concerning such essential anxiety, we willfully abandon the train of thought of the lecture; if we dissociate anxiety, as the mood attuned by that voice,6 from its relation to the nothing; then we are left with anxiety as an isolated "feeling" that can be distinguished from other feelings and dissected amid a familiar assortment of psychic states observed by psychology. Along the guidelines of a facile distinction between "higher" and "lower" these "moods" can then be classified as either uplifting or depressing. The zealous pursuit of "types" and "countertypes" of "feelings" and of varieties and subspecies of these "types" will never run out of prey. Yet such anthropological investigation of human beings always remains outside of the possibility of following the train of thought of the lecture; for this lecture thinks out of an attentiveness to the voice of being and into the attunement coming from this voice, attuning the human being in [103] his essence to its claim, so that in the nothing he may learn to experience being.

Readiness for anxiety is a Yes to assuming a stance that fulfills the highest claim, a claim that is made upon the human essence alone. Of all beings, only the human being, called upon by the voice of being, experiences the wonder of all wonders: that beings are. The being that is thus called in its essence into the truth of being is for this reason always attuned in an essential manner. The lucid courage for essential anxiety assures us the enigmatic possibility of experiencing being. For close by essential anxiety as the horror of the abyss dwells awe. Awe clears and cherishes that locality of the human essence within which humans remain at home in that which endures.

By contrast, "anxiety" in the face of anxiety can stray to such an extent that it fails to recognize the simple relations that obtain in the essence of anxiety. What would all courage be if it did not find its permanent counterpart in the experience of essential anxiety? To the degree that we degrade such essential anxiety, together with the relationship of being to humans that is cleared within it, we denigrate the essence of courage. Yet courage is able to withstand the nothing. In the abyss of horror, courage recognizes the scarcely broached realm of being from whose clearing every being first returns to what it is and can be. This lecture neither propounds a "philosophy of anxiety," nor does it seek to impress upon us by devious means a "heroic philosophy." It thinks only that which dawned on Western thinking from its beginning as that which has to be thought, and yet has remained forgotten: being. Yet being is not a product of thinking. By contrast, essential thinking is presumably an event proper to being [ ein Ereignis des Seins ].


Martin Heidegger (GA 9) Pathmarks