§ 6. Emerging and submerging. Favor (φιλία) as the reciprocal bestowing of its essence. Notes on fragments 35 and 32

a) Emerging (φύσις), favor (φιλία), and self-concealing (κρύπτεσθαι)

Of φύσις, Heraclitus says: φιλεῖ. Translated literally, this means: φύσις ‘loves.’ We could take this word φιλεῖν in a variety of ways: however, we must be careful not to let our initial inclinations lead our thinking here.

φύσις ‘loves to,’ it ‘likes to.’ So understood, one could translate the saying as “the essence of things likes to conceal itself,” which reads nearly the same as the phrases ‘children like to snack,’ or, ‘the grandmother likes to sit near the stove.’ The essence of things—φύσις—“likes to hide itself.” Even if it is philologically precise, we must leave aside this profusely quaint presentation of φύσις. Why, then, do we bother even mentioning it? Only because this way of translating shows merely the final off shoots of the very widely held view regarding the inception of Occidental thinking: namely, that one must understand it to be the unrefined preliminary stage of metaphysics. The inevitable consequences of this view reveal [128] themselves in the above translations. Therefore, we are not ‘criticizing’ the translators here, but are rather only considering our position, i.e., the position of the Occident with regard to its historical inception.

φύσις κρύπτεσθαι φιλεῖ. At first we are constrained to the interpretation that sees φιλεῖ being said of φύσις : φύσις … φιλεῖ. The word φύσις names what is, for the thinkers, the to-be-thought. Such essential thinking had already obtained a designation among the Greeks, a designation in which the word φιλεῖν is