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The Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics: World, Finitude, Solitude
 0253327490, 9780253327499

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Martin Heidegger Studies in Continental Thought

The Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics



World, Finitude, Solitude


William L. McBride Robert Bernasconi J. N. Mohanty Rudolf Bernet Mary Rawlinson John D. Caputo Tom Rockmore David Carr Calvin O. Schrag Edward S. Casey t Reiner Schiirmann Hubert L. Dreyfus Charles E. Scott Don Ihde Thomas Sheehan David Farrell Krell Robert Sokolowski Lenore Langsdorf Bruce W. Wilshire Alphonso Lingis David Wood


Translated by William McNeill and Nicholas Walker




Indiana University Press Bloomington and Indianapolis

This book is a publication of Indiana University Press 601 North Morton Street Bloomington, Indiana 47404-3797 USA

In Memory of Eugen Fink

Telephone orders 800-842-6796 Fax orders 812-855-7931 Orders bye-mail [email protected] Published in German as Die Grundbegriffe der Metaphysik. WeltEndlichkeit-Einsamkeit © 1983, 1992 by Vittorio Klostermann, Frankfurt am Main. Publication of this work was supported by funding from Inter Nationes, Bonn. ©1995 by Indiana University Press All rights reserved No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. The Association of American University Presses' Resolution on Permissions constitutes the only exception to this prohibition. The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of American National Standard for Information SciencesPermanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI Z39.48-1984. Manufactured in the United States of America Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Heidegger, Martin, 1889-1976. [Grundbegriffe der Metaphysik. English] The fundamental concepts of metaphysics: world, finitude, solitude / Martin Heidegger ; translated by William McNeill and Nicholas Walker. p. cm.-(Studies in Continental thought) Translation of: Die Grundbegriffe der Metaphysik Includes bibliographical references. ISBN 0-253-32749-0 (cloth: alk. paper) 1. Metaphysics. 1. Title. II. Series. B3279.H48G76513 1995 110-dc20 94-43451 ISBN 0-253-21429-7 (pbk. : alk. paper) 2 3 4 5 6 05 04 03 02 01 00

He listened to this lecture course with thoughtful reticence, and in so doing experienced something unthought of his own that determined his path. Presumably this is where we must look for the reason why, over the past decades, he repeatedly expressed the wish that this lecture should be published before all others. Martin Heidegger 26 July 1975

Contents Translators' Foreword


PRELIMINARY APPRAISAL The Task of the Course and Its Fundamental Orientation, Starting with a General Elucidation of the Title of the Course Chapter One The Detours toward Determining the Essence of Philosophy (Metaphysics), and the Unavoidability of Looking Metaphysics in the Face §

I. The incomparability of philosophy. a) Philosophy neither science, nor the proclamation of a worldview. b) The essence of philosophy not to be determined via the detour of comparing it with art and religion. c) The escape route of determining the essence of philosophy via a historical orientation as an illusion.

§ 2. Determining philosophy from out of itself, taking our lead from a word of Novalis. a) The withdrawal of metaphysics (philosophizing) as a human activity into the obscurity of the essence of man.

2 3 4 4

b) Homesickness as the fundamental attunement of philosophizing, and the questions concerning world, finitude, individuation.


§ 3. Metaphysical thinking as comprehensive thinking: dealing with the whole and gripping existence through and through.


Chapter Two Ambiguity in the Essence of Philosophy (Metaphysics) § 4. The ambiguity in philosophizing in general: the uncertainty as to whether or not philosophy is science or the proclamation of a worldview.


§ 5. The ambiguity in our philosophizing here and now in the comportment of the listener and of the teacher.


§ 6. The truth of philosophy and its ambiguity.


a) Philosophy presents itself as something that concerns everyone and is understood by everyone. b) Philosophy presents itself as something ultimate and supreme. a.) Philosophical truth in its semblance of absolutely certain truth. ~) The emptiness and non-binding character ofthe argument offormal contradiction. The truth of philosophy as rooted in the fate of Dasein.

15 16 16




y) The ambiguity of the critical stance in Descartes and in modern philosophy. § 7. The struggle of philosophizing against the insurmountable ambiguity of its essence. Philosophizing stands on its own as the fundamental occurrence in Dasein.

