Friday, October 25, 2013


  In the comments recently, Still made the following remark en route to a worthy point regarding the differentiation of Seyn

"While Seinsvergessenheit holds sway, for instance, the mystery *cannot be thought from itself*, and the thinker is powerless from himself alone to open the space in which it may be so thought"

I will here permit myself the license to tear this quote from its context in order to consider it solely as an indication of the nexus of a peculiar seynsgeschichtlich ambiguity: the time during  which seinsvergessenheit holds sway can be said in more than one way. 

On the one hand,  there is an extensive sense of the time of seinsvergessenheit. The extensive time of seinsvergessenheit is the time that began with the "first beginning," i.e. the time which began with Greek thinking --a beginning of Western thought which also eventually buried the hidden possibility of that same thinking. In this sense, seinsvergessenheit has (increasingly) reigned as long as metaphysics has actually existed. According to this sense, the "mystery," as Still says,  "cannot be thought from out of itself," insofar as it is epochally withheld in order to provide the ages of Western history -- the ages which metaphysics each time grounds for a while. 

On the other hand, there is an intensive sense of the time of seinsvergessenheit. In this sense, the time of seinsvergessenheit is only the present age, the age, that is, where metaphysics consummates what has always been most distinctive of it, namely how Being withholds itself from metaphysics. In this case, the time of seinsvergessenheit is the dissipation of actual metaphysics into the various fields of the sciences, as the latter is ordered in advance into the constellations of technology, the invisible center of whose gathering is Das Gestell. But in this case, if seinsvergessenheit actually comes about through the actual loss of metaphysics in the present age of technology, then it is precisely at this time of the present age that the mystery may yet be thought from out of itself. That is to say, only now, in the reigning of seinsvergessenheit, is the possibility granted to think Being differently than metaphysics was ever eventually able to. Seinsvergessenheit thus becomes the mystery first giving itself to thought, namely in the offering of nothing ---but concealment. And this concealment is none other than the concealment of Being itself (Seyn). This is why Heidegger speaks of technology's essence as a Janus-Head: the sending of Sein as Nothing (seinsvergessenheit) is the giving of the refusal of Seyn. No longer an understanding of Being (Sein) but Being itself (Seyn) is finally given --given as the unthought. Seinsvergessenheit is yet to be thought as Seynsvergessenheit. 


  1. In the discussion of Seinsvergessenheit, it is often helpful but also potentially misleading to consider the familiar phenomenon of forgetting. When I forget my wallet on the way to the store, for instance, I cannot be aware of the forgetting *while* I am forgetting the wallet—else I wouldn’t forget it. The forgetting itself must be concealed *while* it is happening to me. I first become aware of “my” forgetting when I reach for the wallet and find that I *have* forgotten it. Forgetting in this sense is thus only manifest as already-having-forgotten in a no-longer-forgetting. This example is misleading, however, because here it is *something* that is concealed (the wallet), something no longer concealed when remembered, whereas, as you pointed out in the earlier comments, Being is not something concealed but conceal-*ing* itself.

    Nevertheless, as a makeshift in the struggle of trying to say what is highly unlikely to go anywhere near in a comment, the extensive sense of Seinsvergessenheit you indicated corresponds roughly to the forgetting itself of the wallet, where there cannot *yet* be any decisive awareness of the happening (“awareness” to be taken here as more primordial than any consciousness that represents its object to itself). Here there is an impossibility that cannot be manifest to itself *as* an impossibility, and can only be manifest in retrieval. The intensive sense (again very roughly) would be the situation of having-forgotten but also having been granted the possibility of no longer forgetting. That is, the present age, as the consummation of metaphysics, is an age of a *possible* crossing-over, a time for decision in which the no-longer-forgetting is prepared. It is here that Seinsvergessenheit can first become an issue for thinking (the retrieval of the impossibility *as such* that has hitherto been refused as the history of metaphysics).

  2. However, Seinsvergessenheit can only *become* as issue in the clearing of that which has been forgotten: in the clearing of Being itself (rather than the Being *of* beings). It is first here, however, that the guide given by the example of forgetting a being *must* be cast away, whereas, even though inappropriate for a full elucidation, it can serve as a quick indication of the “schematic” difference between the extensive and intensive senses. “Here” means: *within* the intensive sense of Seinsvergessenheit, *for* the thinking that has been claimed by Being for itself and has responded to that claim. For this thinking there is the differing within the Same of the matter between Being as the conceal-*ing* itself and Being as concealing (as bestowing) itself *in* a granted while upon which the thinking of Being may unfold. The former is Being (Seyn) as it is cleared in the abyssal time-space (das Ereignis), whereas the latter is the Nothing that remains—remaining to be thought: i.e. it is the source of the *poverty* of essential thinking that builds a stead within the while granted to it (which while is thus *near* the abyss, but not “in” it) as Being bestows itself in and as that while.

  3. Leaving the surrounding context of the earlier comments aside, the sense in which Being “cannot be thought from itself” in Seinsvergessenheit was still spoken there primarily with respect to this poverty of essential thinking that *waits* for das Ereignis and cannot produce from itself the clearing in which Being as conceal-ing is manifest. However, it must be admitted that its resonation in the space yet unarticulated by the discussion in your post and what is said here tended toward the impossibility that cannot be aware of itself in the extensive sense of Seinsvergessenheit that you indicated. I suspect that you associated the “cannot be thought from itself” with the extensive sense because of the missing articulation that forced it in that direction (this is not spoken as if there were something lacking in that association but rather *in favor* of the need for this sort of articulation, as opposed to the reckoning of agreements and disagreements before the articulated space has been opened for the words to speak from language). But understood in the granted while of the thinking that waits for das Ereignis, it speaks the ready openness to while through the Nothing that remains to be thought (e.g. rather than fleeing from it in the positivistic denial that there is anything worthy of thought in metaphysics or Being). That is, the “from itself” speaks from the most primordial “itself” of Being (Seyn) which is only cleared in the abyssal opening. However, since the Nothing that is left for thinking in its granted while belongs to Being (Seyn) itself, it is questionable if the said poverty of thinking is to be spoken as a simple impossibility (even one that is aware of itself) of thinking Being from itself. In other words, I am not attempting to disagree with anything you said in the post, nor answer anything once and for all but merely to bring forth the *question* of the sway of differing within the Same (between Being as concealing and Nothing as the bestowal of Being in a while of thinking).

  4. "That is, the “from itself” speaks from the most primordial “itself” of Being (Seyn) which is only cleared in the abyssal opening. However, since the Nothing that is left for thinking in its granted while belongs to Being (Seyn) itself, it is questionable if the said poverty of thinking is to be spoken as a simple impossibility (even one that is aware of itself) of thinking Being from itself."

    I think this is exactly right; my post is precisely going for this point when it focuses on the transition, INHERENT to the essence of seinsvergessenheit, toward seynsvergessenheit. The transition is not toward another age (i.e.another sending of Being) since it is by way of the recognition of the impossibility of such a sending that the transition can be made at all. The transition must therefore be toward what is most proper in the present age, and this propriety is found in an Event which precedes the ages --the Ereignis that goes unthought as the "most primordial “itself” of Being (Seyn)".

  5. "Seinsvergessenheit is yet to be thought as Seynsvergessenheit."

    Yes, I figured our paths would meet around there.

    Thank you for the thought provoking discussion. Das Denken sei ein Fest!