The Restriction of Being • 131

What do we gather from this linguistic usage? Thinking relates to what is future as well as to what is past, but also to what is present. Thinking brings something before us, represents it. This re-presenting always starts of our own accord, is freely at our disposal. This freedom is not arbitrary, but is bound by the fact that in re-presenting, we think upon and think through what is represented by analyzing it, by laying it out and reassembling it. But in thinking, we not only set something forth before ourselves of our own accord, and we do not just analyze it in order to cut it apart, but we think over what is represented and follow after it. We do not simply take it just as it strikes us, but we try to find the way to get behind the thing, as we say, to experience how it stands with the thing in general. We form a concept of it for ourselves. We seek the universal.

At first we will highlight three of the characteristics of what is usually called “thinking” that we have listed:

1. Re-presenting “of our own accord” as a distinctively free behavior. [91|127]

2. Re-presenting in the mode of analytical connection.

3. The representational comprehension of the universal.

In each case, according to the area in which this re-presenting moves, according to the degree of freedom, the sharpness and sureness of the analysis, and the breadth of the comprehension, thinking is either superficial or deep, empty or full of content, nonbinding or compelling, playful or serious.

But none of this yet shows us why it should be thinking that attains the fundamental orientation in regard to Being that we have pointed out. Thinking, along with desiring, willing, and feeling, is one of our faculties. In all our faculties and modes of behavior we are related to beings, not just in thinking. Certainly. But the distinction “Being and thinking” means something more essential than the mere relation to beings. The distinction stems from the way in which what is distinguished and separated belongs inceptively and intrinsically to Being itself.

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