Aletheia (Heraclitus, Fragment B 16)


Our first impulse is to think of a human person, especially since the question is posed by a mortal and addressed to human beings. But because a thinker is speaking here, particularly that thinker who abides near Apollo and Artemis, his speaking could be a dialogue with those who cast their gaze on things, and could co-signify in τίς, "anyone," the gods. We are strengthened in this surmise by Fragment 30, which says, οὔτε τις θεῶν οὔτε ἀνθρώπων. Similarly, Fragment 53, often cited, but incompletely for the most part, mentions mortals and immortals together when it says πόλεμος, the setting-apart-from-each-other (the lighting), manifests some of those present as gods, others as men, and brings some forward into appearance as slaves and others as free. This says: the enduring lighting lets gods and men come to presence in unconcealment in such a way that none of them could remain concealed; not because he is observed by someone, but because—and only because—each comes to presence. The presenting of gods, however, is other than that of men. As δαίμονες, θεάοντες, the gods are those who look into the lighting of what is present, which concerns mortals after their own fashion, as they let what is present lie before them in its presence and as they continue to take heed of it.

The lighting, therefore, is no mere brightening and lightening. Because presenting means to come enduringly forward from concealment to unconcealment, the revealing-concealing lighting is concerned with the presenting of what is present. Fragment 16, however, does not speak of just any and every something, τί, which could come to presence, but unequivocally and only of τίς, someone among gods and men. Thus the fragment seems to name only a limited range of what is present. Or, rather than limit us to a particular realm of what is present, does the fragment perhaps contain something exceptional which shatters limits and concerns the realm of all realms? Is its exceptional character such that the fragment seeks to know what tacitly collects and embraces also those present beings which are not to be counted as among the regions of gods and men, but which are nevertheless human and divine in another sense—present beings such as plants and animals, mountains, seas, and stars?

But in what else could the exceptional character of gods and men consist, if not in the fact that precisely they in their relation to the lighting can never remain concealed?


119


Early Greek Thinking

GA 7 p. 284