Basic Principles of Thinking [92–93]

thinking? Anyone who would proclaim today that this question has been unanimously decided would be a swindler. He proffers something as science that is not science, that can never be such, because no science reaches that point where the place of origin for the basic principles of thinking could perhaps be discussed. Let us calmly admit it: the provenance of the basic principles of thinking, the place of the thinking that posits these propositions, the essence of the place named here and of its location, all of this remains veiled in the dark for us. This darkness is perhaps in play for all thinking at all times. Humans cannot set it aside. Rather they must learn to acknowledge the dark as something unavoidable and to keep at bay those prejudices that would destroy the lofty reign of the dark. Thus the dark remains distinct from the pitch-black as the mere and utter absence of light. The dark however is the secret of the light. The dark keeps the light to itself. The latter belongs to the former. Thus the dark has its own limpidity. Hölderlin, who truly knew the old wisdom, says in the third strophe of his poem “Remembrance”:

But extend to me,
full of dark light,
the fragrant cup8

The light is no longer an illuminated clearing, when the light diffuses into a mere brightness, “brighter than a thousand suns.”9 It remains difficult to guard the limpidity of thinking,

8. Friedrich Hölderlin, “Andenken,” in Sämtliche Werke, historisch-kritische Ausgabe, vol. 4: Gedichte 1800–1806, ed. Norbert von Hellingrath, 2nd ed. (Berlin: Propyläen Verlag, 1923), 61–63, 61. English translation: Friedrich Hölderlin, “Remembrance,” in Poems & Fragments, ed. and trans. Michael Hamburger, 3rd ed. (London: Anvil Press Poetry, 1994), 508–11, 509, translation modified.

9. Translator’s Note: a citation from The Bhagavad Gita (ed. and trans. Laurie L. Patton [New York: Penguin, 2008]), 11.12. The line likewise forms the title of Robert Jungk’s 1956 book, Heller als tausend Sonnen: Das Schicksal der Atomforscher (Stuttgart: Scherz & Goverts Verlag, 1956), English translation: Robert Jungk, Brighter than a Thousand Suns: A Personal History of the Atomic Scientists , trans. James Cleugh (London: Victor Gollancz Ltd., 1958), the first published account of the Manhattan project where Robert Oppenheimer famously recalled these words upon the detonation of the first atomic bomb (see Heller, 206; Brighter, 198). Heidegger discusses an earlier work of Jungk’s in the preparatory studies for his 1953 lecture “The Question Concerning Technology,” in Martin Heidegger, Leitgedanken zur Entstehung der Metaphysik, der neuzeitlichen Wissenschaft und der modernen Technik, Gesamtausgabe vol. 76, ed. Claudius Strube (Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann, 2009), 347.

Martin Heidegger (GA 79) Bremen and Freiburg Lectures

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