only what engineers bring about. The oft-quoted saying of Goethe’s—namely, that the fruitful alone is the true—is already nihilism. Indeed, when the time comes when we no longer merely fiddle around with artworks and literature in terms of their value for education or intellectual history, we should perhaps examine our so-called ‘classics’ more closely. Moreover, Goethe’s view of nature is in its essence no different from Newton’s; the former depends along with the latter on the ground of modern (and especially Leibnizian) metaphysics, which one finds present in every object and every process available to us living today. The fact that we, however, when considering a seed, still see how something closed emerges and, as emerging, comes forth, may seem insubstantial, outdated, and half-poetic compared to the perspective of the objective determination and explanation belonging to the modern understanding of the germination process. The agricultural chemist, but also the modern physicist, have, as the saying goes, ‘nothing to do’ with φύσις. Indeed, it would be a fool’s errand even to try to persuade them that they could have ‘something to do’ with the Greek experience of φύσις. Now, the Greek essence of φύσις is in no way a generalization of what those today would consider the naïve experience of the emerging of seeds and flowers and the emergence of the sun. Rather, to the contrary, the original experience of emerging and of coming-forth from out of the concealed and veiled is the relation to the ‘light’ in whose luminance the [90] seed and the flower are first grasped in their emerging, and in which is seen the manner by which the seed ‘is’ in the sprouting, and the flower ‘is’ in the blooming.

b) The foundational words φύσις and ζωή as obtained through the translation. The fundamental meaning of ζῆν and ζωή in inceptual thinking over and against the concept of ‘life’ in the metaphysical tradition. Note on fragment 30

If, therefore, in the word τὸ μὴ δῦνόν ποτε the “never submerging” is named as the perpetually emerging, and if φύσις/φύειν/φύον is the word for “emerging,” then the above-mentioned phrase very well could have been rephrased by Heraclitus as τὸ ἀεὶ φύον, or even contracted into the single word τὸ ἀείφυον. However, this word does not appear in the saying; indeed, we find it nowhere among the sayings of Heraclitus’s. In place of it, Heraclitus used the word ἀείζωον,2 perpetual life/the

2 See fragment 30.

68    The Inception of Occidental Thinking