Four Seminars [10-12]

ἀεὶ. The basis for Heidegger’s decision is that he does not read ἐόντος as an epithet of λόγου, but instead, literally, as the genitive of ἐόν: the being in its being. In his more paratactical than syntactical reading, τοῦ δὲ λόγου τοῦ δ’ἐόντος are taken as corresponding precisely to one another, which also determines the separation of the fourth word in the sentence: τοῦδε into τοῦ δέ.

We thus do not read:

Now of λόγος, as what is everlastingly (ἀεί) true, humans are without understanding;

and also not:

Now of λόγος, of that which is true, the humans are ever (ἀεί) without any understanding;

but rather:

Now of λόγος, of beings in their being, the humans never have an understanding.

What is said here would thus be the sameness of λόγος and ἐόν, in the sense in which Parmenides likewise says in his poem:

“For it is indeed the same, both thinking and being.”

It is at least from this reading that we are to understand what Heidegger said in The Principle of Reason from 1956, namely that “a belonging to being . . . speaks in all that is said in the Greek word λόγος,” in other words that, “λόγος names being,” or that, “Though it had other names in early Western thinking, ‘being’ means λόγος.”16

We will now read fragment 1 as a whole:

“But of λόγος, of the beings in their being, humans remain constantly outside of all understanding, as much before they have heard as after they have first heard; for while everything occurs according to the λόγος of which I speak, they are indeed like the inexperienced, when they attempt such words and works as I set forth, in that I distinguish each thing according to its essence and I say it as it is. But what the other humans do while awake escapes from them just as what was present [gegenwärtig] to them while asleep again conceals itself from them.”

Fragment 1, which makes λόγος into the foremost fundamental word of all the fundamental words, is supported in this by fragment 72, as reported by Marcus Aurelius:

“With what they most belong together. . . , from this they diverge, and hence: all that they encounter everyday appears to them in a foreign light [ξένα φαίνεται].”

The text apparently contains a paradox. Aren’t the things that one comes across everyday entirely familiar? To just what an extent are they supposed to show themselves in a foreign light? In so far as the humans, when they diverge [entzweien] from the λόγος, only see a side of what they encounter; to the same extent, the thing encountered is, as it were, estranged from itself.

16 Martin Heidegger, Der Satz vom Grund (Pfullingen: Verlag Günther Neske, 1957), pp. 177, 179, 182. English translation: Martin Heidegger, The Principle of Reason, trans. Reginald Lily (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1991), pp. 106, translation modified (hereafter: tm), 107, 109.