ON THE ESSENCE AND CONCEPT OF Φύσις


[346 {GA 9 276}] is λόγος. Therefore, in interpreting the ensuing determination of the essence of μορφή, as εἶδος, we must watch whether and to what extent Aristotle himself follows this clue. In anticipation we can say: μορφή, is "appearance," more precisely, the act of standing in and placing itself into the appearance; in general, μορφή, means: placing into the appearance. Therefore, in what follows when we speak simply of"appearance," we always have in mind the appearance as (and insofar as) it puts itself forth into a given thing that is "there for a while" (for example, the "appearance" "table" that puts itself forth into this table here). We call an individual thing das Jeweilige, "that which is there for a while," because as an individual thing it "stays for a while" in its appearance and preserves the "while" (the presencing) of this appearance, and, by preserving the appearance, stands forth in it and out of it — which means that it "is" in the Greek sense of the word.

By translating μορφή as placing into the appearance, we mean to express initially two things that are of equal importance to the sense of the Greek term but that are thoroughly lacking in our word "form." First, placing into the appearance is a mode of presencing, οὐσία. Μορφή is not an ontic property present in matter, but a way of being. Second, "placing into the appearance" is movedness, κίνησις, which "moment" is radically lacking in the concept of form.

But this reference to the Greek way of understanding the meaning of μορφή in no way constitutes a demonstration of what Aristotle has undertaken to show, namely, that φύσις itself, according to a second way of addressing it, is μορφή. This demonstration, which takes up the rest of the chapter, goes through various stages in such a way that each stage lifts the task of the demonstration one level higher. The demonstration begins in this way:


XIII. "Just as we (loosely) call by the name τέχνη those things produced according to such a know-how, as well as whatever belongs to those kinds of beings, so too we (loosely) designate as φύσις whatever is according to φύσις and hence belongs to beings of this kind. But on the other hand, just as we would [347] never say that something behaves (and is present) in accordance with τέχνη, or that τέχνη is there, when something is a bedstead merely in terms of appropriateness (δυνάμει) but in fact does not at all have the appearance of the bedstead, so neither would we proceed that way in addressing something that has composed itself into a stand by way of φύσις. For whatever is flesh and bone only in terms of appropriateness docs not have the φύσις that appertains to it until it achieves the appearance that we refer to in addressing the thing and that we delineate when we say what flesh or hone is; nor is (something that is merely appropriate) already a being from φύσις." (193 a31-b3)


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Martin Heidegger (GA 9) Pathmarks