The Question Concerning Technology

everything that is, in its Being, must accommodate itself. Man who possesses the Greeks' fundamental relationship to that which is and to its unconcealment is μέτρον (measure [Mass]) in that he accepts restriction [Mässigung] to the horizon of unconcealment that is limited after the manner of the I; and he consequently acknowledges the concealedness of what is and the insusceptibility of the latter's presencing or absenting to any decision, and to a like degree acknowledges the insusceptibility to decision of the visible aspect of that which endures as present.26 Hence Protagoras says (Diels, Fragmente der Vorsokratiker: Protagoras B, 4): περὶ μέν θεῶν οὐκ ἔχω εἰδέναι οὔθ᾽ ὡς εἰσὶν οὔθ᾽ ὡς οὐκ εἰσίν, οὔθ᾽ ὁποῖοί τινες ἰδέαν.27 "I am surely not in a position to know anything (for the Greek, to have anything in 'sight') regarding the gods, neither that they are nor that they are not, nor how they are in their visible aspect (ἰδέα)."

πολλὰ γὰρ τὰ κωλύοντα εἰδέναι, ἥ τ᾽ ἀδηλότης καὶ βραχὺς ὢν ὁ βίος τοῦ ἀνθρώπου.28 "For manifold is that which prevents the apprehending of whatever is as what it is, i.e., both the non-disclosedness (concealment) of what is and the brevity of man's historical course."

Need We wonder that Socrates, considering Protagoras' circumspection, says of him, εἰκὸς μέντοι σοφὸν ἄνδρα μὴ ληρεῖν: "We may suppose that he (Protagoras), a sensible man, (in his statement about man as μέτρον)) is not simply babbling on."29

The fundamental metaphysical position of Protagoras is only a narrowing down, but that means nonetheless a preserving, of the fundamental position of Heraclitus and Parmenides. Sophism is possible only on the foundation of σοφία, i.e., on the foundation of the Greek interpretation of Being as presencing and of truth as unconcealment—"an unconcealment that itself remains an essential determination of Being, so that what presences is determined

26. die Unentscheidbarkeit . . . über das Aussehen des Wesenden,

27. "As to the gods, I have no means of knowing either that they exist or that they do not exist" (Nahm).

28. "For many are the obstacles that impede knowledge, both the obscurity of the question and the shortness of human life" (Nahm).

29. Cornford translates: "Well, what a wise man says is not likely to be nonsense."