philosophy, Heidegger says, “we see that ϕύσις is the self-unfolding emergence [of a thing] wherein and whereby a thing first is what it is.”25 He is speaking here of the early Greek vision where all things are viewed under the rubric of their emergence from some form of hiddenness. Later, however, Aristotle will limit such intrinsic emergence (ϕύσις) to only “natural” things (ϕύσει ὄν) rather than all things including artifacts (τέχνῃ ὄν). Moreover, within the realm of “nature” Aristotle distinguishes between ϕύσει ὄν (natural things) and their ϕύσις itself as their emergence-into-appearance, just as, in the realm of the artifactual, he distinguishes between τέχνῃ ὄν, on the one hand, and τέχνη as their being, on the other.
Thus the two meanings that Heidegger draws out from ϕύσις and intensifies by the connection with ἀλήϑεια are the emergence and the appearance of a thing, indeed the thing’s emergence as “self”-showing.26 (The faux reflexive “self-showing” means the intrinsic showing-up of a thing, of and by itself.) In this Greek view, things, when wrested from non-accessibility into accessibility, are open and available to us. What makes a thing be real is that thing’s very openness to human concerns, its availability to human knowing and acting.27
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Along with emergence and appearing, another significant ontological characteristic of things is their Ständigkeit, their steadfastness. “Φύσις is the emerging power [of a thing], its standing-there-in-itself: steadfastness.”28 The German noun Ständigkeit is usually translated as “permanence,” but Heidegger
25. GA 73, 1: 85.18–20:
“zeigt sich: ϕύσις—das Sichentfaltende [sic] Aufgehen, worin und wodurch erst das Seiende ist, was es ist.” I have omitted the italics in this translation.
26. All of the following texts refer to the “activities” (of emerging, appearing, coming-to-presence) that a thing does, thanks to its being-qua-ϕύσις: GA 40: 16.22–24 = 15.31–32: “das sich eröffnende Entfalten, das in solcher Entfaltung in die Erscheinung-Tretten”; ibid., 65.34–35 = 67.5–6: “das aufgehende Sichaufrichten, das in sich verweilende Sichentfalten”; ibid., 76.12–13 = 78.18–19: “aufgehen, das wiederum vom Anwesen und Erscheinen her bestimmt bleibt”; ibid., 117.8–9 = 120.15–16: das aufgehende Sichzeigen; ibid. 122.4 = 126.8–9: “aufgehendes Erscheinen, aus der Verborgenheit heraustreten”; ibid., 122.31–123.1 = 127.7–8: “aufgehend-erscheinendes Anwesen, Nichtsein als Abwesen”; ibid., 191.8 = 203.2: aufgehendes Scheinen (italicized in the original). GA 45: 68.23–24 = 62.5–6: “aufgehendes sich zeigendes Anwesen” (italicized in the original).
27. When Heidegger speaks of being (Sein/Seiendheit) as the manifestness of a thing, we must remember that he means this phenomenologically. Such manifestation happens only in correlation with human beings understood as “having λόγος.” See GA 5: 74.3–4 = 55.26: “Sein aber ist Zuspruch an den Menschen und nicht ohne diesen.” SZ 152.11–12 = 193.31–32: Heidegger’s inquiry “fragt nach ihm selbst [= das Sein selbst], sofern es in die Verständlichkeit des Daseins hereinsteht.”
28. GA 40: 191.21–22 = 203.14–15: “Φύσις ist das aufgehende Walten, das In-sich-dastehen, ist Ständigkeit.” Also ibid., 189.32–33 = 201.10–11.