Heidegger's Reading of Heraclitus

I.  Introduction

            In a career stretching over half a century Martin Heidegger attempts to question the limitations of the Western philosophical tradition and open a space for thinking outside of it.  At the beginning of this tradition he places the pre-Socratics, in particular Anaximander, Parmenides, and Heraclitus.  In the fragments of these thinkers he finds both the foreshadowing of the tradition's development and a source for thought which would avoid the confines of this later development--associated with nihilism and the technological domination of the earth--by experiencing anew its initial unfolding.  In this paper I explore Heidegger's relationship to Heraclitus in several texts by examining Heidegger's interpretation of particular fragments and placing them in the context of his philosophy. 

            In the course of this exploration I show the influence which Heidegger attributes to the early Greek thinkers in determining our experience of Being right up into the modern, technological age.  This modern determination of Being shows itself in the dominance of a logical approach to beings which seeks to make correct predictions about them.  Heidegger traces the emphasis on logic and correctness to the Greek terms λόγος  and  ἀλήθεια, but argues that both terms--the first taken as gathering, the second as unconcealment--originally comprehended the relatedness of beings to one another and to what remains concealed.  In the fragments of Heraclitus Heidegger not only finds support for these interpretations, but also stimulation for thinking outside the prejudices of the West, and my analysis covers these issues as well.   

            I begin with a look at Being and Time  (1927) for two main reasons.  In the first place this work represents Heidegger's first major publication and provides a thorough introduction to the basic issues which will continue to occupy his thought--though in a somewhat different form--in subsequent texts.  Secondly, λόγος as discourse and ἀλήθεια as uncovering play central roles in this early work, and Heidegger documents his interpretation of these terms by reference to Heraclitus. 

            Next, I take up An Introduction to Metaphysics (a lecture delivered in 1935) where Heidegger discusses the role of Heraclitus in the beginning of the Western tradition and the tradition's subsequent development over the crucial transformation of ἀλήθεια from its original significance of unconcealment to its ultimate narrowing into truth as correctness.  The Introduction  also clearly shows the shift of Heidegger's own thought from a focus on Dasein to a focus on language and the philosophical tradition.

            This shift is worked out in the late thirties and early forties and culminates in the characterization of philosophy from Plato to Nietzsche as metaphysics;  Heidegger considers the basic trait of metaphysical thought its inability to think of Being as a non-being.  During this period (1935-1946) Heidegger delivers two lecture courses on Heraclitus both of which he later condenses into single lectures.  I treat these single lectures here to extend the interpretation of Heraclitus and his place in the tradition.  In "Logos" (delivered 1953) Heidegger sustains his meditation on the role of the Λόγος in Heraclitus' thought and in the West which followed him.  In "Aletheia" (delivered 1946), Heidegger sees Heraclitus expressing and stimulating the wonder which thinks out into the clearing or lighting (Lichtung) of Being.


II.  Being and Time :  Toward Being through the Being of Dasein

A.  The Question of Being.

            On the first page of Being and Time  Heidegger places the following passage from Plato's Sophist  (244a):


... δῆλον γὰρ ὡς ὑμεῖς μὲν ταῦτα (τί ποτε βούλεσθε σημαίνειν ὁπόταν ὂν φθέγγησθε) πάλαι γιγνώσκετε, ἡμεῖς δὲ πρὸ τοῦ μὲν ᾠόμεθα, νῦν δ’ ἠπορήκαμεν...


'For manifestly you have long been aware of what you mean when you use the expression "being" ["seiend"].  We, however, who used to think we understood it, have now become perplexed.'[1]


Not only, Heidegger observes, have the twenty-five hundred years since Plato wrote these words failed to bring us a clear understanding of the word "being," but we no longer even find ourselves perplexed by our inability to grasp the meaning of Being.  The task of this early work, therefore, aims foremost at working out the question  of the meaning of Being [die Frage nach dem Sinn von Sein].

        The question is not a new one, but rather "provided a stimulus for the researches of Plato and Aristotle, only to subside from then on as a theme for actual investigation."[2]  That the notion of Being no longer excites the interest of research already hints at the way in which Being is tacitly understood,  and the lack of interest in making this tacit understanding explicit arises from three traditional pre-suppositions:  first, as the "most universal concept" it is assumed the most clear;  second, though the concept of Being may be the most clear its universality renders it indefinable;  the third presupposition declares "'Being' is of all concepts the one that is self-evident" since all human behavior makes some reference to it.[3]  In these assumptions about Being, which have prevented its meaning from becoming thematic for philosophy since the Greeks, Heidegger finds all the more reason for opening the question.  The universality of the concept awakens in him, as it did for Aristotle,[4] a pressing need to arrive explicitly at its meaning;  its alleged indefinability only sharpens this need and also suggests the inadequacy of conceiving the meaning of Being as capturable in a definition "if definitio fit per genus proximum et differentiam specificam;"  finally, even as we do constantly rely on some notion of Being only a moment's attention reveals that the notion remains far from clear and demands explication.[5]

