
culture with the exception of economic structures is rooted in, and determined by,
the means and relations of production. As we will see, Heidegger's variety of Neo-
Hegelianism is also foundationalist: it claims that metaphysics is the foundation of
a historical human culture as a whole. This conclusion is important because it
contradicts a current interpretation of the later Heidegger, endorsed by Richard

Rorty and many others, according to which Heidegger in his later works broke
free from foundationalism.
317 Let me now reconstruct Heidegger's variety of Neo-
Hegelianism, which informs a great number of the later works. It may be ex-
pressed in the following nine theses:
1. Fundamental Stances.Fundamental to each historical epoch is what Heideg-
ger calls aGrundstellungorGrundzug der Haltung und des Daseins, that is, a
fundamental stance or attitude that each and every Dasein has toward itself, its
fellow human beings, and indeed the totality of beings.
318 According to one text,
such a fundamental stance consists of two aspects: the way in which humans treat,
process, or manipulate beings on the one hand, and the way in which humans
pro-ject a general and fundamental epistemic scheme on the other hand.
319 Mostly,
however, these two aspects are taken together. A fundamental stance may then
be characterized as the way in which everything there is shows up for us.
320 Such
a way of manifesting is due to a projection (Entwurf) of a general scheme of
disclosure. This ®rst thesis may be seen as a historicist application of Heidegger's
Kantian views inSein und Zeit, according to which the way things are disclosed
to us is determined by an a priori pro-jection of a holistic framework of signi®cant
relations. In the later works, Heidegger seems to assume that each historical epoch
is determined by one speci®c scheme of disclosure.
2. Fundamental Stances All-embracing. Fundamental attitudes are totalitarian
(my term) in that they determine the way in which everything manifests itself to
321 This second thesis, which is implied by the ®rst, has far-reaching conse-
quences. According to Heidegger, we are now living in the epoch of technology.
What he means by this is not that technology in the usual sense plays a substantial
role in contemporary Western culture, even though that is of course true, but that
our fundamental stance is that of technology. This is to say that, according to
Heidegger, everything shows up for us as raw material for production, processing,
consumption, and exploitation. Even human beings tend to be viewed as a means
of production only.
322 We might object that a great many phenomena in contempo-
rary culture, such as the ecological movement and the notion of the fundamental
rights of man, refute Heidegger's thesis ofdas Wesen der Technik(the reign of
technology) as a monolithic fundamental stance. However, because Heidegger
assumes that fundamental attitudes are totalitarian or holistic, he would stigmatize
such objections as symptoms of false consciousness. A tourist may view the river
Rhine poetically as a natural stream charged with symbolic signi®cance. In reality,
Heidegger argues in ªDie Frage nach der Technik,º the Rhine River in the present
epochis nothing buta water-power supplier, and if the tourist admires the river
in the landscape, in fact river and landscape are objects calling for inspection by
a tour group ordered there by the vacation industry.
323 Similarly, a forester who
loves the woods and thinks that he walks through them as his grandfather did is
in reality a function of the timber industry, ªwhether he knows it or not.º
324 Hei-
degger's Neo-Hegelian foundationalism, like Marx's variety of Neo-Hegelianism,
implies the thesis of a global false consciousness: anyone who thinks that there

are exceptions to the present reign of technology must be mistaken, because the
fundamental stance of technology determines the way in whicheverythingmani-
fests itself to us. Clearly, theses (1) and (2) are akin to structuralism, and it is not
surprising that the later Heidegger deeply in¯uenced structuralists such as Michel
3. Metaphysics, The End of Philosophy, Fundamental Moods. We should won-
der how the philosopher is able to grasp these totalitarian fundamental attitudes,
which allegedly determine the way things manifest themselves in a speci®c histor-
ical era. This epistemological issue is the more delicate because Heidegger admits
of the possibility that fundamental attitudes are at variance with the attitudes we
consciously adopt vis-aÁ
-vis ourselves, our fellow humans, and natural phenom-
ena. As we saw, Heidegger claims in ªDie Frage nach der Technikº that our
present era is characterized by the fundamental stance of technology, even though,
consciously, we often do not regard ourselves, our fellow man, and natural phe-
nomena as a matter for exploitation and production. Heidegger nowhere discusses
the epistemology of grasping fundamental attitudes at length, and we have to
reconstruct his views from hints and isolated observations.
The fundamental attitudes that were at the basis of past historical epochs in
Western civilization are expressed by the philosophers of these epochs in their
systems of metaphysics. At least this is what Heidegger claims.
325 The reason is
that a fundamental stance determines howallbeings manifest themselves to us,
whereas metaphysics is traditionally de®ned as the science of beings as such,
that is, of the fundamental characteristics all beings have in common. Metaphys-
ics, then, is nothing but an explicit conceptual articulation of a fundamental
326 As a consequence, we would be able to discern the fundamental stances
of the past by studying the history of metaphysics. Of course this answer does
not yet solve the problem of how the metaphysicians of the past managed to grasp
fundamental stances. Sometimes Heidegger suggests that they provided historical
epochs with a fundamental stance by interpreting ªthe totality of beingsº in a
certain way.
This Heideggerian notion of metaphysics differs from the traditional Aristote-
lian notion in two respects. First, Heidegger holds that metaphysics is fundamen-
tal to a cultural era as a whole, whereas Aristotle merely claims that metaphysics
is fundamental to the sciences because it provides them with their ®rst principles
and causes. The Aristotelian notion of metaphysics, which informs the Western
philosophical tradition from Plato and Aristotle via Descartes and Kant until Hus-
serl and the early Heidegger, is an implication of Aristotle's philosophy of science,
as we saw in section 7. Second, Heidegger takes it that each historical epoch has
a different metaphysical foundation, whereas according to the notion of metaphys-
ics we ®nd in, say, Aristotle, Descartes, and Kant, metaphysical principles should
be valid for all times, because they are necessarily true and a priori. In this respect,
Heidegger is closer to Hegel and Fichte than to Aristotle and Kant.

There is a tradition in German philosophy, which starts with Hegel and contin-
ues with Marx and Nietzsche, according to which metaphysics has been com-
pleted. These thinkers endorse the slogan of ªthe end of philosophy (metaphys-
ics).º Hegel claims that metaphysics has been completed because in his own
philosophy the Absolute overcomes its self-alienation in nature and becomes fully
conscious of itself. Marx and Nietzsche, who take metaphysics as a doctrine about
a suprasensible world, claim that metaphysics is an illusion, which either serves
the mighty in their oppression of the working classes (Marx), or, conversely,
assists the slaves and the weak in their power struggle against the masters and the
strong (Nietzsche). Heidegger also endorses the thesis of the end of metaphysics.
Philosophy in the sense of metaphysics has come to an end, he claims in ªDas
Ende der Philosophie und die Aufgabe des Denkensº (1964), because with
Nietzsche it has exhausted its possibilities (see §15A, below). In this text, Heideg-
ger argues for the thesis of the end of philosophy on the basis of a Neo-Platonist
notion of metaphysics (metaphysics as science of the suprasensible) and not on
the basis of his usual, Aristotelian notion (metaphysics as a general theory on the
totality of beings). Because Nietzsche and Marx ªreversedº Platonism by saying
that the sensible world is the only real world there is, metaphysics allegedly ex-
hausted its possibilities. According to Heidegger, the end of metaphysics does not
mean that we simply stop producing metaphysical systems. The end of philosophy
(metaphysics) is rather ªthat place [Ort] in which the totality of its history is
gathered in its most extreme possibilities.º
327 As we will see, this ultimate station
is the reign of technology (das Wesen der Technik).
It follows from the thesis of the end of philosophy that Heidegger himself will
not attempt to express our alleged fundamental stance in a new metaphysical
system. Often he claims that Nietzsche already did so by his doctrine of the will
to power, for the reign of technology supposedly is the realization of Nietzsche's
philosophy. Heidegger was heavily indebted to Ernst JuÈ
nger for this somewhat
far-fetched interpretation of Nietzsche and of the modern era.
328 How, then, should
the philosopher articulate the fundamental stance of the present epoch, if not by
means of a metaphysical system? How is he supposed to know what this funda-
mental stance is?
InSein und Zeit, Heidegger claimed that moods (Stimmungen) are the most
fundamental way of opening up the world (§ 29). Moods would be more funda-
mental than intentionality: ªThe mood has already disclosed, in every case, Being-
in-the-world as a whole, and makes it possible ®rst of all to direct oneself toward
329 In his later works, Heidegger advances the similar claim that funda-
mental attitudes are revealed to us primarily in fundamental moods (Grundstim-
330 The philosopher should try to arouse such a fundamental mood. He
should intensify a latent fundamental mood, such asLangeweile(boredom), in
order to make us aware of the fundamental stance that it expresses. Heidegger's
later writings are often meant to realize this objective. To the uninitiated reader,
they may seem to be attempts to rouse popular feeling, pieces of rabble-rousing,

but in fact their powerful rhetorical nature is inherent in Heidegger's Neo-Hege-
lian theme. The only thing to be deplored is that Heidegger never tells us how
we are to distinguish fundamental moods from other moods, and how we might
distinguish the allegedly unique fundamental stance that is basic to our epoch
from other, more mundane, attitudes we happen to have. Perhaps he could not
make the distinction himself, and this might explain why Heidegger took Hitler's
rabble-rousing for a philosophical revelation of a fundamental stance.
4. Heidegger's Later Foundationalism. Metaphysics in the traditional, Aristote-
lian sense is thought to be a priori in relation to the sciences, because it provides
the sciences with true ®rst principles. While Heidegger generalizes the founda-
tional import of metaphysics to an epoch of civilization as a whole, he obviously
holds on to the notion that metaphysics, and indeed all knowledge of fundamental
attitudes, is a priori in relation to the empirical sciences. This foundationalist
thesis reduces the amount of information needed to ªcomprehend our epoch in
thoughtº in a drastic way. No empirical research into the present state of civiliza-
tion will be needed in order to grasp its fundamental stance, because this stance
is more fundamental than empirical science.
331 By claiming that the unique funda-
mental stance of our epoch becomes accessible by arousing a fundamental mood,
and that this epistemic access is more fundamental than empirical research, Hei-
degger radically dissociates philosophical insight from empirical studies of cul-
ture and society. He professes to discover the technological stance as fundamental
to our time without ever discussing the empirical history of technology, and with-
out investigating the factual extent to which technology dominates modern life.
By claiming that a fundamental stance is totalitarian in the sense de®ned under (2),
he also makes his diagnosis of the present state of Western civilization immune to
criticisms raised by empirical studies of society. In Heidegger's hands, philosoph-
ical thought regains the position of queen of the sciences, a position that was
threatened by Neo-Kantians and logical positivists, who reduced philosophy to
epistemology and theory of science. As Bourdieu observed, Heidegger's philo-
sophical radicalism serves the ultimate aim of a conservative revolution in philos-
ophy, which purports to make philosophy fundamental again.
5. Being Historicized. Being (Sein) within the framework of the Neo-Hegelian
leitmotif becomes a word for the history-shaping ways in which entities reveal
themselves in a speci®c epoch.
333 Traditional metaphysics allegedly suffers from
an oblivion of being (Seinsvergessenheit) because, although it provides a concep-
tual articulation of the fundamental characteristics of the totality of beings, it
refrains from re¯ecting on the fundamental sense of ªbeingº (Sein) itself, which
gives unity to each fundamental stance. Postmetaphysical thinking in Heidegger's
sense has not only the objective of bringing to the fore the present fundamental
stance by means of arousing a fundamental mood. It should also re¯ect on the
history of metaphysics, in order to trace the various senses of ªbeingº that inform
the respective historical stances of Western civilization.

6. Real History. ªHistoryº in the habitual sense of the word designates both the
sum of human actions, artifacts, and forms of life in the past, and the discipline
that studies these actions and forms of life. Because Heidegger in section 7 of
Sein und Zeitcalls empirical phenomena ªvulgarº phenomena, we might label
empirical history ªvulgarº history. To vulgar history, Heidegger opposes real or
authentic history (eigentliche Geschichte), which is the sequence of fundamental
stances underlying vulgar history. Real history is ªnecessarily hidden to the nor-
mal eye.º It is the history of the ªrevealedness of beingº (Offenbarkeit des
334 Heidegger's later ªhistorical mode of questioningº (geschichtliches Fra-
gen) aims at making explicit fundamental stances of Dasein amidst the totality of
335 Since these stances allegedly can be studied independently of empirical
history as an intellectual discipline, Heidegger's doctrine of real history implies
that the philosopher is the real historian, and that by reconstructing the sequence
of metaphysical structures, he does a more fundamental job than the historian in
the usual sense is able to do. Heidegger often intimates that his historical ques-
tioning is also more fundamental than historical research done by historians of
philosophy, and that it may brush aside the methodological canon of historical
philology and interpretation. As Joseph Margolis observes, Heidegger's doctrine
of real history ªmanages to ignore the concrete history of actual existence and
actual inquiry.º
7. The Logic of Real History. Real history has its hidden logic, and it is one of
the major objectives of the Neo-Hegelian leitmotif to trace this logic in the se-
quence of fundamental stances. According to Heidegger, the logic of real Western
history is the logic of ªproductionist metaphysics.º
337 As Heidegger says in the
ªBrief uÈ
ber den `Humanismus,' º the reign of technology (das Wesen der Technik)
is a fundamental stance or aGestaltof truth that is rooted in the history of
metaphysics. The history of metaphysics itself is only a phase in the history
of being (Geschichte des Seins).
338 Why does Heidegger claim that the present
fundamental stance of technology is rooted in the history of metaphysics? We
®nd several versions of the logic of real history in Heidegger's later writings,
but the underlying idea is always the same. The fundamental concepts of Greek
metaphysics, such as matter (hyleÅ
) and form (morfeÅ
), are derived from the domain
of artifacts, and these concepts inform all later metaphysics. This is a thesis Hei-
degger already advanced in the Natorp essay of 1922 and inSein und Zeit.
339 It
implies that from Plato and Aristotle on, ªto beº has been understood as ªbeing
produced.º According to the later Heidegger, the subsequent development of
Western metaphysics is essentially nothing but a further elaboration of this notion
of being. According to the Scholastics, ªto beº means to be created by an all-
powerful God. Descartes inherits this notion, but he also interprets human beings
as creators, namely, creators of a representation of the world. In fact, the world
becomes a man-made representation in the hands of Descartes and his followers,
such as Kant, Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche.
340 Nietzsche is the metaphysical cul-
mination point of the development of productionist metaphysics, because he

claims that all entities are posits of a will to power. Nietzschean metaphysics
allegedly is an articulation of the fundamental stance that is still extant in the
present epoch, the reign of technology, because in our epoch everything manifests
itself either as raw materials for production or as a product of technological power.
In short, the metaphysical tradition that began with the productionist notions of
matter and form in Plato and Aristotle has been completed in our modern techno-
logical epoch. This is why we live in the time of the end or completion of
In his later works, Heidegger describes the period of the end of metaphysics in
apocalyptic terms, which may have been inspired by the destructions of the Sec-
ond World War. The earth is destroyed, man errs (Irre), the world becomes
monstrous (Unwelt), everything is consumed or wasted (vernutzt), including the
raw material called ªmanº (der Rohstoff ªMenschº), and human action is mean-
341 This is the sinister epoch of the reign of technology. If Heidegger is
right about the logic in the development of metaphysics and about fundamental
stances in general, the present era of technology is nothing but the logical outcome
of Plato's and Aristotle's decision to describe beings in terms derived from arti-
facts. For the history of metaphysics supposedly determines the actual history of
the West.
8. The Decision. As Heidegger says inDie Frage nach dem Ding, it is also the
aim of historical questioning to prepare a decision. Of course, to engage in histori-
cal questioning at all is already the outcome of a decision, the decision to ask in
a manner that ªexceeds all other questioning in scope, depth, and certainty.º We
decided, Heidegger says, to engage in a questioning ªwhich is long-winded and
long-lasting, and which will remain a questioning during decennia.º Only in this
manner are we able to master that which will crush us if it remains natural to us:
the fundamental stance of our epoch.
343 The ultimate objective of Heidegger's
historical questioning is to prepare a second decision, a decision about the very
stance that is fundamental to our epoch. Heidegger sometimes characterizes this
stance as a projection (Entwurf), which belongs to the domain of our freedom. If
we become conscious of the fundamental stance that determines our epoch, we
might perhaps become free to change this stance. Only by changing the stance of
technology and of the domination by science might we be ªsaved.º
344 We should
ªlet things beº (seinlassen) instead of dominating them by means of science and
technology. No wonder that Heidegger's later thought has been annexed by the
movement of deep ecology, which holds that only a fundamental change in our
ways of thinking and acting will prevent an ecological catastrophe.
It is not clear how this notion of historical freedom should be reconciled with
the notion of a logic of real history, which determines the sequence of fundamental
attitudes. Have we become free to adopt a new stance only now, because the
logic of productionist metaphysics has reached its completion? This is perhaps
suggested by Heidegger, when he quotes HoÈ
lderlin's lines: ªBut where danger is,
grows/ The saving power too.º
345 Furthermore, Heidegger often seems to contra-

dict the idea that we might decide on the issue of which fundamental stance to
take. In ªDie Frage nach der Technik,º for instance, he says that ªthe essence of
history . . . is neither the object of historical research, nor merely the process of
human activity.º He adds that the essence of freedom isoriginallynot connected
with the will or even with the causality of human willing.
346 What, then, does
Heidegger mean when he tells us that historical questioning prepares us for a
decision? The contradiction is not removed when he rede®nes freedom as ªthe
realm of the destining that at any given time starts a revealing on its way.º
347 As
we will see, these questions can only be answered if we admit yet another leitmotif
in Heidegger's question of being, the postmonotheist theme.
9. Overcoming Metaphysics. The Neo-Hegelian leitmotif explains why the later
Heidegger develops his thought mainly by interpreting the history of Western
metaphysics. The theme of the destruction of metaphysics, which ®gured promi-
nently inSein und Zeit, now becomes the theme ofUÈ
berwindung der Metaphysik
(Overcoming of Metaphysics): by tracing the logic inherent in the sequence of
fundamental stances, we will see that Western metaphysics has reached its con-
summation in the present era of technology, which, Heidegger says, will last a
very long time. This insight will prepare us for a new beginning.
348 Incidentally,
the theme of the destruction of metaphysics will undergo yet another metamor-
phosis in the context of the postmonotheist leitmotif, and emerge as ªgetting over
metaphysicsº or ªcoping with metaphysicsº (Verwindung der Metaphysik).
These nine theses and themes, which emerge again and again in Heidegger's later
writings, constitute what I have called the Neo-Hegelian leitmotif in the question
of being. The Neo-Hegelian leitmotif shows all formal characteristics of the ques-
tion of being as speci®ed in section 6, above. As is the case with the other leitmo-
tifs, the Neo-Hegelian leitmotif provides each of these formal characteristics with
a semantic content that is peculiar to this theme (the arabic numerals refer to those
in § 6). (1) Being is the history-shaping way in which entities disclose themselves
in historical epochs, and it is related to a fundamental stance. Thequestion of
beingaims at revealing these ways of disclosure and the inner logic of their suc-
cession. (2) Dasein has an understanding of being (SeinsverstaÈ
ndnis) because it
implicitly grasps the sense of being in its epoch. Grasping (a sense of) being is
the essence of Dasein, because it determines its historical identity. (3) Neverthe-
less, we live in forgetfulness of being (Seinsvergessenheit) because we do not
re¯ect thematically on the present sense of being. Even traditional metaphysics
is characterized by oblivion of being: although it re¯ected on the totality of beings
as such, it did not articulate the sense of being that informed it: being as being
produced. This is because (4) traditional metaphysics did not acknowledge the
ontological differencebetween beings (Seiendes) and being (Sein). Since meta-
physics did not re¯ect on the sense of being that informed it, it uncritically en-
dorsed a productionist ontology (5) and it followed the logic implied by this
ontology (cf. the ontology of presence inSein und Zeit). The task of the thinker

is (6) to wrest us from oblivion of being by (7) raising the question of being anew
and by (8) retrieving the tradition of metaphysics. This will (9) liberate man for
a new fundamental stance.
Heidegger's Neo-Hegelian theme may be seen as a reversal of this theme as
developed by Marx. Whereas Marx claimed that economic structures determine
the superstructure of civilization to which philosophy and metaphysics belong,
Heidegger holds that metaphysics is a conceptual articulation of the foundations
of civilization, because it comprehends in thought fundamental stances. Produc-
tionist metaphysics, as it developed from Plato and Aristotle on, allegedly ex-
plains the present technological era, so that the philosopher possesses the key
to the temple of historical knowledge. From Heidegger's point of view, Marx's
philosophy itself is a typical symptom of the reign of technology because it pro-
claims that manipulating and processing entities by means of labor is the essence
of man.
349 The philosophies of both Marx and the later Heidegger, then, are oppos-
ing varieties of the same Neo-Hegelian theme. If Marx reversed Hegel by consid-
ering economic structures of production as the underlying basis of world history,
instead of Hegel's autodevelopment of absolute spirit, does Heidegger's reversal
of Marx bring us back to Hegel's view? As we will see, Heidegger's Neo-Hegelian
theme in a sense is a reversal of Hegel as well. However, before discussing Hei-
degger's relation to Hegel, we should raise the question of how the philosophy
ofSein und Zeitcould turn into the Neo-Hegelian leitmotif.
B. From Neo-Kantianism to Neo-Hegelianism
How does the Neo-Hegelian leitmotif relate to the philosophy ofSein und Zeit?
We remember that Heidegger's masterpiece was planned to consist of six divi-
sions, of which only two divisions were published. Moreover, it was divided into
a constructive, systematic part, and a destructive, historical part. The most simple
and elegant hypothesis about the connection betweenSein und Zeitand Heideg-
ger's later Neo-Hegelian leitmotif would be that the Neo-Hegelian theme is a
somewhat delayed and developed realization of part 2 ofSein und Zeit.Itisthe
ªdestruction of the history of ontologyº that Heidegger sketches in section 6 of
that book. Indeed, there are authors, Safranski, for example, who assume that an
essay such as ªDie Zeit des Weltbildesº (1938), which squarely belongs to the
Neo-Hegelian theme as reconstructed above, is part of Heidegger's destruction
of the history of metaphysics as announced inSein und Zeit.
In order to substantiate this hypothesis, one might point to a great number of
analogies between the destruction of the history of metaphysics and the Neo-
Hegelian theme. What is meant by the program of a destruction of metaphysics?
According to section 6 ofSein und Zeit, our understanding of ourselves as, say,
mind-endowed bodies, is unwittingly determined by the metaphysical tradition.
This tradition, in its turn, is shaped by the tendency of Dasein to interpret itself
in terms of worldly objects. Because Dasein is inclined to get totally absorbed in

its world (Verfallen), it understands itself in terms of that world by re¯ection.
Accordingly, in traditional metaphysics human existence is interpreted either in
terms derived from the world of artifacts (Hergestelltheit), or in terms derived
from natural objects in the broadest sense.
352 Because Heidegger inSein und Zeit
sharply distinguishes between on the one hand the ontological realms of nature
in the sense of what is purely present or occurrent (Vorhanden) and of artifacts
(Zeug,Zuhandenheit), and on the other hand the region of Dasein, he holds that
Dasein cannot be adequately understood in categories derived from the world.
The tradition of metaphysics, which determines human self-understanding, in fact
prevents us from interpreting our Dasein as it is in its innermost being. In order
to understand Dasein authentically, then, traditional metaphysics has to be ªde-
stroyed,º that is, it has to be shown that its categories are not derived from Dasein
but from worldly objects.
According to the Neo-Hegelian theme, it is also the case that present human
self-understanding is determined by traditional metaphysics. The age of technol-
ogy, in which everything is interpreted as raw material for production, is the
completion of the productionist metaphysical tradition. As was the case inSein
und Zeit, we are urged to overcome the metaphysical tradition because it leads us
astray. However, in spite of these parallelisms, there are also differences between
the program of destroying traditional ontology and the Neo-Hegelian leitmotif.
Clearly, the former program is rooted in the phenomenological theme inSein und
Zeit. According to the phenomenological theme, the totality of beings is carved
up into ontological regions. Each of these regions should be explored by a proper
regional ontology, and the mistake of traditional metaphysics was that it applied
categories developed for the regions of artifacts or of nature in the sense of occur-
rentness (Vorhandenheit) to the region of Dasein. Traditional metaphysics may
be destroyed by discovering the ªoriginal experiencesº from which metaphysical
concepts were derived.
353 It will then become clear that the traditional categories
of metaphysics belong to one ontological region only, and that they cannot be
generalized to all regions. According to the phenomenological theme, the question
of being aims at developing a special set of categories for each ontological region
in order to characterize the ontological constitution (Seinsweise) of entities be-
longing to that region.
This notion of the regionality of being is lacking in Heidegger's later Neo-
Hegelian theme. As a consequence, the Neo-Hegelian ªovercomingº of metaphys-
ics cannot be identical to Heidegger's destruction of metaphysics inSein und Zeit,
for the latter notion is essentially informed by the idea of the regionality of being.
Let me illustrate this difference by comparing the notion ofZeug(equipment,
tools, paraphernalia) inSein und Zeitwith Heidegger's later notion ofdas Wesen
der Technik(the reign of technology). From the point of view ofSein und Zeit,it
would be mistaken to understand Dasein in terms derived from equipment or
artifacts, as when one says that in reality man is like a machine or a computer.
Dasein has an ontological constitution, called existence, which is different from

the constitution of equipment. On the other hand, it is not erroneous to interpret
things in the world as they manifest themselves to us primarily in terms of equip-
ment or raw materials. On the contrary: it is one of the central theses ofSein und
Zeitthat things in the world primarily and in themselvesareequipment (Zeug),
and that the scienti®c image of things as meaningless presences (Vorhandenes)is
an abstraction.
354 Zeugis a different ontological region from Dasein, and of course
there is nothing wrong with understanding entities in the world asZeug.
The situation is entirely different in ªDie Frage nach der Technikº (1953).
According to this lecture, the allegedly universal view of everything as raw mate-
rial or products should not be ªdestroyedº by limiting it to its proper domain. On
the contrary, it is suggested that this universalEntbergung(disclosure) of beings
is aGeschick(fate), which isuns geschickt(sent to us). This fate is a danger that
humans alone cannot avert.
355 It seems that according to the later Heidegger even
the view of speci®c entities in the world, say trees, as raw material, is somehow
fatal or dangerous. The reign of technology should not be overcome by limiting
its scope, but by substituting a new fundamental attitude for it, although, of course,
humans cannot refrain from using equipment and exploiting natural resources.
This new fundamental attitude will be as holistic as the reign of technology.
Clearly, then, the Neo-Hegelian leitmotif is not a simple continuation ofSein
und Zeit. The destruction of the history of ontology planned in Heidegger's chef
d'oeuvre is not identical to the later Neo-Hegelian theme: it is structurally differ-
ent. We should rather conceive of the Neo-Hegelian theme as resulting fromten-
sionsinSein und Zeit. One of these tensions, the most important one in this
respect, was sketched at the end of section 8, above. It is the tension between
what might be called Husserlian essentialism and historical relativism.
According to Husserl, phenomenology should describe things as they are, and
it should reveal essential structures, which are always and everywhere the same.
Heidegger echoes this Husserlian desideratum where he says, in section 5 ofSein
und Zeit, that the ontological structures which the analysis of Dasein brings out
are ªnot just any accidental structures, but essential ones which, in every kind of
being that factical Dasein may possess, persist as determinative for the character
of its being.º
356 Although Heidegger does not explicitly ®x the extension of his
notion of Dasein, he usually equates Dasein with human being. Consequently, it
seems that the ontology of Dasein inSein und Zeitis meant to be valid for human
beings in general, irrespective of historical and local cultural circumstances.
This essentialist conception of the phenomenology of Dasein is not easy to
square with Heidegger's historicist notion of hermeneutics, which was derived
from Schleiermacher and Dilthey. A historicist would claim that there simply is
no invariant essence of human existence to be found. Even our biological nature
has no essence, because of the considerable amount of genetic variation among
humans. The identity of human existence is determined by historical circum-
stances; it is a function of locally and historically determinate civilizations. This
identity is nothing but the way in which human beings interpret the world and

themselves, and this way will vary as a function of time and place. By means of
historical interpretations of other cultures we should try to understand how hu-
mans interpret themselves and the world in these cultures. The very attempt to
interpret other civilizations and to engage in historical hermeneutics is itself part
of the historical culture of the West. As this attempt cannot but start within the
horizon of its own culture, a self-conscious hermeneutical enterprise should ®rst
try to elucidate the present hermeneutical situation, that is, the way in which we
understand ourselves in our time. This was the reason why, in the Natorp essay
of 1922, Heidegger wanted to analyze contemporary Dasein before engaging in an
interpretation of Aristotle. And this notion of historical hermeneutics also informs
many passages inSein und Zeit, such as the following text from section 6:
On the other hand, if Dasein has seized upon its latent possibility not only of making
its own existence transparent to itself but also of inquiring into the meaning of existen-
tiality itself . . ., and if by such inquiry its eyes have been opened to its own essential
historicality [Geschichtlichkeit], then one cannot fail to see that the inquiry into being
. . . is itself characterized by historicality [Geschichtlichkeit].... Thequestion of the
meaning of being . . . thus brings itself to the point where it understands itself as historio-
logical [historische].
How can one reconcile the historicist view of a hermeneutics of Dasein with
the essentialist view of a phenomenology of Dasein? According to the former,
the ontology of Dasein merely expresses human self-understanding in Germany
in the 1920s. Taking this self-understanding as an inevitable point of departure,
Heidegger could then try to trace its historical antecedents. Reviving Greek cul-
ture, for instance, might open up human possibilities for ourselves. We could
ªchoose our heroes,º as Heidegger likes to say, and by confronting Greek heroes
with daily existence as it is now, we might become more authentic. This concep-
tion, which resembles Nietzsche's notion of monumental history, informs both
the Natorp essay and sections 74 and 76 ofSein und Zeit.
358 But how can such a
historicist notion of the hermeneutics of Dasein ever yield ªessential structures,
which persist as determinative for the character of Dasein's being,º whenever and
wheresoever it exists? How is one supposed to reconcile it with the latter, essen-
tialist view?
InSein und Zeit, this tension is resolved (aufgehoben) by what I have called
the transcendental leitmotif. The transcendental leitmotif both radicalizes
historical hermeneutics and reconciles it to essentialism. It radicalizes histor-
ical hermeneutics because, according to the transcendental theme, the way in
which beings disclose themselves is determined by a holistic scheme, which is
projected by Dasein. As we saw, Heidegger claims that the facts discovered by
natural science are not disclosed to us except on the basis of such a holistic
scheme: a good, old-fashioned Kantian claim. However, whereas Kant held that
this holistic scheme is part of our makeup, so that we cannot change it, Heidegger
holds it to be variable: it is a framework (Entwurf), projected by temporalizing

Dasein. From this point, it is but a small step to the Neo-Hegelian leitmotif,
according to which a series of such frameworks is fundamental to the develop-
ment of civilization.
The transcendental theme entails a radicalization of historicism because Hei-
degger suggests that criteria of truth and falsity, such as criteria for theory choice
in physics, are internal to a projected framework or scheme. Consequently, we do
not have the means of evaluating the frameworks themselves in terms of truth
and falsity, nor can we evaluate theories or doctrines belonging to different frame-
works in epistemic terms.
359 We cannot say anymore, for instance, that modern
physics is epistemically superior to the worldview of the Hopi Indians. To be more
precise: we will probably say it, because it characterizes our present framework to
think that this is true, but we will not be able to justify such a statement in an
objective and framework-neutral manner. Surely this position is full-blown histor-
ical relativism.
360 InSein und Zeit, Heidegger reserves the term ªtruthº for the
very act of opening up a world by projecting a scheme. Because he holds that the
act of projecting is free, his notions of truth and of freedom are intimately related,
as is still the case in ªVom Wesen des Grundesº (1929) and ªVom Wesen der
Wahrheitº (1930, published in 1943).
If the transcendental theme radicalizes historicism, how can it also reconcile
Heidegger's historicist notion of hermeneutics to his Husserlian essentialism?
It does so by locating the essence of Dasein on a transcendental level. Human
understanding of itself and of the world is a product of projected frameworks.
However, if this is the case, should we not wonder who does the projecting? It
seems that there must be a projecting agency that escapes historical relativism,
because it is at the basis of history itself. In other words, as soon as we ask what
enables humans to project transcendental schemes, we will discover Dasein as a
temporalizing transcendental structureinhumans, which is ahistorical because it
is the very condition of the possibility of history and time. This transcendental
structure is what Heidegger calls historicality (Geschichtlichkeit). According to
Sein und Zeit, it is the happening (Geschehen) of Dasein, the fact that Dasein
produces (zeitigt) time (Zeit).
362 Only because Dasein is the transcendental source
of time is history possible. And only because Dasein projects a world whenever
it happens is there world-history. The fundamental ontology ofSein und Zeitis
itself ahistorical, we may conclude, because it purports to discover the transcen-
dental conditions for the possibility of history.
Thus far, I have argued that the Neo-Hegelian theme is different from the de-
struction of ontology planned inSein und Zeit, and that it is a solution for tensions
within the philosophy of that book. But why did Heidegger need a Neo-Hegelian
theme, if these tensions were already resolved by the transcendental leitmotif?
The answer is that the transcendental solution for the tension between historicism
and essentialism is an unstable one, which tends to degenerate into Neo-Hegelian-
ism. If the projected frameworks that open up a world are reallyall-embracing,
as the transcendental theme implies (thesis 2, above), should we not conclude that

transcendental philosophy must be locatedwithinsuch a framework? Indeed, is
transcendental philosophy not a philosophical possibility opened up within the
tradition of subjectivism that started with Descartes? If frameworks really are all-
embracing, no intellectual discipline, not even fundamental ontology, can claim
to be more fundamental than all frameworks. Instead of giving up the notion of
an all-embracing historical framework, Heidegger in his later thought abandons
the project of a fundamental ontology. Sometimes, it is still said that Dasein does
the projecting and chooses fundamental stances. More often, however, even this
view is abandoned. There simply is a succession of fundamental frameworks. We
should try to grasp the logic hidden in their succession, and prepare ourselves for
a new stance by re¯ecting on the present one. Such is the Neo-Hegelian leitmotif
in Heidegger's later thought.
This leitmotif is not without its problems, problems that are also inherent in
structuralism as an ontological position. As we have seen, the Neo-Hegelian no-
tion that real history consists of a series of all-embracing or totalitarian frame-
works, which determine how people act and think in speci®c historical epochs,
tends to swallow up its transcendental foundation in the fundamental ontology of
Dasein. If it is really the case thateverythingwe conceive of is determined by a
contingent historical framework, this must be true for transcendental philosophy
as well. Heidegger's Kantianism inevitably turns into Neo-Hegelianism. The Neo-
Hegelian theme constitutes the ®nal victory of historical relativism over essen-
tialism in Heidegger's works. It implies that no theory in science or mathematics
and no philosophical doctrine can be called ªtrueº independently of a speci®c
historical framework or fundamental stance. Truth becomes relativized to a totali-
tarian projected framework. Does it not follow that Neo-Hegelian historical rela-
tivism also swallows itself? Is it not landed in a weak version of the paradox of
the liar? Why should we believe that Neo-Hegelian historicism is a true view, if
it implies that all views, itself included, can be true only in relation to a contingent
totalitarian framework? The same paradox is involved in Marxism: if it is true
that all thought is determined by economic relations of production, this thought
itself is also determined by such relations. If so, why should we accept it? Finally,
the paradox is also inherent in Nietzsche's doctrine of the will to power, according
to which something is called ªtrueº only because it serves a speci®c will to power.
There seems to be only one solution to the paradox of the liar as it is involved
in Heidegger's Neo-Hegelian theme: to reintroduce something that is immune to
historical relativism. This is one of the functions of the postmonotheist leitmotif
in the question of being. Before introducing this ®fth and ®nal leitmotif, I will
brie¯y compare Heidegger's Neo-Hegelian theme to Hegel's own philosophy.
C. Heidegger's Inversion of Hegel
Hegel was not a historical relativist. Although he held that theories and doctrines
that were developed in a speci®c historical period of the past could never be
entirely true because they were somehow relative to that period, he also held that

these doctrines and theories were aspects of one, ®nal, all-inclusive Truth. Hegel
indeed introduced something in his philosophy that is immune to historical rela-
tivism. Underlying the various stages of historical development, Hegel thought,
is the Absolute, the Idea, or God, and historical stages are merely phases in God's
own development. According to Hegel'sÐor Schelling'sÐgrandiose metaphysi-
cal narrative, at ®rst the Absolute isan sich(in itself) in an abstract manner, after
which it externalizes itself in nature. In a third phase, the Absolute slowly comes
back to itself again in a long historical process, the process of Western civilization,
until it discovers that nature and history are aspects of its own self-realization.
Hegel's philosophy is the culmination point of this ontotheogony, in which the
Absolute becomes fully conscious of itself. At last, it is not onlyinitself but also
foritself (an und fuÈ
r sich). As Hegel's Absolute is One and unique, we might call
this theme the monotheist leitmotif in Hegel's thought.
Hegel's philosophy was in¯uenced by Proclus, Jacob BoÈ
hme, and Spinoza. It
is a mystic kind of pantheism, with extravagant rationalist pretensions, because
Hegel held that the real is the rational, the real being God's own development. In
order to understand Hegel's thought, however, it will not do to trace historical
in¯uences. We should rather attempt to reconstruct his philosophy as a solution
to certain philosophical or theological problems. One of these problems, the prob-
lem of creation, was produced by the attempt to reconcile a Greek or Hellenistic
notion of God with creationism. A second problem became urgent during the
scienti®c revolution: What are we to think of God's revelation in the Bible, if the
Bible is incompatible with scienti®c theories?
The problem of creation arose because the later monotheist Greeks had the
tendency to conceive of God in terms of autarky. Aristotle's God, for instance, is
as a Greek nobleman wanted to be: he merely re¯ects himself and does not need
the world, even though he is the world'stelos. This Aristotelian notion of God is
incompatible with creationism, and Aristotle did not believe that the world is
created. Why should a God who does not need anything except himself create a
world external to himself? Hegel's solution, which is essentially also Spinoza's,
is that creation is God's autodevelopment. The created world is nothing but an
aspect of God, and everything is in God. This theory strongly resembles Neo-
Platonism as it was conceived of by Plotinus and Proclus. Neo-Platonism held
that the world is not created: it has emanated from the One.
What is the origin of the problem of revelation? When science advanced in
the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries, it increasingly contradicted
cosmological and other doctrines expressed in the Bible. How to resolve this
contradiction between science and revelation? Philosophers such as Descartes and
Spinoza, who wanted to vindicate both religion and science, argued that God
adapted his revelation in the Bible to the historical stage of civilization of the
time. As a consequence, we should not interpret the Bible literally, but have faith
in rational theology as a clue to biblical teachings, for God reveals himself also
in nature and in human thought. A next step, taken by Lessing and many others,
was to consider God's revelation as a historical process, an ªeducation of the

human race,º which progresses from revelation in images and parables to rational
comprehension. Hegel's system is the result of combining Spinoza's pantheism
with Lessing's doctrine ofrevelatio continua. According to Hegel, the creation
of the world is God's externalization in matter, whereas human history is God's
progressive self-revelation, culminating in the philosophy of the Absolute.
Hegel's philosophy consists of two parts. First, the individual human being
should become conscious, by means of a great number of dialectical steps, of the
fact that he isinGod. This individual journey to the Absolute is sketched in
nomenologie des Geistes(Phenomenology of Spirit). Once arrived
at God's point of view, the philosopher is able to develop the logic of God's
autodevelopment, which is also dialectical, as it was in Plotinus and Proclus. This
logic is sketched in Hegel'sWissenschaft der Logik(Science of Logic). Although
Hegel's philosophy is usually considered as representing German romanticism,
Hegel was a philosopher of the Enlightenment as well, because he believed in
rational progress. According to Hegel, human history is progress, culminating in
the identity of human consciousness and God's consciousness.
We are now able to see why Heidegger's Neo-Hegelian leitmotif, although it
is a reversal of Marx's reversal of Hegel, is yet not identical with Hegel's philoso-
phy. On the contrary: it is a reversal of Hegel in its own way. Heidegger's narrative
of productionist metaphysics turns Hegel's optimism into pessimism. While the
history of metaphysics according to Hegel is a history in which God progressively
reveals himself, Heidegger holds that the history of productionist metaphysics is
a continuing regression into Darkness, fully consummated by the era of technol-
ogy, in which man errs, the earth is destroyed, human action becomes meaning-
less, and Being withdraws itself. How to explain Heidegger's reversal of Hegel's
optimism about God's revelation into pessimism?
It seems to me that there is only one answer to this question. Between Hegel
and Heidegger stands Nietzsche, and Nietzsche proclaimed the death of God. We
will see that Heidegger, like Hegel, backed up historicism by a monotheist leit-
motif. However, because Heidegger's later thought is a meditation on the death
of God, his monotheist theme is in reality a postmonotheist leitmotif.
§ 11. T
Apart from Heidegger's commitment to National Socialism, which I will discuss
in the next chapter, there is at least one other aspect of his life that is relevant to
the interpretation of his works: Heidegger's complex and ever changing relation
to Catholicism and to Christianity in general. In his judicious biography, Hugo
Ott evokes Heidegger's Catholic youth in Meûkirch, near Konstanz in Baden, and
the religious controversies of the time.
364 Let me relate one telling episode by way
of an upbeat to the theme ªHeidegger and religion.º

Heidegger's parents belonged to the poorer part of the population of Meûkirch,
and they accepted the dogmatic decisions on papal infallibility of the First Vatican
Council of 1870. The more liberal and mostly richerAltkatholikenrejected these
dogmas, so that during Heidegger's youth the small town of Meûkirch was di-
vided by heated religious controversies. When the latter party, supported by the
Baden government, obtained the right to use the Church of St. Martin in 1871,
the loyal Roman Catholics decided to abandon their preaching-house. In 1875
they founded a temporary church in a barn, and it was here that Heidegger's father
served as a sacristan and that young Martin was baptized in 1889. Six years later,
in 1895, the Church of St. Martin was restored to the Catholic community. On
the ®rst of December there was a festive entry of the congregation. It must have
made a deep impression on little Martin Heidegger that the Old Catholic sacristan,
who was reluctant to meet his successor, handed the key not to Martin's father
Friedrich Heidegger but to him, a six-year-old boy.
365 Perhaps this story should
be regarded as an omen of Heidegger's later philosophical development.
Martin Heidegger received the education typically given to a talented boy from
a modest background: he was predestined to a religious career. How to explain,
then, that Heidegger became the philosopher of Being instead of a Catholic
bishop, as his mother once hoped?
366 One might say that he broke away from the
Church of Rome because of his independence of mind, even though in his ®rst
publications of 1910±11, suppressed in theCollected Worksand not mentioned
on of®cial lists, the young student of theology forcefully defended the authority
of the Church against the modernWeltanschauung.
367 Apart from Heidegger's
mental independence, other factors may have been in¯uential. At ®rst, Heidegger
wanted to become a Jesuit. On 30 September 1909, he entered the novitiate of
the Jesuits in Tisis, near Feldkirch (Vorarlberg). But after the initial test period of
two weeks he had to leave, probably because he complained about heart troubles.
In other words, the Societas Jesu had turned him down by reason of its strict
health requirements.
368 Heidegger now applied for a place in the Collegium Borro-
maeum in Freiburg, in order to study theology at the university. In 1911, however,
he had to abandon his theological studies on the advice of his superiors, once
again because he suffered from nervous heart troubles, and the road to priesthood
was blocked forever.
369 From 1911±12 on, when he studied mathematics, philoso-
phy, and physics, Heidegger intended to become a Catholic philosopher. Having
got his doctoratesumma cum laudein 1913, he hoped to get the chair of Christian
(Catholic) philosophy in Freiburg. The choice of a Scholastic topic for his habili-
tation, suggested by Heinrich Finke, was determined both by this ambition and
by the fact that there was a grant available for Thomist studies. However, after
Heidegger's habilitation in 1915, which quali®ed him for the chair, the committee
decided to nominate Josef Geyser from MuÈ
nster as the only candidate.
370 This
decision was a crucial blow to Heidegger. One might say that in June 1916, Ca-
tholicism had thwarted his ambitions for a third time.

