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Introduction [86–88]

Because this essence of beings as a whole rules beings through and through in many forms, ruling all beings in accordance with their ways of Being, it can be exhibited only when human beings—peoples in their power relations, in their works, in the manner in which they bear their fate—transform the spirit of the earth. The essence of beings comes to the light of day only when human beings, rooted in their heritage and vocation, put essence to work. The essence of things is put to work through the confrontation with beings, insofar as we rise to the essence of things in this confrontation or are destroyed in it. How the essence of things is put to work depends on how and how far we ourselves as a people, and each individual among the people, become essential in our Dasein. Essential: that means bound into the law and structure of beings.

The fundamental achievement, through which alone our Dasein can become essential, is the awakening of the courage for ourselves, for our Dasein in the midst of the world. The courage for one’s own originary Dasein and its concealed powers is the fundamental precondition for every working-out of the essence of things. This courage first forges our disposition, the fundamental moods in which Dasein soars out to and back from the limits of beings as a whole. Essence does not make itself known through a casual notion, does not take shape through a “theory,” does not display itself in doctrine. Essence opens itself up only to the originary courage of Dasein for beings as a whole. Why? Because courage moves forward; it releases itself from what has been so far, it dares the unaccustomed and makes the inevitable its concern. But courage is not the mere wish of a spectator; rather, courage anchors its will in clear and simple tasks; it compels and harnesses all forces, means, and images.

Only insofar as the one care of human Dasein, the care concerning Dasein’s ability to be and its having to be, becomes care pure and simple, is the human venture into the world fulfilled. Only in this way does the world’s mastery hold sway and display itself in law, organization, deportment, and work. Only thus does what is as a whole, as well as each individual thing, open up in its essence.

In the ordinary hustle and bustle, a human being—indeed, often an entire people—chases and hastens after arbitrary objects and opportunities, through which they are transported into greater and lesser moods in which they want to be confined. And human beings are surprised when they see themselves compelled to devise and supply ever new means of stimulation and excitement. They do this instead of grasping that the reverse is needed from the start: to create and to awaken fundamental moods through originary courage—that then all things become visible, decidable and durable. I repeat: this is the courage for what is originary as one’s own.


Being and Truth (GA 36/37) by Martin Heidegger