Letting beings be: The Disclosure of Being? by Martin Jenkins. “To see a world in a grain of sand And Heaven in a wild flower Hold infinity in the palm of your hand And eternity in an hour.” 1 “Einai gar kai entautha theous. (Here too, the gods are present…..”(Gk)2 In a previous paper published some time ago, entitled Humanism and the Ecstatic, I provided a brief account of Martin Heidegger's history of Western Philosophy and its relation to What Is, or Being. To briefly recap: falling away from unthematised, unconceptualised approach, Being became manifested from the Greeks onward in Metaphysical philosophy. 3 This generally categorises beings as something standing before the human subject, to be instrumentally understood and used by that subject. Beings are valued only as mere ‘standing in reserve’ until used, valued only as enframed potential for subsequent use and exploitation. Metaphysical conceptions of Being are seemingly located in the defined being of a thing be it essentia, existentia or subiectum. Located in this reflexive defining of phenomena, human being or Dasein closes itself off to alternative solicitations of Being. The ‘danger’ of this prevailing perspective, as Heidegger diagnoses it, daily confronts and threatens us in the global domination and violence of technicist thinking and being. Heidegger exposes this metaphysical conception of the human essence and contrasts it with his own understanding of human ek-sistence or Da-Sein. This is a site which in Being and Time, is categorised by structures of Being-In-the-World on the one hand and, in his later writings, of openness to the calls of Being on the other [i.e. the eckstatic essence of the Da of Dasein]. Heeding to Being may redeem human beings and turn us away from the danger. If Dasein is to turn away from the metaphysical-technicist structures of Being, Thinking and doing, so as to be receptive in the clearing of Being, how is this to be achieved? Moreover, what precisely is Being? In what follows, I will examine routes to an understanding of Being by means of three texts. Firstly, using Being and Time (B&T), the notion of Being-in-the World is analysed. 4 Secondly, On the Essence of Truth (1929 & 1949) situated after the so-called ‘Turn’ (Kehre) is cited with its themes of Presentative Truth and the Truth as Aletheia (un-concealment). 5 Finally, elements from Letter On Humanism (1946) explicitly, in my view, provide definitive pointers towards answering the question What is Being? 6 In respect of the voluminous output of Heidegger’s writngs – many of which remain unpublished or not translated into English, my conclusion is not exhaustive and the question still animates my curiosity. Yet I believe the general thrust of this paper attends to how we let beings be and in so doing, Being unconceals itself. Being and Time. In Being and Time (1927), the issue of Being is raised anew. After initially explored by Plato and Aristotle, the question of the nature of Being became sedimented in the presence of things, substance Ousia. On the one hand, the basis of Christian Theology used the philosophical insights of Plato and Aristotle to provide what Heidegger would term ‘Onto-Theology’. 7 On the other hand, Natural Philosophy (Science) attempted to combine its insights and developments within metaphysical categories. Eventually, the metaphysical categories were discarded…… So, in Being and Time, in raising a question forgotten since the early Greek philosophers - ‘What is Being’ - Heidegger provides three existing perspectives. Firstly, Being is the most universal of concepts, it presupposes the very apprehension of beings. 8 This perspective is present in Aristotle, in the Thomist onto-theology of the Transcendent and is evident in the beginning of Hegel’s Science of Logic in his indeterminate concept of Being. Despite this, this perspective of Being remains undeveloped. Secondly, Being is regarded as indefinable. 9 It cannot have the definition of an entity which would anyway, be based on logic which in turn, is based on ancient ontology (onto-theology). This does not exhaust enquiry but is a spur to further investigation. Thirdly and finally, the concept of Being is judged as self-evident. When a person cognises something, asserts something, comports themselves toward something; there is a nascent understanding of what Being is. It is, for example found in propositions such as ‘The sky is blue’, ‘I am typing’. Being Is. This understanding of Being as prosaically intelligible remains unintelligible and signals that the question of Being needs greater exploration. Being-In-the-World. Thus, in Being and Time, Heidegger undertakes a phenomenological analytic of the lived modes of Dasein’s Being-In the-World. Unlike the Cartesian and Natural Sciences whereby beings are viewed as