Logos (Heraclitus, Fragment B 50)

What sort of protection is this? What lies together before us is stored, laid away, secured and deposited in unconcealment, and that means sheltered in unconcealment. By letting things lie together before us, λέγειν undertakes to secure what lies before us in unconcealment. The κεῖσθαι, the lying before for-itself of what is in this fashion deposited, i.e. the κεῖσθαι of ὑποκείμενον, is nothing more and nothing less than the presencing of that which lies before us into unconcealment. In this λέγειν of ὑποκείμενον, λέγειν as gathering and assembling remains implied. Because λέγειν, which lets things lie together before us, concerns itself solely with the safety of that which lies before us in unconcealment, the gathering appropriate to such a laying is determined in advance by safekeeping.

Λέγειν is to lay. Laying is the letting-lie-before—which is gathered into itself—of that which comes together into presence.

The question arises: How does the proper meaning of λέγειν, to lay, attain the signification of saying and talking? The foregoing reflection already contains the answer, for it makes us realize that we can no longer raise the question in such a manner. Why not? Because what we have been thinking about in no way tells us that this word λέγειν advanced from the one meaning, "to lay," to the other, "to say."

We have not busied ourselves in the foregoing with the transformation of word meanings. Rather, we have stumbled upon an event whose immensity still lies concealed in its long unnoticed simplicity.

The saying and talking of mortals comes to pass from early on as λέγειν, laying. Saying and talking occur essentially as the letting-lie-together-before of everything which, laid in unconcealment, comes to presence. The original λέγειν, laying, unfolds itself early and in a manner ruling everything unconcealed as saying and talking. Λέγειν as laying lets itself be overpowered by the predominant sense, but only in order to deposit the essence of saying and talking at the outset under the governance of laying proper.

That λέγειν is a laying wherein saying and talking articulate their essence, refers to the earliest and most consequential decision concerning the essence of language. Where did it come from? This question is as weighty, and supposedly the same, as the other question: How far does this characterization of the essence of language from laying extend?


Martin Heidegger (GA 7) Early Greek Thinking