§6 Hidden counter-essence [152-153]

"To look" is in Greek θεάω. Remarkably (or should we say amazingly?) only the medial form θεάομαι is known, translated as "contemplate" or "spectate;" whence we speak of the θέατρον, the place of the spectacle, the "theater." Thought in the Greek manner, however, θεάομαι means to provide oneself with the look, i.e., θέα, in the sense of the sight in which something shows itself and presents itself. Θεάω, "looking," therefore in no way means "seeing" in the sense of representational looking upon and looking at, by which man turns toward beings as "objects" and grasps them. Θεάω is rather the looking in which the one who looks shows himself. appears, and "is there." Θεάω is the fundamental way the one who looks presents (δαίω) himself in the sight of his essence, i.e., emerges, as unconcealed, into the unconcealed. Looking, even human looking, is, originally experienced, not the grasping of something but the self-showing in view of which there first becomes possible a looking that grasps something. If man experiences looking only in terms of himself and understands looking precisely "out of himself" as Ego and subject, then looking is a "subjective" activity directed to objects. If, however, man does not experience his own looking, i.e., the human look, in "reflection" on himself as the one who represents himself as looking, but if instead man experiences the look, in unreflected letting-be-encountered, as the looking at him of the person who is encountering him, then the look of the encountering person shows itself as that in which someone awaits the other as counter, i.e., appears to the other and is. The looking that awaits the other and the human look thus experienced disclose the encountering person himself in the ground of his essence.

We moderns, or, to speak more broadly, all post-Greek humanity, have for a long time been so deflected that we understand looking exclusively as man's representational self-direction toward beings. But in this way looking does not at all come into sight; instead it is understood only as a self-accomplished "activity," i.e., an act of re-presenting. To re-present means here to present before oneself. to bring before oneself and to master, to attack things. The Greeks experience looking at first and properly as the way man emerges and comes into presence, with other beings, but as man in his essence. Thinking as moderns and therefore insufficiently, but for us surely more understandably, we can say in short: the look, θέα, is not looking as activity and act of the "subject" but is sight as the emerging of the "object" and its coming to our encounter. Looking is self-showing and indeed that self-showing in which the essence of the encountering person has gathered itself and in which the encountering person "emerges" in the double sense that his essence is collected in the look, as the sum of his existence, and that this collectedness and simple totality of his essence opens itself to the look—opens itself at any rate in order to let come into presence in the

Martin Heidegger (GA 54) Parmenides