Sartre's Being-for-Heidegger; Heidegger's Being-for-Sartre

by Steve Martinot 

It has been an unspoken goal of the post-structuralist project to render Sartre history -- and thereby to free itself from the weight of his thinking. Yet, to leave Sartre unspeakable through silence is silently to call attention to him as somehow fundamental; it is to suggest his having been given a reading, and call for a rereading.

In 1968, in "The Ends of Man," [1] Derrida (whose purpose was to distance Sartre from himself) performed the historical act of textually staging a confrontation between Sartre and Heidegger. Derrida returns to Heidegger's "Letter on Humanism," written in 1946, [2] in which Heidegger criticizes a talk given by Sartre in that same year, called "Existentialism is a Humanism." [3] If Derrida rereads Heidegger's critique, it is because he thinks Sartre, in translating "Dasein" as "human reality", misread Heidegger, and foisted on his term a generality and definitiveness that Heidegger did not intend. Sartre's prestige, Derrida asserts, lent credence to this misrepresentation and bestowed upon Heidegger a history he should not have been given. Yet, in staging this confrontation, Derrida is documenting a drama that never occurred; though Heidegger and Sartre both speak of each other, their respective critiques tend to pass like ships in the night; they played in different theaters. Thus, Derrida creates a moment of history by writing a history of a non-moment, a would-be drama of mutual readings. In Derrida's drama, Sartre plays the ethnocentric Cartesian universalizer, and Heidegger plays the elusive detective who catches prioritizing humanism red-handed in the act of mean old metaphysics. Foucault himself would rehearse this allegory in explaining, in a shaded reference to Sartre, that he "had to reject a certain apriori theory of the subject" in order to know "how the subject constituted himself (sic), in such and such a determined form" [4] -- i.e. rather than assume how the subject is free, understand how it constitutes itself in subjection.

To reread Sartre now will be to restage it in a history it did not make, but which has made it -- i.e. to replay Foucault's play. And to reread Heidegger's reading of Sartre will be to enter a drama, a non-history rendered dramatic, a confrontation whose impressario is Derrida. As Aronson suggests, even after his death Sartre keeps stepping back on stage. [5]

Heidegger addresses himself to Sartre in 1946 because, in "Existentialism is a Humanism," Sartre claims Heidegger as part of his own existentialist tradition and history, and Heidegger wants to clearly differentiate himself. For Heidegger, Sartre's return to the Cartesian cogito leads Sartre back to metaphysics, the opposite of Heidegger's direction in Being and Time. The trouble with metaphysics, for Heidegger, is that it is presuppositional: like ideology, a false consciousness, a "technical interpretation of thinking" which "does not measure up to [thinking]" (LH,195). It sells thinking short.

Specifically, Heidegger argues that the Cartesian cogito, by centering and privileging the "I", by beginning with the 'I' in "I think" (EH,13), begins with an effect of Being, and places thinking prior to existence. For Heidegger, thinking, which grounds subjectivity, is already suspended in something more primordial, in Being as its realm of "accomplishment." "Thinking accomplishes the relation of Being to the essence of man." (LH,193) That "thinking is" says that Being has "embraced its essence." (LH,196) The essence of Being is that "thinking is," and the essence of man is in his existence as a thinking being. Heidegger has inverted the cogito; for him it has the form: "there is existence, therefore thinking is." Sartre, in adopting the Cartesian cogito as fundamental, grounds his account of thinking in the subject rather than in the question of Being. To center the essence of Man [6] in the subject (an effect of Being) is to alienate Man from Being; it makes Man an ideological construct, a concept posed apriori. As a reduction of thinking that leaves unrealized the "proper dignity of man,"(LH,210) it sells man short.

