The Question of Being



In order to understand the nature of man’s being, and to arrive at an understanding of being itself, it is necessary to consider what constitutes, as a mode or modes of being, an individual, since in the fact of individuality one has an appropriate and indisputable ground from which to proceed.

The two fundamental modes of being which characterize man in his individuality are interpreted consciousness and primordial consciousness, the latter being understood as the unconscious in the sense of Jung. This unconscious can be characterized by casuality, the conscious by casuality – thought, the prime sign signification of casuality, stands, ontologically opposed to the being that is acausality. The mathematical, which ontologically expresses thought and whose signification is abstraction, restores, through its intuitive ground in the symbol, the priority of the question of being because the symbol is the signification of the acausal for that mode of being which is man, and is prior to the ‘house of being’ that is language. One kind of symbol which explicates man’s mode of being, is the work of Art. Yet the symbol is both abstraction and archetype – abstraction, because of the intuitive grounding of the mathematical, and archetype because primordial consciousness is constellated for and by the perception of the consciousness since individuality reveals itself to the world as a joining, in varying degrees, of primordial and consciousness.

What characterizes man’s being is the predominance of interpreted consciousness: man is, and only for man is Being an issue. In respect of others, an individual in a unique orientation of interpreted, pre-conscious and primordial consciousness – if the orientation is predominantly toward and conditioned by others, then such an individual is, psychologically – from the horizon of causality – extraverted; if the orientation is predominantly inward, toward the pre-consciousness and primordial, the individual is introverted. The former is characterized, ontologically – from the horizon of acausality – and not psychologically, as inauthentic existence, since authentic existence is a striving toward interpreting what is pre-conscious and primordial. Individualization, the completion of this striving, is an authentic hermeneutic and involves the objectification of impersonal images by returning the archetype to the ground of its abstract. Individualization, is, ontologically, the synthesis of the orientations of extraversion and introversion characterized by a striving for interpretation, and consequently such an interpretation, to manifest the temporality of man’s being, must in its authentic form be mathematical, grounded in the intuitive symbol. Only when the symbol is grounded in the essence of man’s being and projected abstractly can it, mathematically, explicate being: the mathematical abstract, as a logical parallel to Descartes’ cogito, cannot do this until the mathematical returns to its ground, and this return is pre-figured in individuation and expressed in the objectification of the primordial by which means Being is made manifest according to temporality. Language, alone, cannot accomplish this task – and any method requiring for its basis language (such as phenomenology) can never complete the work of understanding Being: it can pose the question, confine it to certain limits, but it cannot solve that question.

The interpreting implicit in authenticity, is the making, from what has become conscious, of the mathematical, and such making or re-interpreting, is authentic only in so far as the mathematical is itself grounded in the symbol. What passes for the mathematical – when it is grounded solely in the abstract – is, ontologically, not mathematical and is thus inauthentic. Any edifice (such as physics) built on such inauthentic foundations must be demolished and re-built authentically, starting from the re-grounding of the mathematical. What cannot be re-built in this manner must remain unbuilt, since only by re-building is it possible for man to live authentically. Such a task as this is the task of thinking.

This re-grounding of the mathematical must take the form of an examination of the ‘foundations of mathematics’, since only by the process of this preliminary examination will it be possible to explicate the meaning of an individual and to being the task of questioning Being.

a) Symbol and Abstract as a Ground to man’s being:

A symbol exists, and exists primordially, because man’s being is an issue for man, that is, because of being. Thought as a consequence of man’s existence in the world, becomes thought.


Anton Long, 1977ev. ONA


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