§13 The uncanny as the ground of human beings [89-90]

belonging to human beings. Yet even though we are making an attempt to grasp the uncanny more decisively as the unhomely, we may still easily fall prey to the danger of thinking this essential trait of human beings in a merely negative way, m accordance With the sound of the word: mere not-being—namely not being within the homely, a mere departing and breaking free from the homely. And indeed, everything that ensues in the first strophe and antistrophe seems to speak in favor of this conception of the unhomely:

Der fahrt aus auf die schäumende Flut—

He ventures forth on the foaming tide—

Yet this is no mere homeless wandering around that merely seeks a location in order then to abandon it and take its pleasure and satisfaction in a mere traveling around. The human being here is not the adventurer who remains homeless on account of his lack of rootedness. Rather, the sea and the land and the wilderness are those realms that human beings transform with all their skillfulness, use and make their own, so that they may find their own vicinity through such realms. The homely is sought after and striven for in the violent activity of passing through that which is inhabitual with respect to sea and earth, and yet in such passage the homely is precisely not attained. If the unhomely one were simply the mere adventurer, he could not even be δεινός, uncanny, in the sense of the frightful and powerful: for the adventurer is at most strange and interesting, yet does not attain the higher realm of the δεινόν, to whose essence there belongs a counterturning that is enunciated in the middle of the second strophe (1. 360):

Überall hinausfahrend unterwegs und doch erfahrungslos ohne Ausweg
kommt er zum Nichts.

Everywhere venturing forth underway, yet experienceless without any way out
he comes to nothing.


τὸ δεινόν we translate as "das Unheimliche." This German word is intended to render what is meant in the Greek word: the fearful, powerful, and inhabitual, including their counterturning character in each case, and to grasp this in a unitary manner, that is., in terms of the ground of its Unity. Sophocles has the chorus say: πολλὰ τὰ δεινὰ—manifold is the Uncanny. And the uncanny is indeed manifold of its own accord. in keeping

Hölderlin’s Hymn “The Ister” (GA 53) by Martin Heidegger