Lecture Five [67-69]

inasmuch as cognition asks: Why does what is cognized exist , and why is it the way it is? In the "why?" we ask for reasons. The strict formulation of the principle of reason—"Nothing is without rendering its reasons"—can be formulated thus: Nothing is without a why.

If we contrapose the short forms of each formulation, then we gain a particular sharpness that affords us a still clearer view of the principle of reason. On the one hand it reads: nothing is without reason. On the other hand it reads: nothing is without a why. In contradiction to this we now hear the following words:

The rose is without why: it blooms because it blooms,
It pays no attention to itself, asks not whether it is seen.

The verses are found in the first book of the spiritual poetry of Angelus Silesius, which is entitled The Cherubic Wanderer: Sensual Description of the Four Final Things.22

The work first appeared in 1657. The verses carry the number 289 with the heading "Without Why." Angelus Silesius, whose given name was Johann Scheffler, doctor philosophiae et medicinae, by profession a medical doctor, lived from 1624 to 1677 in Silesia. Leibniz (1646-1716) was a younger contemporary of Angelus Silesius and was familiar with The Cherubic Wanderer. Leibniz often speaks in his writings and letters of Angelus Silesius. Thus, in a letter to Paccius on January 28, 1695 he once wrote: "With every mystic there are a few places that are extraordinarily clever, full of difficult metaphors and virtually inclining to Godlessness, just as I have sometimes seen in the German—otherwise beautiful—poems of a certain man who is called Johannes Angelus Silesius ..."23 And in his Lectures on Aesthetics, Hegel says the following:

Now the pantheistic unity, raised up in relation to the subject that senses itself in this unity with God and God as this presence in subjective consciousness, would in general yield the mystic as it has come to be formed in this subjective manner even within Christianity. As an example I will only cite Angelus Silesius, who with the greatest cleverness and depth of intuition and sensibility has spoken with a wonderfully mystical power of description about the substantial existence of God in things an d the unification of the self with God and of God with human subjectivity.24

The judgments of Leibniz and Hegel about Angelus Silesius are only intended to briefly allude to the fact that the words cited from "Without Why" stem from an influential source. But one might immediately point out that this source is indeed mystical and poetic. The one as well as the other belong equally little in thinking. Certainly not in thinking, but perhaps before thinking. Leibniz and Hegel, whose thinking it is difficult to surpass in sobriety and rigor, testify to this.

The Principle of Reason (GA 10) by Martin Heidegger