In this light, on Heidegger's stage, an extensive inversion unfolds between himself and Sartre, enacting in many guises Heidegger's inversion of the cogito. For Heidegger, affirmation and nihilation are aspects of Being and not of subjectivity (LH,238) -- the essence of Being is existence, and with existence, there is already nihilation -- while Sartre begins with nihilation as precisely the upsurge of consciousness. For Sartre, activity is primordial; it is that through which one becomes who one is. Heidegger argues that thinking must precede (Sartrean) experiential action, since the latter necessitates a subject, which is already a conceptualization. Rather than become who he is through Sartrean activity, with the cogito, man ceases to know who he is, and activity will not find him for himself. The primacy of the subject results in man's homelessness. For Sartre, man is always a project, an engagement in the world. For Heidegger, man will only find himself through entry into the meaning of Being, which involves detachment (gelassenheit);[7] i.e. by letting Being be (LH,237). That is, for Sartre, man discovers his being through what he sets for himself beyond himself, while, for Heidegger, man will only discover his project, what he has set for himself by being man, by returning to Being.

But Heidegger also wants to differentiate himself from Sartre terminologically. In particular, he wants to rescue the term 'existence' from rationalism's opposition of existence to essence. In Sartre's 'formula,' "existence precedes essence," this opposition has been maintained. Sartre reverses the approach of classical metaphysics but does not transcend it because he leaves unquestioned what "precedence" means. For Heidegger, "ontological precedence" is rationalistic; it is both a pre-determination through differentiation, (LH,208) and an artifact of textuality. With respect to the first, if the essence of man lies in his existence, then there is no differentiation, and any precedence (or opposition) is already a false one. And with respect to the latter, if man can escape from metaphysics only by not differentiating, or as Heidegger says, by "existing in the nameless," (LH,199) in the meaning of the inarticulable, then entextualization of the inarticulable immediately renders it other than it is, viz. metaphysical. Pursuant to non-entextualization, Heidegger conscripts the term 'ek-sistence' to replace 'existence' with its textual tradition; in 'ek-sistence,' the prefix is emphasized to stress that existence is a "coming out", a "standing forth" of thinking from Being. "Ek-sistence can only be said of the essence of man, of the human way to be" (LH,204). That "Man ek-sists" answers the question of the essence of man, not of whether man is or not (LH,207).

Thus, Heidegger seeks to preserve inarticulability, and his claim is that Sartre, in "taking existentia and essentia according to their metaphysical meaning" (LH,208) (i.e. not in the ek-static sense), is bespeaking the necessarily unspoken -- he has excised the inarticulable by centering the cogito. Sartre has not let Being be. Parenthetically, this charge of excision becomes the core of the post-structuralist critique of Sartre.

But we must note, here, that Heidegger has mistranslated Sartre -- indeed, has misread him -- on a contextual level. Sartre chooses Heidegger, and not Aquinas or Berkeley, as his immediate tradition. The idea that a tradition can be "chosen" is not trivial. It is, as Bakhtin says, one's very choice of language. (And, in fact, in regarding language not as a universe of instrumentality but as instrumentality itself, Sartre is also choosing Heidegger's view of language.) To read Sartre's use of "existence" as "existentia" rather than as "ek-sistence" is to disregard Sartre's choice; it is to impose a change of context upon it, to imprison it in a different language and then to find it there. Heidegger would argue that Sartre's use of 'precedence' justifies this. But in Being and Time, (BT,27) Heidegger's own 'forward and backward analytic', which approches "forward" what in effect precedes it in a "backward" direction, constitutes a similar notion. Heidegger does not speak of precedence, but he enacts it, and bespeaks it by claiming it is what he does, if only formally. Heidegger mirrors Sartre in a textual artifact that differentiates.

It is, of course, worth noting that a reading is always a misreading. Not only does it not reproduce the author's intentionality, it must read the multiplicity of the text's languages. As Derrida says, a reading does not simply "double" the text. [8] But to misread through imposition of one's own language upon the text is to rewrite. Heidegger, it seems, rewrites Sartre through recontextualization.

