Properly understood, fragment 50 proves precisely the opposite of what people read into it. It says: you should not cling to words, but instead apprehend logos. Λόγος and λέγειν already mean discourse and saying, but this is not the essence of λόγος, and therefore λόγος here is opposed to ἔπεα, discourse. Correspondingly, genuine hearkening as Being-obedient is opposed to mere hearing and keeping one’s ears open.30 Mere hearing strews and scatters itself in what one commonly believes and says, in hearsay, in δόξα, in seeming. But genuine hearkening has nothing to do with the ear and the glib tongue, but instead means obediently following what λόγος is: the gatheredness of beings themselves. We can truly hear only when we are already hearkening. But hearkening has nothing to do with earlobes. Whoever is not hearkening is already always distant from λόγος, excluded from it, regardless of whether he has already heard with ears or has not yet heard. Those who merely “hear” by keeping their ears open everywhere and carrying around what has been heard, are and will be the ἀξύνετοι, those who do not grasp. Fragment 34 tells us what they are like: “those who do not bring together the constant Together are hearers who resemble the deaf.”31
They do hear words and discourse, yet they are closed off to what they should listen to. The proverb bears witness to what they are: those who are absently present.32
30. “Entsprechend ist auch dem bloßen Hören und Herumhören das echte Hörig-sein entgegengehalten.” In this passage, Heidegger plays with hören (to hear) and hörig (obedient, submissive, dependent). Compare also gehören (to belong), as in “the essential belonging <Zugehörigkeit> of thinking to Being” (above, p. 136). In this passage, we will translate hörig as “hearkening.”
31. The whole phrase “those who do not bring together the constant Together” is Heidegger’s rendition of the single word ἀξύνετοι.
32. This last sentence is Heidegger’s translation of the remainder of fragment 34.