§8 [37-39]

word and what it designates, the changes in its meanings and in our ways of viewing metaphysics. We shall forego this for reasons that have already been sufficiently discussed. Nevertheless, a brief indication of the history of the word is not only possible here, it is also indispensable. We shall conclude our preliminary appraisal with a discussion of the concept and word 'metaphysics'. We shall then have gained a general elucidation of the title of our lecture and our intent.

§8. The word 'metaphysics'. The meaning of φυσικά

The word 'metaphysics', to put it negatively at first, is not a primal word [Urwort]. By a primal word we understand one that has been formed out of an essential and originary human experience as the enunciation of that experience. Here it is not necessary for this primal word also to have arisen in some primal time [Urzeit]; it can be relatively late. The relatively late character of a primal word does not speak against its being a primal word. The expression 'metaphysics', however, although we wish to designate something proper and authentic by it, is not a primal word. It goes back to the Greek wording which reads, when broken down: μετὰ τὰ φυσικά, or to put it in full: τὰ μετὰ τὰ φυσικά. We shall initially leave untranslated this wording, which later became amalgamated into the expression 'metaphysics'. We shall note merely that it serves to designate philosophy.

a) Elucidation of the word φυσικά. φύσις as the self-forming
prevailing of beings as a whole.

We shall begin our elucidation of the context of the word with the last-mentioned term: φυσικά. in it lies φύσις, which we customarily translate as nature. This word itself comes from the Latin natura—nasci: to be born, to arise, to grow. This is also the fundamental meaning of the Greek φύσις, φύειν. Φύσις means that which is growing, growth, that which has itself grown in such growth. We here take growth and growing, however, in the quite elementary and broad sense in which it irrupts in the primal experience of man: growth not only of plants and animals, their arising and passing away taken merely as an isolated process, but growth as this occurring in the midst of, and permeated by, the changing of the seasons, in the midst of the alternation of day and night, in the midst of the wandering of the stars, of storms and weather and the raging of the elements. Growing is all this taken together as one.

We shall now translate φύσις more clearly and closer to the originally intended sense not so much by growth, but by the 'self-forming prevailing of beings as a whole'. Nature is not, for instance, to be taken in the narrow,

Martin Heidegger (GA 29/30) The Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics