"The Formal Structure of the Question of Being"

The question of the meaning of Being must be formulated. If it is a fundamental question, or indeed the fundamental question, it must be made transparent, and in an appropriate way. 1 We must therefore explain briefly what belongs to any question whatsoever, so that from this standpoint the question of Being can be made visible as a very special one with its own distinctive character.

Every inquiry is a seeking [Suchen]. Every seeking gets guided beforehand by what is sought. Inquiry is a cognizant seeking for an entity both with regard to the fact that it is and with regard to its Being as it is. 2 This cognizant seeking can take the form of ' investigating' ["Untersuchen"], in which one lays bare that which the question is about and ascertains its character. Any inquiry, as an inquiry about something, has that which is asked about [sein Gefragtes]. But all inquiry about something is somehow a questioning of something [Anfragen bei ... ]. So in addition to what is asked about, an inquiry has that which is interrogated [ein Befragtes]. In investigative questions-that is, in questions which are specifically theoretical-what is asked about is determined and conceptualized. Furthermore, in what is asked about there lies also that which is to be found out by the asking [das Erjragte] ; this is what is really intended:3 with this the inquiry reaches its goal. Inquiry itself is the behaviour of a questioner, and therefore of an entity, and as such has its own character of Being. When one makes an inquiry one may do so 'just casually' or one may formulate the question explicitly. The latter case is peculiar in that the inquiry does not become transparent to itself until all these constitutive factors of the question have themselves become transparent.

From "BEING AND TIME" Translated by John Macquarrie & Edward Robinson