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The Principle of Reason [93-95]

On the one hand we say: being and ground/reason-the same. On the other hand we say: being—the abyss. It would be worthwhile to think the univocity of both "sentences" [Sätze], of phrases [Sätze] that are no longer "propositions" [Sätze].

This requires nothing less than that the manner of our thinking transform itself, transform itself such that it responds to the state of affairs that the principle of reason means when speaking as a principle of being. We arrive at this transformation of thinking neither through an exacting theory, nor through some son of sorcery, but only by setting out on a path, by building a path that leads into the vicinity of the state of affairs we have mentioned. In so doing, it becomes clear that such paths themselves belong to the state of affairs. The nearer we come to the matter at hand, the more significant becomes the path. So if our manner of proceeding in the ensuing exposition often speaks of the path, then the matter at hand comes to language. Discussions of the path are not mere considerations of methodology; they are not merely the preparations of a drawing pencil that is never put to paper. They serve us well in reaching the realm of that state of affairs about which the principle of reason speaks as a principle of being.

This is the task of the coming sessions. We may then finally be in a position to have the opportunity to experience and appreciate for ourselves what this means: "being and ground/reason: the same" and "being: the abyss." If we discuss the principle of reason as a principle of being, we follow it off to that place to which the principle, if thought genuinely, removes us. But before we attempt a discussion of the principle of reason as a principle of being, let's think back for a moment on the beginning of the first session of the whole lecture course. It began:


The principle of reason reads: nihil est sine ratione. One translates it: nothing is without a reason. What the principle states is illuminating.


On the basis of the point we have reached on our path, we can ascertain the following about these sentences: at the beginning of the lecture course the principle of reason was spoken in the commonplace tonality. Accordingly, the principle says: everything has a reason. But now, after it has been shown that the principle of reason admits of a change in tonality—perhaps even calls for one-we can no longer hold back the question: why wasn't the change in tonality immediately introduced at the beginning of the entire lecture course? How come the principle of reason wasn't immediately and exclusively thought in the new tonality? If we had, the principle of reason would have come to light as a principle of being from the very beginning. We could have dispensed with everything that has been presented in the previous sessions, provided that it is necessary to think through the principle of reason as a principle of being.


The Principle of Reason (GA 10) by Martin Heidegger