The inconspicuous does not strike us as strange. It may be seen, yet without being particularly heeded. Does the state of affairs shown us in the essence of science remain unnoticed only because we think too little and too seldom on the essence of science ? That scarcely anyone could justifiably maintain. On the contrary, many evidences speak for the fact that, not only through physics but through all the sciences, there moves a strange restiveness. Before this, however, in past centuries of intellectual and scientific history in the West, attempts to delimit and define the essence of science have made themselves felt again and again. The passionate and incessant troubling over this is therefore above all a fundamental characteristic of modern times. How, then, could that state of affairs remain unheeded? Today we speak of "the crisis at the foundations" of the sciences. That crisis, in fact, touches only the fundamental concepts of the individual sciences. It is in no way a crisis of science as such. Today science goes its way more securely than ever before.
That which is inaccessible and not to be gotten around, which holds sway throughout the sciences and in that way renders their essence enigmatic, is, however, something far more, i.e., something essentially other, than a mere unsureness in the providing of fundamental concepts by means of which at any given time an area is placed in association with the sciences. Thus the restiveness in the sciences extends far beyond the mere precariousness of their fundamental concepts. We are restive in the sciences and yet cannot say for what reason or to what end, despite multifarious discussions about the sciences. Today we philosophize about the sciences from the most diverse standpoints. Through such philosophical efforts, we fall in with the self-exhibiting that is everywhere being attempted by the sciences themselves in the form of synthetic résumés and through the recounting of the history of science.
But for all that, what is inaccessible and not to be gotten around remains in inconspicuousness. Therefore the inconspicuousness of the state of affairs cannot lie only in the fact that it does not astound us and that we do not notice it.