In this same summer of 1916, Heidegger acquired another motive for moving
away from Catholicism. After some other love affairs, he met Elfride Petri, a
student of economics from a Prussian of®cer's family, who belonged to the evan-
gelical-Lutheran church, and whom he married in March 1917. Nearly two years
later, on 9 January 1919, Heidegger wrote a much quoted letter to his friend Father
Engelbert Krebs, saying that ªepistemological insights that pass over into the
theory of historical knowledge have made thesystemof Catholicism problematic
and unacceptable to meÐbut not Christianity and metaphysics, although I take
the latter in a new sense.º Heidegger had studied Schleiermacher'sReden uÈ
die Religion(Discourses on Religion) in the summer of 1917, and was acquainted
with Luther's thesis of the perverting in¯uence of Greek metaphysics on Chris-
tianity, an in¯uence that came to its apogee in (Neo)-Scholastical philosophy. He
ended the letter by stating the conviction that he had an ªinner call to philosophyº
and that by ful®lling this ªcall to the eternal vocation of the inner manº he could
ªjustify his existence before GodºÐsurely quite a Lutheran formula.
Heidegger's rupture with Catholicism was but a ®rst step in his gradual disen-
gagement from Christianity, a step motivated by the three disillusionments de-
scribed above, by his mixed marriage, by his studies of Schleiermacher, Dilthey,
and Luther, and ®nally by Husserl's in¯uence from 1916 on. After the debacle of
the religious chair, Heidegger tried to obtain Husserl's support, and Husserl
strongly disapproved of external constraints in philosophy, such as an of®cial
religious commitment.
373 As we will see, this movement away from Christianity
would eventually lead to a variety of atheism in 1933.
At least at this stage in Heidegger's career, life and works are intimately related.
It is not dif®cult to trace Heidegger's personal religious development in his
early writings and courses.
374 In the conclusion of hisHabilitationsschrift,
written in 1916, Heidegger already claims that the most authentic vocation of
philosophy is to go beyond the theoretical attitude, so that the ªliving spiritº may
aim at a ªbreakthrough to true reality and real truth.º
375 Whereas he held at the
time that the mystic experience of medieval Christianity and Scholastic philoso-
phy complement each other, these Eckhartian lines announce Heidegger's rejec-
tion of Scholasticism at the end of the First World War.
376 Heidegger came to
endorse the Lutheran thesis that Greek metaphysics had contaminated the Chris-
tian ªlife of the spirit.º
377 In his course on the phenomenology of religion during
the winter semester of 1920±21, interpreting Paul's letters, Heidegger attempted
to evoke and analyze the life-experience of early Christianity, which had been
obscured and buried by the Scholastic tradition. In a Lutheran manner, the course
aimed at reawakening the life of the spirit, an authentic Christian religiosity that
ªlives temporality as such,º in contradistinction to the easy life of those who are
absorbed in the world. St. Paul pressed his followers to the point of despair in
order to make them understand their situation of decision between these two
modes of life, each alone and already ªbefore God.º Similarly, Heidegger con-
ceived of philosophy as the attempt to restore life to its essential temporality,

insecurity, and distress, a conception that he still expressed in hisdisputatiowith
Cassirer in 1929.
The course on Paul's letters may be regarded as a ®rst attempt to develop a
hermeneutical analysis of human life, taking early Christianity as aformale An-
zeige(formal indication) of life's existential structures. In contrast, the next lec-
ture course on Augustine and Neo-Platonism (summer semester of 1921) aimed
at a ªdestructionº of Greek in¯uences that would have contaminated the pure self-
understanding of the early Christians.
379 Whereas Paul's letters exhort us to stay
awake in this world and to be always prepared for Christ's second coming, which
will occur unexpectedly as ªa thief in the nightº (1Thessalonians5:2), St. Au-
gustine's Neo-Platonic notion of a God as thesummum bonumleads easily to
quietism and to an attempt to ®nd peace in an eternal Deity. The Greek conception
of God as an eternal substance would have been alien to the early Christian experi-
ence of life, which stressed life's insecurity and its ®nite temporality, and under-
stood human existence as a preparation for the second coming.
Heidegger's development from his habilitation in 1916 to the ontology of Da-
sein inSein und Zeit(1927) was determined by four cardinal motives, as is evident
from his courses and seminars.
381 In the ®rst place, there is the religious ªEckhar-
tianº impulse toward an intensi®cation of life, which might bring us before God.
Second, Heidegger wanted to ful®ll Dilthey's intentions aiming at an ontology of
human life, at a hermeneutical interpretation of human existence that provides a
foundation to the historical sciences. In the third place, Heidegger tried to radi-
calize Husserl's project of a phenomenological description of the natural attitude
and of the manner in which entities are constituted by the transcendental subject.
He did so by substituting concrete historical Dasein for Husserl's ahistorical tran-
scendental ego. Finally, when Heidegger turned to Aristotle in 1921, this was
originally motivated by the Lutheran thesis that Aristotelian philosophy had per-
verted the Christian experience of life. Accordingly, Heidegger proposed a ªde-
structionº of Aristotle's philosophy, in order to restore religious life to its original
meaning and intensity, an objective that clearly inspired the Natorp essay of
382 To his astonishment, Heidegger discovered in Aristotle a wealth of phe-
nomenological descriptions of human existence, and he even came to see Aristotle
as a more ªoriginalº phenomenologist than Husserl. This explains the predomi-
nance of the fourth, Aristotelian motive in the analysis of Dasein inSein und
383 As Kisiel showed, the transcendental leitmotif, which originally derived
from Husserl, was considerably strengthened in the very ®nal draft because of
Heidegger's readings of Kant in his seminars.
The analysis of Dasein inSein und Zeit,we may conclude, originated in part
from religious impulses, and in this respect a study of Heidegger's life might
illuminate his works. Heidegger hinted at the relevance of theology and religion
to his philosophy when he wrote in 1953±54 that ªwithout this theological past
[Herkunft], I would never have got on the road of thinking.º And he added sig-
ni®cantly: ªbut the past constantly remains future [Zukunft].º
385 It is less clear,

however, which speci®c interpretation of his works is implied by Heidegger's
Catholic origins. With regard toSein und Zeit, for instance, we might argue that
existentialia of Dasein such asSorge(concern),Angst(anxiety), or the opposition
between the falling of Dasein (Verfallen) and authenticity (Eigentlichkeit), are
derived from Christian sources. Indeed,SorgeandAngstcan be traced back to
St. Augustine,Sein-zum-Todeto Luther, and the opposition between falling and
authenticity reminds us of Paul's dichotomy between the life of the world and the
life of the Spirit, and also of Augustine's analysis of temptation inConfessiones,
book X.
386 Yet this genealogy of Heidegger's technical terms does not specify
what they mean. InSein und Zeit, Heidegger stresses several times that one should
not interpret his existentialia in a religious or theological manner. The existential
ofVerfallen, for example, points to a speci®c structure of human existence, to the
fact that primarily and mostly we are absorbed in worldly affairs, and it does not
refer to the biblical Fall, a hypothetical event in the past of which a phenomeno-
logical ontology of Dasein can have no experience.
387 In general, one might say
that in¯uences or origins can never determine the meaning or interpretation of a
philosophical text. To think that they can would be a genetic fallacy, because the
text is an autonomous and organic whole, a free creation by its author, which
should not be reduced to the sources that the author used. The studies of the
genesis ofSein und Zeitby Kisiel, Van Buren, ThomaÈ
, Greisch, and others may
contain valuable clues for an interpretation of that book, but they can never be a
substitute for such an interpretation.
In the case ofSein und Zeit,there are three more speci®c reasons for resisting
the temptation of a too facile religious interpretation. First, the project of a funda-
mental ontology of Dasein aims at specifying structural and transcendental char-
acteristics of human life, which pertain to our existence in all cases, whether we
are religious or not. This means, second, that where Heidegger derived notions
from Christian sources such as St. Paul, St. Augustine, Eckhart, Luther, Pascal,
or Kierkegaard, he took these notions not in their original religious sense, but as
formal pointers (formale Anzeigen) to the phenomenon of human life as such, to
the ontological constitution of humans.
388 Finally, the ontological stance seems to
imply thatSein und Zeitis religiously neutral, or rather, as Heidegger said in the
Natorp essay, that philosophy isfundamentally atheistic: it is the attempt to restore
human life to its most authentic possibilities by describing its inner tendency, so
that philosophy cannot rely on something external, such as a religious revelation.
Being the ªreal explicit performance of the tendency in life to interpret its funda-
mental movement,º philosophy must be atheistic, Heidegger wrote in 1922.
But this notion of a fundamental atheism in philosophy is a slippery one. It is
instructive to quote a footnote to the Natorp essay of 1922, in which Heidegger
explains what he means:
ªAtheisticº not in the sense of a theory such as materialism or the like. All philosophy
that understands itself in what it is, that is, as the factical manner in which life interprets

itself, must know that from the religious point of view the act of violently throwing
back life to life itself, which philosophy performs, is an insurrection against God. Only
in this way philosophy stands honestly before God, that is, in keeping with the possibili-
ties that are at its disposal to the extent that it is philosophy. ªAtheisticº means here:
liberating oneself from the tempting and anxious tendency of merely talking about
We might call the attitude Heidegger describes here methodological atheism.
Philosophy interprets human life out of itself, counteracting life's tendency to
obscure its most authentic possibilities. It thereby ªthrows life back into the harsh-
ness of its destiny,º as Heidegger said in 1929 during hisdisputatiowith Cassirer.
Doing so, philosophy should not talk about God, because it is not aphilosophical
possibility to reach God. In order to stand honestly before God, the philosopher
should merely interpret human life and not try to theorize about God. Philosophy
should be altogether pretheoretical. The footnote is explained entirely by Heideg-
ger's Lutheran conception of faith as grace, which he expresses also in section 3
ofSein und Zeit. Because faith is a gift from God, and because God is revealed
to us in faith only, a philosopher who longs for God but has not received this gift
is not entitled to talk about God at all. Yet, analyzing the human condition without
mentioning God is a blasphemy or an ªinsurrection against God.º
It follows that this kind of methodological atheism is nothing else than what is
usually called the religious quest for God by opening one's heart for his graceful
coming. By making man understand thoroughly the harshness of his condition,
philosophy would restore him to his most authentic possibility, the possibility of
standing before God, whereupon God might perhaps bestow his grace on man.
Philosophy, as Heidegger conceived it in 1922, purported to be more authentically
religious than Scholastic theology, which yielded to the temptation to talk about
God. Heidegger's early distinction between philosophy and theology does not
coincide with a distinction between areligious thought and religious thought. On
the contrary, philosophy is more authentically religious than traditional theology.
IsSein und Zeitatheistic in this deeply religious sense? The book was read in
this manner by friends of Heidegger such as Bultmann and LoÈ
with, but the text
itself does not allow us to solve the problem in a decisive way.
391 On the one hand
we might think that in some passages, such as the one I quoted in section 10C,
where Heidegger says that the universality of being has to be sought ªhigher up,º
the term ªbeingº is another word for what Christians call God. The ultimate quest
for being supposedly is the quest for God, andSein und Zeitprepares us for this
quest. A footnote to ªVom Wesen des Grundesº (1929) points in the same direc-
tion. The ontological interpretation of Dasein as being-in-the-world does not de-
cide against or in favor of a possible being-to-God, Heidegger says. Yet the eluci-
dation of the transcendence of Dasein provides us with a notion of Dasein
suf®cient for raising the question as to what the relation of Dasein to God might
be ontologically.

On the other hand, Heidegger criticizes traditional Christianity in a number of
crucial passages. In section 10, for instance, he rejects the Christian notion of a
transcendence of man, which means that man transcends himself toward God,
because ªChristian dogmatics...canhardly be said to have made an ontological
problem of man's being.º
393 For the same reason, Heidegger repudiates the tradi-
tional notion of man as God's creature. He traces the concept of being as having
been produced back to Greek Antiquity, and calls it a ªbaleful prejudice,º because
Dasein's mode of being is very different from that of tools or artifacts.
394 By
implication, God cannot be conceived of as a creator either. One might think that
this critique of the Christian notion of God as a creator still belongs to Heidegger's
early Lutheran project of cleansing Christian religion from the contamination by
Greek metaphysics. In fact, it partly destroys traditional Christianity itself, be-
cause the notion of God as a creator is also present in theOld Testament. Ac-
cording to the book ofGenesis, God created ®rst the heavens and the earth, and
then he created the animal kingdom and man. The idea that God created man
ªafter His own likenessº (Genesis1:26±27), and that man is an image of God, is
central to Christianity. Should one not infer that Heidegger's analysis of Dasein
inSein und Zeitis a thoroughly secular ontology of human existence, even though
it bears a structural resemblance to traditional Christian anthropology in many
Let me draw some conclusions from this preliminary discussion, and state the
problem of interpretation that I want to solve in this section. (1) One cannot deny
that there is a strong religious impetus in Heidegger's early works. (2) The fact
thatSein und Zeitis a nontheological and even antitheological book
395 does not
exclude its being deeply religious in the sense of Heidegger's methodological
atheism as de®ned in 1922. (3) But the text ofSein und Zeitdoes not (yet) enable
us to decide whether Heidegger's intentions in writing the book were purely onto-
logical, as they seem to be, or rather ontological and religious. Even if Heidegger
in 1927 still had the religious objectives that he adopted in 1922, these objectives
were not stated in the text. This fact explains thatSein und Zeitcould be inter-
preted both as a preparation for the jump to religion (Bultmann) and as an atheist
ontology (Sartre). (4) Heidegger's critique of a creationist conception of man in
Sein und Zeitimplies a critique of a creationist conception of God, even though
Heidegger does not draw this conclusion in 1927. In other words, the traditional
Christian notion of God is implicitly ªdestroyedº by Heidegger's question of
being. Finally, (5) it seems that we can only decide about the ultimate religious
or nonreligious intentions ofSein und Zeitby studying Heidegger's later works.
Heidegger conceived of the analysis of Dasein inSein und Zeitas awayto the
aim of working out the question of being, that is, as a preparation for asking the
question of being in the appropriate manner.
396 Does it not follow that we may be
able to discover whatSein und Zeitwas ultimately aiming at only by investigating
the way in which Heidegger worked out this question later?

How are we to interpret Heidegger's question of being in the later works? One
strand in this question, I argued in the previous section, is the Neo-Hegelian
theme. But this theme leaves unexplained a large number of sayings on being that
Heidegger repeats a great many times in these works. He says, for instance, that
being is one (einzig), that it summons us by its soundless voice (lautlose Stimme),
that it is concealed from us and even conceals or withdraws itself (Verbergung),
that it is a mystery (Geheimnis), that it gives itself, that the truth of being is the
being of truth, that we should await the coming (Ankunft) of being, and the like.
It is very dif®cult to understand what these phrases mean, even in their contexts,
until one notices that they are structurally similar to traditional Christian sayings
about God.
This insight has triggered a host of interpretations. At the far right of the spec-
trum we ®nd the straightforward proposal that one should read ªGodº instead of
ªbeingº in the relevant passages, and that Heidegger is a somewhat idiosyncratic
theologian in the Eckhartian tradition.
399 For Eckhart, Being (ens,esse) and God
(deus) are the same, and creatures share in God's being. Being in this sense is
hidden in all beings, and the religious philosopher has the task of revealing Being
in beings. At the far left is the position that Heidegger's ªtheologicalº locutions
should be taken metaphorically, because Heidegger himself stresses that being is
not identical with God, and that Heidegger's later question of being merely tries
to evoke the ªwonder of wondersº that beingsare, the amazing fact that there is
something rather than nothing, a fact for which we will be grateful if only we pay
proper attention to it.
400 Between these extremes, we ®nd interpretations that argue
either that Heidegger's later question of being resembles speci®c religious views,
such as negative theology, Mahayana Buddhism, and Taoism, or that Heidegger's
later work was in¯uenced by religious views, such as Neo-Platonism and medi-
eval mysticism, especially Eckhart and Aquinas, or, ®nally, that Heidegger's texts
both resemble and are in¯uenced by these religious conceptions.
One cannot say that interpretations of this kind are incorrect. Surely Heidegger
was in¯uenced by a great number of religious authors, mainly Paul, Plotinus,
Augustine, Eckhart, Luther, Pascal, Schleiermacher, and Kierkegaard, and one
might ®nd resemblances (and also differences) between his writings and any reli-
gious view one prefers. An immense domain of possible scholarly exercises opens
up for our eyes: What about Heidegger and Zen, Heidegger and Lao Tsu, Heideg-
ger and Dogen, Heidegger and Vedanta, Heidegger and Nagarjuna, Heidegger
and Proclos, or Heidegger and Carl Braig?
402 Yet comparative studies of resem-
blances and in¯uences are unsatisfactory, because they remain at the surface of
Heidegger's thought. In his interpretations of Paul and Augustine, Heidegger at-
tempted to revive the inner tendency or fundamental movement of the experience
of life (Grundbewegtheit) that informs their writings. Should we not attempt in a
similar way to capture theGrundbewegtheitof Heidegger's later works? The
problem that I want to solve in this section is as follows: How are we to explain

the ªreligiousº theme in the later Heidegger with reference to the ªfundamental
movementº of his thought?
According to my interpretative hypothesis, thisGrundbewegtheitis what I call
the postmonotheist leitmotif, which sprang from Heidegger's early yearning to
become an authentic Christian. In the following three subsections, I will (A) de-
velop the postmonotheist theme, (B) explore the parallelisms between Heideg-
ger's later discourse on being and traditional Christianity, and (C) show the ex-
planatory power of my hypothesis by giving a survey of the topics in the later
Heidegger that become intelligible if understood in terms of the postmonotheist
leitmotif. In order to convince the reader of the adequacy of my interpretation, I
substantiate it by a wealth of quotations in the notes.
A. The Lutheran Model
Let me start my exposition of the postmonotheist theme by giving three clues that
indicate the nature of Heidegger's philosophicalGrundbewegtheit. The ®rst clue
is extracted from a letter that Heidegger wrote to his pupil and friend Karl LoÈ
on 19 August 1921.
403 According to Kisiel, this letter is a ªconfessionº to LoÈ
which ªprovides a revealing self-portrait of his fundamental orientation during
this entire phase of religious concerns of 1915±1921.º
404 We will see later how
Heidegger's early orientation, that is, hisHerkunft, was ful®lled in his later works,
that is, hisZukunft. At least two passages in this letter are crucial for understand-
ing Heidegger's deepest intentions. In a ®rst passage, Heidegger stresses that he
is a ªChristian theologianº:
I work concretely and factically out of my ªI am,º out of my intellectual and wholly
factical origin, milieu, life-contexts, and whatever is available to me from these as vital
experience in which I live.... Tothis facticity of mine belongs what I would in brief
call the fact that I am a ªChristian theologian.º
Kisiel plausibly explains the underscoring of the suf®x ª-logianº as hinting at
Heidegger's focus of that time: the philosophical foundations of theology in the
fundamental experiences that phenomenology aims to explore.
406 In the second
passage, Heidegger stresses that for him philosophy is a personal quest, and that
the speci®c kind of objectivity pertaining to philosophy is something ªproper to
You each [to wit: Oskar Becker and Karl LoÈ
with] consider a different aspect of me as
essential, what I do not separate . . . , namely, the life of researchÐworking with theoret-
ical conceptsÐand my own life. The essential way in which my facticity is existentially
articulated is research, done in my own way. Accordingly, the motive and goal of philos-
ophizing is for me never to add to the stock of objective truths, since the objectivity of
philosophy, as I understand it . . . is something proper to oneself.

This second passage is illuminated by the de®nition of philosophy Heidegger
gave in the Natorp essay of 1922: philosophy is the explicit actualization of a
tendency implicit in human life, the tendency to interpret our existence with re-
gard to its most authentic possibilities. The objectivity of philosophy is the con-
ceptualization of life, so that it is at the same time radically subjective. My ®rst
clue suggests that for Heidegger philosophy was a personal quest, analogous to
or even identical with a religious quest, and not just an objective scienti®c under-
taking like any other, as it was for a philosopher such as Carnap. Indeed, the
difference between philosophy or ªthinkingº and the sciences is a constant theme
in Heidegger's writings, from his early to his last works.
One might think that thisGrundbewegtheitof Heidegger's philosophy that
characterizes his early lectures around 1920 transmuted later, and that for Heideg-
ger philosophy had become a secular and scienti®c (wissenschaftlich) affair when
he publishedSein und Zeitin 1927. Indeed,Sein und Zeitis marked by echoes of
the scienti®c rhetoric that we ®nd in Husserl, and phenomenology is de®ned as a
fundamental science.
409 However, my second clue shows that Heidegger'sGrund-
bewegtheitdid not transmute at all. Impressed by the fact that Nietzsche combined
his philosophical development with continuous autobiographical re¯ections, Hei-
degger wrote in 1937±38 a brief autobiographical sketch entitled ªMein bisheriger
Wegº (ªMy Way Up to This Momentº), which was published in 1997 inBesin-
nung(Gesamtausgabe, vol. 66). From this important text, in which Heidegger
describes his philosophical development starting with his dissertation on the doc-
trine of judgment in psychologism (1913) up toBeitraÈ
ge zur Philosophie(1936±
38) I quote the most revealing passages:
But who would want to deny that on this entire road up to the present day the discussion
[Auseinandersetzung] with Christianity went along secretly and discretely [verschwie-
gen]Ða discussion which was and is not a ªproblemº that I picked up, but both the way
to safeguard my ownmost originÐparental home, native region [Heimat], and youthÐ
and painful separation from it, both inone. Only someone who has similar roots in a
real and lived catholic world may guess something of the necessities that were operative
like subterranean seismic shocks [unterirdische ErdstoÈ
ûe] on the way of my questioning
up to the present day . . .
It is not proper to talk about these most inner confrontations [innersten Auseinand-
ersetzungen], which are not concerned with questions of Church doctrine and articles
of faith, but only with the Unique Question, whether God is ¯eeing from us or not and
whether we still experience this truly, that is, as creators [als Schaffende]...
What is at stake is not a mere ªreligiousº background of philosophy either, but the
Unique Question regarding the truth of Being, which alone decides about the ªtimeº
and the ªplaceº which is kept open for us historically within the history of the Occident
and its gods . . .
But because the most inner experiences and decisions remain the essential thing, for
that very reason they have to be kept out of the public sphere [OÈ

We are entitled to infer from this text not only that Heidegger'sGrundbewegt-
heitwas a religious quest even in 1936±37, that is, after his explicit rejection of
Christianity in 1933±35, but also that this religious quest is identical with the
question of Being. Furthermore, Heidegger af®rms here what pupils such as LoÈ
with have always held but could never prove: that the most fundamental theme
that informs everything which Heidegger said is something he kept silent about:
the religious leitmotif.
My third clue is a telling piece of information given by another pupil and friend
of Heidegger, Hans-Georg Gadamer. According to Gadamer, Heidegger once said
that his life's goal was ªto be a new Luther.º
412 We know that Heidegger had the
reputation of being a great connoisseur of Luther's writings. 413 But obviously, he
not merely wanted to know what Luther wrote; he wanted to be in the twentieth
century what the young Luther was in the sixteenth century: a religious innovator.
My thesis is that Heidegger'sGrundbewegtheitwas informed by what I call a
Lutheran model, and that the ªreligiousº aspect of his later works can be explained
as a radicalization of Luther. In this sense, the later works ful®lled Heidegger's
early intentions. But what is a Lutheran model? And how is the Lutheran model
related to the postmonotheist leitmotif?
The young Luther reacted to a deep crisis in the Christian religion of his time,
a crisis provoked by the Renaissance and by extravagant practices of the Roman
Church such as selling indulgences. Luther exposed these practices, which substi-
tuted outer actions for the inner repentance demanded by the New Testament.
Theologically, the main question Luther asked was how a man can be justi®ed
before God. Whereas the Church held that good works and the sacraments helped
justify man, Luther stressed that God's righteousness cannot be conceived in
terms of a transaction in which satisfaction is made to God. He returned to Paul's
conception that it is only God's grace that transforms and makes man righteous
before God. As a consequence, human activity no longer has a part in the ultimate
determination of man's destiny. Grace alone decides. This position seriously un-
dermined the claims of the Catholic Church and the function of the sacraments.
According to Luther, our relation to God is a personal one that does not really
need the tradition of the Church (the apostolic succession) as an intermediary.
We will see that many elements of Luther's theology, such as the notion that
human destiny is not of our own making but is ªsentº to us (Geschick) and that
grace is crucial, have their counterparts in Heidegger's later discourse on being.
What I call the Lutheran model, however, is theformrather than thecontentof
Luther's thought. Let me specify this form in three tenets. First, Luther held that
there is an original revelation of God in Christ and in the Bible. Second, he as-
sumed that the tradition of theology that transmitted God's revelation to us in fact
betrayed the revelation, because it tried to cast the original message in the con-
cepts of Greek philosophy, which are incompatible with it. Luther's railings
against Aristotle are well known. In chapter 3.25 of hisAppeal to the Ruling Class
of German Nationality(1520), he wrote for instance about Aristotle: ªIt pains me

to the heart that this damnable, arrogant, pagan rascal has seduced and fooled so
many of the best Christians with his misleading writings. God has made him a
plague to us on account of our sins.º
414 Luther's idea is not only that the Scholastic
tradition betrays or conceals the original Christian message, but also that this
concealment is ªsentº to us by God. Third, if tradition is a falling away from the
origin, one has todestroythe tradition, that is, Scholastic philosophy, in order to
revive the original message.
Heidegger applied this Lutheran model of tradition as apostasy or as falling
away from an origin in three phases of his development. In a ®rst phase, around
1916 to 1922, he simply rediscovered Luther and used him to break away from
his Catholic past. We saw that Heidegger came to accept Luther's thesis of the
corrupting in¯uence of Greek metaphysics on Christian religion, and that he
wanted to revive the original experience of temporality in early Christian life.
This is why, in his course on the phenomenology of religion in 1920±21, he
focused primarily on the earliest Christian document, Paul's ®rst letter to the
Thessalonians. Heidegger then turned to Aristotle in order to ªdestroyº his con-
taminating in¯uence on Christianity. However, when he discovered in Aristotle a
wealth of insights in the structure of human life, Heidegger's use of the Lutheran
model entered its second phase, which culminated inSein und Zeit: the model
was formalized into the idea that the philosophical tradition had fallen away from
itsorigins in Plato and Aristotle. The question of being, raised by these thinkers,
had ªsubsided from then on as a theme for actual investigation.º What Plato and
Aristotle achieved ªwas to persist through many alterations and `retouchings'
down to the `logic' of Hegel. And what they wrested with the utmost intellectual
effort from the phenomena, fragmentary and incipient though it was, has long
since become trivialized.º
In fact, Heidegger distinguishes inSein und Zeittwo kinds of falling away
(Verfallen). The ®rst consists in the tendency of human existence to get absorbed
in the world and to interpret itself in its terms, by re¯ection so to say. The Aristote-
lian interpretation of humans in terms of matter and form is a product of falling
in this sense, because the notions of matter and form are derived from the domain
of artifacts. A destruction of Aristotle is needed in order to show that human
life has to be conceptualized in terms of a very different set of categories (the
existentialia). The second kind of falling is conceived on the Lutheran model.
Tradition made the Aristotelian concepts overfamiliar to us and it conceals their
original source in speci®c ªfundamental experiences.º This is why we have to
destroy the tradition of philosophy.
417 In other words, the tradition of philosophy
is interpreted as a kind of falling, which conceals another falling: the fact that
human existence was alienated from itself to begin with.
I now come to Heidegger's later works and to the third phase of Heidegger's
application of the Lutheran model. As we saw in section 10, above, Heidegger in
these works interprets the history of metaphysics as a continuing regression into
Darkness, a falling away from an original disclosure (EroÈ
ffnung) of being. My

hypothesis is that Heidegger's initial metaphysical attempt to bring man before
God by methodological atheism as de®ned in 1922, an attempt that should be
located in the years 1928±30, when Heidegger started to use the word ªmetaphys-
icsº in a positive sense, failed. This failure would explain the growing in¯uence
of Nietzsche on his thought after 1930. Heidegger already read Nietzsche before
the First World War and he discusses Nietzsche's views on history in section 76
ofSein und Zeit.
418 But Nietzsche's in¯uence grew from 1930 on, culminating in
Heidegger's choice to become a Nazi in 1933, and, afterwards, in Heidegger's
lectures on Nietzsche from 1936 to 1940.
419 In his account of the years 1933±34,
Heidegger says that during 1930±32 he discussed Ernst JuÈ
nger's worksDie Totale
MobilmachungandDer Arbeiterwhen they appeared in a small circle with his
assistant Brock, and that he tried to show how JuÈ
nger's writings express an ªessen-
tial understandingº of Nietzsche's metaphysics, which enables us ªto see through
the present and to foresee the future of the Westº (see §§ 14 and 15, below).
Nietzsche proclaimed the death of God. Heidegger quoted this statement in his
Rektoratsredeof 27 May 1933. Within the context of the rectoral address, the
quote illustrated Heidegger's thesis that the Greek origin of science in philosophy
had been betrayed afterwards by ªthe Christian-theological interpretation of the
world and by the later mathematical-technical thought of the modern epoch.º
Clearly the Lutheran model is applied here, for Heidegger claims that an original
Beginning is betrayed by a later tradition, and that we have to renew this Begin-
ning by destroying the tradition. What Heidegger argues is that the Germans in
1933 have to renew the Greek origin of science as a ªinnermost determining
center of the whole national Dasein of the people.º
It is important to see that Heidegger's application of the Lutheran model in the
rectoral address is an inversion of this model. According to Luther and Heidegger
in 1920±21, the Christian God had died in human hearts because the Scholastic
tradition had interpreted the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in terms of Aristo-
telian Being. God had become an Eternal and unchanging Substance. How can
such a God become manifest to us in time? Greek thought had contaminated our
notion of God by interpreting him in terms of Being. This is why we have to go
back to early Christianity and to destroy the tradition of the Schools.
423 In 1933,
however, Heidegger reverses his early Lutheran thesis. He now claims that the
Greekorigin, which reveals the totality of beings, has been contaminated by the
laterChristianinterpretation of the world. Being, Heidegger would say some
years later, had been concealed by the fact that it was interpreted asabeing, such
as the Christian God.
424 The death of God was then diagnosed as the death of a
mistaken interpretation of Being. By implication, Heidegger in 1933 advocated
the destruction of theChristianelement in the tradition instead of a destruction
of theGreekelement. The later evangelical minister Heinrich Buhr describes how
in the fall of 1933, during one of hisWissenschaftslager(camps of science) in
Todtnauberg, Heidegger gave a violent speech against Christianity, Christian the-

ology, and the Christian interpretation of life.
425 Clearly, Heidegger had become
a virulent atheist and anti-Christian by 1933.
Is it possible to give a rational reconstruction of this reversal of Luther? Or
should we explain Heidegger's attempts at a destruction of Christianity in his
National Socialist years by appealing to psychological factors, such as his early
resentment against the Catholic Church, and by reference to his objective of bring-
ing his philosophy into the Party line? The National Socialist propaganda, ex-
ploiting the German yearning for a strong leader they had lacked since the days
of Bismarck, also used the notion of a transcendent power that had sent Hitler to
save the Germans, a power that was not identical to the Christian God. Hitler
himself often referred to Providence in his speeches, even after he had foresworn
Catholicism and Christianity in 1937.
We saw thatSein und Zeitimplies at least one possible reason for discarding
the traditional Christian conception of God: if human existence cannot be under-
stood in terms of a created entity, then God cannot be conceived of as a creator.
The traditional Christian God is essentially a creator, a perfect and almighty being
427 Perhaps it was Eckhart who inspired Heidegger to substitute
Being (Sein) for God, and to attribute the ªdeath of Godº to the fact that Being
had been misconceived of asabeing, namely, God. In Heidegger's later
writings, Being (das Sein,ordas Seyn) is often used in the sense of a mysterious
transcendent agent or event, which sends (schickt) us our fate (Geschick), just as
did Luther's God. I will write the word ªBeingº with an uppercase initial when-
ever it is used in this manner. A destruction of the Christian tradition would
show that thetranscendens schlechthinis Being and not the personal God of
Christianity. In this manner, the later Heidegger used the Lutheran model against
Luther and against Christianity itself. Christianity was now interpreted as a falling
tradition, which betrayed and obscured an original revelation of Being in Greek
428 However, because of the very fact that Heidegger's thought remained
Lutheran in a sense, it could not really do justice to Greek philosophy. In interpret-
ing the Greeks, Heidegger projected Lutheran themes into their writings, as we
will see below.
Heidegger's reversal of Luther explains the structural aspects of his later dis-
course on Being, aspects that are formally identical with the structures speci®ed
at the end of section 6, above. For Luther, the relation to God is the essential core
of human beings. Similarly, Heidegger held in his later works that ªman dwells
only in his essence if he is addressed by Being.º
429 Accordingly, (1) thequestion
of Beingis the most fundamental question for man. This question of Being is in
fact a quest for Being. (2) Dasein has an understanding of this question (Seinsver-
ndnis), for Dasein is essentially transcendence toward Being. However, (3) in
the ontotheological tradition of metaphysics, Being is misconceived asabeing,
that is, as God, so that the tradition falls away from its origin. We live in oblivion
of being (Seinsvergessenheit), because (4) we do not acknowledge the crucial
distinction (ontological difference) between Being and beings. We endorse (5)

the ontology of presence: we think that we might represent Being as an eternally
present entity or a personal God, whom we might manipulate. As we saw, Luther
thought that God had sent to us the Aristotelian misinterpretation of Christianity
as ªa plague on account of our sins.º Similarly, Heidegger held in his later works
that Being concealed itself in the history of metaphysics, and that the fate (Ge-
schick) of the stages of metaphysics was sent to us (geschickt) by Being. It would
be the task of the thinker (6) to wrest us from the oblivion of Being by (7) raising
the question of Being anew and by (8) retrieving the tradition of metaphysics as
a concealment of Being. Only in this manner (9) would man turn in upon his
essence and origin again.
I call Heidegger's inverted application of the Lutheran model in his later works
the postmonotheist leitmotif in the question of being. The leitmotif is ªpostmono-
theistº in two complementary senses. First, it ispostmonotheist because Heideg-
ger claims that the monotheist tradition is done with. God is dead, as Nietzsche
said. Heidegger fully endorsed this statement from 1933 on, even though he made
occasional tactical genu¯exions for Christianity after the war. Heidegger's later
discourse on Being comes after (post) monotheism. In the important lecture series
hrung in die Metaphysik(Introduction into Metaphysics) of the summer
semester of 1935, which Heidegger published in 1953 because it was ªparticularly
appropriate to make visible a stretch of the way fromSein und Zeit(1927) to the
latest publications,º we clearly recognize Heidegger's inversion of Luther and his
destruction of Christianity.
430 Heidegger starts with the question ªwhy there is
something rather than nothing,º the very question with which he had concluded
his inaugural lecture of 1929. He talks about the ªhidden powerº of this question,
which might strike us in moments of ªgreat despairº or ªjubilation of the heart.º
And he argues that the question is the most fundamental one, because it opens up
the possibility of transcending the totality of beings to their ªgroundº (Grund),
namely, Being, whereas the question is only a real one in a ªleapº (Sprung) and
This sounds very similar to traditional Christian metaphysics. But at this point
Heidegger starts his destruction of the Christian view. ªSomeone for whom the
Bible is divine revelation and truth, already has the answer before he even starts
asking the question `why is there something rather than nothing.' º
433 In other
words, a (Christian) believer cannot reallyquestion. 434 Both echoing and reversing
Paul's statement that ªGod made foolish the wisdom of the worldº (i.e., Greek
philosophy), Heidegger claims that the philosophical question of Being ªis folly
in the eyes of faith.º The believer is not really able to sustain Heidegger's philo-
sophical questioning, and Christian philosophy is like a wooden iron.
435 What is
more, Christianity itself is but Platonism for the people, Heidegger proclaims,
echoing Nietzsche.
436 Hugo Ott was the ®rst to see thatEinfuÈ
hrung in die Meta-
physikis among other things an implicit polemics with the Christian philosopher
Theodor Haecker, whose bookWas ist der Mensch?had a great success after its
publication in 1933.
437 Haecker's book was an undisguised and passionate Catho-

lic critique of National Socialism, nationalism, and racism, a very untimely book
indeed, and Haecker got in trouble with the Nazis. Heidegger claims inEinfuÈ
rung in die Metaphysikthat philosophy is untimely.
438 In fact, he did the very
timely job of demolishing Christian philosophy, probably because it dared to op-
pose the National Socialist revolution.
Heidegger's later thought ispostmonotheistic, then, because Heidegger had to
destroy the Christian tradition in order to inaugurate his thinking about Being. 440
In a second sense of the expression, it is also postmonotheistic. What I mean is
that Heidegger's later discourse on Being retains many structural parallelisms
with traditional Christian theology. What is more, to the extent that this discourse
on Being is intelligible at all, it derives its intelligibility from these structural
parallelisms with Christianity. Putting together the two aspects of postmonothe-
ism, we might de®ne the postmonotheist theme asthe attempt to replace the
Christian religion by a different variety of religious discourse, the meaning of
which is parasitic upon the monotheist Christian discourse that it intends to de-
441 Like a real parasite, Heidegger's discourse of Being lives on the blood
of the religious tradition of Christianity, and it aims at destroying this tradition
by arguing that Christianity belongs to the metaphysical era ofSeinsverlassenheit.
Somewhat more sympathetically, one might say that Heidegger's postmonotheist
leitmotif is an attempt to rescue religion after the death of God. Religion is saved
by arguing that the God of Christianity is a mere entity among entities, an idol,
so to say, and that his death was merely the death of a fallen tradition that obscured
Being as it really is.
442 Although God is dead, Being itself is as living as ever,
even though it is concealed by the metaphysical and theological tradition. Yet in
telling us about Being, Heidegger inevitably falls back on the very structures of
Christianity, although he abstracts from the Christian contents.
In the next subsection I will give an impression of the astonishing range of
structural parallelisms between Heidegger's later discourse on Being and an Eck-
hartian-Lutheran version of Christian monotheism. Being is One. It reveals itself
in the Beginning. The tradition has fallen away from this Origin, and in fact,
Being has concealed itself in traditional metaphysics. The thinker has to destroy
the tradition in order to inaugurate a return or ªstep backº (Schritt zuruÈ
ck) to the
Beginning, and to prepare a Second Coming (Ankunft,anderer Anfang) of Being.
There is, however, one obvious dif®culty for such an inverted Lutheran scheme.
Luther could rely on the conviction, shared with his Catholic opponents, that the
Bible is a revelation of and by God, and that God manifested himself in Christ.
Because he perverts or inverses Luther, Heidegger discards the Bible as a revela-
tion of Being. But this raises a problem for the application of a Lutheran model
of tradition: Where should we look for the original revelation of and by Being,
or the Beginning of real history, from which the tradition has fallen away?
hrung in die Metaphysikof 1935, Heidegger tries to move from the
question concerning beings to the question of Being.
443 Traditional metaphysics
would not ask this latter question, for it seeks the ground of beings in another

being, God. This holds also for Aristotle, so that Aristotle already lived in ªobliv-
ion of Beingº (Seinsvergessenheit).
444 Asking the question of Being ªmeans noth-
ing less than to retrieve the beginning of our historical-spiritual Dasein and to
transform it into the other beginning.º
445 Heidegger claims that the saying of
Being (Sagen des Seins) by thinkers and poets ªfoundsº (GruÈ
nden und Stiften)
the historical Dasein of a people.
446 Consequently, only the philosopher and the
poet may know about the ªinner greatnessº of the National Socialist movement. 447
The German people, which ®nds itself in the middle, so that it has most neighbors
and is most endangered, is also the metaphysical people, which has to decide to
renew the Greek beginning of Being.
448 But again, where should the German
people ®nd the original revelation of Being, if even Plato and Aristotle did not
ask Heidegger's question of Being as distinguished from the question concerning
beings? InEinfuÈ
hrung in die MetaphysikHeidegger discovers the original Begin-
ning mainly in Parmenides' saying thatnoein(ªto thinkº) andeinai(ªto beº)
belong together.
449 Having elucidated this saying by means of a comparison with
Sophocles'Antigone, he concludes that in Parmenides' vision, the essence of man
is grounded in the opening (EroÈ
ffnung) of the Being of beings.
450 Dasein as such
is the place (das Da) where Being reveals itself. 451 Being reveals itself by means
of the original distinction between Being and beings, which is the source of his-
tory. After Parmenides and Heraclitus, Greek thought allegedly has fallen away
(Abfall) from this original revelation of Being, and Heidegger sees Plato and
Aristotle both as the End of the Beginning and as the Beginning of the End.
452 In
the process of falling away from the original revelation of Being, human thought
would have gained supremacy over Being. Consequently, Being became con-
cealed. The question of Being aims at restoring Being to its primacy.
Ten years later, in a publication of 1946, Heidegger sought the original revela-
tion of Being even earlier, and found it in a fragment of Anaximander, the oldest
text of Western thought. This text is ªGreek,º Heidegger says, in the sense of the
ªearly fateº (die FruÈ
he des Geschickes), ªas which Being itself lights up in beings
and claims an essence of man.º
453 But the very fact that beings appear to Dasein
conceals the ªlight of Being.º Being withdraws in the very act of revealing itself
in beings.
454 A Christian theologian might argue that God's creation of the world
obscures God himself, because man tends to be absorbed in the created world and
to forget about its Creator. Similarly, Heidegger claims that the original revelation
of Being is obscured by beings, so that it is inherent in the Beginning that the
Beginning is forgotten. For this reason, aberration (die Irre) or forgetfulness of
Being is ªthe essential space of history.º
The historian of ancient philosophy will object that Heidegger's interpretation
of the pre-Socratics violates the texts, and that it is a projection of his postmono-
theology into the extant fragments of Anaximander, Parmenides, and Heraclitus.
Indeed, Heidegger's postmonotheistic discourse on Being is altogether alien to
the atmosphere of Greek thought, which never turned Being into a historical pro-
cess of revelation. Heidegger is the ®rst to admit this violence in his interpreta-

