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The Question of the Meaning of Being: Introduction to Being and Time

Hans-Georg Gadamer (left) and Martin Heidegger (right)
working in the Black Forest, Germany, 1930s

A.  The Necessity, Structure, and Priority of the Question of Being

1. The Necessity of an Explicit Retrieve of the Question of Being

a.) Being as a thematic question of actual investigation has been forgotten or fallen into oblivion (Ger., Vergessenheit)

b.) Aristotle’s Metaphysics:

1. Inquiry into being itself (autos), being as being, being as such
2. Ontological distinction between substance and accidental attribute
3. Ontological primacy of substance (Gr., ousia)
4. Categories of substance in general: quality, quantity, relation, place, time, action, affection, possession, position

c.) Three traditional prejudices pointing to the necessity of an explicit retrieve (Ger.,
Wiederholung) of the question of Being:

1. “Being” is the most “universal” concept
2. The concept of “being” is indefinable
3. “Being” is the self-evident concept: pre-ontological understanding and ontological obscurity (Being and the question of being

2. The Formal Structure of the Question of Being

a) The nature of a question in general
b) Average and vague understanding of Being
c) The Being of beings
d) Ontotheology: structural mistake of traditional ontology
e) Manifold senses of Being: thatness, whatness, reality, objective presence of things (Ger., Vorhandenheit), subsistence, validity, existence (Da-sein), etc.
f) Da-sein: the being through whom the meaning of being is disclosed 
g) The hermeneutical circle: concrete understanding (“always already”) distinguished from conceptual comprehension

3. The Ontological Priority of the Question of Being

a) Fundamental ontology distinguished from regional ontologies (positive sciences)
b) The question of being as the
“most basic and at the same time most concrete question…”

4. The Ontic Priority of the Question of Being

a) Ontological difference: Ontological and ontic dimensions of Being (existential and existentiell as synonyms)
b) Uniqueness of Da-sein:

1) Pre-ontological understanding of Being as constitutive of Da-sein
2) Essence and existence (Existenz)
3) Existentiell self-understanding as an ontic “affair”
4) Priority of Da-sein: ontic, ontological, ontic-ontological

c) The question of Being as the radicalization of the essential tendency-toward-Being (Ger., Seinstendenz) that belongs to Da-sein itself, namely, of the pre-ontological understanding of being.