Heidegger Circle Proceedings

Volume 40, 2006

Richard Capobianco
Pages 147-159

Das Ereignis: (Only) Another Name for Being itself

Since the publication of Heidegger’s 1936-38 collection of reflections titled Beiträge zur Philosophie (Vom Ereignis) in 1989, there has been a trend in Heidegger studies to overstate the significance of the notion of das Ereignis in his thought. To be sure, Heidegger considered that his arrival at the name Ereignis was an important event in his thinking and that this particular word had a special power and nuance to make manifest die Sache selbst, the fundamental matter for thought. Even so, there is neither sufficient nor convincing textual evidence to maintain that he ever considered Ereignis as a more fundamental matter for thought than das Sein, that is, Being thought in an originary and fundamental way as the finite and negatived unconcealing of beings (das Seiende) in their beingness (die Seiendheit) as made manifest meaningfully by Dasein in language. (Note that I retain the convention of writing Being (with a capital B) for this usage only.) In fact, to the contrary, he was clear and emphatic right to the end of his life that the single, defining concern of his path of thinking was about the originary, fundamental, unifying meaning of Being, named by him over the many years Beyng (das Seyn), Being itself (das Sein selbst), Being as such (das Sein als solches), and Being as Being (das Sein als Sein). Certainly, there is no denying the importance of the notion of Ereignis in his thought, but its significance has been overworked and overstated by several Heidegger scholars in recent years. In other words, I think that if we examine Heidegger’s words carefully, we find that he understood Ereignis to be (only) another name for Being itself.