Aletheia (Heraclitus, Fragment B 16)


In this case the fragment, with its questioning, could give voice to a thoughtful wonder, which stands expectantly [verhofft] before that relation wherein the lighting takes the essence of gods and men unto itself. The questioning saying would then correspond to what is ever and again worthy of wonder and is preserved in its worth by wonder.

It is impossible to estimate how much and how clearly Heraclitus' thinking presaged the realm of all realms. That the fragment moves within the realm of the lighting cannot be doubted as soon as we consider ever more clearly this one matter: the beginning and the end of the fragment name revealing and concealing—particularly with respect to their interconnection. We do not even require a separate reference to Fragment 50, in which the revealing-concealing gathering is identified as being entrusted to mortals in such a way that their essence unfolds in this: their correspondence or noncorrespondence to the Λόγος.

We are too quick to believe that the mystery of what is to be thought always lies distant and deeply hidden under a hardly penetrable layer of strangeness. On the contrary, it has its essential abode in what is near by, which approaches what is coming into presence and preserves what has drawn near. The presenting of the near is too close for our customary mode of representational thought—which exhausts itself in securing what is present—to experience the governance of the near, and without preparation to think it adequately. Presumably, the mystery that beckons in what is to be thought is nothing other than essentially what we have attempted to suggest in the name the "lighting." Everyday opinion, therefore, self-assuredly and stubbornly bypasses the mystery. Heraclitus knew this. Fragment 72 runs:


ὧι μάλιστα διηνεκῶς ὁμιλοῦσι Λόγωι τούτωι διὰφέρονται, καὶ οἷς καθ΄ ἡμέραν ἐγκυροῦσι, ταῦτα αὐτοῖς ξένα φαίνεται.


From that to which for the most part they are bound and by which they are thoroughly sustained, the Λόγος, from that they separate themselves; and it becomes manifest: whatever they daily encounter remains foreign (in its presenting) to them.*


* Diels-Kranz (I, 167) translate, "... from the Meaning with which for the most part they go about (from that which governs the totality), from that they separate themselves, and the things they encounter every day seem strange to them." A more fluent translation appears in the excellent French collection by Jean Brun, Héraclite, ou le philosophe de l'eternel retour (Paris: Seghers, 1965), p. 188: "However closely united they are to the Logos which governs the world, they separate themselves from it, etc."—TH.


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Martin Heidegger (GA 7) Early Greek Thinking