Contents 20


Justifying the Characterization of Compr~hensive Questio~ing Concerning World, Finitude, IndividuatIOn as MetaphysIcs. Origin and History of the Word 'Metaphysics'

§ 8. The word 'metaphysics'. The meaning of lpucnKli. a) Elucidation of the word lpucnKli. lpucnc; as the self-forming prevailing of beings as a whole. b) MyoC; as taking the prevailing of beings as a whole out of concealment.



d) The two meanings of lpucnC;.


§ 11. The changeover from the technical meaning of flEtli in the word 'metaphysics' to a meaning conceived in terms of content. a) The technical meaning offlEtli: after (post). Metaphysics as the technical title for an embarrassment in the face of7tpc.OtTI lptAoO'olpia. b) The meaning of flEtli with respect to content: over beyond (trans). Metaphysics as a designation and interpretation of 7tpc.OtTI lptAo.O'olpia with respect to content: science of the suprasensuous. MetaphysIcs as a scholastic discipline.



Chapter One The Task of Awakening a Fundamental Attunement and the Indication of a Concealed Fundamental Attunement in Our Contemporary Dasein



a) Awakening: not ascertaining something at hand, but letting what is asleep become wakeful.



b) The being-there and not-being-there of attunement cannot be grasped via the distinction between consciousness and unconsciousness. c) The being-there and not-being-there of attunement on the grounds of man's being as being-there and being-away (being absent).


§ 17. Provisional characterization of the phenomenon of attunement: attunement as a fundamental way of Dasein, as that which gives Dasein its subsistence and possibility. The awakening of attunement as a grasping of Da-sein as Da-sein.


§ 18. Making sure of our contemporary situation and of the fundamental attunement that pervades it as the presupposition for awakening this fundamental attunement.


a) Four interpretations of our contemporary situation: the opposition of life (soul) and spirit in Oswald Spengler, Ludwig Klages, Max Scheler, and Leopold Ziegler.


32 35 37 37


§ 12. The inherent incongruities of the traditional concept of metaphysics.


a) The trivialization of the traditional concept o.f metaphysics: .the ~eta­ physical (God, immortal soul) as a being that IS at hand, albeIt a hIgher one.


b) The confused state of the traditional concept ofmetaph~sics: the ~~m­ bining ofthe two separate kinds oflying out beyond (flEta) a.s ~ertamII~g to suprusensuous beings and to the unsensuous charactenstlcs of the being of beings. c) The unproblematic nature of the traditional concept of metaphysics.


§ 15. Metaphysics as a title for the fundamental problem of metaphysics

§ 16. Coming to a preliminary understanding about the significance of awakening a fundamental attunement.

§ 10. The formation of the scholastic disciplines of logic, physics, and

ethics as the decline of philosophizing proper.


§ 14. The concept of metaphysics in Franz Suarez and the fundamental character of modern metaphysics.

Awakening a Fundamental Attunement in Our Philosophizing


§ 9. The two meanings of lpucnc; in Aristotle. Questioning concernin g beings as a whole and questioning co~cerning the. es~enti.ality \t h e being) of beings as the dual orientatIOn of questlOnmg In 7tprotTl lptAoO'olpia.

dence for the three features of the traditional concept of metaphysics.


c) MyoC; as the saying of what is unconcealed (UATlefa). uAi\eEta (truth) as something stolen, something that must be torn from concealment. a) The ambivalence of the fundamental ~eaning ?f ljlUcnC;: t?at w.hich prevails in its prevailing. The first meanmg oflpucnC;: the lpUO'Et ovm (as opposed to the tfXVn ovta) as regional concept. ~) The second meaning of ljlUcnC;: prevailing as such as the essence and inner law of the matter.

§ 13. The concept of metaphysics in Thomas Aquinas as historical evi-

itself. The result of our preliminary appraisal and the demand to take action in metaphysics on the basis of being gripped by a metaphysical questioning.

