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The Principle of Reason [55-57]

Taken to its extreme, this means that God exists only insofar as the principle of reason holds. One immediately asks in turn: to what extent does the principle of reason hold? If the principle of reason is the mighty Principle, then its bepowering is a sort of effecting. In fact, in the treatise in question, Leibniz speaks of an efficacy, an efficere that accrues to the supreme principles. However, (according to the principle of reason) all effecting requires a cause. But the first cause is God. So the principle of reason holds only insofar as God exists. But God exists only insofar as the principle of reason holds. Such thinking moves in a circle. We would certainly remain far removed from Leibniz's thinking if we were to think Leibniz acquiesced to this circularity, which one can easily point out and even demonstrate is fraught with mistakes. None of us here should fancy to have already understood the cited passages of Leibniz down to their last detail. What still remains is the insight into that upon which everything depends: the principle of reason is the Principle that pervasively bepowers everything insofar as reason, according to the strict formulation of the fundamental principle, insists that each thing that is, is as a consequence of . . ., which is to say, by virtue of the express, complete fulfillment of the demand of reason. In the future it will serve us well to hold in view the fact that the demandcharacter of reason comes to the fore in the first, strict formulation of the principle of reason.

The principium reddendae rationis requires that all cognition of objects be a self-grounding cognition and, along with this, that the object itself always be a founded—which means, securely established—object.

Now, modern science understands itself as the exemplary mode of the founding representation of objects. Accordingly, it is based on the fundamental principle of rendering reasons. Without modern science there is no modern university. If those of us here are aware of ourselves as belonging to the university, then we move on the basis upon which the university itself rests. That is the principle of reason. However, what remains astounding is that we who are here have still never encountered the principle of reason. As such, the statement that the university rests on the principle of reason seems to be an exaggerated and weird assertion.

If the university is not built upon a principle, then perhaps it is built upon that about which the principle speaks? We heard that it speaks of a reddendum. The demand to render reasons for all statements—for every utterance—speaks in the principle. From where does this demand of reason speak to its being rendered?

Does this demand lie in the essence of reason itself? Before we inquire so far afield, let us limit ourselves to first asking whether we hear the demand to render reasons. We must answer: yes and no. Yes—for lately we have had the demand to render reasons all too oppressively in our ears. No—for we indeed hardly notice its pressing demand. Everywhere we move in the aura of the de


The Principle of Reason (GA 10) by Martin Heidegger