But in this tete-a-tete over precedence and its mirror image, Heidegger reveals an aporia. If Man's essence is to stand forth in ek-static emergence from Being, then the essence of man is precisely not to preserve the essence of his Being in Being. Man is not as he is, simply because he stands forth, necessitating and enabling a return, a re-approach to the truth of Being. This aporia is important for Heidegger, and he casts it in the form of a circle. If one approaches the truth of Being by questioning the meaning of Being, and Being is unknowable because inarticulable, then one finds the truth of Being in the questioning; i.e. inquiry itself is what means. That is, one leaves the truth of Being inarticulable by approaching the questioner of Being ("the Being for whom Being is a question") The result is that Being reveals itself in the meaning of Being; the meaning of Being reveals itself in the unknowability of Being; and the unknowability of Being reveals itself in Being. A circle is generated and the purpose of the circle is precisely to preserve inarticulability. [9] Now, we find a similar aporia in Sartre, and a similar circle. For Sartre, man is not as he is because man makes himself. He not only makes himself other than the organism he already is, but, as a product, he is other than a producer -- as a project, man is other than a for-itself. And this can be similarly expressed in circular fashion. Action must be intentional; but intentionality requires a subject, and the subject is engendered by action. In both circles (of essence and action), the aporia reflects a self-referentiality; Man refers to himself, not to foundations.

But if Heidegger has generated a circle to preserve inarticulability, and a homologous form emerges in Sartre, then perhaps there is also an inarticulability at the foundation of Sartre's thinking which Heidegger has missed. Perhaps Heidegger has been too eager to differentiate himself from Sartre, and has misread him in a more general manner. Let us give Sartre a rereading.

Sartre's 1946 lecture ("Existentialism is a Humanism") is a response to certain Christian and Marxist critics who charged that existentialism was not humanist, that it did not elevate man nor sufficiently perpetrate the image of a divine or class ideal. Sartre delivered this talk in the politically charged atmosphere of newly liberated France. He popularizes existentialism in order to engage it in the moment, in the social milieu of debate and possibility. Thus, his tone tends to be a little sloganistic. "Every action implies a human setting and a human subjectivity;" "existence precedes essence;" "subjectivity must be the starting point"(EH,13); etc. As such, however, Sartre's talk is wholly "in context" -- this time a context given, not chosen.

Sartre's central conception, of course, is more elaborate than can be represented by slogans. Briefly, Sartre's position is that the possibility of understanding the world can only arise through the freedom of the mind that conceives it, the freedom to make its own meanings and apprehend the world through them. That is, it precludes all givenness, especially that of human nature. If Man himself must exist before a conception of him is possible, then definitions can occur only at his own hands. This is essentially what Sartre means by "existence precedes essence"; all essence emerges from the activity of consciousness aware of its own existence. Nothing is preordained, neither by class nor divine influence. "We are on a plane where there are only men." (EH,22)[10] Man's destiny is only to be, to live the experiential component of the subjective, viz. activity ("A man is nothing else than a series of undertakings" -- EH,33).

However, Sartre is not saying that one is simply a subjectivity that acts; one becomes what is manifest by one's actions, pursuant to a project that is both lived and envisioned. Being in the past lived and flight to the future envisioned, the already and the not yet, are the foundations for each other. Where Heidegger's inquiry moves backward through what it moves forward to by inquiring, the Sartrean project moves to the future through what is the past in which it acts. That is, we here encounter another homologous inversion. And this homology suggests that Sartrean subjectivity, or the for-itself, is neither an analogue, nor a translation (or mistranslation) of Heideggerian Dasein at all, but rather a homologue of Heidegger's formal inquiry itself, which, for Heidegger, embraces not only Dasein, but the disclosure of Dasein and its advent as well. In other words, Sartre's "human reality" names, or translates, more than just Dasein. [11] The richness of Sartre's articulation is evinced in its displacement and inversion of the Heideggerian notion of presence-at-hand. Instrumentalities, for Sartre, arise from within one's project, and not vice versa. And this is a move Heidegger himself would make in his "Turning"; when he speaks of 'thinking' rather than Dasein, and of 'nearness to the truth of Being' rather than questioning the meaning of Being, he transforms instrumentalities (presence-at-hand) into ways of dwelling in that 'nearness.' In sum, I am suggesting that the commonly accepted correspondance between the for-itself and Dasein, and between the in-itself and Being, has been too facile. We might note that Aronson, for instance, refers to it without reference or comment. Fell also uses this correspondance; his treatment, however, is much too extensive to begin to critique it here. [12]

