The Necessity of the Seinsfrage

  • Johannes Achill Niederhauser


For Heidegger the necessity of the question of being is intimately related to the forgetting of being. Even though Heidegger does not yet explicitly speak of Seinsvergessenheit in Being and Time and the earlier texts in general, its very claim to reawaken again an understanding for the question of being suggests a certain forgetfulness of the question. Yet, how is that forgetting characterised? The forgetting of being is not a result of the utter failure of philosophy to address being. Has philosophy not addressed being, time and time again? Does not Schelling speak of will as “Urseyn”? Does not Hegel’s Science of Logic begin with pure being? Is not being identical with thinking for Parmenides? How, then, can Heidegger make the grandiose claim that being has been forgotten? In what follows, I shall explicate this claim further. As pointed out in the introduction to this part, for Heidegger modernity begins with an explicit leap over the “that” of the subject’s being because of Descartes’ dictum. But for Heidegger, the forgottenness begins even earlier with Greek ontology and its neglect of time with regards to being as presence, Anwesen. I thus see three decisive moments as constitutive of the forgetting of being. First, there are three encrusted prejudices about being, which both philosophy and the everyday operate with—without specifically asking for the meaning of being. Second, metaphysics’ forgetting of the origin of the ontological difference. Third, the forgottoness of being is intimately related to what could be called the forgetting of time. In what follows, I explicate these intertwined moments of the forgetting of being.


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Authors and Affiliations

  • Johannes Achill Niederhauser
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Philosophy, Birkbeck CollegeUniversity of LondonLondonUK

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