The Anaximander Fragment

awhile among one another in unconcealment? What at bottom runs through whatever is present? The fragment's last word gives the answer. We must begin the translation with it. This word designates the basic trait of what is present: ἡ άδικία. The literal translation is "injustice." But is this literal translation faithful? That is to say: does the word which translates άδικία heed what comes to language in the saying? Does the αὐτα, the totality of what is present, lingering awhile in unconcealment, stand before our eyes?

How is what lingers awhile in presence unjust? What is unjust about it? Is it not the right of whatever is present that in each case it linger awhile, endure, and so fulfill its presencing?

The word ά-δικία immediately suggests that δίκη is absent. We are accustomed to translate δίκη as "right." The translations even use "penalties" to translate "right." If we resist our own juridical-moral notions, if we restrict ourselves to what comes to language, then we hear that wherever άδικία rules all is not right with things. That means, something is out of joint. But of what are we speaking? Of what is present, lingering awhile. But where are there jointures in what is present? Or where is there even one jointure? How can what is present without jointure be άδικον, out of joint?

The fragment clearly says that what is present is in άδικία, i.e. is out of joint. However, that cannot mean that things no longer come to presence. But neither does it say that what is present is only occasionally, or perhaps only with respect to some one of its properties, out of joint. The fragment says: what is present as such, being what it is, is out of joint. To presencing as such jointure must belong, thus creating the possibility of its being out of joint. What is present is that which lingers awhile. The while occurs essentially as the transitional arrival in departure: the while comes to presence between approach and withdrawal. Between this twofold absence the presencing of all that lingers occurs. In this "between" whatever lingers awhile is joined. This "between" is the jointure in accordance with which whatever lingers is joined, from its emergence here to its departure away from here. The presencing of whatever lingers obtrudes into the "here" of its coming, as into the "away" of its going. In both directions presencing is conjointly disposed toward absence. Presencing comes about in such a jointure. What is present emerges by approaching and passes away by departing; it does both at the same time, indeed because it lingers.


Martin Heidegger (GA 5) Early Greek Thinking