makes this determination. It seems as though we cannot escape its desire to brand as ‘illogical’ whatever is not agreeable to it. Indeed, we never and nowhere escape the covert obtrusiveness of conventional understanding in its many guises. However, if we nonetheless succeed someday to think essentially rather than merely conventionally, and thereby to reside within the vicinity of a thinker, then we shall do so only through a leap, and not by climbing higher up a ladder rung by rung, as it were, from the supposed lowlands of conventional understanding, and then suddenly by means of certain, higher rungs, ascending this ladder into the ‘higher region’ of philosophy.

The previously mentioned circle (circulus) in which our procedure of elucidating the saying necessarily moves is already a sign of the fact that the domain of essential thinking is essentially other than that of conventional thinking, [120] which is why there is not a continuous passage from one over to the other. The domains of conventional and essential thinking lie as two distinct worlds, separated by a chasm, either next to each other or one atop the other. Or so it seems. This perspective is adopted above all by philosophy itself, and especially by philosophy in the form in which it has presented itself for more than two thousand years (namely, metaphysics). At the present moment, we cannot offer extensive comments ‘concerning’ the relationship between conventional and essential thinking. We must, however, become attentive to one thing in particular: that in all cases, and necessarily, essential thinking enters ever anew into the strange illumination that conventional thinking unceasingly spreads around itself, and that this repeatedly and almost unexpectedly leads us to grasp the words of the thinker in a ‘much simpler’ and more plausible way, without the unnecessarily numerous considerations and provisos that we are now bringing forth through our elucidation of Heraclitus’s saying. In terms of the present case, why in the world do we speak here of emerging and submerging, of reconcilability and irreconcilability, and of the relation of conventional and essential thinking? Why these remarks concerning ‘the logical’ and ‘dialectic’? These long-winded expositions have not the slightest to do with the fragment in which Heraclitus speaks of φύσις. Why do we not just accept the standard view? Why do we not just grasp the saying in the way that philological research—which, after all, has mastered the Greek language— translates it? Philosophical speculation can go in whatever directions it wants with its interpretations, but it must first nevertheless stay true to the text and what it is saying.

If we translate entirely ‘conventionally’ and adhere to the ‘sober’ and ‘exact’ philological translations, then the saying immediately becomes clear. The grand edition of [121] the fragments put forth by Diels-Kranz translates fragment 123—φύσις κρύπτεσθαι φιλεῖ—in the following way: “Nature (essence) loves to conceal itself.” In his special edition of Heraclitus’s fragments, Snell translates as follows: “The essence of things likes to hide itself.” Another, somewhat more grandiose translation from an author who clearly has heard through hearsay

90    The Inception of Occidental Thinking