Lecture Five [74-75]

understood in a vulgar way. For Leibniz, the principle "nothing is without reason" is tantamount to saying "nothing is without a why. " According to the fragment of Angelus Silesius this equivalence does not hold.

So by reflecting upon the fragment of Angelus Silesius, the principle of reason has not only become more opaque. The province to which it belongs lies in a fog. As is now apparent, even the attempt to keep ourselves to the strict formulation of the principle of reason does not lead to clarity. So we have dropped the question of whether Leibniz's strict formulation is, so to speak, the fundamental formulation of the fundamental principle of reason, much less whether it is the absolutely true one.

In any case, the reference to the Leibnizian form of the principle of reason has shown us that the character of the demand to render, the reddendum, belongs to reason. And at the same time we saw we were forced to the question: from where does this demand of reason stem? Who or what makes the demand to render reasons in and for all cognition?

Are we humans the ones who demand that our cognition in each case render reasons? Or does reason itself, from out of itself as reason, make such a demand on our cognition? But how can reason make a demand? Obviously this question can be answered only if we know sufficiently clearly wherein consists the essence of reason—only if we have first inquired into the essence of reason so as to hear on this path what it is that one calls "reason" and "ratio." The principle of reason should provide the most direct information to clarify all this.

How come we have not asked the principle of reason point-blank what it can tell us about reason? How come we have preferred complex detours to the straight path lying at our feet? Answer: because the detours offered us all sorts of perspectives on the principle of reason so that now, and in what follows, we can constantly glance back, as it were, to the principle of reason. For by glancing back on the principle of reason as a fundamental principle and Principle we reach a disconcerting insight. The principle of reason states nothing about reason. The principle of reason states nothing directly about the essence of reason. This state of affairs opened itself to us during the detours we have been traversing around the principle. Let us take good note of it: the principle of reason indeed speaks of reason and yet it is not a statement about reason qua reason.

What does the principle of reason say? We will get an answer only if we hear the principle of reason. For that it is necessary to pay attention to the tone in which it speaks. For the principle intones in two different tonalities. In each it says something different. Until now we have heard the principle of reason more in an indeterminant tonality. This allowed us to think about the principle of reason in different formulations without contemplating the source of this diversity.

The principle of reason reads: "Nihil est sine ratione": "Nothing is without reason. "We hear this now often enough, almost to the point of tedium. We should