submerging thing—even the possibility of misunderstanding? τὸ δῦνόν means, unequivocally, the submerging thing. That is what we say—we who are thinking conventionally—when we allow our conventional imagination to consider that which submerges. By this, we mean something that is subject to the process of submerging. However, τὸ δῦνόν does not only mean the submerging thing in the sense thus explicated; the word τὸ δῦνόν is by no means unambiguous. In fact, the very character of this word is ambiguous. Expressed grammatically, the word has the character of a participle. The word ‘participle’ is the Roman translation of something that the Grecian grammarians signified through ἡ μετοχή: ‘participation.’ The word δῦνόν is characterized by [53] participation because it, as the word that it is, can participate both in the part of speech that is called a ‘noun’ or ‘substantive,’ and in the part of speech of which the participle itself is a derivation—namely, the verb, or ‘time-word.’ Thus, for example, ‘the smelling’ is on the one hand that which emits smell—say, the rose—but also the activity itself of emitting the smell, the activity by which the rose smells.

τὸ δῦνόν can mean ‘the submerging thing,’ whereby we think of the substance that is subject to submergence. But τὸ δῦνόν can also mean the submerging thing precisely in its submerging, and thus the activity of submerging itself understood as such. Hence, the word τὸ δῦνόν, as a participle, gives two meanings according to which it may be thought.

If we keep only to the substantive meaning, as has happened thus far, then we leave out the ‘verbal’ meaning. But suppose that Heraclitus, precisely because he thinks the word τὸ δῦνόν not in the conventional sense but rather as a thinker, intended only the verbal meaning. If this were the case, then by thinking the word τὸ δῦνόν in the substantive sense, we would be missing the essential meaning of the word and would not at all be grasping what is here the to-be-thought. In this event, the question that we pose when we inquire about what does or does not submerge is misguided.

But by what right do we claim that the verbal meaning of the participle is the one thought by essential thinking, and thereby the one meant by the thinker Heraclitus? What is it that the thinkers think—most importantly, the thinkers at the inception of Occidental thinking and, generally, the thinkers of the Greeks? Perhaps the saying of Heraclitus’s, considered before all others, may one day give us the proper answer to this question, insofar as inceptual thinking here directly has its say, and thereby is itself not required to think ‘about’ the task of essential thinking and to deliver information ‘about’ it in a pedantic way.

However, for the time being we do not yet understand this saying. That is why we turn to a thinker of the Greeks in whose [54] thought the tradition of Greek thinking consummates itself, even though this thinking is at a distance to inceptual thinking. Let us consider a saying from Aristotle, who lived a century and a half after Heraclitus (384–322 bce). In one of his most important treatises, Aristotle states the following at the end of the first chapter:

The inception of the inceptual to-be-thought    43