ontically existing alongside entities in the World (entities existing objectively in time and space so understood through mathematics, science and other impersonal Theoretical approaches); Da-sein, as its name suggests, already exists in the world, it does not exist alongside side it as an observer, it is ‘There-being’, or ‘being-there’ Dasein: it is Ontological. It has an intimate, pre-theoretical understanding of what it is and how it is to be, in the world. This pre-theoretical, pre-mteaphysical understanding may provide insights into Being. Dasein has concernful dealings with things in the world. For instance, a hammer is equipment which is used in order to, as a towards-which in the sense of being employed for tasks, uses, assignments. Unlike the Cartesian approach to things, they do not have the status of mere objectivity or being indifferently Present-to-Hand but one of being Ready-to-Hand. The latter is intrinsic to Da-seins’ involvements in the World as it has irreducible ‘meanings’ which importantly, constitute important issues to Dasein itself. The very Being of equipment is disclosed in the concernful relations of involvements. From immediate usage, a totality of involvements can further be discerned. The hammer repairs a house roof. The roof proves shelter from the weather. This allows domestic life to continue cooking eating, sleeping, reading, the children to play, to grow up. It allows rest enabling work to be done on the Farmstead, itself with ‘its utensils and outlying lands’. 10 For the products of the Farmstead to be taken to markets in nearby towns and so on. As Heidegger terms it, this is the Worldhood of the World: a totality of involvements, of meanings, a ‘knowledge’ of the World Importantly, it is precisely here that entities disclose themselves Ontologically and Da-sein Ontologically discloses its Being (In-the-World) through its involvements with those entities. This precedes and cannot be reduced to any theoretical analyses of the World be it by Natural Science, Metaphysics or Cartesianism. Accordingly, this is a concern not of the ontic but of the ontological. Being-in-the-World stands before Da-sein and the potentiality of its Being. Hence: “That wherein Dasein understands itself beforehand in the mode of assigning itself, is that for-which it has let entities be encountered beforehand. The ‘wherein’ of an act of understanding which assigns or refers itself, is that for which one lets entities be encountered in the kind of being that belongs to involvements, and this ‘wherein’ is the phenomenon of the world. And the structure of that to which Dasein assigns itself, is what makes up the worldhood of the world.” 11 The being of equipment and its relevance for Being-in-the-World can also be made conspicuous by a damaged tool which impedes the intended project of ‘for-the-sake-of-which’. A flat tyre highlights the unready-to-Hand of my car and the totality of involvements which follow from it. Missing equipment exposes all related equipment as obtrusive. When my missing car keys prevent me from traveling to my destination for the sake of involvements there, the frustrating, useless equipment that is my car stands inversely in proportion to the importance of the keys and the totality of my impeded involvements stand illuminated before me, as it were. The flat tyre displays the obstinacy of something that must be attended to, to be replaced if that ‘for–the–sake-of-which’ I was driving to, is to be achieved. So for the point of our enquiry, the being of Dasein, of entities and phenomena are encountered and disclosed by means of their Ready-to-Handness in involvements in the context of Being-In-the-World. The ‘environmentality’ of the enviroment is thrown in front of us by our concernful dealings with and in it. I conclude that Being as Being-in-the-World is thereby highlighted. The Essence of Truth. Presentative Truth. A later approach to Being is found in his lecture On the Essence of Truth. Heidegger explores the orthodox conceptions of truth. Namely the correspondence of the matter itself to human knowledge and, the correspondence of human knowledge to the thing or matter itself: Propositional truth. He asks what is it that makes the propositional statement accord with the phenomena in its correctness? Heidegger provides the example of the two five Mark coins. The statement that both are round accords with the thing. Yet other statements about the coins do not correspond to this statement, it says nothing about the material of the coin although it is made of metal; it says nothing about what can be purchased by the coin although that it is the significance of the coins as monetary value. So asks Heidegger, what is it in the essence of a statement that enables it to accord with a thing? The correctness of propositional truth means that the truth of a statement [logos], corresponds to the essence of the matter/thing [pragma] by means of a prior directive. This guides the statement in what Heidegger terms ‘the Open Region’ in which a thing presents itself. 