Human reality, then, is not the human universal, and neither is freedom; they are both the very absence of such ("There is a universality of man; but it is not given, it is perpetually being made" -- EH,39). To place the subject at the center as freedom is not to place "man" at the center of a space called 'human reality;' it is instead to empty humanity of 'its' space, and that space of "humanity." To read Sartrean "human reality" as humanity-filled space is to congeal that space in (the reader's) prior codification. [13] In other words, what resides at the core of Sartre's articulations, as an inarticulable, is a freedom that can never be delimited as "being free from," or "being free for." Though Heidegger objects to seeing his unspoken meanings spoken by Sartre, and insists that foundations remain unspoken, he has missed Sartre fundamental unspoken meanings.

It is, in fact, to name these unspoken meanings that Sartre uses the cogito (as Heidegger uses the term ek-sistence); [14] that is, it plays a wholly different role for Sartre than for Descartes. For the latter, the cogito serves as a first certainty that something is "there". It is chosen meditatively as a foundation, always before the fact. Sartre, on the other hand, rather than imply that something is "there", argues from the existence of negativity that nothing is there, and says, in effect, "there is nothingness; therefore, Being-for-itself is." (BN,19-37) Sartre has not inverted but converted the Cartesian cogito. Descartes establishes the cogito in order to arrive at the 'there,' while Sartre establishes that 'nothing is there' in order to arrive at the cogito. Or, in other words, where Descartes centers the "ego" of 'ego cogito', thus avoiding reduction of the human to an object, Sartre centers the "think" of "I think", transcending the ego that is only another nihilation in the emptiness. Unable to escape its own freedom (even in self-denial), the Sartrean cogito's (aporetic) truth is the absoluteness of absence, of contingency. There is only the certainty of human freedom, the certainty of indeterminacy. The cogito is the emptiness of awareness aware of itself (EH,36). Thus, Sartre does not begin with the "I", as Heidegger claims; the "I" emerges later as an object. Where Heidegger negates the cogito in form (while inverting it in content), Sartre negates the Heideggerian cogito in content.

In effect, this conversion of the "ego cogito" to "the cogito" wrests the "cogito" from Descartes' grasp. And it constitutes the critical Sartrean move away from the self to the autonomous subject. [15] Its effect is to phenomenologically decenter the Cartesian 'his'-ness, the priority of the 'he' (Descartes) that thinks it sees, or thinks it thinks, in the skeptical attitude. For Sartre, certainty begins with the meaninglessness of such a topos, or of any pre-defined substance to activity. Instead, there is only autonomy, an autonomy of absence, prior to the acting cogito, prior to self-awareness constituting itself as a self. This is different from the autonomous self. For the autonomous self, autonomy is an attribute; for the autonomous subject, the subject is only an attribute of autonomy. Any critique of the Sartrean cogito, the term he uses to name autonomy, and hence indeterminacy, must take this distinction into account.

It seems that Heidegger has not. He has ignored that subjectivity is 'always already' free. Rather than the product of the cogito, freedom is its essence, the essential condition for the subject. It answers the question of the essence of man ("the human way to be") and not of whether man is or not. As such, Sartrean freedom is a deconstruction of all determinisms built into the very foundation of thought. Thus, though it is true that Sartre does not use the term ek-sistence, and does use the term "cogito," it signifies a non-Cartesian subjectivity homologous to Heidegger's "standing forth." Freedom's relation to the cogito parallels Being's relation to beings: viz. that Being underlies them, is not them, is manifest through them, and is the context in which they are. Like Heidegger, Sartre is not saying that there is man, but rather, that man begins with an indeterminacy, with the inarticulable. The difference lies in the fact that freedom manifests itself as choice, responsibility, flight, etc. -- aspects of one's project to which Sartre can make reference by telling their stories -- rather than as unnarrated existentials. This relation of the narrated to the unnarratable, of choice as freedom to the cogito as freedom, is a fundamental ambiguity in Sartre to which we will return in a moment.

