Whenever and however we attempt to contemplate thinking, every time a blunt consideration is already revealed to us: there is no thinking as such [das Denken]. Thinking—and the talk can be of this alone—is the hidden and innermost dispute of our history. Thinking is what is historical of this history and thus is historical in itself.
At first the title “Basic Principles of Thinking” proved itself to be equivocal in the sense of a double meaning that the genitive brings with it as genitivus obiectivus and genitivus subiectivus. Now it becomes clear: The genitive in the title is equivocal, and thus ensnaring, in yet another way entirely.
That thinking whose basic principles would concern us appears to be thinking plain and simple, taken absolutely and universally. In truth, however, this thinking is restricted to the historicality of Western-European history, although, as restricted to this, it is at the same time unleashed as the fundamental characteristic of the modern world technology of our planetary age. When we say thinking “as such,” then this can mean thinking as general human activity; however, it can also mean thinking as a singular destiny of Western humanity.
The first equivocality mentioned in the title “Basic Principles of Thinking” was apparently only the grammatical dual meaning of the genitive. The equivocality just mentioned is an ambiguity behind which a world-historical indecisiveness concerning the essence of thinking plays itself out. By no means does this ambiguity merely stand next to that dual meaning. Rather the one equivocality as well as the other both stem from the same source into which we must inquire. Accordingly, the multiply equivocal title of the lectures, assuming we now hear it contemplatively, is a hint into the question of how we keep to thinking, of whether we are inclined to experience it in terms of the basic principles.
Assuming therefore that thinking in itself would not only be historically determining, but dispensationally determined, then must not every meditation upon a thinking that is in itself historical for its part be in a similar predicament, i.e., be historical? But then does this not say that we first would have