Four Seminars [43–45]

inquires into the being of beings (“What is a being as a being?”), it nevertheless does not inquire into being itself. When one poses a question, one questions in regard to . . . ; the place from where one questions grounds both the point of departure and the scope of the questioning. But this should be seen in an example, in a phenomenological manner.

Starting from a question concerning the color of the leaves on a tree that we see in the garden before us, we then ask about the point of departure which gives the question its scope. Further, no longer considering the color of this particular tree, but color as color, Heidegger asks: “What is proper to all colors?” He underlines how such a question, in which the matter is taken as it is, is different from Husserl’s, who sought to clarify the constitution of the object in consciousness by analyzing the phenomenological sense of the sensible given, in other words, by phenomenologizing the Kantian analysis of the anticipations of perception. Since we undertake no reduction to consciousness, but take into view the matter itself, we are led to answer: “Any color, as color, is extended.” Then, paying attention to sound—as a sort of counterexample— it appears that sound is in space in two ways: on the one hand, it comes from a place; on the other hand, it traverses and measures space. Yet sound as such is not extended in space, it is extended only in time.

Heidegger then returns to his first question, which is that of the provenance and direction of inquiry for metaphysics. Metaphysics starts from beings, raises itself to being, and then returns to beings as beings and clarifies them on the basis of the light of being. To explain this return to beings, an example is proposed of a question which starts from nature in the broadest sense and asks: “What is nature?” What it is cannot be determined by an answer distinct from it. “Energeia” is not outside of, or behind, what is, like some higher being; it is in the being. The difficulty only remains of determining the relation between beings and being.

However, if one speaks of metaphysics in this way, one can do so only insofar as metaphysics inquires into being in regard to how it determines beings as beings. Now, in another sense, the question of being is entirely other. It does not inquire into being insofar as it determines beings as beings; it inquires into being as being.

If the ontological difference which appears here is the most dangerous matter for thinking, it is because it always represents being, within the horizon of metaphysics, as a being. Now, the question of beings as beings, that is, the metaphysical question, means something other than the question of being as being. This can be stated negatively, by saying that the question of being as being does not somehow raise the being of beings to the second power.

The problem then arises of formulating the question of being in relation to Hegel. This can only be done on the basis of Hegel’s text itself,