The Third Directive [124-125]


2) The correlation between being, word, gathering, hand, and writing. The irruption of the typewriter into the realm of the word and of handwriting. The consequence of technology within the transformed relation of Being to man. Bolshevism: the pre-arranged completely technically organized world. The thinking and poetry of the Greeks as regards ἀλήθεια and λήθη.

Λήθη is concealment, and precisely the one that especially comes over things and man, over the reciprocal relation between them, and that draws everything in a certain sense away from a bestowed unconcealedness in such a manner that the very concealment thereby withdraws itself. The passage we discussed from Pindar's Odes (Olympic Ode VII. 48ff.) was not only meant to point at the cloud-like and signless essence of lethe, but at the same time it was to indicate with equal decisiveness that this unique concealment comes over the πράγματα and, as it were, befalls them. Of course, it is important to realize πρᾶγμα means neither the thing for itself nor activity for itself (πρᾶξις). Τὰ πράγματα is here rather the word for the one originally inseparable totality of the relation between things and man. We translate πρᾶγμα as "action" [Handlung]. This word, however, does not mean human activity (actio) but the unitary way that at any time things are on hand and at hand. i.e., are related to the hand, and that man, in his comportment, i.e. in his acting by means of the hand, is posited in relation to the things

From this it is clear how the hand in its essence secures the reciprocal relation between "beings" and man. There is a "hand" only where beings as such appear in unconcealedness and man comports himself in a disclosing way toward beings. The hand entrusts to the word the relation of Being to man and, thereby, the relation of man to beings. The hand acts [Die Hand handelt]. The hand holds in its care the handling, the acting, the acted, and the manipulated Where the essential is secured in an essential way, we therefore say it is "in good hands," even if handles and manipulations are not actually necessary. The essential correlation of the hand and the word as the essential distinguishing mark of man is revealed in the fact that the hand indicates and by indicating discloses what was concealed, and thereby marks off, and while marking off forms the indicating marks into formations [indem sie zeigt und zeigend zeichnet und zeichnend die zeigenden Zeichen zu Gebilden bildet] These formations are called, following the "verb" γράφειν, γράμματα. The word indicated by the hand and appearing in such marking is writing. We still call the theory of the structure of language "grammar."

Martin Heidegger (GA 54) Parmenides