Science and Reflection

But neither medieval nor Greek thinking represents that which presences as object. We shall now name the kind of presence belonging to that which presences that appears in the modern age as object: objectness [Gegenständigkeit].12

This is first of all a character belonging to that which presences itself. But how the objectness of what presences is brought to appearance and how what presences becomes an object for a setting-before, a representing [Vor-stellen] , can show itself to us only if we ask: What is the real in relation to theory, and thus in a certain respect also in and through theory? We now ask, in other words: In the statement "Science is the theory of the real," what does the word "theory" mean? The word "theory" stems from the Greek verb θεωρεῖν. The noun belonging to it is θεωρία. Peculiar to these words is a lofty and mysterious meaning. The verb θεωρεῖν grew out of the coalescing of two root words, θέα and ὁράω. Θέα (d. theater) is the outward look, the aspect, in which something shows itself, the outward appearance in which it offers itself. Plato names this aspect in which what presences shows what it is, εἶδος. To have seen this aspect, εἰδέναι, is to know [wissen].13 The second root word in θεωρεῖν, ὁράω, means: to look at something attentively, to look it over, to view it closely. Thus it follows that θεωρεῖν is θέαν ὁρᾶν, to look attentively on the outward appearance wherein what presences becomes visible and, through such sight-seeing-to linger with it.14

That particular way of life (βίος) that receives its determination from θεωρεῖν and devotes itself to it the Greeks call βίος θεωρητικός, the way of life of the beholder, the one who looks upon the pure shining-forth of that which presences.

12. Gegenständigkeit (objectness) is a word formed by Heidegger to characterize the peculiar mode of presencing that rules in the modern age. It is not to be confused with the familiar German word Gegenständlichkeit (objectivity) . In accordance with what Heidegger says elsewhere about the word Subjektität, translated in this volume as "subjectness" (cf. WN 68 n. 9), we may perhaps say that "objectness" speaks of the mode in which Being endures as present as determined by what is, as the latter presences as object.

13. The verb wissen comes ultimately from the same Indo-European root weid as does the Greek εἰδέναι. See The American Heritage Dictionary, s.v. "Indo-European Roots," p. 1548.

14. Den Anblick, worin das Anwesende erscheint, ansehen und durch solche Sicht bei ihm sehend verweilen. On the force of the prefix an-, central here, see p. 159 n. 6.

Martin Heidegger (GA 7) Science and Reflection - The Question Concerning Technology