456 However, with the un¯appable boldness of a theologian such as Karl
Barth, who in his study of Paul's Letter to the Romans discarded historical Bible
scholarship in order to ®nd his theological Truth in the Holy Book, Heidegger set
aside the standards of history and philology: ªall eyes of all historians will never
suf®ce to see the happening [Geschehnis] of Being.º
457 The reason is that history
as an academic discipline belongs itself to the history of the oblivion of Being.
As a consequence, a philosophical interpretation should probe deeper into the
texts than a purely historical or ªscienti®cº exegesis is able to do:
The authentic interpretation [eigentliche Auslegung] should show that which is not
stated in words anymore but which yet is said. In doing so, the interpretation must
necessarily use violence. The proper sense [das Eigentliche] should be looked for where
a scholarly [wissenschaftliche] interpretation does not ®nd anything anymore, although
the latter stigmatizes as unscholarly [unwissenschaftlich] everything that transcends its
Clearly, the inverted application of the Lutheran model compelled Heidegger
to construe an anti-Christian postmonotheisticmythology, which linked a ®ctional
Greek Origin of Being to a new German Beginning.
459 As in the rectoral address
of 1933, Heidegger in the summer of 1935 summoned the Germans to renew the
Greek revelation of Being. The ªinner truth and greatnessº of the National Social-
ist movement would consist in this renewal. Gradually, it dawned on Heidegger
that the actual National Socialist revolution would never effectuate the rebirth of
the Greek beginning, and that Germany would lose the war. The postmonotheist
theme turned out to be as ¯exible as the Christian tradition that it meant to replace.
The Second World War, provoked by the National Socialist totalitarian state,
could be interpreted as a consequence of our oblivion of Being, rather than as a
refutation of Heidegger's ontological myth. If the German Renewal of the Greek
Beginning had led to disaster and ignoble destruction, it had not been a real
renewal after all. According to Heidegger's later insight into our historical
fate (Geschick), the World Wars announced the elimination of the very distinction
between war and peace. This elimination was inevitable when the truth of
Being failed to come.
460 Although Heidegger turned out to be a false prophet of
Being in 1935, Being continued to reveal itself to him. To prepare us for a second
coming of Being was Heidegger's contribution to what has been called the myth
of the twentieth century (see § 14C).
B. Analogies with Christian Monotheism
The ¯exibility of Heidegger's postmonotheist theme excuses us from the task of
tracing its development in his later writings, although this might be an interesting
scholarly investigation in its own right: the subtle and often opportunist transfor-
mations of the postmonotheist leitmotif re¯ect Heidegger's attitude to the chang-
ing fate of Germany before, during, and after the war (see § 14C). Nearly all the

later works contain the postmonotheist leitmotif in some form, and the general
structure of the leitmotif remains the same from 1935±38 on. Its most impressive
development is to be found inBeitraÈ
ge zur Philosophie, Heidegger's secondchef
d'oeuvre, written in the years 1936±38. This manuscript, which Heidegger did
not publish, must be regarded as the hidden source from which Heidegger's later
publications ¯owed forth.
Instead of analyzing each text in detail, I substantiate my postmonotheist inter-
pretation of the later Heidegger in two ways. In the present subsection I explore
the parallelisms between Heidegger's later discourse on Being and traditional
Christian theology, drawing on a wide range of texts. In the next subsection I
discuss a number of doctrines of the later Heidegger that should be viewed against
the background of the postmonotheist theme.
1. The Uniqueness of Being. We have wondered many times why Heidegger
places so much stress on the unity of being, to the point of identifying the question
of being with a quest for a unique (sense of) ªbeingº underlying the multiplicity
of senses and beings. The Aristotelian leitmotif, the phenomenologico-hermeneu-
tical theme, and the Neo-Hegelian leitmotif did not provide a solution to this
problem, whereas the transcendental solution turned out to be a partial one only,
because it could not explain all texts.
461 I am claiming that the hypothesis of a
postmonotheist leitmotif is the best explanation for Heidegger's assumption that
there is a unique sense of the word ªbeing.º In this sense, the word ªbeingº (das
Sein,ordas Seyn) refers to postmonotheist Being. Whereas the texts do not allow
us to decide unambiguously whether Heidegger was already referring to post-
monotheist Being at the time ofSein und Zeit, he does clearly so from 1935
on. The ®rst parallel between traditional Christian theology and Heideggerian
postmonotheism, then, is that Heidegger in the later works stresses the uniqueness
of Being (das Sein) in contrast to the multiplicity of beings (die Seienden). As he
says in ªDie Kehreº (ªThe Turnº), Being has no rival.
Heidegger uses a great number of German expressions and phrases to highlight
the uniqueness of Being. 463 Being is the Singularity of beings (das Einzigartige
des Seienden), the unique one, which transcends itself to itself, so that it is the
transcendens schlechthin.
464 This formula reminds us of Anselm's celebrated
de®nition of God, as does the phrase that ªBeing is more being [seiender] than
each and every being.º
465 Furthermore, Being not only is the being of beings, as
it was according to the phenomenological conception. The question of being
rather aims at Being itself initsbeing.
466 Being is the One Mystery (Geheimnis), 467
the Singular (das Einzige), which conceals itself. 468 Being is not God, it is not a
foundation of the world (Weltgrund), and when we ask what being is, we can only
answer: it isitself. Compare the passage in the Old Testament where Yahweh says
to Moses: ªI am who I amº (Exodus3:14). Being is nearer to us than all beings,
although this nearness remains farthest from us.
469 Surely this is a variation on
Augustine. Being is Truth, and the Truth of Being is the Clearing (Lichtung)in

which we stand, expressions that recall the biblical idea of truth as God's revela-
tion in Christ.
470 When we say in German:es gibt das Sein, theesthat ªgivesº
Being, is Being itself. 471 This reminds us of the metaphysical notion of God as
causa sui. 472 Being is simple (einfach) and Being is the Same as Nothingness (das
Selbe mit dem Nichts). 473 Nothingness is also called the veil of Being (die Schleier
des Seins), an expression current in mystical writings. 474 Being is light (Licht);
it is the Wholly Other (das ganz Andere) to beings, it is the Incalculable (das
Unberechenbare) and the Indestructible (das UnzerstoÈ
475 Being isthetopic
(Sache) of thinking. 476
The number of expressions Heidegger uses for postmonotheist Being exceeds
by far the number of names for and attributes of God in the Bible. There would
be no point in compiling a complete enumeration of Heidegger's de®nite descrip-
tions of Being. In the text ªAus einem GespraÈ
ch von der Spracheº (1953±54), for
instance, Heidegger refers to Being by means of thirteen different expressions:
der Sach-Verhalt(literally: state of affairs; here: the conduct [das Verhalten]of
the topic [die Sache]),das Anfangende(the Incipient),das Unbestimmbare(the
Indeterminable),das lichtende VerhuÈ
llen(that which veils while shining),das
Ungesagte(the Unsaid),das eigentlich Tragende(that which really supports),
Nichts(Nothingness),Leere(Emptiness),Ohne Namen(that which does not have
a name),das unbestimmte Bestimmende(the indeterminate Determiner),die Zwie-
falt aus der Einfalt(the Duplicate from the Simple, that is, the distinction between
Being and beings that springs from Being itself),das anfaÈ
nglich Vertraute(that
which has been familiar from the beginning), anddas ganz Andere(the wholly
477 Even an incomplete list will suf®ce to show that in the later works
Heidegger incessantly celebrates the uniqueness of Being. He is not a postpolythe-
ist but a postmonotheist thinker.
2. Creation and Revelation. Being is not God, and we saw that Heidegger
argued already inSein und Zeitthat the traditional notion of creation is ontologi-
cally inadequate. Nevertheless, Heidegger's postmonotheology admits of an ana-
logue of the creation myth. Heidegger says that Being is putting forward (entber-
gen) beings, and that in the process of putting forward entities, Being conceals
478 Being is clearing or shining forth (Lichtung); it pro-jects beings and sends
humans into the existence of Da-sein. 479 Being is opening up (EroÈ
heit); it gives itself in the open, and the original mystery for all thought is that
480 Being is also a deliverance or a handing over (das EinhaÈ
ndigen des
Anwesens), which hands over presence to things present. 481 Being gives each en-
tity the warrant of being, and without Being each and every being would remain
482 In giving being to entities, Being gives itself. 483 Heidegger's mes-
sage seems to be that we should reject the traditional notion of a God as a creator,
which dispels our sense of wonder about the fact that beingsare. Instead, we
should accept the notion of Being as the wonderful process of revealing entities
to us. We might be inclined to identify Heidegger's Being with the mere fact or
event that entities are, and sometimes Heidegger seems to do so. But mostly

Heidegger's later grammar of Being suggests that Being is an agent, the agent
that inaugurates and sustains the fact that beings are. In other words, there is
postcreationism in Heidegger's postmonotheism.
This postmonotheist analogue of the creation myth has an additional religious
advantage. Monotheistic religions could never really cope with the problem of
the plurality of religions. Should one denounce competing gods as idols, mere
products of human fantasy? In that case it becomes dif®cult to sustain the claim
that one's own God is not such a product. Or should one admit that they have
some religious value, pretending, for instance, that the other gods are somewhat
misleading representations of the God of, say, Christian monotheism? This solu-
tion will not do either, for why should the Christian God put such misleading
images in people's minds? InBeitraÈ
ge zur Philosophie, Heidegger offers a radical
solution to the problem of the plurality of religions. Postmonotheist Being is at
the origin of all gods, including the Christian one and including a possible God
who is perhaps bound to arrive. Being sends gods to humans in order to save
them, for instance, so that all gods have an equal status.
484 It follows that no god
is the only true one; no god is unique. But postmonotheist Being is unique and
without rivals. This is why Heidegger asks one unique question only: the question
of Being.
3. The Fall, History, and Eschatology. As in traditional Christianity and Chris-
tian Neo-Platonism, Heidegger assumes that the autodistinction by Being between
Being and beings (der Unter-schied), that is, his analogue for creation or emana-
tion, is a historical process with a beginning and aneschaton(end of the present
world). It is the history of Being. Although some Greek philosophers, Plato, for
instance, admitted of a beginning of the world, the notion of history aseschatology
is lacking in ancient Greek thought.
486 Again, Heidegger projects a Judeo-Chris-
tian pattern back into Greek philosophy. Playing with the Greek termepocheÅ
(abstinence of judgment) and the German wordEpoche(epoch), he says that in
sending out (schicken) historical epochs (Epoche,Geschick), Being withholds
itself (epocheÅ
). Real world history (eigentliche Weltgeschichte) is the succession
of these epochs, and this succession is Time. When the history of Being is gath-
ered in its end, this gathering is the ªeschatology of Being.º ªBeing itself is as a
fateful sender [geschickliches] in itself eschatological.º
487 Like in Christianity,
there is in Heidegger's postmonotheology a Beginning and an End of Time.
At this point the postmonotheist leitmotif and the Neo-Hegelian theme merge.
The Neo-Hegelian history of being (Seinsgeschichte) becomes a series of epochs
that are sent to us (geschickt) by Being as a transcendent agent (Seinsgeschick).
Real history (eigentliche Geschichte) is a fate (Geschick) that Being sends
(schickt) to us, Heidegger repeats again and again with an adroit (geschickt) pun
on the German rootschick.
488 No wonder that the coherence of Heidegger's
thought is lost upon English readers, because his wordplays do not survive transla-
tion. No wonder, too, that Heidegger says about Hegel that he was ªthe only
thinker of the West who experienced the history of thought in a thinking way.º

Both Hegel and Heidegger interpret the history of metaphysics as a permanent
revelation of and by Being. However, between Hegel and Heidegger stands
Nietzsche, who proclaimed the death of God. Hegel could still conceive of history
as a progressive self-revelation by the Absolute, culminating in its complete self-
transparency. Heidegger, on the contrary, claims that the history of metaphysics
is a history of Being's progressive self-concealment, beginning with Plato's sub-
stitution of Ideas for Being and ending with the death of God and the destruction
of the earth by technology. This is why humans inevitably go astray or why they
are insane (irren). Each epoch of world history is an epoch of erring or madness
(die Irre). From the viewpoint of the history of Being (Seynsgeschichte), the earth
is the wandering planet (Irrstern).
According to Heidegger, then, history is not progress, but a falling away from
the origin, as the inverted Lutheran model implies. In the process of revealing
entities in history-shaping ways, Being conceals itself more and more. If meta-
physics articulates the ways in which the totality of beings is revealed in each
epoch, as the Neo-Hegelian theme has it, metaphysics is also a concealment of
Being, because in thinking the totality of beings, Being is forgotten.
491 Yet,
because beings cannot become manifest without the Light of Being, the history
of metaphysics is also a revelation of Being. Being reveals itself in the history of
metaphysics in its very concealment.
492 The history of metaphysics contains a
trace (Spur) of Being, because beings cannot emerge in their totality without
Being. But, Heidegger says, this trace was erased when Being was conceived of
as a highest being, as a transcendent entity.
493 In other words, the last trace
of Being was destroyed when Being became conceived of as God. The notion
of God annuls the crucial difference between Being and beings (the ontological
difference), because itrepresentsBeing, which cannot be represented, as an omni-
present entity,abeing. Consequently, we have to destroy the Christian monotheist
or ontotheological tradition in order to turn back to Being. But if the metaphysics
of Christian monotheism is a fate (Geschick) sent to us by Being, how can we
destroy it?
4. Predetermination. The notion of real history (eigentliche Geschichte) as fate
or destiny (Geschick) sent to us (geschickt) by Being is Heidegger's postmonothe-
istic equivalent of Luther's notion of predetermination. The fundamental way in
which the totality of entities is revealed to us in a speci®c epoch of Being, such
as the world as a creation by God, or the reign of technology (das Wesen der
Technik), cannot be changed by human effort.
494 Dasein exists in the throw (Wurf)
of Being, which sends us our fate. 495 Being, not man, decides how entities appear
to us in a speci®c epoch. Being decides how truth as openness willbe. 496 The
truth or openness (das Wesen der Wahrheit) in which beings become manifest to
us, is adiktatby Being.
5. Deus absconditus. ªTruly, thou art a God who hidest thyself, O God of
Israel, the Saviour,º saysIsaiah45:15. Especially when it claims that God is
transcendent to nature, monotheism tends to conclude that God is invisible, and

it becomes a disturbing problem how we might come to know God. Because God
is almighty, this invisibility must be explained by the alleged fact that he hides
himself. In Heidegger's later discourse on Being, the postmonotheist analogue of
this theme of the hidden God (deus absconditus) expresses itself in a great many
ways, which a reader of the later Heidegger will easily recognize. Being is forgot-
ten (Seinsvergessenheit) because it conceals itself (Seinsverborgenheit).
498 This
means that Being has abandoned us (Seinsverlassenheit) so that we live in aban-
donment by being and are homeless.
499 Being withdrew itself (Entzug)inthe
beginning of the history of Being, and it refuses itself to us. 500 Being is hidden, it
is like a shadow, so that we are doomed to err (Irre) and our life is meaningless. 501
Being is not a ground (Grund), but an abyss (Abgrund), which hides the real
ground. 502 It is a mystery, which does not betray itself. 503 It turns away from us. 504
Yet, Being isdas FragwuÈ
rdigste, both in the sense that it is the most problematical
rdig), because it is hidden, and in the sense that it is the most worthy
rdig) aim of our quest (Fragen).
505 Nowhere in the history of Western meta-
physics do we ®nd an experience of Being itself. 506 The history of Being necessar-
ily began with forgetfulness of and by Being. 507
6. Mourning about Metaphysics as Repentance. We have seen that in Heideg-
ger's later writings there is a postmonotheist analogue of creation (2) and a post-
monotheist analogue of the Fall (3,5). The Fall is the moment at which God turns
away from man and makes him ªhomeless.º From a narratological perspective,
we might say that creation or paradise and Fall are the ®rst two stages in a mytho-
logical scheme that is common in religions. The scheme has two further stages:
repentance and redemption by grace. These four stages constitute what the theolo-
gian calls the cycle of paradise, apostasy and enslavement, repentance, and deliv-
erance. We will now see that there is also a postmonotheist analogue for the latter
two stages of the mythological scheme in Heidegger's later works: repentance
and grace or deliverance. The theme of repentance is connected to Heidegger's
later conception of metaphysics.
From the mid-1930s on, Heidegger conceived of metaphysics as a series of
doctrines on the totality of beings, each of which de®nes the fundamental attitude
of a historical epoch (the Neo-Hegelian leitmotif; see § 10, above). According to
the postmonotheist theme, these doctrines articulate ways in which beings are
revealed to us by Being, ways that are sent to us (Geschick, see point3, above).
Because Being conceals itself when it reveals beings (Deus absconditus), meta-
physics is also the tradition of forgetfulness of Being. In metaphysics, the totality
of beings is articulated in each historical (geschichtlich) period, and this very
articulation conceals Being.
509 Metaphysics is a veil of Being, which Being itself
sends to us. It is Being's disguise, in which the difference between beings and
Being is absent, because Being is misinterpreted asabeing: God.
However, if this is the case, the history of metaphysics should be reappropriated
in a new way. It should be read as a series of hints (Winke) or traces (Spuren),
which Being sends us even though it conceals itself in these very traces.
511 The

overcoming of metaphysics (UÈ
berwindung), a desideratum ofSein und Zeit, now
becomes a mourning for metaphysics, a coping with the fact that Being withdrew
from us in metaphysics and a getting over Being's withdrawment (Verwindung).
The postmonotheist analogue of repentance is thisVerwindung. Like in the pro-
cess of mourning for a dead beloved one, we have to retrieve the past in order to
get over the absence of Being. The point of Heidegger's later elucidations of the
metaphysical tradition is that this tradition is now interpretedasabandonment by
512 Heidegger tries to show that no metaphysician thought of Being as such,
that is, Being in Heidegger's sense. 513 Reading the metaphysical tradition in this
manner means contemplating the Absence of Being. Only by getting over (ver-
winden) metaphysics, contemplating Being's absence, may we prepare an over-
coming (UÈ
berwindung) of metaphysics, that is, a new advent of Being.
514 For this
new advent of Being, it is necessary to overcome metaphysics, because metaphys-
ics prevents us from thinking the question of Being.
515 Clearly, Heidegger's proc-
lamation of the End of Metaphysics, or the End of Philosophy, should be read in
the light of the inverted Lutheran model.
516 His retrieval of metaphysics as self-
concealment of Being is a postmonotheist analogue of Christian repentance, and
the idea that Being withholds itself in the history of philosophy, thereby condemn-
ing man to an aimless ramble (Irre), is an analogue of God's wrath, by which we
are punished for the fact that we do not acknowledge Him. It would be a serious
misunderstanding to interpret Heidegger's elucidations of the metaphysical tradi-
tion from Anaximander to Nietzsche as contributions to historical scholarship
in philosophy. They are attempts to read his postmonotheist mythology into the
philosophical tradition.
7. Preparing: The Theme of John the Baptist. According to the Gospels of
Matthew (3) and Luke (3), John the Baptist confronted the Jewish people with
their need to repent. In this manner he prepared the advent of the Son of man,
and he understood himself as a forerunner of this advent (cf. Luke 3:15±18; John
1:19±28). Similarly, Heidegger in his later years thought that the task of the
thinker is to prepare a new advent of Being (Ankunft des Seins).
518 This is yet
another striking parallel between Heidegger's postmonotheist discourse on Being
and traditional Christianity. We might call it the subleitmotif of John the Baptist.
In ªNietzsche's Wort `Gott ist tot,' º Heidegger clearly de®nes this notion of
thinking as preparation: ªwhat matters to preparatory thinking is to light up [lich-
ten] the space [Spielraum] in which Being itself might put man, as far as man's
essence is concerned, into an original relation to It again. To be preparatory is the
essence of such a thinking.º
519 What Heidegger's thinking aims at preparing is an
ªopenness for Being.º 520 It is an attempt to make man ready for the call or demand
(Anspruch) of Being. 521 Before 1945, Heidegger addressed himself primarily to
the GermanVolk(people). ThisVolkwould be unique in its origin and its destiny,
because it relates to unique Being.
522 After Germany's defeat, Heidegger was
prudent enough to include Europe, and even mankind as a whole, in the audience
of his postmonotheist message.

8. The Decision. Preparing us for a new advent of Being must consist in ex-
horting us to make a decision (Entscheidung), for we have to decide to open our
existence to Being.
523 Because modern science and technology constitute the End
of metaphysics in the sense that they complete the concealment of BeingÐin the
eyes of the modern naturalisticWeltanschauung, Heidegger's quest for Being is
absurdÐthe decision to open our existence to Being also involves a decision
about science and technology.
524 Heidegger stresses that he is not against science
or technology. To be ªagainstº science and technology would be incongruous
with Neo-Hegelian postmonotheism, because in their essence (Wesen) science
and technology belong to the fate (Geschick) of modern metaphysics, which was
sent to us (geschickt) by Being itself.
525 Yet, by re¯ecting on the essence (das
Wesen) of science and technology, we should understand that theyaresuch a
predetermined fate or destiny, something from Being (Wesung), and that there is
a truth deeper than that of science, the Truth of Being. In this sense, Heidegger's
decision to open up existence to Being is antinaturalist: it denies that science
provides us with the deepest truths there are. According to Heidegger, the modern
epoch of the Enlightenment and of science, in which there is an ever-increasing
progress in human knowledge, is in its essence an epoch of regression into
Darkness, the ®nal consummation of our evil fate (boÈ
ses Geschick)of
However, when we make the decision to open ourselves to Being, we will
squander ourselves (verschwenden) as a sacri®ce (Opfer) out of a gratitude (Dank)
that appreciates the clemency (Huld) or grace (Gunst) of Being.
527 The decision
to open ourselves to Being presupposes another decision: Being's decision to
refuse or to give itself to us.
9. Grace, Deliverance, Second Coming. According to Paul and Luther, the
grace of God is not an obligation God has toward us, provided that we do what
is required by the laws of religion. On the contrary, grace is a free gift of God.
We are never justi®ed before God by our works or by the sacraments, but only
by God's grace. Similarly, Heidegger says that accomplishments and works may
perhaps prepare our sacri®ce, but will never ful®ll it.
529 Human activity can never
counter the danger of being deaf to the call of Being.530 The sacri®ce is brought
home only by the Event (das Ereignis) of Being, and we can never predict, manip-
ulate, or calculate this Event.
531 When the Event, the ªunprethinkable advent of
the Inevitableº occurs, our thinking becomes ªobedient to the voice of Being.º
Hearing (hoÈ
ren) and being obedient to (gehorchen) the voice of Being, our think-
ing will seek the Word, which helps the truth of Being to its expression. Only
when human language springs from the Word does it stand upright.
Heidegger expresses his postmonotheist analogue of the second coming of
Christ with his usual richness and variation of linguistic invention. He speaks of
das Ereignis(the Event),Ankunft(Advent),Geschehen,Geschehnis(Happening),
Gabe,Geschenk(Gift),Rettung(Salvation ),Gunst(Favor),Augenblick(Instant),
Kairos,Parousia(the appropriate moment; personal presence),Wandel des Seins

(Change in Being),Kehre im Ereignis(Turn in the Event), andder andere Anfang
(the Other Beginning).
533 Again, there is no point in trying to compile a compre-
hensive list of Heidegger's expressions for the second coming. In his later philoso-
phy, Heidegger always says the same, albeit each time in different words.
534 The
reader of the later works will easily recognize this postmonotheist theme of grace,
if only he keeps in mind the framework of the postmonotheist interpretation.
10. Thinking as Devotion. It will by now dawn on us what the later Heidegger
means byDenken(ªthinkingº) and its substitutesAndenken(ªremembering,º in
German a noun, but Heidegger uses it as a verb;Andenkenis related to the German
Andacht, devotion, a word that Heidegger usually avoids and yet suggests to the
German ear), andBesinnung(re¯ecting-on-the-sense-of;Besinnungcontains the
535 Let me ®rst state what Heideggerian thinking is not. Heidegger
contrasts thinking with scienti®c thought (Wissenschaft), with religious faith
(Glaube), and with common sense (der gesunde Menschenverstand).
He bluntly declares that the sciences ªdo not thinkº.
536 Scienti®c thought is
characterized as calculating or computing (rechnen), even though in the usual
sense of these terms computation is only a fraction of scienti®c thought.
537 ªTo
calculateº (Rechnen) gets a negative connotation in Heidegger's texts. It is linked
to beingcalculatingand calculating is seen as the attempt to master, dominate,
and manipulate things. Calculating turns to destruction of the earth; it uses and
wears out (verbrauchen) beings.
538 In the modern era, man does not let beings be
what they are, but he assaults them.539 Science and technology are interpreted as
the ®nal realization of Nietzsche's metaphysics of the will to power. Each and
every entity in our epoch has become an object to be dominated by calculation.
Heidegger plays down the sincere longing for understanding the world, life, and
humanity, which motivates a real scientist. He claims that the scienti®c attitude
precludes our openness to Being.
541 The epoch of science and technology is the era
of the consummation of meaninglessness. 542 In conformity with the antinaturalist
stance ofSein und Zeit, Heidegger repeats that science is not ªan original happen-
ing of truth.º
Heidegger's pejorative descriptions of science and technology ®t in well with
the tradition of religious critique of science, which started with Paul's condemna-
tion of Greek science and philosophy as ªfollyº in 1Corinthians1:20. This tradi-
tion was intensi®ed by German romantics such as Schlegel, HoÈ
lderlin, Novalis,
and the young Schleiermacher, who reacted against the scienti®c worldview of
the Enlightenment and wanted to reenchant the world by a renewal of religion.
Yet Heidegger also distinguishes his notion of thinking from the concept of reli-
gious faith (Glaube). As in the case of science, he interprets faith in a pejorative
sense. According to Heidegger, faith is not the questioning and restless quest for
God, which it is for many modern Christians. On the contrary, faith is seen as the
presumption of knowing the answer to all questions concerning the meaning of
life. The believer is not really able to question things (fragen), Heidegger said in
the spring of 1935.
544 Both science and faith are seen as a falling away from

thinking, a falling away that is the evil fate (Geschick) sent by Being.
545 There is an
abyss between faith and thinking. 546 According to Heidegger's inverted Lutheran
scheme, Christian faith betrays Being because it conceives of Being asabeing:
God. It forgets about the crucial ontological difference between Being and beings.
This is why ªsomeone who has experienced theology and faith from its Origin
must be silent about God in the domain of thinking.º
According to the school of ordinary-language philosophy, which ¯owered in
the 1960s and 1970s, philosophy is different both from scienti®c thought and from
faith, because it is close to common sense. But Heidegger sharply distinguishes
philosophical thinking (Denken) from common sense as well.
548 From the point
of view of common sense (das alltaÈ
gliche Vorstellen,der gesunde Menschenver-
stand), philosophical thought is something mad (etwas VerruÈ
cktes). Playing with
the German wordverruÈ
ckt, Heidegger says that one can effectuate this madness
or shift (VerruÈ
ckung) in one's attitude only by one jerk (RuÈ
ck), that is, all at
549 Heidegger does not like common sense. It is ªthe refuge of those who are
envious of thinkingº and it ªhas never thought about anything from its Begin-
550 Common sense allegedly is not as sensible as it seems; it is a mere
trivialized product of the Enlightenment. Surely, it is not capable of judging about
ªthat which really is: Being.º
Apart from the image of madness, Heidegger often uses that of aSprung(leap).
Only by a leap we can arrive in theOrtschaft des Denkens(locality of thinking). 552
What Heidegger means is that we can never prove what thinking yields, nor argue
for it. 553 In thinking something becomes manifest which ªmanifests itself while it
hides itself at the same time,º that is, Being. 554 Although thinking is beyond the
realm of argument and discussion, and indeed beyond the conceptual, it has its
own rigor or strictness (Strenge), which is ªstricterº than the strictness of exact
conceptual thought. This rigor is achieved when ªsaying remains pure in the ele-
ment of Being.º
The images of madness and of a leap remind us of respectively Paul and Kier-
kegaard. According to Paul, God turned the wisdom of the world into folly. Con-
versely, faith will appear foolish or mad when it is seen from the point of view
of common sense. Kierkegaard held that only a leap can bring us to faith, because
there is an abyss between ®nite human beings and the In®nite. Should we not
suppose, then, thatthinkingin the sense of the later Heidegger is a postmonotheist
analogue of the search for God in faith?
556 This hypothesis is amply con®rmed by
the positive ways in which Heidegger characterizes his notion of thinking.
The leap of thinking brings us into our ªbelonging to Being,º and it is a precon-
dition for theEr-eignis(the event by which we become ourselves) of this belong-
557 Thinking is essentiallyfragen(asking, questioning, wondering) and Hei-
degger calls questioning the ªpiety of thinking.º 558 Thinking is a way toward that
which is worthy of our quest (das FragwuÈ
rdige).559 When we ask the question of
Being properly, we question ourselves, so that we become problematical and wor-
thy of inquiring about (fragwuÈ
rdig) in our relation (Bezug) to Being, and open

ourselves to it.
560 Questioning is in fact a kind of responding, that is, responding
to the call of Being, which by its soundless voice (lautlose Stimme) determines
us (uns be-stimmt) so that we may become determinate or get in the right mood
(Stimmung) for the possibility to experience Being. Being is not a product of
thinking, but real thinking is an Event of Being.
561 Whenever we ask ourselves
what it is that is called ªthinkingº (ªwas heiût Denken?º), we should primarily
interpret this question as: What is it that summons us to think (ªwas ist es, das
uns heiût, uns gleichsam be®ehlt, zu denkenº)? And what summons us to think is
the ªMost Thinkworthyº (das Bedenklichste), that is, Being.
562 The quest for
Being is the ultimate aim of our existence and of history. 563 If our thinking hears
the voice of Being and is obedient to it (hoÈ
ren,gehorchen), it becomes trans-
formed in itself (Wandlung,Verwandlung), and thinking (Denken) will turn into
thanking (Danken).
564 However, we cannot force Being to come, so that thinking
in the sense of asking requires waiting, ªeven a life long.º 565 Waiting is not an
absence of thought, but an openness for the Mystery, coupled with resignation
concerning worldly matters.
566 Being itself is waiting too, Heidegger claims in
good old Eckhartian style, because itneedsus. 567 It is waiting until we will have
prepared ourselves for it by deeming it worthy of attention. 568 The thoughtful
attention to Being is the ®rst Service that man has to perform. 569
Thinking is ªof Beingº (des Seins) in two senses: Being makes thinking happen
(ªDenken ist vom Sein ereignetº) and thinking is obedient to (gehoÈ
ren) Being,
giving heed to (hoÈ
ren auf) Being.
570 Thinking is essentially an anticipation of the
advent of Being. Being has already sent itself to thinking (zugeschickt), so that
Being has become historical (geschichtlich) in the history (Geschichte) of philo-
sophical thought. Because Being became the destiny (Geschick) of thinking, all
essential thinkers of the past are saying the same (das Selbe): even though Being
conceals itself in their writings, they are speaking of Being.
571 The history of
metaphysics is the history of the revelation of Being in its self-concealment. 572 It
contains hints (Winke) of Being. 573
11. Being, Dasein, and Ethics. I now come to a ®nal aspect of Heidegger's
postmonotheist discourse on Being that I want to summarize and discuss: the rela-
tion of Being to man or Dasein. Whereas inSein und ZeitHeidegger tried
to raise the question of being by analyzing Dasein's understanding of being (Seins-
ndnis), in his later works he attempts to think the essence (das Wesen)of
man as a relation (Bezug) to Being. Clearly this is a postmonotheist analogue to
the biblical doctrine that man is essentially related to God. Heidegger's later no-
tion of man implies both a rejection of humanism and a rejection of a naturalist
or scienti®c conception of man. This is clearly stated in the ªBrief uÈ
ber den `Hu-
manismus,' º which is in fact a letter against humanism, and in many other later
Heidegger adopts an idiosyncratic de®nition of humanism. As he says in ªPla-
tons Lehre von der Wahrheitº (ªPlato's Doctrine of Truthº), humanism is essen-
tially related to the history of metaphysics. Humanism is a conception of man

according to which man occupies a central place (eine Mitte) within the totality
of beings.
574 Because metaphysics de®nes the totality of beings as such, each kind
of humanism, whether it be Marxist, Christian, Roman, Renaissance, or existen-
tialist, presupposes or implies a metaphysical stance.
575 We have seen that
Heidegger interprets the history of metaphysics as a history of abandonment by
Being. Although in each historical epoch metaphysics conceives of the totality of
beings in a sense which is sent to us by Being as our destiny, it does not re¯ect
on Being as such. Heidegger concludes that metaphysical humanism does not
inquire into the relationship (Bezug) between Being and man, and that it even
obstructs such an inquiry.
This means that we have to overcome humanism, because ªman only resides
in his proper essence, if he is claimed by Being.º 577 Man is de®ned in his inner
nature by his relationship with and need for (Bezug) Being, so that he can only
be himself in this relationship.
578 Man is the shepherd (Hirt) of Being, who has
to assume the function of a guardian (WaÈ
chterschaft) of Being, being a neighbor
(Nachbar) of Being.
579 Overcoming humanism does not mean that we reject it as
ªfalse,º for Being itself sent humanism to us as a fate, as indeed it sent to us all
fundamental stances of metaphysics. Overcoming humanism means realizing that
even the most sublime de®nitions of man by humanism ªdo not yet experience
the proper dignity (eigentliche WuÈ
rde) of man,º which consist in Man's relation
(Bezug) to Being, and in the fact that he ªstands in the Truth of Being.º
580 Dasein
is now de®ned in an Eckhartian manner as the authentic level of human existence,
on which man stands in the openness of Being and is appropriated by Being.
According to Heidegger, the overcoming of humanism by his ªthinking of
Beingº will not provide mankind with moral rules. Although this kind of thinking
is in itself ªoriginal ethics,º it does not have results and is suf®cient to itself by
being itself.
582 If ever there be rules and laws for man, they must come from Being
itself, as assignments by Being. Only such assignments by Being will be able to
bind man. Laws that are merely man-made can never be binding.
583 In other words,
Heidegger's overcoming of humanism implies an overcoming of traditional ethics
and morality as well. In order to read the ªBrief uÈ
ber den `Humanismus' º in its
proper historical perspective, one should remember that it was written in the fall
of 1946. Jean Beaufret had asked Heidegger whether it would be possible to give
meaning to ªhumanismº again, a question that was probably motivated by the
holocaust and the horrors of the Second World War. Heidegger answered by a
letter to the effect that humanism and traditional morality should be overcome by
his philosophy of Being.
Heidegger's postmonotheism turns out to imply an authoritarian and heterono-
mous conception of ethics, according to which moral laws are not binding unless
they are assignments by Being. The only difference with respect to the heterono-
mous notion of morality that we ®nd in the Bible is that as yet Heidegger's Being
did not issue any moral commandments. As a result, his postmonotheist concep-
tion of ethics annuls morality altogether. Is it far-fetched to wonder whether this

destruction of ethics came all too timely to a philosopher who had been involved
with Nazism and who never clearly and unambiguously distanced himself from
it (see § 14, below)?
Finally, Heidegger's view of man as essentially related to transcendent Being
implies a quali®ed rejection of naturalist conceptions of man. According to natu-
ralism, mankind is a product of the biological evolution, and to grasp this fact is
essential to our knowledge of man. In order to understand human beings, we
should try to explain what makes man special by studying among other things
man's biology, the brain in particular. Heidegger does not deny that such an inves-
tigation is possible. What he denies is that it will reveal the ªessenceº (das Wesen)
of man. For it ªcould be that nature conceals its very essenceº in the aspect which
it turns to scienti®c inquiry, and we devaluate man's essence by conceiving it
from the point of view of animal nature.
585 It is important to note that in his
later works, Heidegger uses the philosophical termWesen(essence) in a new and
idiosyncratic sense. It is a marker of the level on which something is aWesung
des Seyns, that is, on which it is understood as coming from Being (das Seyn).
Whereas the biological and paleontological studies of man discover a more
or less gradual distinction between man and other higher mammals, Heidegger
reaf®rms the traditional Christian thesis that man is separated from the animal
kingdom by an abyss.
587 The reason is that animals are never positioned freely in
the Clearing of Being (die Lichtung des Seins). As a consequence, animals lack
588 Here we recognize the postmonotheist analogue of the Christian the-
sis that man is special because of his relation to God.
C. Postmonotheist Doctrines
I explored the parallelisms and analogies between Heidegger's postmonotheist
discourse on Being and traditional Christianity at great length, among other rea-
sons because many American interpreters, such as Dreyfus and Hall, tend to deny
that religion is involved in Heidegger's philosophy (see § 6, above).
589 The Lu-
theran and postmonotheist interpretation of the later Heidegger has been amply
corroborated. In his elucidations of the metaphysical tradition, Heidegger uses a
Lutheran model, according to which the tradition has fallen away from an original
revelation. The metaphysical or ontotheological tradition of the West allegedly is
the veil of Being's self-concealment, and it should be retrieved as such in order
to overcome metaphysics and to prepare ourselves for a second coming of Being.
Heidegger's exegesis of metaphysics is not meant to be a contribution to the
history of philosophy in the usual sense. It is a religious myth, which links a
pre-Socratic Greek beginning to present-day (German) realities. Moreover, the
meaning of Heidegger's later discourse of Being turns out to be parasitic on the
Christian tradition Heidegger wanted to supersede. If Heidegger's discourse on
Being has a meaning at all, this is because of its structural resemblance to tradi-
tional Christian doctrines. These Christian structures, the Christian ¯esh being

stripped off, are then projected back into the philosophy of the pre-Socratics.
Heidegger was a postmonotheist philosopher indeed, and this explains the great
appeal of his later writings to those who forswear traditional Christianity and yet
want to remain religious in some sense.
Heidegger's early impetus toward an authentic religion, then, was ful®lled in
the later works, and his theological origin (Herkunft) turned out to be his future
(Zukunft), as he himself stressed.
590 I conclude this section by brie¯y discussing
some well-known views of the later Heidegger that cannot be explained satisfacto-
rily unless one understands them on the basis of the postmonotheist interpretation:
Heidegger's opinion on interpretation as such (see § 5, above), his critique of
logic (see § 2, above), his philosophy of language, his philosophy of truth, art,
poetry, and technology, and ®nally what I called the concealment of the question
of being (§ 1, above). The fact that these Heideggerian doctrines may be explained
by the postmonotheist theme is a ®nal con®rmation of the hypothesis that this
leitmotif is central to Heidegger's later question of being.
1. Interpretation. Heidegger's doctrine on interpretation or elucidation has been
discussed in section 5 of chapter 1. The main problem I raised was how we should
explain Heidegger's counterintuitive claim that the interpreter has to add some-
thing ªout of the topic [Sache] of the interpretationº to the content of the text,
and that he has to do so covertly (unvermerkt). I argued that this maxim of covert-
ness would be justi®ed in situations of applicative interpretations of authoritative
texts, where the very act of interpretation is thought to derogate from textual
authority. The hypothesis that this was Heidegger's view of the texts which he
was interpreting would explain the maxim of covertness. At ®rst sight, however,
my hypothesis does not account for Heidegger's maxim. Heidegger states the
maxim of covertness as a preliminary remark on the interpretation of Nietzsche's
philosophy. But interpretations of philosophers of the past will rarely be applica-
tive, and their works will not carry authority in the sense in which a holy book
of a revealed religion does. At ®rst sight, then, my explanation of Heidegger's
hermeneutical doctrine seemed to be altogether unconvincing.
Yet a ®rst element of the explanatory hypothesis was corroborated by an analy-
sis of Heidegger's views on interpretation inSein und Zeit. Because understanding
is said to be projective, all interpretation is applicative. What was still missing is
the corroboration of the second element: that according to Heidegger the philo-
sophical texts to be interpreted carry authority. However, this second element of
my hypothesis is con®rmed by Heidegger's postmonotheist conception of meta-
physical texts. The later Heidegger construes the tradition of metaphysics as a
revelation of and by Being in which Being conceals or withdraws itself in the
very act of revealing beings in their totality. If Heidegger were right, the texts of
the ªessential thinkersº (wesentliche Denker) of the metaphysical tradition would
carry the same authority for the postmonotheist thinker as the Bible does for an
orthodox Christian. Moreover, it is also clear what Heidegger means when he

says that the interpreter should add something to the text (Beigabe) out of the
matter of his own concern (Sache). For Being is calleddie Sache des Denkens
(the topic of thought) and the task of the Heideggerian interpreter is to read hints
(Winke) of Being into the texts of the metaphysical tradition. This is why, ac-
cording to Heidegger, all ªessentialº thinkers say one and the same thing: they
speak of the advent of Being.
Heidegger would not endorse the phrase ªreading into the texts,º which ex-
presses a commonsensical view of his procedure. 592 He holds that it is Being
itself which inspires the interpretations of metaphysical texts by the ªthinking of
593 In other words, Heidegger endorses a postmonotheist variety of the
Lutheran doctrine of interpretation of the Scriptures, according to which God
inspires the interpretation by a sincere Christian. Furthermore, the postmonotheist
interpretation of metaphysics is an applicative interpretation. It has the function
of preparing a new advent of Being by coping with (Verwindung) the fact that
Being withdrew itself from us in the metaphysical era. The interpretation of meta-
physics is an act of repentance, which makes us ready for Being.
594 To sum up,
Heidegger's interpretation of the great metaphysical texts is a postmonotheist
analogue of the Christian interpretation of the Bible, with the only difference
being that the Bible explicitly speaks about God, whereas Heidegger claims that
the metaphysicians of the past never speak explicitly of Being in his sense. Yet,
Being spoke through them implicitly, and this ultimately explains why all essen-
tial thinkers say the same thing.
2. Logic. In section 2 of chapter 1, I discussed Heidegger's rejection of logic
inWas ist Metaphysik?I suggested a tentative interpretation, drawing a parallel
with Wittgenstein'sTractatus, and I concluded that we need an interpretation of
the question of being in order to grasp the precise meaning of Heidegger's liquida-
tion of logic. Whereas I touched on the problem of logic several times earlier in
this chapter, only the postmonotheist leitmotif fully explains Heidegger's attitude
with regard to logic. Heidegger conceives of logic in a traditional Aristotelian
manner, although he often mentions mathematical logic. He holds that logic pre-
supposes a speci®c conception of language, according to which we saysomething
about somethingwhen we make a statement.
596 Logic analyzes the inner structure
of a simple statement as the attribution of a predicate to a subject. 597 Accordingly,
logic assumes that language is always used to speak about (actual or possible)
beings. As Wittgenstein said in theTractatus, indicative language is used to state
facts or describe possible states of affairs. Both Wittgenstein and Heidegger con-
clude that language, as logic sees it, does not speak of the ªmystical,º the ªsense
of the worldº (Wittgenstein), or of Being (Heidegger).
However, at this point there is a crucial difference between Heidegger and
Wittgenstein. According to Wittgenstein in theTractatus, logic shows the essence
or deep structure of language, which is the necessary structure of all possible
languages. The logical conception of language is the only true conception. As a
consequence, we cannot express the mystical or the sense of the world in language

