encounters him). Here, what is present, which the human does not first need to produce, appears. What is present presences ‘toward’ the human and concerns him in such a way that it comes upon him and even assails him. Those things that appear from out of themselves as ‘presencing toward’ the human are, for the Greeks, authentic beings, because the Greeks, for reasons about which we cannot yet inquire, only experience being in the sense of a presencing-toward. That which emerges from out of itself and is therefore what appears and, in all of this is the presencing-toward, is called τὰ φύσει ὄντα, or τὰ φυσικά. This appears as what abides here-and-now and there-and-then—i.e., the particular thing that abides. But when τί τὸ ὄν is asked, the question is not aimed at that particular being, but rather beyond it (μετά), ‘over’ it toward the being of beings. The question τί τὸ ὄν does not think τὰ φυσικά, but rather μετὰ τὰ φυσικά. The thinking that thinks οὐσία—i.e., beingness—moves beyond the particular being and over toward being. It is a thinking μετὰ τὰ φυσικά—that is, “metaphysics.” From Plato and Aristotle up to the current day, Occidental thinking is ‘metaphysics.’ By contrast, the thinking of the inceptual thinkers is not yet metaphysics. However, they too think being, yet they do so in another way; they too are aware of beings, but they experience them in a different way. When, therefore, the inceptual thinkers say the words τὸ ὄν/τὰ ὄντα/the being, then they are not for the most part thinking, as thinkers, the ‘participial’ word substantively, but rather verbally; τὸ ὄν, the being, [58] is thought in the sense of its being, that is, in the sense of being. τὸ ὄν—or, according to the older formulation, τὸ ἐόν—means, for Parmenides, the same as τὸ εἶναι.

We will remain with the question of how to think the participle τὸ δῦνόν in the saying of Heraclitus’s. We have said that it must be thought according to the way of the thinkers. The thinkers think the participle τὸ ὄν verbally. We must accordingly think τὸ μὴ δῦνόν ποτε—the not ever submerging thing (i.e., the never submerging thing)—in a manner analogous to how the thinker thinks the word ‘the being’: namely, in the sense of being. Therefore, we must think τὸ μὴ δῦνόν ποτε verbally as ‘the never submerging.’

We will therefore change the translation of the saying we initially gave to now say: “from the not ever submerging, how may anyone be concealed (from it)?”

Now, one could surely object that what applies to the philosophical understanding of the participle τὸ ὄν need not also be applied to the participle τὸ δῦνόν. However, this concern is too superficial to allow ourselves to tarry with it for long. Regardless of which way in particular ‘submerging’ and ‘never submerging’ relate to ‘being,’ it is clear that each are a manner of being. The participle τὸ ὄν—i.e., the being, i.e., being—is the participle of all participles, because the word ‘being’ is the word of all words. In every word—even in the word ‘nothing,’ into which we let all beings drift—being is thought and named, even if we never expressly think about it or speak it. Supposing, therefore, that in the saying of the thinker the word δῦνόν is meant in the sense of essential thinking, then what is thought and named by it is being, understood ‘verbally.’ Instead of verbum (verbal),

46    The Inception of Occidental Thinking