WHAT IS METAPHYSICS?


and immediacy, but rather because being itself is essentially finite and manifests itself only in the transcendence of a Dasein that is held out into the nothing.

Assuming that the question of being as such is the encompassing question of metaphysics, the question of the nothing proves to be such that it embraces the whole of metaphysics. But the question of the nothing pervades the whole of metaphysics since it forces us to face the problem of the origin of negation, that is, ultimately, to face up to a decision concerning the legitimacy of the dominion of "logic"2 in metaphysics.

The old proposition ex nihilo nihil fit is therefore found to contain another sense, one appropriate to the problem of being itself, which runs: ex nihilo omne ens qua ens fit [From the nothing all beings as beings come to be]. Only in the nothing of Dasein do beings as a whole, in accord with their most proper possibility - that is, in a finite way - come to themselves. To what extent then has the question of the nothing, if it is a metaphysical question, implicated our questioning Dasein? We have characterized our Dasein, experienced here and now, as essentially determined by science. If our Dasein thus defined is implicated in the question of the nothing, then it must have become questionable through this question.

Scientific existence possesses its simplicity and aptness in that it comports itself toward beings themselves in a distinctive way, and only to them. Science would like to dismiss the nothing with a lordly wave of the hand. But in our inquiry concerning the nothing it has by now become manifest that such scientific existence is possible only if in advance it [18] holds itself out into the nothing. It understands itself for what it is only when it does not surrender the nothing. The presumed soberness of mind and superiority of science become laughable when it does not take the nothing seriously. Only because the nothing is manifest can science make beings themselves objects of investigation. Only if science exists on the basis of metaphysics can it fulfill in ever-renewed ways its essential task, which is not to amass and classify bits of knowledge, but to disclose in ever-renewed fashion the entire expanse of truth in nature and history.

Only because the nothing is manifest in the ground of Dasein can the total strangeness of beings overwhelm us. Only when the strangeness of beings oppresses us does it arouse and evoke wonder. Only on the ground of wonder - the manifestness of the nothing - does the "why?" loom before us. Only because the "why" is possible as such can we in a definite way inquire into grounds and ground things. Only because we can question and


a First edition, 1929: I.e. , always of traditional logic and its logos as origin of the categories.


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