Intimations x Ponderings (II) and Directives [48–49]


To take being out of the ἔστιν, the “is” (cf. p. 119)—was of inmost necessity to the Greeks.

For they were to be the first to take being into understanding (which for them, e.g., for Parmenides, was νοῦς, apprehension). In such a horizon was grounded their existence in the midst of beings as such.

Why, however, precisely presence—from the present tense of the verb? Because presence the most proximate and the enduring.

Opposed to nothingness—opposed to the “not” and the “no.”

The beginning necessarily an immediate assertional “yes” to continuance, constancy, and circle.

The constancy maintains itself in all variations and extension in Plato (μὴ ὄν [“nonbeing”] as ὄν [“being”]) and Aristotle (δύναμις— ἐνέργεια, κινήσις [“potentiality—actuality, motion”]).

This understanding of being was incorporated by Christianity (Augustine— Thomas) into the horizon of an eternal creator-God. The understanding of being was thereby implanted into a realm of faith and became entrenched—lumen naturale [“natural light”].

Yet thereby for the first time the innermost act of beginning and questioning on the part of the Greeks was bent over toward results and—still more—toward the first truth.

The mathematical idea of knowledge at the start of modernity— itself basically ancient—now brought a grounding and new confirmation to the philosophical system. This renewed obstruction of the beginning found its conclusion in Hegel. His historical construction, which expressly took antiquity as thesis, became in this way a fortiori the suppression of the beginning.

Christianity and idealism, especially in their intermediate and decaying forms, supported the nineteenth century and its “science.” Historical science and natural science found justification in the understanding of being (ἔστιν, presence) that had long been self-evident. The past merely the present-at-hand lying further back. Nature the present-at-hand currently graspable.

Thereby indifferent—positivism or idealism: for both, beings are what has presence.

Nietzsche was the first to see the doom, specifically in terms of morality. He saw: the meekness before the ἀεί [“eternal”], the prostration before the object—the perversion of the once-erect, battling, dominating way of questioning into the serfdom of self-absorbed science. Nietzsche alone saw “today’s situation,” and he could do so because he foresaw something else.

Ponderings VII-XI (GA 94) by Martin Heidegger