Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics [442-44]

respect to which man is understood in terms of what is proper to him, and if we ourselves are saying that the essence of man is world-forming, then this expresses the fact that if the two theses are at all connected, then λόγος, language, and world stand in an intrinsic connectedness. We can even go further, and connect this ancient definition with our definition of man. While discussing the second thesis, we heard that the animal is characterized by a being open, namely in its behaviour toward what we call the encircling ring. The animal lacks the ability to apprehend as a being whatever it is open for. However, to the extent that the λόγος is connected with νοῦς and with νοεῖν, with apprehending something, we may say: There belongs to man a being open for ... of such a kind that this being open for ... has the character of apprehending something as something. This kind of relating to beings we call comportment, as distinct from the behaviour of the animal. Thus man is a ζῷον λόγον ἔχον, whereas the animal is ἄλογον. Despite the fact that our interpretation and way of questioning is altogether different from that of antiquity, it is not saying anything substantially new, but—as always and everywhere in philosophy—purely the same.

What, then, is the λόγος, conceived in this general way according to which it means as much as language? Aristotle says: Ἔστι δὲ λόγος ἄπας μὲν σημαντικός:1 Each discourse, all discursivity, has in itself the possibility of giving something meaningful, something that we understand. In accordance with its essence and its innermost task, all discursivity places us in the dimension of understandability; indeed, discourse and language constitutes precisely this dimension of understandability, of mutual expression, requesting, desiring, asking, telling. Discourse gives something to be understood and demands understanding. By its very essence it is turned toward the free comportment and activity of human beings among one another.

The λόγος gives something to be understood. This essential function of discourse has a character of its own, which Aristotle points to concisely when he says: λόγος ἄπας μὲν σημαντικός, οὐχ ὡς ὄργανον δέ, ἀλλ´ ὥσπερ εἴρηται κατὰ συνθήκην:2 This giving-to-be-understood of discourse is not a functioning such as we are acquainted with in the case of the organ, a functioning that, set in motion, is necessarily impelled to accomplish something: it is not φύσει. Discoursing is not a series of events, such as digestion or blood circulation—ἀλλὰ κατὰ συνθήκην. At a preceding point in the text, Aristotle provides an explication of this expression which is decisive for an insight into the essence of discourse. The λόγος is κατὰ συνθήκην, ὅτι φύσει τῶν ὀνομάτων οὐδέν ἐστιν, ἀλλ᾿ ὅταν γένηται σύμβολον, ἐπεὶ δηλοῦσί γέ

1. Aristotelis Organon. Ed. Th. Waitz (Leipzig, 1844). Vol. 1, Hermeneutica (de interpretatione). Chap. 4, 17a 1.

2. Ibid.

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