§2 [7-9]

are the same. The whence is the whither, and conversely.—This information is exceedingly meager. We would very much like to know what is this whence and whither. And if we speak—as do all interpreters since Aristotle—in a completely wrong-headed way, i.e., if we speak of coming to be and passing away, then we are thinking of the coming to be of the world—“ world” as nature—whereby it seems that to ask whence beings come to be is even to engage in the most thoughtful research. Whence something comes to be is ordinarily called its matter, and if beings—all of them—come to be out of, and decompose into, the same matter, then the whence-whither is the basic matter. And people go out of their way to praise Anaximandros for having already advanced so far in physics and chemistry. As if sciences as such were an advancement; as if advancement for philosophy could ever be a mark of distinction. And, above all, as if Anaximandros had ever asked about matter and the basic matter. This view of Anaximandros and his physics is not even false; it is so far removed from the content of his teaching that it does not grasp the least of it and so does not even rise to the level of the false and wrong. This way of taking him or, rather, this mis-taking is encountered at every turn; it is mentioned here only in order to be discarded. For even to enter into dialogue with it is otiose. |

At issue here cannot be matter and the basic matter, for: 1) the questioning in general does not aim to establish a sequence, the coming to be of things out of and through one another; thereby no occasion is given to ask about something as a matter out of which things are formed. 2) the questioning of a basic matter must from the outset equate “beings” with the material domain of lifeless nature. τὰ ὄντα, however, signifies beings as a whole and precisely not any individual delimited or distinctive sphere of beings. Therefore the whence and whither apply to beings as a whole, just as appearance applies not simply to the emergence of water or air or animals, but to everything that happens.

Now, to be sure, the whence-whither is different from beings as a whole, precisely as that out of which beings as a whole have their appearing and to which they revert. But what is different from beings and is not a being nor beings as a whole must be addressed by us as nothingness. Be that as it may: if indeed the whence-whither must remain differentiated from beings as a whole, then we arrive at the brink of nothingness. We must not shrink back here and must rather consider this: if we want to grasp beings (the Greeks say delimit, place within limits), then we must, indeed necessarily, proceed to the limit of beings, and that is nothingness. Accordingly, what was said about

The Beginning of Western Philosophy (GA 35) by Martin Heidegger