Martin Heidegger Questions and Answers

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What is “the ontological difference” between Being (Sein) and beings (Seiende)?  How does Heidegger hope to address this difficulty with his “guidewords”? 

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Martin Heidegger’s guidewords “Sein” and “Seiende” provide the framework for any understanding of the “ontological difference.” They create a path in answering the following questions: What does “to exist” actually mean? Or what does it mean for a being to be? These questions are the fundamental questions within Martin Heidegger’s phenomenological work Being and Time.

Traditionally, “Sein” is translated as Being, and Being is often capitalized to distinguish it from “Seiende,” which is rather entities in particular, or beings in particular. Heidegger emphasizes the ontological difference between them by stating in Being and Time, “The Being of entities ‘is’ not itself an entity” (SZ, 6).

According to him, the philosophical history of the West ignored this ontological difference, by answering fundamental questions of metaphysics by postulating various “Super-beings” such as monads, God, ideas, or forms. But a “Seiende” or entity cannot make other...

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luiscarrillo13 | Student

In the prefatory remarks of Being and Time, Heidegger identifies a major philosophical black hole that serves as the starting point for his philosophical enquiry. He argues that entire schools of thought, including our current paradigms are predicated on metaphysical frameworks that assume understanding of Sein (Being). However, he states that no one has sufficiently enquired into the nature of Being (Sein). Therefore, he wishes to get rid of the entire history of metaphysics and begin anew with an enquiry into the meaning of Being.

It's important here to understand the what exactly he means by Sein, and by association its distinction from Seiende. Extreme precision is required here.

It's not enough to qualify Sein as 'existence'. The reason being that existence is fraught with metaphysics. Existence is a category, much like beings (Seiende) are categories - which is to say, those which participate in Being (Sein).

Being as Sein refers to the essence of that in which all things participate as beings (Seiende). It's perhaps easier to express it like so: The 'to be' of being or the isness of the is.