But first, let us summarize the homology between these two texts. The for-itself stands in the same relation to its project, which is its advent in the world, its ability to constitute a world for itself in its freedom, as Being stands to Dasein, which is the advent of Being in the world, its ability to constitute a world for itself. (BN,22) If the Sartrean cogito is the truth of what cannot be said, because there is nothing to be said about it except that it 'is', its unspokenness is the unbespeakability of Heidegger's 'truth of Being.' For Sartre, all aprioris, because they are chosen, are the trace of freedom given up, a freedom actively erased in acceptance. For Heidegger, all beings point back to Being, the trace of Being they erase in their ontic particularity. When Sartre says 'there is no human nature because there is no god to conceive it,' he is opposing the same third person point of view that for Heidegger characterizes metaphysics. And in opposing it, both reside where the not yet and the already are inseparable. Finally, as corollary, this homology suggests that perhaps there really is no homologue in Heidegger for what Sartre calls Being-in-itself; for Heidegger, there are beings (seiendes), the ontic, the ready-to-hand, but they do not stand opposite Being; they manifest Being, rather as the meanings of objects and situations manifest one's project, and hence, one's freedom, for Sartre. But they are not given Being, as in Sartre. (BN,lxxix)

Now, let us return to the ambiguity in Sartrean freedom (which many commentators, e.g. Aronson, consider contradictory). As Aronson notes, it is an ambiguity left unresolved by Sartre himself (PW,76-7). For Heidegger, Being must persist in beings as a trace of precisely its erasure in beings if they are to be. And for Sartre, though accepting givenness, freedom must persist as a trace if a determining structure is to be lived as determining. That is, there are two levels of freedom in Sartre, the freedom that can 'give itself up' in its choice of itself and its project, and the freedom that persists as a trace in living the determined, in living its project. That is, there is an ontological freedom at the level of indeterminacy, the inarticulable freedom of autonomy (as an unnarrated "existential"), that underlies the project and one's activity in the world, and there is an intentional freedom at the level of referentiality, of which one can tell the story: a person's choices in situation, the tactics and strategies whereby one accomplishes one's project, one's choices of rebellion or acquiesence to the determined or to others' projects. It is a Sartrean "ontological difference" between a human reality and meta-human-reality. If ontological freedom as the for-itself is homologous to the meaning of Being in its circularity in Heidegger, intentional freedom suggests Dasein's temporality in its relation to das Man, to mood, to death, etc. A full consideration of this Sartrean "ontological difference" would require a separate essay. But we might note that it marks the fundamental continuity between the "early" Sartre and the "later." One could say that in his earlier writings, Sartre privileged ontological freedom over intentional, and in the later, shifts toward the opposite.

In light of this "ontological difference," however, perhaps the charge that Sartre "universalizes" must be re-evaluated. While Sartre does speak of "universality", what he posits as universal is neither truth nor Being; it is the nothingness that constitutes the freedom of the human to choose, to adapt, to go beyond, to acquiesce or rebel.

There is no difference between being free, like a configuration,... and being absolute. (EH,40)

All truth, including ontological truth, is thus both secondary and arbitrary; it is the arbitrarity of one's choice of project. Even the 'truth of Being', though it be left unarticulable, is a truth that is chosen. The common absoluteness of all subjectivity (or, as Sartre says, that no subjectivity can be strange -- EH,39) is thus the absoluteness of the indeterminate (ontological freedom), the undefined as non-strangeness. All projects, then, differ only in text, in content, in the terms in terms of which choice (intentional freedom) becomes possible, be they mythology, science, ritual, or a schizophrenic deformation of the psyche. When Sartre says that all people are understandable to him (for which he has been accused of ethnocentrism), he does not mean that they are apprehensible or can be measured according to European standards or subjectivities, but that they are apprehensible as having emerged within those cultures and situations as indeterminacies. (EH,39) This is only to grant all people their tradition in the same sense that Sartre grants Flaubert his passivity within the bourgeois republic.

