The Thing

How do things stand with nearness? How can we experience its essence? Nearness, it seems, cannot be immediately found. We sooner achieve this by pursuing what is in the vicinity [in der Nähe]. In the vicinity are what we customarily name “things.” But what is a thing? How long has the human observed and questioned things, how variously has he used them and, indeed, even used them up. And guided by such intentions, how insistently has he also explained the things, that is, led them back to their causes. The human has proceeded in this manner with things for a long time, and he is even still so proceeding, without ever once in all this considering the thing as thing.

Up to now, the human has considered the thing as a thing just as little as he has considered nearness. The jug is a thing. What is a jug? We say: a vessel; that which holds another in itself. What does the holding in the jug are the base and sides. This holding itself can be held at the handle. As a vessel, the jug is something that stands on its own. This standing-on-its-own characterizes the jug as something independent. As the selfstanding [Selbststand] of something independent, the jug is distinguished from an object [Gegenstand]. Something independent can become an object when we represent it to ourselves, be it in immediate perception, be it in a thoughtful remembrance that makes it present. The thinghood of the thing, however, does not reside in the thing becoming the object of a representation, nor can the thinghood of the thing at all be determined by the objectivity of the object, not even when we take the opposition of the object as not simply due to our representation, but rather leave opposition to the object itself as its own affair.


Bremen Lectures

GA 79 p. 5

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