the bringing-to-appearance-of-itself within the word of dialectic, is the essence of the absolute (i.e., of ‘Spirit’ in Hegel’s idiom). Spirit itself exists in no other event than phenomenology. Phenomenology is the ownmost matter ‘of’ Spirit. It cannot be shown here to what extent also Schelling, [41] who at first appeared to be in sharp contrast to Hegel’s metaphysics, nevertheless generally thinks from out of the same fundamental experience of modern metaphysics and, just as Hegel, thinks the absolute as that which wills to manifest itself, understanding this will to be nothing other than the being of the absolute. Unfathomably different from all of this is what emerges to the inceptual thinkers as the to-be-thought. It is neither a will to appearance, nor, indeed, a ‘will’ at all. However, if Hegel and Nietzsche (though the latter in a modified way) see Heraclitus as their great precursor and ancestor, then a historical blindness occurs [ereignet] here within the nineteenth century (a century of historiography), the outermost ripples of which have still not dissipated and whose still prevalent ground is to be found all the way back at the inception of Occidental thinking. Hegel’s and Nietzsche’s misunderstandings of Heraclitus’s thinking are therefore based in no way upon any errors in their own thinking that could have been circumvented by the two thinkers, and which could perhaps be rectified through the understanding of a well-trained and avid scholar of philosophy were he to reckon together all of the errors that have occurred to thinkers since Anaximander in order to then ‘improve’ upon them.

However, we would paint for ourselves a fairly absurd picture of the thinkers were we to claim here that their thinking is totally without error. Indeed, they are essential thinkers precisely because of the fact that they, despite the many errors that ‘befall’ precisely them, think the true. Because of this, the confrontation between thinkers has a character and sense that is different from the criticisms and polemics that are customary and necessary for the sciences. The confrontation between the thinkers does not deal critically with whether what is said is correct or incorrect. Their confrontation is the reciprocal enunciation concerning in what way what is thought is thought inceptually and nears the inception, or whether it distances itself from the inception in such a way that, even in that distance, what is thought remains essential and thereby [42] remains the one and the same thing that each thinker thinks. The ‘originality’ of a thinker consists solely in the fact that it is given to that thinker to think, in the highest purity, the same and only the same as what the early thinkers have ‘also already’ thought.

One could reply to this that, in that case, the thinkers, precisely through their ‘originality,’ make themselves superfluous, if all they ever do is say the same thing. Most people, owing to their desire to reach a swift ‘conclusion,’ have concluded precisely this, all the while lacking the courage ‘to truly look.’ The same remains the same for us only so long as we behold the same as itself, holding it in view and not forgetting it. But because human beings now concern themselves, for various reasons, with the continually new and up-to-date, whatever exhausts itself in always and only being the same is completely boring to them. It is precisely in


32    The Inception of Occidental Thinking


Heraclitus (GA 55) by Martin Heidegger