at all. Wittgenstein concludes that the philosopher who wants to meditate on the
sense of the world cannot but remain silent. Heidegger suggests, on the contrary,
that another notion of language is possible.
598 Indeed, he holds that Being implic-
itly expresses itself in language. Whenever we use the little word ªisº and other
forms of the verb ªto be,º we express Being, or rather, Being speaks to us.
599 If
this ªisº were never uttered, we would not be able to relate to beings. 600 The
proposition that beingsareis not a trivial tautology. It rather contains the fullest
mystery of all thinking ªin a ®rst hint [Wink] of saying.º
Admittedly, logic gives a different interpretation of the verb ªto beº as a logical
expression: it means either identity, or existence, or predication. This is precisely
the reason why Heidegger has to destroy logic in order to raise the question of
602 From Being's point of view, Heidegger says inBeitraÈ
ge zur Philosophie,
logic is a mere illusion (Schein). 603 The ªlogicalº conception of language is inher-
ent in the metaphysical conception of the totality of beings, and it is part of the
falling-away or decay (Verfall) of thinking. Accordingly, it is a mistake to think
that one might overcome metaphysics by a logical analysis of language, as Carnap
attempted to do.
604 Both logic and metaphysics are a product of our fateful aban-
donment by Being.605 In order to prepare the advent of Being, we have to over-
come logic and metaphysics. 606 If Heidegger raises the problem of logic in the
later works, this is in order to inaugurate a new notion of language. 607 What is
this new notion?
3. Language. Language became increasingly important as a theme of re¯ection
in Heidegger's later works.
608 There are observations on language scattered
throughout them, and six essays on language were edited under the titleUnter-
wegs zur Sprache(On the Way to Language). To the extent that Heidegger's later
writings are not mere commentaries but articulate his own thought, they always
say the same thing in a great many different wordings. As this is also true for his
writings on language, I summarize their common denominator.
In the essay ªDie Spracheº (ªLanguageº), Heidegger states the aim of his re-
¯ections on language in his usual abstruse jargon. These re¯ections serve the
purpose ªof coming into the speaking of language in such a manner, that this
speaking happens as that which provides the essence [das Wesen] of mortals with
its residence.º
609 Since Being Itself is ªthat which provides the essence of mortals
with its residence,º the re¯ection on language purports to ªcome into the speaking
of languageº in such a way that this speaking happens as Being's speaking. In-
deed, Heidegger's objective is not to propose yet another philosophical view of
610 He wants to teach us to ªinhabitº language as the house of Being.
What does this mean?
Heidegger ®rst criticizes the common philosophical and scienti®c conceptions
of language, according to which human beings speak and use language as an
instrument of expression and communication. These conceptions are not false,
but they altogether miss the essence (das Wesen) of language.
611 We remember
that Heidegger associates the termWesenwith his neologismWesung: that which

stems from Being. In order to come into the speaking of language in the desired
manner, we should realize thatlanguage speaks.
612 What Heidegger means by this
obscure statement, which he often repeats in his later works, is not the structuralist
doctrine that language as a structure is prior to the individuals speaking that lan-
guage, these individuals being raised in a common culture and into a preexisting
language. He rather claims that Being speaks to us through language, so that
language in its primary essence (Wesen) is the Word of Being.
613 Thanks to the
fact that language is the advent of Being, language speaks to us, and if we listen
in the right manner, we ªinhabitº language as our home. Language is the House
of Being, for Being provides us with language as our dwelling.
614 Animals lack a
language, because they never exist ªin the light or clearing of Being.º 615
Heidegger's notion of language, then, is a postmonotheist analogue of the Gos-
pel according to John, which states that in the beginning was the Word, that the
Word was with God, and that God sent the Word to us in Christ. It is an analogue
only, however, because the monotheist tradition of Christianity suffers from the
fate (Geschick) of abandonment by Being, and Heidegger criticizes the theologi-
cal conception of language on the basis of John's Gospel as remaining within the
traditional (metaphysical) notion of language.
616 Metaphysics not only conceals
Being; it also masks the essence of language. 617 It is the aim of Heidegger's re¯ec-
tions on language to restore language to its proper essence as a house that Being
built for us.
4. Truth, Art, and Poetry. In his celebrated essay ªDer Ursprung des Kunst-
werkesº (ªThe Origin of the Work of Artº), based on lectures of 1935±36 and
published for the ®rst time in 1950, Heidegger claims that in the work of art ªthe
truth of beings sets itself to work.º Accordingly, the essence (das Wesen) of art
is ªthe truth of beings setting itself to workº (das Sich-ins-Werk-setzen der Wahr-
heit des Seienden).
618 In order to understand this formula, which sounds objection-
able because art is usually associated with beauty and not with truth, we should
turn to Heidegger's rede®nition of ªtruthº inSein und Zeitand in the later works.
Traditionally, truth is understood as a relation of adequacy between proposi-
tions or statements and the stated facts or the things in the world characterized
by these propositions. In section 44a ofSein und Zeit, Heidegger argues that this
traditional conception of truth asadaequatio rei et intellectusis problematical,
and that it will remain so unless one tries to understand truth on the basis of the
ontology of Dasein. The reason is that what we mean by the truth of a statement
becomes clear only if this statement isshownto be true, as Husserl had argued
in his sixth logical investigation. But it is Dasein that shows that a statement is
true by discovering that the matter about which the statement says something is
asthe statement says it is. Only because Dasein is ªbeing discoveringº in relation
to ªdiscovered beingsº can there be truth.
From this plausible but trivial account, Heidegger in section 44b draws the
drastic conclusion that truth in the most fundamental sense is this ªbeing dis-
coveringº of Dasein, and not truth as attributed to statements. Being discovering

or ªbeing in the truthº is a mode of being or an existentiale of Dasein. Because
being in the truth would enableDaseinalso to be untrue, ªDasein is equiprimordi-
ally both in the truth and in untruth.º
620 Now Dasein's capacity to discover and
reveal things is also called theErschlossenheit(disclosedness) of Dasein. Dis-
closedness is theDaof Dasein, as Heidegger says. The reader will remember (see
§ 5, above), that there are two modes of disclosedness, namely, ®nding-oneself-
in-a-situation (Be®ndlichkeit) and understanding (Verstehen). What is primarily
and fundamentally revealed by ourDais a world, in the sense of a horizon or
structural whole of signi®cant relations, in which the tools and other things that
we encounter are always already situated. According to the transcendental theme
inSein und Zeit, this structural whole is a priori, in the sense that entities can be
present for Dasein only because a world is projected (Entwurf).
It is but a small step from the analysis ofSein und Zeitto using the word ªtruthº
for this structural whole of signi®cant relationships itself, which allegedly enables
things to be present to us. Indeed, inSein und ZeitHeidegger used the term ªtruthº
for the condition of the possibility of propositional truth, and he claimed that this
structural whole or world is such a condition. For the sake of clarity, I will call
this sense of ªtruthº transcendental, in contradistinction to propositional truth.
When Heidegger uses expressions such as ªtruthº and ªthe essence of truthº (das
Wesen der Wahrheit) in the later works, he often means historical structures of
signi®cant relationships, or worlds, which allegedly enable things to show up for
us. According to the Neo-Hegelian theme, there is a series of such structures.
This series is the history of being, since in each of these structures, being has a
different sense. Whereas inSein und Zeit, it was Dasein that projects worlds, such
a transcendental agent seems to be lacking in the Neo-Hegelian theme. It is the
world itself that ªworlds,º and it is truth itself that sets itself to work. We have
seen, however, that, ultimately, Being sends (schickt) us a world or a truth as a fate
(Geschick), so that there is a postmonotheist analogue of creation and revelation.
In order to understand how truth can ªset itself to workº in a work of art, we
have to take the term ªtruthº in the transcendental sense. It is a signi®cant structure
or world, which enables things to manifest themselves. Heidegger argues in ªDer
Ursprung des Kunstwerkesº that a work of art, such as a painting by Van Gogh
or a Greek temple, has the power to unfold a whole signi®cant structure or world,
because it isDichtung. The German wordDichtungusually means poetry or a
literary work, but I suspect that in this context Heidegger links it withdicht
(dense), and we might translateDichtungas ªa piece of condensed signi®-
621 Being such a condensed signi®cance, the work of art is able to open up
a signi®cant world. In ªDer Ursprung des Kunstwerkes,º Heidegger still uses the
termEntwurf(projection). However, it is not Dasein, or the artist, who projects
a world and in this sense sets truth to work by creating a work of art. Rather,
truth, or the unconcealedness of being (die Unverborgenheit des Seienden) pro-
jects itself and throws itself to us.
622 Although Heidegger treats the postmonotheist
theme with discretion in this essay, he nevertheless says that it is Being that lets

truth happen, where ªtruthº has the sense of a free sphere of openness in which
beings manifest themselves.
623 If this is the case, postmonotheist Being is the real
author of the work of art, even though this is only hinted at in Heidegger's essay
on art.
624 Such a conception would ®t in well with Heidegger's later views on
language and poetry.
We saw that language essentially is the Word of Being. Heidegger uses the
German term for literature,Dichtung, in a broad and in a strict sense. In the broad
sense, all art isDichtung, whereDichtungis the happening of truth in the sense
of opening up a world.
625 Because it is a piece of condensed signi®cance (Dich-
tung), the work of art opens up a world or clearing of signi®cant relations, which
Heidegger calls truth.Dichtungin the strict sense of literature or poetry is only
one way of such a clearing projection of truth.
626 Yet poetry is a privileged form
ofDichtung, because in poetry language comes to itself as the ªsaying of the
unconcealedness of Being.º Language is the event (Geschehnis) in which beings
become accessible to humans, and this is why poetry is the most originalDichtung
in the broad sense.
627 No wonder, then, that according to the later Heidegger poetry
is intimately related to thinking. 628 The poet and the thinker allegedly ful®ll nar-
rowly related functions. Poetry, opening up a world or a Truth in the sense of a
structured whole of signi®cant relations, hints at Being that sends us such a
629 Thinking aims at saying Being in a more explicit manner and at preparing
the second coming of Being. Hence, thinking should never become poetry. 630 Hei-
degger's elucidations of poems by Rilke, HoÈ
lderlin, Trakl, or Stefan George pre-
tend to discern such hints to and by Being, or, alternatively, to show that a poet
remains within the domain of metaphysics, as is allegedly the case of Rilke. In
this book, I do not go into the question as to whether Heidegger's elucidations of
poetry satisfy criteria of sound literary criticism. This question is not only beyond
my competence; it is also a question Heidegger would not bother about in the
least. He claims that his elucidations of metaphysical texts and of poems touch
on a domain that is essentially inaccessible to ordinary scholarship, the domain
of Being. We may conclude that Heidegger's later philosophy of truth, art, and
poetry becomes intelligible if it is integrated into the basic structures of his later
thought, the Neo-Hegelian and the postmonotheist leitmotifs.
5. The Reign of Technology. This conclusion holds also for Heidegger's philos-
ophy of technology. In his writings on technology, Heidegger is not concerned
with investigating modern technology and its dangers; he is rather talking about
what he calls the ªessenceº (das Wesen) of technology. As we saw in section 10,
such an ªessenceº is a transcendental framework that discloses entities in a spe-
ci®c manner, a fundamental stance (Grundstellung) or a ªway of revealingº
(Weise des Entbergens), as Heidegger calls it in his essay on technology of 1954.
Heidegger claims that the essence of technology reigns in our time, so that every-
thing is disclosed to us as raw material for, or means of, production, exploitation,
and consumption.
632 ªThe earth now reveals itself as a coal mining district, the
soil as a mineral deposit.º 633 The fundamental stance of technology is expressed

in Nietzsche's metaphysics of the will to power, which is the ®nal stage of produc-
tionist metaphysics.
634 In the metaphysical stance of technology, Plato's and Aris-
totle's decision to conceptualize beings in terms derived from the domain of arti-
facts is brought to its logical conclusion.
635 According to Heidegger's inverted
Hegelianism, the reign of technology is the nadir of the metaphysical fall, in
which mankind is completely deaf to the voice of Being. As long as man encoun-
ters everything within the framework (das Gestell) of technology, the world is
without salvation and all traces of the Holy are wiped out.
We may be preoccupied with the dangers of technology and overpopulation.
Heidegger was not really concerned with these dangers or, to the extent that he
was, he considered them as symptoms of another and more ªrealº danger. Ac-
cording to the essay on technology, ªthe threat to man does not come in the ®rst
instance from the potentially lethal machines and apparatus of technology. The
real threat has already af¯icted man in his essence.º This real or authentic threat
is ªthat it could be denied to him to experience the call of a more primal truth.º
The real danger is greatest during the reign of technology, Heidegger claims, and
he quotes HoÈ
lderlin: ªBut where danger is, grows / The saving power too.º 638
ve readers of ªDie Frage der Technikº will understand neither what Heideg-
ger means by the ªauthentic threatº (eigentliche Bedrohung) of technology,
nor why ªthe saving power grows where danger is.º Yet, what Heidegger says in
the essay is fully explained by the postmonotheist leitmotif, which incorporates
the Neo-Hegelian theme. Fundamental stances such as the reign of technology
are sent (geschickt) to us by Being as our fate (Geschick), so that technology in
its essence is not man-made.
639 These stances belong to the history of metaphysics,
in which Being gives entities in the open while concealing itself. During the
reign of technology, all traces of Being are wiped out, because the reign of
technology is the completion of productionist metaphysics. The danger of the
oblivion of Being is greatest during the reign of technology, since the scienti®c
and technological frame of mind does not admit of a notion of transcendence.
However, by meditating on the ªessenceº of technology, we may conjecture that
this fundamental stance is sent or granted to us by a Mystery, and that what grants
us the reign of technology is the ªsaving power.º
641 Although Heidegger does not
use the term ªBeingº in the essay on technology, what grants us fundamental
stances (das GewaÈ
hrende) is postmonotheist Being. Heidegger's message is that
we may hope to be saved by Being if only we meditate with repentance on the
essence of technology and if only we interpret this ªessenceº as a fate that Being
sent to us.
It is obvious, then, that Heidegger's philosophy of technology belongs to the
genre of religious meditation. We should not expect from Heidegger any con-
tribution to solving the pressing problems of technology and the natural environ-
ment that mankind faces. He even holds that nobody can solve these problems,
because they are rooted in the fate (Geschick) that Being determined for us.
What the thinker can do is to ªthink aheadº and prepare the next fundamental

stance, because there allegedly is a dialogue between the thinker and the ªfate of
the world.º
6. The Concealment of the Question of Being. In the ®rst section of chapter 1,
I discussed a peculiar feature of Heidegger's question of Being, which I called
its concealment. Heidegger claims not only that we cannot answer the question
of being, but also that we do not yet understand it, and that perhaps we are not even
able to understand the question. At ®rst sight, the concealment of the question of
being frustrates any attempt to elucidate it by means of an interpretation. Why
would we attempt to interpret a question raised by a philosopher if he himself
claims that we are not able to understand this question? I concluded, however,
that the concealment of the question of being should be taken as yet another
feature of this question, which an interpretation should be able to explain. Indeed,
it can be accounted for on the basis of the postmonotheist theme in two comple-
mentary ways.
First, one might explain the concealment of the question of Being by analogy
with the theme of aDeus absconditusin traditional Christianity. In order to under-
stand a question or a quest, we have to know what it is aiming at. The central
religious question is the quest for God. But if God is hidden, as the Bible says,
we will never really understand the quest for God until God bestows his grace on
us. This is why believers tend to claim that unbelievers cannot even understand
the very questions religious persons are asking. As Paul says in his Letter to the
Romans (3:11): ªno one understands, no one seeks for God.º Similarly, if Being
is hidden because it withdraws itself from us, as Heidegger pretends, it is dif®cult
to understand the question of Being. Indeed, this question will be a folly to ordi-
nary mortals. It is nearly inevitable that the question of Being is misinterpreted,
Heidegger stresses repeatedly inBeitraÈ
ge zur Philosophie.
Apart from this internal explanation of the concealment of the question of
Being as a postmonotheist analogue of theDeus absconditustheme, there is a
second, external explanation that Heidegger did not and could not give himself.
This explanation takes into account the strategy that a postmonotheist thinker
must adopt in order to be a successful postmonotheist.
The core of the postmonotheist leitmotif is the idea that traditional monotheism
died because Being was misinterpreted asabeing, God. The postmonotheist strat-
egy purports to destroy monotheism and to rescue religion by arguing that mono-
theist faith, which died, is not the true religion. True and authentic faith is the
thinking of Being. This strategy faces a dilemma. One the one hand, postmono-
theology should resemble traditional monotheism suf®ciently for satisfying simi-
lar religious cravings. Indeed, we saw that the meaning of Heidegger's postmono-
theist thought is parasitic on the Christian tradition. On the other hand,
postmonotheism should not resemble traditional monotheism too closely. For in
that case, it could be interpreted as just another variety of the deceased monotheist
tradition, as a watered-down and more abstract version of Christianity, a substitute
religion, and the postmonotheist strategy will fail altogether.

This strategic dilemma, which is inherent in Heidegger's postmonotheism, ex-
plains why the question of Being is bound to resemble, but cannot resemble too
closely, the traditional religious quest for God. It explains the constant tension in
Heidegger's later works, which consists in simultaneously hinting at religious
connotations and holding off such connotations. And it also explains why many
interpreters feel con®dent in giving straightforward religious interpretations of
the later works, while others feel equally con®dent in arguing that the later Hei-
degger is not a religious philosopher at all. Both types of interpretation are mis-
taken, for each of them highlights only one aspect of the essentially ambivalent
postmonotheist theme. Heidegger sowed his postmonotheist hints thinly in his
publications, thereby keeping the postmonotheist leitmotif from becoming too
conspicuous. Only by listing these hints, as I did in this section, can one substanti-
ate the postmonotheist interpretation with an overwhelming plausibility.


of historical epochs seem to succeed each other autonomously, and the Neo-Hege-
lian theme resembles structuralism. Yet, the diversity of fundamental structures
is uni®ed in Heidegger's later works as well, though not by a transcendentalagent.
The unifying power is wholly transcendent to beings. It is Being itself (das Seyn
selbst) that sends (schickt) us the fundamental stances of history (Geschichte)as
our destiny (Geschick), concealing itself in the process. The ultimate unifying
theme of Heidegger's thought turns out to be the postmonotheist leitmotif, which
is the pole of unity in the later works.
This pluralist or pentafold interpretation of Heidegger's question of being ex-
plains in part the characteristic combination of richness and darkness in Heideg-
ger's writings. The reader may be spellbound by the plethora of meanings sug-
gested by Heidegger's question of being, a question that seems to be obscure
because it is not possible to assign a single meaning to it unambiguously and in all
contexts. The pluralist interpretation also explains the fact that different unitarian
interpretations of Heidegger's philosophy have been proposed, each of which
fails because it does not account for all texts. Finally, the pentafold interpretation
explains why different types of readers, atheists such as Sartre and believing
Christians such as Bultmann, could be attracted to Heidegger, and why analytic
philosophers, who abhor ambiguity, generally loathe Heidegger's works.
Heidegger does not explicitly distinguish among the different leitmotifs in his
question of being. Indeed, he suggests that he was stirred by one and the same
question during his entire philosophical journey, although he also stresses that he
explored a plurality of paths in asking this unique question. Is it possible to give
some justi®cation for this unitarian view, in spite of the plurality of leitmotifs?
Can we discover a deeper unity in the ªwayº of Heidegger's thought? It is the
aim of the present, synthetic chapter to investigate how the different leitmotifs
hang together. The various themes of the question of being are interwoven in
many ways, as I attempt to show in section 12, so that, paradoxically, the uni®ca-
tion of leitmotifs is not uni®ed in itself. Different types of uni®cation will be
distinguished. In section 13, I discuss the celebratedKehre(turn). After the Sec-
ond World War, Heidegger suggested that his later thought was linked directly to
Sein und Zeitby a turn. The turn would be a mode of uni®cation of Heidegger's
Denkweg(way of thought), similar to a bend in a road that unites two straight
stretches. Here, too, it seems that uni®cation comes in many ways, for apparently
there are different turns.
In respect to Heidegger's philosophy of the turn it has been pointed out that by
linking the later works that were published after the Second World War directly
toSein und Zeit, Heidegger tried to divert attention from the crucial period be-
tween 1927 and 1945, thereby obfuscating the depth of his philosophical passion
for National Socialism. There is a similar problem in the interpretation advanced
in this book. Because I am concentrating on the fundamental structures of Heideg-
ger's thought, as they became crystalized inSein und Zeitand in the later works,

I tend to neglect the confusing intermediate period between these two main
phases. It would require another book to make up for this omission, and to discuss
down to the smallest detail Heidegger's perplexing quest after the tremendous
success ofSein und Zeituntil the end of the war. During this quest, Heidegger's
writings, his life, and the fate of Germany were intimately connected, and the
interpretation of the texts written during this epoch of great turmoil, war, and
infamous crime should take into consideration the particular historical circum-
stances. A book on this period should be written by someone who is simultane-
ously a philosopher, a trained historian of the Third Reich, and a connoisseur of
German literature, especially of HoÈ
lderlin. Furthermore, it should be based on an
extensive investigation of the extant archives.
Although I am not capable of writing such a book, I will dedicate two sections
to the intermediate period. In section 14, entitled ªHeidegger and Hitler,º I raise
questions as to the relation between the ®ve leitmotifs and Heidegger's involve-
ment with National Socialism. Did Heidegger derive his Nazi sympathies from
the philosophy ofSein und Zeit, as he seems to have told LoÈ
with in 1936? If so,
what is the logical force of such a derivation? And how do the two leitmotifs in
Heidegger's later works relate to his Nazi past, if ever it became really past? In
section 15, the ®nal section of my interpretation, I focus on Heidegger's philo-
sophical encounter with Nietzsche. In the preface to the two volumes on Nietzsche
that he edited from lecture materials in 1961, Heidegger says that this publication
provides a view of his philosophical journey (Denkweg) from 1930 to 1947.
stresses that other publications, such as ªPlatons Lehre von der Wahrheitº
(ªPlato's Doctrine of Truth,º 1942), ªVom Wesen der Wahrheitº (ªOn the Essence
of Truth,º 1943), andErlaÈ
uterungen zu HoÈ
lderlins Dichtung(Elucidations Con-
cerning HoÈ
lderlin's Poetry, 1951), which contains texts from 1936 to 1943, are
much less signi®cant in this respect.
3I will claim that Heidegger's encounter with
Nietzsche was of seminal and pivotal importance in the genesis of his later
thought, much more so than the fascination he felt for HoÈ
One should not overestimate the role of philosophy in National Socialism, for
most National Socialists had a plebeian contempt for intellectuals and intellectual
matters. But if ever a philosopher was hailed as an intellectual father of Nazism at
all, this philosopher was Friedrich Nietzsche. Indeed, Hitler had a carefully staged
photograph made of himself and Nietzsche's bust. Is it far-fetched to suppose that
Heidegger's encounter with Nietzsche is related to his attitudes vis-aÁ
-vis National
Socialism? To do justice to its context, one should compare Heidegger's interpreta-
tion of Nietzsche to contemporary interpretations, such as those of Baeumler and
4My purposes in section 15 are more limited. I will investigate how Heideg-
ger's interpretation of Nietzsche ®ts in with the fundamental structures of his later
works, and I will venture to speculate about what Nietzsche's view of Heidegger
would have been, if,per impossibile, Nietzsche would have had the opportunity
to read Heidegger's later writings.

§ 12. F
After my longwinded eleventh section, the reader will yearn for refreshing brevity.
Fortunately, I can be brief in discussing the different manners in which the ®ve
leitmotifs are interwoven in Heidegger's writings. Once the leitmotifs are brought
to light, various forms of synthesis suggest themselves, and the reader might
discover them without my help. The meta-Aristotelian theme, for example,
provides the bipolar structure of the question of being, as I already noted. We
saw that in each of the two main phases of Heidegger's thought, there are
two leitmotifs that make up the poles of this structure. Here we have a form
of synthesis, which is partly chronological. Without trying to be comprehensive,
I will now discuss some other forms of synthesis, which may be grouped under
the headings of (A) syntactical forms, (B) semantic transformations, and (C) moti-
vational links. Finally, I will raise the problem of translation with regard to
Heidegger's works (D). We will see that a number of particularities of Heidegger's
wordcraft makes it dif®cult to translate his texts without loss of meaning, conno-
tation, or magic. This peculiar wordcraft turns out to be a unifying factor in its
own right.
A. Syntactical Forms, Polyvalence, and Contradictions
By analogy, one might speak of a ªgrammarº of Heidegger's question of being.
This grammar remains the same under all interpretations of the question, that is,
in the different leitmotifs. At the end of section 6, above, I described the grammar
of the question of being as a formal structure, consisting of nine elements. Further-
more, I argued in sections 7 to 11 that this formal structure is inherent in each of
the ®ve leitmotifs. In other words, the ®ve leitmotifs are synthesized by a common
The ®rst element of this grammar is the idea (1) that there is one unique and
fundamental question of philosophical thought, the question of being. It is
justi®ed to call this an element of the grammar of the question of being, because
a different meaning is assigned to it in each of the ®ve leitmotifs. According to
the meta-Aristotelian theme, the primacy of the question of being derives from
Aristotle's foundationalist philosophy of science, even though Heidegger did
not explicitly retrieve this philosophy. From the point of view of the phenomeno-
logico-hermeneutical theme, the question of being aims at articulating the
ontological constitutions proper to different regions of entities. In this sense,
the question is fundamental because regional ontologies are a priori foundations
of the sciences of these respective regions. In the transcendental interpretation,
the question of being purports to show that the enabling condition of encountering
entities, such as tools, consists in a global structure of meaningful relations, a
world, projected by Dasein. Because of the temporalizing nature of Dasein, tran-

scendental time allegedly is the horizon for encountering things as meaningful,
and, indeed, for giving meaning to anything whatsoever. According to the Neo-
Hegelian theme, everything that happens or manifests itself in a historical epoch
is somehow determined by a fundamental structure or a sense of being. In the
reign of technology, for instance, things manifest themselves as raw materials for
exploitation and technical domination. When we ask the question of being, we
discover what things essentiallyarein our time. Finally, the postmonotheist theme
turns the question of being into a quest for Being, Heidegger's analogue of the
monotheist God. This question is the primary issue for man because, in his deepest
essence (Wesen), man is Da-sein, the open space in which Being occurs (sich
In a similar way, the other syntactical elements of the question of being have
a different sense in each leitmotif. Understanding of being (2,SeinsverstaÈ
is an implicit grasp of different regional constitutions of being, or a transcendental
capacity of Dasein to project worlds, or an attuning to the fundamental stance of
one's time, or it is an implicit understanding of absent and transcendent Being, a
longing for religious ful®llment. InSein und Zeit, it is also an individual Dasein's
understanding of itself and its environment, its capacity to live meaningfully in a
meaningful world. Forgetfulness of being (3,Seinsvergessenheit), in general, is
our lack of attention to what we understand in understanding being, but within
the framework of the postmonotheist theme it becomes Being's abandonment of
us, mortals. The ontological difference (4) is either the distinction between entities
and their constitution of being, or the distinction between meaningful entities
and a priori transcendental structures or worlds, or the difference between the
fundamental stance of an epoch and the things that manifest themselves in that
epoch, or, ®nally, the difference between Being (das Seyn) and all entities, a
difference that simultaneously is brought forward and concealed by Being itself
when Being gives entities in the open, so that humans may apprehend them.
The nine elements of Heidegger's grammar of being, then, are polyvalent in
the sense that they have different functions and different meanings, depending on
each leitmotif. Let me give yet another example of this polyvalence. According
to the phenomenologico-hermeneutical leitmotif inSein und Zeit, the destruction
and retrieval of the metaphysical tradition (element 8) is needed in order to show
both that the basic concepts of Greek metaphysics still determine our ways of
thinking about ourselves and that these concepts are inadequate for human life,
because they were derived from the domain of artifacts and not from the domain
of human existence. This destruction is needed in order to prepare a construction:
the construction of a system of existentialia, which capture our ontological consti-
tution as it really is. Within the framework of the Neo-Hegelian leitmotif, how-
ever, humans ªareº differently in different historical epochs. The retrieval of
metaphysics is now needed because the present epoch is the outcome of a se-
quence of fundamental stances. In order to understand our epoch, we should see
that it is but the ®nal stage in the development of productionist metaphysics,

which started with Plato and is brought to completion in Nietzsche's philosophy
of the will to power and in the reign of technology. Finally, the postmonotheist
leitmotif transforms Heidegger's early overcoming (UÈ
berwindung) of metaphys-
ics into a meditation of mourning and repentance (Verwindung). The metaphysical
tradition is seen as a tradition of thinking about the totality of beings, in which
Being itself is forgotten. In fact, Being itself sent us metaphysical stances, so that
our forgetfulness of Being is but a corollary of Being's withdrawal from us. We
should retrieve the tradition of metaphysics by interpreting itasthe veil in which
Being concealed itself, in order to experience our deepest distress (Not) and to
prepare for a second coming of Being.
As is to be expected, the polyvalence of key grammatical elements in Heideg-
ger's question of being easily leads to apparent or real contradictions. In section
4.4, above, I mentioned the well-known clash between two versions of Heideg-
ger's postscript toWas ist Metaphysik?In the postscript of 1943, Heidegger wrote
that being does act (wohl west) without beings. This was changed in the edition
of 1949, where Heidegger now stated that being never acts (nie west) without
beings. Several explanations of this contradiction are possible.
5We may suppose
that in the text of 1943 Heidegger had the postmonotheist leitmotif in mind, ac-
cording to which it is at least conceivable that Being acts without beings. Within
the framework of the other leitmotifs this is impossible, and Heidegger's correc-
tion in 1949 might be explained by supposing that he then had the Neo-Hegelian
leitmotif in mind. In this case the contradiction would be apparent only. Perhaps
it is more plausible to interpret Heidegger's correction as a drastic change in his
postmonotheology. In 1943 it became clear to most Germans that Germany would
not be able to win the war. Did this insight prompt Heidegger's desperate assump-
tion that Being could be cut loose from the Germans altogether?
6When he had
regained some self-con®dence in 1949, Heidegger returned to his usual post-
monotheist and Eckhartian view that Being needs man because what Being sends
has to be received by us, even though what Being sends to us may be its self-
concealment in metaphysics. The texts do not allow us to prefer one interpretation
over the others.
Let me now give an example of a real contradiction that is caused by a clash
between two leitmotifs. According to the Neo-Hegelian theme, our present era
of technology must be understood as the ®nal consummation of the history of
productionist metaphysics. The Greek decision to conceive of things in categories
that were derived from the domain of artifacts led in the end to a subjectivist
metaphysics of the will to power. Nietzschean metaphysics is the deep structure
of the present epoch, and this allegedly explains the fact that present-day culture
is dominated by technology. In order to substantiate his grandiose metaphysical
narrative, Heidegger tried to show how Greek productionist metaphysics was
radicalized in some main stages of philosophical history: Roman philosophy,
Christian creationism, and modern subjectivist philosophy. The Neo-Hegelian
leitmotif implies that there is some kind of logical order, an order of radicalized

decay or falling, between the metaphysical stances.
7Otherwise, it would be mean-
ingless to claim that ªtechnology, taken as a form of Truth, is rooted in the history
of metaphysics.º
8But the notion of a logical order between the metaphysical
stances contradicts the postmonotheist idea that Being is as free and inscrutable
as aDeus absconditus(hidden God). If Being sends (schickt) us the historical
stances of metaphysics as our fate (Geschick), and if it is impossible to fathom
Being by means of rational and empirical methods, then the attempt to discover
an inherent order of increasing decay in the history of metaphysics must fail. In
Heidegger's postmonotheist theme, there is no answer to the question of what
determines the sequence of historical epochs or fundamental stances, because the
epochs are free gifts of hidden Being.
The Neo-Hegelian theme is intimately connected to the postmonotheist leit-
motif in Heidegger's later works. Indeed, the two themes are two sides of the
same coin. Both in Hegel and in Heidegger, a notion of ªdeep historyº is related
to a (post-) monotheist notion of Being, because Being is supposed to reveal itself
in history, if only in the manner of its self-concealment. This historical revelation
is deep history, a (post-) monotheist analogue of the Christian history of grace
(Heilsgeschichte). As a consequence, the contradiction we noted is also a contra-
diction within Heidegger's postmonotheist leitmotif itself. How did this contra-
diction arise? We may answer the question by a schematic comparison of Heideg-
ger and Hegel (cf. also § 10, above).
According to Hegel, historical reality is a temporal realization of Absolute
Logic, which is Hegel's philosophical and historicized version of God's mind.
The very insight that what is historically real is ultimately logical will be acquired
in history itself, when the philosopher reaches the Absolute by tracing its phenom-
enology. History is progress, and progress culminates at the point where we see
the logical, that is, divine nature of historical reality. At this point, our mind
coincides with the Absolute, and the Absolute coincides with itself. We saw that
Heidegger reverses Hegel's optimism. Instead of viewing history as a progression
toward an ultimate illumination, Heidegger construes metaphysical history as a
regression from Truth, as an ever deeper Fall. In the present era of science and
technology, Being is more concealed than ever, to the point that even this conceal-
ment is concealed so that we do not notice the distress (Not) of Being's absence
anymore. Now the question arises: How can Heidegger stick to Hegel's claim
that history is logical, and simultaneously give up Hegel's happy illusion that one
might discover this logic by identifying oneself with the Absolute? If history is a
revelation of Being, the logic of history must be Being's logic. However, if Being
is concealed, we will not be able to discover Being's logic. How, then, can one
justify the claim that there is a logic in deep history?
Heidegger was not unaware of this dif®culty. In his seminar on ªZeit und Seinº
(1962), he tried to resolve it by distinguishing between the ªwhyº and the ªthatº
of deep history. Although the abandonment by Being prevents us from knowing
whythe sequence of fundamental stances in history is as it is, we knowthatit is

as it is, and ªwithin thisThat. . . human thought is able to establish something
like a necessity in the succession, something like lawfulness and logic.º
ªlogicº allegedly implies that the history of metaphysics is a history of increasing
abandonment by Being.
11However, this solution faces a dilemma. Perhaps Being
has really abandoned us. In this case, we can never know whether the ªlogicº we
discover in deep history is Being's logic. It might just as well be an accidental
pattern, or a projection of our provincial prejudices. But then we can never know
that Being has really abandoned us, because the logical pattern that Heidegger
claims to have discovered is the very pattern of an increasing abandonment by
Being. Or, alternatively, we are able to discover the logic of deep history, and we
can know that this logic is Being's logic. In that case, however, Being has not
really abandoned us, because we are able to fathom Being's logic. We must con-
clude that Heidegger's reversal of Hegel leads to inconsistency.
B. Semantic Transformations
In a number of texts published shortly after the Second World War, Heidegger
reintroduced existentialia that were central toSein und Zeit, such as Dasein,
Existenz(existence),Sinn(sense),das Man(Everyman or the One),Lichtung
being as transcendens,Wahrheit(Truth), andWelt(world). By integrating the
early existential analysis into his thought after the turn, he forged a terminological
bond betweenSein und Zeitand the later works. This process of recycling existen-
tialia took the form of an authoritative interpretation. In the ªBrief uÈ
ber den `Hu-
manismus' º of 1946, and in the introduction toWas ist Metaphysik?of 1949,
Heidegger professed to reveal the true sense of the existentialia.Sein und Zeit
was interpreted as a preliminary stage, preparing the question of being in the
sense of the later Heidegger. Forgetfulness of being (Seinsvergessenheit), as expe-
rienced inSein und Zeit, would include the ªall-sustaining conjectureº that ªthe
connection between Being and man belongs to Being itself.º But this conjecture
could not become an explicit question, Heidegger says, unless the de®nition of
man was ®rst liberated from the notions of subjectivity andanimal rationale. This
would have been the task ofSein und Zeit.
13Admittedly, the fact that the third
division of part 1 had not been published made it more dif®cult to see thatSein
und Zeitabandons the notion of man as a subject, because in this division ªthe
whole is reversed.º Yet, by the celebrated turn, ªthe thinking that was sought ®rst
arrived at the location of that dimension out of whichSein und Zeitis experi-
enced.º In other words, the turn that Heidegger actualized in his later works alleg-
edly is identical with the turn as planned inSein und Zeit, so that Heidegger's
later philosophy is a mere ful®llment of his early intentions, and not a change of
Heidegger's autointerpretation of the existentialia ofSein und Zeit, and, indeed,
of the function of this book as a whole, is a special type of uni®cation, which

connects the early masterpiece to the later works. However, this uni®cation raises
serious issues. Many commentators have argued that Heidegger's later interpreta-
tion of the existentialia in fact is a reinterpretation that attributes to the existential
terminology ofSein und Zeita meaning very different from the one it had in that
book. LoÈ
with contends, for example, that there was indeed an important shift in
viewpoint betweenSein und Zeitand the later Heidegger. InSein und Zeit, Hei-
degger attempted to think ofbeingfrom the point of view ofDasein; later he
de®nesDaseinfrom the point of view ofBeing. According to LoÈ
with, Heidegger
camou¯aged this shift by his interpretation of the existentialia, suggesting a
greater unity in hisDenkwegthan in fact there is.
15This interpretation was con-
®rmed by F.-W. von Herrmann's investigations, which also established that Hei-
degger's recycling of the existentialia involved semantic transformations. When
Heidegger interpreted the existentialia in his later works, he did so from the per-
spective of his later philosophy, and not at all from the perspective and problem-
atic ofSein und Zeit.
16Of course a philosopher has the right to reinterpret themes
of his earlier thought. But many commentators agree that Heidegger should be
criticized for masquerading his drastic semantic transformations of the existen-
tialia as a faithful interpretation.
There is no doubt that Heidegger's claim in the ªBrief uÈ
ber den `Huma-
nismus,' º repeated in the letter to Richardson of 1962, that inSein und Zeitthe
question of being is set up outside the sphere of subjectivism, is plainly false as
a historical interpretation of the text.
18Although the analysis of Dasein inSein
und Zeitis not an anthropology, and even though traditional subjectivist meta-
physics is rejected by conceiving of Dasein as being-in-the-world,Sein und Zeit
is still subjectivist in the sense of a transcendental philosophy, according to which
Dasein constitutesSeinby projecting a world. Because Heidegger inSein und Zeit
held that being (Sein) is constituted by Dasein's opening up a world (Wahrheit), he
could say that ªthere isº being only in so far as there is Truth, and that Truth is
only in so far as and as long as Dasein is.
19I will now give some examples
of Heidegger's later interpretations of existentialia, in order to show that these
interpretations involve semantic transformations from the transcendental to the
postmonotheist leitmotif. As these two leitmotifs are different, even contradictory,
Heidegger's ªinterpretationº of the existentialia in fact reversed their meanings.
Nonetheless, one might wonder whether there is not a justi®cation for Heideg-
ger's claim that his later interpretation of the existentialia reveals their true and
most profound sense. Is it not possible to suggest a motivational link between
Sein und Zeitand the later works, which is such that it explains both the abyss
and the deeper unity between the two phases of his thought? In the next subsection
(§ 12C) I argue that there is such a motivational link, and that Heidegger may
have derived it from the religious works of Blaise Pascal.
The existentialia inSein und Zeitthat best express the transcendental leitmotif
are Truth (Wahrheit), project (Entwurf), world (Welt), clearing (Lichtung), and
sense (Sinn). According to Heidegger's transcendental conception of Truth in

section 44 ofSein und Zeit, Dasein is ªTruthº in the sense of being-uncovering.
Truth in this transcendental sense is a condition for the possibility of propositional
truth, and the condition is ªsubjectiveº because it is an existential of Dasein. Only
because Dasein exists are beings uncovered. Dasein is both a necessary and a
suf®cient condition for Truth in the transcendental sense. ª `There is' Truth only
in so far as Dasein is and as long as Dasein is,º Heidegger says in section 44c.
The existential of being-uncovering is related to that of a project (Entwurf).
Beings cannot be uncovered by Dasein unless Dasein projects a world, an a priori
structure of meaningful relations. As is clear from sections 31 and 69b ofSein
und Zeit, Dasein is the projecting agent, and the world that Dasein projects is a
condition for the possibility of discovering speci®c entities or facts.
21The tran-
scendental notion of world is developed in section 69c. World as a transcendental
structure of meaningful relations is projected by Dasein. For this reason, thereis
no world unless Dasein exists, and ªin so far as Dasein temporalizes itself, a world
22Clearly, Dasein is both a necessary and a suf®cient condition for a world.
Accordingly, ªif the `subject' gets conceived ontologically as an existing Dasein
whose being is grounded in temporality, then one must say that the world is
`subjective.' º
23Sein und Zeitbelongs to the subjectivist transcendental tradition
in modern philosophy, even though it abandons traditional forms of subjectivism
such as Kant's or Husserl's.
Finally, the existentialia of clearing (Lichtung) and sense (Sinn) have a tran-
scendental meaning as well.Sinnis de®ned as the ªupon-whichº of primary pro-
jection (das Woraufhin des primaÈ
ren Entwurfs). As a consequence, what ªgivesº
meaning to beings is the projection of being by Dasein.
24Dasein is the ultimate
light-giving source; it is the clearing (Lichtung), which enables things to appear
and to be meaningful.
In the ªBrief uÈ
ber den `Humanismus' º and in the introduction toWas ist Meta-
physik?of 1949, Heidegger gives a very different, postmonotheist interpretation
of these existentialia.
26Truth is now called the ªTruth of Beingº (die Wahr-
heit des Seins). Being illuminates (lichtet) beings when it sends us a meta-
physical stance. However, in metaphysics we do not think of this Truth of
Being as such. To do so requires that metaphysics be overcome, and over-
coming metaphysics means piously commemorating Being itself (ªAndenken an
das Sein selbstº). What is decisive is whether Being itself, out of its own truth,
will establish a relationship to us humans, or whether metaphysics will prevent
this relationship from shining forth.
27Whereas inSein und Zeit, Dasein was the
transcendental source of Truth, in the later writings Truth is Being's self-conceal-
ing revelation.
The notion of a project (Entwurf) is subjected to a similar semantic transforma-
tion. According to the ªBrief uÈ
ber den `Humanismus,' ºEntwurfinSein und Zeit
does not refer to a performance of a subject. It would be the ªec-staticº relation
of Dasein to the clearing of Being.
28Flatly contradictingSein und Zeit,Heidegger
now says that ªwhat throws in projection is not man but Being itself.º 29As a

consequence, project (Entwurf) and thrownness (Geworfenheit) are not opposites,
as they were inSein und Zeit, but one and the same thing: the fact that man is
thrown into ec-sistence by Being. Whereas in the earlier book, thrownness signi-
®ed the fundamental contingency of man, this contingency now seems to be de-
nied, for Being sends (schickt) man his fate (Geschick). InSein und Zeit, Dasein
projects being, but the ªBrief uÈ
ber den `Humanismus' º states that Being projects
30Similarly, the later Heidegger claims that world is not projected by Da-
sein either. On the contrary, ªworldº as an existential would mean the openness
of Being. Being itself isasthis openness, into which it has thrown man.
is identi®ed with clearing (Lichtung) and with Truth (Wahrheit), which both are
ªof Beingº in the sense of agenitivus subjectivus.
32Finally, sense (Sinn) is identi-
®ed with ªTruth of Being,º so that Being, not Dasein, is the source of Truth and
of sense.
In accord with these semantic transformations, the pivotal terms Dasein, Da,
and ªexistenceº get a new meaning, which contradicts the meaning these terms
had inSein und Zeit. In 1927, Heidegger introduced ªDaseinº as a term for that
being which, in its being, is concerned with its own being. Dasein is in each case
mine, and it exists in the sense that it has to effectuate its life. Dasein has to be
itsDa, where the pre®x means the fundamental openness of human beings for
the world, for others, and for themselves.
34If Heidegger says inSein und Zeitthat
Dasein is concerned with being, the term ªbeingº refers primarily to Dasein's own
being or existence.
35The situation is very different in the ªBrief uÈ
ber den `Huma-
nismus,' º 36Now ªec-sistenceº is de®ned as ªstanding in the clearing of Being.º
Man stands in the clearing of Being when he is claimed by Being. Only when he
is claimed by Being will man ªdwell in his essenceº and inhabit language as the
home of Being.
37This notion of ec-sistence has nothing in common with Sartre's
existentialism, which was inspired bySein und Zeit. 38Whereas in 1927 Dasein
was concerned with its own being, Heidegger in 1946 opposes Being and man.
Not man is essential, he says, but BeingÐas the dimension of the ecstasis of ec-
sistence. Man ec-sists in the sense that he belongs to and obeys the Truth of Being,
guarding this Truth.
39Ec-sistence, then, is an ªecstatic dwelling in the nearness
of Being.º 40The pre®x Da is rede®ned as the Truth or clearing of Being in which
Dasein stands, and the fact that there is such a thing as thisDais an act of
providence (Schickung), due to Being itself.
41In accordance with these new de®-
nitions, but clearly contradicting the analysis ofSein und Zeit, Heidegger says in
1949 that the term ªDaseinº was introduced inSein und Zeitin order to express
the relation (Bezug) of Being to the essence of man.
These examples of semantic transformations show that Heidegger not only
rede®nes the existentialia ofSein und Zeit, misleadingly presenting his new de®-
nitions as reliable interpretations, but also that the new de®nitions ¯atly contradict
the old ones. This fact con®rms my interpretative hypothesis. For there is a contra-
diction between the transcendental theme and the postmonotheist leitmotif in Hei-
degger's question of being. According to the transcendental theme, being is

projected by Dasein. The postmonotheist leitmotif implies, however, that Dasein
is projected or thrown by Being.
Heidegger's recycling of the existentialia raises a serious problem for the inter-
preter. Why did Heidegger cover up the contradictions between his later thought
andSein und Zeitby means of a reinterpretation of this book? How could he
af®rm, in the preface to the seventh edition of 1953, that the roadSein und Zeit
has taken ªremains even today a necessary one, if our Dasein is to be stirred by the
question of Beingº?
43For the fundamental themes in Heidegger's later question of
being are incompatible with the fundamental themes ofSein und Zeit, and it is
dif®cult to conceive that it would be necessary to approach Heidegger's later
postmonotheist question of being by means of a road that ¯atly contradicts it. It
seems that in order to endorse his later thinking about Being, one should forget
aboutSein und Zeit.
This problem of interpretation is not easily resolved. One cannot say, for in-
stance, thatSein und Zeitand the later works simply describe one and the same
relation between Dasein and Being from two different points of view, ®rst from
Dasein's perspective and then from Being's side. The reason is that both ªDaseinº
and ªBeingº are de®ned differently in the later works. Karl LoÈ
with, who was
one of the ®rst to analyze the semantic transformations in Heidegger's recycled
existentialia, having listed a great number of contradictions betweenSein und Zeit
and the later works, concludes that there is at best a psychological orexistenziell
motive that explains the leap to the primacy of Being over Dasein: Heidegger's
longing to shake off the burden of existence, which he so penetratingly described
inSein und Zeit.
44But this view does not explain why Heidegger deemed it neces-
sary to reinterpretSein und Zeitfrom the perspective of his later thought, and,
indeed, why he turned the meanings of the existentialia upside down, under the
pretense of an interpretation. Can we ®nd a philosophical justi®cation for this
procedure, or should we conclude that the later interpretation of the existentialia
merely served the purpose of suggesting a greater unity in Heidegger'sDenkweg
than in fact there was? This question brings us to yet another type of uni®cation,
which I call uni®cation by motivational links.
C. Motivational Links
There are a great number of motivational links, connecting to each other the
different leitmotifs in Heidegger's question of being. Some of these links are
synchronic, such as the complementary relation between the Neo-Hegelian theme
and the postmonotheist leitmotif. Others are diachronic, interlocking Heidegger's
later thought withSein und Zeitand even with earlier writings. What we are
looking for is a diachronic motivational link, which not only connects the post-
monotheist theme toSein und Zeitbut also justi®es Heidegger's problematic pro-
cedure of recycling the existentialia. What motives could Heidegger have had for

