Socrates and Alcibiades

“Why, holy Socrates, do you always pay homage

To this young man? Do you not know what is greater?

Why do you look on him with love [Liebe]

As on the gods, your eyes on him?”

The second stanza gives the answer.

“Whoever has thought what is most profound loves [liebt] what is most alive,

Whoever has looked into the world understands youth at its height,

And wise men incline

Often, in the end, to beauty.”

What concerns us is the line:

“Whoever has thought what is most profound loves what is most alive.”

We nonetheless all too easily pass right over [überhören] the properly telling words that therefore bear [the weight] in this verse. The telling words are the verbs. We hear what is verbal in the verse if we emphasize it differently, in a way that is unusual [ungewohnt] for the accustomed [gewöhnlich] ear:

“Whoever what is most profound has thought, loves what is most alive.”15

The closest vicinity of the two verbs ‘has thought’ and ‘loves’ forms the middle of this line. According to this, love [Liebe] is grounded in our having thought what is most profound.16 Such having-thought [Gedachthaben] presumably stems from that memory [Gedächtnis] in whose thinking rests poetizing, and with it all art. But what then does ‘thinking’ mean [heißt]? What swimming means [heißt], for example, we never learn through a treatise on swimming. The leap into the current tells us what swimming means.17 Thus do we first get to know the element in which swimming must move. But in which element does thinking move?

15 [Heidegger’s text simply cites the line again. I have reordered the translation to accord more precisely with the German; fortuitously, this also produces a very unusual emphasis in English. Comparison with the previous version should avoid any ambiguities introduced purely by English word order. The German runs: Wer das Tiefste gedacht, liebt das Lebendigste.]

16 [GA 8:22 makes clearer the connection with the earlier discussion of loving: Das Mögen ruht im Denken.]

17 [Beginning here, with the discussion of thinking’s element, GA 7 and GA 8 diverge entirely. It is also here that Heidegger’s marginalia in GA 7 increase noticeably. What follows echoes, without tracking very closely, portions of GA 8, part 2, lectures 11 and 12 (the latter was never delivered in the course and is not in Gray’s translation; it has been translated in The Presocratics After Heidegger, ed. David Jacobs; cf. “Moira,” later in GA 7). In the present text, however, the Greek noein is still translated Vernehmen (perceiving, receiving), rather than In-die-Acht-nehmen (taking to heart) – cf. part 2, lecture 8, for discussion. Heidegger briefly calls ambiguity (Mehrdeutigkeit) the element of thinking in part 1, lecture 7