158 • The Restriction of Being

In this definition of the human being λόγος plays a part, but in a completely unrecognizable form and in a very peculiar context.

This definition of the human being is at bottom a zoological one. The ζῷον of this zoology remains questionable in many respects. However, it is within the framework of this definition that the Western doctrine of the human has been constructed—all psychology, ethics, epistemology, and anthropology. We have long been flailing around in a confused mixture of notions and concepts that have been taken from these disciplines.

But because the definition of the human being that supports everything is already a decline, not to mention its later interpretation, then as long as we think and question within the perspective that is laid out by this definition, we get to see nothing of what is said and what is going on in Parmenides’s saying.

Yet the usual notion of humanity in all its variations is only one of the barriers that cut us off from the space in which the [109|151] appearance of the human essence inceptively happens and is brought to stand. The other barrier is that even this question about humanity remains alien to us.

Of course, there are now books with the title What is the Human Being?48 But this question merely stands in letters on the book’s cover. The question is not asked—and not just because one has simply forgotten to ask questions in the midst of so much book-writing, but because one already possesses an answer to the question, and an answer that at the same time says that one is not allowed to ask at all. If someone believes the propositions expressed by the dogma of the Catholic church, that is the individual’s affair and is not at issue here. But if one puts the question, “What is the human being?” on the cover of one’s books, even though one is not questioning because one does not want to question and cannot do so, this is a procedure that has forfeited in advance every right to be taken seriously.

48. Heidegger refers to a work by the Catholic theologian Theodor Haecker (1879–1945): Was ist der Mensch? (Leipzig: Jakob Hegner, 1933).

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