The Principle of Reason [161-162]

withstand a more rigorous reflection on the essence of language. Even when we take language to be nothing but an instrument for information, the speaking of language never becomes a mechanism that functions uniformly everywhere.

If we restrict ourselves to Western languages and acknowledge this restriction as a limit from the very beginning, we may say that our languages speak historically. Given that there must be some truth in saying that language is the house of being, then the historical speaking of language is oriented and ordained by a particular Geschick of being. In terms of the essence of language, this means that language speaks, not humans. Humans only speak inasmuch as they respond to language on the basis of the Geschick. But this responding is the genuine manner in which humans belong in the lighting and clearing of being. Therefore the polysemy of a word does not primarily stem from the fact that when we humans talk and write we at times mean different things with one word. Polysemy is always an historical polysemy. It springs from the fact that in the speaking of language we ourselves are at times, according to the Geschick of being, struck, that means addressed, differently by the being of beings.

We speak of a foundation wall [Grundmauer], of a basic rule [Grundregel], of a fundamental principle [Grundsatz]. But we are going to notice shortly that while this meaning of Grund is indeed quite commonplace, it is at the same time quite abstract; that is, it is taken out of and cut loose from the realm from which the word, in a more inaugural manner, speaks the meaning we mentioned previously. On the one hand Grund indicates the depth, for example, of the bottom of the sea [Meeresgrund], of the valley floor [Talgrund], of the meadowland [Wiesengrund], of a crevasse, of low-lying land and terrain; in a broader sense it means the earth, the surface of the earth. And even today in the Allemanic-Swabian dialect Grund has the even more original meaning of "humus," which is loam, the heavy, fertile soil. For instance, a flower bed that has too little soil must be given more of it in order for there to be satisfactory growth. On the whole, Grund means the more deeply lying and, at the same time, supportive realm. Thus we speak "from the bottom of the heart" [Herzgrund]. Already in the sixteenth century, "to get to the bottom" [auf dem Grund kommen] meant "to ascertain the truth," "ascertain what actually is." Grund is the son of thing from which we arise and that back to which we return insofar as the Grund is that upon which something is based, that on which something depends, that from which something follows. The language of thinking speaks of an essential ground [Grund] in this regard, of the grounds for the emergence [Enstehungsgrund], of the motive [Beweggrund], of the premise of an argument [Beweisgrund] . The relationship of Grund to essence, emergence, movement, and proof [Beweis] already comes to light early on in the history of thinking, even if in a rather hodge-podge way. Yet when one talks of essential grounds, grounds for the emergence, motive, and argument, it remains a question whether these stem from a regard for Grund or from a regard for being. But how can this