From this modification of the saying—one suggested by the saying itself—we can, in any case, clearly conclude one thing: namely, that the saying names a relation existing between the never submerging thing and human beings. The relation is such that no human being can withdraw from the never submerging thing. We are immediately tempted to ask why this is so. We would like to know in what sense this relation exists and in what it is grounded. This leads us immediately to two questions: first, who is the human being such that, in relation to him, there can be talk of being concealed and not being concealed? And second: what precisely is that before which and in the region of which the human can never be something concealed? Heraclitus’s saying quickly becomes pervaded by questions for us, questions that practically pose themselves all at once. But this, after all, cannot be a surprise for us: for the saying itself is a question, only one out of which we have prematurely made an answer and a predicative statement that almost sounds like a doctrine. But is not the saying simply a rhetorical question, i.e., a question that is not a question at all and that thereby prohibits questioning by allowing the questionable to disappear through an easily destroyed pretense to questionability? But is it so [47] readily evident that there is no way for the human being to be concealed before the never submerging thing?

Assuming that this is so, then certainly the saying states that we should know this. But how can we know this, if we do not consider all that is being said there? And how can we consider it without questioning? Perhaps it is precisely here that questioning comes upon the unquestionable. But how shall we ever arrive there, if we do not go forth along the path of questioning in order to learn the proper way of questioning? The proper way of questioning is based upon knowing where, and in the face of what, one may no longer question. Thoughtful questioning and being able to question in the manner of the thinkers is in itself already an originary form of knowledge. We should approach such knowledge, and only such knowledge, in the manner of questioning: i.e., by taking the saying as a purely rhetorical question, which would mean not grasping it in advance as the dictum of a thinker. Additionally, when dealing with a thinker who is himself obscure, we will only attain understanding with difficulty. Therefore, we ask: what is the saying asking? It is asking: πῶς—how, and in what way and by what means, could a human ever remain concealed before the never submerging thing? In saying ‘before’ the never submerging thing, we are inserting a word not present in the Greek text. This ‘before’ inserted by us also easily leads to the misunderstanding that the ‘never submerging thing’ is some sort of object or being that everywhere stands opposite to the human and watches over him, as it were. Therefore, we formulate it more carefully in the translation: “From the not ever submerging thing, how may anyone be concealed (from it).”

Admittedly, this also brings with it the misinterpretation that the never submerging thing is some kind of watchful being in whose custody the human finds himself such that, try as he might, he can never escape from this being to

The inception of the inceptual to-be-thought    39