ON THE ESSENCE AND CONCEPT OF Φύσις


we do not think of language and speech. Linguistic usage in mathematics, and partially in philosophy, holds on to something of the original meaning of λόγος. Λόγος belongs to λέγειν, which means and is the same as the German word lesen, "to collect" or "to gather" (as in "to gather grapes or grain at the harvest"). But still, nothing is yet gained by establishing that λέγειν means "to collect." Despite correct reference to root meanings, one can still misconstrue the genuine content of the Greek word and understand the concept of λόγος incorrectly by adhering to the meaning that has been prevalent up until now.

[349] "To collect," to gather, means: to bring various dispersed things together into a unity, and at the same time to bring this unity forth and hand it over (παρὰ). Into what? Into the unbidden of presencing [παρουσία = οὐσία (ἀποὐσία)]. Λέγειν means to bring together into a unity and to bring forth this unity as gathered, i.e., above all as present; thus it means the same as to reveal what was formerly hidden. to let it be manifest in its presencing. Thus according to Aristotle the essence of an assertion is ἀπόφανσις: letting be seen, from the being itself, what and how the being is. He also calls this τὸ δηλοῦν, the act of revealing. In so doing, Aristotle is not giving a special "theory" of λόγος, but only preserves what the Greeks always recognized as the essence of λέγειν. Fragment 93 of Heraclitus shows this magnificently: ὀ ἄναξ, οὗ τὸ μαντεῖόν ἐστι τὸ ἐν Δελφοῖς, οὔτε λέγει οὔτε κρύπτει, ἀλλὰ σημαίνε. The philologists (e.g., Diels, Snell) translate: "The lord whose oracle is at Delphi says nothing, does not speak and does not conceal, but gives a sign." This translation deprives Heraclitus's saying of its basic content and its authentic Heraclitean tension and resistance. Οὔτε λέγει οὔτε κρύπτει here the word λέγειν is opposed to κρύπτειν, "to conceal," and for this reason we must translate it as "to unconceal," i.e., to reveal. The oracle does not directly unconceal nor does it simply conceal, but it points out. This means: it unconceals while it conceals, and it conceals while it unconceals. [For how this λέγειν is related to λόγος and for what λόγος means to Heraclitus, cf. fragments 1 and 2 and others.]

In the Greek definition of the essence of the human being, λέγειν and λόγος mean the relation on the basis of which what is present gathers itself for the first time as such around and for human beings. And only because human beings are insofar as they relate to beings as beings, unconcealing and concealing them, can they and must they have the "word," i.e., speak of the being of beings. But the words that language uses are only fragments that have precipitated out of the word, [350] and from them humans can never find their way to beings or find the path back to them, unless it be on the basis of λέγειν. Of itself λέγειν has nothing to do with saying and with


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Martin Heidegger (GA 9) Pathmarks