1.1 BACKGROUND OF STUDY
The central part of metaphysics is ontology; study of Being. The word ontology derives from the Greek word ‘On’ (in the plural ‘onta’), which is the present participle of ‘einai’, the verb ‘to be’. (Kenny 2010:160).
The founder of ontology was Parmenides and he defined it by placing the definite article “to” in front of the participle ‘on’. ‘To on’, literally ‘the being’, on the model of the living; means: All that is .it is customary, argues Kenny (2010:160), to translate the expression into English as (Being) with an initial capital. Without a capital, the English word ‘being’ has in philosophy two senses or uses, one corresponding to the Greek participle and one to Greek infinitive. A being, we can say, using the participle is an individual that is, whereas being (using the verbal noun) is, as it were, what any individual being is engaged in. The totality of individual being makes up being.
For Parmenides ‘Being is, and non-being is not, for Heraclitus Being is becoming, for Plato, Being exist in the world of ‘transcendental form’. For Aristotle, it is the study of anything that is, whether material or immaterial. For Thomas Aquinas, it refers to all that is and their ultimate support (ultimate principle). For some contemporary thinkers, being is abstract and refers to nothing concrete. It is therefore important to point out that the entire metaphysical journey is that of trying to understand being in this effort to explicate being, Heidegger the great German philosopher is not left out.
The problem which Heidegger sets out to investigate is not the problem of man but the problem of Being. He feels passionately that it is necessary to restate this ancient problem which has been neglected.
Do we in our own time have answer to the question of what we really mean by the word ‘being’? Not at all! So it is fitting that we should raise a new question of the meaning being…
Our aim in the following treatise is to work out the question of the meaning of being and to do so correctly (Heidegger: 1962: 80).
Martin Heidegger entered into the metaphysical world with the aim of correcting what he calls the “Ontological error of western philosophy”. According to Ireogbu (1995:214), on reading historically back, however, Heidegger asserts:
That in its historical journey, something has gone wrong with metaphysics. It has missed its way in terms of the primary object of its occupation: Being.
But metaphysics in the process forgot the most fundamental subject of its inquiry. The “Sein, “Ens”, Being”, or “To be”, of the different levels of being. ‘The forgotten Being here is the difference between Being and beings, Otherwise called “Ontological difference”.
Heidegger’s query was that the fundamental ontological question on Being has been forgotten and so he set out on a reformation of being. Firstly, he started by posing the fundamental ontological questions.
What is Being? Why is there being rather than nothing? (Heidegger, 1962:88) whether Heidegger succeeded in his quest is one that we will discover as we progress with this project. This project is therefore a critical attempt to investigate into the “onto-logos” of Being and at the same time to correct the mistakes of his predecessors