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Chapter 7

front of.”128 The open clearing is like the expansive countryside (die Gegend) that en-counters us (ent-gegen-kommt) as always already open.129 The usual translation of die Gegend by the opaque “region-that-regions” (which says absolutely nothing) misses Heidegger’s nuanced metaphorical sense of the clearing as the countryside that already lies open before us (contra) before we do anything within it (for example, picnicking on the grass or strolling through the fields). This countryside lies open before us without ever being an object (Gegen-stand) standing over “against” us as subjects. Heidegger’s Gegend- metaphor evokes “the already open countryside” in which we find ourselves and within which particular things are meaningfully present.

We recognize here yet another formulation of that which makes possible the distinguishing-and-synthesizing discursivity in which we take this as that (or this as for that) and thus render those things meaningfully present. This clearing lies beyond (and in that sense makes possible) what Heidegger, according to the Müller report, called the ontological difference in the “narrow” sense: the distinction between things and their being. Therefore, let us reserve the adjective “transcendental” for the “narrow” sense of the ontological difference and for the movement that goes beyond things and mediates them to their meanings.130 In contrast to that, we might denominate the openness that makes such movement possible as “trans-transcendental.” This term indicates the progress of Heidegger’s transitional thinking (1) through the “narrower” ontological difference that defines the problematic of metaphysics, and (2) beyond it to (3) the ontological difference in the “broader” sense: the difference between things-in-their-meaningfulness and the clearing that makes the “narrower” difference possible. Heidegger moves beyond transcendentalism to the a priori fact of the clearing. This move is what he is referring to when he writes about the ontological difference in the “narrow” sense in the following texts:

“The question about being” in Being and Time [is] the abbreviated title for the question about the origin of the ontological difference.131
From the perspective of appropriation it becomes necessary to free thinking from the ontological difference.132



128. Cf. “Contra Costa County,” which lies in front of (and not over against) a San Franciscan who looks east across the Bay.
129. See GA 77: 113.17 = 73.23: entgegenkommt. See GA 83: 157.5 and .11–20: “Das Gegnende: die zu-kommend sich öffnende umgebende Weite” understood as the χώρα: “Von wo her etwas [here: a thing in its being] anwest” (both phrases italicized in the original).
130. See GA 9: 413.17–19 = 312.25–26: “Überall ist der auf das Seiende zurückkommende Überstieg, das ‘transcendens schlechtin’ (Sein und Zeit § 7), ‘das Sein’ des Seienden.”
131. GA 14: 87, note “(27)” (which is not found in the ET): “‘Seinsfrage’ in Sein und Zeit [ist] der verkürzte Titel für die Frage nach der Herkunft der ontologischen Differenz.”
132. GA 14: 46.22–23 = 37.30–32: “daß es vom Ereignis her nötig wird, dem Denken die ontologische Differenz zu erlassen.” He means the ontological difference in the narrow sense.


Thomas Sheehan - Making Sense of Heidegger