language requires much less precipitate expression than proper silence. But who of us today would want to imagine that his attempts to think are at home on the path of silence? At best, thinking could perhaps point toward the truth of being, and indeed toward it as what is to be thought. It would thus be more easily weaned from mere supposing and opining and directed to the now rare handicraft of writing. Things that really matter, although they are not defined for all eternity, even when they come very late still come at the right time.

Whether the realm of the truth of being is a blind alley or whether it is the free space in which freedom conserves its essence is something each one may judge after he himself has tried to go the designated way, or even better, after he has gone a better way, that is, a way befitting the question. On the penultimate page of Being and Time (p. 437) stand the sentences: "The conflict with respect to the interpretation of being (that is, therefore, not the interpretation of beings or of the being of the human being) cannot be settled, [175 {GA 9 344}] because it has not yet been kindled. And in the end it is not a question of 'picking a quarrel,' since the kindling of the conflict does demand some preparation. To this end alone the foregoing investigation is under way." Today after two decades these sentences still hold. Let us also in the days ahead remain as wanderers on the way into the neighborhood of being. The question you pose helps to clarify the way.

You ask. "Comment redonner un sens au mot 'Humanisme'?" "How can some sense be restored to the word 'humanism'?" Your question not only presupposes a desire to retain the word "humanism" but also contains an admission that this word has lost its meaning.

It has lost it through the insight that the essence of humanism is metaphysical, which now means that metaphysics not only does not pose the question concerning the truth of being but also obstructs the question, insofar as metaphysics persists in the oblivion of being. But the same thinking that has led us to this insight into the questionable essence of humanism has likewise compelled us to think the essence of the human being more primordially. With regard to this more essential humanitas of homo humanus there arises the possibility of restoring to the word "humanism" a historical sense that is older than its oldest meaning chronologically reckoned. The restoration is not to be understood as though the word "humanism" were wholly without meaning and a mere flatus vocis [empty sound]. The "humanum" in the word points to humanitas, the essence of the human being; the "-ism" indicates that the essence of the human being is meant to be taken essentially. This is the sense that the word "humanism" has as such. To restore a sense to it can only mean to redefine the meaning of the word.


Martin Heidegger (GA 9) Letter on Humanism - Pathmarks

GA 9 p. 345