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In ontology (the study of being) being is anything that can be said to be, either transcendentally or immanently.

The nature of being varies by philosophy, given different interpretations in the frameworks of Parmenides, Leucippus, Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Plotinus, Aquinas, Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Hegel, Heidegger, and Sartre.


Being in continental philosophy and existentialism

Some philosophers deny that the concept of "being" has any meaning at all, since we only define an object's existence by its relation to other objects, and actions it undertakes. The term "I am" has no meaning by itself; it must have an action or relation appended to it. This in turn has led to the thought that "being" and nothingness are closely related, developed in existential philosophy.

Existentialist philosophers such as Sartre, as well as continental philosophers such as Hegel and Heidegger have also written extensively on the concept of being. Hegel distinguishes between the being of objects (being in itself) and the being of people (Geist). Hegel, however, did not think there was much hope for delineating a "meaning" of being, because being stripped of all predicates is simply nothing.

Heidegger, in his quest to re-pose the original pre-Socratic questions of Being (of why is there something rather than nothing), wondered at how to meaningfully ask the question of the meaning of being, since it is both the greatest, as it includes everything that is, and the least, since no particular thing can be said of it. He distinguishes between different modes of beings: a privative mode is present-at-hand, whereas beings in a fuller sense are described as ready-to-hand. The one who asks the question of Being is described as Da-sein ("there/here-being") or being-in-the-world. Sartre, popularly understood as misreading Heidegger (an understanding supported by Heidegger's essay "Letter on Humanism" which responds to Sartre's famous address, "Existentialism is a Humanism"), employs modes of being in an attempt to ground his concept of freedom ontologically by distinguishing between being-in-itself and being-for-itself.

Being in Islamic philosophy

The nature of "being" has also been debated and explored in Islamic philosophy, notably by Ibn Sina, Suhrawardi, and Mulla Sadra.[1]


As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light of meaning in the darkness of mere being. - Carl Jung

Under the heading ‘Individuality in Thought and Desire’, Karl Marx, (German Ideology 1845), says:

"It depends not on consciousness, but on being; not on thought, but on life; it depends on the individual's empirical development and manifestation of life, which in turn depends on the conditions existing in the world."

See also

External links




Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also Being



Most common English words: make « def « might « #113: being » day » through » himself


Originated 1250–1300 from Middle English being; see be + -ing.




  1. Present participle of be.




being (plural beings)

  1. A living creature.
  2. The state or fact of existence, consciousness, or life, or something in such a state.
  3. (philosophy) That which has actuality (materially or in concept).
  4. (philosophy) One's basic nature, or the qualities thereof; essence or personality.

Derived terms




  1. (obsolete) Given that; since.
    • 1621, Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy, New York Review Books 2001, p. 280:
      ’Tis a hard matter therefore to confine them, being they are so various and many [...].

Derived terms


  • being” in The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, Houghton Mifflin Company, 2000.
  • being” in Unabridged, v1.0.1, Lexico Publishing Group, 2006.
  • "being" in the Kernerman English Multilingual Dictionary (Beta Version), K Dictionaries limited, 2000-2006.
  • "being" in WordNet 3.0, Princeton University, 2006.

See also


Simple English

Simple English Wiktionary has the word meaning for:
Being is also a present tense part of to be

The word being means the same as "person". Men, women, and children are human beings.

Some people write stories or make movies about beings from other planets. Most religions talk about supernatural beings, for example spirits, angels, devils, gods, or God.

Being is something THAT IS.


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