The Third Directive [117-119]

that aspect—in short, things and men—no longer stay and move in the originally arisen light. If the veiling cloud of oblivion επιβαινει—comes over things and man—then παρέλκει πραγμάτων ὀρθαν ὁδόν / ἕξω φρενῶν—"it draws actions apart from the straightforward way, into what is outside the thoughtfully disclosed."

Here we encounter the word πρᾶγμα, customarily translated as "thing" or "fact," "matter," "issue." Πράττω means to pass through, pervade, travel back a path through what is not removed and on this way arrive at something and thereupon set it up as present (ἔργω, ἔργον belong in the same sphere of meaning).

Πρᾶγμα means originally, and still in Pindar, this setting up itself as well as what is set up; more precisely, πρᾶγμα means the original unity of both in their relation—the still unseparated and essentially inseparable unity of the setting up in the arrival at something and of what is reached in the arrival and is then present as unconcealed. Πρᾶγμα is here not yet distinguished and set apart and separated as thing and fact from πρᾶξις as presumed "activity." Πρᾶγμα is not yet narrowed down to the concept of "thing," the matter "at hand" to be dealt with, to be acted upon Nevertheless we have translated πρᾶγμα precisely by "action" [Handlung]. Although "action" is not the literal translation of πρᾶγμα, yet, correctly understood, "action" does touch the originally essential essence of πρᾶγμα. Things "act" [handeln], insofar as the things present and at hand dwell within the reach of the "hand" [Hand]. The hand reaches out for them and reaches them: πράττει, the reaching arrival at something (πρᾶγμα), is essentially related to the hand.

Man himself acts [handelt] through the hand [Hand]; for the hand is, together with the word, the essential distinction of man. Only a being which, like man, "has" the word (μῦθος, λόγος), can and must "have" "the hand." Through the hand occur both prayer and murder, greeting and thanks, oath and signal, and also the "work" of the hand, the "hand-work," and the tool. The handshake seals the covenant. The hand brings about the "work" of destruction. The hand exists as hand only where there is disclosure and concealment. No animal has a hand, and a hand never originates from a paw or a claw or talon. Even the hand of one in desperation (it least of all) is never a talon, with which a person clutches wildly. The hand sprang forth only out of the word and together with the word. Man does not "have" hands, but the hand holds the essence of man, because the word as the essential realm of the hand is the ground of the essence of man. The word as what is inscribed and what appears to the regard is the written word, i.e., script. And the word as script is handwriting.

It is not accidental that modern man writes "with" the typewriter and "dictates" [diktiert] (the same word as "poetize" [Dichten]) "into"