            With the inquiry into the meaning of Being thus motivated, Heidegger proceeds to observe that every inquiry involves three things:  (1) something which is asked about, (2) something which is to be found out by the asking, and (3) something which is interrogated.  Applying this schema to the question of his treatise, Heidegger lays out "the formal structure of the question of Being" in the following way.  (1) Our constant reference to Being constitutes a "vague average understanding of Being;"  the inquiry into the meaning of Being asks about Being on the basis of this pre-thematic or pre-ontological understanding of it.  (2) What is to be found out, the meaning of Being, however, will prove quite exceptional because Being is not some thing beside other things and so its meaning will not simply lie in ascertaining the nature of the relationships it maintains with certain other things.  At this point, then, Heidegger indicates only what is not  to be found out by the inquiry into the meaning of Being:  a definitive statement of this meaning.  (3) The entity which is interrogated here will be the one which itself asks the question, for only to this entity's Being does the inquirer have immediate access.  Heidegger writes: 

The very asking of this question is a being's mode of Being;  and as such it gets its essential character from what is inquired about--namely, Being.  This being which each of us is himself and which includes inquiring as one of the possibilities of its Being, we shall denote by the term 'Dasein'.[6]


The term Dasein in German philosophy previous to Heidegger denotes "existence," but in everyday language it names the existence of particular persons.  Heidegger uses the word in its etymological sense of "Being-there" to indicate the way in which people in general are , that is, open to Being.  The "da ," therefore, does not name any particular place, but rather the open space in which places first come to be.  On the basis of these considerations, then, the investigation of the question of Being proceeds along the lines of an investigation of the way in which Dasein is. 


II. B.  The Analytic of Dasein, "Being-in".

            Referencing the prevailing interpretation of the Being of entities as presence, Heidegger uses the term "present-at-hand"[7] to describe those entities to which Being cannot come into question and delimit them from Dasein.  Since antiquity the ontological analysis of entities present-at-hand has utilized categories;  Heidegger's analysis of Dasein operates instead through existentialia (sing. existentiale), as different from categories as Dasein is from the present-at-hand.  The basic state of Dasein is being-in-the-world which Heidegger conceives as a thoroughly unitary phenomenon since Dasein has no vantage from where it might view the world as one thing and itself as another:  it is in-the-world.  Nevertheless, the analysis of Dasein's Being does permit three different perspectives for examining this whole:  from the perspectives of (1) "worldhood  as such," of (2) "that entity which in every case has Being-in-the-world," and of (3) "Being-in  as such."[8]  Here I focus on the analysis of "Being-in," that is, the Being of the "there" or Dasein's disclosedness, for several reasons.  In the first place, it plays the most fundamental role in Heidegger's general explication of the Being of Dasein.  The analysis of Being-in, further, reveals clearly the centrality of λόγος and ἀλήθεια for the whole of Being and Time, for this most basic characteristic of Dasein is constituted through discourse (λόγος) and occurs as the uncoveredness (ἀλήθεια) of entities.  Finally this focus will bring out the central role of Heraclitus in this early work, for Heidegger explicates the original sense of these two Greek terms through references to Heraclitus' Fragment 1.

            Dasein is "there" on the basis of two inseparable and equally fundamental existentialia , state-of-mind (die Befindlichkeit) and understanding (das Verstehen);  both of these are constituted through a third existentiale, discourse (die Rede).[9] 

            With the existentiale state-of-mind Heidegger draws our attention to what "is ontically [i.e., in terms of beings] the most familiar and everyday sort of thing;  our mood, our Being-attuned."[10]  Ontologically (i.e. with reference to Being) a mood describes the way in which entities become "there" to Being-there, and in particular that entity which it itself inexorably is.  The theoretical stance of the scientist provides an example of a mood in which things present themselves as separable and quantifiable objects of research;  the scientist becomes present to himself in this stance as the subject who analyzes and measures in a detached and regulated way.  A second characteristic of state-of-mind grows from Dasein's inexorable involvement with its own Being and with entities which constitutes its facticity, its "that-it-is."  Heidegger calls this unavoidable involvement with Being and entities "thrownness" (die Geworfenheit);  thrownness characterizes Dasein as open to the world and itself, an openness which first allows it to direct its attention toward any particular thing.  Such attention indicates a third characteristic of state-of-mind, namely that Dasein is in some way affected by the world, that the world holds import for it.  Heidegger sums up:  "Existentially, a state-of-mind implies a disclosive submission to the world, out of which we can encounter something that matters to us."[11]  Dasein, thus, does not first choose to enter the world and then find itself there, but in its thrownness it is always already there, subjected to the world.  Nor does Dasein make this world so that it discovers in everything only itself;  rather it encounters in the world an otherness which matters to it, with which it must contend.

            Understanding, the second fundamental existentiale, is the constant companion of state-of-mind and discloses the world which matters with respect to possibility such that an entity in the world is discovered as "ready-to-hand...in its serviceability , its usability , and its detrimentality."[12]  Heidegger has earlier introduced the notion of "ready-to-hand" to describe the way in which entities in Dasein's everyday world of concern most basically are  as equipment within a system of uses and needs;  understanding encounters entities with a view to their possible  roles as equipment.  This orientation toward possibilities makes out the important characteristic of understanding which Heidegger calls "projection" (der Entwurf).  Projection does not indicate that Dasein acts with regard to a thought out plan (a "project" in colloquial English, "Entwurf " in German) or even that it recognizes possibilities as such, but rather the way in which the "there" unfolds as  possibility.  This "projecting of the understanding has its own possibility--that of developing itself.  This development of the understanding we call 'interpretation'."[13]  A particular type of interpretation, namely, statement, becomes dominant in the West, not only in characterizing the understanding, but in exploring the relation of humans to other entities in general.  Before looking at Heidegger's discussion of statement I bring in some of his comments on language which will provide the broader context in which he characterizes statement as a derivative mode of interpretation.


