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Quite close to the beginning of Being and Time, [SuZ p. 7] in what might be taken as the preamble and introduction; Heidegger writes the following:

Regarding, understanding, grasping, choosing and gaining access to, are constitutive attitudes of inquiry and are thus themselves modes of being of a particular being, of the being we enquirers ourselves in each case are. Thus to work out the question of being is to make a being - one who questions - transparent in its being.

Asking this question, as a mode of being of this being, is essentially determined by what is it asked about in it - being.

Translation by Joan Stambaugh

The word being is used eight times; later in the text, Heidegger does point out that to use a word in more than one sense can be, and is potentially confusing; would that he would take his own advice! Thus its potentially unconfusing to sort out the different senses in the way that Heidegger is using the word being:

How many different senses is Heidegger using the word being in the above extract, and in what way?

3

The original German is (from the Introduction, par. 2):

Hinsehen auf, Verstehen und Begreifen von, Wählen, Zugang zu sind konstitutive Verhaltungen des Fragens und so selbst Seinsmodi eines bestimmten Seienden, des Seienden, das wir, die Fragenden, je selbst sind. Ausarbeitung der Seinsfrage besagt demnach: Durchsichtigmachen eines Seienden – des fragenden – in seinem Sein.

Das Fragen dieser Frage ist als Seinsmodus eines Seienden selbst von dem her wesenhaft bestimmt, wonach in ihm gefragt ist – vom Sein.

In English, this easily gets confusing as Seiende and Sein, which are clearly distinctive in German, are translated as 'being'. The translation is sometimes improved be writing Sein as Being:

Regarding, understanding, grasping, choosing and gaining access to, are constitutative attitudes of inquiry and are thus themselves modes of Being [Seinsmodi] of a particular being [Seiende], of the being [Seiende] we enquirers ourselves in each case are. Thus to work out the question of Being [Sein] is to make a being [Seiende] - one who questions - transparent in its Being [Sein].

Asking this question, as a mode of Being [Seinsmodi] of this being [Seiende], is essentially determined by what is it asked about in it - Being [Sein].

Your question actually falls into two:

  1. which different senses Heidegger assumes he uses;
  2. which different senses he actually uses.

Ad 1. The answer clearly: he distinguishes between being (Seiende) and Being (Sein). Simply put, Seiende/being is a thing in the world, like rocks or humans. Sein/Being is the way a particular being is. In traditional metaphysics these have more familiar names such as:

  • Seiende/being: thing, particular
  • Sein/Being: idea, ousia, form, essence, representation, conception, universal

Heidegger does not use these names, as he thinks these names are conceived from one specific way of Being (Vorhandenheit), which has been misapplied to all beings (esp. humans).

Ad 2. Perhaps Heidegger actually confused several meanings of Sein/Being into one, as is argued for example by Herman Philipse (in his Heidegger's Philosophy of Being: A Critical Interpretation). So the answer is debatable.

  • Ok, so some of the senses are elided by translation from one language to another; so H was not entirely ignoring his own advice; no doubt then, that if H was an englishman writing in english he would have made a different choice of words when coming to write this work; but then again being an englishman he might not have come to write such a work. – Mozibur Ullah Jul 4 '16 at 14:50
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The English translation by Macquarrie and Robinson [B&T, pp. 26-7] is:

Looking at something, understanding and conceiving it, choosing, access to it--all these ways of behaving are constitutive for our inquiry, and therefore are modes of Being for those particular entities which we, the inquirers, are ourselves. Thus to work out the question of Being adequately, we must make an entity--the inquirer--transparent in his own Being. The very asking of this question is an entity's mode of Being; and as such it gets its essential character from what is inquired about--namely, Being.

That nicely removes the Seinende/being/things that jeroenk indicated.

That leaves the Sein/Being words. Are they used in more than one sense?

I think so. The multiplicity of different modes of being toward entities (Being as what is meaningful to the entity asking questions) are made possible by what Heidegger is asking about (Being as the conditions that make meaningfulness possible). Later, Heidegger would spell that second sense of being as beyng/Seyn. But not in B&T (1927).

  • 1
    While the translation of Seiendes to entity makes some sense, but thinking of how much it stresses the sense 'phenomenon' would be much better, especially the last sentence is translated lousily, totally losing the point. I therefore question the quality of this translation regarding the preservance of the whole meaning. – Philip Klöcking Jul 4 '16 at 15:09

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