Review of Metaphysics 43 (4):707 - 716 (1990)

Robert Sokolowski
Catholic University of America
EVERYONE IS INVOLVED in the question of being in one way or another. When we ask someone how to change the oil in an automobile, or what the diameter of the moon is, or how numbers are different from numerals, we are asking about being. Such interrogations, whether addressed to others or addressed by ourselves to ourselves, are particular questions about beings. But when as metaphysicians we raise the question of being, we do not pursue just one more of these particular investigations. We ask a question that is somehow essentially singular, a question that cannot be made into many. If our question were to become plural, it would be a sign that we have cut off only part of being for our study and that we allow still other questions of being to be raised concerning the parts we have left out. It would be a sign that we have turned being into a genus, into one kind among many. Somehow the question of being has to be complete and comprehensive in itself; it has to be one question; and it must get at issues that enable all the particular questions to arise and to be answered. It is not that the question of being has nothing to do with questions about automobile oil and the diameter of the moon and numbers and numerals; the question of being can be recognized in all these particular questions, but it cannot be reduced to being one like them.
Keywords Catholic Tradition  Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest
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ISBN(s) 0034-6632
DOI revmetaph199043440
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