§14 Further essential determinations of human beings [99-100]

of the groundless or the inaccessible. If we therefore ask: What is the πόλις pf the Greeks? then we must not presuppose that the Greeks must have known this, as though all we had to do were to enquire among them. Yet are not extensive reflections on the πόλις handed down to us in Greek thought. Plato's comprehensive dialogue on the πολιτεία, that is, on everything that concerns the πόλις; the far-reaching lecture course by Aristotle, ἐπιστήμη πολιτική, "The Politics"? Certainly; yet the question remains, from where do these thinkers think the essence of the πόλις? The question remains whether the foundations and fundamental perspectives of this Greek thought at the end of the great Greek era were then adequate even to question the πόλις at all, and to do so in the Greek sense. Perhaps there lies precisely in these late reflections concerning the πόλις a genuine mistaking of its essence, namely of the fact that it itself is what is question-worthy and that it must be acknowledged and preserved in such worthiness. If this is the case, then it seems as though we must think more Greek than the Greeks themselves. It does not merely seem so, it is so. For in the future we ourselves must, in relation to ourselves, think more German than all Germans hitherto; for nothing passed down to us can directly bestow what is essential, nor does the latter appear without signs from the tradition.

Perhaps the πόλις is that realm and locale around which everything question-worthy and uncanny turns in an exceptional sense. The πόλις is πόλος, that is, the pole, the swirl [Wirbel][20] in which and around which everything turns. These two words name that essential moment that the verb πέλειν says in the second line of the choral ode: that which is constant, and change. The essentially "polar" character of the πόλις concerns beings as a whole. The polar concerns beings in that around which such beings, as manifest, themselves turn. The human being is then related in an exceptional sense to this pole, insofar as human beings, in understanding being, stand in the midst of beings and here necessarily have a "status" ["status"] in each case, a stance in their instances and circumstances. The word "status" ["status"] means the "state." Therefore πόλις does indeed mean as much as "state." We are already on a path of errancy once more, however, if, thinking πόλις as state, we knowingly or thoughtlessly stick to ideas that have to do with modern state formations. Since even a cursory glance can distinguish the Greek πόλις from, for example, the eighteenth century "state," we come to be assured that the Greek πόλις is not so much a "state" as a "city." But the "city" here does not mean something merely distinguished from the village, but precisely that which is "stately" — the Greek πόλις is supposed to be the "city state."

Yet this stringing together of two indeterminate concepts that are without direction as regards their determinative ground can never provide any