144 • The Restriction of Being

They are in the midst of things, and yet they are away. What are human beings usually amidst, and what are they away from even while they are in the midst of things? Fragment 72 supplies the answer: “for they turn their backs on that with which they traffic the most, λόγος, and what they run into every day appears alien to them.”

The λόγος is what human beings are continually amidst and what they are away from all the same, absently present; they are thus the ἀξύνετοι, those who do not grasp.

What does the human inability to grasp consist in, when [100|139] they do hear words but do not take hold of λόγος? What are they amidst and what are they away from? Human beings continually have to do with Being, and yet it is alien to them. They have to do with Being inasmuch as they constantly relate to beings, but it is alien to them inasmuch as they turn away from Being, because they do not grasp it at all; instead, they believe that beings are only beings and nothing further. True, they are awake (in relation to beings), yet Being remains concealed to them. They sleep, and even what they do in their sleep is lost to them as well. Thrashing around among beings, they always take what is closest to hand as what needs to be grasped, so everyone keeps handy what lies within his grasp. One person takes hold of this, the other takes hold of that, and each person’s sense follows what is his own—it is caprice.33 Caprice prevents them from properly grasping in advance what is gathered in itself; it takes away from them the possibility of hearkening and accordingly of hearing.

33. Eigen-sinn: Eigensinn, etymologically “own-sense,” is caprice or obstinacy—the tendency to insist arbitrarily on one’s own private preferences and opinions. See Heidegger’s translation of Heraclitus, fragment 2, on p. 141 above.

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