Insight Into That Which Is [1213]

they are unconcealed. The gift of the pour lets the single fold of the fourfold of the four abide. In the gift, however, the jug essences as jug. The gift gathers that which belongs to giving: the twofold holding, the holder, the empty, and the outpouring as donating. What is gathered in the gift appropriatingly gathers itself therein so as to let the fourfold abide. This manifold and simplistic gathering is the essencing of the jug. Our language names what gathering is with an old word. It reads: thing [thing]. The essence of the jug exists as the pure giving gathering of the simple fourfold in a while [eine Weile]. The jug essences as thing. The jug is the jug as a thing. But how does the thing essence? The thing things. Thinging gathers. Appropriating the fourfold, it gathers the fourfold’s duration [dessen Weile] each time into something that abides [je Weiliges]: into this or that thing.

We give to the essence of the jug, so experienced and thought, the name thing. We think this name in terms of the issue at stake for the thing, from thinging as the gathering-appropriative letting abide of the fourfold. We recall, however, at the same time the Old High German word thing. This linguistic historical reference easily seduces one to misunderstand the way we now think the essence of the thing. It might appear as if the essence of the thing now intended was whimsically spun, so to speak, from randomly snatched-up definitions of the Old High German noun thing. The suspicion arises that the experience of the essence of the thing now attempted would be grounded on the arbitrarity of an etymological game. The opinion calcifies and even becomes commonplace that here instead of considering the matter at stake, the dictionary alone would be deployed.

Indeed the opposite of such fears is the case. The Old High German word thing means gathering and indeed a gathering for the negotiation of an affair under discussion, a disputed case. Consequently the Old High German words thing and dinc become the name for an affair; they name what concernfully approaches the human in some way, what accordingly is under discussion. What is under discussion the Romans name res; ῥέειν, ῥῆμα, means in Greek: to speak about something, to negotiate about it; res publica does not mean: the state, but rather that which openly concerns every one of the people and therefore is negotiated publicly.

Martin Heidegger (GA 79) The Thing - Bremen and Freiburg Lectures

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