Ponderings XII-XV [21–22]

To be a thinker means to know that the thinking which disclosively questions the decision is not only in its consequences “inimical to life” but has in its essence decided against “life.” Here “life” does not mean the presence at hand of some arbitrary elapsing of arbitrary and massive everyday occurrences of clashing human beings—but rather counts as a title for beings as a whole which, regardless of their beingness, assert themselves through the execution (displayed before themselves) of the continual surpassing of their current state to a greater power—i.e., a more instituted and more calculative power.

To be a thinker means to know that the decision does not concern the correctness or incorrectness of a “world-picture” nor the bindingness or nonbindingness of a “worldview.” It is to know that meditation must not turn toward the question of whether and to what extent a thought secures a use for life or has fallen into uselessness. It is to know instead | that only one decision must be prepared and at some point carried out: whether the unrestricted machination of beings will devastate everything into nothingness, and the human being, under cover of the animality of the predatory animal, will develop into an apathetic, all-calculating, and always swift institutional animal of the best-ordered herding, from which herd occasionally packs of executors of the devastation will still flock together—or whether beyng will bestow the grounding of its truth as plight and will cast to the human being the necessity, out of another beginning, to preserve the simplicity of the essence of all things, by which he might mature toward steadfastness in the midst of the history of beyng, a steadfastness which could permit him a downgoing that is a beginning of the last god.

The decision: whether the humans of our history will take being, as it emerged for them at the first beginning, and will turn it simply and definitively into a cause of beings or a condition of the representation of beings, and on account of the attenuation of beings into mere mental things, will relinquish being—or whether humans will disclosively question beyng as the abyss, and in downgoing and arising, will allow beyng to bear and determine all beings.

From the moment of the overcoming of metaphysics, to be a thinker will be to possess an essence in accord with the history of beyng, namely, to keep beyng itself free from all derangement by beings and to do so through the interrogative disposing of the truth of beyng. Beyng, as the abyssal “in between” of the enduring of the encounter and strife, powerlessly (outside of power and impotence) disposes human history. This type of thinking is sovereignty and decision; victory and violence, success and fame, as well as their counterparts (e.g.,

Ponderings XII-XV (GA 96) by Martin Heidegger