Heidegger analyzes the question of nothingness and argues that it's logically impossible to question the nothing without making something of it (What is Metaphysics?). How do we question the nothing without calling it into being? The question of the nothing, he says, robs itself of its own object. He continues:
Wenn wir uns aber durch die formale Unmöglichkeit der Frage nach dem Nichts nicht beirren lassen and ihr entgegen die Frage dennoch stellen, dann müssen wir zum mindesten dem genügen, was als Grunderfordernis für die mögliche Durchführung jeder Frage bestehen bleibt. Wenn das Nichts, wie immer, befragt werden solles selbstdann muß es zuvor gegeben sein. Wir müssen ihm begegnen können.
However, if we do not allow ourselves to be distracted by the formal impossibility of the question of the nothing and nevertheless confront the question, then we must satisfy what is a basic requirement for the possible carrying through of any question. If the nothing itself would be questioned then it must be given beforehand. We must be able to encounter it.
Possibly there is no nothing itself but only a nothing als etwas. In calling the nothing into question we would indeed be questioning the formal concept of an imaginary nothing, perhaps because that's all that's meant by thinking "nothing." So what then do we make of the requirement that we be able to meet what we question before we begin to question? Or that the questioned must be given? Is givenness never to be called into question? Is a question never to be creative?
Is a question essentially a consciousness? Let's say that it is a conscious act. We might call such an act a thought just for the sake of following Heidegger's argument. He says that thinking, which is essentially always thinking of something, while it is thinking of the nothing must act contrary to its own essence. Wouldn't it be more likely for thought to operate contrary to the essence of the nothing before operating contrary to itself? (Our ideas about the nature of thought may not be compatible.) Yet the thinking of nothing is not so simple. We need something like a temporal horizon to interpret the way thought brings itself into the thinking of the nothing; the nothing appears as the residue of what thought accomplished just now, reflects upon it, sums it upno, that's not quite it. It responds. In negation it's as if everything that had come before possibly to affirm the present moment had been posed in the form of a question and then answered in the negative. Here it's not a matter of negation revealing the primacy of a question, but one of negation simply unfolding in the horizon of a questioning, or indeed, a culture of questioning.
Does questioning, when directed at the nothing or at anything, ever operate contrary to its essence? Would only being able to address the already given be more in keeping with the essence of an answer than a question? How would we know when a question had violated itself? Obviously we may see questioning operate contrary to the way we feel questioning should operate. It can operate contrary to its ideal. But how much do we really know about the operation of the question? Or should I say the "carrying through" of the question? What do we already know about how a question is carried through? How do we begin to study it? I'll keep you posted.