160 • The Restriction of Being

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5. This questioning confrontation first brings humanity back to the being that it itself is and has to be.

6. Humanity first comes to itself and is a self only as questioning-historical. The selfhood of humanity means this: it has to transform the Being that opens itself up to it into history, and thus bring itself to a stand. Selfhood does not mean that the human being is primarily an “I” and an individual. Humanity is not this any more than it is a We and a community.

7. Because humanity is itself as historical, the question about its own Being must change from the form, “What is the human being?” into the form, “Who is the human being?”

What Parmenides’s saying expresses is a determination of the human essence on the basis of the essence of Being itself.

But we still do not know how the human essence is determined here. So far, we have simply delineated the space into which the saying speaks, and which it first helps to open up by speaking into it. Yet this general indication is still not enough to set us free from the usual representations of humanity and from the typical manner in which it has been determined conceptually. In order to understand the saying and to grasp its truth, we must at least have an intimation of something positive about Greek Dasein and Being.

From the saying of Heraclitus that we have cited several times,49 we know that the disjunction of gods and humans happens only in πόλεμος, in the confrontational setting-asunder <Aus-einander-setzung> (of Being). Only such struggle ἔδειξε, points out. It lets gods and human beings step forth in their Being. Who is the human being—we do not learn this through a scholarly definition, but only when humanity steps into the confrontation with beings,


49. Fragment 53.


Introduction to Metaphysics, 2nd ed. (GA 40) by Martin Heidegger

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