Do we in our time have an answer to the question of what we really mean by the word ‘being’? Not at all. So it is fitting that we should raise anew the question of the meaning of Being. But are we nowadays even perplexed at our inability to understand the expression ‘Being’? Not at all. So first of all we must reawaken an understanding for the meaning of this question. (Heidegger, Being and Time)
Thanks to Graham Harman’s blog I am reminded about Heidegger’s momentous work, Being and Time, or ‘Sein und Zeit’ as I read it for the first time about 15 years ago in the original German, and became acquainted with the question he raised, the question of being. No doubt the book is no easy reading, but whoever sticks with it and possibly reads it twice or more will get a feeling of Ali Baba’s “Open Sesame”, a treasure cave filled with an entirely different way of thinking. Why is there anything at all and not just nothing? This question has intrigued many.
Physicists have an interesting take on it:
In a recent paper with the title “Cosmological Models with No Big Bang” written by Wun-Yi Shu (許文郁). Institute of Statistics National Tsing Hua University, Hsinchu 30013, Taiwan, E-mail: email@example.com, we find in the abstract:
In the late 1990s, observations of Type Ia supernovae led to the astounding discovery that the universe is expanding at an accelerating rate. The explanation of this anomalous acceleration has been one of the great problems in physics since that discovery. In this article we propose cosmological models that can explain the cosmic acceleration without introducing a cosmological constant into the standard Einstein field equation, negating the necessity for the existence of dark energy. There are four distinguishing features of these models:
1) the speed of light and the gravitational “constant” are not constant, but vary with the evolution of the universe,
2) time has no beginning and no end,
3) the spatial section of the universe is a 3-sphere, and 4) the universe experiences phases of both acceleration and deceleration.
One of these models is selected and tested against current cosmological observations of Type Ia supernovae, and is found to fit the redshift-luminosity distance data quite well.
How would Heidegger have interpreted that?
He continued on the first page of being and Time saying:
Our aim in the following treatise is to work out the question of the meaning of Being and to do so concretely. Our provisional aim is the Interpretation3 of time as the possible horizon for any understanding whatsoever of Being.
Has Time no beginning and no end? Does that mean that there is no limiting horizon? Mind-boggling!