Session 3

First we supplemented what we had said about φύσις. How could it be possible that φύσις, for the Greeks, meant beings as a whole—φύσις, which in our language means what grows, what comes from itself? Why does the word originally mean what is, for the Greeks?

In order to answer this question we must clarify what the Greek εἶναι and on mean. They always mean a Being-present, Being-in-the-light-of-day, παρεῖναι. What is absent has no Being, it is concealed. But κρύπτεσθαι, being concealed, is the concept that the Greeks oppose not only to Being or οὐσία, but also to φύσις; for φύσις, as what grows and emerges, is at the same time what comes to light, what offers itself. Here we can clearly see the common meaning of φύσις and οὐσία. It consists of growing, coming up, taking form. What is, is what is unconcealed. Heraclitus speaks of this connection between φύσις and unconcealment when he says ‛η φύσις κρύπτεσθαι φιλεῖ, that is, beings endeavor to conceal themselves, or more clearly: not to be there. Thus, for the Greeks, growth, Being, and Being-unconcealed are bound together in a unity. With this knowledge we have gained something essential for the understanding of Greek Being.

Now let us briefly review the course of our questioning, so that we can stay aware of the point where we stand in our consideration of the essence and concept of nature, history, and state. We had first established that nature, history, and state are in some way domains of our Dasein, and that they are connected somehow. In order to know this connection, we must first try to get clear on what nature, history, and state are. We grasped nature on the basis of φύσις as what produces itself by itself, and here we showed the two ways the word φύσις can be interpreted—formally and materially. Then we explained history as happening—in present, past, and future—and we also clarified the material and formal concepts of history.

Martin Heidegger - Nature History State