Only on the ground of the original manifestness of the nothing can human Dasein approach and penetrate beings. But since Dasein in its essence adopts a stance toward beings - those which it is not and that which it is - it emerges as such existence in each case from the nothing already manifest.

Da-sein meansa: being held out into the nothing.

Holding itself out intob the nothing, Dasein is in each case already beyond beings as a whole. Such being beyond beings we call transcendence. If in the ground of its essence Dasein were not transcending, which now means, if it were not in advance holding itself out into the nothing, then it could never adopt a stance toward beingsc nor even toward itself.

Without the original manifestness of the nothing, no selfhood and no freedom.d

With that the answer to the question of the nothing is gained. The nothing is neither an object nor any being at all. The nothing comes forward neither for itself nor next to beings, to which it would, as it were, adhere. Fore human Dasein, the nothing makes possible the manifestness of beings as such. The nothing does not merely serve as the counter concept of beings; rather, it originally belongs to their essential unfoldingf as such. In the being of beings the nihilation of the nothing occurs.

But now a suspicion we have been suppressing for too long must finally find expression. If Dasein can adopt a stance toward beings only by holding itself out into the nothing and can exist only thus, and if the nothing is originally manifest only in anxiety, then must we not hover in this anxiety constantly in order to be able to exist at all? And have we not ourselves confessed that this original anxiety is rare? But above all else, we all do exist and comport ourselves toward beings [13 {GA 9 116}] that we may or may not be - without this anxiety. Is this not an arbitrary invention and the nothing attributed to it a flight of fancy?

Yet what does it mean that this original anxiety occurs only in rare moments? Nothing else than that the nothing is at first and for the most part distorted with respect to its originary character. How, then? In this way: We usually lose ourselves altogether among beings in a certain way. The

a First edition, 1929: (1) inter alia, not only, (2) the consequence is not: therefore everything is nothing, but the reverse: taking over and apprehending beings, being and finitude.

b Fifth edition, 1949: Who holds originarily?

c Fifth edition, 1949: I.e., nothing and being the Same.

d Fifth edition, 1949: Freedom and truth in the lecture "On the Essence of Truth."

e Fifth edition, 1949: Not "through."

f Fifth edition, 1949: Essence: verbally; essential unfolding of being.


Martin Heidegger (GA 9) Pathmarks