§262 [502-503]

(taking assertion in the widest sense, according to which language, the spoken and unspoken, means and represents something, namely, a being, and through representation configures or conceals that being, etc.), language is immediately familiar as a possession and tool of the human being and also as a "work." But this connection between language and the human being is taken to be so intimate that the basic determinations of the human being (again as animal rationale) are chosen to characterize language as well. The bodily-psychic-spiritual essence of the human being is found again in language: the body of language (the word), the soul of language (the mood, the felt tone, etc.), and the spirit of language (that which is thought and represented) are conventional determinations in all philosophy of language. This ("anthropological") interpretation of language reaches a peak when it sees in language itself a symbol of the human essence. If the problematic character of the notion of symbol (a genuine offspring of the perplexity regarding beyng which reigns in metaphysics) is here disregarded, then the human being would accordingly have to be grasped as that living being whose essence lies precisely in that by which it is symbolized, i.e., precisely in the possession of this symbol (λόγον ἔχον). We will have to leave open how far this metaphysical interpretation of language in terms of symbols, if thought through to the end, could be led beyond itself by the thinking of being in its historicality and could thereby yield fruit. Undeniably, that which in language provides a basis for taking it as a symbol for the human being also touches something that in a certain way is indeed proper to language: the sound and phonetic structure of the word, the tone and meaning of the word. Yet we are again hereby thinking in the horizon of the metaphysical distinction between the sensible, the nonsensible, and the supersensible, even if we mean by "word" not individual vocables but the uttering and keeping silent of what is said and what is not said and this latter itself. The sound of the word can be traced back to the anatomical and physiological properties of the human body and explained on that basis (phonetics—acoustics). Likewise, the mood and melody of the word and the emotional emphasis of an utterance are objects of psychological explanation. And as to the meaning of the word, it is a matter for logical, poetic, and rhetorical dissection. These explanations and analyses of language obviously depend on the particular way of apprehending the human being.

If now, however, with the overcoming of metaphysics, anthropology also collapses, and if the essence of humanity is determined with respect to beyng, then that anthropological explanation of language can no longer be paradigmatic; its grounds have crumbled. Nevertheless—indeed even now for the first time in its full power—there remains that which was captured about language in referring to its body,