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The Principle of Reason [81-83]

tide Monadology, a tide which does not come from Leibniz. Those who retrace the thought of these paragraphs will ever anew learn a great deal. Still, the relationship of these paragraphs to the innermost movement of Leibnizian thinking that comes to light in some of the letters is like the relationship that would obtain if Hölderlin had left behind a poet\c hymn by simply stringing together twenty paragraphs. And this still holds true today when we can trace the restless movement of Leibnizian thought in the manuscripts of both texts that became accessible only last year through the superb edition of André Robinet.26 The first edition of the original French text of the Monadology first appeared 130 years after Leibniz's death. This thanks to a student of Hegel, Johann Erdmann.27

In looking back on the path traversed thus far, it is clear that if we have already given an intonation to the principle of reason, we have held more to the initial tonality, and that not accidentally. For at first we followed the commonplace ideas, interrogative orientations, and references in terms of which philosophy—even Leibniz's philosophy—treats the principle of reason. But since we are asking the principle of reason for some particulars about the essence of reason, we must now ask what the principle of reason is stating. Consequendy, what we would like to know is, grammatically speaking, what is the subject and what is the predicate of the sentence. The second tonality helped us answer this question. Therefore it is also the normative one: "Nihil est sine ratione": "Nothing is without reason." Every being has a reason. The subject of the principle of reason is not reason, rather: "Every being"; this is predicated as having a reason. The principle of reason is, according to the ordinary way of understanding it, not a statement about reason, but about beings, insofar as there are beings.

Many listeners will now quietly think, Why wasn't this obvious content of the principle of reason mentioned at the very first? Why were we instead led about for hours on detours around the principle of reason? The answer is easy: because our previous treatment of the principle of reason took and still takes it as being a principle, more precisely, as being a fundamental principle and Principle. The fundamental principle of reason indeed represents reason within a frame of reference that is essential, yet from within this frame of reference it speaks about beings and not about reason. Nevertheless, this representation of reason—as inchoately defined as it is—does make it possible for the principle of reason to have its role as the guiding principle in the derivation and founding of propositions. Seen from this point of view, this representation of reason that finds itself in the forefront has the distinction of being underivable. Even if the principle of reason posits what it posits simply on the basis of a reference to reason and is not an immediate statement about reason, the previous treaonent of the principium rationis still remains of the greatest significance, not only in regard to its content but also as something given to us by the tradition.

If we try to discuss the principle of reason, then such an effon, like every other one, is only possible as a conversation within and with the tradition. But


The Principle of Reason (GA 10) by Martin Heidegger