and crucial that we retain this strangeness and not hastily talk ourselves into believing that the meaning of ἀλήθεια is ‘self-evidently’ not a mere achievement of cognitive faculties (as metaphysics has hitherto thought), but is rather the fundamental feature of being itself. It remains strange to us, and must remain strange, that truth is the inceptual essence of being, and thereby the inception itself. If, however, as we have previously noted, the inception is not what is behind us; if, rather, the inception is what has already overtaken us as the all-unfolding that catches and draws to itself in advance, only first approaching us as that which unfolds in advance, then we ourselves—and, indeed, the present age of the Occident—are in need of an inceptual transformation that would leave behind [176] every other turning point (be it Copernican or otherwise) in the history of thinking. The historical essence of Occidental humanity is in need of a prolonged transformation so that it may enter into its inception and learn to recognize that a consideration on ‘the essence of truth’ is the essential thinking within the inception of being itself, and only this.

Along with this experience comes at once another: namely, that the knowledge of the truth and of the true is of an inceptually simple sort that remains decisively divorced both from the reckoning of mere logic and from the hollow dizziness of a mystical profundity. But we cannot extract this knowledge regarding the essence of truth historiographically from the text of the first thinker of the ancient Greek world as though from some transcript. If we ourselves have not come to the nearness of being through prior inceptual experiences, then our hearing remains deaf to the inceptual word of inceptual thinking. Supposing, however, that we learn to heed what is essentially the to-be-thought, then the inceptual thinker and his sayings speak another language. Some may remark in regard to this event [Ereignis] that modern conceptions and a peculiar philosophy are being interpolated into earlier thought. Some may indeed see it that way. But this is merely a method of self-soothing to compensate for one’s own triviality, about which not one word more should be spoken.

But what if our attention is freed from all prior metaphysical thinking and is thereby free for the inceptual? Then we grasp the substance of a saying of Heraclitus’s that contains the clue regarding how the now stated essence of φύσις and ἀλήθεια communicates itself to those who hear it.

If now, however, the essence of φύσις is granted to it by self-occlusion; if unconcealment is grounded in a self-concealing; if this belongs to the essence of being itself, then φύσις can never be thought inceptually so long as we do not think [177] and consider self-concealing as well. In that case, being and truth can never be experienced and disclosed in such a way that one simply enunciates and, as it were, conceives them. The thinker who thinks φύσις must ensure that its essence is thought and spoken of as that which articulates itself in the saying φύσις κρύπτεσθαι φιλεῖ.


132    The Inception of Occidental Thinking


Heraclitus (GA 55) by Martin Heidegger