THE AGE OF THE WORLD PICTURE
Wenn die Seele dir auch über die eigne Zeit
Sich die sehnende schwingt, trauernd verweilest du
Dann am kalten Gestade
Bei den Deinen und kennst sic nie.
(1) Such reflection is neither necessary for all nor is it to be accomplished, or even found bearable, by everyone. On the contrary, absence of reflection belongs, to a very great extent, to the particular stages of accomplishing and being constantly active. The questioning that belongs to reflection, however, does not fall into that which is groundless and beyond questioning because, in advance, it asks after being. This remains that which is most worthy of question [Fragewürdigste]. Reflection finds in being the utmost resistance, which constrains it to deal seriously with beings as they are drawn into the light of their being. Reflection on the essence of modernity places thought and decision within the sphere of effectiveness belonging to the authentically essential forces of the age. These forces work, as they work, beyond the reach of everyday evaluation. With respect to such forces there is only preparedness for the resolution or else the evasive turning to the ahistorical. In this connection, however, it is not sufficient, for example, to affirm technology or, out of a stance incomparably more essential, to set up "total mobilization" as an absolute, once it is recognized as being at hand.5 It is a matter of, in advance and continually, grasping the essence of the age from out of the truth of being that prevails in it; for only thus is that which is most-worthy-of-questioning simultaneously experienced — that which bears and constrains a creating into the future which takes us beyond what is at hand, and lets the transformation of humanity become one that springs from the necessity of being itself.a No age lets itself be done away with by a negating decree. Negation merely throws the negator off the track. Modernity requires, however, in order, in the future, for it to be resisted in its essence and on the strength of that essence, an originality and breadth of reflection for which, perhaps, we moderns can prepare somewhat, but over which we can certainly never gain mastery.
(2) The phrase "constant activity" [Betrieb] is not intended here in a pejorative sense. Yet because the essence of research is constant activity, the
a First edition, 1950: usage [Brauch].