The unfolding adornment, which comes before all that can be made and produced, and in whose radiance gleams the clearing of all that is lightened, is πῦρ ἀείζωον, the perpetually emerging fire. Aft er and on account of all that was said regarding φύσις, ἁρμονία, and κόσμος, it is now no longer within our power to intend with the word ‘fire’ anything arbitrary, incidental, or familiar. Then again, we should also avoid believing that we have already thought of everything and thus in fact think what this word says within the saying of Heraclitus’s. Fortunately, this saying, which names φύσις as κόσμος and this latter as the perpetually emerging fire, contains a determination of this ‘fire,’ to which not only we may adhere, but to which we perhaps must adhere prior to any attempt to think it:

πῦρ ἀειζωον, ἁπτόμενον μέτρα καὶ ἀποσβεννύμενον μέτρα.

Fire perpetually emerging, the expanses igniting themselves, the expanses extinguishing themselves.

πῦρ is named here together with μέτρον. One translates μέτρον ‘correctly’ as “measure.” But what does “measure” mean here? What is the meaning of μέτρον thought in a Greek way? In what manner does an essential relationship exist between μέτρον and πῦρ, and thus also between μέτρον and φύσις/ἁρμονία/ κόσμος? [169] This is no longer a serious question for the modern imagination, for whom φύσις is simply ‘nature’; Heraclitus gratuitously calls it “cosmos.” “Nature”/“the universe”/“cosmos” moves within the harmony of the spheres. Thus, it is ‘perfectly natural’ for this ‘world’—that is, of ‘fire’ and ‘global conflagration’—to flare up and burn away ‘in accordance with measure and law.’ Indeed, to ‘nature’ belongs natural laws, the measures according to which natural processes proceed. ‘Naturally’ one cannot demand that people in the sixth century bce construct ‘nature’ with mathematical precision by way of infinitesimal calculus. However, they do already articulate, albeit very roughly and imprecisely, the thought that the cosmos moves and behaves ‘according to measure.’ Certainly, that is a first step in the grand advancement in the understanding of nature. How baffled would an inceptual thinker be if he were to discover that modern natural science in this way still concedes to him, albeit arrogantly, a small spot in the light of its peculiar sun. Philology (a compatriot from another discipline) also eagerly reinforces natural science’s patronization of this thinker by itself translating Heraclitus’s saying in philological terms. The ‘authoritative’ philological additions, and thus those additions by which all others are ‘measured,’ translate as follows: “eternally living fire, glimmering according to measure and fading according to measure” (Diels- Kranz), and “perpetually- living fire, flaring- up according to measure and extinguishing according to measure” (Snell).

In the face of these translations, I ask: where in the Greek text does “according to measure” appear? For all eternity, ἁπτόμενον will never mean glimmering or

The essence of φύσις    127