Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics [44-46]

artificially playing around with etymologies and constructing something on the basis of such etymologies. What is at stake, rather, is nothing less than first making visible the fundamental position of man in antiquity with respect to the prevailing of beings (φύσις) and their truth (and thereby gaining an insight into the essence of philosophical truth), by way of an elementary interpretation of the concept of truth in antiquity.

This word for truth in antiquity is a primal word precisely on account of its 'negativity'. It testifies that truth is a fate of the finitude of man and, so far as the philosophy of antiquity is concerned, has nothing to do with the harmlessness and indifference of proven propositions. Yet this word for truth in antiquity is as old as philosophy itself. It does not need to be and cannot be more ancient, nor indeed more recent, because the understanding of truth that is spoken out in this primal philosophical word first emerges with philosophizing. The seemingly late emergence of the word is no objection to its fundamental meaning, but the reverse: its innermost belonging together with the fundamental experience of φύσις as such.

d) The two meanings of φύσις.

Let us keep in mind this primal meaning of truth (the revealedness of prevailing beings, φύσις), and let us now attempt to grasp more precisely the meaning of φύσις. We shall pursue the history of the fundamental meaning of this word, in order to arrive at an understanding of what φυσικά initially means in the title μετὰ τὰ φυσικά.

α) The ambivalence of the fundamental meaning of φύσις: that which prevails in its prevailing. The first meaning of φύσις: the φύσει ὄντα (as opposed to the τέχνῃ ὄντα) as regional concept.

The fundamental meaning of φύσις is already ambivalent in itself, although this ambivalence does not clearly emerge at first. Yet it soon makes itself visible. Φύσις, that which prevails, means not only that which itself prevails, but that which prevails in its prevailing or the prevailing of whatever prevails. And yet-as a consequence of the incisive confrontation with whatever prevails, that which prevails manifests itself in its undecidedness. Precisely what prevails as all-powerful for immediate experience claims the name φύσις for itself. Yet such is the vault of the heavens, the stars, the ocean, the earth, that which constantly threatens man, yet at the same time protects him too, that which supports, sustains, and nourishes him; that which, in thus threatening and sustaining him, prevails of its own accord without the assistance of man. Φύσις, nature, is here already understood in a narrower sense, yet one that is still broader and more originary than the concept of nature in modern natural science, for instance. Φύσις now means that which