Ultimately, Sartre's inarticulable is more convincing than Heidegger's. In Heidegger's case, an argument has been made against rendering thought a "thing" (the attitude whose name is 'metaphysics'). [16] In saying 'the essence of man lies in his ek-sistence,' Heidegger attempts to rip the terms away from thingness, and make them signs for non-thingness. But the non-expression of Being, cast in the form of expression, is always already transcended toward thingness. The clarity and energy of the privative, "non-thingness," or "the nameless", is too strong for the positivity of Being, and reifies itself. Non-thingness requires something more subtle, something that engenders naming without being a name (as in Derrida's use of differance). Sartre, on the other hand, insists on saying what he means, and he wants his language to mean what he says. It is easier to leave something unspoken in the middle of speech, as Sartre has done, than to speak of unspokenness, to articulate unarticulability, as did Heidegger.

Heidegger attempts to avoid this problem by disputing terminology with Sartre, but he cannot escape. Derrida asks a question that implies Heidegger's critique of Sartre is a little self-righteous.

Is not the opposition of the primordia to the derivative still metaphysical? Is not the quest for an archia in general, no matter with what precautions one surrounds the concept, still the "essential" operation of metaphysics? (M,63)

Ultimately, we might find it a little surprising that Heidegger has brought forth a high-powered discussion about Sartre's little popularization. Given the weight of Being and Nothingness, in which Sartre directly addresses Heidegger's text, why would Heidegger choose to focus on Sartre's speech, rather than carry the investigation back into that greater work? The answer lies perhaps in its context, a real history in which both were actors -- different from the history Derrida made by writing a history that had been left unmade. That context is the war.

Post-war France lurks in everything Sartre says: in his choice to popularize, his stories and terms, and the role he gives phenomenology. If his form amounts to a promotion of existentialism, the act he is performing, in that historical context, is programmatic. It is a call for liberation from given aprioris (be they Marxist, Christian, or psychological), a call to live the world. For Heidegger too the war is the context. He has just been through investigation by allied de-Nazification procedures, and knows he has left unspoken his continuous membership and sporatic activity (right up to 1945) in the Nazi Party. [17] In the text in question, he is also being programmatic; he calls for a return to man's essence, for an escape from the "technical interpretation of beings" -- and he knows whereof he speaks. "If man is to find his way once again into the nearness of Being he must first learn to exist in the nameless."(LH,199) For Heidegger, the "nameless," as existence without differentiation, constitutes escape from false consciousness (among other things). In that he addresses himself to Sartre's lesser text, he is suggesting that in post-war Europe, a man in his position would grasp at whatever he could to begin re-establishing himself. In effect, he inverts Sartre. If the form of his text is programmatic, the act he is performing, in this historical context, is a promotion (of himself).

But Heidegger is being programmatic without a program, since the nameless must be named without being addressed. That is, his program is an epoche. And the call to live in "the nameless", prior to determination, is a call to live the epoche (LH,203), and not simply reflect on thought through it. This is to be programmatic in a zen koan sense (the empty fullness of zen mind), and Heidegger's leap of faith is that, at its realization, man will be man. But Heidegger's 'lived epoche' is what Sartre refuses. Though Sartrean (ontological) freedom is autonomous of the doctrines and projects that structure the world, it cannot escape them. It must return to them, because it already lives in them in the world. There is no ontological freedom without intentional freedom. Because one is free, living the epoche is an illusion.

On the other hand, for Heidegger to harp on language is to impose his own. The language demand Heidegger makes on Sartre is the same demand chauvinism makes toward the Other. The chauvinist says to the Other (the victim): "Be like me, though of course you can't, and I will hold that against you." And Heidegger says to Sartre: "Write like me, though to do so will be to codify even my language, render it metaphysical, and hence be not to write like me" -- for which Heidegger chose to criticize Sartre. 


1. Derrida, Jacques; "The Ends of Man," in Margins of Philosophy, trans. Alan Bass (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1982).

2. Heidegger, Martin; "Letter on Humanism," in Basic Writings, trans. David F. Krell (New York: Harper and Row, 1977) -- hereafter LH.

3. Sartre, Jean-Paul; "Existentialism is a Humanism," in Existentialism and Human Emotions (New York: Philo. Library, 1957) -- hereafter EH.

4. Foucault, Michel; "Caring for the Self," in The Final Foucault (Cambridge: MIT, 1988), p. 10.

5. Aronson, Ronald; Sartre's Second Critique (Chicago: 1987), p. x.

6. The term 'Man' is used by Heidegger and Sartre to refer to humanity in general, thus continuing to employ a rationalism that is already chauvinist, and from which metaphysical humanism emerges. In this essay, I will use the term as these texts do when critiquing these texts, but will not use it when presenting my own ideas. To have attempted to find a non-sexist term for humanity with respect to the texts in question would have been to rewrite them, and thus not to deal with the question.

7. See Caputo, John D.; The Mystical Element in Heidegger's Thought (Oberlin: 1978), for a discussion of Heidegger's notion of gelassenheit.

8 - A "reading must always aim at a relationship unperceived by the writer between what the writer commands and does not command in the language he uses." Derrida, Jacques; Of Grammatology, trans. Gayatri Spivak (Baltimore: Joohns Hopkins, 1976), p. 158.

9. This circle also appears specifically in Heidegger's notion of the act of inquiry. While the act of questioning explicitly opens itself to the meaning of (seeks its form in) what is sought, the fact of questioning must implicitly contain a prior understanding of it. The answer is already the ground for the terms of the question. If the answer is the ground for the question, the question the ground for the act of inquiry, and the act of inquiry the ground for returning to the answer. Thus, he generates a circle on which each moment must look back at the preceding for its content, for what it is saying, while what it is doing it only finds up ahead.

10. Heidegger's argument on this statement is gratuitous. He would change it to "we are on a plane where there is principally Being." But he claims that "plane" and Being are the same thing. His sentence crumbles too "we are" and "Being", or that "in our Being, we are what there principally is." His dispute with Sartre devolves to including beings, which becomes a difference not over the meaning of the for-itself but of the in-itself.

11. Sartre, Jean-Paul; Being and Nothingness, trans. Hazel Barnes (New York: Washington Sq. Press, 1953), p. 21 -- hereafter BN.

12. Aronson, Ronald; Philosophy in the World (London: NLB, 1980), p. 92 -- hereafter PW. Fell, Joseph; Heidegger and Sartre (New York: Columbia, 1979).

13. Derrida's critique, that Sartre's 'human reality' is a conceptualization, is mirrored within Sartre's own description. But Sartre himself says as much.

Each human reality is .. a direct project to metamorphose its own for-itself in an in-itself and a project of the appropriation of the world as a totality. ... Man loses himself so that God can be born. But the idea of God is contradictory and we lose ourselves in vain." (BN,754)

The generalized 'human reality' that translates Dasein must then be a meta-human-reality. If it articulates the process whereby the subject/cogito engenders itself as a project, it is inscribed, as we have seen, within the indeterminate.

14. Jameson, Frederic; Sartre: The Origins of a Style, (New Haven: Yale, 1961), p.183. Jameson disucsses ways in which Sartre uses traditional terminology for untraditional purposes.

15. Lacapra, Dominick; A Preface to Sartre (Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press, 1978), p. 51-2. See also, Sartre, The Transcendence of the Ego.

16. In particular, he is saying that "existence precedes essence" must be read: "there is a thing called existence, and it is theoretically precedent, in a theoretical thing called ontology, to something about things that we call essence.' In order to escape thingness, there must be something that means 'this is not a thing' without saying so, and thus rendering itself a thing.

17. Sheehan, Thomas; "Heidegger and the Nazis," in New York Review of Books, June 16, 1988: a review of Victor Farias' book.