FINITUDE-METAPHYSICS-EXISTENCE-F REEDOM

KEIJJI

 

 

 

 

 

Human beings exist in the midst of beings-as-a-whole as beings who exist in the way of transcendence . This means that human existence is being held out into Nothing and as such is thrown into the midst of the totality of beings as such.

 

As transcendence Dasein encounters beings against the horizon of world as Being; as held out into Nothing, it encounters the Being of beings . Nothing “nothings” within the “being” of beings. In other words, the totality of beings shows itself as liable to col lapse (hinfiillig), and human being, which exists in its midst, finds itself as itself in anxiety.

 

In this sense, finitude constitutes our innermost essence” Transcendence is the innermost finitude, the finitude which sustains Dasein,,-and therefore the “foundation” of metaphysics as fundamental ontology.

That Dasein is essentially finite comes from the revelation of Nothing at its ground . To be suspended in Nothing is to go beyond and come out from beings-as-a-whole, albeit in a transcendence that is at the same time always “being-to-the-end .” Moreover, the revelation of Nothing at the ground of human being means that the horizon of the understanding of Being is opened up. Therefore the finitude of human being and the understanding of Being are bound together within the revelation of Nothing: “Understanding of Being . . . appears as the innermost ground of human finitude. . . . It is itself the innermost essence of finitude” (KM 236-7/222) . If transcendence and the understanding of Being are what establish the ontological difference, then finitude in the sense just mentioned belongs to the foundations of metaphysics.

This means, Heidegger goes on, that metaphysics belongs to our inherent nature, echoing Kant’s allusion to “metaphysics as a natural disposition.

,, In Heidegger, this idea is even more directly stated:

 

Human Dasein is able to relate to beings only if it holds itself

out into Nothing. This going out beyond beings takes place in

the essence [ Wesen] of Dasein . But this going out beyond is

metaphysics itself.

. . . Metaphysics is the fundamental occurrence within

Dasein . It is Dasein itself.

 

 

It i s not only the questions o f metaphysics that derive from the finitude of Existence, but the fact that metaphysics should occur in the form of a question at all. This has two meanings . First, that metaphysics is a fundamental event within human Dasein because Dasein is itself a question for itself. In this sense, metaphysics is preontological; despite its “ontological” disclosures, it remains on tical.

 

The understanding of Being is the innermost essence of the finitude of Existence and is the most finite of finite things . But “the most finite thing in the finitude of Dasein is known (bekannt) but not yet grasped (begriffen)”; and this issue itself is “a metaphysical primordial fact ( Urfaktum)” .

 

But if metaphysics has already arisen in virtue of our finitude, then why are we all not always living in metaphysics? The reason, of course, is that we are not normally preoccupied with the finitude of our self-being . In other words, we have not become fully finite in the finitude of the self, in the innermost essence of self-being, in the “abyssal ground” that is the revelation of Nothing. Instead the revelation of the finitude of Dasein, the “nothingness” of Nothing, drives us toward beings, to relate and “submit” to them. 36 It makes us oblivious of the Nothing over which the true self hangs suspended:

 

Nothing in its nothinging precisely refers us to being s .

Nothing nothings unceasingly, without our really knowing

about this occurrence with the knowledge within which we

move every day.

This forgetting and concealment are inevitable, given our

“thrownness” and radical finitude. That we are free in this conditionis not a function of our free projection or free wi ll; that is, we are

not “creator and master” of ourselves. Even proj ection is “thrown

projection,” and because of this thrownness our being is submitted

to the beings into whose midst it has been cast. As Heidegger says:

We are so finite that we are simply unable by our own decision

and wi ll to bring about the fundamental encounter with

Nothing. Finitude is so deeply entrenched in our Dasein that

our freedom cannot reach our ownmost and deepest finitude.”

 

Thus our finitude is due not to our freedom but to the nothinging of Nothing which is the “ground” even of our freedom .

In spite of the fact that metaphysics takes place at the ground of Dasein itself, and indeed is Dasein itself radical ly questioning itself, we are not normal ly aware that this is going on . Dasein forgets to question itself fundamentally, which brings us to the second meaning of metaphysics as a question. Metaphysics has to arise from the ground of our being as an inquiry into Being itself. To question our Dasein fundamental ly, we have to philosophize-and philosophize existentially. Only thus can we be authentically ourselves.

In our everyday, public way of being, we have fallen away from the innermost ground of our being, and the most finite thing in our finitude has been concealed from us. The radical nullity of Dasein, of being held out into Nothing, is forgotten in the course ofrelating to beings; with great peace of mind we hurry to the superficial domains of Dasein and busy ourselves with the public life. “The finitude of Dasein-thc understanding of Beinglies in oblivion”.

