Four Seminars [16-18]

day and night. It is a synthesis in the sense that the conflict of being and nothing is equalized by the appearance of becoming, which arises dialectically from their collision.

With Heraclitus, however, the reverse occurs. Instead of combining the opposites methodically, so that both terms of a relation play out against one another, he names the διαφερόμενον as the συμφερόμενον: “The God?—Day-Night!” This is the sense of φύσις. In other words, Heraclitus names a belonging to a singular presence of everything that separates itself from another, in order to turn all the more intimately to the other, in the sense that along the “country path”: “Winter’s storm encounters harvest’s day, the agile excitation of Spring and the serene dying of Autumn meet, the child’s game and the elder’s wisdom gaze at each other. And in a unique harmony, whose echo the pathway carries with it silently here and there, everything is made gladsome. . . .”26

2) Human thinking itself, its νοεῖν, belongs to the λόγος and determines itself from this as ὁμολογεῖν (fragment 50). It was this, says Heidegger, that I attempted to show in a 1942 explanation of fragment 7 in a seminar for beginners. It is commonly translated thus:

“If all beings were to become smoke [καπνὸς γένοιτο], the nose would distinguish them.”

In this, the sense of the verb γίνεσθαι is misunderstood, since, instead of the transformation of something into something else, it means here the presencing of it. Thus we translate:

“If being showed itself everywhere as smoke, then the nose would notice the difference.”

One could not more humorously say that the faculty of knowledge is determined by the appearance of a being. With this, the proximity in which Heraclitus and Parmenides stand to one another is completely visible. Fragment 7, as we now understand it, is to a certain extent the Heraclitean conception of fragment 3 from Parmenides’ poem:

“Indeed, the same is just as much thinking as being.”

In summary:

1) With Heraclitus there is no dialectic—even if his word provides the impetus for this, since, in this sense, what began after him is literally that “which the morning first found.”27

2) All thinking is “for the sake of being,” which is certainly not to say that this would only be an object of thought.

September 9

“To the health of the snake”28

Today we are gathered at the house of the poet by the lavender fields. Already tomorrow we will depart from one another, but Heraclitus remains near to us, for we wish to read fragment 30 together.

26 Martin Heidegger, “Der Feldweg,” in GA 13: 87–90, p. 90. English translation: “The Pathway,” trans. Thomas F. O’Meara, revised by Thomas J. Sheehan, Listening 8 (1973): 32–39.

27 The Char citation adopted as epigraph indicates what thinking in the beginning (“morning”) of Western history had “first” found: the question of metaphysics.

28 Title of the René Char collection À la santé du serpent (Paris: Gallimard, 1954).

Martin Heidegger (GA 15) Seminar in Le Thor 1966