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Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics [51-52]


orientation leads us back into the philosophy of antiquity and at the same time provides us with information about the commencements of Western philosophy itself in the tradition in which we stand. In the context of clarifying the main expression in the title τὰ μετὰ τὰ φυσικά, we considered φύσις in connection with the λόγος. The prevailing of beings as a whole intrinsically strives to conceal itself Commensurate with this, a peculiar confrontation is associated with this prevailing, a confrontation in which φύσις is revealed. We shall now provisionally leave aside this connection between φύσις and truth, i.e., unconcealment as spoken out in the λόγος. We shall have to take it up again later. For now, we are interested only in the development of the two fundamental meanings of φύσις, of that which prevails in its prevailing. Therein lies on the one hand that which prevails itself, namely beings, and on the other hand beings taken in their prevailing, i.e., in their being. With respect to these two fundamental orientations, the expression φύσις develops into these two fundamental meanings: φύσις as φύσει ὄντα, beings as they are accessible in physics, in the investigation of nature in the narrower sense, and φύσις in its second meaning as nature, just as we use this expression today whenever we speak of the nature of the matter, of the essence of the matter. φύσις in the sense of that which constitutes the being and essence of a being is οὐσία. The separation of these two meanings of φύσις: beings themselves and the being of beings, and the history of these meanings and their development culminate in Aristotle, who precisely grasps questioning concerning the φύσει ὄντα as a whole (φύσις in the first sense) and the question concerning οὐσία, the being of beings ( φύσις in the second sense), in one, and designates this questioning as πρώτη φιλοσοφία, prima philosophia, First Philosophy, philosophy in the proper sense. Philosophizing proper asks after φύσις in this dual sense: after beings themselves and after being. To the extent that philosophy asks about beings themselves, it does not take just any arbitrary thing as its object, but directs its questioning toward these beings as a whole. Insofar as the fundamental character of these beings and their being is movement, the original question concerning them goes back to the first mover, that which is ultimate and extreme, which is simultaneously designated the θεῖον, the divine, without any connotations of a particular religious meaning. This is how the matter stands in Aristotelian philosophy. Philosophizing proper is for Aristotle this dual questioning: concerning the ὃν καθόλου and concerning the τιμιώτατον γένος, concerning beings in general, concerning being, and concerning that being which properly is. Yet the way in which these are intrinsically connected was not further elaborated by Aristotle, and we find nothing in what has been handed down from him that would provide us with information as to how this unitary problematic looks which takes as its object φύσις in this dual sense, nor are we given any information as to how that problematic is explicitly grounded from out of the essence of philosophy itself