Heidegger suggested that philosophy had forgotten being; and he proposed to recover this; or at least attempt its excavation. His question: Being qua Being - what is this about? What is the Being in this proposition? It is sometimes translated as 'Being that considers his own Being as a problem'; which is also the Descartian cogito in a sense.

Being in Aristotle, is substance (ousia); and is later tied to the Christian tradition as the ground of beings (in the plural) and of Being ie God; one culminating point is Spinoza; God, however, one supposes does not ask about, query, question or interrogate His own nature (His essence is existence)

Hence one suppose, Heideggers Being is not that of Aristotle - substance modified by Aquinas.

Thus, one supposes it is not in essence a theology, in the main Christian traditions, nor off-shoots; such as Spinoza.

Being for Heidgger, then seems to return to the world (he's thrown in); but is not pure physical substance - as in Lucretious; physical atoms do not have the spiritual wherewithal to question anything; but the Lucretian tradition has atoms of anima; is this the tradition he draws on - spiritualised matter?

  • Could you narrow the question down? Do you want the meaning of 'Being qua Being' or a comparison with a bunch of historic uses of 'Being'? From what period in Heidegger's thought (maybe add a quote)?
    – jeroenk
    Jan 20, 2015 at 16:02
  • Also your question seems to confuse being (Seiende) / Being (Sein). If I recall correctly, Heidegger speaks of being qua being (Seiende als/qua Seiendes), which is (sort of) the same as speaking of Being of a being (Sein des Seiendes).
    – jeroenk
    Jan 20, 2015 at 16:06
  • Hi. The question does not seem focused. Also the body of the question does not fit the title. You ask, what is Being. Then you answer your own question, and ask something else, about Heidegger's sources. Jan 20, 2015 at 16:29
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    @MoziburUllah: Why do you say the being "of Aristotle" is "substance modified by Aquinas"? A substance is a particular type of being (matter united with substantial form). (Also, cf. St. Thomas's opusculum De Ente & Essentia.).
    – Geremia
    Jan 22, 2015 at 4:00
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    The question presuposes that the ground of beings (" entia", " particular beings) must have being itself. Things need to have being to exist, but their being (" esse") is not a thing itself. It is the " spring" out of which things flow ( as beings). Forgettting " being" is precisely determining the being of things as a thing, as an " ens". For example: "the being of entia is God ( ens realissimum)".
    – user39744
    Jan 11, 2020 at 12:05

4 Answers 4


Heidegger's Human Being (Dasein) is not a "substance". Neither substance in the Aristotelian sense (which may, in general, be generated or destroyed), nor substance in the Parmenidean/Atomist/Cartesian/Spinozian sense (which cannot be generated or destroyed). Following Husserl, Heidegger held that Human Beings do not share ontological categories (in particular, the "substance" category) with natural, or otherwise objective, entities. See for example

The question of the who can then be answered only by a phenomenal demonstration of a definite kind of being of Dasein. If Dasein is always only its self in existing, the constancy of the self as well as its possible "inconstancy" require an existential-ontological kind of questioning as the only adequate access to the problematic. But if the self is conceived "only" as a way of the being of this being, then that seems tantamount to volatizing the authentic "core" of Dasein. But such fears are nourished by the distorted presumption that the being in question really has, at bottom, the kind of being of something objectively present, even if one avoids attributing to it the solidifying element of a corporeal thing. However, the "substance" of human being is not spirit as the synthesis of body and soul; it is rather existence. (Being and Time § 25)

Also, Heidegger stressed the Human Being's (Dasein's) dependence on and relatedness to the world, not her independence or separateness. Aristotle did interest Heidegger though (much more than Democritus or Epicurus did). In his lectures, Heidegger tried to re-interpret Aristotle according to his own preconceptions.

  • Thanks for the answer; it will be a while before I understand whats going on here; but first a question; I thought H was interested in Heraclitus, and this by way of Holderlin; second, there are as far as I understand, a number of theories in antiquity of Being - ousia & morphe, apeiron, the elements & love/strife amongst them, atoms; H claimed that Philosophy had forgotten Being; in which case it had understood it once as a key questions - who did H consider as the key thinkers of antiquity on Being; or was merely a rhetorical strategy to get his project underway? Jan 23, 2015 at 12:09
  • @Mozibur I'm not sure I can answer that one. Why don't you post it as a separate question. Jan 23, 2015 at 23:10
  • Thanks for the suggestion; I will. Thanks too for your answer, it was useful. Jan 24, 2015 at 12:57
  • i'm not absolutely sure i agree fwiw. dasein is categorically not the mental substance, but i don't really know that it excludes all substance thinking
    – user6917
    Jan 25, 2015 at 7:47
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    @MATHEMATICIAN Thanks for the comment. "Substance" is ambiguous. H does use it in the sense of "characterizing property". But not in the thicker sense of "a primary / independent kind of entity" as in Aristotle or Spinoza. Jan 25, 2015 at 13:44

The Being Heidegger writes of before 'the turn' (die Kehre) eventually comes under erasure. The conclusion, it seems, is that Being is unlike anything one can ordinarily conceived of.

Die Kehre

Heidegger's later works, beginning by 1930 and largely established by the early 1940s, seem to many commentators (e.g. William J. Richardson) to at least reflect a shift of focus, if not indeed a major change in his philosophical outlook, which is known as "the turn" (die Kehre).

ref. Wikipedia

Heidegger’s main interest was ontology or the study of being. In his fundamental treatise, Being and Time, he attempted to access being (Sein) by means of phenomenological analysis of human existence (Dasein) in respect to its temporal and historical character. After the change of his thinking (“the turn”), Heidegger placed an emphasis on language as the vehicle through which the question of being can be unfolded.

ref. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

"Being" under erasure

By the time of Der Spruch des Anaximander (1946), Heidegger sees Being as precomprehended and nonsignifiable, and the presence seemingly signified in a text is seen as the only means for language to point at the effaced trace. Heidegger has by then arrived at the crossing-out of being, and does not find the meaning of being in temororality.

ref. Gayatri Spivak, Translator's Preface to Of Grammatology

By "precomprehended" it is meant that an understanding of Being has been assumed, but as further investigation finds, it is far from understood. Therefore it is signified under erasure.

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  • What do you mean by 'die Kehre' and 'erasure'? Jan 23, 2015 at 12:10
  • @ Mozibur - details added. Jan 23, 2015 at 13:47

Heidegger's science of being begins where Aristotle's science of being qua being end

You're asking about Aristotle, not Heidegger.

Famously, Heidegger thought Aristotle did ask about Being, too, but not really, because Aristotle assumed it was an entity just like beings.

So whatever being means in "being qua being", it is not the meaning of being, but only what Aristotle is asking about. It is the being of metaphysics.

  • I answer the question, it is being as it is in metaphysics.
    – user6917
    Jan 25, 2015 at 9:37
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    Sorry, I missed the last sentence. You're right.
    – user2953
    Jan 25, 2015 at 9:38

Thesis 4 of the 24 Thomistic Theses might shed some light on "being qua being" (cf. God the only being whose essence is His existence) versus all other beings (whose beings ≠ their essences):

Thesis IV.

Ens, quod denominatur ab esse, non univoce de Deo ac de creaturis dicitur, nec tamen prorsus aequivoce, sed analogice, analogia tum attributionis tum proportionalitis.

Being, which derives its name from existence, is not predicated univocally of God and creatures; nor yet merely equivocally, but analogically, by the analogy both of attribution and of proportionality.

Commentary: If the actuality of existence is in God a Pure Act and is in creatures an Act mixed with Potency, Being cannot be predicated of God and creatures in an identical way: God is self-existing, creatures have their existence from God. Still, because the effect in some manner reproduces its cause, Being does not belong to God and creatures in a totally different sense. Being, as predicated of God and creatures is an analogous term. Its analogy is first that of attribution, since Being appertains to creatures as far as they have it from God, to whom it appertains by essence; and is secondly that of proportionality, since the actuality of existence is intrinsic to God and creatures as existing beings. [Summa Theologiae, Iª q. 13 a. 5; Contra Gentiles, lib. 1 cap. 32 et cap. 33 et cap. 34; De potentia, q. 7 a. 8]


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