Kierkegaard and Heidegger: The Ontology of Existence

By Michael Wyschogrod | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER III
Heidegger and the Analysis of Dasein

Being and Beings

WHEREAS Kierkegaard's concern with Being, basic as it is, is never made the object of explicit philosophical research, except in relation to more directly existential problems, Heidegger sets the problem of Being in the very centre of his concern. He maintains that Being is a problem that has been forgotten and that only its resurrection can direct philosophy to that area of thought in which it can function most properly. In spite of this he makes clear at the outset of his thinking that if concern with the problem of Being implies, as its aim, a drawing up of a definition of Being, then disappointment is inevitable. The reason for this is that 'Being, for purposes of definition, cannot be deduced from higher concepts and cannot be presented by lower.'1. That it cannot be deduced from higher concepts is the result of its all-embracing generality. That it cannot be presented by lower is based on the distinction between Being per se and a being. No being, in the sense of a being, can represent Being because it is precisely by virtue of Being that something is a being and not vice versa. This unique position that Being occupies thus prevents the possibility of formulating a definition of it in the sense in which traditional logic speaks of definition.

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1
SZ, p. 4

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