EARLY GREEK THINKING


ἐόντα, so-called beings, does not mean exclusively the things of nature. In the present instance the poet applies ἐόντα to the Achaeans' encampment before Troy, the god's wrath, the plague's fury, funeral pyres, the perplexity of the leaders, and so on. In Homer's language τὰ ἐόντα is not a conceptual philosophical term but a thoughtful and thoughtfully uttered word. It does not specify natural things, nor does it at all indicate objects which stand over against human representation. Man too belongs to ἐόντα; he is that present being which, illuminating, apprehending, and thus gathering, lets what is present as such become present in unconcealment. If in the poetic designation of Kalchas what is present is thought in relation to the seer's seeing, this means for Greek thinking that the seer, as the one who has seen, is himself one who makes-present and belongs in an exceptional sense to the totality of what is present. On the other hand, it does not mean that what is present is nothing but an object wholly dependent upon the seer's subjectivity.

Τὰ ἐόντα, what is present, whether or not at the present time, is the unobtrusive name of what expressly comes to language in the Anaximander fragment. This word names that which, while not yet spoken, is the unspoken in thinking which addresses all thinking. This word names that which from now on, whether or not it is uttered, lays a claim on all Western thinking.

But only several decades later, not with Anaximander but with Parmenides, ἐόν (presencing) and εἶναι (to presence) are expressed as the fundamental words of Western thinking. This does not happen, as the normal misconception still insists, because Parmenides interprets being "logically" in terms of a proposition's structure and its copula. In the history of Greek thinking even Aristotle did not go so far when he thought the Being of beings in terms of κατηγορία. Aristotle perceived beings as what already lies before any proposition, which is to say, as what is present and lingers awhile in unconcealment. Aristotle did not have to interpret substance, ὑποκείμενον, on the basis of the subject of a predicate phrase, because the essence of substance, οὐσία, in the sense of παρουσία, was already granted. Nor did Aristotle think the presence of what is present in terms of the objectivity of an object in a proposition, but rather as ἐνέργεια, which however is far removed—as


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Martin Heidegger (GA 5) The Anaximander Fragment