Thesis of Medieval Ontology [163-165]

the sense and essential nature of production, so far as this production is always the producing of something from something. What is not in need of being produced can really be understood and discovered only within the understanding of being that goes with production. In other words, it is first of all in the understanding of being that belongs to productive comportment and thus in the understanding of what does not need to be produced that there can grow the understanding of a being which is extant in itself before all production and for all further production. It is this understanding of what does not need to be produced, possible only in production, which understands the being of what already lies at the ground of and precedes everything to be produced and thus is all the more already extant in itself. The understanding of being in production is so far from merely understanding beings as produced that it rather opens up precisely the understanding of the being of that which is already simply extant. In production, therefore, we come up against just what does not need to be produced. In the course of producing and using beings we come up against the actuality of what is already there before all producing, products, and producibles, or of what offers resistance to the formative process that produces things. The concepts of matter and material have their origin in an understanding of being that is oriented to production. Otherwise, the idea of material as that from which something is produced would remain hidden. The concepts of matter and material, ὕλη, that is, the counter-concepts to μορφή, form, play a fundamental role in ancient philosophy not because the Greeks were materialists but because matter is a basic ontological concept that arises necessarily when a being-whether it is produced or is not in need of being produced-is interpreted in the horizon of the understanding of being which lies as such in productive comportment.

Productive comportment is not limited just to the producible and produced but harbors within itself a remarkable breadth of possibility for understanding the being of beings, which is at the same time the basis for the universal significance assignable to the fundamental concepts of ancient ontology.

But this still does not explain why ancient ontology interprets beings from exactly this direction. This is not self-evident and it cannot be an accident. From this question, why it was precisely production that served as horizon for the ontological interpretation of beings, arises the need to work out this horizon and give explicit reasons for its ontological necessity. For the mere fact that ancient ontology moves in this horizon is not yet the ontological foundation of its legitimacy and necessity. Only when the founding argument is given is a legitimate birth certificate issued for the ontological concepts of essentia and existentia which grew out of this way of posing ontological problems. The argument for the legitimacy of the

1. Husserl, Ideen, vol. 1, p. 174. [Edmund Husserl, Ideen zur reinen Phänomenologie und phänomenologische Philosophie, first published in jahrbuch fur Philosophie und phänomenologische Forschung, vol. 1, edited by Husserl (Halle: Max Niemeyer, 1913, 1922, 1928), trans. W.R. Boyce-Gibson, Ideas (London: Macmillan, 1931). The quoted passage is on p. 212. There are two recent German editions of Ideen, vol. 1, the first edited by Walter Biemel as a "new edition based on the handwritten additions of the author" (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1950), and the second edited by Karl Schuhmann, which contains "the text reproduced as it was in Husserl's lifetime, 1913, 1922, 1928, 'three almost completely identical editions,'" and "all of Husserl's manuscript additions in the second half-volume" (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1976). Both these later editions appear in the series: Husserliana: Edmund Husserl, Gesammelte Werke.]