other than emerging into …, i.e., self-unlocking and self-opening into the open. This fundamental meaning of ζῆν and ζωή [95] is such that poetic saying is prompted to elucidate the essence of what we translate as ‘life’ through beholding the light of the sun. Homer says simply: ζῆν καὶ ὁρᾶν φάος ἠελίοιο—to live, i.e., to see the light of the sun. For the Greeks, the early foundational words ζῷον and ζωή have nothing to do with zoology, not even with the biological in a broad sense; just as little does the early foundational word φύσις have to do with what is later called physics or the physical. What the Greek word ζῷον names lies so far from all modern understandings of animal life that the Greeks could even call the gods ζῷα. In its original signification, this name—which names precisely what emerges and is present in emergence—accords absolutely with the essence of the Greek gods, who are the ones who peer in and are, thus, the appearing ones. (The Greeks call even the statues of the gods ζῷα, i.e., those who have emerged on their own and have come to stand in the open.) When we say that the originary word ζῷον/ζωή lies remotely from all animal life, this does not mean that the Greeks lacked knowledge of ‘animals.’ Indeed, they bring them into an appropriate relation to the essence of the gods. However, animality is not thought by them ‘zoologically,’ vaguely, or in a Christian way as the mere lowly in distinction to the ‘higher’ (i.e., the human). Animality, thought in a Greek way, determines itself from out of the ζῷον, from what emerges and then rests properly in itself by not expressing itself. For example, we need only to take a few steps away from the vague and indeterminate modern conception of the bird in order to experience and recognize the bird as the Greeks did: namely, as the animal through whose swaying and hovering the free dimension of the open unfolds, and through whose singing the tidings the call and the enchantment unfold, so that its bird-essence whiles away and disperses in the open. To all of this also necessarily belong closure and the protecting of what is closed, for example, as in mourning. The bird, flying, singing, connects to and points to the open: it [96] is entangled in this. In Greek, σειρά means tether. The Sirens are, ‘in Greek,’ the captivating ones in a manifold sense of the word.

The essential connection between φύσις, ζωή, and ‘light’ manifests itself in the fact that the Greek word for ‘light’—namely φῶς—has the same stem as φύσις and φάος. Also, even still we speak of the ‘light of life,’ though we certainly think neither ‘life’ nor ‘light’ from out of its proper Greek essence of φύσις (and, that means, from out of ἀλήθεια).

c) The ‘violence’ of the translation and the explicit consideration of negation

Heraclitus’s word ἀείζωον says the same as his word τὸ μὴ δῦνόν ποτε. Nonetheless, if we now translate τὸ μὴ δῦνόν ποτε as “the perpetually emerging,” our thinking

72    The Inception of Occidental Thinking