12 The Open region is the Freedom of correct or incorrect accord between statement and thing in a narrative called Knowledge. The Essence of such correct accord between statement and thing [i.e. Truth] is therefore Freedom. Hence: “That which is opened up, that to which a presentative statement corresponds, are beings opened up in an open comportment. Freedom for what is opened up in an open region lets beings be the beings they are. Freedom now reveals itself as letting beings be.” 13 This is Presentative Truth. It is integral to that Knowledge which ‘knows’ beings only so as to use and manipulate them as instruments as elaborated in Heideggers’ essay Question Concerning Technology.14 The letting be of such beings is presupposed by and limited to task orientated thinking. Entities are let -be as tools, as standing-reserve in a Technicist Thinking. It is this thinking that dominates and saturates human being. The Truth of Aletheia. However, Freedom inherent to the Open Region also lends itself to a different way of ‘Truth’, onto a different manner of letting beings be. This sets us upon the way to answering our question on how Being can disclose itself to human beings. The Freedom of the Open-Region, allows ‘Truth’, it allows Philosophy to think Being. Heidegger writes that the Open Region of Freedom is the source from which the Letting Be of beings’ happens. This letting-be used to be termed Aletheia (un-concealment) and is other to the existing mode of disclosure such as Presentative Truth. Indeed, it is other to the whole of Western-metaphysical thinking and its reception of Being. Letting Be ocurrs in the open region which is received by the openness of Dasein - now understood as ek-static Dasein. As Heidegger writes: “Freedom, understood as letting beings be, is the fulfillment and consummation of the essence of truth in the sense of the disclosure of beings. “Truth” is not a feature of correct propositions which are asserted of an “object” by a human “subject” and then are valid” somewhere, in what sphere we know not. Rather, truth is disclosure of beings through which an openness essentially unfolds. All human comportment and bearing are exposed in its open region. Therefore man is in the manner of ek-sistence”. (my emphasis)15 Ek-Static Da-sein is open to alternative givings, to alternative un-concealments of Being. No longer restricted in presupposing subjectivity by the strictures of metaphysical shematism and its technicist descendents, Da-sein is open, standing outside itself, to the unconcealment of Being. In other words, the phenomena of the world can be received and articulated in different ways to that of metaphysical philosophy and its inheritor of technological instrumentalism which see nothing more than utilitarian objects in time and space. This is the unconcealment and disclosure of Being. It is letting beings be.(to avoid digression, Im not discussing the Being/beings issue). Further, in his 1946 work Letter On Humanism, we find that otherness to existing paradigms is articulated through language, as the latter is the house of Being. “Language is the house of being. In its home, man dwells. Those who think and create with words are the custodians of the dwelling.” 16 Being can disclose, unconceal itself to receptive, ek-static Da-sein. Da-Sein can attempt to articulate, to communicate this unconcealment by means of language. Language such as Poetry? Literature? Perhaps by means of other mediums such as Music? Essential thinking is openness to Being. What then, is Being? Being. Again, in Letter on Humanism, the following is found: “Yet Being- what is Being? It "is" It itself. The thinking that is to come must learn to experience that and to say it. "Being"- that is not God and not a cosmic ground. Being is essentially farther than all beings and is yet nearer to the human being than every being, be it a rock, a beast, a work of an, a machine, be it an angel or God. Being is the nearest. Yet the near remains farthest from the human being. Human beings at first cling always and only to beings. But when thinking represents beings as beings it no doubt relates itself to Being”. 