would be appropriate for naming and thinking the essence of φύσις as we have explained it thus far. (We are tempted to say "emergence" [Aufgang], but without intermediate steps we cannot give this word the fullness and definiteness it requires.) However, the chief reason for continuing to use the untranslated and perhaps untranslatable word φύσις lies in the fact that everything said up to this point toward the clarification of its essence is only prologue. In fact, up until now we do not even know what kind of reflection and inquiry is already at work when we ask about φύσις as we have been doing. And these things Aristotle tells us only now in the passage we have just read, a text that establishes with extreme succinctness the horizon within which the discussion moves, both the preceding part and especially what is to follow.

The decisive sentence reads: καὶ ἕστι πάντα ταῦτα οὐσία, "and all these — namely, φύσει-beings — have being of the type called beingness." This expression "beingness," [330 {GA 9 260}] which hardly strikes the ear as elegant, is the only adequate translation for οὐσία. Granted, even "beingness" says very little, in fact, almost nothing, but this is precisely its advantage. We avoid the usual and familiar "translations" (i.e., interpretations) of οὐσία as "substance" and "essence." φύσις is οὐσία, beingness — that which characterizes a being as such; in a word: being. The word οὐσία was not originally a philosophical "term" any more than was the word κατηγορία, which we have already explained. The word οὐσία was first coined as a technical "term" by Aristotle. This coining consists in the fact that Aristotle thoughtfully draws out of the content of the word a crucial element and then holds on to it firmly and clearly. Nonetheless, at the time of Aristotle and even later, the word still retained its ordinary meaning, whereby it signified house and home, holdings, financial means; we might also say "present assets," "property," what lies present. We must think in terms of this meaning if we want to get at the naming power of οὐσία as a basic philosophical word. And then right away we also see how simple and obvious is the explanation Aristotle provides for the word οὐσία in the text above: ὑποκείμενον γάρ τι καὶ ἐν ὑποκειμένῳ ἐστὶν ἡ φύσις ἀεί, "for in each case φύσις is like a lying-present and 'in' a lying-present." One might object that our translation here is "wrong." Aristotle's sentence does not say ὑποκεῖσθαι γάρ τι, a "lying-present" [Vorliegen] but rather "something that lies present" [ein Vorliegendes] . But here we must pay strict attention to what the sentence is supposed to explain: namely, to what extent φύσις is οὐσία and thus has the character of beingness (being). This requires of us (as is so often the case with the philosophical use of the Greek language, but too little noticed by later thinkers) that we understand the participle ὑποκείμενον in a way


Martin Heidegger (GA 9) Pathmarks