Chapter Three


b) Nietzsche's fundamental opposition between the Dionysian and Apollonian as the source of the four interpretations of our contemporary situation. c) Profound boredom as the concealed fundamental attunement of the interpretations of our situation provided by the philosophy of culture.




Chapter Two The First Form of Boredom: Becoming Bored by Something 44


§ 19. The questionableness of boredom. Awakening this fundamental attunement as letting it be awake, as guarding against it falling asleep.


Content s

Content s


to time, and § 20. The fundam ental attunem ent of boredom , its relation , individfinitude world, ing concern ns questio ysical metaph three the uation. is boring. § 21. The interpre tation of boredom starting from that which us That which is boring as that which holds us in limbo and leaves of ta schema tional conven three the of empty. The questio nablene ss interpre tation: the cause-e ffect relation , someth ing psychol ogical, and transfer ence. ng bored: § 22. Method ologica l directiv e for the interpre tation of becomi avoidin g the approac h of an analysis of conscio usness, and maintaining the immedi acy of everyda y Dasein: interpre tation o~ boreto dom in terms of passing the time as our immedi ate relatIOn boredom .




§ 23. Becomi ng bored and passing the time. a) Passing the time as a driving away of boredom that drives time on. b) Passing the time and looking at our watch. Becoming bored as being affected in a paralysi ng way by time as it drags.


c) Being held in limbo by time as it drags. d) Being left empty by the refusal ofthings , and an insight into its possible connect ion with being held in limbo by time as it drags.


93 96


Chapter Three The Second Form of Boredom: Being Bored with Something and the Passing of Time Belonging to It time per§ 24. Being bored with someth ing and the kind of passing the 106 taining to it. and a) The need for a more original grasp of boredom in order to underst 106 empty. left being and limbo in held being between link al the structur g the b) Being bored with something and the transfor med manner ofpassin 108 bored. are we which with that as time the passing time: with respect § 25. Contras ting the second form of boredom with the first 113 left empty. being and limbo in to the essentia l momen ts of being held from another a) General contrast ing ofthe two forms ofbored om with one the point ofview ofthat which is boring: determi nate and indeterm inate boring things. The apparen t absence of being held in limbo and being 114 left empty in the second form of boredom. left are we b) Obstructive casualness as the deepening manner in which 116 empty by what is boring us. Being left empty in a self-forming emptiness. its in time to limbo c) Not being released from our time as being held in 120 standing. bored, § 26. The structur al unity of the two structur al momen ts of being ground ed in a making -presen t that brings the time taken to a stand. of Boredo m as springin g from the self-tem poralizi ng tempor ality 126 Dasein.

ng: the pe§ 27. Co~c1.uding characte~ization ~f being bored with somethi the way in as it to belongs which tIme cul~anty of that 'passll~g the. which whateve r IS bonng anses out of Dasein itself. in contras t § 28. The second form of boredo m as becomi ng more profoun d to the first.




Chapter Four The Third Form of Boredom: Profound Boredom as 'It Is Boring for One' § 29. Prerequ isites for penetra ting into the essence of boredo m and of the time: questio ning the concep tion of man as conscio usness and h. way in which the essence of boredo m opens itself up in its'dept


§ 30. No longer. permitt ing any passing the time as underst anding the lisoverpow enng nature of profoun d boredom . Being compel led to ten to what profoun d boredom gives us to underst and.


§ 31. Concre te in~erpretation of profoun d boredo m along the guiding thread of bemg left empty and being held in limbo. a) Being left empty as Dasein' s being delivered over to beings' telling refusal of themselves as a whole. b) Bein~ held i~ limbo as being impelled toward what originally makes D~sem PO~SI~le as such. ~he structur al unity of being left empty and of bemg held m limbo as a umty of the expanse of beings' telling refusal makes what of y extremit singular the of and whole, a as themselves Dasein possible. § 32. The tempor al charact er of profoun d boredom . l a) Being entrance d by the single threefold horizon oftime as the tempora empty. left being characte r of t b) Being impelled through the entranc ement oftime toward the momen l tempora The limbo. in held being of of ~ision as. the tempora l characte r umty ofbemg left empty and being held in limbo.