II. C.  Discourse (λόγος) as an existentiale of Dasein.  Dasein has language.

            Both states-of-mind and understanding occur through discourse which is "the existential-ontological foundation of language."[14]  Entities in the world are meaningful for Dasein on the basis of their location within a "totality-of-significations [Bedeutungsganze].  ...to significations, words accrue.  But word-Things do not get supplied with significations," and the aggregate of words is language.[15]  Here Heidegger conceives language as a secondary phenomenon to the meaning encountered by Dasein in the world.  This meaning is constituted through what he calls discourse which language then expresses in the world.  Heidegger finds such a broad conception of discourse operating in the Greek notion of λόγος : 

Discourse is constitutive for the Being of the "there" (that is, for states-of-mind and understanding),...  Dasein has language.  Among the Greeks, their everyday existing was largely diverted into talking with one another, but at the same time they 'had eyes' to see.  Is it an accident that in both their pre-philosophical and their philosophical ways of interpreting Dasein, they defined the essence of man as ζῷον λόγον ἔχον?  The later way of interpreting this definition of man in the sense of the animal rationale , 'something living which has reason', is not indeed 'false', but it covers up the phenomenal basis for this definition of "Dasein".  Man shows himself as the entity which discourses.[16]


Here Heidegger takes the basic significance of λόγος to be discourse, and he considers this significance vastly diminished by the later interpretation of λόγος as ratio--the criticism of this later interpretation marks out a central theme in his philosophy which grows even more radical in later texts. 

            In Being and Time  he traces this inadequate determination of λόγος to the Greek philosophical consideration of the λόγος as statement.  Considering it a derivative mode of interpretation, Heidegger defines statement as "'a pointing out which gives something a definite character and which communicates'."[17]  The derivative character of this mode of interpretation arises from the fact that it "gives something a definite character,"  for statement thereby transforms what interpretation most basically encounters as a whole tied to the activity of Dasein in the world into a piece of language which breaks this whole up into a subject ("something") and a predicate ("definite character").  Here interpretation no longer deals with something ready-to-hand in a totality of involvements, but with something considered merely present-to-hand to which a certain attribute is attached. 

            Further the statement as a string of words is itself considered one entity present-at-hand beside others;  this ontology of the present-at-hand then guides the Greek philosophical interpretation of the λόγος (discourse) and so conceals its primordial importance as that which constitutes states-of-mind and understanding, that is, the Being of Dasein.  The analysis of λόγος as statement brings information about the world only because the world first comes into being through λόγος which provides Dasein's openness in the world.  Thought about humans then gets contained to considering them as living beings (present-at-hand) distinguished by a capacity for assertion, i.e., ratio, a thinking which would suppress moods and the primordial connection to the world as a totality of involvements.  This analysis of λόγος as statement blocks access to the world creating juncture where discourse encounters its other, concealment;  at this juncture the meaning of Being must become questionable. 

            Already early on in Being and Time, when introducing the phenomenological  method of the work in Section 7, Heidegger looks to the pre-philosophical conception of λόγος as decisive for questioning the meaning of Being.  In that section he writes that discourse, i.e. λόγος, means "the same as δηλοῦν:  to make manifest what one is 'discoursing about' in one's discourse.  Aristotle has explicated this function of discourse more precisely as ἀποφαίνεσθαι."[18]  Phenomenology, then, "may be formulated in Greek as λέγειν τά φαινόμενα, where λέγειν means ἀποφαίνεσθαι.  Thus 'phenomenology' means ἀποφαίνεσθαι τά φαινόμενα--to let that which shows itself be seen from itself in the very way in which it shows itself from itself."[19]  As we have seen, things show themselves to Dasein through states-of-mind and understanding;  each of these existentialia  are constituted by λόγος as discourse.  In this way the fundamental affinity of the method and findings of Being and Time, first becomes entirely apparent:  the work aims at opening the question of Being;  it proceeds toward this aim on the basis of a discourse (λόγος) intended to make manifest the Being of Dasein;  the Being of Dasein, in turn, shows itself to be constituted through discourse.  Thus λόγος as discourse names both the method and the result of the analysis of Dasein.


II. D.  Λόγος, ἀλήθεια, and Heraclitus:  toward the juncture of revealing and concealing.

            Tied to this notion of λόγος and equally fundamental to this early work is Heidegger's interpretation of ἀλήθεια:  to make manifest (λέγειν) amounts to uncovering (ἀληθεύειν) and both occur only through the most basic characteristic of Dasein's Being, its disclosedness.  In the discussion of the λόγος of phenomenology Heidegger points toward the close relationship of λόγος and ἀλήθεια by noting:

 Furthermore, because the λόγος is a letting-something-be-seen, it can therefore be true or false.  ..The 'Being-true' of the λόγος as ἀληθεύειν means that in λέγειν as ἀποφαίνεσθαι the entities of which one is talking must be taken out of their hiddenness;  one must let them be seen as something unconcealed (ἀληθές);  that is, they must be uncovered.[20] 

Only at the end of the "Preparatory Fundamental Analysis of Dasein" which constitutes the first half of the published portion[21] of Being and Time, does Heidegger make explicit the centrality of ἀλήθεια to his understanding of Dasein.  In that final section (44) of Division One he treats the issue of truth and states that even more primordially true than entities uncovered is what first allows for uncovering:  the disclosedness of Dasein.  Thus he gives ἀλήθεια a second "active" sense which indicates Dasein's basic openness to the world.  This disclosedness (ἀλήθεια), of course, occurs on the basis of λόγος, and so these two Greek notions come together to provide the conceptual range in which the whole analysis of Dasein operates.

            Heidegger gives a "phenomenal demonstration" of his interpretation of these two notions by reference to Heraclitus:

And is it accidental that in one of the fragments of Heracleitus--the oldest fragments of philosophical doctrine in which the λόγος  is explicitly handled--the phenomenon of truth in the sense of uncoveredness (unhiddenness), as we have set it forth, shows through?  Those who are lacking in understanding are contrasted with the λόγος, and also with him who speaks that λόγος, and understands it.  The λόγος  is φράζων ὄπος ἔχει:  it tells how entities comport themselves.  But to those who are lacking in understanding [den Unverständigen], what they do remains concealed-- λανθάνει.  They forget it (ἐπιλανθάνονται);  that is, for them it sinks back into concealment.  Thus to the λόγος belongs unconcealment [Unverborgenheit] -- ἀ-λήθεια.[22] 


Heidegger's references here are to the expressions of Diels-Kranz Fragment 1:

(τοῦ δὲ) λόγου τοῦδ' ἐόντος ἀεὶ ἀξύνετοι γίνονται ἄνθρωποι καὶ πρόσθεν ἢ ἀκοῦσαι καὶ ἀκούσαντες τὸ πρῶτον· γινομένων γὰρ (πάντων) κατὰ τὸν λόγον τόνδε ἀπείροισιν ἐοίκασι, πειρώμενοι καὶ ἐπέων καὶ ἔργων τοιούτων, ὁκοίων ἐγὼ διηγεῦμαι κατὰ φύσιν διαιρέων ἕκαστον καὶ φράζων ὅκως ἔχει. τοὺς δὲ ἄλλους ἀνθρώπους λανθάνει ὁκόσα ἐγερθέντες ποιοῦσιν, ὅκωσπερ ὁκόσα εὕδοντες ἐπιλανθάνονται.[23]


Following Heidegger's reading and staying close to the Greek we might translate:

Of this ever-being making-manifest men are lacking in understanding[24] both before they hear and when having first heard.  For though everything is according to this making-manifest they are like men without experience, those having made experiment of such words and deeds as I fully describe by determining each thing according to nature and telling how it is (comports itself).  For the other men, however, as many things as they do while being awake remain hidden, in the very way which when sleeping they forget as many things.


By providing "the oldest fragments of philosophical doctrine in which the λόγος is explicitly handled," Heraclitus furnishes the necessary link to the pre-philosophical notion of λόγος on which Heidegger's criticism of its later interpretations rests, for its leading role in those fragments could occur only on the basis of its being conceived much more broadly than merely as ratio.  At the same time, what Heraclitus says about the λόγος indicates its close connection to unconcealment, for the actions of those who lack an understanding of the λόγος remain concealed to them.  Through a reading of the converse of this claim we find that those whose actions are not hidden from them dwell in α-λήθεια (alpha privative) because they understand the λόγος.  Hereby, then, Heidegger reveals his indebtedness to Heraclitus for the basic conceptions on which the analytic of Dasein, and so the whole of Being and Time, proceed.  While these two Greek terms will remain central to all of Heidegger's philosophy, his interpretations of them will change as the focus of his thought moves away from Dasein toward the event of Being as it shows itself in language.  This movement is facilitated by the discussion of truth undertaken in this passage, for that treatment conceives ἀλήθεια as the central feature of Dasein's Being which suggests its importance in making out the character of Being in general as the juncture between "α" and "λήθη" of ἀλήθεια determined early on in the West and with great consequence to occur as λέγειν.  The issues which arise in Section 44 of Being and Time come to dominate Heidegger's later thought.


III.  An Introduction to Metaphysics :  The convergence of language and Being

A.  Overview:  φύσις - ἀλήθεια - λόγος.

            Eight years after the publication of Being and Time  Heidegger delivers the lecture course An Introduction to Metaphysics,[25] and this development of his thought is fully underway.  He no longer places the inquiry into the Being of Dasein at the center of his work, but looks to language as the site of a meaning of Being out of which the Being of Dasein would first come to be determined.  This change in focus places a new entity in the role of what is interrogated by the question of the meaning of Being:  language itself and, in particular, its determining manifestation in the founding texts of the Western tradition.  In Being and Time  language emerges in the course of the explication of the Being of Dasein as Dasein's possession.  It is conceived of as the totality of words that expresses discourse (λόγος), the most basic "how" of Dasein's Being.[26]  In the Introduction  language shows itself as basically equivalent to λόγος conceived of as a gathering into manifestation out of concealment--Being itself.  Heidegger boldly states his position early on in the lecture course:  "it is in words and language that things first come into being and are."[27]  Here the question of Being is no longer approached through the Being of Dasein, but rather discovered and unfolded in language which makes out the site of the encounter between a gathering which makes manifest (λόγος) and a mysterious λήθη.  Again in the Introduction  Heraclitus plays a fundamental role.  In the early thinker's fragments Heidegger finds the determination of the original Greek experience of Being (φύσις) as λόγος and the groundwork for the transformation of this term into the defining characteristic of humans. 

            Heidegger does not argue for his claim that the Greeks initially considered beings as a whole and Being itself as φύσις;  he seems to base the claim on his own intuition gathered from close occupation with the texts of that culture--on the need for such a conception in order to make sense of these texts.  He interprets φύσις from the related verb  "φύω."  For the active forms of this verb Liddell, Scott, and Jones suggest, among other possible translations, "to bring forth, to beget";  for the middle/passive forms, "to grow, spring forth."  Heidegger characterizes φύσις along the following lines:  it

denotes self-blossoming emergence ..., opening up, unfolding, that which manifests itself in such unfolding and perseveres and endures in it;  in short, the realm of things that emerge and linger on.  ...Hence φύσις originally encompassed heaven as well as earth, the stone as well as the plant, the animal as well as man, and it encompassed human history as a work of men and the gods;  and ultimately and first of all, it meant the gods themselves as subordinated to destiny.[28]

Heidegger takes φύσις so conceived as practically identical with ἀλήθεια as unconcealment, for the upsurge of φύσις occurs out of concealment:  "The power that manifests itself stands in unconcealment.  In showing itself, the unconcealed as such comes to stand.  Truth as un-concealment is not an appendage to Being.  Truth is inherent in the essence of Being."[29]  In both the notion of ἀλήθεια and that of φύσις Heidegger emphasizes the importance of what remains concealed as a moment of all unconcealment, the rootedness of all emerging in an inaccessible mystery.

            The interpretation of Heraclitus proceeds on the assumption that his fragments attempt to put this basic cultural experience of Being into words.  Heidegger finds Heraclitus naming Being with a variety of words, but he gives the most attention to Heraclitus' use of λόγος in order to show its original essential oneness with φύσις-ἀλήθεια.  By expressing this original whole (φύσις - ἀλήθεια - λόγος) in language, Heraclitus sets the stage for a later separation that ultimately takes the form of a domination by the λόγος as reason over φύσις as merely present-at-hand nature (i.e. φύσις devoid of its rising from λήθη and consequent incalculability).  This separation is driven by the transformation of the notion of ἀλήθεια from unconcealment, which acknowledges the power of what remains concealed, to truth as correctness which would render concealment impotent--whatever remains concealed on this view of ἀλήθεια does so only because of a failing of human knowledge.


III.  B.  Heraclitus interpretation.  Language as Being which has humans.

            Heidegger begins looking for the original sense of λόγος by tracing it to the verb λέγειν.  He considers the fundamental sense of this word also marked off by the German word "lesen," most common in  the sense of "to read," but originally and for Heidegger more basically "to collect, to gather."[30]  He takes the common sense of lesen  as derivative from its original significance as a sort of gathering which brings together while allowing for the elements which come together to first of all be what they are through the relations constituted by the gathering.  More concretely, a printed page presents a multitude of words which might individually suggest a variety of significations;  the act of reading brings these words together to form the context in which they first take on specific  meanings.  Heidegger asserts that Greek mathematicians used λέγειν in this sense and also cites a passage from Homer where "[if] one were to gather" offers the best translation of the form "λέξαιτο."[31]  By the time of this lecture course, then, Heidegger has refined his understanding of the Greek λόγος to indicate exactly how  discourse makes manifest, namely, by providing a gathering or context where things show themselves in relation with and in contrast to other things both collectively and individually.  Λόγος as gathering is no longer an attribute or existentiale of  Dasein, but the creative bringing together and setting apart of beings performed by language (die Sprache).[32]  Here language is conceived more broadly than the mere totality of words which humans possess:  it makes out the juncture between revealing and concealing--Being--which holds humans under its  power.  The deeper significance (perhaps remaining unrecognized even by the pre-Socratic himself) of Heraclitus' use of λόγος--already current in the sense of "word" and "talk"--as the leading term of his thought lies in the acknowledgement of the practical equivalence of language and the event of Being, and the affinity of both of these with the notion of gathering.[33]

            Taking this general understanding of λόγος as "gathering" with him Heidegger turns to the fragments of Heraclitus.  Again he works closely with Fragment 1, but this time he brings it into relation with Fragment 2:

διὸ δεῖ ἕπεσθαι τῷ (ξυνῷ, τουτέστι τῷ) κοινῷ· ξυνὸς γὰρ ὁ κοινός. τοῦ λόγου δὲ ἐόντος ξυνοῦ ζώουσιν οἱ πολλοὶ ὡς ἰδίαν ἔχοντες φρόνησιν.[34]

Heidegger translates:

Therefore it is necessary to follow it, i.e. to adhere to togetherness in beings;  but though the λόγος is this togetherness in beings, the many live as though each had his own understanding (opinion).

This translation departs from more usual renderings by taking ξυνόν to signify "togetherness" in beings rather than what is "common" to or "universal" among beings.[35]  In so doing Heidegger at first seems to ignore the obvious contrast set up between ξυνόν and ἰδίος, but in fact he retains it by interpreting ἰδία φρόνησις as "opinionatedness" which holds to only one side or the other of that which comes together and so cannot reach the togetherness itself, the λόγος.  Such a reading seems further supported by the counterfactual nature of the participle preceded by "ὡς" in the phrase "ὡς ἰδίαν ἔχοντες φρόνησιν" which asserts that despite men's assumption of an individual understanding they actually stand already within the ξυνόν.  In countering the translation of ξυνόν in Heraclitus as "universal," Heidegger submits Fragment 103:

ξυνὸν γὰρ ἀρχὴ καὶ πέρας ἐπὶ κύκλου περιφερείας.

which he renders:

Gathered together, the beginning and end of the circle are the same.[36]

"Universal" clearly does seem a doubtful translation for ξυνόν here, and if "common" is used the sense of the fragment forces us to understand "common" in the sense of "together" rather than opposing something private as would occur if "common" were used in Fragment 2.

            Fragment 1 provides further support for the translation of ξυνόν (participial form of σύνειμι, "to be together") as "togetherness" and the interpretation of λόγος as "gathering," for it characterizes the generality of humans as ἀξύνετοι in the face of the λόγος.  Heidegger translates ἀξύνετοι with the usual "uncomprehending," but in the interpretation points out its lineage as the negation of "συνίημι," most basically signifying "to bring together" and only derivatively "to perceive, to understand."[37]  He writes,

συνίημι;  that is to say, men are those who do not bring together...what do they not bring together?  the λόγος, that which is permanently together, collectedness.  Men are those who do not bring it together, who do not comprehend it, who do not compass it in one, and this regardless of whether or not they have heard it.[38] 

The next line of Fragment 1, Heidegger's analysis continues, indicates explicitly that it is not a matter of bringing a discourse together, for men may make a try at the same words which Heraclitus uses, but nonetheless fail consistently to hearken to the primordial gathering those words seek to indicate.  Heraclitus himself points out how the hearing of mere words is insufficient to grasp the togetherness of Being;  Heidegger cites Fragment 34:

ἀξύνετοι ἀκούσαντες κω­φοῖσιν ἐοίκασι· φάτις αὐτοῖσιν μαρτυρεῖ παρ’ εόντας ἀπεῖναι.

He translates the first clause:

Those who do not bring together the permanent togetherness hear but resemble the deaf.[39]

While going about hearing words and holding discourses men fail to pay heed to the underlying gathering of beings which permits this behavior.  Heidegger paraphrases the rest of the fragment:  "As the proverb says, they are:  Present yet absent," and then moves on to another in order to fill out its sense.

But in regard to what are most men present and at the same time absent?  Fragment 72 gives the answer:  'For what they associate with most closely, the λόγος, to it they turn their back;  and what they encounter every day seems strange to them.'

            Men are forever with the λόγος, yet forever removed from it, absent though present;  thus they are the ἀξύνετοι, those who do not comprehend.[40]

Although men find themselves persistently in the realm of beings they fail to grasp Being itself, and so miss the basic togetherness of all beings and fall into their own understanding (ἰδία φρόνησις).

            In these and other fragments, Heidegger argues, Heraclitus uses the word λόγος to describe nothing other than Being, but since as a Greek Being for Heraclitus is φύσις  Heidegger contends that

in Fragment 1 κατὰ τὸν λόγον means the same as κατὰ φύσιν.  Φύσις and λόγος are the same.  Λόγος characterizes Being in a new and yet old respect:  that which is, which stands straight and distinct in itself, is at the same time gathered togetherness in itself and by itself, and maintains itself in such togetherness.

The recognition of this inner tie of φύσις and λόγος along with that binding φύσις and ἀλήθεια, in turn, helps suggest the way in which λέγειν comes to signify "to make manifest" and, finally, "to say."  Heidegger finds the former sense of λέγειν at work in Fragment 93:  "the ruler whose prophet occurs at Delphi οὔτε λέγει οὔτε κρύπτει, neither gathers nor hides, ἀλλὰ σημαίνει, but gives hints.'  Here gathering stands in opposition to hiding.  To gather is here to disclose, to make manifest."[41]  This making manifest is the unconcealing of φύσις which for humans occurs in discourse and language;  λέγειν comes to mean "to say" because language provides the collected space in which beings arise and become manifest.  Heidegger's conception of language here is thoroughly poetical in the Greek sense of ποιεῖν:  initially words reach into an undifferentiated concealment to bring forth beings in a gathering which allows their delimitation both from what remains concealed and other beings. 

            This disclosive encounter with the undifferentiated is not a behavior of humans, but an event which seizes them as its site.  Heidegger understands Heraclitus' Fragment 19, ἀκοῦσαι οὐκ ἐπιστάμενοι οὐδ' εἰπεῖν,[42] to recognize that the sounds humans make become words only on the basis of the prevailing gathering of the λόγος.  In the first instance, then, to be human means to provide the site for the gathering of beings in language, but because of the mysterious nature of this gathering this determination of human Being remains for early thought not so much an answer as a question.  When, however, the poetical and mysterious character of language becomes neglected as people rest content with simply repeating words and phrases from the already existing stock in conventional ways, words and beings come to appear as simply present, the former signifying the latter.  This opens the way to interpretation of λόγος as ratio , the interpretation which ends the creative period of Greek philosophy and begins "the slow end in which we have long been standing."[43]  He describes this movement in the following way:

