a term used by Latin grammarians, we will say ‘time-word.’ The word being, as the word of all words, is the inceptual ‘time-word’ as such. The time-word ‘being,’ as the word of all words, names ‘the time of all times.’ Being and time inceptually belong together. Thinking must think this [59] togetherness of ‘being and time’; otherwise, it runs the risk of forgetting what remains, for the thinkers, the to-be-thought.

d) Mindful consideration of the words ‘being’ and ‘is’

There is another concern, however, that is weightier than the apparently frivolous consideration of whether the verbal sense of Heraclitus’s word τὸ δῦνόν necessarily follows from the meaning of the foundational word τὸ ὄν, which itself must be thought verbally.

We are speaking in a circuitous way of the never submerging thing and of never submerging; we are speaking, before all else, of beings and of being. We are speaking empty words which bring nothing to mind, and we fail to find ourselves in an immediate relationship with what is meant by those words. We are being led around in an abysmal region of a strange manner of speaking and ushered through an elucidation of words and word meanings, and thus are passing by the things themselves. The suspicion arises, and it has been spoken of and repeated often enough, that an empty sorcery with words is being practiced here. ‘Word mysticism’ is the polite term used by those who suspect all of this to be mere word games. It would indeed be dangerous were we simply to shove aside the suspicion and the impression that only words are being negotiated with here: for this impression— namely, that it is only mere words that are being manipulated here, words through which we fail to represent anything actual to ourselves—does not arise from this lecture alone. Rather, the observations made here merely bring our attention to a state of affairs that we otherwise disregard hourly, daily, and often for a whole lifetime.

That state of affairs is this: in our explicit, but also our implicit speech, we constantly use the little word ‘is.’ We are now thinking, for example, without saying it [60], that this lecture ‘is’ boring; the theme being covered ‘is’ dry. You need not speak these sentences out loud; rather, you, as though half-asleep, simply think unreflectively “this lecture ‘is’ boring.” Yet, even here—in this indeterminate, unreflective thinking—you nevertheless understand the unuttered, entirely unremarkable and inconspicuous word ‘is.’ Please—take a moment and test yourselves whether you can ‘imagine something’ in relation to the word ‘is.’ Even if not, the word ‘is’ is not just some empty sound. Everyone understands it, yet no one grasps what is thereby understood. Only rarely can someone be motivated even to pay any attention to this ‘is.’ How often in the course of days and nights, how often and in what manifold connections do we say, mean, and understand this ‘is’? It

The inception of the inceptual to-be-thought    47

Heraclitus (GA 55) by Martin Heidegger