136 137

140 144 145


eile': the § 33. The esse.ntial meanin~ o~ the word 'boredo m' or 'Langew on of expansi the as boredom d lengthe nmg of the while m profoun t momen a of ty extremi the of ng vanishi the and horizon al the tempor vision. of


direc§ 34. Summa ry 'definit ion' of profoun d boredom as a more incisive n questio the for tion prepara as and boredom t~ng interpre tive for. Daporary contem our in co.ncermng a partIcu lar profoun d boredom sem.


that which § 35. Tempor ality in a particu lar way of its tempora lizing as . boredom in us properl y bores


profoun d § 36. The ordinar y assessm ent of boredom and its suppres sion of boredom .





Chapter Three

Chapter Five

The Beginning of the Comparative Examination, Taking the InteJ;111ediate Thesis That the Animal Is Poor in World as Our Point of Departure

The Question Concerning a Particular Profound Boredom as the Fundamental Attunement of Our Contemporary Dasein § 37. Reconsideration of the question concerning a profound boredom as the fundamental attunement of our Dasein. § 38. The question concerning a particular profound b~~ed0I1! in the ~i­ rection of a specific being left empty and a specIfIc bemg held m limbo. a) The essential need as a whole and the absence (t~lling r~fusal) of any essential oppressiveness in our contemporary Dasem as bemg left empty in this particular profound boredom. b) The most extreme demand on Dasein as su~h, simultaneously announced in the telling absence of any oppressIveness (the moment of vision that is simultaneously announced) as the being held in limbo of this particular profound boredom.





Really Asking the Metaphysical Questions to Be Developed from the Fundamental Attunement of Profound Boredom. The Question: What Is World?

169 173 174

Chapter Two The Beginning of Metaphysical Questioning with the Question of World. The Path of the Investigation and Its Difficulties

stone is worldless, the animal is poor in world, man IS worl -lormmg. § 43. The fundamental difficulty with r~s~e.ct to c.ontent and method in

determining the essence and accessIbIlIty of lIfe. § 44. Summary and renewed introduction following. the vacation: metaphysics as comprehensive questioning; awakenll~g the fu~dament31I attunement of profound boredom; the metaphysIcal questIOns to be developed from the fundamental attunement. Guidelines for correctly understanding this talk about the fundamental attunement of philosophizing.

§ 46. The that and erty

186 188

thesis that 'the animal is poor in world' in relation to the thesis 'man is world-forming'. The relation between poverty in world world-formation does not entail hIerarchical assessment. Povin world as deprivation of world.


§ 47. The thesis that 'the animal is poor in world' in relation to the thesis that 'the stone is worldless'. Worldlessness as not having access to beings. Provisional characterization of world as the accessibility of beings.


§ 48. The sense in which the animal has and does not have world: attaining a place from which to begin the elucidation of the concept of world.


Chapter Four

The Metaphysical Questions to Be Developedfrom the Fundamental Attunement of Profound Boredom

§ 42. The path of a comparative examination of three g~iding dth;ses:. the

a) The thesis that 'the animal is poor in world' as a statement of essence and a presupposition ofzoology. The circular movement ofphilosophy.


Clarification of the Essence of the Animal's Poverty in World by Way of the Question Concerning the Essence of Animality, the Essence of Life in General, and the Essence of the Organism

Chapter One

§ 40. The way in which the three questions are to be asked. § 41. The beleaguering of the three questions by tradition and by sound common sense.

§ 45. The propositional character of this thesis and the relation between metaphysics and the positive sciences.

b) The relation of our philosophical questioning to zoology and biology.


§ 39. The questions concerning world, individuation, and finitude as what is given to questioning through the fundaI1!ental attunement ~f profound boredom in our contemporary Dasem. The essence of tIme as the root of the three questions.





§ 49. The methodological question concerning the ability to transpose oneself into other beings (animal, stone, and man) as a substantive question concerning the specific manner of being that belongs to such beings.


§ 50. Having and not having world as the potentiality for granting trans-

posedness and as necessarily being refused any going along with. Poverty (deprivation) as not having, yet being able to have. § 51. Initial clarification of the essence of the organism. a) The questionable character of that conception which understands the organ as an instrument and the organism as a machine. A cursory elucidation ofthe essential distinctions between equipment, instrument, and machine. b) The questionable character ofthe mechanistic conception ofvital movement.