17 • Being ‘is’ It itself. • It is not God. It is not a metaphyscial ground. • It is nearest and furthest suggesting it is familiar yet at the same time, not fully appreciated (because thought and not grasped in metaphysical thinking). • Human beings ‘at first’ cling to beings. • Yet when thinking represents beings as beings, thinking relates itself to Being. Does the last sentence mean that humans ‘at first’ think of beings but; as such, this thinking can further allow Being to be thought (unconceal itself)? A subsequent passage lends itself to such a possibility (as we’ve already encounterd in the above On the Essence of Truth) “But how - provided we really ought to ask such a question at all- how does Being relate to ek-sistence? Being itself is the relation to the extent that It, as the locality of the truth of Being amid beings, gathers to itself and embraces ek-sistence in its existential, that is, ecstatic, essence. Because the human being as the one who ek-sists comes to stand in this relation that Being destines for itself, in that he ecstatically sustains it, that is, in care takes it upon himself, he at first fails to recognize the nearest and attaches himself to the next nearest. He even thinks that this is the nearest. But nearer than the nearest, than beings, and at the same time for ordinary thinking farther than the farthest is nearness itself: the truth of Being”. 18 Nearer than beings (not for ordinary metaphysical/technisist thinking) – is the truth of Being. Being embraces ek-static Da-Sein. Being ‘is’ it. Heidegger writes in Essence of Truth that the Open Region of Freedom is the source from which the Letting Be of beings’ happens. This letting-be used to be termed Aletheia (un-concealment) and is other to the existing mode of disclosure such as Presentative Truth. If Being is what Is, and is It, and Being un-conceals itself through ek-static Da-Sein and this is done in the ‘house of Being’ (Letter On Humanism) then Being un-conceals itself and this (and potentially in other ways) may be articulated in Language. So Being is and it allows the un-concealing of beings in ways other to their usual articulation or thematisation. 19 Conclusion. So Being is It. It un-conceals itself in manifold ways. This is how we let beings be. Being is not an underlying metaphysical ousia, it is not God. Yet, is it ultimately beyond articulation, like a deus absconditus? Like a ding-an-sich? Or is it an almost mystical foundationless foundation, like Schellings Absolute. If so, could there be a pure, unthematised knowing of it? Unfortunately, to pose this position would be to maintain metaphysical ways of thinking. As Heidegger is seeking a non-metaphysical thinking, this position seems misplaced tout court. So to reiterate in conclusion Being is it that which Is and unconceals itself in many ways……… Unconcealing in ways other to the dominant narrative of linear, performative goal – oriented thinking. Such thinking only recognises value in beings which are of productive use. Value can aslo be found in the appreciation and receptiveness to things, of the world, of people, of nature, of the mystery, profundity of life before death, of the moment. Is every human being capable of this? Is there a viable social or Political movement, platform to achieve this? References. 1. William Blake. Auguries of Innocence. The Complete Poems. Penguin. 1977. 2. Martin Heidegger. Letter On Humanism. Heidegger: Basic Writings ed. David Farrell Krell. Routlidge. 1993. p. 257. 3. Martin Jenkins. Humanism and the Ecstatic. Pathways Electronic Journal: Issue 160. Klempner.freeshell.org//newsletter 4. Martin Heidegger. Being and Time. Blackwell. 1992. 5. Martin Heidegger. On the Essence of Truth. Krell. Op cite. p. 115. 6. Martin Heidegger. Letter On Humanism. Krell. Op cite. p.217. 7. Martin Heidegger. Identity and Difference. University of Chicago. 2002. 8. Being and Time. Op cite. p. 22. 9. ibid. p.23. 10. ibid. p. 116. 11. ibid. p. 119. 12. Essence of Truth. Op cite. p. 121. 13. ibid. p. 125. 14. Martin Heidegger. Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays. Harper & Row. 1982. 15. Essence. Op cite. p. 127. 16. Letter. Op cite. p. 217. Being and Time. Op cite. p. 55. Similarly in Introduction to Metaphysics Heidegger writes that: ‘In the word, in language, things come to be and are.’ Martin Heidegger. Introduction to Metaphysics. Yale University Press. 2000. p. 15. 17. Letter. Op cite. p. 234. 18. ibid. p. 235. 19. There is a difference in interpretation as to what this means. Richard Copobianco proposes Heidegger’s philosophical project is explore the primacy of Being in relation to human beings. He argues that scholars such as Thomas Sheehan have departed from this to interpret Heidegger as concentrating on the production of meaning, of Dasein ‘meaning making’ of Being. The latter being likened more to Husserlian Phenomenology than the ontologicalquestiion as to what is Being. (Seinfrage).See for example: Richard Capobianco. Heidegger’s Way of Being. University of Toronto Press. 2014.


Letting beings be: The Disclosure of Being?


DR Geoffrey Klempner.

          RIP. Dr Geoffrey Klempner (1951-2022).           Absolute pleasure to have known and work with you since 2003. ...