the definition of the human being as the rational [134|184] living being—a definition that subsequently became the standard one for the West and that still remains unshaken in the prevailing opinion and attitude of today. In order to show the distance between this definition and the inceptive opening up of the essence of Being-human, we can contrast the inception and the end in a formulaic way. The end is evident in the formula: ἄνθρωπος = ζῷον λόγον ἔχον, the human being is the living thing equipped with reason. We grasp the inception in a freely constructed formula that also summarizes our interpretation up to now: φύσις = λόγος ἄνθρωπον ἔχον: Being, the overwhelming appearing, necessitates the gathering that pervades and grounds Being-human.
There, at the end, a remnant of the connection between λόγος and Being-human does endure, but logos has long since been externalized into a faculty of understanding and of reason. The faculty itself is grounded on the Being-present-at-hand of a living thing of a special sort, on the ζῷον βέλτιστον, the animal that has turned out best (Xenophon).82
Here, at the inception, to the contrary, Being-human is grounded in the opening up of the Being of beings.
From the point of view of the customary and dominant definitions, from the point of view of modern and contemporary metaphysics, epistemology, anthropology, and ethics, which are all determined by Christianity, our interpretation of the saying must appear as a willful reinterpretation, as one that reads into the saying what an “exact exegesis” can never ascertain. That is correct. According to the usual opinion of today, what we have said is in fact just a result of that violent character and one- sidedness, which has already become proverbial, of the Heideggerian mode of interpretation.
82. Xenophon, Cyropaedia, 8.3.49.