In what follows, we must watch for whether, and in what way, the thinking of Heraclitus remains always in the nearness to, and within the region of, the thinking of fire, in order to gauge what ‘truth’ the story of the thinker at the oven conceals. But, if this story should contain something significant regarding the thinking of Heraclitus’s specifically, and not only what in a certain sense applies to every thinker, then something must be said in the word of Heraclitus’s that the story hands down, something that we have indicated but not yet properly seized.

καὶ ἐνταῦθα θεούς : “even here,” and precisely there, in the inconspicuousness of the ordinary, unfolds the extraordinariness of those who shine-in. This means: here, where I (the thinker) abide, is the inconspicuous together with the highest of that which appears and shines. Here, where I have my abode, what seems mutually exclusive has come together into one. Here, in the realm of the thinker, what stands in opposition and appears to be mutually exclusive—namely, what turns against but also toward the other—is everywhere. Perhaps this turning-toward must even exist in order that one may turn itself against the other. Where such turning-toward prevails, strife (ἔρις) unfolds. The thinker resides in the nearness of strife.

In what follows we must watch for whether, and in what way, the thinking of Heraclitus remains always in the region of [10] what the word ἔρις names, in order to recognize that this ‘story’ in particular allows a light to emerge upon Heraclitus’s thinking.

The other story concerning Heraclitus reads:

ἀναχωρήσας δ᾽εἰς τὸ ἱερὸν τῆς Ἀρτέμιδος μετὰ τῶν παίδων ἠστραγάλιζε · περιστάντων δ᾽αὐτὸν τῶν Ἐφεσίων, τί, ὦ κάκιστοι, θαυμάζετε; εἶπεν · ἢ οὐ χρεῖττον τοῦτο ποιεῖν ἢ μεθ᾽ὑμῶν πολιτεύεσθαι;2

But he had himself withdrawn into the temple of Artemis in order to play knucklebones with the children; here, the Ephesians stood around him, and he said to them: “What are you gaping at, you scoundrels? Or is it not better to do this than to work with you on behalf of the πόλις?”

This second story gives a similar picture, insofar as the crowd, gaping curiously at the thinker, has once again come close to him and is hovering around him. The Ephesians—i.e., the countrymen of Heraclitus’s—are named. In this story, however, he does not abide in an everyday and modest place. Rather, he has gone into the holy precinct of the temple of Artemis. Thus, in this story too, the nearness to the gods is reported, but in a way that does not touch upon the astonishing fact that the gods presence in the oven. The holy precinct of the temple speaks for itself clearly enough. Certainly, here, now more than ever, there is the opportunity for

2 Diogenes Laertius, IX, 3.

10    The Inception of Occidental Thinking