To what extent is τὸ χρεών usage? The strangeness of the translation is ameliorated by thinking our word more clearly. Generally, we understand "to use" to mean to utilize and need within the area of that to the use of which we enjoy a right. As the translation of τὸ χρεών, "usage" is not to be understood in these customary but secondary meanings. Rather, we attend to the root meaning: to use is bruchen [to brook3], in Latin frui, in German fruchten, Frucht [to bear fruit, fruit]. We translate this freely as "to enjoy [geniessen]" which, in its original form [niessen], means to take joy in something and so to have it in use. Only in its secondary meaning docs "to enjoy" come to mean to consume and gobble up. We encounter what we have called the root meaning of "to use" as frui when Augustine says "Quid enim est aliud quod dicimus frui, nisi praesto habere, quod diligis?"4 (De moribus eccksiae, lib. I c. 3; cf. De doctrino christiana, lib. I, c. 2-4). Frui contains: praesto habere. Praesto, prnesitum means in Greek ὑποκείμενον, that which already lies before us in unconccalment, the οὐσία, that which presences awhile. Accordingly, "to use" says: to let something that is present come to presence as such. Frui, bruchen [to brook], to use, usage, means: to hand something over to its own essence and, as so present, to keep it in the protecting hand.

In the translation of To xpewv, usage is thought of as essential presencing in being itself. Bruchen [to brook], frui, is now no longer predicated of enjoyment as human behavior; nor is it said in relation to any being whatever, even the highest (frutitio Dei as the beatitudo hominis). Rather, "usage" now designates the way in which being itself presences as the relationship to what is present which is concerned and handles it as what is present: τὸ χρεών.

Usage hands over what is present to its presencing; to, that is, its while. Usage imparts to it the portion of its while. The while, apportioned in each case to what stays, rests in the jointure which disposes what presences in the passage between the two absences (arrival and departure). The jointure of the while confines and bounds what presences as such a thing. That which presences awhile, τὰ ἐόντα, presences within its boundary (πέρας).

As the apportioning of participation in the jointure, usage is the destining decree: the disposal of order and thereby reck. Use hands out order and reck by, in advance, reserving to itself what is handed out, gathering it into itself, and sheltering it as what is present in presencing.

Usage, however, disposing order and so containing that which presences, hands out boundaries. As τὸ χρεών, therefore, it is at the same time τὸ ἄπειρον, that which is without boundaries since its essence consists in sending the boundary of the while to that which presences awhile.


Off the Beaten Track (GA 5) by Martin Heidegger