Science and Reflection

Those areas are the source of a special impetus that produces new formulations of questions that are often decisive. We know this fact. The reason for it remains enigmatic, as enigmatic as the entire essence of modern science.

We have, indeed, already characterized this essence by elucidating the statement "Science is the theory of the real" according to its two principal words. This happened in preparation for our second step, which is to ask: What inconspicuous state of affairs conceals itself in the essence of science?25

We shall notice this state of affairs the moment that, taking particular sciences as examples, we attend specifically to whatever is the case regarding the ordering—in any given instance—of the objectness belonging to the object-area of those sciences. Physics, which, roughly speaking, now includes macrophysics and atomic physics, astrophysics and chemistry, observes nature (φύσις) insofar as nature exhibits itself as inanimate. In such objectness nature manifests itself as a coherence of motion of material bodies. The fundamental trait of the corporeal is impenetrability, which, for its part, presents itself as a kind of coherence of motion of elementary objects. The elementary objects themselves and their coherence are represented in classical physics as geometrical point mechanics, in the physics of today under the headings "nucleus" and "field."

25. "State of affairs" translates the noun Sachverhalt. Sachverhalt might be rendered very literally "relating or conjoining of matters." Heidegger is doubtless here using this word as he does elsewhere, at the outset of the intricate discussion in "Time and Being" (see On Time and Being, trans. Joan Stambaugh [New York: Harper & Row, 1972], p. 4, where the word is translated "matter at stake") to point to the wholly singular and self-initiating bringing-to-pass (Ereignis)—not brought about by anything from beyond itself and not bringing about anything as its consequence—that takes place as and within Being itself, the bringing-to-pass that, precisely as a disclosing, brings Being and man into their own at any given time in giving them into their needed belonging to one another. Cf. T 45 ff; cf. also "Time and Being," pp. 23 ff. Although "Being" is scarcely mentioned as such in this essay and the word Ereignis is never used, the relating of Being—as the Being of whatever is—to man, whose science works over the real, clearly underlies Heidegger's entire discussion and comes tellingly if hiddenly into play with this use of Sachverhalt and in the discussion that follows to the end of the essay. The same allusion as that in Sachverhalt lies in Heidegger's later discussion of that which is not to be gotten around that is intractable and inaccessible (das unzugängliche Unumgängliche) ; and it sounds somewhat more evidently in his mention of that which is worthy of questioning (das Fragwürdige) . Cf. AWP, Appendix 1, pp. 137-138.