ªinterpretingº in his later work the central concepts ofSein und Zeit? Let me ®rst
discuss two motives which, however, will not solve our problem.
In section 10B we discovered a motivational and conceptual link between the
transcendental leitmotif and the Neo-Hegelian theme. According to the former,
Dasein projects global frameworks or worlds, which determine the meaning of
entities. However, if these global frameworks are really all-embracing, as Heideg-
ger claims, the transcendental theme becomes unstable, because it presupposes
that transcendental philosophy itself lies outside of the present world or frame-
work, so that no framework is really all-embracing. This contradiction was solved
by the Neo-Hegelian theme, which says that there is nothing but a sequence of
holistic frameworks, without a transcendental subject. Transcendental philosophy
itself would belong to one of these frameworks, the modern subjectivist tradition
inaugurated by Descartes.
This motivational link suggests an interpretation ofSein und Zeitfrom the
perspective of the Neo-Hegelian theme.Sein und Zeitwill be seen as a ®nal stage
in the development of subjectivist metaphysics, so that it occupies a speci®c place
within the logic of Neo-HegelianSeinsgeschichte. Another motivational link,
which I did not discuss earlier, leads to a similar result. According to the herme-
neutical conception ofSein und Zeit, this book offers a hermeneutical interpreta-
tion ofDasein. The hermeneutical doctrine says that all interpretations are histori-
cal. As a consequence, the inquiry into the ontological constitution of Dasein ªis
itself characterized by historicality.º
45From this perspective, the hermeneutical
interpretation of Dasein would become more fully conscious of itself if it under-
stands itself as a speci®c historical stage in Man's self-understanding. Such a
historical interpretation of the analysis ofSein und Zeitwould be yet another spiral
within the hermeneutical circle. In fact, many different historical interpretations of
Sein und Zeitare possible, depending on the contexts that one takes into account.
One might considerSein und Zeitas a stage in the history of metaphysics, as
Heidegger's Neo-Hegelian theme implies. One might also read the book as a
typical expression of German cultural despair after the Great War, as a dadaist
and expressionist philosophical manifesto, or as a secularized version of Kierke-
gaard's existentialism.
It is crucial to see that these and similar motives for interpretingSein und Zeit
do not explain Heidegger's procedure of recycling the existentialia. Admittedly,
an interpretation ofSein und Zeitbased on these motives will deepen our historical
understanding of the existentialia as de®ned in that book. It will reveal their ori-
gins in Aristotle, St. Paul, St. Augustine, Luther, Pascal, and Kierkegaard, and it
will link them with themes in the literature of the time, such as the theme of
death in German expressionism. But it will never change the meanings of the
existentialia. From a hermeneutical perspective, it would be illegitimate to turn
the sense of the existentialia into its opposite, pretending that one is merely reveal-
ing their real meaning. However, this is precisely Heidegger's procedure in later
writings such as the ªBrief uÈ
ber den `Humanismus' º and the introduction toWa s

ist Metaphysik?If Heidegger's procedure is justi®ed at allÐand this is denied by
many commentatorsÐthere should be yet another motivational link that explains
it. My hypothesis is that there is such a motivational link, and that Heidegger
derived this link from Pascal's religious writings, published asLes PenseÂ
Of®cially, Pascal plays a minor role in Heidegger's oeuvre. Two footnotes in
Sein und Zeitrefer to Pascal, on pages 4 and 139, and there is no doubt that
Heidegger readLes PenseÂ
esbefore 1927.
47In the later works as published by
Heidegger himself, we ®nd four further references to Pascal. 48At a crucial mo-
ment of his life, in August 1945, shortly after the breakdown of Nazi Germany,
Heidegger planned to set up a small seminar in order to study one of Pascal's
texts. It seems plausible to interpret this plan, which was never carried out, as a
tactical maneuver to appease the French occupying authorities.
49Could it be that
Pascal provided the main motivational link, connectingSein und Zeitto the later
Heidegger, even though he merely plays a supporting part in Heidegger's philo-
sophical narrative? This is the interpretative hypothesis that I want to defend.
Les PenseÂ
esis a collection of fragments written as parts of an apologetics for
Christianity. Although Pascal died before he could complete his book, it is not
dif®cult to reconstruct its apologetic strategy. As a brilliant mathematician, logi-
cian, and physicist, Pascal realized that the traditional Scholastic proofs of God's
existence are both unsound and ineffective. Because the axioms of these proofs
are uncertain, the proofs will not carry conviction, even if the deductions were
valid. Moreover, Pascal rejected traditional philosophical theology, such as Des-
cartes', for reasons similar to those of Luther's repudiation of Scholasticism. Tra-
ditional theology allegedly is concerned with the God of the philosophers, and
not with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. How, then, should one defend
Christianity and how might one convince the unbeliever? Pascal's study of the
art of persuasion taught him that he should appeal to people's hearts instead of to
their minds. He invented an effective strategy, which consists of two stages.
In the ®rst stage, Pascal provides a religiously neutral description of the human
condition. The point of this description is to show that our life, as we experience
it without religion, is both miserable and deeply puzzling, and it is crucial that
the description is purely secular lest unbelievers will be put off. In order to con-
vince the unbelievers who enjoy their lives, Pascal tries to show that even in our
most happy moments we are on the run from ourselves. We live in diversion
(divertissement) all the time. If we give up diversion, we will see how miserable
man is, being confronted by despair, sickness, and death. Man is also puzzling.
He is neither an angel nor a beast. He strives to acquire knowledge, but re¯ecting
on the possibility of knowledge, he becomes a skeptic. In one telling fragment
Pascal reveals his tactics. If man is vain and boasts about his endeavors, Pascal
scorns him. If man despises himself, Pascal praises him. The aim is to make man
comprehend that he is an incomprehensible monster.
Having prepared the ground for Christianity by this psychological massage,
Pascal proceeds to the second stage of his strategy. He now tries to show that

Christianity explains man's puzzling dual nature, because man was created in
paradise and then was punished for original sin by the Fall. Christianity also
makes man happy, for it forgives his sins and holds out the prospect of eternal
bliss. The rational unbeliever is confronted by the famous wager argument. Al-
though we cannot prove that God exists, it is rational to opt for the assumption
that he does and to open ourselves up to his grace. This is a reasonable gamble,
for we will lose nothing or at most ®nite goods, and gain a chance of eternal and
in®nite happiness. Reason, if it falls short of demonstrating the truth of Christian-
ity, should not obstruct our conversion either. However, in order to become real
Christians, we need God's grace, which will profoundly transform us.
My hypothesis is that Heideggermutatis mutandisapplied this two-stage
strategy in hisDenkweg, or, at least, that he uni®ed his philosophical career
from the perspective of his later philosophy by applying it. The existential analy-
sis of Dasein inSein und Zeitis the ®rst stage. It consists of a religiously neutral
ontology of human existence. Indeed, there are some striking analogies with Pas-
51One is the analogy between Pascal's notion of diversion and Hei-
degger's concept of inauthenticity (Uneigentlichkeit). In ordinary language we
use the notions of diversion and of not-being-oneself (inauthenticity) in a local
way. Some of our activities are meant to divert us, and sometimes we are not
ourselves (inauthentic). Both Pascal and Heidegger stretch these notions and
transform them into global ones. If we may believe Pascal, everything we do is
diversion, even work, and if we may believe Heidegger, nearly everything we do
is inauthentic, because we are absorbed in the world and in the life of Everyman
(das Man). When we do not divert ourselves, Pascal then argues, we realize that
we are miserable, prone to illness, and bound to die. Similarly, Heidegger claims
that we are authentic only when we confront our death inAngst, revealing our
existence as a burden (Last). With regard to both Pascal's and Heidegger's pic-
tures of the human condition, we might raise the question as to whether they paint
it in more gloomy colors than reality justi®es, in order to prepare us for a leap to
Heidegger's second stage, at least in the later works, is not Christian religion
but a postmonotheist worship of Being. We might say that this second stage is
related toSein und Zeitby means of a postmonotheist analogue of Pascal's strat-
egy. It is inherent in this interpretation thatSein und Zeititself should be reli-
giously neutral. The text should not reveal its ultimate religious intentions, be-
cause in that case the unbeliever will not be convinced: he or she would see
through the strategy at once. As a consequence, the preparatory analysis of Dasein
should portray human existence as entirely independent, not relying on transcen-
dent Being. A transcendental view of Dasein, which implies that Dasein consti-
tutes being, thereby giving sense to beings, would suit this purpose very well. But
what explains Heidegger's later ªinterpretationº of the existentialia, which turns
their sense upside down? How can one explain Heidegger's procedure of recy-

cling the existentialia, assuming that my interpretative hypothesis is correct? Hei-
degger's early notion of theology will lead us to an answer.
In 1919, Heidegger rejected the theology of the Schools because he endorsed
a Lutheran view of Christianity, according to which faith is a graceful gift of God,
transforming man in his inner nature. This view explains Heidegger's conception
of theology inSein und Zeit. In section 3 of that book, he says that theology is
involved in a crisis, because it ªis slowly beginning to understand once more
Luther's insight that the `foundation' on which its system of dogma rests has not
arisen from an inquiry in which faith is primary.º If God reveals himself in faith
only, theology must seek ªa more primordial interpretation of man's being toward
God, prescribed by the meaning of faith itself.º
52According to this text, theology
has the task of giving an interpretation of man's existence as related to God, an
interpretation that is prescribed by the meaning inherent in faith. How should
such a religious interpretation of man's existence be connected to the transcenden-
tal analysis of Dasein inSein und Zeit?
This problem is left unresolved in Heidegger's masterpiece. In fact, Heideg-
ger's three-story conception of knowledge points to a solution, but it is easy to
see that this solution is inadequate. According toSein und Zeit, the existential
analysis of Dasein is fundamental ontology. Fundamental ontology yields a notion
of being according to which being is a global framework of meaningful relations,
projected by Dasein. This general notion of being is then diversi®ed into different
regional notions: natural being, historical being, and so on. Regional ontologies
have the task of setting up a categorial framework that captures the constitution
of being of speci®c regional entities. Each scienti®c discipline or ªpositive sci-
enceº is based on a regional ontology of its domain. In short, the existential
analysis of Dasein is the foundation of regional ontologies, and regional ontolo-
gies are the foundations of the sciences, because Dasein constitutes being.
Heidegger suggests inSein und Zeitthat theology is a positive science like any
other. This would imply that the ontological sense of its object is ªpositedº by
Dasein, as is the case with other positive sciences. If so, the fundamental ontology
of Dasein would be the foundation of theology. But this view ¯atly contradicts
the inherent meaning of faith. From the religious perspective, the ontological
sense of God shines forth from God himself; it can never be posited by man.
What is more, man's own existential sense is determined by God. Accordingly,
the religious interpretation of Dasein's being-toward-God will contradict the exis-
tential interpretation of Dasein inSein und Zeit. In what sense, then, can the latter
be the foundation of the former?
Heidegger discussed this urgent problem in a crucial lecture of 1927, entitled
nomenologie und Theologieº (Phenomenology and Theology), which was
published in the second edition ofWegmarken(Signposts) of 1978. In this lecture,
he distinguishes between two levels of analysis: (1) theexistenzielllevel of facti-
cal life (Existenzform) and worldview (Weltanschauung) and (2) the level of the
sciences that conceptualize this ®rst level. On the former level, philosophical

life and faith are ªdeadly enemies.º There is a struggle between two competing
53Philosophy as a form of life is ªfree questioning by a Dasein that
stands on itself.º Faith is the very opposite form of life, in which Dasein ªis not
in its own power,º ªhaving become a servant because it is brought before God,
thereby beingreborn.º
54Dasein's rebirth in faith is a transformation (Umstellung)
of human existence by God's mercy. 55
If philosophy and faith are opposite and incompatible forms of life, one would
expect that philosophy and theology, being the sciences that conceptualize these
forms of life on the second, re¯ective level, are incompatible as well. How can
one reconcile this conclusion with the doctrine ofSein und Zeit, that fundamental
ontology is the philosophical foundation of theology as a positive science? How
can theology be both based on and incompatible with philosophy? It is the aim
of ªPhaÈ
nomenologie und Theologieº to solve this dif®cult problem.
Heidegger starts with the thesis ofSein und Zeitthat there is an absolute differ-
ence between philosophy as the science of being and the positive sciences, which
are concerned with beings. The object of apositivescience is revealed orposited
beforehand. Because theology is a positive science, theology is nearer to chemis-
try and mathematics than to philosophy.
56Yet there is a crucial difference between
theology and the other positive sciences. The objects of ordinary positive sciences
are manifest to all of us. According toSein und Zeit, their ontological sense is
posited by Dasein. The object of theology, on the other hand, is only revealed in
faith, and faith is a transformation of human existence. The aim of Christian
theology is to conceptualize human existence in faith, that is, human life as deter-
mined by that in which the Christian believes when he or she has faith.
the object of theology is revealed in faith only, there is neither a motive nor a
justi®cation for theology, except faith. We can never deduce the necessity of theol-
ogy as a science from the system of sciences or from philosophy. How, then, can
philosophy be a foundation of theology, as Heidegger suggested inSein und Zeit?
Heidegger's answer to this question is implied both by his Lutheran de®nition
of theology as a science of human existence in faith and by his de®nition of
philosophy as fundamental ontology. Fundamental ontology is an existential anal-
ysis of independent Dasein. Theology is an analysis of human existence as trans-
formed by faith. Even though philosophy and faith as forms of life are ªmortal
enemies,º philosophy and theology, as the respective sciences of these incompati-
ble forms of life, are positively related to each other. The reason is that faith, as
a rebirth or transformation (Umstellung) of Dasein, retains the old structure of
Dasein in the manner of a HegelianAufhebung, for it is stillhuman existencethat
is transformed by faith. As a consequence, theology will have to rely on the
existential analysis of Dasein, which conceptualizes the existential structure of
Dasein before its transformation by faith. Philosophy, by its regional ontology of
Dasein, gives a ªformal indicationº of the mode of existence that will be trans-
formed by faith. In this manner, philosophy ªco-directsº the conceptual develop-
ment of theology, which, however, is ªdirectedº by faith.

Heidegger's conception of the relation between theology and the phenomenol-
ogy of Dasein, as expressed in his lecture of 1927, implies that the existentialia
developed by philosophy will have to be reinterpreted by theology. From the
perspective of faith, theology will claim to reveal therealmeaning of these exis-
tentialia, even though this meaning often will be opposite to the de®nitions of the
ªatheistº existential analysis. In particular, theology will transform the notion that
Dasein projects itself into the idea that Dasein is a project of God.
We come to the conclusion that Heidegger's paper on phenomenology and
theologyprescribes the very procedure of semantically transforming the existen-
tialia that the later Heidegger in fact applied. Admittedly, Heidegger in his later
works did not become a Christian theologian. His later thought is post-theological,
and his semantic transformations of the existentialia are postmonotheist analogues
of the transformations prescribed for Christian theology. We saw that ªthinking,º
as conceived of by the later Heidegger, is a postmonotheist analogue of faith. The
relation of Heidegger's later thinking toSein und Zeitmay now be interpreted as
a postmonotheist analogue of the relation of faith-theology to philosophy as ana-
lyzed by Heidegger in 1927.
This interpretation may seem to be somewhat speculative. But it fully explains
Heidegger's paradoxical reinterpretation of the existentialia, and it accounts for
the unity of Heidegger'sDenkwegon the model of Pascal's apologetic strategy.
It also explains why after his postmonotheist conversion, Heidegger could still
say that the road ofSein und Zeitremained a necessary one, if our Dasein is to
be stirred by the question of Being.
59For Pascal's apologetic strategy implies that
an analysis of our human condition remains a necessary ®rst step to faith. In short,
my hypothesis yields a convincing solution to the problem of the primacy of
Dasein, raised in section 4.6 above. The ontological analysis of Dasein is an
indispensable preparation for asking the question of Being in the religious sense.
Only an insight into the harshness of the human condition will arouse our need
to ask the question of Being.
There is yet another problem that is solved by the Pascalian hypothesis. As I
noted in the preface to this book, the literary genre of Heidegger's writings
changes afterSein und Zeit. Instead of a systematic philosophical treatise we now
®nd essays, dialogues, lectures, and letters. This difference in genre of Heideg-
ger's writings corresponds to the difference between the two stages in Pascal's
strategy. Whereas we might map secular human existence in a systematic manner,
Being itself eludes all attempts at systematic description because it conceals itself
(theme of theDeus absconditus) and at best reveals itself in hints (Winke). It is
the task of the thinker to pass these hints on to his people, and the literary genres
of Heidegger's later works are adapted to this task.
As my quotes in the next note show, the Pascalian interpretation ofSein und
Zeitis fully and explicitly con®rmed byBeitraÈ
ge zur Philosophie, Heidegger's
second chef d'oeuvre written in 1936±38.
62The very structure of this latter book
should be understood from the perspective of a Pascalian strategy, connected to

the Neo-Hegelian and the postmonotheist leitmotifs. The same holds for the se-
quel toBeitraÈ
ge, the volumeBesinnung, which Heidegger wrote in 1938±39.
This is not to say, however, that Heidegger anticipated his postmonotheism
when he wroteSein und Zeit. As I will argue in section 13C, he hoped for a
conversion to authentic Christianity, prepared by methodological atheism as de-
®ned in the Natorp essay of 1922. A footnote to ªVom Wesen des Grundesº and
a crucial letter to Elisabeth Blochmann, both of 1929, point in this direction.
1929, Heidegger thought that probably Being and God are identical, as his teacher
Carl Braig had argued and as Eckhart had said long before. But methodological
atheism implies that man can never decide such a question; the answer can be
given only by revelation and grace. What the philosopher is able to do is merely to
liberate himself from idols, and, having explored the human condition, to release
himself into nothingness, hoping for grace, as Eckhart and Kierkegaard had
taught. From a Pascalian perspective, this was the function of Heidegger's inaugu-
ral lecture of 1929,Was ist Metaphysik?
65The atmosphere of this lecture is mark-
edly religious, in contrast with the secular analyses of human existence inSein
und Zeit.IfSein und Zeitwas a preparation for a conversion,Was ist Metaphysik?
was Heidegger's ®rst attempt to provoke such a conversion. This attempt failed,
so we may guess, and Nietzsche taught Heidegger why it had to fail: the God of
Christianity is dead. In his rectoral address of 1933, Heidegger summons his
colleagues and students to take seriously Nietzsche's insight in God's death and
man's abandonment amidst the totality of beings, for it implies that ªour ownmost
Dasein is heading for a grand transformation.º
66Heidegger now thought that this
transformation was brought about, not by the Christian God, but by the National
Socialist revolution, and he hoped that Nazism would take Nietzsche's insight to
heart. It may be, however, that he changed his mind later, as we will see in section
15. Actual Nazism was just another kind of nihilism, and only a postmonotheist
conversion could save us. Or is there a more positive relation between Heideg-
ger's Nazism and his postmonotheist leitmotif?
D. Heidegger's Wordcraft and the Problem of Translation
In the celebrated interview inDer Spiegel, Heidegger said that ªjust as little as
one can translate poems, one can translate thinking [ein Denken].º
67The reason
is that in both poetry and thinking, in contrast to the standardized uses of language
of science or commerce, ªlanguage itself speaks of itself.º
68According to a com-
monsensical interpretation of Heidegger's view, most poets and some philoso-
phers use their language in an idiosyncratic way, drawing on resources particular
to that language. When one attempts to translate their work, one experiences the
different powers and possibilities of expression proper to different languages, and
one realizes that every translation of such a work is an interpretation.
what Heidegger really meant by hisdictumis that when poets and thinkers use
language, Being makes language speak of itself. When Being speaks of itself

through a language, Heidegger seems to assume, what the language is saying
cannot be translated. How is this assumption to be explained?
Heidegger's later view of translation is derived from the postmonotheist theme.
Like the German romantics and Walter Benjamin, Heidegger sancti®ed language.
Language, when it speaks of itself in the writings of the essential poets and think-
ers, would be a saying of Being (Sagen des Seins; see § 11C.3). The genitive (des
Seins) is both agenitivus subjectivusand agenitivus objectivus, so that Being
itself speaks of itself through our language, thereby speaking to us and claiming
us (Anspruch). According to Heidegger, the silent voice of Being is the origin of
human language.
70Is it far-fetched to suppose that Heidegger's later view on
translation is a postmonotheist analogue of the human predicament after Babel,
where God confused the language of the descendants of Noah, so ªthat they may
not understand one another's speechº (Genesis11:1±9)? According toBeitraÈ
zur Philosophie, unique Being (das Seyn) is intimately related to the unique Ger-
man Volk, and the essence (Wesen) of a people is its ªvoice.º
However this may be, it is not because I endorse Heidegger's views on this
topic that I am raising the problem of translation. The reason is, rather, that many
characteristics of Heidegger's wordcraft cause nearly insuperable dif®culties for
the translator. As a consequence, countless connotations and connections in the
German text are lost in translating Heidegger, however scrupulous the translation
may be. This loss will grow with the distance between German and the language
into which the texts are translated. Dutch translations are closer to the original
than English ones, and translations into English will be more faithful than transla-
tions into Chinese or Japanese. Yet, the distance between the German original
and English translations is so great that an academic interpretation of Heidegger
should be based on the German text. This justi®es my practice of quoting Heideg-
ger in German in the notes, and of presenting English quotes in the main text as
mere paraphrases of the original.
There may be a global explanation for the alleged fact that it is more dif®cult
to translate German philosophy into English thanvice versa.
72In Heidegger's
case, there are many local causes. As some of these causes are related to particular
forms of uni®cation in Heidegger's works, I discuss the problem of translation in
this section. Without trying to be exhaustive, I will list some main dif®culties of
translating Heidegger.
InSein und Zeit, Heidegger says that it is ªthe ultimate business of philosophy
to preserve theforce of the most elemental wordsin which Dasein expresses itself,
and to keep the common understanding from leveling them off.º
aim in philosophy is opposite to Carnap's, for instance, and Heidegger saw Carnap
as his most radical opponent.
74Whereas Carnap wanted to make language in
philosophy as unambiguous, clear, and ªscienti®cº as possible, Heidegger wanted
to restore language to its greatest expressive power. Carnap's objective was logi-
cal regimentation and scienti®c standardization. This objective guarantees that
his texts are easy to translate. However, in order to intensify the expressive power

of ªthe most elemental wordsº in which Dasein expresses itself, Heidegger had
to draw on the speci®c resources of German, loading his texts with as many
connotations as possible. In this respect, Heidegger's wordcraft is closer to theol-
ogy, poetry, rhetoric, and propaganda than to science. Whereas Carnap was after
an enlightened humanism in philosophy, and thought that scienti®c method would
be able to resolve all philosophical problems, Heidegger aimed at an intensi®ca-
tion of Dasein. This is a ®rst, general reason why it is more dif®cult to translate
Heidegger than it is to translate Frege, Carnap, or Reichenbach.
A second general reason is Heidegger's thesis inSein und Zeitthat the tradi-
tional philosophical vocabulary is not adequate for describing the ontological
constitution of human life. Most existentialia are Heideggerian neologisms, or at
least old terms used with more or less new meanings. The English translator
should ®nd English terms and neologisms that correspond as closely as possible
to the German ones. Sometimes this is not dif®cult.AlltaÈ
glichkeitbecomes ªev-
erydayness,º although in this translation the German connotation of ordinariness
or commonplaceness is lost.Sein-zum-Todeis adequately rendered by ªbeing-
toward-death.º The only drawback in such cases is that German has a far greater
potential for coining compound substantives than does English. Other cases are
more dif®cult. The existentiale ofBe®ndlichkeitis derived from German idioms
such as ªWie be®nden Sie sich heute?º, and it suggests other meanings of the
verbbe®nden, such as ªto be located.º The corresponding English idiom, ªhow
are you today?º, is different and it will not yield a substantive. The translation by
ªstate of mindº is notoriously misleading, because it belongs to the traditional
philosophical terminology that Heidegger rejects, and also because it does not at
all capture what Heidegger means: the fact that we ®nd ourselves in a situation
and are attuned to this situation. Similar dif®culties arise with relation toBe-
Heidegger not only coins new compound substantives from idioms. He also
uses adverbs, pronouns, and relative expressions as elements for his neologisms.
Thus we ®nd, for instance,das Auf-sich-zu, a term which characterizes the fact
that the future ªcomes toward us,º ordas Mit-dabei-sein, to be translated as
ªbeing-`in on it'-with-someone.º By adding further verbal forms, compound sub-
stantives of baf¯ing complexity are created, such asdas Je-schon-haben-
bewenden-lassen, a term that refers to the a priori conditions for something to
manifest itself as a tool. Heidegger often uses such compounds as subjects of
sentences where a personal subject would ordinarily be found. Even if the com-
pounds can be translated into English, they cannot function as grammatical sub-
jects. In some cases, the translator cannot do better than to quote the original
German sentence in a note in order to back up an obscure and highly arti®cial
translation. It is tempting to dissolve Heidegger's compounds in the translation,
using paraphrasing sentences instead. But by this procedure, Heidegger's practice
of using one term for each of his existentialia will be lost, and the tight-knit fabric
ofSein und Zeitwill fall apart.

Let me now discuss a third source of dif®culties, a source that is related to a
peculiar unifying strategy that Heidegger employs in the later works. This strategy
consists in using one and the same morpheme or series of morphemes in many
different words, thereby interlocking these words and suggesting some philosoph-
ical connection. Mostly the morpheme is a common root of the words in question
or the stem of a verb. An example is the common morphemestiminStimmung
(mood),Stimme(voice),stimmen(to tune, to be correct),abstimmen(to tune in
on),bestimmen(to determine), andBestimmung(purpose, destiny). The philo-
sophical connection that Heidegger suggests is that Being, by its soundless voice
(lautlose Stimme), determines (bestimmen) us in our destiny (Bestimmung), and
that we experience this determination in fundamental moods (Stimmungen),
which tune us in on (stimmen,abstimmen) whatis. Moods, according to the later
Heidegger, are fundamental because they tune us in (stimmen) on the voice
(Stimme) of Being.
76We might call this strategy a uni®cation of themes by com-
mon morphemes. Whenever Heidegger uses a word that contains the morpheme
stim, he intends to evoke the entire network of words that is uni®ed by it. This
type of uni®cation is completely lost in translation, as is clear from the English
equivalents listed above.
One might object that such a loss is not a loss of content. For ªwhat value is
to be attached to a line of argument which appears to depend on the fact that in
a particular language two words happen to have a common rootº?
77However, the
objection misses the point of Heidegger's later writings altogether. In these writ-
ings, Heidegger does not want to offer arguments, and indeed, he claims that
thinking is beyond the realm of logic and discursive thought. Whenever the au-
thentic or ªessentialº thinker uses words, it is language itself that speaks, and
Being speaks through it. The connections in language by means of common mor-
phemes should be viewed as hints (Winke) to the origin of language in Being,
hints given by Being itself. Being sends (schickt) us these hints, as it sends us our
destiny (Geschick). In doing so, Being happens (gescheht), and whenever Being
happens in our Da-sein, there is deep history (Geschichte). If we adapt ourselves
to our destiny with dexterity (geschickt), we will become ourselves (eigentlich)
in the event (Ereignis) which is Being.
Heidegger uni®es his later works not only by common morphemes, but also
by using etymologies and other kinds of wordcraft. These types of uni®cation
disappear in translations. An analytical philosopher may conclude that nothing
essential is lost, because logical connections do not depend on the contingent
forms of words. But he should not forget that this criterion for evaluating a transla-
tion is not Heidegger's criterion. According to Heidegger's postmonotheist con-
ception of language, Being's hints consist of verbal connections peculiar to Ger-
man. Because these hints, which unify Heidegger's later works, vanish in another
language, his ªthinkingº does not survive a translation. In 1935, Heidegger
claimed that the German people (Volk) is the metaphysical people, which has the
unique vocation of saving the fate of Europe by relating to Being.

never abandoned this provincial conviction of the uniqueness of Germany. In
1966 he toldDer Spiegelthat the Germans have a special calling, which consists
in a dialogue with HoÈ
lderlin. This dialogue allegedly prepares a reversal (Um-
kehr). When asked whether the Germans are specially quali®ed for this calling,
Heidegger responded that their quali®cation consists in the German language,
which is intimately related to the language of the Greeks. He added that the French
con®rm this view again and again, for ªwhenever they start to think, they speak
79Because Heidegger decided that the interview should be published
after his death and because he did not change the text after 1966, we may safely
assume that during the last ten years of his life, Heidegger's conviction of a special
vocation of the Germans remained unshaken. Apparently, Being chose the Ger-
man language as a medium for sending its hints to mankind. Indeed, Being pre-
ferred the German language to the exclusion of all the others, for its hints do not
survive translation. (In § 14B, I will try to account for this peculiar teutonic ¯avor
of Heidegger's postmonotheism.)
§ 13. T
The celebrated turn (die Kehre) is an important touchstone of any interpretation
of Heidegger's question of being. The reason is that the turn supposedly accounts
for the transition fromSein und Zeitto Heidegger's later thought. In other words,
the notion of the turn is the major synthesizing link between early and later Hei-
degger, so that the topic of the turn belongs in this chapter on synthesis.
With regard to each proposed interpretation of Heidegger's question of being
we should ask: Does it allow us to make sense ofdie Kehre?
texts on the turn in Heidegger's works are both scarce and obscure, and there are
nearly as many interpretations of the turn as there are books on the later Heideg-
81Furthermore, there is a tendency in the secondary literature to discover ever
more turns in Heidegger's philosophical career. In an essay on ªHeidegger and
Theologyº of 1993, John Caputo describes three, and perhaps even four, turns: a
®rst turn from Catholicism to Protestantism in 1919; a turn between 1928 and
1935, which culminated in Heidegger's ªhellish endorsement of National Social-
ismº; a third turn after the war which can be dated back to 1936±38; and, ®nally, a
possible return to Catholicism, testi®ed by the fact that on request of the deceased,
Bernhard Welte celebrated a Catholic Mass in the church of St. Martin's at the
occasion of Heidegger's funeral in 1976.
Caputo's essay is a perceptive sketch of Heidegger's philosophical journey, and
we might discover even more turns in the path of Heidegger's thought. Nonethe-
less, multiplying the number of turns does not contribute to an interpretation of
the turn (die Kehre). One should distinguish between the notion of the turn as it
occurs in Heidegger's writings, and the quite different concept of a change in
Heidegger's philosophy.
83Even if there turn out to be many turns, these turns are

not always identical with shifts in Heidegger's thought, while many shifts in his
thought do not amount to a turn in the technical sense of the term. In this chapter,
I will argue that what Heidegger says on the turn (die Kehre) can be fully ex-
plained on the basis of my interpretation. The notion of a turn ®ts in well with
the postmonotheist and the Neo-Hegelian leitmotifs. Moreover, the hypothesis of
a Pascalian strategy explains the manner in which Heidegger conceived of the
relation between the turn as planned inSein und Zeitand the turn as described in
the later works.
Apart from an important reference to a turn in his lectures of 1928,
developed his later notion of the turn inBeitraÈ
ge zur Philosophie, written in
1936±38 and published posthumously in 1989.
85In print, he referred to the turn
for the ®rst time in the ªBrief uÈ
ber den `Humanismus,' º published in 1947. The
turn is discussed in two other letters, one of 18 June 1950 to a young student
named Buchner, and the other to William J. Richardson, written in April 1962.
Furthermore, Heidegger gave four talks in Bremen on 1 December 1949, the last
of which was entitled ªDie Kehre.º It was published in 1962 inDie Technik und
die Kehre.
87Heidegger seems to have been reluctant to speak publicly of the turn,
and three of the four texts on the turn published during his life are letters. Should
we suppose that Heidegger was inspired by Plato's example and used the genre
of a letter to express his most intimate thought?
Be this as it may, there are two further texts that should be taken into account
when we focus on the notion of a turn, even though the term itself is not used in
these texts.
89The ®rst text, ªVom Wesen der Wahrheitº (ªOn the Essence of
Truthº), is a lecture Heidegger gave many times from 1930 on and which he
published in 1943. According to the ªBrief uÈ
ber den `Humanismus,' º this text
provides a certain insight in the thinking of the turn, which is characterized as a
turn from ªSein und Zeitº to ªZeit und Sein.º
90In 1962, Heidegger held a lecture
in Freiburg, entitled ªZeit und Seinº (ªTime and Beingº), which was published
in 1968.
91Even though the termKehreis not used in this text either, the lecture
is relevant to the turn, for its title is a reversal of the title ofSein und Zeit. Accord-
ingly, we should suppose that the lecture is concerned with the turn from ªSein
und Zeitº to ªZeit und Seinº to which Heidegger referred in the ªBrief uÈ
ber den
`Humanismus.' º This assumption is con®rmed by the letter to Richardson, writ-
ten shortly after Heidegger held the lecture ªZeit und Sein,º for in the letter to
Richardson Heidegger describes the turn in these very same terms.
92Both ªVom
Wesen der Wahrheitº and ªZeit und Seinº belong to the most abstruse texts Hei-
degger ever wrote. I will now state my interpretation of the turn, based on the
Neo-Hegelian and the postmonotheist leitmotifs, and show that it explains both
all explicit texts on the turn and a number of obstinate problems. Furthermore, I
will discuss two reversals that are identical with the turn: the reversal from ªBeing
and Timeº to ªTime and Being,º and the reversal from ªthe Essence of Truthº
(das Wesen der Wahrheit) to ªthe Truth of Beingº (die Wahrheit des Wesens).

