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Heidegger Die Frage Nach Dem Sinn Des Seins

Heidegger Die Frage Nach Dem Sinn Des Seins

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Published by Glenn Rey Anino

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Published by: Glenn Rey Anino on Mar 24, 2011
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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 
to on
- 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.´
1
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.´
2
 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.
1
Martin Heidegger,
Being and Time,
trans.
 
John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson.
 
Henceforth referred toas BT. (New York: Harper & Row, 1962), quoted as epigraph
in
Preface; 19.
2
BT§1, 2; 21. 
 
The question what is Being has already been raised and preoccupied the ancient Greek philosophers among the so called Presocratics in the like of Parmenides and Heraclitus. Startingfrom them, there was already the initial impulse of the understanding of Being. However, thatinitial impulse which is also the genuine questioning about Being has been lost or forgotten. Howdid this forgetfulness of Being happen? According to Heidegger, the forgetfulness of Beingstarted when the Greek philosophers who had been glorified by the West for over two thousandyears approached Being only in the academic discipline and was heard only in the academicworld. These philosophers in particular are Plato and Aristotle. Heidegger says, ³What these twomen achieved was to persist through many alterations and µretouching¶ down to the µlogic¶ of Hegel.´
3
The words alterations and retouching refer to the series of thinking and rethinking aboutthe meaning of Being where it only becomes a subject matter, a theme, and only a matter of speculation among intellectual men. Each philosopher who is interested in metaphysics ontologymakes his own ontological construction. In the parlance of Friedrich Nietzsche, westernrationalization only emphasizes the Apollonian side of culture while it disregards the Dionysian.Apollonian is the principle of reason, order, and to an extent it is the
pr 
inci
p
ium individuationis
(µprinciple of individuation¶) because reason is structured to have a distinction. Thus, Apollonianis concerned on science while Dionysian is on art. Nietzsche¶s criticism offers a new image of what it is to be a philosopher, that is, not the Apollonian academician but Dionysian. SoNietzsche criticizes Plato for the latter¶s condemnation on the role of the poet. Just likeNietzsche, Heidegger also reacts to the history of the West as the history of rationalization andabstraction and so his later thought has a trace of Nietzschean thought especially in
What a
ePoets fo
r?
. However, I should not go beyond from his metaphysics to aesthetics.
3
 
Ib
id.
 
What is clear is that we are suffering from the age of forgetfulness, that is, we no longer know what Being is. Who should be blame for this forgetfulness of ours? At first, it is our faultbecause we no longer take the courage in confronting the question and we make excuses toescape by hiding behind the unquestioned presuppositions. However, these presuppositions areactually not our own making but a product of all the layers and conceptual trappings which havebeen the product of the history of ontology. In this case, we can say that it is not only our faultbut also from the history of traditional ontology itself that conditioned us to forget the meaningof Being. This is the contention of Heidegger as he criticizes the early philosophical tradition intheir great regard for reason.Plato introduces the dualism between appearance and reality which shapes the thinking of the next generation. This dualism is depicted in one of the most cited chapters of Plato¶s
R
e
p
u
bl 
ic,
The Allegory of the Cave. He conceives reality as something which is unchanging andeternal that cannot be found here but only in the World of Ideas. This true reality can only begrasped by the rational part of the human soul. On the other hand, this world is considered as theappearance only. And so Being as unchanging must not be in time but something outside timeand contingency.Aristotle defines metaphysics or the First Philosophy as ³a science which inquires intothe ultimate causes, principles, and reason of all things in the light of human reason alone.´
4
 This means that through reason, science has been founded. Though this science, it shapes anddominates the history of civilization while at the same time science marginalizes thehumanitarian side in the quest for truth and the meaning of our existence. How did the dream of the Greeks which is science leads us to the estrangement to ourselves? One great factor was
4
Aristotle,
eta
p
hysics,
trans. W.D. Ross (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1953), 982a.

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