7
Lecture One [19-20]

around the bush and to go straight into the content of the principle of reason. It will be claimed that observations about the form of principles belong to grammar and logic.

This position seems justified. Indeed it is, especially wherever it is a question of statements and principles in which all that matters is the content of the sentence, and above all wherever the content of the sentence refers to itself. Such is the case with all those statements that figure in our considerations, plans, discussions, and calculations. The statements one finds in scientific observation and research also prove to be of this sort . They remain immediately related to the domain of objects in question. Even where the sciences expressly include the relation they have to their objects as they do in a scientific-methodological reflection, the relationship to these objects is conceived of as something immediately given. This even holds for the realm in which the relation of the cognizing subject to the object essentially changes, as in modern atomic physics. Parenthetically it should be mentioned that in modern atomic physics a transformation in the relation to objects is underway that, on the way through modern technology, completely changes the manner of human cognition.

Nevertheless even this transformed cognition and the type of statement-making associated with it still remain far removed from the manner of speaking that the principle of reason harbors. With regard to its principle-character, this principle never lets itself be reduced to the level of commonplace sentences, nor even to the level of scientific principles. However, at first sight and upon first hearing it, this principle [Satz] also seems like all other sentences [Sätze]: every being necessarily has a reason. Every tree has its roots. Five and seven make twelve. Goethe died in 1832. Migratory birds fly south in the fall.

The sentences we mention are, taken roughly, grammatically built in the same manner. They are simple statements. We also first hear the principle of reason from this perspective. So long as this perspective is established as the only normative one, we cannot unfetter the principle of reason from the compass of this sentence-form.

What the principle of reason posits, and how it posits it-the manner in which it is, strictly speaking, a principle—is what makes it incomparable to all other sentences. This we assert. If our assertion is true, then we cannot help but wonder whether the principle of reason is at all a sentence understood in the grammatical sense of a statement. Presumably what it says and how it says it can remove us to an entirely different manner of speaking. Therefore, with the first groping attempt to discuss the principle of reason we must now refer more clearly, even if still rather crudely, to what is peculiar to it. just a moment ago this meant the principle of reason is not merely an assessment; it also meant it does not simply articulate a rule which would admit of exceptions. The principle of reason declares a state of affairs that necessarily is the way it is: each and every being necessarily has a reason. The principle says something


The Principle of Reason (GA 10) by Martin Heidegger