What is the meaning of being in general? This was the question of being that Heidegger addressed in Being and Time. It was neither a question of beings (question of the “ontic sciences”) nor was it a question regarding the various meanings of their being (question of regional ontology). Rather, it was a question that addressed the unity of the meaning of being in general. In the framework of Being and Time, such question of “fundamental ontology”, as Heidegger called it, was to be sought in the existential analytic of Dasein. Heidegger’s reason for taking Dasein’s being as the necessary starting point of the inquiry into the meaning of being was that Dasein has a pre-ontological understanding of its own being and the being of other entities. Hence, in order to clarify the meaning of being in general, we must explicate or uncover the understanding of being that we are always already in possession of. Consequently, the project in Being and Time takes the form of an interpretation (Auslegung) of Dasein’s being.
Now, amidst the apparent hermeneutical nature of Heidegger’s approach, though less evident, we can also identify a transcendental motif insofar as Dasein’s understanding of being serves as the condition of possibility for the meaning of being in general. Yet this way of phrasing it may raise some eyebrows if for no other reason than that Heidegger simply does not characterize his project in those terms and generally avoids using the language of transcendental philosophy in Being and Time. Nevertheless, let us merely recall that Heidegger later came to explicitly disavow the idea of the transcendental and in doing so, he also had in mind his own project in Being and Time. In fact, many commentators have argued that Heidegger does indeed engage in some kind of a transcendental project in the years surrounding Being and Time (e.g. J. Caputo, S. Crowell, D. Dahlstrom, J. Malpas). And a prominent work highlighting the transcendental aspect of Heidegger’s thought came out in 2007 under the title, Transcendental Heidegger (co-edited by S. Crowell and J. Malpas).
Read moreYuko Ishihara / The transcendental in Heidegger and Nishida