3:AM: You argue that Heidegger raises two questions: one is a question of ‘transcendence’ and the other is a ‘question of being’. Can you tell us about this distinction and the two questions Heidegger raises? What’s the relationship as you see it between Husserl’s question of constitution and Heidegger’s question of transcendence?
SO: Heidegger’s question of being, as I understand it, is the question of what it means for something to be (or exist – although Heidegger reserves the term ‘existence’ for the human way of existing). It might seem as if there is no question hereabouts, or at least not an interesting one. To be is just to be – end of story. So it might seem, but Heidegger thinks an important question is concealed here. Different entities, or beings, have different manners or modes of being. A hammer, for example, essentially is something-with-which-to do something – for example, drive nails into things. A human being exists in an entirely different way. Numbers have yet another manner of being. The question of being concerns what these various manners of being are, and what the underlying ‘meaning of being’ that unites them all might be. (Heidegger seems to assume there must be some underlying unity that justifies speaking of ‘the meaning of being’.)