The Place of Being and becoming

Gussie Moran's Tennis Serve. Photography by Dr. Harold Eugene Edgerton, circa 1935, gelatin silver print.

Now what does the word “phusis” say? It says what emerges from itself (for example, the emergence, the blossoming, of a rose), the unfolding that opens itself up, the coming-into-appearance in such unfolding, and holding itself and persisting in appearance—in short, the emerging-abiding sway.’ — Martin Heidegger, Introduction to Metaphysics.[1]

I take that ‘emerging-abiding sway’ for ‘place’: primarily, ‘place’ is the event that defines the ‘emerging-abiding sway’ of nature (phusis), of its beings.[2] The word ‘place’ defines what emerges, unfolds into beings, and persists, against the assault of not-Being. Then, this place does not merely define the basic processes that allow beings (rocks, flowers, animals, societies, cathedrals, paintings, etc.) to be and to become what they are according to their nature, appearance, and duration, that is according to their Being. This place is more primordial than that: it primarily defines the basic processes that allow Being to emerge and reveal its presence, persist in appearance, come into beings, and abide in them with constancy.[3]

‘Place’ primarily defines the basic processes that allow Being to emerge and reveal its presence, persist in appearance, come into beings and abide in them with constancy

To come into being is to be-coming. Since Being is what, at first, appears, and, eventually, comes into beings, then Being and becoming are intrinsically tied to the essence of what there is, of what appears and becomes. Being and becoming are intrinsically tied in/to place: they belong to place from within; they are components of place, not merely in the sense that they happen in a realm, domain, or substrate that we call ‘place’, but in the sense that Being and becoming are constitutive of that realm, domain or substrate as place. So, ‘place’ is both the Being of beings and becoming. Being and becoming. Or Being( )becoming, to stress upon their seamless opposition and unity, in the Heideggerian and early Greek sense. The existent — that which exists or all that exists — is a place: a place in itself, and a place for the other-selves. Then, everything, at its inception, has one name: ‘place’ — which is at the same time the delimitation of Being that unfolds as actualization of specific beings, as well as their possibility for becoming. ‘Place’ is the ἀρχή  — archē —, the principle that contains the Being of beings as well as the becoming of beings, the finite, or definite, as the actualization of beings in the present now, and the not-yet definite —  the universal — as the manifold possibilities for the actualization of the Being of beings in the immediate or distant future. But there is more: in the process of becoming, the abiding presence of Being (i.e. the Being of beings) keeps together its present, future, and past dimensions, or states, so that we can assert that Being (as place) embraces the entire dimension of time — emerging from its present condition, projecting itself into the future, and, as a consequence of this projection, defining its past conditions, once for all. It is properly this continuity (from the Latin cum+tenere, to keep together) that offers a standing, a continuous standing to Being, which unfolds as a constant presence in the present, and includes its future and past dimensions: this standing, which keeps together present, future, and past dimensions, I call ‘place’. Or, which is the same, the event that keeps together Being — the Being of beings — in its present, future and past dimensions, I call ‘place’.

‘Place’ is Being(  )becoming

An event is a ‘succession of processes’; ‘place’ is one thing with processes, it happens contextually to processes — it is not a precondition for them (there is not an absolute place). Place and processes belong together.

These brief considerations concerning the nature of place follow the argumentations I have extendedly dealt with in Being as Place: An Introduction to Metaphysics – Part One and Part Two, which are based on the resume and ‘placial interpretation’ of Heidegger’s Introduction to Metaphysics (2000). I redirect the interested reader to those articles.


[1] Martin Heidegger, Introduction to Metaphysics, trans. Gregory Fried, and Richard Polt (New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 2000), 15.

[2] The Greek term ‘phusis’, in the broadest sense, stands for ‘nature’. By the determinations of place I’m giving here and in other sections @ (e.g. see: What is Place? What is Space? , On the Structure of Reality, Being as Place: An Introduction to Metaphysics – Part One and Part Two), I’m trying to give back place its originary, ‘natural’ meaning, extending the fundamental sense of bounding and bounded condition of the Aristotelian concept of place — which is definitely a ‘natural place’ (Aristotle is the first man who gave a definition of place, topos) — to include the originary sense of nature-as-phusis, expressed by the Greeks, at the inception of Western philosophy, as explained by Heidegger in Introduction to Metaphysics.

[3] Following Heidegger’s interpretation of Being in Introduction to Metaphysics, here, ‘to come into beings’ means that Being unfolds into beings (essents) as an internal possibility, and not as an acquisition — an act of conquest — of something external; there are not beings without Being: Being precedes beings as their intrinsic possibility to be, beyond time contingencies.

Works Cited

Heidegger, Martin. Introduction to Metaphysics. Translated by Gregory Fried, and Richard Polt. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000.