I am reading a secondary source on Heidegger's theory of truth and the phrases "being as a whole" and "beings as a whole" are appearing repeatedly. At first I thought this meant something like "the whole of being", or "Being in general", but I don't think this is right since the phrase "the Being of the beings as a whole" is also used. Is the emphasis on "whole", i.e. the fact that the being or beings are being considered as a whole? If so, what is the meaning of "the Being of the beings as a whole"? I should add that Heidegger's notion of "clearing" is relevant here.

3 Answers 3


I am not sure how much it helps you: The english translation of the title of Chapter 2, section 1

The Possible Being-a-Whole of Dasein and Being-toward-Death

reads in the German original

Das mögliche Ganzsein des Daseins und das Sein zum Tode

But I must refrain from any interpretation of Heidegger's text in the corresponding section - even as a German native speaker.


I found this interesting article — Heidegger's Theory of Truth and its Importance for the Quality of Qualitative Research — which you may find useful. The discussion rests on Heidegger's distinction between:

  • Present-at-hand: something observed as an object, but objectified as separate and isolated from the surrounding world
  • Ready-to-hand: something engaged in an active relationship, bridging both dasein and the focus of the activity

Thus Heidegger's analogy of a hammer (used in the article)… While we are hammering we don't observe the hammer specifically, but focus on the relationships between hand, hammer, nail, and wood; when we stop hammering, we look at the hammer in isolation (to see if it's the right weight, or has a crack in the handle). In the act of hammering the hammer becomes a organic bridge between the ideal image of the thing we are trying to build and the real form under construction in the world, and so the hammer relates to the whole of dasein and the whole of the project. When we put the hammer down, it ceases to be a tool and becomes an object.

For Heidegger the notion of truth is entirely within the ready-to-hand, and not found in what is present-at-hand. Truth is the 'opening of the world' that comes to us when we relate through engagement. Thus we cannot understand the truth of a statement unless we connect to (relate with) the being-as-a-whole of that which the statement is about.


For Heidegger, the totality of one's pragmatic-valuative-affective comportment toward the world functions and changes as a single unit, with all of its ‘parts' implying each other. Heidegger calls this ‘as a whole' world. By world he doesn't mean a natural realm of empirically present objects, but the producing of an inclusive, integral, pragmatically unified net of specific possibilities that binds actualized beings under its sway. He also refers to beings as a whole as the being of beings, or the ontological-ontic difference between being and beings, which pertains to the distinction between the possibilities projected by worldmaking and the specific beings that are actualized out of these possibilities. The being of beings connects specific things to the total world contexture providing them with their meaning. This totality comprises the self's ‘ for the sake of itself'.

…in all comportment we become aware of comporting ourselves in each case from out of the 'as a whole', however everyday and restricted this comportment may be…However concerned we are to comport ourselves with respect to various issues and to speak in terms of individual things, we nevertheless already move directly and in advance within a tacit appeal to this 'as a whole‘...We are always called upon by something as a whole. This 'as a whole' is the world. (Heidegger,Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics)

  • So is the following paraphrase acceptable: by "beings as a whole" Heidegger is referring to the collection of objects in the world, and by "the being of beings as a whole" he is referring to the common Being that these objects share? Commented Feb 7 at 21:35

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