209 212

212 216

§ 52. The question concerning the essence of the organ as a question concerning the character of the animal's potentiality as possibility. The serviceability of equipment as readiness for something, the serviceability of the organ as capacity for something.


§ 53. The concrete connection between capability and the organ which belongs to it as subservience, as distinct from the serviceability of equipment.





Chapter Five

§ 54. The intrinsically regulative character of that which is cap~ble, as

distinct from the prescription governing ready-made eqUipment. Self-driving toward its wherefore as the instinctual character that drives capacity. § 55. Inquiring into the achievement of the organ taken into service in terms of subservient capacity. § 56. More penetrating clarification of the elucidat~d essence o~ c.apacity in order to determine the essence of the orgamsm (the holIstic character of the organism): proper being or proper peculiarity as the manner of being specific to the animal and its way of being proper to itself.

§ 57. The organism as endowed with capability arti~ulating.itself into capacities creating organs-as the manner of bemg specific to that proper peculiarity endowed with capability and creatmg organs. § 58. The behaviour and captivation of the animal. a) Preliminary interpretation of behaviour as the wherefore of animal capability. Animal behaviour as drive in distinction from human comportment as action. b) The animal's absorption in itselfas captivation. Capt.ivation (th~~s~ence of the peculiarity proper to the organism) as the mner possIbIlIty of behaviour. § 59. Clarification of the structure of behaviour in a concrete way: the relationality of animal behaviour, as distinct from the relationality of human action. a) Concrete examples of animal behaviour drawn from experimental research. b) General characterization of behaviour: captivat.ion ~s the anima~'s having any apprehending of something as so.methmg wlt~held from It, and as being taken by something. The exclusIOn of the ammal from the manifestness of beings. § 60. The openness of behaviour and captivation, and what it is that the

animal relates itself to. a) The eliminative character of behaviour. b) Animal behaviour as encircled by a disinhibiting ring. § 61. Concluding delimitation of the essential concept of the organism.

a) The organism as the capability for behaviour in the unity ofcaptivation. The animal's being bound to its environment (self-encirclement open to disinhibition) as the essential structure of behaviour. b) Two essential steps in biology: Hans Driesch and Jakob Johann von Uexkiill. c) The incompleteness of our present interpretation of the essence of. t.he organism: the lack of any determination of the essence of motilIty belonging to the living being. .


228 230


234 236



240 241


249 249 253 257

257 261


Unfolding the Guiding Thesis That 'the Animal Is Poor in World' on the Basis of the Interpretation of the Essence of the Organism at Which We Have Arrived § 62. Being open in captivation as a not-having of world in having that which disinhibits.


§ 63. An objection raised by ourselves to the thesis concerning the nothaving of world as deprivation and poverty of the animal. Removing the force of this objection.


Chapter Six The Thematic Exposition of the Problem of World through an Examination of the Thesis That 'Man Is World-forming' § 64. The primary characteristics of the phenomenon of world: the

manifestness of beings as beings and the 'as'; the relation to beings as letting be and not letting be (comportment toward, orientation, selfhood).


§ 65. The undifferentiated manifestness of the various kinds of beings that are present at hand. The slumbering of the fundamental relationships of Dasein toward beings in everydayness.


§ 66. The manifestness proper to living nature, and the transposedness of Dasein into the encircling contextual ring of living beings as our peculiar fundamental relationship toward them. The manifoldness of the specific manners of being, their possible unity, and the problem of world.


§ 67. The question concerning the occurrence of manifestness as the point of departure for the question concerning world. Return of the question concerning world-formation and world to the direction disclosed by the interpretation of profound boredom.


§ 68. Provisional delimitation of the concept of world: world as the manifestness of beings as such as a whole. General elucidation of world-formation.


§ 69. A first formal interpretation of the 'as' as a structural moment of manifestness. a) The connection between the 'as', as the structural linking pertaining to relation and relational terms, and the propositional statement.

287 287

b) The orientation of metaphysics toward the Myo