48 • The Fundamental Question of Metaphysics

In reply to this it must be said:

1. Metaphysics and philosophy are not science at all, and furthermore, the fact that their questioning is at bottom historical cannot make them so.

2. For its part, the science of history does not at all determine, as science, the originary relation to history; instead, it always already presupposes such a relation. This is why the science of history can either deform the relation to history, a relation that is itself always historical, misinterpret it, and reduce it to mere antiquarian expertise, or else prepare essential domains of vision for the already grounded relation to history and let us experience history in its binding force. A historical relation of our historical Dasein to history can become an object of knowledge and a developed state of knowledge; but it need not. Besides, not all relations to history can be scientifically objectified and become scientific, and in fact it is precisely the essential relations that cannot. The science of history can never institute the historical relation to history. It can only illuminate a relation once it is instituted, ground it informatively, which to be sure is an essential necessity for the historical Dasein of a knowing people, and thus neither merely an “advantage” nor a “disadvantage.”32 It is only in philosophy—in distinction from every science—that essential relations to beings always take shape; and therefore this relation can, indeed must be an originally historical one for us today.

But in order to understand our assertion that the “metaphysical” asking of the prior question is historical through and through, one must consider one thing above all: in this assertion, [34|47] history is not equivalent to what is past; for this is precisely what is no longer happening.33

32. With the terms “antiquarian,” “advantage,” and “disadvantage,” Heidegger alludes to Nietzsche’s “On the Advantage and Disadvantage of History for Life.” Cf. Being and Time, §76. In the winter semester of 1938–39 Heidegger gave a lecture course on this essay by Nietzsche.

33. Throughout this passage and elsewhere, Heidegger plays on Geschichte and geschehen (“history” and “happen”).

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