The Question Concerning Technology

In contrast to this, βίος πρακτικός is the way of life that is dedicated to action and productivity. In adhering to this distinction, however, we must constantly keep one thing in mind : for the Greeks, βίος θεωρητικός, the life of beholding, is, especially in its purest form as thinking, the highest doing. Θεωρία in itself, and not only through the utility attaching to it, is the consummate form of human existence. For θεωρία is pure relationship to the outward appearances belonging to whatever presences, to those appearances that, in their radiance, concern man in that they bring the presence [Gegenwart] of the gods to shine forth. The further characterization of θεωρεῖν, i.e., that it brings the ἀρχαί and αἰτίαι of what presences before man's apprehension and powers of demonstration, cannot be given here; for this would require a reflection on what Greek experience understood in that which we for so long have represented as principium and causa, ground and cause (See Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, Bk. VI, chap. 2, 1139 ff).

Bound up with the supremacy accorded θεωρία within Greek βίος is the fact that the Greeks, who in a unique way thought out of their language, i.e., received from it their human existence,15 were also able to hear something else in the word θεωρία. When differently stressed, the two root words θεα and οραω can read θεά and ὤρα. Θεά is goddess. It is as a goddess that ἀλήθεια, the unconcealment from out of which and in which that which presences, presences, appears to the early thinker Parmenides. We translate ἀλήθεια by the Latin word veritas and by our German word Wahrheit [truth] .

The Greek word ὤρα signifies the respect we have, the honor and esteem we bestow. If now we think the word θεωρία in the context of the meanings of the words just cited, then θεωρία is the reverent paying heed to the unconcealment of what presences. Theory in the old, and that means the early but by no means the obsolete, sense is the beholding that watches over truth.16

15. "Existence" translates Dasein. Written as Da-sein, it is translated as "openness-for-Being." See Introduction, p. xxxv n. 2. Cf. AWP Appendix 5, p. 141. The latter meaning should be found also in the translation of Dasein as "existence"; d. the discussion of Being's coming to presence in language through the cooperation of man given in T 40-41.

16. das hütende Schauen der Wahrheit.

Martin Heidegger (GA 7) Science and Reflection