Greek Interpretation of Human Beings [98-99]

assured that here, with the Greeks, "everything" is "politically" determined. In the majority of "research results," the Greeks appear as the pure National Socialists. This overenthusiasm on the part of academics seems not even to notice that with such "results" it does National Socialism and its historical uniqueness no service at all, not that it needs this anyhow. These enthusiasts are now suddenly discovering the "political" everywhere, and scholars of the previous century, who first accomplished the careful work of creating texts and editions, are made to appear like blind idiots in the face of these "most recent discoveries."

We think we are educated as to what πόλις means. For whatever the πόλις is must "naturally" be determined with respect to the "political." Presumably the "political" and the πόλις will be connected. The question remains, however, as to how this connection must be thought in the first instance. Evidently, the "political" is that which belongs to the πόλις and can therefore be determined only in terms of the πόλις. Yet the converse is precisely not the case. But if this is so, if the "political" is that which belongs to the πόλις and essentially ensues from it, just as "the logical" proceeds from the essence of the λόγος and "the ethical" from the essence of ἠθος, then it is of little help to us to arm ourselves with any ideas whatsoever of the "political" so as to delimit the essence of the πόλις using such weapons. To proceed in this way would merely be to explain that which conditions in terms of the conditioned, the ground in terms of the consequence, that is, to explain nothing at all but rather merely to confuse the essence of explanation. If, however, we can avoid this almost ineradicable confusion that is becoming widespread in all explanations of "theological," "the aesthetic," "the technical," "the metaphysical," "the biological," and "the political," then we have gained an important insight with respect to our present "case," an insight we may express as follows: The πόλις cannot be determined "politically" The πόλις, and precisely it, is therefore not a "political" concept. This is indeed how things stand, provided that we wish to remain serious in our reflections and follow a clean train of thought.

Yet what is the πόλις of the Greeks? No "definition" can ever answer such questions; or rather the "definition," even if it points in the right direction, provides no guarantee of an adequate relation to what is essential. For it could be that whatever is essential wishes, in itself and of its own accord, to remain within the realm of that which is worthy of question. Who says that the Greeks, because they "lived" in the πόλις, were also in the clear as to the essence of the πόλις? Perhaps the name πόλις is precisely the word for that realm that constantly became questionable anew, remained worthy of question, made necessary and indeed needed certain decisions whose truth on each occasion displaced the Greeks into the realm

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