 

Metaphysics consists in Dasein’s wresting its fundamental finitude from oblivion and disclosing the nothinging of Nothing at its ground so that the self completely becomes its own finitude. This disclosure of Nothing means that Dasein is grasped as “being-to-the-end” or “being-toward-death .” This is the individualization of Dasein mentioned earlier, in which we revert from the public self to the true self, to the self as individual.

 

From this is is clear that metaphysics is not merely an idle pastime of the intellect but a practice based on a resolution in which we risk our very being. The question is whether we authentically hold ourselves out into Nothing, become completely finite, and thus become ourselves; or whether we exist inauthentically as members of the public, and lose ourselves by deceiving ourselves with regard to our finitude. To opt for the former, it is imperative that our Dasein return to the anxiety of being held out into Nothing, thatthe totality of beings become brittle and uncanny, and that all our projection, all free, creative activity, be carried out resolutely upon our “ownmost being-able-to-be” as being-toward-death.

These are matters with which “the sciences” are unequipped to deal . Scientific Dasein is concerned exclusively with beings.

“Nothing” is not a concern of the sciences, and yet “scientific thinking” itself is possible only because it is already inserted into Nothing . If science regards its refusal to take “Nothing” seriously as an indication of its quality and superiority, its claims become ludicrous.

 

As Heidegger says:

 

For this reason the rigor [Strenge] of a science cannot match

the seriousness [Ernst] of metaphysics . Philosophy can never

be measured by the standard of the idea of science.

 

Metaphysics, as j ust discussed, has to do with “the disclosing of the entire realm of the truth of nature and history” , as well as of the finitude that belongs by nature to the Being of beings .

 

Because “Being itself i s in its essence finite and reveals itself only in the transcendence of Dasein which is held out into Nothing,” it follows that: “It is only in the Nothing of Dasein that the totality of beings comes to itself in its own most possibility that is, finitely” .

 

Heidegger has attempted to restructure Kant’s standpoint of “transcendental grounding” from the standpoint of the disclosure of Being within transcendence . When Nothing is revealed and beings press in upon us in their true nature as something uncanny, unfamiliar, or alien, the wonder this experience evokes in us raises the question ” Why?” Once Nothing has been revealed and the question Why has been raised, the sciences can begin to raise questions in their respective fields of inquiry. Meanwhile, “the inquiry into Nothing puts us ourselves the inquirers into question. This inquiry is a metaphysical inquiry”. Here the abyss (Abgrund) of Dasein itself is opened up. “The truth of metaphysics resides within this abyssal ground (abgrundigen Grunde),’.

 

Just as human being reaches authentic self-being by seeing itself as finite at the abyssal ground, so does the totality of beings “come” to itself as finite in being grounded ontologically on the same abyssal ground . These two events are one and the same. This is precisely the standpoint of metaphysics as a “ground-event” or basic occurrence (Grundgeschehen) within Dasein, and as such represents the standpoint of freedom. Freedom is the abyss of Dasein itself; it is “the ground of ground” for all things , and also The Self-Overcoming of Nihilism “the source of ground in general”. Freedom opens up the ground that grounds beings as “freedom for ground .” In other words: “The sudden breaking open (Aufbrechen) of the abyss in transcendence which grounds is the primordial movement ( Urbewegung) that freedom perpetrates upon us” .

 

Freedom, as this kind of abyss, is what integrates the totality of beings from the ground of their being; Heidegger calls this “grounding in world-projection” (Grunden in Weltenwurf>  . The projection of world opens,up a “world-horizon” for the totality of beings and as such is transcendence . What Heidegger calls fundamental “world-content” takes form at the ground of Dasein: “the more primordially the content of the world ( Weltgehalt) is grounded, the more simply it touches the heart (Herz) of Dasein and its selfhood in its activity”. In other words, the abyss that opens up at the ground of

Dasein is the bedrock on which the world-content rests and at the same time the depths of the heart and the place where action becomes action of the self.

 

H seems reasonable to suggest that here we have a view similar to Nietzsche’s idea of the world as perspectives of will seen in terms of will to power, and also to Stirner’s idea of “worldenjoyment” (Weltgenuss) see in terms of “creative nothing.” Of course, Heidegger differs from both of them in maintaining to the end a stand on metaphysics as ontology and, like Kant, making transcendental grounding a central issue.

 

To sum up: for Heidegger, “projection of world” (the fundamental unity of the totality of beings) and “thrownness” (the essence of finitude) come together in the transcendence peculiar to human being. If we grant that this reveals Nothing at the ground of human being, we may see here a distinctively Heideggerian approach to the fundamental unity of creative nihilism and finitude mentioned earlier in connection with Stirner and Nietzsche . Projection of world is a standpoint that brings together the totality of beings and renders possible all “creative” activity as the activity of the self. For Heidegger, metaphysics means to assume this kind of standpoint.

 

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