I saw that there's already a question about this but the emphasis was on what could being be if not an entity. Heidegger thinks of Being as something "extra", a priori, to entities. I'd like to question the "need" to make such a differentiation between entity and being.

  • 1
    It is unclear what you are asking, I am afraid, incongruent with what? Late Heidegger's position was that the traditional Western metaphysics, starting with Plato and Aristotle, obscured the experience of being, and confused being with beings ("entities"). But he is not alone in criticizing metaphysics for loosing the sight of life under the play of abstractions, neglecting the practical, taking essence over existence, as Sartre put it. The issue is not specific to Heidegger's phrasing in terms of the meaning of being, the distinction between being and beings, etc.
    – Conifold
    Commented Jul 20, 2019 at 3:47
  • 1
    I made an edit which you may roll back or continue editing. I am hoping that someone will be able to answer this. I am curious about it as well. Welcome. Commented Jul 20, 2019 at 14:49
  • Thank you for the edit - Replying to Conifold now: I thought the definition of entities (beings) was precisely to be (being). If Being, as per Heidegger, somewhat underlies entities, then what are entities?
    – user27426
    Commented Jul 20, 2019 at 18:03
  • Heidegger makes a distinction between individual entities and what they all have in common, or between 'beings' and Being. If we take away everything that makes a being discrete (qualities, attributes etc) then there is still something left over. Kant called this the thing-in-itself' and thought it was plural, Heidegger calls it Being and thought it was singular. Both place the reality of phenomena beyond the qualities that make it a distinct individual. A fundamental theory requires that this distinction be made. . , .
    – user20253
    Commented Jul 22, 2019 at 13:24
  • Yeah, I don't know how we can answer this question as worded. It's basically asking "if Heidegger is wrong and there's no Being, what's the point of talking about Being?" answer: none.
    – virmaior
    Commented Aug 2, 2019 at 4:23

1 Answer 1


Heidegger makes a (difficult) distinction between 'beings' — entities that exist in the world, like tables, papayas, or wombats — and 'Being,' which is the activity of existing. This is a noun/verb distinction: just as you have 'runners' and 'running,' where the former are entities that are defined by the latter activity, so we have 'beings' that are entities defined by the activity of 'Being.' 'Being' is not itself an entity; it is the condition by which something is classified as an entity.

Being is not something extra to beings. Instead, beings are specific instantiations of the general principle of Being.

Heidegger makes this distinction because he wants to get at the nature of this activity of being-ness without getting bogged down in specific examples of being-ness (i.e., entities). In fact, Heidegger thinks that the focus on entities obscures the question of Being. If we look at a table, we tend to start at the premise "that table exists," and lose track of what Heidegger thinks is the important question: what activity is that table engaged in that means it exists? We need this conceptual division or we will collapse into a kind of reductionism (a mere list of particular beings, not an understanding of the nature of Being itself).

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .