Summary and Transition

The question "'What is called thinking?" can be asked in four ways. It asks:

1. What is designated by the word "thinking?"

2. What does the prevailing theory of thought, namely logic, understand by thinking?

3. What are the prerequisites we need to perform thinking rightly?

4. What is it that commands us to think?

We assert: the fourth question must be asked first. Once the nature of thinking is in question, the fourth is the decisive question. But this is not to say that the first three questions stand apart, outside the fourth. Rather, they point to the fourth. The first three questions subordinate themselves to the fourth which itself determines the structure within which the four ways of asking belong together.

We might say also: the fourth question, What is it that calls on us to think?, develops and explicates itself in such a way that it calls forth the other three. But how the four questions belong together within the decisive fourth question, that is something we cannot find out by ingenuity. It must reveal itself to us. And it will do so only if we let ourselves become involved in the questioning of the question. To do that, we must strike out on a way. The way seems to be implicit in the fact that the fourth question is the decisive one. And the way must set out from this question, since the other three, too, come down to it. Still, it is not at all certain whether we are asking the fourth question in the right way if we begin our questioning with it.

The thing that is in substance and by nature first, need not stand at the beginning—in fact, perhaps it cannot. The first and the beginning are not identical. We must therefore first explore the four ways in which the question may be