140 • The Restriction of Being

According to this widespread version of history, the Greeks are the classics of philosophy because they were not yet fullfledged Christian theologians. But we will see whether Heraclitus is a precursor of John the Evangelist after we have heard Heraclitus himself.

We begin with two fragments in which Heraclitus deals explicitly with λόγος. In our rendering we will deliberately leave the decisive word λόγος untranslated, in order to discern its meaning from the context.

Fragment 1: “But while λόγος constantly remains itself, human beings behave as those who do not comprehend (ἀξύνετοι), both before they have heard and after they have first heard. For everything becomes a being κατὰ τὸν λόγον τόνδε, in accordance with and in consequence of this λόγος; yet they (human beings) resemble those who have never dared anything through experience, although they attempt words and works such as I carry out, laying out each thing κατὰ φύσιν, according to Being, and explicating how it behaves. But as for the other human beings (the other human beings as they all are, οἱ πολλοί <the many>), what they really do while awake is concealed from them, just as what they did in their sleep conceals itself from them again afterwards.”28

28. Heidegger’s version of this fragment, while unusually painstaking, does not depart far from conventional interpretations. The main unconventional elements are as follows. (1) Heidegger translates γινομένων as zu Seiendem wird (becomes a being); a more conventional version would simply have “becomes” or “is becoming.” (2) Ἀπείροισιν, usually translated “inexperienced,” “unacquainted,” or “ignorant,” is rendered by Heidegger as “[having] never dared anything through experience.” This translation is etymologically sound. (3) Heidegger translates φύσις as “Being,” as he himself points out. (4) The fragment contains forms of two verbs, λανθάνω and ἐπιλανθάνομαι, that are conventionally translated in terms of forgetting or being unaware. Heidegger translates these words in terms of concealment—no doubt in order to bring out their close etymological connection to λήθη, concealment, and ἀλήθεια, truth or unconcealment. The words in parentheses are glosses provided by Heidegger.

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