prevailing basic characteristic of traditional thinking. Our own way derives from such thinking. It therefore remains necessarily bound to a dialogue with traditional thinking. And since our way is concerned with thinking for the specific purpose of learning it, the dialogue must discuss the nature of traditional thinking. But while such thinking has already become aware that it is a kind of forming ideas, there is absolutely no assurance that traditional thinking has ever given sufficient thought to the essence of idea-forming, or even could do so. In any dialogue with the nature of prevailing thinking, then, the essence of idea-forming is probably the first thing that must be put into the language of thinking. If we respond to that language, not only do we come to know thinking in its historic nature and destiny—we come to learn thinking itself.
The representative of traditional thinking who is closest to us in time, and hence most stimulating to this discussion, is Nietzsche. For his thought, in traditional language, tells what is. But the oft-named matters of fact, the conditions, the tendencies of the age always remain only the foreground of what is. Yet Nietzsche's language, too, speaks only in the foreground, so long as we understand it exclusively in terms of the language of traditional thinking, instead of listening for what remains unspoken in it. Accordingly, we gave ear from the start to a word of Nietzsche which lets us hear something unspoken: "The wasteland grows; woe to him who hides wastelands within!"
But it has become necessary to improve our ability to listen. shall do so with a suggestion that will turn us more pointedly in the direction in which Nietzsche's thought is striving. Nietzsche sees clearly that in the history of Western man something is coming to an end: what until now and long since has remained uncompleted. Nietzsche sees the necessity to carry it to a completion. But completion does not mean here that a part is added which was