152 • The Restriction of Being

Translated roughly and in the way that has long been customary, this says: “but thinking and Being are the same.” The misinterpretation of this much-cited statement is just as un-Greek as the falsification of Heraclitus’s doctrine of logos.

One understands νοεῖν as thinking, and thinking as an activity of the subject. The subject’s thinking determines what Being is. Being is nothing other than what is thought by thinking. Now, because thinking remains a subjective activity, and thinking and Being are supposed to be the same according to Parmenides, everything becomes subjective. There are no beings in themselves. [105|145] But such a doctrine, so the story goes, can be found in Kant and in German idealism. Parmenides already basically anticipated their doctrines. He is even praised for this progressive achievement, particularly in comparison to Aristotle, a later Greek thinker. Aristotle, in contrast to Plato’s idealism, propounded a realism, and serves as the precursor of the Middle Ages.

This well-worn reading must be mentioned here expressly—not only because it works its mischief in all historical presentations of Greek philosophy, not only because modern philosophy itself interpreted its prehistory for itself in this way, but above all because the predominance of the opinions we have mentioned has made it difficult for us to understand the authentic truth of that primally Greek statement of Parmenides. Only when we succeed in doing so can we gauge what a change has taken place, not only since modernity but since late antiquity and since the rise of Christianity, in the spiritual history of the West, and this means its authentic history.

Τὸ γὰρ αὐτὸ νοεῖν ἔστιν τε καὶ εἶναι. In order to understand this statement, we must know three things:

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