The end discloses itself in the formula ἄνθρωπος = ζῷον λόγον ἔχον:  man, the animal equipped with reason.  For the beginning we improvise a formula which at the same time sums up our reflections to this point:  φύσις = λόγος ἄνθρωπον ἔχον:  Being, overpowering appearing, necessitates the gathering which pervades and grounds being-human.[44]

These formulae also reveal a shift in Heidegger's own thought since Being and Time  where he could still write "Dasein has language,"[45]  while here he would prefer 'language has Dasein.'  The exploration of λόγος as constitutive of Dasein's being-in-the-world has given way to an investigation of how this term came first to describe Being and only later human Being and the consequences of these determinations.  Heraclitus stands at the exact center of these two considerations:  he experiences Being in a way much broader than the tradition which follows him, but in using the word λόγος to describe this experience he sets up the ground on which this tradition develops--the mystery which drove his thought gets suppressed by the later interpretation of the λόγος. 


III. C.  The transformation of ἀλήθεια and the rise of technology.

            In the final pages of the Introduction  Heidegger gives a sketch of the way in which this later interpretation of the λόγος unfolds.  The most significant and determining event of this development occurs when the internal connection of φύσις and λόγος  disintegrates.  By explicitly placing the two together Heraclitus (along with Parmenides[46]) prepared the ground for this separation which the transformation of the notion of ἀλήθεια from unconcealment to truth as correctness both expresses and facilitates.  Heidegger discusses this development with reference to the equivocality of the appearance offered by φύσις:

            Appearance, δόξα, is not something beside Being and unconcealment; it belongs to unconcealment.  But δόξα is itself ambiguous.  It means the view which something presents of itself and at the same time the view that men have.  Dasein defines itself in these views.  They are stated and passed on.  Thus δόξα is a kind of logos.  The prevailing views now block men's view of beings.  ...The rule of opinions perverts and distorts beings.
      The Greek word for "to distort something" is ψεύδεσθαι.[47]

Once appearance presents itself as that which may be distorted and such appearance is delimited from Being, the struggle for truth becomes a struggle against distortion--the ψεῦδος.  ἀλήθεια as unconcealment names the upsurge of φύσις in its gathered togetherness recognized by the characterization of Being as λόγος.  When, however, ἀλήθεια, is considered on the basis of an opposition to the ψεῦδος the fullness of the event of unconcealment gets lost and φύσις and λόγος show themselves only from within the limited framework of a new conception of truth as correctness. 

            Heidegger considers this transformation of ἀλήθεια documented by the Platonic text.[48]  There mere appearance is strictly delimited from Being, but the appearance inherent in Being as emerging, appearing φύσις persists and precipitates the interpretation of Being as the aspect offered to intellectual sight, that is, ἰδέα.  This notion names beings with respect to their individual standing presence as what lie before perception;  it obliterates their emerging arising and essential togetherness.  With Being so characterized the truth of beings comes to depend on the correctness of perception, sighting a being with respect to its what and how as determined by the ἰδέα.  Λόγος, originally occurring in and for ἀλήθεια as the gathering which brings with it the manifestation of φύσις, now comes to mean statement.  Yet, the Greeks, according to Heidegger, do not consider statements from their position in the totality of language, but as isolable present beings which merely indicate other beings.[49]  Thus, statement, as that which can be passed along through hearsay, moves the event of ἀλήθεια out of the interconnectedness of beings and makes it instead a characteristic of particular statements.  On the basis of these changes ἀλήθεια finally indicates merely the agreement of the λόγος as statement with φύσις as ἰδέα. 

            With this transformation and the accompanying interpretation of λόγος the rules of language become logic which begins its domination of Being;  logic ultimately comes to decide what may or may not be.  The movement of the locus of truth into statement occasions the determination of what the truth is about from the structure of statement, and thus beings are determined as ὑποκείμενα (Being as ὑποκείμενον), an interpretation also prepared for through the original understanding of Being as φύσις since "only the power that emerges of itself can, as presence, come to define itself as appearance and ready-made subject."[50]  With talk of Being limited to the analysis of statements the dominance of ontology by the search for categories and their order begins:

In statement the underlying being may be represented in different ways:  as having such and such properties, such and such magnitude, such and such relations.  Properties, magnitude, relations are determinations of Being.  Because, as modes of being-said, they are derived from logos--and because to state is κατηγορεῖν--the determinations of the Being of beings are called κατηγορίαι, categories.[51]

So powerful is this domination of the structure of language considered as something present-at-hand over Being "that whenever one statement stands against another, when a contradiction, ἀντίφασις, occurs, the contradictory cannot be."[52]  The principle of contradiction is a principle derived from an analytic approach to statements considered present-at-hand--its application to beings marks a serious misuse since they are not the sort of things which can be contradictory.  Heidegger explains, "accordingly, the suspension of the principle of contradiction in Hegel's dialectic is not an end to the domination of the logos but only its extreme intensification."[53]  Heidegger does not strive to show that the contradictory can be, but rather that approaching beings (and Being) with the principle of contradiction vastly limits their possibilities by placing them in a framework derived from only a single facet (their presence) of their original overwhelming emergence from concealment. 

