66 • On the Grammar and Etymology of “Being”

Whatever places itself into and thereby enacts its limit,3 and thus stands, has shape, μορφή. The essence of shape, as understood by the Greeks, comes from the emergent placing-itself-forth-into-the-limit.

But from an observer’s point of view, what stands-there-in-itself becomes what puts itself forth, what offers itself in how it looks. The Greeks call the look of a thing its εἶδος or ἰδέα. Initially, there resonates in the word εἶδος an overtone of what even we mean when we say: the thing looks fine, it looks presentable, it’s solid. The thing hits the mark. The thing “fits.” It rests in its appearing, that is, in the coming-forth of its essence. What grounds and holds together all the determinations of Being we have listed is what the Greeks experienced without question as the meaning of Being, which they called οὐσία, or more fully παρουσία. The usual thoughtlessness translates οὐσία as “substance” and thereby misses its sense entirely. In German, we have an appropriate expression for παρουσία in our word Anwesen <coming-to-presence>. We use Anwesen as a name for a self-contained farm or homestead. In Aristotle’s times, too, οὐσία was still used in this sense as well as in its meaning as a basic philosophical word. Something comes to presence. It stands in itself and thus puts itself forth. It is. For the Greeks, “Being” fundamentally means presence. [47|65]

But Greek philosophy never again went back into this ground of Being, into what it harbors. It stayed in the foreground of that which comes to presence and tried to examine it through the determinations discussed above.

3. Here we translate the ergrenzend of the Gesamtausgabe edition; the Niemeyer edition has ergänzend (completes its limit).

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