essentially the fundamental position determines a transformation in the answer to it. It is Descartes' interpretation of beings and of truth which first creates the preconditions for the possibility of a theory or metaphysics of knowledge. Through Descartes, realism is for the first time put in the position of having to prove the reality of the external world, of having to rescue the being as such.

The essential modifications of Descartes' fundamental position which have been achieved by German thinking since Leibniz in no way overcome this fundamental position. They only expand its metaphysical scope and establish the preconditions of the nineteenth century — still the most obscure of all the centuries up to now. They indirectly reinforce Descartes' fundamental position in a form that is scarcely recognizable, yet not, on that account, any the less real. By contrast, mere Cartesian scholasticism, together with its rationalism, has lost all power for the further shaping of the character of modernity. With Descartes, there begins the completion of Western metaphysics. Since, however, such a completion is only possible as metaphysics, modern thinking has its own kind of greatness.

With the interpretation of man as subiectum, Descartes created the metaphysical presupposition for future anthropology of every kind and tendency. In the rise of anthropologies he celebrates his greatest triumph. Through anthropology, the transition of metaphysics into the event of the simple cessation and suspension of all philosophy is inaugurated. That Dilthey disavowed metaphysics — that, at bottom, he no longer understood its question and stood helpless before metaphysical logic — is the inner consequence of the anthropological character of his fundamental position. His "philosophy of philosophy" is a leading example of anthropology's doing away with - as opposed to overcoming — philosophy. This is why every anthropology that makes use of philosophy as the occasion arises, yet simultaneously declares it to be, as philosophy, superfluous, has the advantage of seeing clearly what is demanded by the affirmation of anthropology. Through this, the intellectual situation is somewhat clarified. The laborious fabrication of such absurd entities as "National Socialist philosophies," on the other hand, merely creates confusion. The world view indeed needs and makes use of philosophical erudition, but it needs no philosophy since, as world view, it has already adopted its own interpretation and structuring of what is. But one thing, surely, even anthropology' cannot do. It cannot overcome Descartes, nor even resist him. For how could the consequence ever attack the ground on which it stands?


Off the Beaten Track (GA 5) by Martin Heidegger