In LARB, Richard Polt reviews
Jacques Derrida's Heidegger: The Question of Being and History
, translated by Geoffrey Bennignton.
The question of being — seemingly the most abstract of all — actually requires us to engage with our own history. For instance, in Introduction to Metaphysics, Heidegger makes the etymological argument that Indo-European words for being develop from three roots that Derrida sums up as “live, blossom, dwell. The significations have been erased and the history of the word be is the history of this erasure.” The point is not to insist that being should revert to meaning only these three things, but to appreciate the process by which “in this erasure […] being [liberates] itself from the metaphysics of living, of blossoming, of dwelling, to such a point that it [can also] mean the non-living, the non-blossoming, the non-dwelling.” Derrida celebrates this “liberation with regard to any possible metaphor.” In order to think of being (Sein, être), we have to stop treating it as if it were a being (Seiendes, étant). We must stop telling “stories” about it and approaching it metaphorically. “[T]he thinking of being announces the horizon of non-metaphor.”