Wednesday, June 03, 2015
Daniela Vallega-Neu on the failure of B&T to say being.
In its development, the project of fundamental ontology goes from a questioning of Dasein as the being that is interrogated (Befragtes) to a questioning of being as such and its horizonal time, i.e., what is asked about (Erfragtes). This project, which follows the path of a motion of transcendence, invites thinking to slip back into a metaphysical perspective that poses itself over against and therefore outside what it questions. This slippage occurs even if we conceptually understand the itinerary of Being and Time as one that leads back to its origin (horizonal time), and this origin as non-metaphysical in its finite, temporal quality. It may occur even if we try to remain attuned to an “authentic” disclosure of being in anticipatory resoluteness. The notions of transcendence and horizon do not arise out of the origin that they are meant to designate, but toward it.
One could say that this is “only” a problem of language, of conceptuality, but what is meant with these words goes beyond metaphysics, or is more originary. Such an explanation of the “failure” or rather incapability of saying being in Being and Time seems to make sense. The German word for “failure,” “Versagen,” has the root meaning “saying” [-sagen] while the prefix “ver-” carries the sense of “against.” Thus, “Versagen” itself suggests an inability to say, a failure of language. But if one is familiar with Heidegger’s understanding of language from the thirties on, one hesitates to be satisfied with a simple distinction between metaphysical language and its non-metaphysical “content,” as if the right meaning were already there and we needed only the correct words. Heidegger conceives of language as an articulation of being in the sense that being unfolds in language. Being is not something already there (an “other” to language) that words could represent and subsequently articulate. Being is an event that becomes manifest (or not) in words—if they are able to say it. And where, in a representational language, words suggest that being is something already there which words may or may not articulate, be-ing as a temporal occurrence withdraws “behind” these words and remains unsaid. Consequently, the slippage to which the reader of Being and Time is subject, this slippage evoked by the transcendental-horizonal perspective of Being and Time, cannot be reversed as long as we use a representational language. The ability to articulate being withdraws in using the language of Being and Time—its language is not able adequately to say being. Following Heidegger’s understanding of language, this is not a failure of the person Martin Heidegger; it is being in its historicality which gives itself to thought and, thus, this failure to say being is ultimately rooted in how being gives itself to thought in the project of Being and Time.
Pp. 25-6
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