THE AGE OF THE WORLD PICTURE


of history, certified and secured. The sphere of historical research extends only as far as the reach of historical explanation. The unique, the rare, the simple — in short, greatness in history — is never self-evident and hence remains incapable of explanation. It is not that historical research denies greatness in history; rather, it explains it as the exception. In such explanation the great is measured against the ordinary and average. There is no other kind of historical explanation as long as explanation means subsuming under the intelligible, and as long as historical science remains research, i.e., explanation. Because, as research, history projects and objectifies the past. as an explicable and surveyable nexus of effects, it demands source-criticism as the instrument of objectification. The standards of such criticism alter to the degree that historical science approaches journalism.

As research, every science is based on the projection of a bounded object domain and necessarily possesses, therefore, an individualized character. In developing its projection through its methodology, moreover, every individual science must focus on a particular field of investigation. This focusing (specialization) is, however, by no means merely the dire side effect of the increasing unsurveyability of the results of research. It is not a necessary evil, but rather the essential necessity of science as research. Specialization is not the consequence but rather the ground of the progress of all research. Research does not, through its methodology, become dispersed into random investigations so as to lose itself in them. For the character of modern science is determined by a third fundamental occurrence: constant activity [Betrieb] (Appendix 2).

By this term is to be understood, first of all, that phenomenon whereby a science, whether natural or humanistic, in order to achieve proper recognition today as a science is required to be capable of being institutionalized. Research is not, however, constant activity because its work is carried out in institutions; rather, institutions are necessary because science, as, intrinsically, research, has the character of constant activity. The methodology through which individual object domains are conquered does not simply amass results. Rather, it uses its results to direct itself toward a new procedure. In the mechanical installation that enables physics to smash the atom we have the whole of physics up to now. Similarly, in historical research,. the stock of sources only becomes usable when the sources themselves are verified by historical explanation. In these processes the methodology of a science is circumscribed by its own results. More and more, methodology adapts itself to the possibilities of procedure it itself opens up. This having-to-be-based on its own results as the ways and means of a progressing


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Off the Beaten Track (GA 5) by Martin Heidegger