The Principle of Reason [69-71]

Let us take a look at what is going on in the mystical words of Angelus Silesius.

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

First, one should recall the short formulation of the Leibnizian principium reddendae rationis. It reads: Nothing is without a why. The words of Angelus Silesius speak bluntly to the contrary: "The rose is without why." Obviously the rose here stands as an example for all blooming things, for all plants and all growth. According to the words of the poet, the principle of reason does not hold in this field. On the contrary, botany will easily point out to us a chain of causes and conditions for the growth of plants. For proof of this we make use of the fact that, despite the saying of Angelus Silesius, the growth of plants has its why, that is, its necessary grounds without ever having had to bother with science. Everyday experience speaks for the necessity of the grounds of growth and blooming.

But it is superfluous to simply give an account of this necessity of grounds to the poet, for in the very same line he confirms this himself.

The rose is without why; it blooms because it blooms.

"Because"? Does this word not name the relationship to a ground by dragging one in, so to speak? The rose—without why and yet not without a because. So the poet contradicts himself and speaks obscurely. Indeed the mystical consists in this sort of thing. But the poet speaks clearly. "Why" and "because" mean different things. "Why" is the word for the question concerning grounds. The "because" contains the answer-yielding reference to grounds. The "why'' seeks grounds. The "because" conveys grounds. What is different here is the way in which the relationship to grounds is represented. In the "why" the relationship to grounds is one of seeking. In the "because" the relationship to grounds is one of conveying. But that which the different relationships concern—grounds—remains, so it seems, the same. Insofar as the first part of the first verse denies the presence of grounds and the second part of the same verse explicitly affirms the existence of grounds through the "because," there is indeed a contradiction present , that is, a simultaneous affirmation and negation of the same thing, namely of grounds. But are the grounds that the "why" seeks and the grounds that the "because" conveys equivalent? The second verse of the saying gives the answer. It contains the comment on the first verse. The entire fragment is so astoundingly clear and nearly constructed that one is inclined to get the idea that the most extreme sharpness and depth of thought

The Principle of Reason (GA 10) by Martin Heidegger