The composition of this section is as follows. In (A), I will propose my global
interpretation of the turn. Then (B) it will be explained why the turn is a reversal
from ªBeing and Timeº to ªTime and Being.º My explanation of this point raises
(C) the dif®cult problem concerning the relation between the turn as planned in
Sein und Zeitand the turn in Heidegger's later writings. I will argue that this
problem can be solved by the hypothesis that Heidegger already applied the Pas-
calian strategy when he was writingSein und Zeit(see § 12C). Finally (D), a
discussion of the essay ªVom Wesen der Wahrheitº will clarify why the turn is
also a reversal from the ªEssence of Truthº (das Wesen der Wahrheit) to the ªTruth
of Beingº (die Wahrheit des Wesens).
A. The Anatomy of the Turn
In his postmonotheist theory of history, Heidegger uses an eschatological scheme,
derived from Christianity (see § 11B.3).
93There is a ®rst beginning, when Being
started to send (schicken) historical stances or destinies (Geschicke) to humans,
thereby inaugurating authentic history (eigentliche Geschichte). According to
Heidegger, this beginning happened in ancient Greece, and each of the historical
stances sent to humanity is a metaphysical deep structure that accounts for a
historical epoch. In this manner the postmonotheist theme is linked to the Neo-
Hegelian leitmotif. Now Heidegger holds that by the very event of sending histori-
cal destinies to humans, events that place beings in the open (cf.Lichtung,Wahr-
heit,Entbergung), Being itself is concealed, or rather conceals itself. Playing with
the term ªepoch,º Heidegger says that in sending the epochs of history to humans,
Being withholds (the Greek termepocheÅ
) itself. Instead ofepocheÅ
, he also uses
terms such asEntzug(withdrawal) andAbkehr(turning away from).
holds, then, that at the beginning of history, Being turned itself away from humans
(Ab-kehr). This is a ®rst turn, and it was Being itself that turned. Because the
history of metaphysics is a series of epochs sent by Being, metaphysics is the
history of Being's self-concealment, in which man inevitably goes astray (Irre;
see § 11B.6±7).
I interpreted this doctrine as a postmonotheist analogue of the Judeo-Christian
idea that shortly after creation, God turned himself away from Adam and Eve.
Because of the Fall, mankind became absorbed in the world, and God's creation
obscured the creator. According to Heidegger, the Fall (Abfall) in the history of
Being happened after the pre-Socratics or even earlier. In any case it was co-
inaugurated by Plato, who was the ®rst to conceive of beings according to the
model of artifacts, thereby founding the history of productionist metaphysics.
Heidegger's postmonotheist narrative is eschatological because a second turn is
anticipated. Like Christ's second coming, this second turn is another beginning
(andere Anfang), which will be inaugurated when Being turns itself to us again.
Philosophers of a certain type, such as Marx, think that a change for the better will
come only after a profound crisis (cf. Marx'sVerelendung). The later Heidegger is

a thinker of this catastrophic type. He holds that the second turn, which is called
die Kehre, will only come when the history of productionist metaphysics has been
fully consummated in the epoch of technology. In this epoch, human deviation
(die Irre) will be complete, the earth will be destroyed, and everything will have
become meaningless, because our abandonment by Being has become absolute.
We do not experience this abandonment anymore. Our greatest distress is that we
do not sense the distress of being abandoned by Being and go along happily: it
is theNot der Notlosigkeit. As Heidegger says, the concealment of Being is itself
concealed, and the forgetfulness of Being is forgotten.
97This is why the epoch of
technology is the ªgreatest danger.º 98However, ªwhere danger is, grows / the
saving power too,º Heidegger claims, quoting HoÈ
lderlin. 99The reason is that as
soon as we grasp the dangerasdanger, we will see that the epoch of technology
is sent to us by Being. If we learn to conceive of history (Geschichte) and our
present epoch of technology (das Wesen der Technik) as a fate (Geschick), sent
(geschickt) to us by Being, we will prepare a turn of Being toward us. Allegedly,
Being will not turn toward us out of itself, because Being needs us in order to be
Heidegger uses the termKehreprimarily for this postmonotheist analogue of
the second coming. 101 This is why he speaks of ªthe turn in the eventº (die Kehre
im Ereignis), since the event (Ereignis) is Being's happening, and the turn is the
event of Being that will make humans authentic (er-eignen, compareeigentlich)
and that will bring Being itself (eigens) to the fore.
102 The turn will arrive at
the appropriate moment (Augenblick,kairos), which can neither be predicted nor
calculated in advance.
103 In the letter to Richardson, Heidegger says that the turn
is aSachverhalt, and that it is in play within theSachverhaltitself. 104 One shows
a lack of sensibility for Heidegger's wordcraft if one translates the wordSachver-
haltby ªstate of affairs,º or simply by ªmatter,º as Richardson does. According
to Heidegger, Being isdie Sache des Denkens(the issue for thought).
105 Apart
from the componentsach, the German termSachverhaltcontainsverhalt, which
is both the stem of the verbverhaltenand related to the nounVe r h aÈ
ltnis. The verb
verhaltenmeans among other things to behave and to hold back.Ve r h aÈ
relationship, a relationship that supports or sustains (halten) us in our deepest
being or essence: Da-sein. Accordingly, the proper translation of Heidegger's
termSachverhaltis ªBeing's-behavior-of-holding-itself-back-in-its-sustaining-
relationship-to-humans.º And theKehre im Sachverhaltis the reversal of this
behavior, that is, Heidegger's postmonotheist analogue of the second coming.
From this primary and fundamental notion of a turn, Heidegger derives a num-
ber of secondary notions, for which he mostly uses other terms, such asWandlung
andVerwandlung(change, transformation). First of all (1), each change of funda-
mental metaphysical stance in history is a turning (Wandlung), and this turning
is a turn in being, where ªbeingº is taken in the Neo-Hegelian sense. Because
many of these turnings have occurred, Heidegger speaks of a wealth of (possible)
transformations in being (WandlungsfuÈ
lle des Seins).
106 As he claims that Being

will not send us a new fate (Geschick) unless we meditate on the sense of the
present one, such a turning in being requires (2) that we turn toward Being, trying
to grasp the sense of the present epoch of technology, and, indeed, the sense of
history as the concealment of Being in metaphysics. This turn of humans toward
Being will prepare a new fate, and it will prepare the ®nal turn (Kehre) of Being
toward us.
107 As we saw in section 11, above, the requirement of our turning
toward Being is a postmonotheist analogue of the Christian requirement that we
open our hearts to God. (3) Such a preparatory human turn toward Being is an
answer to the claim (Anspruch) or call (Zuspruch) of Being, so that Being has
always already turned itself to us, albeit in the paradoxical manner of turning
away from us. When Being will ®nally reveal itself to us in the Event of the other
Beginning, that is, by the turn in its primary sense, we humans will be trans-
formed, and this is a turn in us (Wandlung,Verwandlung) in a fourth sense (4).
I interpreted the latter event as a postmonotheist analogue of the Christian trans-
formation or rebirth of man by divine grace. Finally (5), Heidegger's notion of
die Kehreas applied to his own development afterSein und Zeitmust be seen as
an individual instance of a turn in sense (2). For Heidegger holds that the primary
Kehreis yet to come.
B. From ªBeing and Timeº to ªTime and Beingº
Both in the ªBrief uÈ
ber den `Humanismus' º and in the letter to Richardson,
Heidegger says that the turn in the primary and fundamental sense is a turn from
ªBeing and Timeº to ªTime and Being.º In the latter epistle he adds that this turn
is not primarily a process in questioning thought; it belongs to theSachverhalt
itself, which is designated by the titles ªBeing and Timeº and ªTime and Being.º
According to the postmonotheist interpretation, we should only expect that the
turn occurs in theSachverhalt, as I explained above. But why is this primary turn
a turn from ªBeing and Timeº to ªTime and Beingº? In order to answer this
question, we should analyze Heidegger's lecture ªZeit und Seinº of 1962.
The lecture ªZeit und Seinº as published inZur Sache des Denkens(Concern-
ing the Topic of Thought) consists of an introduction (pp. 1±5) and three move-
ments, one onSein, one onZeit, and one onEs gibt. The German expressiones
gibtmeans ªthere is . . . º or ªthere are . . . ,º but it is crucial for Heidegger that
gibtis the present tense third-person singular of the verbgeben, which means
ªto give.º
In the ®rst movement of the lecture, Heidegger distinguishes two meanings of
the wordSein, having rejected the sense of ªBeingº as a founding entity (Grund).
In one sense, for which Heidegger usesSeinin this lecture, being is given byEs
gibt.Seinin the second sense isEs gibtitself, and Heidegger says that in the act
of giving,Es gibtwithdraws itself in favor ofSein.
110 All this sounds utterly
obscure, until one realizes that Beingthat gives(Es gibt) is postmonotheist Being
(das SeyninBeitraÈ
ge), and being whichis givenis being in the Neo-Hegelian

sense (das Sein). The ®rst movement turns out to be yet another formulation of
Heidegger's postmonotheist analogue of creation and the Fall, according to which
Being (Es gibt) withdraws itself in favor of the fundamental stances (Sein), which
are sent to us as epochs of history. This interpretation is con®rmed by the fact
that Heidegger develops the theme of authentic history in the remainder of the
®rst movement, using his habitual puns onschicken,Geschick,Geschichte, and
. It is also corroborated by Heidegger's reference to Hegel's dia-
lectics as ªthe most colossal thinking of the modern era,º for Heidegger's Neo-
Hegelian theory of history is a reversal of Hegel's theory, as we saw in section
9C, above.
In the second movement of the lecture, Heidegger claims that time has four
dimensions. Apart from the three dimensions of authentic time (eigentliche Zeit),
there is a fourth dimension, because the unity of these three dimensions is
grounded in a ªpassing-on-toº (Zuspiel). ThisZuspielis a ªhandingº or ªgivingº
(Reichen), and time is a gift fromEs gibt.
112 Again, this text will seem to be
abstruse, until it is clari®ed by the postmonotheist interpretation. What Heidegger
wants to say is that time itself is administered to us by Being in the postmonotheist
sense (Es gibt), and that by giving this very gift, Being conceals itself and remains
mysterious (raÈ
This interpretation is con®rmed by the third movement, which discussesEs
gibtitself. The verbgebeninEs gibtturns out to refer to what Heidegger usually
callsschicken, and to thereichenof time. Sending (schicken) epochs of being and
handing over (reichen) time belong together, because theEsthat sends and gives
is the Event (das Ereignis) or theSach-Verhalt.
113 As we already know,Ereignis
is another term for Being or the happening of Being in the postmonotheist sense,
and for its turns toward us and away from us. We are not surprised to read, then,
that Heidegger's aim in the lecture is to direct our attention to Being as the Event,
and that Being disappears in the Event.
114 By re¯ecting on Being's self-conceal-
ment, Heidegger tries to prepare for a second coming of Being.
On the basis of this postmonotheist and Neo-Hegelian interpretation of the
lecture, we are now able to guess what Heidegger means when he characterizes
the turn (die Kehre) as a turn from ªBeing and Timeº to ªTime and Being.º The
title ªBeing and Timeº stands for the ®rst turn of Being, when Being turned itself
away from us, giving us the time of real history.
115 As in Hegel, history is consid-
ered as Being's revelation in, or as, time, a revelation by which Being also con-
ceals itself. The reversal of the title to ªTime and Beingº points to the second
turn, the turn from history to Being itself. As Heidegger says in the letter to
Richardson, the turn ªis inherent in the verySachverhaltdesignated by the head-
ings: `Being and Time,' `Time and Being.' º
Is it far-fetched to suppose that by characterizing the second turn in this manner,
Heidegger endorsed a postmonotheist analogue of the Christian doctrine of the
End of Time, at which history as we know it will be substituted by some-
thing essentially better? The interval between Being's ®rst turn and Being's

second turn would be the era of metaphysics, in which Being conceals itself.
Metaphysics is productionist, and the stances of productionist metaphysics are as
many stages in an ever-deeper Fall, which is completed in the era of technology.
This era, Heidegger suggests, might last very long. But because ªwhere danger
is, the saving power grows,º the end of the era of technology will be the end of
time and history as we know them. There will be a turn from time or history to
Being itself. The early Christians believed with Papias that after Christ's second
coming, there will be a millennium during which the kingdom of the Savior will
be set up in material form on the earth (Rome now considers this doctrine as a
heresy). Similarly, Heidegger conceives of the second turn as a new or other
beginning (andere Anfang). This further similarity between Heidegger's later
works and (early) Christianity corroborates the postmonotheist interpretation,
which accounts for the turn as described by the later Heidegger. Yet a number of
dif®culties remain.
C. Heidegger's Pascalian Grand Strategy
A ®rst dif®culty is concerned with the relation between two separate turns from
ªBeing and Timeº to ªTime and Being.º I gave a postmonotheist interpretation
of the turn as portrayed in the lecture ªZeit und Sein.º But this turn seems to be
different from the turn from ªBeing and Timeº to ªTime and Beingº that was
planned inSein und Zeit, a turn that I discussed in section 9C, above. At ®rst
sight, the turn as planned inSein und Zeitwas simply another spiraling movement
in the hermeneutical circle that involves being and Dasein. From ancient Greece
on, notions of being had been speci®ed by temporal criteria.
118 It was the of®cial
aim ofSein und Zeitto account for this fact in two steps. In a ®rst step, which
encompasses divisions 1 and 2 and which leads from being to time, a transcenden-
tal notion of time was developed by an ontological analysis of Dasein. In a second
step, which leads back from time to being, Heidegger wanted to spell out a uni®ed
notion of being within the horizon of transcendental time, and to show how spe-
ci®c notions of being could be developed from the uni®ed notion, using temporal
criteria. This second step would be the content of the third division ofSein und
Zeit, entitled ªZeit und Sein.º Clearly, a turn was planned in the structure ofSein
und Zeit, and this turn might be described as a turn from ªSein und Zeitº to ªZeit
und Sein.º However, the third division ofSein und Zeitwas never published, and
it seems that Heidegger later substituted for this turn a very different turn, the
postmonotheist turn that I interpreted above (§ 13A±B). If this is the case, how
can Heidegger claim that there is only one turn, and that this turn was already
anticipated inSein und Zeit?
119 It seems that Heidegger illegitimately projects
back his later postmonotheist notion of a turn into his earlier book. Why does he
do so? Can we justify his procedure?
This ®rst dif®culty is related to a second one, that of dating the incipience of
the thought of the turn in Heidegger's career (see the introduction to § 10, above).

In the letter to Richardson, Heidegger says that ªtheSachverhaltthought in the
termKehrewas already at work in my thinking ten years prior to 1947.º
120 Ac-
cording to this quotation, the turn would have occurred around 1937, when he
was writingBeitraÈ
ge zur Philosophie. If this is the case, how can Heidegger claim
that theKehrehad already been planned ten years earlier, inSein und Zeit? How
are we to resolve the contradiction between Heidegger's datings of the turn?
I want to suggest that these two problems may be solved by the following
hypothesis. It is plausible to assume that the Pascalian strategy, which I discussed
in section 12C, was not only a model that the later Heidegger used in order to
unify hisDenkwegby hindsight. He also followed this strategy when he was
writingSein und Zeit. This hypothesis uni®es Heidegger'sDenkwegin a radical
manner. If it is correct, Heidegger's entire oeuvre, from the early courses on the
phenomenology of religion in 1918±21 to the latest writings, was informed by a
uni®ed scheme, a Pascalian Grand Strategy, of which the secular phenomenology
of human existence inSein und Zeitwas the ®rst stage, whereas the second stage
consists of the postmonotheist writings published after the Second World War.
Let me ®rst explain how this hypothesis solves the second dif®culty, that of
dating the incipience of the turn. Inherent in the Pascalian strategy is a notion of
faith as granted by divine grace. There is no way to merit faith or to obtain it by
bargaining with God. The only manner to prepare ourselves for the grace of faith
is to analyze the human condition in its harshness, and to show that mostly we
try to escape from it into dispersion (®rst stage of the strategy). Heidegger en-
dorsed the notion of faith as divine grace and revelation, which is also Paul's and
Luther's notion, both inSein und Zeitand in ªPhaÈ
nomenologie und Theologieº
of 1927.
This notion of faith implies that we can neither predict the moment of grace
nor describe its content beforehand. As Paul says in his ®rst letter to theThessa-
lonians(5:2), ªthe day of the Lord will come like a thief in the nightº; hence we
must keep awake for the Moment to come (kairos,Augenblick). Moreover, it
might be very dif®cult to recognize the moment of grace when it arrives. We
might think that it has arrived, try to describe the contents of this revelation (sec-
ond stage of the strategy), and then feel that it simply was not it. That Heidegger's
later notion ofKehreis a postmonotheist analogue of this Neo-Lutheran notion
of grace is demonstrated by the lecture ªDie Kehreº of 1949 and by the letter to
Buchner of 1950. In ªDie Kehreº Heidegger stresses that nobody knows when
and how the turn will happen in history.
122 And Heidegger wrote to Buchner that
if one attempts to hear the claim or address (Anspruch) of Being, it is very easy
to mishear it, and that the possibility of a blind alley is greatest in the kind of
thinking that wants to listen and hear.
123 Should we not assume that Heidegger
describes his own experiences with the turn as anticipated inSein und Zeit?
Let us suppose, then, thatSein und Zeitwas written as an attempt to prepare
us and Heidegger himself for grace by a secular analysis of the human condition
(®rst stage). Let us also suppose that Heidegger initially thought that grace had

come, and that he tried to express it in metaphysical terms, using the traditional
(Eckhartian) notion of Being as God (second stage). But this attempt at expressing
the turn failed, as Heidegger admits in the ªBrief uÈ
ber den `Humanismus.' º
Later, when he wroteBeitraÈ
ge zur Philosophiein 1936±38, Heidegger found a
more adequate, postmonotheist language for describing the anticipated turn. 125
This hypothesis would justify the identi®cation of the later notion of a turn with
the turn as anticipated inSein und Zeit. For according to Heidegger's Lutheran
conception of faith as grace, the anticipation of the turn cannot have any speci®c
content. It is only by hindsight, after having heard the call of Being properly, that
we can realize what the content of our anticipation should have been. As Heideg-
ger wrote to Richardson, ªa good number of years are needed before the thinking
through of so decisive aSachverhaltcan ®nd its way to the clear.º
Summarizing the proposed solution to the second problem, we might say that,
because of Heidegger's notion of faith, the incipience of the turn cannot be dated
with precision. Having completed the ®rst stage of the Pascalian strategy by writ-
ingSein und Zeit, Heidegger was waiting for grace from 1927 on. There were at
least two speci®c attempts to receive grace, a ªmetaphysicalº one in 1927±30,
when Heidegger held his inaugural lectureWas ist Metaphysik?and tried to
awaken our fundamental boredom (the fact that Being is hidden) in the magistral
lectures of 1929±30 on the fundamental concepts of metaphysics, and a ªpost-
metaphysicalº one in 1936±38, when he wroteBeitraÈ
ge zur Philosophie. Both
attempts might be called a turn in sense (5) above (§ 13A).
Does my hypothesis also solve the ®rst problem, that even though Heidegger's
later turn from ªBeing and Timeº to ªTime and Beingº is very different from the
early turn to ªTime and Beingº as planned inSein und Zeit, Heidegger identi®es
the two turns? Surely, it is not dif®cult to reinterpret theterminus a quoof the
early turn,Sein und Zeit, in terms of Heidegger's later thought, using the strategy
of reinterpretation prescribed in ªPhaÈ
nomenologie und Theologie,º a strategy that
Heidegger himself later applied when he recycled the existentialia (see § 12C,
above). IfSein und Zeitis a religiously neutral description of the human condition,
forming the ®rst stage of a Pascalian strategy, one might very well say that it
expresses the experience of oblivion of Being in the sense of the later Heidegger.
Sein und Zeitis situated within the realm of historical time, in which Being with-
drew from us. This is indeed what Heidegger says inBeitraÈ
geand the ªBrief uÈ
den `Humanismus.' º
However, the dif®culty was rather concerned with theterminus ad quemof the
turn, ªTime and Being.º Here a reinterpretation along Pascalian lines is more
problematic, because the hermeneutical reversal of ªBeing and Timeº to ªTime
and Beingº as planned inSein und Zeitis very different indeed from Heidegger's
later postmonotheist reversal. Yet there are many reasons for endorsing the hy-
pothesis that Heidegger anticipated some kind of religiousKehreinSein und Zeit
itself. First, when discussing the reversal ofSein und Zeitin section 9C, above, I
noted that some texts do not ®t in with the hermeneutical and transcendental view

of this reversal. Heidegger says, for instance, that Being is ªhigherº than beings,
and this points to a religious meaning of ªBeing.º If the ultimate point ofSein
und Zeitwas a religious one, Heidegger was justi®ed in identifying the turn to
ªTime and Beingº as anticipated in that book with his later turn. We discovered
similar hints to a religious (Neo-Platonist) connotation of ªBeingº in Heidegger's
lectures on theFundamental Problems of Phenomenologyof 1927, which contain
an abortive sketch of the third division ofSein und Zeit.
Second, we should not forget that Heidegger developed the notion of method-
ological atheism as a preparation for grace already in the Natorp essay of 1922
(see § 11, above). Moreover, Heidegger says in a footnote to ªVom Wesen des
Grundesº of 1929 that although the ontology of Dasein inSein und Zeitdoes not
contain a decision against or in favor of ªa possible being-to-God,º it yields a
notion of Dasein on the basis of which we mightaskwhat the relation of Dasein
to God might be ontologically.
128 The fact thatSein und Zeitdoes not contain such
a decision ®ts in with the Pascalian strategy and with Heidegger's notion of faith
as grace. According to this Lutheran notion of faith, Dasein can never establish
a relation to God by its own decision, because only God is able to decide about
this relation, and the ontology of faith can be developed only from the point of
view of faith.
129 In other words, Heidegger endorsed a Pascalian strategy both in
1922 and in 1929, so that it is plausible to assume that he also endorsed it while
writingSein und Zeit.
130 As I said before, it is no objection that the Pascalian
strategy is not expressed in the book itself, for expressing it would prevent its
success (see § 12C, above). It is revealing that when Heidegger describes the
strategy at all, he does so in footnotes.
Third, the hypothesis that Heidegger endorsed the Pascalian strategy already
in 1927 is corroborated by his lectures on Leibniz and logic of the summer semes-
ter of 1928. These lectures contain the termKehrefor the ®rst time, in an appendix
on the idea and function of a fundamental ontology.
131 Even if the termKehre
were a later interpolationÐas Heidegger wanted the collected works to be an
editionaus letzter Hand, he ruled that later additions should be integrated into
the texts without critical footnotesÐthe notion of a religious turn is suggested by
the lectures themselves. Let me merely note two salient points. In section 10 of
the lectures, entitled ªThe Problem of Transcendence and the Problem of Being
and Time,º Heidegger gives a summary of the problem of transcendence as it was
developed inSein und Zeit. This summary differs from the book in an interesting
way. The notion ofZerstreuung(diversion), which was marginal inSein und Zeit,
suddenly becomes the central idea. Heidegger even speaks of a ªtranscendental
diversion,º and claims that this diversion explains that humans are able to let
themselves be supported by nature and that Dasein is able to be with others.
132 In
other words, Heidegger interprets our entire worldly existence as a product of
transcendental diversion. This peculiar view comes very close to Pascal, who
argued inLes PenseÂ
esthat human life in general is characterized bydivertisse-
ment. It also reminds us of Neo-Platonism, according to which the One is diversi-

®ed by the admixture of matter. In both cases, becoming conscious of our diver-
sion is a condition for opening our hearts to God.
The appendix to section 10 of the lectures, in which the termKehreoccurs,
equally points to a religious turn. In this appendix, Heidegger construes the rela-
tions among fundamental ontology, ontology, and metaphysics along Kantian
134 Metaphysics consists of fundamental ontology and ªmetontology.º 135 Fun-
damental ontology embraces (1) the transcendental analysis of Dasein and (2) the
analysis of the temporality of being. Metontology (meta-ontology) is concerned
with being in its totality (das Seiende im Ganzen).
136 Now Heidegger says that
there is a turn (Umschlag) from fundamental ontology to metontology. The reason
is that Dasein, which understands and projects being, is itself part of the totality
of beings. In other words, Dasein is able to understand being only because a
possible totality of being is already present.
137 The problem that Heidegger raises
here is inherent in transcendental philosophy from Kant to Schopenhauer and
Husserl: if the transcendental subject constitutes the totality of beings, the consti-
tuting subject must be part of the constituted totality, because it is a being itself.
Therefore, transcendental philosophy turns into (met)ontology. Heidegger now
uses the wordKehrefor this reversal (Umschlag), and says that the analysis of
the temporality of being is theKehrefrom fundamental ontology to metontology
or metaphysical ontics.
138 At ®rst sight, thisKehredoes not have a religious conno-
tation. But at the end of the appendix, Heidegger suddenly says that theKehre
transformsthefundamental problem of philosophy itself, which is contained in
Aristotle's dual notion of philosophy as ®rst philosophy and theology.
139 Although
Heidegger rejected the philosophy of the Scholastics in 1919, he seems to have
retained one crucial notion, that re¯ection on the totality of beings might lead us
to Being.
140 If this is the case, the two possible interpretations of the turn to ªTime
and Beingº as planned inSein und Zeitare united, and the hypothesis that the
ultimate intentions of that book were religious is con®rmed yet again.
There is a fourth and wholly explicit corroboration of the thesis that Heidegger
composedSein und Zeitwith the Pascalian strategy in mind. On 12 September
1929, Heidegger wrote a letter to his friend Elisabeth Blochmann, apparently after
an intimate stay at Heidegger's hut in Todtnauberg and a visit to the monastery
at Beuron. He seems to apologize for having gone too farÐor not far enough?Ð
in their friendship during these shared summer days; the letter is not clear in this
142 Then he writes about the truth of our Dasein. This is not a simple thing,
he says, and our inner truthfulness has its own depth and multiplicity. It does not
consist only of rational considerations made up by us. The truth of our existence
needs its own day and hour, in which we ªhave our Dasein as a whole.º Then we
experience ªthat in all that is essential, our heart must keep itself open to grace.º
For ªGod . . . calls each of us with a different voice.º
It is clear fromSein und Zeit, sections 45±53, that we ªhave our Dasein as a
wholeº only when we authentically anticipate death. In this letter to Blochmann,
Heidegger interprets such a poignant sense of our own death, which enables us

to grasp Dasein as a whole, as a preparation for the leap to faith, which opens our
heart to God's grace. At the end ofWas ist Metaphysik?Heidegger also spoke of
the fundamental possibilities of Dasein as a whole, and of a leap into nothing-
144 Eckhart had taught that we have to release ourselves and to leap into
nothingness in order to experience Being or God. As is the case in Pascal, it seems
that Heidegger's analysis of the ªwholenessº of Dasein as being-toward-death in
Sein und Zeitshould be read as an anticipation of grace. The letter to Blochmann
of 12 September 1929 shows that at that time Heidegger still thought that grace
would come from the Christian God, even though he makes abundantly clear that
he rejects conventional Catholicism and Protestantism.
145 In the manner of mystics
such as Eckhart, he speaks of the necessity of being ªready for the night,º and of
abstaining from barring the way to the depth of Dasein.
Heidegger's lectures of 1928 imply that the turn is a turnwithinmetaphysics,
and metaphysics is taken in a positive sense, as it is inWas ist Metaphysik?of
1929 and inGrundbegriffe der Metaphysik(Fundamental Concepts of Metaphys-
ics), Heidegger's impressive course of 1929±30. This con®rms what Heidegger
says in the ªBrief uÈ
ber den `Humanismus' º: that inSein und Zeithe anticipated
ametaphysicalturn, which failed.
147 I have assumed thatSein und Zeitwas written
as an attempt to ®nd God in some metaphysical sense. As I will argue in sections
14 and 15, it is likely that the failure of this ®rst turn motivated in part Heidegger's
enthusiasm for Hitler and Nietzsche. But this voluntaristic enthusiasm for Nazism
in 1932±36 led to a second failure, the failure of the rectorate. On 1 July 1935,
Heidegger wrote to Karl Jaspers that he was wrestling to overcome two thorns,
the ®asco of the rectorate and the religion of his origin.
148 I will argue that Heideg-
ger's later postmonotheist philosophy of the turn was the outcome of this inner
struggle (see §§ 14±15).
D. From the Essence of Truth to the Truth of Being
Before I do so, one more dif®culty has to be removed. Thus far, I have attempted
to explain why theKehremay be described as a turn from ªBeing and Timeº to
ªTime and Being,º and I have tried to justify the fact that Heidegger identi®es
his later turn with the turn as anticipated inSein und Zeit. There is yet another
description of the turn. According to the ªBrief uÈ
ber den `Humanismus,' º the
lecture ªVom Wesen der Wahrheitº (ªOn the Essence of Truthº) of 1930, pub-
lished after many redraftings in 1943, provides a certain insight into the thinking
of the turn from ªBeing and Timeº to ªTime and Being.º
149 Obviously, Heidegger
meant the lecture as published in 1943, and not its ®rst draft of 1930, which does
not yet contain the later notion of the turn.
150 The problem is, however, that in
this lecture, the turn is characterized as a turn from ªThe Essence of Truthº (das
Wesen der Wahrheit) to ªThe Truth of Beingº (die Wahrheit des Wesens), and not
as a turn from ªBeing and Timeº to ªTime and Beingº.
151 What is the relation
between this ªveritativeº turning and the ªonto-temporalº turning that I discussed

above? And what does the veritative turning mean? Let me ®rst try to answer the
second question on the basis of a summary of ªVom Wesen der Wahrheit.º
The text of 1943 consists of a brief introduction, eight short sections, and a
note that was added partly in 1943 and partly in 1949. In the introduction, Heideg-
ger claims that philosophy is incommensurable with common sense, because it
asks essential questions about essentials (Wesensfragen). Heidegger then develops
the following train of thought. The traditional notion of Truth asadaequatio rei
et intellectus(§ 1) presupposes that judgments can be adapted to things (Anglei-
chung). But this presupposes in its turn that there is an open region (das Offene
eines Bezirks) or an open comportment (offenstaÈ
ndiges Verhalten) in which things
are manifest. Heidegger calls this open region ªthe essence of Truthº (das Wesen
der Wahrheit), in contrast to propositional truth (§ 2). He further claims that such
an open comportment is based on freedom, and concludes that ªthe essence of
Truth is freedomº (§ 3).
Up to this point, Heidegger's argument in ªVom Wesen der Wahrheitº resem-
bles section 44 ofSein und Zeit, in which Heidegger developed a transcendental
notion of Truth as Dasein's being uncovering. Because Dasein's being uncovering
is a kind of projecting (Entwurf), it may be said to be based on freedom, and this
is what Heidegger argued in ªVom Wesen des Grundesº of 1929.
153 However, at
the end of section 3 of ªVom Wesen der Wahrheit,º Heidegger claims that it is a
preconception to think that freedom is a property of man. What, then, is freedom?
Our preconceptions will be unsettled only if we are ªprepared for a transforma-
tion in our thinking.º
154 Clearly, the necessity of a turn is announced here. Free-
dom, Heidegger says in section 4, is ªto let beings beº (das Seinlassen von Seien-
dem), and by letting beings be, freedom performs the essence of Truth in the sense
of revealing beings.
155 Man does not possess freedom. Rather, freedom possesses
man, because ªit gives to man in safekeeping the history of the essential possibili-
ties of historical humanity in the disclosure of beings as a totality.º
156 However,
when freedom attunes (abstimmen) our behavior to a totality of beings, a tuning
that reveals itself to us in moods (Stimmung), this totality as such remains undeter-
mined (das Unbestimmte,Unbestimmbare), so that freedom, in revealing particu-
lar beings, conceals the totality (§ 5).
This concealment preserves what is most proper to Truth as its own (das Eigen-
ste als Eigentum). To the essence of Truth belongs its terrible un-essence (Un-
wesen) or authentic un-Truth (eigentliche Un-wahrheit), and this is the mystery
(das Geheimnis). ªBut surely for those who know . . . the un- of . . . un-Truth
points to the still unexperienced domain of the Truth of Beingº (§ 6).
157 Un-Truth
means that man is astray in errancy (Irre). Having turned to available and common
things (das Gangbare), humanity is turned away from the mystery. Such is man's
errancy or madness (Irre), which belongs to the inner constitution of Dasein.
However, when man assumes the openness of beings in its primordial essence,
ªresolute openness [Ent-schlossenheit] toward the mystery is under way into er-
rancy as such,º and the question of Being is raised. Then we will see why the

Essence of Truth is related to the Truth of Being (§ 7).
158 Accordingly, we have
to wonder whether the question of the essence of Truth (das Wesen der Wahrheit)
must not be at the same time a question concerning the Truth of Being (die Wahr-
heit des Wesens) (§ 8).
159 In the note, Heidegger adds that the question of the
essence of Truth is answered by the nonpropositional saying that ªdas Wesen der
Wahrheit ist die Wahrheit des Wesens,º where ªWesenº meansSeynand ªWahr-
heitº means sheltering that clears (lichtendes Bergen) as the basic characteristic
of Being. He claims that this answer is the saying of a turn within the history of
As the reader will agree, the lecture ªVom Wesen der Wahrheitº is no less
abstruse than ªZeit und Seinº of 1962. But again, obscurity vanishes as soon as
it is read in the light of the postmonotheist interpretation. It is Being itself that
freely sends truths to humanity, where ªTruthº means a historical epoch in which
entitiesarein a certain sense. This is what Heidegger means bydas Wesen der
Wahrheit. Of course, the term ªWesenº does not mean essence in this context,
even though it is commonly translated in this manner.Wesen, Heidegger says in
ge zur Philosophie, should be understood asWesung, a neologism that
means the way in which Beingis.
161 According to Heidegger's postmonotheist
theory of creation and revelation, Being conceals itself in the process of revealing
entities to us, so that humanity is going astray, andUn-wahrheitbelongs toWahr-
162 As soon as we remind ourselves ofdas Wesen der Wahrheitin this sense,
we will anticipate the insight that it stems fromDie Wahrheit des Wesens, that is,
from the true way in which Being ªis,º as revealing and concealing. This insight
is provided by theKehre, which the lecture helps prepare.
We come to the conclusion that the essays ªVom Wesen der Wahrheitº and
ªZeit und Seinº describe two aspects of one and the same turn. Whereas ªZeit
und Seinº focuses on the temporal aspect of Heidegger's postmonotheist analogue
of creation and revelation, ªVom Wesen der Wahrheitº describes its ontological
aspect. These two aspects cannot be separated and they are identical in the end.
For according to Heidegger, the domain of revealed truth (Entbergung) is essen-
tially temporal and historical (geschichtlich). It is the domain of deep or authentic
history, in which beings are manifest to Dasein and Being conceals itself.
§ 14. H
Having discussed in sections 12 and 13 the forms of synthesis that connect Hei-
degger's later works as published after the war toSein und Zeit, I now turn to
the intermediate period of 1927±46. During this period, Heidegger entangled him-
self in National Socialism and developed the fundamental leitmotifs of his later
thought, the Neo-Hegelian theme and the postmonotheist leitmotif. It has been
assumed that the genesis of Heidegger's later philosophy is unrelated to the
turmoil of the time, and indeed, the development of Heidegger's thought has

an inner logic, the logic of the Pascalian strategy. Nevertheless, there are at
least three compelling reasons for examining possible links between Nazism and
Heidegger's philosophy. In order to provide some background to the present sec-
tion, I will advance these reasons before specifying the issues with which I want
to deal.
The ®rst reason is that on 22 April 1933, six years after the publication ofSein
und Zeit, Heidegger became rector of Freiburg University, and that, having en-
tered the National Socialist Party with great pomp on the ®rst of May, he was
instrumental in theGleichschaltung(forcing into the Party line) of that university
by the Nazi regime, which had seized power on 30 January 1933.
163 Many of
Heidegger's pupils have depicted the episode of the rectorate as an isolated intru-
sion of political reality in Heidegger's apolitical life, an intrusion unconnected to
Heidegger's philosophy. Like Plato's Sicilian adventure, Heidegger's rectorate
would have been due to the illusions of an unworldly philosopher about political
reality. The comparison with Plato is only too ®ttingÐHeidegger lectured on
Plato's notion of Truth and on the simile of the cave shortly before and during
the rectorate, and he quoted Plato'sRepublicat the end of the rectoral addressÐ
but it does not show what it is meant to prove: that there is no intimate relation
between the rectorate and Heidegger's philosophy.
164 On the contrary, it suggests
that Heidegger had philosophical motives for becoming a rector at this crucial
moment of German history.
Like Plato, Heidegger believed in 1933 that the philosopher has a deeper insight
into reality than ordinary mortals, who are imprisoned in the cave, as Plato's
simile says. This insight would enable the philosopher to give spiritual and politi-
cal guidance to his people. The German university had to be transformed on the
basis of philosophy, Heidegger argued in his rectoral address, in order to educate
the ªleaders and guardians of the destiny of the GermanVolk.º
165 Admittedly,
Heidegger's view of the essence of the German university did not coincide with
the view of the anti-intellectual National Socialist movement, if only because the
Nazis did not have a uni®ed conception of universities at all, and probably wanted
to downgrade the existing institutions to some kind of polytechnics. This is why
Heidegger could say after the war that by becoming a rector, he had wanted to
prevent the imminent supremacy of the Party within the university, and to save
and stabilize what was positive.
166 Nonetheless, Heidegger thought that the destiny
of the German people required for its ful®llment Hitler's dictatorship, the ruthless
nature of which had become clear in April 1933, and that it required the liquida-
tion of traditional academic freedom and the introduction of aFuÈ
(principle of leadership) within the universities.
167 In his speech in TuÈ
bingen on
30 November 1933, Heidegger stated these claims clearly, and he tried to put
them into practice with great zeal. He also pointed out that the real revolution
within the universities had not even begun, and, paraphrasing Nietzsche, he said
that the present generation of Germans was merely transitory, merely a sacri®ce.

Although Heidegger and Plato shared the doctrine that the philosopher should
lead his people, because he is supposed to see deeper into the nature of reality
than other human beings, their conceptions of philosophical leadership turn out
to be rather different. Whereas Plato was horri®ed by the fact that Athenian de-
mocracy condemned Socrates to death, thereby sacri®cing an individual for the
sake of political and religious correctness, Heidegger seemed relatively uncon-
cerned about the fate of individuals for pseudo-Nietzschean reasons. The future
greatness of Germany made it necessary to sacri®ce oneself, and, perhaps, others.
As a rector, Heidegger wrote to the staff and faculties of Freiburg University on
20 December 1933: ªthe individual, wherever he stands, does not count. What
counts only, is the destiny [Schicksal] of our people [unseres Volkes] in their
169 If this totalitarian view explains the fact that Heidegger was not bothered
by the creation of concentration camps and the elimination of Jews from German
academia in 1933, there are ample grounds for investigating the relations between
Nazism and his philosophy.
There is yet a second reason for discussing the political dimension of Heideg-
ger's works. When he had to justify himself in 1945, and later in the interview
withDer Spiegeland in the account on the rectorate written in 1945 and published
in 1983, Heidegger concealed the extent of his involvement with the National
Socialist Party. Whereas he claimed that he had no contacts with the Party
and no political involvements before April 1933, Heidegger's election as a rector
seems to have been carefully staged by a group of National Socialists within
Freiburg University, and in private Heidegger had committed himself to Hitler as
early as 1932 or perhaps even Christmas 1931.
171 Furthermore, while Heidegger
claimed that as a rector he never participated in political meetings and had
had no personal or political contacts with Party of®cials,
172 he in fact sent a
telegram to Hitler about the tactics of theGleichschaltungon 20 May 1933; he
approved of semimilitary training of students; on 3 November 1933 he urged on
the German students a blind loyalty to Hitler and a readiness to sacri®ce; he
publicly supported Hitler's decision to leave the League of Nations on 11 Novem-
ber 1933; and he denounced the outstanding chemist Staudinger on 10 February
173 Finally, whereas Heidegger suggests in his account published in 1983
that he was isolated from the National Socialists after February 1934, 174 in reality
he was involved in a project for a National Socialist academy of teachers in
August 1934; he destroyed the careers of his Catholic pupils Gustav Siewerth and
Max MuÈ
ller in 1938 on the grounds that they did not favor the National Socialist
state and that a Catholic could not be a real philosopher; in spite of attacks on his
philosophy by Krieck and other Nazi-ideologues, he was still considered as ªa
party member and champion of National Socialismº from 1934 to 1945; and in
his lectures of 1942 he could still speak of ªthe historical uniquenessº of National
It may be thought that Heidegger's dishonesty about his political past does not
compromise his philosophy. His attitude may be seen as typical of the Adenauer

epoch, in which Western Germany was rebuilt as a democratic state and most
Germans were not willing to dig into the horrors and moral complexities of the
Nazi regime and the war. At worst, it seems, one might reproach Heidegger for
not being more courageous and more sincere than the majority of his fellow coun-
trymen, which one might expect of a philosopher who once considered himself a
spiritual leader of his people and who de®ned leadership as ªthe strength to be
able to go on alone.º
176 Why, then, should Heidegger's apologetic strategy after
the war be relevant to his philosophy?
The problem is that Heidegger himself drew his works into the ambiguous
twilight of his political apologetics. In the account of the rectorate published in
1983, he spends nearly four pages on an authoritative interpretation of the rectoral
address, accusing of malice those who read the address differently.
177 According
to Heidegger's interpretation, the termWehrdienst, for instance, did not mean
military service. The stemWehr- was meant in the sense of self-defense.
178 Simi-
larly, the wordKampfdid not refer to battle or war. It should be understood as an
equivalent of the Greekpolemosas used by Heraclitus in fragment 53, which
Heidegger translates idiosyncratically as: to expose oneself to what is essential,
mutually respecting each other.
However, these later interpretations sound false if one tries to locate the rectoral
address in the context of the German situation in 1933, when students were urged
to join the SA (Sturmabteilung; stormtroopers) and the SS (Schutzstaffel; protec-
tive squadron of the Nazi Party). About theWehrdienst, Heidegger said in the
address that it is concerned with the obligations to ªthe honor and the destiny of
the nation between other peoples.º It would demand ªthe readiness for action to
the last, tightened by discipline.º
180 How can these phrases have referred to self-
defense only? No country was menacing Hitler's Germany at that time. It may
have been true that Heidegger privately thought of Heraclitus when he used the
wordKampfin the rectoral address, although he does not mention him. But how
should the audience in 1933 have known this, when Heidegger said, for instance,
that ªthe questionable nature of Being itself forces the people to work and to ®ght
[Kampf], and forces it into a state,º and that ªall capacities of the will and the
mind, all powers of the heart, and all bodily skills must be developedby®ght
[Kampf], increasedin®ght, and preservedas®ghtº?
181 The audience at the time
would have had associations with Hitler'sMein Kampf, and not with Heraclitus.
Moreover, instead of referring to Heraclitus, Heidegger quoted Carl von
Clausewitz immediately after this phrase onKampf, and we know that he advo-
cated Hitler's policy of including all German-speaking peoples within the German
182 Clearly, Heidegger put his gift for reinterpreting his own works to other
uses than purely postmonotheist ones.
We should be suspicious, then, not only regarding Heidegger's later account
of his political activities, but also regarding Heidegger's exegesis of his earlier
political philosophy. In the case of the rectoral address, this suspicion merely
concerns Heidegger's allegedly authoritative interpretations, and not the wording

of the text itself, which was published in 1933. But what should we think of
Heidegger's later editions of texts written between 1933 and 1945 or of the edition
of the collected works?
There are at least two clear cases where Heidegger without notice changed an
original text on Nazism in a later edition.
183 In his 1953 edition ofEinfuÈ
hrung in
die Metaphysik(1935), we read that ªwhat nowadays is offered everywhere as
the philosophy of National Socialism . . . has no relation at all to the inner truth
and greatness of this movement.º In parentheses, Heidegger then explains that
this inner truth and greatness consists in the encounter between planetary technol-
ogy and modern man.
184 Heidegger claims that he endorsed this explanation al-
ready in 1935, when he delivered the lectures, for he says in the preface that what
is printed between parentheses was written at the same time as the original text.
However, this is not probable.
185 Heidegger developed his views on ªplanetary
technologyº after 1935. It would have been easy to verify the reliability of Hei-
degger's edition by collating it with the manuscript, but Otto PoÈ
ggeler discovered
that the relevant page of the manuscript is missing.
186 Interestingly, the passage
between parentheses was lacking in the galley proofs of the edition of 1953. 187
We can only conclude that Heidegger added the text in brackets while reading
the proofs, thereby altogether reversing the meaning of the original lecture. 188
What Heidegger meant in 1935 was that his philosophy of Being was the only
valid foundation of National Socialism, whereas his philosophical rivals, such as
Krieck and Baumgarten, in the attempt to give a philosophical basis to Nazism
could not grasp the ªinner truth and greatness of this movement.º Incidentally,
Hitler frequently used the phrase ªinner truth and greatness of the movementº
when talking about the successes of his Party. The addition of 1953 means, on
the contrary, that Heidegger would have considered Nazism as ªa symptom of
the tragic collision of man and technology.º As such a symptom, Nazism would
have had its greatness ªbecause it affects the entirety of the West and threatens
to pull it into destruction.º At least, this was the interpretation developed by
Christian E. Lewalter in reply to Habermas's letter inFrankfurter Allgemeine
Zeitungof 25 July 1953.
189 Heidegger eagerly endorsed Lewalter's interpretation
in a letter toDie Zeit, published on 24 September 1953, adding that there was no
need to remove the passage on National Socialism, because ªthe lecture itself can
clarify it to a reader who has learned the craft of thinking.º
190 In short, Heidegger
lied about the origin of the passage between parentheses, offered an interpretation
of his text of 1935 that contradicts its original intentions, and accuses readers who
took the text at face value of not having learned the craft of thinking.
In a second case of textual manipulation, Heidegger apparently thought that
even those who master the craft of thinking would misunderstand him. From the
1971 edition by Hildegard Feick of his lectures on Schelling, given in the summer
of 1936, a passage on Hitler and Mussolini was omitted, in which Heidegger
said that these ªtwo men, who launched countermovements [against nihilism] in
Europe, based on the political organization of the nation, that is, of the people,

