The Thing [1516]

probably meant>, says: love is of such a nature that it changes man into the things [dink] he loves.6

Because the word “thing” in the language use of Western metaphysics names something that is in any way at all, the meaning of the noun “thing” changes according to the interpretation of that which is, i.e., of beings. Kant speaks of things in the same manner as Meister Eckhart and means with this term something that is. But for Kant, that which is becomes the object of a representing that terminates in the self-consciousness of the human I. The thing in itself means for Kant: the object [Gegenstand] in itself. The character of the “in itself” means for Kant that the object in itself is an object without relation to human representation, i.e., without that “against” [Gegen] by means of which it stands for this representing in the first place. Thought in a rigorously Kantian manner, “thing in itself” means an object that is not an object, because it is supposed to stand without a possible “against” for the human representing that comes across it.

Neither the long-used-up general meaning of the noun “thing” as employed in philosophy, nor the Old High German meaning of the word thing, however, help us in the least in our predicament of experiencing and sufficiently thinking the factual essence of what we now say concerning the essence of the jug. Against this, however, one aspect of meaning from the old linguistic usage of the word “thing” does address the essence of the jug as thought here, namely that of “gathering.”

The jug is a thing, neither in the sense of the res as meant by the Romans, nor in the sense of the ens conceived in the Middle Ages, nor even in the sense of the object of modern representation. The jug is a thing not as object, whether this be one of production or of mere representation. The jug is a thing insofar as it things. From the thinging of the thing there

6. cf. Meister Eckhart, Sermon LXIII, Deutsche Mystiker, 197–99, 199. Now Predigt 40, Die deutschen Werke, vol. 2: Meister Eckharts Predigten, ed. and trans. Josef Quint (Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 1971), 271–81, 277–78, and Sermon XX, Deutsche Mystiker, 85–88, 86. Now Predigt 44, Die deutschen Werke, vol. 2, 337–51, 343. English translation: Eckhart, Complete Mystical Works, Sermon 63, 318–21, 320, and Sermon 20, 143–47, 144–45.

Martin Heidegger (GA 79) Bremen and Freiburg Lectures

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