142 • The Restriction of Being

There is a fragment in which this connection between logos and “hearing” is immediately expressed: “If you have heard not me, but λόγος, then it is wise to say accordingly: all is one” (fragment 50).

Here λόγος is surely taken as something “audible.” So what else is this term supposed to mean but utterance, discourse, and word—especially since at the time of Heraclitus λέγειν is already in use with the meaning of saying and talking?

Thus, Heraclitus himself says (fragment 73): “one should not act <ποιεῖν> and talk <λέγειν> as if asleep.”

Here λέγειν in opposition to ποιεῖν can obviously mean nothing other than talking, speaking. Nevertheless, in those decisive passages (fragments 1 and 2) λόγος does not mean discourse and does not mean word. Fragment 50, which seems to speak especially for λόγος as discourse, gives us a clue, when it is properly interpreted, to an entirely different understanding of λόγος.

In order to see clearly and understand what is meant by λόγος in the sense of “constant gathering,” we must more accurately grasp the context of the fragments we first cited.

Human beings stand before logos as those who do not grasp it (ἀξύνετοι). Heraclitus often uses this word (see especially fragment 34). It is the negation of συνίημι, which means “bring together”; ἀξύνετοι: human beings are such that they do not bring together … what, then? Λόγος, that which is constantly together, gatheredness. Human beings remain those who do not bring it together, do not grasp it, do not seize it as a unity, whether [99|138] they have not yet heard or have already heard. The next sentence <of fragment 1> explains what is meant. Human beings do not get through to logos, even if they try to do so with words, ἔπεα. Here word and discourse are certainly named, but precisely as distinguished from, even in opposition to λόγος. Heraclitus wants to say: human beings do hear, and they hear words, but in this hearing they cannot “hearken” to, that is, follow, what is not audible like words, what is not talk but λόγος.

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