were . . . in¯uenced by Nietzsche.º In the text preceding the omitted passage,
Heidegger discussed Nietzsche's diagnosis of the modern era, according to which
this era is characterized by the rise of nihilism. Heidegger still endorsed
Nietzsche's de®nition of nihilism as the process of devaluation of values, which
causes an inner disintegration of human life. He saw Hitler and Mussolini as
leaders who attempted to ®ght nihilism and to revitalize their peoples, inspired
as they were by Nietzschean philosophy. After Karl Ulmer, a former philosophy
student, had noti®ed the public about this omission in a letter toDer Spiegel,the
editors of the collected works could not but publish the original text.
191 It is clear
why Heidegger omitted the passage on Hitler and Mussolini from the 1971 edi-
tion: it contradicts his later interpretation of Nietzsche as anexpressionof nihil-
ism, and it would explode Heidegger's strategy of projecting this later interpreta-
tion, which he developed after 1936, back into his earlier texts (see § 15, below).
Strangely enough, Ingrid SchuÈ
ûler, the editor of theGesamtausgabevolume 42,
does not breathe a word about this difference between the two editions in her
postscript to the volume.
From these examples we may conclude that not only Heidegger's later interpre-
tations of texts published between 1932 and 1945, but also the very editions of
texts that were written in this period but published after the war, may be contami-
nated by his attempt to launder his political past. In order to discover the extent
of this contamination, we should carefully compare Heidegger's postwar editions
of lecture courses delivered during the Hitler era with the editions in the collected
works. Even the edition of the collected works is not beyond suspicion. Heidegger
wanted the collected works to be his ®nal authorized edition, anAusgabe letzter
hand, as the prospectus says. To this end, he ruled that the editors should integrate
later additions into the texts themselves, adapting the style of the additions to the
style of the main text. Moreover, he did not want the edition to be a critical one.
There may have been many good reasons for this procedure. But how will the
reader be able to know whether it did not also serve Heidegger's apologetics?
I now come to the third reason why a discussion of Heidegger's relation to
Nazism is imperative, and this may very well be the most serious one. Although
after the war Heidegger tried to conceal the extent of his involvement with Na-
zism, in 1962 Guido Schneeberger reedited a number of texts published in 1933±
34, which clearly show Heidegger's Nazi convictions of the time. For instance,
in an address to the German students of 3 November 1933, Heidegger incited
them to participate in the National Socialist revolution, using an extremely mili-
tant rhetoric. Talents and privileges had to ªprove their worth by the power of
®ghting action in the struggle for itself of the entire peopleº; the ªcourage to
sacri®ce should grow incessantlyº; not maxims and ideas should be the rules of
life, but ªtheFuÈ
hrerhimself and aloneispresent-day and future German reality
and its law.º
192 In this text, Heidegger substitutes the authority of Hitler for the
claims of morality. The third reason for discussing Heidegger's relation to Nazism
is that Heidegger never of®cially and unambiguously retracted these and other

philosophical views, which makes him co-responsible for the horrors of Nazi
193 As Herbert Marcuse wrote to Heidegger on 28 August 1947, Heideg-
ger neither before nor after 1945 took back in public his Nazi doctrines of 1933. 194
He stayed in Nazi Germany, even though he could easily have found a post
abroad. And he never condemned publicly any of the crimes committed by the
National Socialist regime.
195 To Marcuse's request to express his views on the
liquidation of millions of Jews, Heidegger replied that this was not worse than
what the Allied countries had done to the Germans from the East, that is, to those
who were expelled from East Prussia and from the parts of Germany that were
handed over to the Poles after the war. In his second letter, Marcuse concluded
that by giving this reply, Heidegger had placed himself outside the sphere in
which intercourse between human beings is possible.
196 How could Heidegger
compare the genocide of the Jews to the forced migration and incidental murder
of the East Germans? And how could he assume that the responsibility for Nazi
crimes might be rejected with the argument that the Allied forces had done similar
things? Surely one cannot justify Heidegger's silence after the war by saying that,
if Heidegger had condemned National Socialism, he would have implied a greater
responsibility for its crimes than he in fact had, as Safranski argues.
197 Not only
would a public condemnation have implied nothing of the sort, but, more seri-
ously, Heidegger made himself as responsible for Hitler's crimes as a philosopher
qualitate quacan be, by substituting Hitler's authority for the claims of morality
and reason in 1933. As Paul Celan seems to have found out in 1967 and 1970,
Heidegger's refusal to condemn Nazi crimes lasted until the very end. It is at least
legitimate to question the extent to which this attitude regarding Nazi Germany
is connected to Heidegger's later philosophy.
Given these three reasons for investigating the relations between Heidegger's
philosophy and his National Socialist sympathies, it is not surprising that there is
an ever-growing stream of publications, even books, on Heidegger's Nazism.
Let me brie¯y summarize some results before ®xing the objectives of this section.
One might distinguish four approaches in the literature. The most basic task is to
establish the facts of Heidegger's Nazi past. There are a great number of expert
Heidegger scholars who have invested their philosophical careers in Heidegger.
For that reason they may not be eager to de®le Heidegger's name. It is no wonder,
then, that the most important embarrassing facts were established by philosophi-
cal outsiders such as Hugo Ott, Victor Farias, and Guido Schneeberger.
199 I have
summarized some of their results just now, but probably there is still a wealth of
material to be discovered in archives.
A second task is to compare Heidegger's attitude during the Hitler era with the
attitude of other German philosophers and intellectuals. Hans Sluga has studied
a sample of German philosophers who became members of the Nazi Party be-
tween 1932 and 1940. He concludes that when the totalitarian state was estab-
lished, the strife between philosophical factions in Germany was not abolished
but merely politicized. In order to survive within the system, National Socialist

philosophers had to argue that their views were close to Nazism, and many philos-
ophers claimed to have provided Nazism with philosophical foundations. Perhaps
this fact puts into perspective Heidegger's contention in 1936 that his political
involvement was based on the philosophy ofSein und Zeit.
200 But it also weakens
his claim that after 1934 he was attacked by the Party: an attack by Ernst Krieck
may have been nothing more than an assault by someone who competed with
Heidegger in the attempt to develop a philosophy of Nazism.
In the third place, we might look for passages in Heidegger's works that either
straightforwardly express Nazi doctrines or in which related views are developed.
As I suggested above, such an investigation should not be based on the edition
of the collected works, but on the manuscripts themselves, and it should take into
account all Heidegger's letters of the period. Having established a survey of the
relevant texts, one might then proceed to compare Heidegger's views with those
of successful Nazi ideologues such as A. Rosenberg, A. BaÈ
umler, E. Krieck,
H. Schwarz, H. Heyse, and others. It has been argued that Heidegger's philosophy
has nothing in common with National Socialism.
202 But this is an unphilosophical
statement: most views have something in common, and Heidegger's philosophy
as expressed in 1933±45 has much more in common with the Nazi ideology as
expressed inMein Kampfand Hitler's speeches than with, say, Carnap's logical
positivism. For instance, both Heidegger and Hitler rejected the values of the
Enlightenment and preferred an authoritarian way of thinking to the tradition of
free discussion and criticism. Both Hitler and Heidegger believed that they were
somehow sent by Destiny, and that their personal fate was essentially linked to
the destiny of the GermanVolk. Both Heidegger and Hitler talked often about
heroes, struggle (Kampf), and sacri®ce (Opfer), and held that the individual had
to sacri®ce himself or herself for the German people in their State. They both
rejected democracy and endorsed theFuÈ
hrerprinzip. Hitler's revolution has been
described as a revolution against reason, and Heidegger rejected logic in favor of
a ªturbulence of more original questioning.º Both Heidegger and Hitler were
revolutionaries who wanted to destroy traditional morality, Christianity, liberal
bourgeois society, humanism, and Marxism.
Admittedly, there are also differences between Heidegger's (later) philosophy
and Hitler's ideology. One should not expect that a trained philosopher would
agree completely with a self-educated political agitator. Heidegger could not en-
dorse Hitler's crude biologism and racism, if only because these doctrines
squarely contradict the fundamental tenet ofSein und Zeitand the later works,
that philosophy is the foundation of the sciences. Accordingly, Heidegger wanted
to provide Nazism with a proper philosophical foundation at least in 1933±35.
But if this philosophical foundation links revolutionary Germany to the Greeks,
as Heidegger argued in the rectoral address, this is not a great departure from the
of®cial Party line. Nazi ideologues compared Germany both with Rome and with
Greece, and according to the main founder of the racist doctrine, Houston Stuart
Chamberlain, the ancient Greeks had been predominantly Aryan.
203 We might say

that Heidegger aimed at substituting a spiritual version of Nazism for Hitler's
crude Darwinist version.
Do such parallelisms imply the conclusion that Heidegger's ªrelentless pursuit
of Being wascentrallyrelated to Nazism,º as Tom Rockmore argued in his book
onHeidegger's Nazism and Philosophy?
204 There are two reasons for being careful
at this point. First, many of the themes I mentioned are not speci®c to Nazism.
In fact, Hitler did not invent the ideological ingredients with which he concocted
his political doctrine. Both Heidegger and Hitler drew on a long tradition of Ger-
man nationalism and of romantic reactions against the Enlightenment, and this
might explain the fact that their views were similar on so many points.
205 Second,
we should investigate how central Heidegger's Nazi-like opinions are in relation
to his philosophy as a whole. Do these opinions belong essentially to Heidegger's
unique philosophical question, the question of being, so that ªthe concern with
Beingis itself intrinsically political,º as Rockmore claims?
206 Or are they rather
developments of Heidegger's philosophy that could have been different, given
the fundamental structures of his thought? In order to answer this question, we
need an interpretation of Heidegger's philosophy that distinguishes between fun-
damental structures and accidental details. Without an analysis of Heidegger's
philosophy as a whole, we can never conclude that his question of being is cen-
trally related to Nazism, instead of being peripherally related. Yet Rockmore, who
purports to establish the former conclusion, claims that it can be substantiated
without such a global analysis.
Clearly, there is a fourth objective for secondary literature on Heidegger's rela-
tion to National Socialism: to answer the question of how central this relation is
within the context of Heidegger's philosophy. For philosophers, this question will
be the main issue. In the eight previous sections, I have attempted to develop an
interpretation of Heidegger's philosophy. According to this interpretation, there
are ®ve fundamental leitmotifs in the question of being, which allegedly is the
only and unique question of philosophy. The aim of the present section is to
investigate the connections between these ®ve fundamental themes and Heideg-
ger's Nazism. As I developed my interpretation mostly without reference to Hei-
degger's entanglement with National Socialism, one will expect the negative con-
clusion that Nazism is not essential to the fundamental themes of Heidegger's
thought. It does not follow, however, that Heidegger's adherence to Nazism was
entirely accidental or peripheral. There is a spectrum of possible relations between
a philosophy and a political position, relations of many different kinds and of
different logical strengths, between the two extremes of ªcentralº and ªperiph-
eral.º Precisely because discussions of Heidegger's Nazism tend to be antagonis-
tic, dividing the participants into the two camps of Heidegger-advocates and Hei-
degger-prosecutors, we have to be speci®c and avoid the trap of partisanship.
I proceed in three stages. First (A), I raise the question as to whether there is a
route from the three leitmotifs in the question of being ofSein und Zeitto National
Socialism. Second (B), I try to ®nd out whether the postmonotheist leitmotif in

Heidegger's later philosophy, as developed from 1935 on, should be seen as a
reaction against and implicit criticism of National Socialism, or as an attempt to
develop an authentic Nazi religion. Finally (C), I brie¯y investigate the connec-
tions between the Neo-Hegelian theme and Heidegger's interpretation of Nazism
before, during, and after the war.
A. Nazism and Authenticity
According to the interpretation proposed in this book, the question of being in
Sein und Zeitis a symphony of three different leitmotifs, which I called the meta-
Aristotelian theme, the phenomenologico-hermeneutical theme, and the transcen-
dental theme. It seems to be clear that these leitmotifs as such do not have political
implications. The question of being in the sense of the meta-Aristotelian theme
purports to investigate the different meanings of ªto beº and their alleged common
root in one fundamental meaning. In the sense of the phenomenologico-herme-
neutical theme, the question of being aims at developing regional ontologies,
which conceptualize the ontological constitutions of different kinds of entities. In
particular, it aims at a regional ontology of Dasein, because Heidegger claims
that our own ontological constitution has been misinterpreted during the entire
philosophical history of the West. Finally, the question of being in the transcen-
dental sense purports to show that Dasein is a transcendental agentinhuman
beings, which projects a world and thereby enables entities to be.
At ®rst sight, then, one will conclude from my interpretation of the question
of being thatSein und Zeitis an unpolitical book. This conclusion seems to be
corroborated by Heidegger's distinction between an ontological level and an onti-
cal level of analysis. The hermeneutical ontology of human beings conceptualizes
the existential structure of Dasein, which is supposed to be essentially the same,
regardless of however, whenever, or wherever humans in fact shape their lives.
The ontological orexistenziallevel should be carefully kept apart from the ontical
orexistenzielllevel. The former is supposed to be a priori, whereas the latter is
empirical. Accordingly, the ontology of Dasein inSein und Zeitshould be compat-
ible with all possible political systems, and it should not imply or favor one politi-
cal ideology over another. It may be that the existential analysis ofSein und
Zeitis contaminated by cultural vogues of the interbellum, and that Heidegger
sometimes interlarded his ontology with a critique of contemporary society. One
might argue, however, that such contaminations are not essential to Heidegger's
project, and that one should not pay too much attention to them. It would be
altogether mistaken to claim that Heidegger's concern with Being is intrinsically
209 Sein und Zeitis an unpolitical book because it is concerned with ontol-
ogy. This is the received view of traditional Heideggerians. 210
The received view has been contested by external critics such as Bourdieu,
who pointed out that Heidegger's distinction between an ontological level and an
ontical level of analysis is untenable, and that, in fact, theorists on human nature

such as Hobbes or Rousseau designed their ontology of humans with speci®c
political implications in mind. Heidegger's ontological stance might be an ideo-
logical device that masks his unavowed or repressed political drives. Furthermore,
it has been suggested that there is a structural analogy between Heidegger's con-
servative revolution in philosophy, which aspired to reinstate philosophy in the
fundamental position from which it had been dismissed by scienti®c advances in
the ®rst quarter of the twentieth century, and the conservative revolution of the
National Socialists. Bourdieu concludes that Heidegger's purely philosophical
choices have political implications, even if these implications were not con-
sciously envisaged by Heidegger himself.
There are two problems with this line of external critique. First, speculations
about unavowed or repressed political instincts, which allegedly produce political
connotations within theoretical texts, are immune to empirical assessment.
Second, even if there were a structural analogyÐa ªhomologyº as Bourdieu
saysÐbetween the philosophical and the political domains, this does not prove
that a philosophical view that occupies a position in the philosophical domain
topologically similar to the position of a speci®c political view in the political
domain implies or suggests that political view. It is true that Heidegger tried to
reinstate philosophy as a fundamental discipline as against those who reduced it
to epistemology or to the theory of science. In this sense, Heidegger staged a
conservative revolution in philosophy. But Husserl did likewise. If, therefore,
one argues that Heidegger's conservative revolution in philosophy connoted the
National Socialist conservative revolution in politics, on the sole ground that there
is a structural analogy between the political and the philosophical, one should
also endorse the absurdity that Husserl's transcendental philosophy connotes the
Nazi ideology.
In this subsection I reject both a dogmatically unpolitical interpretation ofSein
und Zeitand an external critique that is not borne out by textual analysis. It has
been argued by many authors that Heidegger's notion of authenticity points to a
transition between his ontological analysis and the ontical level of factual exis-
tence. In particular, the notion of authenticity as resoluteness allegedly induces
us to ªresolute action,º regardless of traditional moral considerations. Even
though the ideal of resoluteness is formal in the sense that Heidegger does not
recommend particular resolutions, it is said to predispose Heidegger and his read-
ers to some form of political radicalism or ªdecisionism.º
213 Let me now spell out
this line of argument, which I endorse, in some detail. I will try to determine to
what extent Heidegger's ideal of authenticity inSein und Zeitmight have been a
motive for his decision to join the Nazis in 1933. It goes without saying that
Heidegger may have had many extraphilosophical motives for his decision as
well, but analyzing them falls outside the scope of this book.
Heidegger's notion of authenticity (Eigentlichkeit) has many dimensions, and
I discuss the most relevant ones only. One dimension is that the notion links the
ontical and the ontological levels inSein und Zeit, and it does so in two directions.

First, we allegedly see our Dasein as it really is, as ®nite being-toward-death,
only in moments of authenticity. Mostly, Heidegger claims, we divert our atten-
tion from the human condition, ¯eeing from it into worldly occupations, and the
tendency of falling (Verfallen) is a structural characteristic of our mode of being.
This means that the proper ontological level for analyzing Dasein is accessible
only from a speci®c ontical stance, the stance of authenticity. Authenticity is the
ontical condition for the possibility of doing ontology aright. As long as we are
not authentic, we will misinterpret the existential structure of Dasein, and we will
not be able to understandSein und Zeit.
Second, the ontological analysis of authenticity as a possibility of Dasein refers
us back to the ontical level. In section 75 ofSein und Zeit, for instance, Heidegger
points out that without authentic resoluteness, Dasein will be dispersed and it will
disintegrate into a series of disconnected experiences. The philosophical problem
as to what explains the unity of our stream of consciousness, which is raised by
authors on personal identity in the tradition of Locke and Hume such as Wilhelm
Dilthey, allegedly is a pseudo-problem due to an inauthentic and dispersed mode
of Dasein. Only by resolutely being-toward-death will we be able to get a grip
on our life as a whole, and to bring about (zeitigen) the time of our life (Zeit)in
the manner of ªexistentiell constancyº (existenzielle StaÈ
214 These obser-
vations, if correct, are ontological results. But they imply an ideal of ontical exis-
tence: that we be resolute in our own life. The notion of resoluteness is a formal
one in that an ontological analysis can never prescribe what we should decide at
speci®c moments. As Heidegger says in section 60 ofSein und Zeit: ªResolute-
ness, by its ontological essence, is always the resoluteness of some factical Dasein
at a particular time....Butonwhat is it to resolve?Onlythe resolution itself can
give the answer.º
215 Yet, the ontological notion of resoluteness refers us back to
the actual situations of life, and encourages us to be resolute in our individual
existence. As an ontological interpretation, it ªliberates Dasein for its uttermost
possibility of existence.º
216 Technically speaking, the notion is a formal indication
(formale Anzeige).
Heidegger developed the methodological concept of a formal indication al-
ready in 1919±21 (see § 8B).
217 But the most striking account of this slippery
notion is to be found in his monumental lectures on the basic concepts of meta-
physics, read during the winter semester of 1929±30, when Germany was plunged
into the depths of economic crisis. The ontological concepts of the analysis of
Dasein, Heidegger says, should not be taken as referring to characteristics of some
actual entity. Rather, they areformal indicationsin the sense that by showing the
ontological form of our existence, they indicate the necessity for us to wrest our-
selves from the vulgar interpretation of being, and ªto transform ourselves into
the Da-sein in us.º The concepts areformalbecause they will never connote the
individual ontical content of the life of each of us. They areindicativebecause
they point to a concrete and individual existence, inciting us to transform our-
selves into authentic Dasein.

The notions of authenticity and formal indication are fundamental to Heideg-
ger's intentions inSein und Zeit, even though the latter notion is not conspicuously
present in the text.
219 Clearly, the ontology of Dasein is not an aim in itself. It is
only away, as Heidegger stresses at the end of the book in section 83. This way
leads from the ontical level of our individual existence, via the re¯exive detour
of ontological conceptualization, back to ontical existence, which the ontological
analysis purports to transform. In his religion course of 1920±21, Heidegger said
that philosophy ªsprings from factical life experience . . . and then springs right
back into factical life experience.º
220 We ®nd an echo of this statement in section
7ofSein und Zeit, where Heidegger writes: ªPhilosophy is universal phenomeno-
logical ontology, and takes its departure from the hermeneutic of Dasein, which,
as an analytic ofexistence, has made fast the guiding-line for all philosophical
inquiry at the point where itarisesand to which itreturns.º
221 These considera-
tions lead us to an important result. If the guiding line of all philosophical inquiry
not only begins at the ontical level of our individual existence, but also returns to
this level, Heidegger's distinction between the ontological and the ontical cannot
be used for arguing thatSein und Zeitis a theoretical book that is not related to
Heidegger's life. On the contrary, the point of the book, and, indeed, of philosophy
in Heidegger's sense, seems to be that one becomes more authentic in one's indi-
vidual existence. If this is the case, it is perfectly legitimate to ask whether Hei-
degger's ideal of authenticity inSein und Zeitpredisposes one to Nazism.
Let us admit, then, that the ultimate objective of Heidegger's ontological enter-
prise inSein und Zeitis practical, or ratherexistenziell: to become more authentic
in one's actual life. According to Rockmore, it automatically follows that ªfunda-
mental ontology is basically political.º However, this conclusion can be deduced
only if one takes the term ªpoliticalº in an unusually wide sense. As Rockmore
writes: ªBeing and Time. . . is not political in the sense of . . . Machiavelli'sThe
Princeor Hobbes'sLeviathan....Butitispolitical in another, more basic sense,
concerning the realization of human being in the human context.º
222 Even so, we
are not interested in this more basic sense of the term ªpolitical.º What we want
to know is whether there is a possible link between the notion of authenticity in
Sein und Zeitand Heidegger's Nazism. His decision to become a Nazi was politi-
cal in the ordinary sense of the term: Heidegger became member of the National
Socialist Party; he had certain ideas, however vague, about what kind of state the
German people needed in order to actualize their ªdestinyº; and he thought that
the philosopher should guide the party by providing a philosophical foundation
to Nazism. By introducing an ambiguity into the term ªpolitical,º Rockmore
avoids rather than solves the problem as to the relation betweenSein und Zeitand
Heidegger's Nazism. Even worse, the ambiguity leads to a fallacy of equivocation
if one infers from the political nature ofSein und Zeitin Rockmore's idiosyncratic
sense that the book is political in the usual sense. Rockmore actually commits
this fallacy where he writes that ªHeidegger's conception of ontology commits
him, as a condition of thinking through the problem of the meaning of `Being',

to a political understanding of human being, that is, to an idea of the person as
mainly inauthentic but as possibly authentic in a concrete fashion. The very con-
cern with fundamental ontology requires a political turn.º
223 Rockmore suggests
here that Heidegger inSein und Zeitendorses the Platonic idea that a really good
(authentic) man can only exist in a good (authentic) political body, and that our
personal authenticity would require a political revolution. However, it is not at
all clear that this was Heidegger's opinion when he wroteSein und Zeit.
Heidegger develops his notion of authenticity in sections 40, 53, 60, and 62 of
the book, analyzing the four dimensions ofAngst, being-toward-death, con-
science, and resoluteness. He constantly opposes authenticity to Dasein's
impersonal mode of existence, Everyman or the One (das Man). Whereas usually
One ¯eesAngst, authentic Dasein confrontsAngst, thereby acquiring ªthe free-
dom of choosing itself and taking hold of itselfº (§ 40). Similarly, One tries to
forget one's mortality, whereas authentic Dasein, by anticipating death as its own-
most possibility, which nobody else can actualize in its place, may wrench itself
away from the One or the They, and project itself on its ownmost potentiality-
for-being (§ 53).
224 The possibility of authentic existence discloses itself to us in
the call of conscience, and authentic resoluteness means to be summoned out of
one's lostness in Everyman (§ 60).
225 Finally, authentic resoluteness enables us to
grasp our Dasein as a whole, whereas One experiences life as fragmented and
dispersed (§ 62).
We get the impression from these sections that Heidegger's ideal of authenticity
is that of a radical individualism. Heidegger consistently stresses that authenticity
individualizes and isolates us (vereinzeln). He says, for instance, that ªAnxiety
individualizes Dasein for its ownmost Being-in-the-world,º and that it ªthus dis-
closes it as `solus ipse.' º
226 Death, as understood in authentic anticipation, also
ªindividualizes Dasein down to itself.º 227 Understanding the call of conscience
ªdiscloses one's own Dasein in the uncanniness of its individualization.º 228 More-
over, authentic individualization seems to be dif®cult to square with ªworldlyº
calls such as that of politics: ªThe call of conscience passes over in its appeal all
Dasein's `worldly' prestige and potentialities. Relentlessly it individualizes Da-
sein down to its potentiality-for-being-guilty, and exacts of it that it should be this
potentiality authentically.º
The unprejudiced reader cannot but conclude from these texts that according
to Heidegger, authentic Dasein is individualistic in the extreme. It is resolute by
making its own decisions, and, as Heidegger says, ªthe certainty of the resolution
signi®es that one holds oneself free for the possibility of taking it back.º
230 Au-
thenticity in this sense seems to be incompatible with Heidegger's unconditional
surrender to Hitler's authority in 1933. The impression of an incompatibility be-
tween the idea of authenticity and Heidegger's submission to Hitler in 1933 is
reinforced by the insight that Heidegger's concept of authenticity inSein und Zeit
is a secularized version of Kierkegaard's notion of the absolute commitment of
231 Kierkegaard's notion is utterly individualistic as well, because the leap to

faith that brings the individual before God presupposes that one disentangles one-
self from one's involvement in worldly occupations. For Kierkegaard, political
action would be counterproductive if one wants to be authentic.
Admittedly, it has been argued that Heidegger introduced a contradiction
into Kierkegaard's notion by secularizing it. Heidegger's and Kierkegaard's
idea that one has to disentangle oneself radically from Everyman or the They and
worldly occupations in order to become authentic does not make sense unless
one assumes the possibility of a radically unworldly life, a possibility that Heideg-
ger does not want to consider inSein und Zeit. As a consequence, it seems that
Heidegger's authenticity cannot be a choice for a possibility radically different
from worldly ones, as in Kierkegaard. It can only be a radically different way of
choosing for common and ordinary possibilities. Even so, Heidegger maintained
Kierkegaard's individualistic rhetoric. This rhetoric is incompatible with the col-
lectivist ideology of National Socialism, according to which ªthe individual,
wherever he stands, does not count,º and ªwhat counts only is the destiny of our
people in their state,º as Heidegger told the staff of Freiburg University on 20
December 1933.
Should we then conclude that Heidegger's notion of authenticity inSein und
Zeit, even though it connects ontology to actual life, cannot in the least explain
Heidegger's conversion to Nazism, because it is thoroughly individualistic?
Should we assume that Heidegger's conversion must have been due to extraphilo-
sophical motives only, motives similar to those which led so many Germans to
vote for Hitler? Perhaps it would have been warranted to draw this conclusion, if
Heidegger had not written section 74 ofSein und Zeit. Indeed, Heidegger told his
former pupil Karl LoÈ
with in 1936 that his choice for Hitler had been based on his
notion of historicality, which is developed in section 74.
In this section, on the ªBasic Constitution of Historicality,º Heidegger attempts
to describe the way in which authentic Dasein ªhappens,º suggesting that Dasein
has a history (Geschichte) because of the structural way in which it happens
(geschieht). This way is then called historicality (Geschichtlichkeit). Authenticity
was characterized by resoluteness, and resoluteness is a projecting of oneself upon
one's own being-guilty, a projecting that is reticent, ready for anxiety (Angst),
and anticipates death. But whence, Heidegger now asks, can Dasein draw those
possibilities on which it factically projects itself?
234 Authentic Dasein projects
itself into the future, anticipating its death, by resolutely choosing certain possibil-
ities. The content of these possibilities cannot be derived from the future itself,
or from death as its anticipated ®nal term, because the future and anticipated death
are empty. Heidegger concludes that the content of the possibilities that we project
must be derived from the past, that is, from Dasein's thrownness (Geworfenheit)
in a speci®c tradition. Factical possibilities of authentic existing must be disclosed
ªin terms of the heritagewhich resoluteness, as thrown,takes over.º
235 Although
Heidegger writes, somewhat misleadingly, that ªonly being-free for death gives
Dasein its goal outright and pushes existence into its ®niteness,º he maintains

that the factical content of a speci®c goal is determined authentically when Dasein
ªchooses its heroº from a ªheritage,º thereby explicitly retrieving a tradition.
If one authentically chooses one's goal by retrieving a tradition, and if the ®nite-
ness of one's existence snatches one back from the endless multiplicity of possi-
bilities that offer themselves as closest to oneÐthose of comfortableness, shirk-
ing, and taking things lightlyÐDasein is brought into the simplicity of its fate
Now these notions of a hero, of fate, and of a heritage do not yet bringSein
und Zeitmuch closer to Nazism. Germans often stressed their privileged relation
to the Greeks, and the Greeks of Athens invented democracy. On the basis of
these notions, Heidegger could have chosen a great Greek democrat as his hero,
and he could have combated Nazism. However, there is one paragraph in section
74 that seems to contain a sudden intrusion ofvoÈ
lkisch(popularly nationalist)
ideology inSein und Zeit. Let me quote the second part of this paragraph:
But if fateful Dasein, as being-in-the-world, exists essentially in being-with others, its
historizing is a co-historizing and is determinative for it as destiny [Geschick]. This is
how we designate the historizing of the community [der Gemeinschaft], of a people
[des Volkes]. Destiny is not something that puts itself together out of individual fates,
any more than being-with-one-another can be conceived as the occurring together of
several subjects. Our fates have already been guided in advance, in our being-with-one-
another in the same world and in our resoluteness for de®nite possibilities. Only in
communicating and in struggling [Kampf] does the power of destiny become free. Da-
sein's fateful destiny in and with its ªgenerationº goes to make up the full authentic
historizing of Dasein.
Authors such as Farias and Rockmore have made much of this passage, because
it seems to express thevoÈ
lkischideology that was an important seedbed for Na-
239 Yet it is a plausible thesis that the historical unity of a people and its
tribulations cannot be explained by merely tracing the lives of individuals, for the
simple reason that individual human beings become what they are partly by being
raised within a speci®c culture and language. Also, the notion of a generation is
a legitimate sociological and historical concept. One might distinguish between
the fate (Schicksal) of an individual and the destiny (Geschick) of a people without
lkischideology. But Heidegger goes further than this, for it does not
follow that the full authenticity of an individual consists in melting together one's
individual fate and the destiny of one's people, as he suggests when he writes that
ªDasein's fateful destiny in and with its generation goes to make up the full au-
thentic historizing of Dasein.º It does not follow either that the power of a people's
destiny becomes free only in struggle or ®ght (Kampf).
By connecting these notions of struggle and fateful destiny of a people with
the notions of heritage and of choosing one's hero, one might concoct the follow-
lkischinterpretation of Heidegger's conception of authentic history. An
individual cannot be authentic unless the people to which he or she belongs is

authentic. This requires that the people choose their hero on the basis of their
national heritage, and that they engage in battle or struggle (Kampf) in order to
renew the heroic possibilities of their past. Surely such an interpretation of the
quoted passage seems to yield the conclusion thatSein und Zeitpaves the way to
Nazism. The Nazi movement claimed to lead Germany from the alleged apathy
of the Weimar Republic to future greatness by forcing the Germans into the na-
tional unity of aVolk, in which the individual does not count. In order to force
the Germans into the common destiny of aVolk, a totalitarian revolution was
necessary, and one might interpret Heidegger's kairiological notion ofAugen-
blick, a propitious instant or moment of vision for authentic Dasein, as pre®guring
the historical moment of the National Socialist revolution in 1933. Along these
lines, Rockmore concludes that ªthe very concern with fundamental ontology
requires a political turn,º and that ªthe concern with `Being' is itself intrinsically
240 Similarly, Farias concludes that the philosophy ofSein und Zeitposi-
tively establishes properly fascist tenets, which lead up to the later events. 241
There is, however, a serious problem with Farias' and Rockmore's argument.
The notion of communal authenticity as developed in section 74 ofSein und Zeit,
even if it can be stretched in the above sense, seems to be a rather isolated occur-
rence ofvoÈ
lkischideology in the book. At ®rst sight, there is no logical or other
connection between the individualist notion of authenticity as developed in sec-
tions 40, 53, 60, and 62 and the communal notion of authenticity of section 74. By
stressing in the former four sections that authenticity individualizes and isolates us
(vereinzeln), Heidegger seems to deny that authenticity can be a communal way
of life. Admittedly, he sketches an authentic way of being-with-others (Mitsein)
in section 60. But this authentic being-with-others consists in mutually letting
each other be (sein lassen) in each other's most individual possibilities of exis-
242 This ideal of authentic being-with-others ®ts in better with a liberal de-
mocracy, which subscribes to the Kantian dictum that one should treat others as
ends in themselves and not merely as means, than with Hitler's totalitarian state,
in which the individual is reduced to a mere means for realizing the historical
destiny of a mythical entity, theVolk.
Authors such as Farias and Rockmore, then, are faced with a dilemma. Either
they have merely shown that Heidegger's Nazism is related to one isolated and
accidental paragraph in section 74 ofSein und Zeit, which contradicts the remain-
der of the book. An orthodox Heideggerian might argue that this passage is an
unfortunate concession tovoÈ
lkischideas that were in vogue at the time, and that
we had better disregard it. Or, alternatively, Farias and Rockmore should provide
an interpretation of Heidegger's notion of authenticity according to which the
two contradictory extremes of individual andvoÈ
lkischauthenticity are intimately
relatedÐso intimately related that someone who endorses the ideal of individual
authenticity might end up by submitting himself or herself to an allegedly authen-
tic destiny of theVolk. Neither Farias nor Rockmore provides us with such an
interpretation. This is what I attempt to do now, in a very tentative spirit.

Heidegger's ideal of individual authenticity may be seen as the ®nal stage of a
historical development in philosophy, the development of ever more radical no-
tions of an autonomous person. The notion of an autonomous person is part and
parcel with the notion of an authentic philosopher, because the philosopher is
supposed be autonomous and to think for himself. Somewhat schematically, we
might distinguish four stages in this development, each of which expresses one
of four degrees of autonomy. Human beings are raised within a particular culture,
which provides habits, traditional rules of conduct, and standardized social roles.
This is why, as Heidegger says, ªproximally Dasein is Everyman, and for the
most part it remains so.º
243 The ®rst and lowest stage of autonomy arises when
an individual is not content with strict conformity to these habits, rules, and roles,
but creates a pattern for himself, by applying the rules in novel ways and by
changing some of the habits. On the re¯ective level, this lowest stage of autonomy
is expressed by the discovery of the Sophists that norms and rules are not ®xed
by nature but by convention.
At the lowest level of autonomy, the norms and rules are still predominantly
given by ªthe others.º It is always ªTheyº who tell me how to behave, even
though I may apply the norms in a personal way. As Heidegger says, ªproximally,
it is not `I,' in the sense of my own Self, that `am,' but rather the Others, whose
way is that of the `They.' º
244 However, if autonomy means that I liberate myself
from the pressure of Others in my existence, it seems that there is room for a
next degree of autonomy or authenticity. In this second stage of autonomy, the
philosopher will reject traditional norms and roles as valid guidelines for conduct
and thought, because they are ®xed by others. He will look for insight and values
on a higher or a deeper level than that of tradition. Thus Plato postulated eternal
forms, Descartes assumed innate ideas that were guaranteed by God, and Hume
claimed to discover basic principles of human nature. Only by thinking and acting
in accordance with these forms, ideas, or principles, they thought, will we be able
to become really authentic.
With Immanuel Kant, the notion of authenticity as autonomy entered its third
stage. Kant argued that Plato's Forms, God's ideas, or empirical principles of
human nature are still external or heteronomous elements, which are not deter-
mined by ourselves, that is, by our rational choice. If autonomy means that one
determines one's own rules, these rules should be freely chosen on the basis of
rational insight. Kant de®ned freedom as the capacity to give oneself a law out
of respect for this law. His categorical imperative would enable us to determine
rationally which maxims deserve respect and should be elevated to the status of
moral laws. Enlightened autonomy, Kant wrote in his celebrated essayWas ist
rung?of 1784 means that we think for ourselves and decide what to do on
the basis of reason alone. For Kant, philosophical authenticity in the sense of
autonomy consists in a superior form of rationality.
But this notion of rational authenticity is exploded by a criticism that Nietzsche
raised. Kant's allegedly rational criterion for choosing maxims as moral laws

boils down to the question of whether maxims can be universalized without a
contradiction. Kant argued, for instance, that the maxim ªI am allowed to lieº
cannot be universalized, because the conditions required for my successful lying
would be destroyed if everyone lied. Therefore it is an immoral maxim. Nietzsche
objects that the criterion of universalizability is not a purely rational criterion. On
the contrary, the idea that moral norms should be the same for all humans is a
moral norm itself, which is not at all self-evident. The norm is rejected by aristo-
cratic cultures, and, in fact, it serves the interests of the weak in a society as
against the strong. If so, Kant's principle of rational choice between maxims is a
heteronomous principle, which expresses the interests of the weak in society,
and it should be abandoned by an autonomous individual. The idea that we can
determine what principles are morally valid by pure reason alone turns out to be
an illusion.
As a consequence of this critique, the ideal of authenticity as autonomy enters
its fourth stage, which is the stage of Heidegger'sSein und Zeit. We now see, or
are supposed to see, that the autonomous person cannot rely onanyideas or
principles in making his authentic choices. A resolute choice becomes its own
ªjusti®cation.º Any choice is justi®ed, if only it is a resolute one. When Heidegger
raises the question on what Dasein is to resolve, he answers: ªOnlythe resolution
itself can give the answer.º
245 By stressing the word ªonlyº Heidegger suggests
that according to his conception all moral and political norms or ideas belong to
the sphere of the They, and that we should disregard preexisting norms if we want
to be authentic.
The claim that this voluntarist and decisionist doctrine of authenticity is de-
fended inSein und Zeitis con®rmed by Heidegger's notion of authentic truth. We
remember that according to the transcendental notion of truth sketched in section
44 ofSein und Zeit, truth is not primarily a relation between what one asserts and
reality: it is the fundamental openness (Erschlossenheit) of Dasein, which enables
entities to ªbe.º Because openness is characterized by projection (Entwurf), and
authentic projection is a product of resoluteness (Entschlossenheit), the transcen-
dental notion of truth gives rise to a notion of authentic truth of existence (Wahr-
heit der Existenz). In resoluteness (Entschlossenheit), we are disclosed to our-
selves in an authentic way, and a situation is disclosed to us in which we have to
act (Situation). This is what Heidegger calls the truth of existence (Wahrheit der
Existenz). If Dasein is resolute, it will become clear-sighted for the situation (Situ-
ation) in which it has to act and for the propitious instant (Augenblick) at which
it has to act.
246 However, if only the resolution itself determines what we should
decide, the truth of existence in this sense cannot be evaluated by moral or other
criteria. According to Heidegger's decisionist notion of authenticity, we are justi-
®ed by resoluteness alone. The situation in which we act authentically ªgets dis-
closed in a free resolving that has not been determined beforehand.º The certainty
of the truth of existence purely consists in that Dasein ªmaintains itself in what
is disclosed by the resolution.º

