we will never attain knowledge of the fact that the Greeks themselves struggled in their thinking with what they called λόγος, nor of how that struggle occurred. Without such knowledge, we will never recognize what remained unthought in the Greek thinking of λόγος and why it had to remain unthought, nor to what extent what is unthought is still preeminently the to-be-thought remaining for Occidental thinking.

Thus, the next question is as follows: what is the inceptual meaning of the Greek word λόγος? With this question, we are already asking another: namely, what is λόγος? To answer this question, we will limit [241] ourselves to the consideration of three references that may give us important information about the history of the word λόγος. These references have been chosen so that they primarily reveal the vibrancy of the word. At the same time, we will thereby also come to know the difficulty of bringing something essential of what is named by the word λόγος into view.

(The questioning directed toward such foundational words must prepare itself for the strange eventuality that, through the course of questioning, the relationships posited at the outset will change. At first it appears as though information about the word is being sought. Those who are seeking this information alter and control this word and the history of its meaning. In this case, it is we who are thus manipulating the word. But suddenly it is revealed that, in fact, we are the ones being manipulated by the word and that which it names, and that we were being manipulated even before we began on our present course of elucidation. Because it is the case that, in the guise of an apparently merely historiographic consideration, the history of a word can become something entirely other—and I say explicitly that it ‘can’ become so, not that it ‘does’ become so—an interjection to clarify our present undertaking and its limits is necessary.

It remains outside the task of this lecture to present a historiographical summary of all the various meanings of the word λόγος . And, of course, there will be differing opinions regarding the import and value of such investigations into the history of words and the history of concepts, all depending upon what one expects from a historiographical survey of the past and the representation of what has been handed down. In any case, the productivity and compactness of any investigation into the history of a concept depends upon whether the one investigating orients his thinking toward what is named by the word being addressed, and whether or not he is adequately prepared for the thinking-through of the thing in question and its thing-ness. Of what does such preparation consist? It consists of experiencing the essential realm from out of which the word, now being taken on its own, is spoken. At the same time, to this preparation also belongs [242] the realization that everything depends upon whether or not the one investigating directs his thinking into the essential realm of the word and picks up a directive from within it, or whether he only ‘lexicographically’ collects the places in which this word appears in order to bring these places together, as if an understanding of

Preparation for the listening to the Λόγος    185