Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics [445-47]

which two guest-friends share between them and bequeath to their children, so that if the latter happen to meet later, they can hold together the halves of the ring to see if they fit, and can thereby recognize one another as belonging together, i.e., as befriended via their fathers. We cannot here pursue any further the more extensive history of the meaning of this word. We have here the intrinsic meaning of σύμβολον: being held to one another and simultaneously proving to belong together, or, as we generally say: agreement in being held to-gether, being held-to one another (compared).

Aristotle tells us: Discourse is what it is, i.e., it forms a sphere of understand­ability, whenever there is a γένεσις of a σύμβολον, whenever a being held together occurs in which there also lies an agreement. Discourse and word are to be found only in the occurrence of the symbol, whenever and to the extent that an agreement and a holding together occur. This occurrence is the condition of the possibility of discourse. Such an occurrence is lacking in the case of the animal, although the animal does produce sounds. These sounds designate something, as we say, they bear witness to something, and yet these utterances are not words, they have no meaning, they cannot give anything as meaningful. Only the genesis of the symbol makes this possible, the entire occurrence in which, from the very beginning, there occurs a holding together: man's holding himself together with something in such a way that he can come into agreement with whatever he is holding himself together with, and do so in the manner of referring [Meinen]. In accordance with his essence, man holds himself together with something else, insofar as he holds himself in a comportment toward other beings, and on the basis of this comportment toward other beings is able to refer to these other beings as such. Since sounds emerge within such an occurrence, and emerge for this referring, they enter into the service of meanings, which thus befit them, as it were. Only something which is referred to as such in the utterance can be held together, something with which, in uniting it, this holding together agrees. Sounds which emerge out of and for this fundamental relation of letting something come into agreement and holding it together are words. Words, discourse, occur in and out of such agreement with whatever can be referred to from the beginning and can be grasped as such, with something that several people can and must simultaneously agree with one another on, as that which is meant to be referred to in discourse. Because the λόγος is grounded in the γένεσις of the σύμβολον, it is κατὰ συνθήκην: by agreement.

What Aristotle sees quite obscurely under the title σύμβολον, sees only approximately, and without any explication, in looking at it quite ingeniously, is nothing other than what we today call transcendence. There is language [Es gibt Sprache] only in the case of a being that by its essence transcends. This is the sense of Aristotle's thesis that a λόγος is κατὰ συνθήκην. I have no inclination to recall what people have made of this Aristotelian thesis when

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