§20. The conflicting intentions of philological tradition and philosophical translation

From the first inception of Western thinking a saying is handed down to us that we for once just once want to hear. The saying belongs to the Greek thinker Anaximander, who lived from approximately 610 to 540.

The saying states:

ἐξ ὧν δὲ ἡ γένεσίς ἐστι τοῖς οὖσι, καὶ τὴν φθορὰν εἰς ταῦτα γίνεσθαι κατὰ τὸ χρεών διδόναι γὰρ αὐτὰ δίκην καὶ τίσιν ἀλλήλοις τῆς ἀδικίας κατὰ τὴν τοῦ χρόνου τάξιν.

The translation, which as such is unavoidably already an interpretation, we will render into a formulation including some elucidating words that go beyond an exactly “‘literal” reproduction. We translate:

Whence emergence is for what respectively presences also an eluding into this (as into the Same), emerges accordingly the compelling need; there is namely what presences itself (from itself), the fit, and each is respected (acknowledged) by the other, (all of this) from overcoming the unfit according to the allotment of temporalizing by time.

That this saying came to be handed down to us is more important than the question as to how this handing down succeeded and can be verified and supported in detail. For this saying owes its being handed down to the gravity of its own truth.

We will concern ourselves first with the truth of this saying, which means the truth of what it puts into words. We will first consider the essence of what is generally spoken about here. In this approach, we Consciously disregard the requirements of historical-philological scholarship and admit that we are left exposed to the charge of being unscholarly.

Basic Concepts (GA 51) by Martin Heidegger page 81