deflects that meaning by emphasizing the rootedness of the word in the verb stehen, to stand. When a thing emerges into the state of disclosedness, it takes a stand, with the double meaning of “standing there” and “staying there.” The being of such a thing is both its stability and its staying power.
For the Greeks, “being” bespeaks steadfastness in the double sense of:
1. the standing-in-itself as the arising-and-standing-forth [of a thing] (ϕύσις),
2. yet doing so “con-stantly,” that is, enduringly, as a staying-there-awhile (οὐσία).29
To take stability first: Being is a thing’s intrinsic power (das Walten), which enables that thing to “stand on its own,” to take “an upright stand”30 and, in appearing, to show up as steadily present. For the Greeks such steadfastness entails that a thing has “run up against the necessity of its limit, its πέρας”31 in the sense of “being placed into its form” (μορϕή).32 This means “self”-limitation: a thing’s “holding itself together” in such a way that it can stand of and by itself and so be real.
This πέρας [the so-called “limit” of a thing] is not something that first comes to a thing from outside. Much less is it some deficiency, in the sense of a detrimental restriction. Instead, the self-restraining “hold” that comes from a limit, the having-of-itself in which the steadfast thing holds itself, is the being of that thing. It is what first makes a thing be a thing as opposed to not-a-thing. Therefore, for something to take such a stand means for it to attain its limit, to de-limit itself.33
Πέρας in Greek philosophy is not “limit” in the sense of the outer boundary, the point where something ends. The limit is always that which limits, defines, gives footing and stability, that by which and in which something begins and is.34
29. GA 40: 68.7–10
= 70.1–4. Here Heidegger is using Ent-stehendes in the double sense of the “arising” and the “coming-forth” of a ϕύσει ὄν.
30. GA 40: 68.24 = 70.17: ein aufrechtes Stand. Ibid., 116.11 = 119.13–14: “Being” in the sense of “[das] Gerade-in-sich-aufrecht-dastehen [des Seienden].”
31. GA 40: 64.18–20 = 65.15–17: “Was dergestalt zum Stand kommt, in sich ständig wird, schlägt sich dabei von sich her frei in die Notwendigkeit seiner Grenze, πέρας.”
32. Cf. GA 40: 67.7–8 = 68.18–19: “das in Grenzen Geschlagen [d.h. in seine Gestalt Gestellte].”
33. GA 40: 64.20–27 = 65.17–24. See Zollikoner Seminare 40.1–4 = 32.19–22; GA 7: 156.22–24 = 154.18–20; GA 36/37: 93.28–30 = 75.4–6.
34. GA 9, 269.21–24 = 206.9–12. See Plotinus Enneads V 1: 7.25–26: steadfastness (στάσις) is equated with limitation (ὁρισμός) and form (μορϕή), and these are related to ex-sistence (ὑπόστασις). (All references to the Enneads are to the standard Plotini opera, ed. Henry and Schwyzer.) For the relation of limit and limitation to human ex-sistence: GA 15: 359.34–35 = 56.25–26: “Aber die wesentliche Beschränkung, die Endlichkeit, ist vielleicht Bedingung der echten Existenz.”