HEIDEGGER ON THE QUESTION ABOUT THE MEANING OF BEING
The question of Being is at the center of Heidegger¶s thought. His philosophical projectstarts from the situation where he finds himself in an experience of a certain kind of confusionand perplexity concerning the matter on what does being actually mean. In
Being and Time,
Heidegger begins by remembering Plato's puzzling character of
- being or what is: ³µFor manifestly you have long been aware of what you mean when you use the expression ³being´.We, however, who used to think we understood it, have now become perplexed.´
Thisperplexity refers to the dissatisfaction of the traditional view of ontology which causes our inability to understand Being. Thus, Heidegger observes that at present we no longer really knowwhat the expression being mean. How did this perplexity come about? First, Heidegger goesback to Plato¶s ancient question about the meaning of the expression µbeing¶ and relates it to our present understanding. The conclusion is that in the early period philosophers are occupied in theinvestigation of the meaning of Being and after a long time that impulse of wonder and awe hasbeen forgotten. We have forgotten Being because we no longer bother to have a sense of wonder and ask the question about Being. ³What is Being?... This question has today been forgotten.´
There is an experience of forgetfulness of Being [Vergessenheit]. Heidegger¶s observation aboutour forgetfulness has not simply come out from jumping into conclusion but rather this particular philosopher knows the history of philosophy itself. The age of forgetfulness can be traced back to its origin in history.
Being and Time,
John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson.
Henceforth referred toas BT. (New York: Harper & Row, 1962), quoted as epigraph
BT§1, 2; 21.