On the Grammar and Etymology of “Being” • 67

What we have said helps us to understand the Greek interpretation of Being that we mentioned at the beginning, in our explication of the term “metaphysics,” that is, the apprehending of Being as φύσις. The later concepts of “nature,” we said, must be kept away entirely: φύσις means the emergent self-upraising, the self-unfolding that abides in itself. In this sway, rest and movement are closed and opened up from an originary unity. This sway is the overwhelming coming-to-presence that has not yet been conquered in thinking, and within which that which comes to presence essentially unfolds as beings. But this sway first steps forth from concealment, that is, in Greek, ἀλήθεια (unconcealment) happens, insofar as the sway struggles itself forth as a world. Through world, beings first come into being.

Heraclitus says (fragment 53): πόλεμος πάντων μὲν πατήρ ἐστι, πάντων δὲ βασιλεύς, καὶ τοὺς μὲν θεοὺς ἔδειξε τοὺς δὲ ἀνθρώπους, τοὺς μὲν δούλους ἐποίησε τοὺς δὲ ̀ἐλευθέρους.

Confrontation is indeed for all (that comes to presence) the sire (who lets emerge), but (also) for all the preserver that holds sway. For it lets some appear as gods, others as human beings, some it produces (sets forth) as slaves, but others as the free.4

The πόλεμος named here is a strife that holds sway before everything divine and human, not war in the human sense. As Heraclitus thinks it, struggle first and foremost allows what essentially unfolds to step apart from each other in opposition, first allows position and status and rank to establish themselves in coming to presence. In such a stepping apart, clefts, intervals, distances and joints open themselves up. In con-frontation, world comes to be. [Confrontation does not divide unity, much less destroy it.

4. A more conventional translation of the fragment might be: “War is the father of all and the king of all, and it has shown some as gods and others as human beings, made some slaves and others free.” Heidegger cites the pre-Socratics by their Diels-Kranz fragment numbers.

Introduction to Metaphysics, 2nd ed. (GA 40) by Martin Heidegger

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