HEIDEGGER ON THE QUESTION ABOUT THE MEANING OF BEING
The question of Being is at the center of Heidegger’s thought. His philosophicalproject starts from the situation where he finds himself in an experience of a certain kindof confusion and 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: “‘For manifestly you have long been aware of what you mean when youuse the expression “being”. We, however, who used to think we understood it, have nowbecome perplexed.”
This perplexity refers to the dissatisfaction of the traditional view of ontology which causes our inability to understand Being. Thus, Heidegger observes thatat present we no longer really know what the expression being mean. How did thisperplexity come about? First, Heidegger goes back to Plato’s ancient question about themeaning of the expression ‘being’ and relates it to our present understanding. Theconclusion is that in the early period philosophers are occupied in the investigation of themeaning of Being and after a long time that impulse of wonder and awe has beenforgotten. We have forgotten Being because we no longer bother to have a sense of wonder and ask the question about Being. “What is Being?... This question has todaybeen forgotten.”
There is an experience of forgetfulness of Being [Vergessenheit].Heidegger’s observation about our forgetfulness has not simply come out from jumpinginto conclusion but rather this particular philosopher knows the history of philosophyitself. The age of forgetfulness can be traced back to its origin in history.
Being and Time,
John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson.
Henceforthreferred to as BT. (New York: Harper & Row, 1962), quoted as epigraph
BT§1, 2; 21.