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Jud Evans

In many respects Heidegger's phenomenology can be described as a preoccupation with the irreal or unreal, in that what he seems to be interested in is not so much the actuality of entities, but the factuality of phenomena.

Now for someone to be obsessed with that which doesn't exist over and above that which does exists seems to me to be a very weird kind of ontologist? The unthinking use of abstractions is fine in normal or regular speech, where they can be used to convey meaning conveniently and economically, but in areas of communication such as philosophy or [even more so] in ontological investigation the foolhardy and unthinking employment of unspecified abstraction is verging upon the felonious, risible and unscholarly, which accounts for the suppressed giggling [which I have personally witnessed] that goes on behind the backs of Heideggerians in the philosophy departments of our universities 'corridors of shame.'

It matters not whether we revert to the German word for 'existence,' or the equivalent word in any other European language, or the Khowar word for 'existence,' 'hal bik' [spoken in Chitral, which is in the far North West corner of Pakistan]

Thus in Khowar: Being [noun].... hal bik, maujood bik (something that exists) Being (verb)..'qabza korik, kia zhagho ganik, hal bik' (something doing something.)

See what I mean? Just like English and German - a human 'being' is surrounded by pretty women admirers 'being there'at the party. 'Being' then has an ontological meaning which is virtually interchangeable with 'existence' - something or everything that exists. These are the ontological balls that Heidegger deftly and swiftly moves beneath the covers of B & T and fools the peering rustics crowding around the stack of mangel-wurzels upon which his table is supported as he proceeds with his three balls and a cup ontological trickery. He is too quick for them - the notion of "Being" is accepted as an a priori given so deftly in the opening passages of Being in Time that few notice the trick. There is no "investigation" of whether the concept of "Being" is worthy of a questioning - it is taken for granted from the outset that it is a viable subject for enquiry - the emphasis is put on the investigation of the question [or problem] of "Being" right from the outset, and NOT whether "Being" is real and actual. IN that way Being and Time is NOT an investigation into "Being" or the "question of "Being" - it is restating of "Being" as a legitimate subject for philosophical exploration.

Bottom line? It doesn't matter whether it's major languages or minor languages its the same the whole world over [with slight variations [more circumlocution in the Indonesian region, etc.; - 'copula depletion' in Semitic tongues and some Russian sentential constructions] or any other language in the world, including the various dialects of Bongo-Bongo spoken in the hinterland of lower Anthropophagia. The harsh grammatical and semantic truth of the matter is that the ontological import of the English word 'Existence' and the German word 'Dasein' is the way and the sense in which the word IS USED that is the bone of ontological contention. Let's put it in very simple terms, for there is basically two ways of using the word, and Heidegger's basic mistake/con-trick is to alternate the two concepts willy-nilly, and the trick is so subtle, and introduced into B&T so cleverly, that it foxes even the most educated and intelligent minds. A glance at the meaning and function of the suffix: '-ence' gives the ontological game away, and you then realise that -ence {from Latin 'entia'} is 'abstract-forming,' [for making abstract nouns - see Webster's Dictionary International Edition.]

What we are about to examine is the semantic differences between the two senses of the word 'Existence' or 'Dasein' or any language in the world you care to pick, for one sense of its use is that of a universal meaning: Tis' a pity that Heidegger spent so much time fiddle-faddling with the supposed meanings of Ancient Greek and neglected to think more about the meanings of Dasein and Sein and how they are easily muddled (Be is irregular in all world languages] I mean the poor man struggled like a fly skewered on a pin when he looked at 'IS' in 'Basic Concepts' - then gave up trying and walked away from it.

Websters Dictionary:

(1) 'Existence' 'Everything that exists anywhere' which is a straightforward abstract noun
(Yes, I KNOW we nominalists don't accept universals - but this doesn't concern that problem for the moment. I'm going along with you instead.} I will pretend that the universal noun 'existence' or 'Dasein' is meaningful from a semantic point of view for the benefit of the discussion.

(2) 'Existence' The fact or act of existing'.

Can you see the difference in meaning between (1) and (2) ? Now [sticking with English] place the (1) meaning of 'existence' [or 'being' in the sense of all that exists] in front of 'the 'There' of 'Being There' and it doesn't make sense does it? Why? Because the word 'Being' is ontologically split between two meanings, and a semantic Siamese twin as far as the double import of the word is concerned. One [the number (1) meaning of 'Being' and 'Existence' corresponds with the universalisation of 'everything that exists in the universe,' in the same way as one meaning of 'being' can mean the same. The other job of the ontological dynamic duo deals with the existential modality [manner, way, fashion, etc.], of that which exists. Hence it is perfectly correct if we were [say] talking about Michael, and you said: 'The whole point of Michael 'being there,' was to provide a partner for Marjorie Proops,' because you would be using the expression in its correct number (2) ontological function, [an existential manner of Michael's existence that night] as a descriptor of Michael's presence at the party.

If instead you substituted the number (1) version of 'being' the meaning would be ridiculous. Now let's look at the German word 'Dasein.' My Collins German Dictionary which claims to be 'the most up-to-date and comprehensive available today' and the 'authority on current German' says of 'Dasein:'

(1) Dasein - Noun Leben, Existenz, presence

(2) Dasein - vi, sep, irreg aux sein - 'To be there'

So the ontological dichotomy is basically the same as it is in English [or Khowar - or any other damn language] and it was to Heidegger's everlasting shame that he didn't make it absolutely clear which he was using, for I'm afraid that the average reader [and the more educated they are the harder they seem to fall] hasn't got a clue after reading a few pages of his stuff and get the two meanings confused.

Hence [still keeping my nominalism out of it] it is perfectly possible to use Existence (1) or Being (1) and Dasein (1) to mean 'that which exists' but it is not intellectually or semantically viable to use it in the sense e of Heidegger's Dasein [as a symbol for human presence or 'Being There' in the world] because the number (1) meaning of existence or being is a universal which is not specific to humanity, and it is even less viable and meaningless to use the number (2) version of existing and being because is not a noun but a verb, which when combined with the word 'there' into the gerund 'being there' or 'existing there' becomes an ACTION or and Heidegger uses the term Dasein as a noun {Dasein does this... and Dasein does that} and however much he might claim to the contrary, the fact remains that in B&T he states that: 'This being which we ourselves in each case are and which includes inquiry among the possibilities of its Being we formulate terminologically as Dasein.' So it is clear from that isn't it that Dasein is another word for us human being as enquiring human beings. In other words if 'we ourselves' = human beings the Dasein = humans beings too, therefore Dasein is a plural form of human, and I do not think [perhaps a German speaker on the list can inform us] that the German NOUN Dasein Can be used in the plural? So where do we go from there? His grasp of grammar is so tenuous its anyone's guess? Does he mean it as the verb version of Dasein? If so he digs himself even deeper into the ontological doo-doo?

So it's not 'Dasein which is primordially ambiguous and duplicitous - it's HEIDEGGER for he is the author of this confusion. Your average German has no trouble at all with the word Dasein and its meanings - including those who know that they are gonna die which I guess amounts to 99.9% of the German population.

There is nothing ambiguous about life itself we are either alive or we are dead. Any Vieldeutigkeit that arises is concerned with the in-between bit the time we spend living the life we live. There is no confusion other than the confusion of the confused. There is no question that we are THERE for we are always HERE!

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