17
The Thing [1718]

The mortals are the humans. They are called the mortals because they are able to die. Dying means: to be capable of death as death. Only the human dies. The animal comes to an end. It has death as death neither before it nor after it. Death is the shrine of the nothing, namely of that which in all respects is never some mere being, but nonetheless essences, namely as being itself. Death, as the shrine of nothing, harbors in itself what essences of being. As the shrine of the nothing, death is the refuge of being. The mortals we now name the mortals—not because their earthly life ends, but rather because they are capable of death as death. The mortals are who they are as mortals by essencing in the refuge of being. They are the essencing relationship to being as being.

Metaphysics, on the contrary, represents the human as an animal, as a living being. Even when the ratio reigns over the animalitas, the human being remains defined by life and lived experience. From rational living beings, the mortals must first come to be.

When we say: mortals, then we already think, in case we are thinking, the other three along with them from the single fold of the four.

Earth and sky, divinities and mortals belong together, united from themselves, in the single fold of the unifying fourfold. Each of the four in its way mirrors the essence of the remaining others again. Each is thus reflected in its way back into what is its own within the single fold of the four. This mirroring is no presentation of an image. Lighting up each of the four, this mirroring appropriates the essence of each to the others in a simple bringing into ownership [einfältige Vereignung]. In this appropriating-lighting way, each of the four reflectively plays with each of the remaining others. The appropriative mirroring releases each of the four into what is its own, while binding the ones so released to the single fold [Einfalt] of their essential reciprocality.

The mirroring that binds them to this space of freedom is the play that entrusts each of the four to the others by the folded support of this bringing into ownership. None of the four insists on its separate particularity. Each of the four within this bringing into ownership is much more expropriated to what is its own. This expropriative bringing into ownership is


Martin Heidegger (GA 79) Bremen and Freiburg Lectures

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