The problem, Heidegger thought, one riddling all philosophy back to Aristotle, lay in a single fundamental equivocation: the inclination to think being in terms of beings, and the faulty application of what might be called ‘thing logic’ to things that are not things at all and so require a different logic or inferential scheme altogether. The problem, in other words, was the universal tendency to ‘level’ what he called the Ontological Difference, the crucial distinction between being proper and beings, between what was prior and ontological, and what was derivative and ontic. Any philosophy guilty of this equivocation he labelled the Metaphysics of Presence.
What I want to do is clarify his clarification with some obscurities of my own, speculative possibilities that, if borne out by cognitive neuroscience, will have the effect of naturalizing the Ontological Difference, explaining what it is that Heidegger was pursuing in, believe it or not, empirical terms. Heidegger, of course, would argue that this must be yet another example of putting the ontic cart in front of the ontological horse, but I’ve long since lost faith in the ability of rank speculation to ‘ground’ anything, let alone the sum of scientific knowledge. I would much rather risk crossing my ontological wires and use the derivative to explain the fundamental than risk crossing my epistemic wires and use the dubious to ‘ground’ the reliable.