It has been argued that Heidegger's decisionist notion of authenticity is, as it
were, a negative condition for the possibility of Nazism. By relegating moral and
political norms to the domain of inauthenticity (das Man), Heidegger destroyed
all possible moral obstacles to a totalitarian choice.
248 But this negative condition
is not suf®cient for arguing thatSein und Zeitpredisposed Heidegger to Nazism.
It remains true that his concept of authenticity, as developed thus far, is utterly
individualistic, and that it is dif®cult to reconcile this concept with thevoÈ
notion of authenticity that emerges in one isolated paragraph in section 74 of the
book. Is there a relation between these two concepts of authenticity? This is the
main question that my interpretation intends to solve.
In order to answer it, two insights are essential. On the one hand, Heidegger's
notion of authenticity is the fourth and most extreme stage of development of the
concept of autonomy. If moral rules are all heteronomous, they cannot restrict our
authentic and autonomous freedom. Consequently, nothing guides free resolute
choices. Although it is ®nite in the sense of being-toward-death, our freedom is
a ªsupreme power,º as Heidegger says in section 74.
249 On the other hand, such
a supreme power of freedom is also a form of ªpowerlessness,º because in it,
Dasein is left entirely to its own devices, and cannot rely on the culture that
sustains it in its inauthentic life.
250 Whereas ªDasein in its everydayness is disbur-
dened [entlastet] by the They,º authentic resoluteness destroys the disburdening
function of the culture that supports us, and thereby reveals our Dasein as a
Now I want to suggest that the burden of authentic resoluteness as Heidegger
sees it is in principle unbearable. It is simply impossible to be resolute without
relying somehow and to some extent on preexisting cultural roles and norms.
This is why Heidegger's individualistic notion of authenticity, according to which
Dasein has to liberate itself from common moral rules in order to choose one's
hero freely, tends to collapse into a collectivist notion, according to which the
choice is not made by an individual at all, but is predetermined by the destiny of
theVolkto which one belongs. Once Dasein has become authentic by liberating
itself from standard morality, life becomes unbearable, and the liberated individ-
ual will seek to shake off the burden of radical individuation (vereinzelung)by
joining a collectivist mob.
Heidegger did not analyze this collapse as such. According to him, we might
attain the ideal of individual authenticity at least in some privileged instants. I am
suggesting the interpretative hypothesis that this collapse of the individualistic
ideal of authenticity into a collectivist notion is what ishappeningin the crucial
paragraph of section 74, of which I already quoted the second half. Heidegger
starts this paragraph by the observation that the superior power of authentic free-
dom is simultaneously a form of powerlessness, because Dasein is left to its own
devices. Assuming this powerless supreme power, ªDasein becomes clairvoyant
for what happens to devolve upon it in the situation that has been disclosed.º
Heidegger then develops his notion of Dasein's fateful destiny within the commu-

nity of aVolk, and claims that individual fates are ªguidedº by the power of a
common destiny, which ªbecomes free in communication and struggle.º
We may conclude, then, that the relation between Heidegger's individualistic
notion of authenticity and hisvoÈ
lkischnotion is not one of logical implication but
at best a psychological one. Because of the very fact that individual authenticity
as Heidegger sees it is unendurable, Dasein, which has liberated itself from preex-
isting morality in its attempt to become authentic, will tend to subject itself to the
®rst collectivist movement that comes along, provided that this movement claims
to actualize the national Destiny. The philosophical destruction of traditional cul-
ture inSein und Zeit, which was in accord with many trends of ªcultural despairº
in Germany during the interbellum, created an absolute void or ªnothingº for the
individual who longs for authenticity, and, psychologically speaking, this void
generated the temptation of a leap to faith or to a totalitarian movement.
In this sense,Sein und Zeitpre®gures Heidegger's appeal to the German stu-
dents of 3 November 1933, a text in which we ®nd the same characteristic collapse
of his notion of authenticity into authoritarianism. In accordance with the ideal
of authenticity ofSein und Zeit, Heidegger ®rst claims that ªnot maxims and
`ideas' should be the guidelinesº of the students' lives. In order to be authentic,
the students should make their own resolute decision. But because the individual
fates had already been determined by the destiny of Hitler's revolution, the ªfull
authentic historizing of Daseinº for Germans in 1933 could only consist in an
unconditional submission to Hitler.
253 As Heidegger wrote: ªtheFuÈ
and aloneisthe present and future German reality and its law.º 254
B. An Authentic Nazi Religion?
One might object to the somewhat speculative argument I developed thus far that
it does not cohere with my global interpretation ofSein und Zeit. From the fact
that authenticity in Heidegger's sense of a resolute and radical autonomy is unen-
durable, I concluded that it tends to collapse into totalitarianism. This tendency
would explain both the transition to the notion ofvoÈ
lkischauthenticity in section
74 ofSein und Zeitand Heidegger's own transition to Nazism in 1931±33, at least
to the extent that the latter can be explained by intraphilosophical motives. But the
hypothesis of such a tendency to collapse is apsychologicalone only. Logically
speaking, other solutions are available to the authentic individual who experiences
life as an unbearable burden. One of these solutions is the leap to religion.
In sections 12C and 13C, above, I argued thatSein und Zeitmust be interpreted
as the ®rst stage of a Pascalian strategy. According to this strategy, an analysis of
the human condition should reveal that authentic existence is an unbearable bur-
den, from which we try to escape into forms of inauthenticity or diversion. Such
an analysis of the human condition would prepare the second stage of the strategy:
the leap to faith. This interpretation removes the contradiction within Heidegger's
notion of authenticity to which I referred above: that it would not make sense to

postulate that an authentic individual should be radically independent of existing
culture if there were no possibility of existence independently of this culture.
According to the Pascalian strategy, there is such a possibility, the existence in
faith, so that the contradiction disappears. However, ifSein und Zeitwas intended
to prepare a leap to faith, can it be meant to prepare a revolutionary transition to
a totalitarian state?
255 In order to solve this problem in my interpretation, we have
to raise the following question: How does the postmonotheist theme relate to
Heidegger's Nazism? I will brie¯y sketch my answer and then, equally brie¯y,
discuss the relation between Heidegger's Nazism and the Neo-Hegelian leitmotif.
A full treatment of these topics would require another book.
IfSein und Zeitis the ®rst stage of a Pascalian strategy, where, in Heidegger's
subsequent writings, do we ®nd the second stage, which urges us to make the
leap to faith? The early Heidegger conceived of faith as a grace of God, a con-
ception that is clearly expressed in the lecture on phenomenology and theology
of 1927. It follows that the leap to faith, to the extent that we humans are capable
of it, is in fact a leap into nothingness, and that we may only hope that nothingness
will reveal itself as identical to Being or God. Heidegger urges us ªto release
ourselves into nothingnessº at the end ofWas ist Metaphysik?, his inaugural
lecture of 1929. We should ªliberate ourselves from those idols everyone has,º
and we should ªlet the sweep of our suspense take its full course,º so that it
ªswings back into the basic question of metaphysics that nothingness itself com-
pels: Why are there beings at all, and why not rather nothing?º
256 These admoni-
tions have a clear religious meaning. The traditional metaphysical answer to the
question as to why there are beings and not rather nothing is: because God sustains
them. If the Pascalian interpretation ofSein und Zeitis correct, the analysis of
Dasein in that book leads us back to traditional metaphysics in the sense of a
quest for Being or God. It prepares us for a turn, and, according to my interpreta-
tion,Was ist Metaphysik?tries to invite Being to turn toward us. Heidegger's
inaugural lecture is the second stage of his Pascalian strategy, and the fact that
this markedly religious text was written two years after the publication ofSein
und Zeitcon®rms the Pascalian interpretation of Heidegger's masterpiece (see §§
12C and 13C, above).
Heidegger elaborated this second stage in his impressive lecture series on the
Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysicsof 1929±30, which, as he wrote to Elisa-
beth Blochmann, was meant to make an entirely new start.
257 The objective of
this series is to transform Dasein. We should ª®nd ourselves in such a way that
we aregiven backto ourselves.º In order to prepare us for this transformation,
Heidegger tries to arouse the fundamental mood of boredom.
258 Boredom in the
deepest sense allegedly consists in an inner emptiness, in the fact that ªthemystery
is lacking in our Dasein.º As a consequence, ªthe inner dread does not come,
which each mystery brings with it, and which gives to Dasein its inner greatness.º
The deepest and most essential deprivation in our Dasein is not that we are
plagued by particular pressing needs, but that an essential deprivation is refused

to us, and that we do not even hear of it.
259 In an in¯uential paper, Winfried
Franzen interpreted section 38 of these lectures as pre®guring the National
Socialist contempt for civilized bourgeois life. The section would express a
yearning for hardness and gravity (HaÈ
rte und Schwere), which, even though it is
a philosophical theme in the lectures, would predispose Heidegger to political
involvement with the Nazis.
260 However, one should read Heidegger's yearning
for hardship primarily in a religious sense, rather than as an anticipation of
Nazism. Heidegger's lectures of 1929±30 are akin to Kierkegaard's essay on
The Present Age. When Heidegger rejects as super®cial the needs of his time,
which were urgent during the depression of 1929, he does so because a preoccupa-
tion with these needs suppresses what is according to him our real need: to
acquire again the knowledge of ªwhat it is that makes us possible.º
261 Heidegger
does not and cannot tell us what it is that makes us possible, except that Dasein
has to become authentic. What makes us possible can only reveal itself to us in
grace. Therefore, we have to wait, in order to hear essential things, when we
tune in on (stimmen) the fundamental mood (Grundstimmung) of boredom.
262 The
lectures on the fundamental concepts of metaphysics of 1929±30 aim at preparing
us for a religious conversion, as didWas ist Metaphysik?and Kierkegaard'sThe
Present Age.
This interpretation of the lectures is consonant with the Pascalian view ofSein
und Zeit. But it gives a special urgency to the objection I raised. If Heidegger was
heading for religious grace even in 1930, how should we explain the fact that he
opted for Hitler only two years later? A ®rst possible answer to this question is
speculative but simple. Heidegger tells us in the ªBrief uÈ
ber den `Humanismus' º
that the turn as envisaged inSein und Zeitcould not be expressed in the language
of metaphysics.
263 What he meant is, one might suggest, that religious grace, con-
ceived of as an answer by Being to our metaphysical quest, did not arrive in
1929±32. If it is indeed true that Heidegger's entire philosophical enterprise from
the Natorp essay of 1922 to the lectures of 1929±30 is a preparation for metaphysi-
cal grace by means of methodological atheism, this must have been a terrible
deception. The turn to Nazism can now be explained, at least in part, as the
product of a religious disappointment. Heidegger discovered that man is aban-
doned in the midst of beings. I argued that Heidegger's ideal of authenticity pre-
disposed him to some kind of absolute and radical solution, because authenticity
in Heidegger's sense makes life unbearable. As the religious solution (the grace
of faith) turned out to be unavailable, the only alternative left was a totalitarian
movement, which would radically relieve the burden of autonomous existence.
In short: Heideggerian authenticity plus atheism yields totalitarianism.
That this hypothesis is not altogether implausible is shown by the central role
of Nietzsche in Heidegger's rectoral address of 1933. In this speech, Heidegger
urged the audience to take seriously Nietzsche's dictum that God is dead. If I am
right, Heidegger discovered the truth of this statement during the years between
1929 and 1933. Because God is dead, our Dasein is placed before a great transfor-

mation (vor einer groûen Wandlung). Dasein is exposed without any protection
to what is hidden and uncertain. Questioning remains the highest form of knowl-
edge. The truly spiritual world (geistige Welt) of the German people will become
a world of most inner and most extreme danger (innersten und aÈ
uûersten Gefahr).
Whereas Heidegger de®nes spirit (Geist) as being resolute concerning the essence
of being (Entschlossenheit zum Wesen des Seins), he claims that the spiritual
world of a people is the ªpower of most intensely proving the worth of its forces
of blood and soilº (ªdie Macht der tiefsten Bewahrung seiner erd-und bluthaften
fteº). It is the power of the most intimate arousal and most encompassing
disruption of its Dasein (ªMacht der innersten Erregung und weitesten ErschuÈ
terung seines Daseinsº), which guarantees greatness to a people.
264 In this pas-
sage, Heidegger seems to move directly from Nietzsche's discovery that God is
dead to the necessity of a German revolution, rooted inBlut und Boden(blood
and soil).
Heidegger turned to Nietzsche, we might conclude, because Nietzsche's diag-
nosis of his epoch explained the fact that metaphysical grace did not come in
1929±32, and Nietzsche seemed to justify the transition to Nazism by showing
that spirit is rooted in blood and that Dasein is struggle for power. As I have
already mentioned, Heidegger suggests that Ernst JuÈ
nger in¯uenced him in this
respect. For he tells us in his account of the rectorate written in 1945 that he
discussed JuÈ
nger's essayDie totale Mobilmachung(1930) and his bookDer Ar-
beiter(1932) in a small circle with his assistant Brock when they appeared, and
that he tried to show how in Nietzsche's metaphysics ªthe history and present of
the Occident was clearly seen and predicted.º He adds that Nietzsche's metaphys-
ics, as interpreted by JuÈ
nger, was corroborated by the facts, and that in our time
everything, whether it be communism, fascism, or democracy, belongs to the
universal rule of the will to power.
If this interpretation is acceptable, there is no direct relationship between the
ideal of authenticity inSein und Zeitand Heidegger's turn to Nazism. The unbear-
able burden of authentic life can be relieved in two ways: by a leap to faith and
by a totalitarian commitment. Only when the ®rst solution seemed to be ruled out
did Heidegger jump to the second. Nietzsche's thesis of God's death explained
why the ®rst solution was not available, and the metaphysics of the will to power
paved the way to a second solution: Nazism.
This second solution did not work very well either, at least on the practical
level, for Heidegger's rectorate ended in a failure. On 1 July 1935 Heidegger
wrote to Karl Jaspers that his solitude was nearly complete, and, with a reference
to 2Corinthians12:7, that there were two thorns (in his ¯esh): the clash with the
faith of his background and the failure of the rectorate. He added that these two
thorns were enough of those things that should be really overcome.
266 How, we
might ask, did Heidegger overcome the two thorns in the following years? He
attempted to do so by developing his postmonotheist theme, that is, by creating
a new religious idiom, which was intended to replace the theist and metaphysical

idiom of Christianity. I discussed this new idiom in section 11, above, in detail.
Heidegger sketched the postmonotheist theme for the ®rst time in the voluminous
ge zur Philosophie, which he wrote during the years 1936±38. Only if we
understand, so he says in that manuscript, how uniquely necessary Being is, even
though Being is not present as God, and only if we are tuned in on the abysses
between man and Being, and between Being and gods, will preconditions for a
future ªhistoryº become real.
We may conclude that there are three turns in Heidegger's philosophical jour-
ney between 1927 and the later works. From the ®rst stage of a Pascalian strategy
inSein und ZeitHeidegger turned to the miscarried metaphysical and theist con-
version of 1929±30. The failure of this conversion, and Nietzsche's explanation
of it, made him turn to Nazism. And the failure of the rectorate in 1934 motivated
the ®nal turn in 1936±38 to the postmonotheist theme, which rejects metaphysical
Seinin favor of postmonotheistSeyn.
One might infer that if the postmonotheist theme was developed as an attempt
to surmount the failure of the rectorate, it should be considered as an implicit
critique of the National Socialist movement.
268 But in fact, things are more ambig-
uous than that. Authors such as Paul de Lagarde (1827±91), who became popular
as apraeceptor Germaniaeduring the Nazi period, argued that Germany needed
a proper German religion, which could provide a new German state with a spiri-
tual basis. As Lagarde said, being German is not a matter of the blood, but of the
269 Lagarde's belief that contemporary Christianity was dead, and that reli-
gion was indispensable to a new Germany, received widespread assent after the
First World War.
270 Many groups in the interbellum shared Lagarde's heritage: the
desire to convert Christianity into a polemical, anti-Semitic, nationalistic faith
that would supplant the old and decadent tenets of a perverted and universal
271 The research program of developing a national religion was also
supported by the Nazis. As Vermeil wrote, ªthe Nazi German seeks to identify
his personal religion with his membership of the Reich, with a Reich that is never
completed and eternally in process of creation.º
272 Might one not interpret Heideg-
ger's postmonotheism as a form of spiritual Nazism, as an attempt to ful®ll the
desideratum of a proper German religion?
It is striking that Heidegger seeks an original revelation of Being in the writings
of pre-Socratics such as Anaximander and Parmenides, and not in the Old Testa-
ment. Even though the eschatological structure of Heidegger's postmonotheist
religion is not Greek but markedly Judeo-Christian, Heidegger in his postmono-
theist interpretation of Western metaphysics painstakingly eliminates the refer-
ences to Jewish in¯uences.
273 In accordance with Nazi ideology, he merely stresses
the Greek-German axis. During the interview withDer Spiegelin 1966, which
was published posthumously in 1976, Heidegger was asked whether he saw a
special role for the Germans in the domain of thought. He answered in the af®r-
mative, and claimed that the Germans were quali®ed for this role because their
language had a specially intimate af®nity with the language of the Greeks.

Should we say, then, that Heidegger's postmonotheist theme is a continuation of
Nazism with other, spiritual means? And, conversely, was Heidegger's Nazism
perhaps continuous with his longing for a religious conversion, instead of being
an alternative to it? This is at least an interesting hypothesis for further research,
and it is a second answer to the objection that I raised in this subsection.
This second answer is more credible than it may seem to contemporary scholars
who ignore the spiritual history of the Third Reich. It is well known among
historians, for instance, that theSchutzstaffel(SS) of the NSDAP (National-
sozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei) was not only a political and military
organization, but also a militant religiousÐsome would prefer to say pseudoreli-
giousÐorder, with its own idea of the Absolute, its rituals, and its credo. Although
the SS confession remained in a state of ¯ux until the end of the warÐHimmler
considered this as a virtue; adult men had to be able to ®ght without ®xed doctrinal
formsÐit always contained some fundamental articles of faith, such as a belief
in one God, one country (Germany), and one leader (Hitler). This God was not
the God of Christianity, and the Cross was replaced by the swastika. Hitler saw
himself as the founder of a new and modern religion, as a historical ®gure on a
par with Jesus, and the new religion allegedly created a new type of man,
superman (der UÈ
bermensch). In theUÈ
ber-religion(super-religion) of Hitler and
Himmler, all Judeo-Christian elements were to be replaced by proper German
content, and Hitler repeatedly told his intimates that Christianity had to be de-
stroyed in Germany. The Christian teaching of the in®nite value of individual
human beings was supplanted by the ªliberating doctrine of the nullity and insig-
ni®cance of the individual and his life in contrast to the visible immortality of the
Nation,º and the dogma of the ªlife and actions of the law-givingFuÈ
hrer, which
releases the faithful masses from the burden of taking decisions,º was substituted
for the Christian creed of Christ's suffering and death for humanity, Hitler boasted
during one of his conversations.
275 As there cannot be two elected peoples, the
Jewish people had to be destroyed, for the Germans are God's people. The Ger-
man God was not a God of Love but a God of Strife, and although he intervened
in history at rare moments, he remained hidden most of the time. The new German
religion had to be the foundation of a new morality. It would replace the Christian
ethics of love with a morality of power and war, partly derived from social
Neither Himmler nor Hitler succeeded, however, in working out this new theol-
ogy. Their many practical tasks did not leave them time for such lofty occupations.
May we not suppose that Heidegger, after the debacle of the rectorate, took leave
from the practice of Nazism only in order to concentrate on the much more funda-
mental task of developing a Nazi religion? This hypothesis would explain a great
number of features of Heidegger's later postmonotheism. For instance, Heideg-
ger's Being is never associated with love but often with strife (between earth and
world, etc.) and inBeitraÈ
ge zur Philosophie, the uniqueness of Being is related
to the uniqueness of the German people.
277 According to PoÈ

Heidegger's attempt to ªsaveº the Nazi revolution, whereas this book informs
Heidegger's entire later oeuvre.
278 Even though the structures of his later thought
are derived from the Judeo-Christian tradition, the Jewish and Christian contents
are rejected. The Christian God belongs to the metaphysical tradition of ontotheol-
ogy, a tradition that should be overcome. Finally, whereas authentic existence in
Sein und Zeitis still predominantly individual, in the later works Heidegger is
not concerned anymore with our individual salvation. What should be saved is
an entire epoch, Europe, or the West. Heidegger endorsed Hitler's doctrine of the
nullity of the individual in 1933, when he wrote to the staff of Freiburg University
that ªthe individual, wherever he stands, does not countº and that ªwhat counts
only, is the destiny of our people in their state.º
279 Is Heidegger's rejection of
humanism and traditional morality after the war not in accordance with this per-
verse doctrine? Does he not suggest in the ªBrief uÈ
ber den `Humanismus,' º that
Being will issue new moral commandments? As I said, the hypothesis that Hei-
degger's later thought aimed at developing a Nazi religion deserves further inves-
tigation on the basis of all available documents from the years 1934±45. At pres-
ent, these documents are still locked up in theDeutsche Literatur Archivin
Marbach, and Heidegger ruled that scholars are not allowed to investigate his
unpublished papers.
C. Deciphering Deep History
Let me now turn to the ®nal question I want to deal with in this section. What is
the relation between the Neo-Hegelian theme and Nazism? According to the Neo-
Hegelian leitmotif in Heidegger's question of being, there is such a thing as au-
thentic or deep history, which consists of the series of fundamental metaphysical
stances in which Being has disclosed the totality of beings to mankind (see § 10,
above). The ªessentialº philosopher, who is able to acquire an insight into deep
history, will discern the metaphysical signi®cance of what happens in his time.
He is able to grasp whatis. Inspired by Ernst JuÈ
nger, Heidegger discovered be-
tween 1930 and 1933 that the metaphysical signi®cance of his epoch may be
expressed by the catchwords of God's death, nihilism, and the will to power. The
notion that God is dead means that the very idea of a transcendent realm loses
its hold on humanity. Because human values were supposed to derive from this
transcendent realm, these values are increasingly weakened, a process that
Nietzsche called nihilism. Nietzsche further argued that ultimate reality, at least
the ultimate nature of life, is will to power. Heidegger used these notions not only
in 1933, but also in 1945. As we will recall, he insisted in 1945 that ªeverything
nowadays is part of the reality of the will to power, whether it is called commu-
nism, fascism, or democracy.º
280 This statement shows that Heidegger used
Nietzsche in the same manner as the Nazis did: as an instrument for destroying
moral distinctions. The claim of humanism and democracy that they are morally
superior to fascism and Nazism allegedly is a mere tactical move in a struggle

for power. If this were true, it would become impossible to condemn Nazism from
a moral point of view.
The Neo-Hegelian theme, if valid, would justify Heidegger's claim in his lec-
tures on metaphysics of 1935 that he is able to discern the ªinner truth and great-
nessº of the National Socialist movement, that is, its real metaphysical signi®-
cance. But Heidegger's interpretation of this signi®cance shifted considerably
between 1935 and 1953, when the lectures were published. Even though the Neo-
Hegelian leitmotif remained formally the same, its content changed as a function
of the vicissitudes of Germany's destiny. This fact weakens the credibility of
Heidegger's epistemic claim that he is able to intuit deep history as it really is.
Let me brie¯y mention some of the most important shifts, in order to substantiate
this criticism.
In the course on Schelling of 1936, Heidegger saw Mussolini and Hitler as
leaders of a countermovement to nihilism. If nihilism was the process of devalua-
tion of values, which enfeebles humanity, fascism and Nazism revitalized the
respective peoples of Italy and Germany by endorsing Nietzsche's doctrine of
the will to power.
281 Like fascism, Nazism was in accord with the fundamental
metaphysical stance of the modern epoch. This is what Heidegger may have
meant in 1933, when, stressing the verb ªis,º he said that Hitler ªispresent-day
and future German reality and its law.º
In 1940, Heidegger still held a similar view. Nietzsche distinguishes between
incomplete and complete nihilism. Whereas incomplete nihilism seeks to retain
current values in a weaker form, complete nihilism accelerates the collapse of
decaying values that are devoid of credibility. Socialism allegedly is a form of
incomplete nihilism, because it retards the resolute rejection of Christian values,
accepting them in some weaker and secularized version. Complete nihilism, on
the other hand, turns into active nihilism if it acknowledges the will to power as
the basis of all evaluations. Active nihilism sets the stage for a reevaluation of all
values (Umwertung aller Werte), and it is a countermovement to incomplete and
passive nihilism.
282 It seems that in 1940 Heidegger regarded Nazi Germany as
the personi®cation of active nihilism. Having argued that Nietzsche's metaphysics
of the will to power radicalized Descartes' philosophy, he allows himself a refer-
ence to contemporary events, that is, to Germany's victory over France, during a
course that is at ®rst sight strictly concerned with a philosophical interpretation
of Nietzsche.
These days, he says in 1940, we witness ªa mysterious law of history,º namely,
ªthat one day a people [the French] is no longer up to the metaphysics that arose
from their own history [Cartesian metaphysics], at the very moment in which this
metaphysics transformed itself to the unconditionalº (by Nietzsche's doctrine of
the will to power). As Nietzsche saw, so Heidegger claims in JuÈ
ngerian fashion,
the modern machine economy requires a ªnew humanity, which moves beyond
present-day man.º ªIt is not suf®cient to have armored cars, aeroplanes, and wire-
less sets....What is needed is a humanity that is fundamentally up to the unique

basic essence of modern technology and its metaphysical truth, that is, a humanity
that lets itself be mastered entirely by the essence of technology, with the very
purpose of directing and using the particular technical processes and possibili-
ties.º Only superman (der UÈ
bermensch) is equal to this task, and, conversely,
superman needs the machine economy in order ªto establish an unconditional
mastery of the earth.º
283 In other words, the victorious German army represents a
new humanity,der UÈ
bermensch, which is up to the essence of technology because
it is able to use technical warfare in order to establish an unconditional rule over
the earth (unbedingte Herrschaft uÈ
ber die Erde). Germany's victory over France
has a Nietzschean metaphysical signi®cance, and it is only a prelude to Germany's
hegemony over the world.
It is obvious that in 1940 theWehrmacht's ®rst heady victory went to Heideg-
ger's head. One notes how different this philosophy of technology sounds from
the pessimistic view which Heidegger once held and which he came to adopt
again after Germany's defeat, that is, after the GermanUÈ
bermenschhad been
technologically outwitted by the Allied forces. Heidegger in these lectures on
Nietzsche develops again his doctrine that the history of metaphysics is the history
of the oblivion of Being. But he also gives his metaphysical blessing to the suc-
cesses of theWehrmacht(the German army), arguing that only when metaphysics
is on the verge of being completed is an uninhibited domination of beings possi-
ble, and that the ªmotorizationº of theWehrmachtis ªa metaphysical act, which
surpasses in depth the abolition of `philosophy.' º
284 The completion of metaphys-
ics by a German hegemony would then prepare a new advent of Being.
During the summer semester of 1942, Heidegger still thought that a German
victory was metaphysically necessary. He argued that America's decision to enter
the war could not lead to a destruction of ªEurope, that is, theHeimat, and the
origin of the Occident,º because ªwhat is at the origin cannot be destroyed.º
Consequently, America's decision was ªonly the last American act of . . . self-
destruction,º and the hidden spirit (verborgene Geist) of the origin will not even
have a ªglance of contemptº to spare for this self-destructive process.
285 With
his characteristic modesty, Heidegger in 1942 identi®ed Germany with Europe,
anticipating the ful®llment of Hitler's dreams.
It will by now be clear that Heidegger's intuitions about metaphysical deep
history were not immune to the vicissitudes of the war. Whereas Heidegger
initially saw Germany's victories as a prelude to a new metaphysical beginning,
based on a victorious German will to power, the Battle of Stalingrad in 1942±43
probably changed his views on the will to power and technology. They now turned
out to be forces that endangered Being, and the real question became: ªHow
should beings be saved and rescued within the free space of their essence, if
the essence of Being is . . . forgotten?º
286 The question was, in less meta-
physical clothing: How could the Germans be saved and rescued within the
boundaries of the space that belonged to them essentially, if they did not pay heed
to Heideggerian Being? As Losurdo observes: ªfrom this moment on, Germany

no longer represents active nihilism, which ®ghts for a different con®guration of
Being....TheGerman combatant is no longer theUÈ
bermenschcapable of mas-
tering technology better than his enemies; instead, he is . . . the desperate custo-
dian of the truth of Being.º
287 It is no accident that Heidegger in his postscript to
Was ist Metaphysik?of 1943 urged that metaphysics, including the metaphysics
of the will to power, should be overcome, thereby reversing the meaning of the
original lecture. In order to acquire the mysterious possibility of experiencing
Being, we should have the lucid courage to admitAngst. If we have this courage,
we recognize in the abyss of dread the domain of Being.
288 Furthermore, we should
be ready for sacri®ce, that is, ªthe farewell to beings on the way to safeguarding
the favor of Being.º
289 In 1943, we may conclude, Heidegger saw Germany as
the custodian of Being, which might save Being by sacri®cing itself. Being, he
now said, might dwell without beings, a statement that was corrected after the
290 The philosopher could not only discern the metaphysical meaning of a
German victory. Even a German defeat turned out to have a metaphysical signi®-
cance: by bidding farewell to beings, Germany might safeguard the favor of
291 It seems that during the Battle of Stalingrad, the fate of Heidegger's
Germany transubstantiated into a postmonotheist analogue of Christ's sufferings
on the cross.
After the war, Heidegger stressed more than before that both nihilism and the
will to power are metaphysical positions that man has to overcome. One might
think that by this last interpretation of deep history, Heidegger distanced himself
from Nazism. Although he still published the phrase on the inner truth and great-
ness of the National Socialist movement in 1953, he now added that this greatness
consisted in the confrontation of technology and modern man.
292 This confronta-
tion, he implied, could carry man to destruction, and we should re¯ect on the
metaphysical stance of technology in order to prepare its disappearance. Like so
many German conservatives, Heidegger blamed technology for the German de-
feat, and developed a despondent philosophy of the technical era.
There is a deep ambiguity in Heidegger's later evaluation of Nazism. If Nazism
belonged to the metaphysical stance of technology and the will to power, which
has to be overcome in order to prepare a new advent of Being, democracy belongs
to this very same metaphysical stance.
294 Heidegger's metaphysical curse on Na-
zismÐif anyÐcondemns democracy as well, and even in the interview withDer
Spiegelof 1966, Heidegger expressed doubts about democracy as a political sys-
295 Furthermore, we will remember that all metaphysical stances are sent to
us by Being; hence Nazism posthumously received Heidegger's postmonotheistic
296 National Socialism is simply part of the Destiny that Being prepared for
us, so that nobody is personally responsible for it. Because we still live in the era
of technology, Heidegger says in 1952, the Second World War did not decide
anything. A true and suf®cient re¯ection on the essential destiny of man on earth
will be prohibited if one thinks in terms of ªmoral categories, which are always
inadequate and too narrow-chested.º
297 In short, Nazism is a historical destiny,

part and parcel of the modern technological era to which democracies also belong,
and it would be narrow-minded to draw moral distinctions between these systems,
which are metaphysically the same.
I conclude that the two leitmotifs of Heidegger's later thought, the postmono-
theist and the Neo-Hegelian theme, are much more intimately connected to Hei-
degger's Nazism than the three leitmotifs ofSein und Zeit, although even here the
connection does not amount to a logical implication. Heidegger's Neo-Hegelian
presumption to fathom deep history enabled him to invest National Socialism
with a metaphysical signi®cance which, although it changed over the years, never
became unambiguously negative. And the postmonotheist theme ®ts in well with
the Nazi attempt, rooted in the writings of Lagarde and others, to invent a proper
German religion, which would eliminate all Jewish content. For these reasons, it
is profoundly mistaken to interpret Heidegger's later philosophy as a critique of
Nazism. Heidegger never clearly rejected National Socialism. Arguably, his later
philosophy should be seen as an attempt to continue Nazism on a spiritual level.
Hitler and Heidegger belonged to the same generation: they were both born in
1889. In the light of the later Heidegger, the claims in section 74 ofSein und Zeit,
that ªonly in communication and struggle does the power of destiny become free,º
and that ªDasein's fateful destiny in and with its `generation' goes to make up
the full authentic historizing of Dasein,º acquire an ominous weight.
299 Even after
the destruction of Germany and after Hitler's unheroic suicide in 1945, Heidegger
did not unambiguously part company with theFuÈ
hrerof his generation.
§ 15. H
On 30 March 1933, Heidegger wrote to his friend Elisabeth Blochmann about the
hidden mission of the GermanVolkin Western history. The events of the timeÐ
Heidegger meant Hitler's revolutionÐinspired him with a ªrare power of concen-
trationº (eine ungewoÈ
hnliche sammelnde Kraft), and they reinforced his will and
conviction to work in the service of a great task. In order to build a world grounded
on theVolk, one had to expose oneself toBeingitself (dem Sein selbst) in a new
way, and had to confront both the antispirit of the communist world (dem Wider-
geist der kommunistischen Welt) and the moribund spirit of Christianity (dem
absterbenden Geist des Christentums).
300 We have seen that in 1933 Heidegger
was deeply inspired by Nietzsche. Indeed, from Nietzsche's point of view, mori-
bund Christianity and the communist world amount to the same thing: they are
incomplete forms of nihilism. Even in 1937, Heidegger still thought that Nazism
was a countermovement to incomplete nihilism. It was an active nihilism, based
on the doctrine of the will to power, which would prepare a new beginning by
destroying old values.
I argued in the previous section that Nietzsche paved the way to Nazism for
Heidegger between 1931 and 1933.
301 However, Heidegger's enthusiasm for Na-

zism led to the disastrous rectorate, and after 1934, Heidegger adopted a more
distanced view of the actual regime. The revolution of 1933 had never been car-
ried out on the fundamental, philosophical level that Heidegger had envisaged. In
the years 1936±38, Heidegger developed the postmonotheist leitmotif inBeitraÈ
perhaps in order to provide Nazism with a spiritual and religious basis. But the
postmonotheist theme con¯icts with Nietzsche's philosophy. As a consequence,
Heidegger had two important motives for attempting to digest and overcome
Nietzsche. First, it was Nietzsche who, reinforced by JuÈ
nger and the pre-Socratics,
pushed Heidegger toward actual Nazism and caused the ªthorn in his ¯eshº of
the rectorate. Second, Nietzsche's philosophy seemed to condemn beforehand
Heidegger's later postmonotheist thought as a mere shadow of the dead Christian
302 The confrontation with Nietzsche is more important for understanding
Heidegger's later thought than his philosophical exploitation of HoÈ
Whereas the latter was part and parcel of the postmonotheist leitmotif, Nietzsche
stood in the way of postmonotheism. Heidegger admitted the importance of
Nietzsche for his spiritual career when he wrote in the preface to the 1961 edition
of his courses on Nietzsche that this publication provided a view of the philosoph-
ical path (Denkweg) that he followed between 1930 and 1947, whereas the book
on HoÈ
lderlin of 1951 merely gives some indirect knowledge of this path.
303 For
this reason I decided to discuss Heidegger's interpretation of Nietzsche and to
leave out a similar section on HoÈ
In reality, Heidegger's 1961 edition of the Nietzsche courses masks the ®rst
part of the path that he followed between 1930 and 1947. It does not contain texts
that show that Nietzsche was instrumental to Heidegger's conversion to Nazism,
for it starts with the lectures onThe Will to Power as Artof 1936±37.
304 Further-
more, Heidegger expurgated the text and left out all passages about Nazism and
the war. When he discusses his editorial principles in the preface, he forgets to
tell us that the edition is a bowdlerized version. The two volumes on Nietzsche
of 1961, then, show to the initiated eye traces of Heidegger's apologetics.
305 Ye t
they are a reliable guide to the second part of Heidegger's philosophical trail
between 1930 and 1947. They demonstrate that Heidegger's later interpretation
of Nietzsche increasingly had the objective of surmounting Nietzsche. This holds
in particular for the latest text of the second volume, called ªDie seinsgeschicht-
liche Bestimmung des Nihilismusº (ªThe Destiny of Nihilism within the History
of Beingº), which was written during the years 1944±46.
In this section, I ®rst discuss in subsection (A) Heidegger's interpretation of
Nietzsche on the basis of hisNietzscheof 1961 and of texts such as ªNietzsches
Wort `Gott ist tot' º (1943, ªNietzsche's Thesis `God Is Dead' º) inHolzwege,
Was heisst Denken?(What Means Thinking?), Heidegger's lecture course of
1951±52, and ªWer ist Nietzsches Zarathustra?º (1953, ªWho Is Nietzsche's Zara-
thustra?º), published inVortraÈ
ge und AufsaÈ
tze. I will try to show that Heidegger's
interpretation of Nietzsche is informed by the two leitmotifs that I attribute to his
later works, the Neo-Hegelian theme and the postmonotheist leitmotif, and that

it is a reversal of Nietzsche's own views. As a consequence, I am contradicting
the opinion, shared by most French Heidegger specialists, that Heidegger ªis the
author of the most decisive interpretation of Nietzsche's thought put forth to this
306 A reversal of Nietzsche's views can hardly be called the ªmost decisive
interpretationº of Nietzsche.
What would Nietzsche have thought of such a reversal? What would have been
his assessment of Heidegger's philosophy as a whole? These questions are at least
as interesting as Heidegger's view of Nietzsche, and in the second subsection
(B) I attempt to derive from Nietzsche's works a Nietzschean perspective on
A. Heidegger's Reversal of Nietzsche
Heidegger's interpretation of Nietzsche aims at answering two questions: (1)
What is Nietzsche's fundamental stance (Grundstellung) within the history of
Western metaphysics? and (2) Did Nietzsche ask the proper question of philoso-
phy and, if not, why could he not do so?
307 Question (1) clearly belongs to the
Neo-Hegelian leitmotif in Heidegger's later works. We remember from section
10 that my reconstruction of this leitmotif consists of nine theses. The most im-
portant ones are that, according to Heidegger, each cultural epoch is based on a
Grundstellung, which is an all-embracing way in which entities are disclosed to
us and in which we are manifest to ourselves. Fundamental stances are expressed
by systems of metaphysics, because metaphysics attempts to characterize the to-
tality of what there is. Real or authentic history consists of the series of fundamen-
tal stances, as expressed by the history of Western metaphysics. The Heideggerian
philosopher has access to real history without relying on ordinary history as an
academic discipline, and indeed, without relying on academic disciplines of any
kind. In this sense, philosophy is fundamental.
According to the postmonotheist theme, the history of metaphysics is a his-
tory of fundamental stances that Being sent (schicken) to us as our destiny (Ge-
308 But in the act of disclosing beings, Being conceals itself. This is why
the question regarding Being, which allegedly is the proper question of philoso-
phy, is not raised within metaphysics. The history of metaphysics is a veil of
Being, and Heidegger's meditation on this history purports to interpret the se-
quence of metaphysical systemsasthe history of Being's self-concealment. Such
a meditation prepares a new beginning, in which Being will disclose itself to us
unconcealed. Clearly, Heidegger's second question (2) ®ts in with this postmono-
theist theme. It is not dif®cult to predict Heidegger's argument: he will argue that
Nietzsche did not and could not ask the proper question of philosophy and that,
therefore, we have to overcome Nietzsche. I now brie¯y discuss Heidegger's
answers to questions (1) and (2), in this order.
1. Nietzsche's Fundamental Stance. According to Heidegger, a metaphysical
fundamental stance has two aspects. It positswhatbeings are in their totality (das

Seiende im Ganzen), and it positshowthey are in their totality.
309 In his lectures
on Nietzsche of 1936±37, 1937, and 1939, Heidegger argued that Nietzsche's
doctrine of the will to power (Wille zur Macht) speci®es thewhatof a metaphysi-
cal fundamental stance, and that the idea of the eternal recurrence of the same
(Ewige Widerkunft des Gleichen) speci®es thehow.
310 In other words, Nietzsche
held that the fundamental nature of all entities is will to power, and he postulated
that everything exists in the manner of an eternal recurrence of the same. Perhaps
this is a plausible interpretation of the later Nietzsche, and one might say that
Nietzsche developed a fundamental metaphysical stance in this limited sense.
Somewhat more questionable is Heidegger's view of metaphysical stances in
general, as applied to Nietzsche. Heidegger held that metaphysical stances cannot
be argued for by appealing to neutral facts, because they constitute a speci®c,
all-embracing disclosure of beings, so that facts only emerge on the basis of a
metaphysical stance. As a consequence, metaphysics is fundamental to scienti®c
disciplines, and scienti®c or other arguments for metaphysical stances are impos-
312 However, in the years 1885±88 Nietzsche developed a ªscienti®cº proof
of the eternal recurrence of the same, expressed in fragments 1062±1067 ofWille
zur Macht(The Will to Power), a selection from the unpublished papers that
Peter Gast and Nietzsche's sister Elisabeth published in 1906. Both according to
Heidegger and to the Nazi ideologist Alfred Baeumler,Wille zur Machtis
Nietzsche's main book.
313 But if Nietzsche tried to develop a scienti®c proof of
eternal recurrence, he would perhaps not have endorsed Heidegger's conception
of a metaphysical fundamental stance. Conversely, in order to interpret
Nietzsche's philosophy as a metaphysical stance in his own sense, Heidegger has
to play down the importance of Nietzsche's arguments for the eternal recurrence
and stress other aspects of this thought: that it functions as a test and selection
instrument for those who attempt to conceive it.
314 Because Nietzsche's fundamen-
tal metaphysical stance cannot be argued for, Heidegger would claim, it cannot
be criticized by argument either, and this too holds for metaphysical stances in
general. The reason is that, as the postmonotheist theme says, Being sends
(schickt) us metaphysical stances as our destiny (Geschick).
That the notion of a metaphysical or fundamental stance (Grundstellung)is
external to Nietzsche may be shown in yet another manner, which requires a
summary of Nietzsche's global strategy. Nietzsche developed his mature philo-
sophical position as a counterattack against what he called ªnihilism.º Nihilism
in Nietzsche's sense is both an existential attitude and a historical process. As an
attitude, it is the conviction that human life is worthless and without value. Ac-
cording to Nietzsche, the attitude of nihilism is becoming more and more preva-
lent in Western culture. This complex historical process is called ªnihilismº as
well, and the term now refers to the cultural phenomenon of a gradual devaluation
of the highest values.
316 At the origin of this process, Nietzsche claims, are Platon-
ism and Christianity. The latter, which is merely a vulgar form of the former, and
Platonism itself argued that values originate from a transcendent and perfect

source, God or the idea of the good.
317 A transcendent and eternal being was
postulated as the standard of value for our mortal and transitory life on earth.
Platonism and Christianity also inspired a love of truth, Nietzsche says, and this
love of truth made Western man discover that the transcendent and higher reality
is nonexistent. As a consequence, the values that allegedly were derived from it
gradually lost their authority, and human life became without a moral orientation.
The historical process of nihilism, then, begins because a ªnothingº (nihil), to
wit, a transcendent authority, is posited as a ªbeing,º and it advances because the
imaginary nature of such a transcendent authority is gradually brought to light.
As human values were thought to be derived from this authority, values become
destitute of their meaning-bestowing power, and nihilism as an attitude is the
result. In hisZur Genealogie der Moral(Genealogy of Morals), Nietzsche argued
that Christian values in fact originated in ancient Mediterranean societies from
the resentment of the weak against the strong, and that the underlying classes
used the notion of a suprasensible moral authority as a powerful ideology, which
undermined the self-con®dence of the masters. The values that were allegedly
derived from a higher, transcendent reality did in fact originate from low and
mean motives: the power instincts of slaves and the weak.
Nietzsche understands his own philosophy as a reversal of Platonism.
Whereas Plato and Christianity posited a transcendent, timeless world, which
would be more real than the actual and temporal world, Nietzsche holds that the
actual changeable world is the only one there is. Most contemporary philosophers
will agree with Nietzsche on this point. But they will not endorse Nietzsche's
metaphysical view of the world, according to which its nature is will to power,
and its manner of being is an eternal recurrence of the same. Nietzsche's meta-
physics of the will to power and the eternal recurrence is posited as an anti-
Christian principle of valuation, which will necessitate a radical reevaluation of
all values (Umwertung aller Werte). If power is the only principle of valuation,
Christian morality will be superseded by the right of the mighty and the gifted,
that is, by those who are able to af®rm life as it is. In order to test whether one
has such anamor fati(love of one's destiny), Nietzsche revived the ancient notion
of an eternal recurrence of the same. Only if one is able to endure the thought
that even the most trivial details of life will recur in®nitely many times exactly
as they are now will one af®rm life in a Nietzschean manner. The type of human
being who endures this thought is superman (der UÈ
bermensch), and Nietzsche's
protagonist Zarathustra is the teacher who rejected a moral view of the world,
which had been the old Iranian Zoroaster's view, and teaches the doctrines of the
will to power and the eternal recurrence. Teaching them means learning to endure
these doctrines and to become a superman oneself.
Because Nietzsche conceived of the history of Western thought as the history
of Platonism and nihilism, he saw his reversal of Platonism as theendof Western
metaphysics and as a new beginning. He claimed to have overcome metaphysics
by his doctrine of the will to power. Even so, Nietzsche did not limit the validity

of this doctrine to a special historical period. The doctrine allegedly is valid for
all times, the eternal recurrence being an eternal return of power con®gurations.
This is the second point at which we can see that Heidegger's notion of a funda-
mental metaphysical stance is alien to Nietzsche. When Heidegger says that
Nietzsche's philosophy is the end of the metaphysical tradition, he seems merely
to repeat what Nietzsche himself claims. However, what he means is very differ-
ent: that Nietzsche's philosophy is the last fundamental stance in a series of
stances, and that it is valid as a metaphysical foundation only for Nietzsche's
metaphysical epoch, in which, Heidegger claims, we are still living. The merit
of Heidegger's interpretation is that he uni®es the ®ve fundamental themes of
Nietzsche's later philosophyÐnihilism, will to power, eternal recurrence, reevalu-
ation of values, and supermanÐinto a coherent metaphysical position, which I
sketched just now. But he does so on the basis of a notion that is external to
Nietzsche, the Neo-Hegelian notion of a fundamental stance (Grundstellung).
This notion introduces historical relativity into a doctrine that Nietzsche meant
as an absolutely valid one.
It follows that Heidegger's notion of the end of metaphysics is at odds with
Nietzsche's notion. Whereas Nietzsche claims to have overcome metaphysics in
the sense of a doctrine of transcendent being, Heidegger argues that Nietzsche's
philosophy is the ®nal stage of metaphysics. It is the end of metaphysics in the
special sense that metaphysics is fully consummated by Nietzsche.
2. The End of Metaphysics and the Question of Being. Why, according to Hei-
degger, is Nietzsche's philosophy the end of metaphysics in this special sense?
Heidegger advances three reasons for this claim, reasons which, taken together,
constitute an answer to the second question (2) his interpretation was meant to
In the ®rst place (a) Nietzsche's philosophy as the end of metaphysics allegedly
still belongs to metaphysics because it merely reverses the metaphysical position
that was at the beginning of the metaphysical tradition: Platonism. Instead of
saying that the sensible world is unreal and the suprasensible world is real (Platon-
ism), Nietzsche says that the suprasensible world is unreal and only the sensible
world is real. Such a reversal leaves intact the very terms of the original position.
For this reason, Heidegger says, it still belongs to the tradition of metaphysics.
Allegedly it is the end of this tradition in the sense of its ®nal stage, because
by Nietzsche's reversal of Platonism all possibilities of metaphysics have been
Second (b), Nietzsche's philosophy is the end of metaphysics, Heidegger as-
serts, because Nietzsche unites in a synthesis the two contradictory doctrines with
which metaphysics began. Parmenides answered the metaphysical question of
what being is (was das