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Heidegger's concept of presence

Inquiry 38 (4):431 – 453 (1995)
The central question in Heidegger's philosophy, early and late, is that concerning the meaning of being. Recently, some have suggested that Heidegger himself interprets being to mean presence (Anwesen, Anwesenheit, Praesenz), citing as evidence lectures dating from the 1920s to the 1960s. I argue, on the contrary, that Heidegger regards the equation between being and presence as the hallmark of metaphysical thinking, and that it only ever appears in his texts as a gloss on the philosophical tradition, not as an expression of his own ontological commitments. In his early work Heidegger seeks to confront and even correct the traditional interpretation of being by challenging its narrow preoccupation with presence and the present. By the 1930s, however, he abandons the idea that there is anything to?be intrinsically right or wrong about with regard to the meaning of being and turns his attention instead to what he calls ?appropriation? (Ereignis) or the truth of being, that is, the essentially ahistorical condition for the possibility of all historically contingent interpretations of being, including the metaphysical interpretation of being as presence
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