anecdote-once expressed this becoming-one in one succinct sentence, when, at the beginning of a lecture on Aristotle, instead of the usual biographical introduction, he said: Aristotle was born, worked, and died." That something like this is the case is a necessary condition for philosophy, as we can recognize in retrospect, but it is more than questionable whether, particularly in our century, we would ever have realized it without Heidegger's thought-ful existence. This thinking, which, as passion, arises from the simple fact of being-born-into-the-world and then "contemplates the meaning which reigns in everything that is" [Discourse on Thinking (1959), p. 46], can no more have an ultimate purpose—results or knowledge—than can life itself. The end of life is death, but man lives not for the sake of death but because he is a living being; and he thinks not for the sake of some result or other but because he is a "thinking, i.e., sensing being"" [ibid, p. 47].

The consequence of this is that thinking behaves in a peculiarly destructive or critical way toward its own results. Certainly, philosophers have had a fatal tendency to construct systems ever since the philosophical schools of antiquity; and today it is often difficult for us to dismantle their constructions so as to discover what they actually thought. This tendency emerges not from thinking itself but from completely different needs that, in turn, are entirely legitimate. If one were to measure thinking, in its immediate, passionate liveliness, by its results, then what happened to Penelope's veil would happen to it-at night, it would, of itself, relentlessly undo what was spun during the day; so as to be able to begin anew the next day. Despite occasional references to previous publications, each of Heidegger's writings reads as if he were starting over and only borrowing, in each case, the language he had already coined, his terminology, that is, whereby, however, the concepts are only "pathmarks" that a new train of thought uses for orientation. Heidegger mentions this peculiarity of thinking when, with reference to Nietzsche, he speaks of "the unremitting refusal to compromise in his thinking," when he emphasizes "to what extent the critical question of what the


Hannah Arendt — Martin Heidegger: Letters 1925-1975