"translation" is already the interpretation proper, only an explanation of the "translation" is called for. This is certainly not a "trans-lation" in the sense of a "carrying over" of the Greek words into the proper force and weight of our language. It is not intended to replace the Greek but only to place us into the Greek and in so doing to disappear in it. This is why it lacks all the character and fullness that come from the depths of our own language, and why it is neither pleasing nor "polished.")3

I. "Of beings (as a whole) some are from φύσις, whereas others are by other 'causes.' By φύσις, as we say, are animals as well as their members (parts), likewise plants and the simple elements of bodies, like earth and fire and water and air." (192 b8-11)

The other beings, which are not yet expressly mentioned, are by other "causes," but the first group, the ones "named," are by φύσις. Thus from the outset φύσις is taken as cause (αἴτιον - αἰτία) in the sense of the "origin" ["Ur-sache"]. The word and concept "cause" makes us think almost automatically of "causality" [Kausalität], that is, the manner and mode in which one thing "acts on" another. Αἴτιον, for which Aristotle will soon introduce a more precise definition, means in the present context: that which is responsible for the fact that a being is what it is. This [316] responsibility does not have the character of causation in the sense of a "causally" efficient actualizing. Thus, for example, spatiality belongs to the very character of materiality, but space does not efficiently cause matter. Cause as the origin [Ur-sache] must be understood here literally as the originary [Ur-tümliche], that which constitutes the thingness of a thing. "Causality" is only a derivative way of being an origin.

By simply mentioning animals, plants, earth, fire, water, and air, Aristotle points to the region in which the question about φύσις has to be lodged.

II. "But all the aforementioned appear as different from whatever has not composed itself by φύσις into a stand and a stability." (192 b12-13)

Συνεστῶτα is here used for ὄντα (cf. 193 a36, τοῖς φύσει συνισταμένοις). From this we infer what "being" meant for the Greeks. They address beings as the "stable" [das "Ständige]. "The stable" means two things. On the one hand, it means whatever, of and by itself, stands on its own, that which stands "there"; and at the same time "the stable" means the enduring, the lasting. We would certainly not be thinking like the Greeks if we were to conceive of the stable as what "stands over against" in the sense of the objective. Something "standing over against" [Gegenstand] is the


Martin Heidegger (GA 9) On the Essence and Concept of Φύσις in Aristotle's Physics B, I - Pathmarks