            Covering the rest of the history of philosophy with broad strokes,  Heidegger notes that Christianity adds to the rational Being of beings as ὑποκείμενον the moment of willed creation, so that when faith begins to fail the rational preconception once attributed to God's will finds a new locus:

man's reason makes itself predominant and even sets itself up as absolute, the Being of beings inevitably becomes thinkable in terms of pure mathematical thought.  This calculable and calculated Being makes beings into what can be mastered by modern, mathematically structured technology, which is something essentially  different from every other hitherto known use of tools.[54]  

Such a use of tools takes its impetus not from the interconnections prevailing through φύσις, but rather from the laws of mathematics applied to beings conceived as simply present-at-hand.  It recognizes as being only that which conforms to mathematical necessity and strives to create a world in which all beings transparently exhibit this order.  This mathematical will makes out the meaning of Being in the technological age.[55]


IV.  "Logos" and "Aletheia":  Meditating on Heraclitus

A.  Overview.  Λόγος  as the Laying that gathers.

            In the years following the Introduction (1935-1946) Heidegger refines his criticism of the West carefully working through the tradition and delivering the lectures he will bind in four volumes under the title Nietzsche .[56]  He characterizes metaphysics as a forgetfulness of Being, a thinking which can only approach this issue through beings and so always seeks a being when it thinks Being.  Metaphysics, according to Heidegger, begins with Plato, reaches its culmination in Hegel, and makes a last furious grasp at self-preservation with Nietzsche.  During this period Heidegger delivers two lecture courses on Heraclitus.  The first, The Beginning of Western Thinking.  Heraclitus,[57] takes place during the Summer Semester of 1943.  Later he condenses many of the considerations of that lecture course into the essay "Aletheia."[58]  In this essay he pursues closely the original, non-metaphysical thinking of Being by Heraclitus in an attempt to bring metaphysical thinking to the unthought opening which makes it possible. 

            Before taking up this essay, however, I turn to the lecture "Logos"[59] which grew out of the material delivered in the second lecture course on Heraclitus in the Summer Semester of 1944, Logic, Heraclitus' Doctrine of the Logos .[60]  Much of the course Logic  has to do with the later dominance in Western thought of logic, the roots of this dominance as they appear in Heraclitus' fragments, and the influence of this subsequent importance of logic and metaphysics on Heraclitus interpretation.  In the lecture "Logos" Heidegger has these considerations in mind, but also points out the fullness of Heraclitus' thought--the way it escapes characterization as metaphysics.

            The lecture focuses on Heraclitus' Fragment 50 which runs:

οὐκ ἐμοῦ, ἀλλὰ τοῦ λόγου ἀκούσαντας ὁμολογεῖν σο­φόν ἐστινν Πάντα.[61]

In a recent English translation:

Not after listening to me, but after listening to the account, one does wisely in agreeing that all things are one.[62]

Heidegger seeks from this fragment some understanding of λόγος and λέγειν both broad enough to fit the leading role which they play in the extant fragments of Heraclitus' thought--given also his position prior to so many philosophical distinctions, but also specific enough to explain the ensuing dominance of λόγος in the narrow sense of logic.  Again he leads the noun λόγος back to the verb λέγειν, but here he considers its primary significance available in the German legen (to lay), though he interprets this word from the sense of lesen  used in the Introduction :  λέγειν

means what our similarly sounding legen  means:  to lay down and lay before.  In legen  a "bringing together" prevails, the Latin legere  understood as lesen, in the sense of collecting and bringing together.  Λέγειν properly means the laying-down and laying before which gathers itself and others.[63]

This definition already entails the more specific sense of λέγειν, "to say," for "to gathering belongs a collecting which brings under shelter"[64] and allows things to lie together before us in unconcealment, and saying does the same thing.[65]  Thus, Λόγος shows itself provisionally as "the Laying that gathers."[66]

            The Laying that gathers offers itself in the fragment as something which can be heard, but this would not be a hearing of sounds with the ears--Heraclitus tells us not to listen to him--his words, the sounds he makes--but to the λόγος.  Heidegger points out that we never really hear simply words or sounds anyway, but rather information and meaning or "the thunder of the heavens, the rustling of woods, the gurgling of fountains, the ringing of plucked strings, the rumbling of motors, the noises of the city."[67]  Hearing is more a hearkening, a coming into that which is said and staying with it.  Perhaps the contrast can be felt if we recall having run short on concentration during a lecture or film and trying to stay with its development by repeating the uttered words silently to ourselves.  It does not work.  The meaning and movement of the lecture or film do not lie in the sound of the words, but in their belonging together which we must first enter in order truly to hear.  Such a belonging to the matter "is nothing else than in each case letting whatever a letting-lie-before lays down before us lie gathered in its entirety.  ...Such λέγειν lays one and the same, the ὀμόν."[68]  Having heard the Laying that gathers one belongs to it and thus lets the Same lie (ὁμολογεῖν). 

            The proper hearing which lets the Same lie is σοφόν, "correctly" translated as "wise," but what, Heidegger asks, does this mean? Certainly it does not have to do with the mere amassing of sensible data, for the hearing of the fragment is not the work of the ears but something which first allows the sounds the ears hear to take on meaning.  Σοφόν refers in the fragment to a certain kind of behavior, a going about in the world which hearkens to the Laying that gathers and so lets the Same lie.  Wise comportment can hold to the given and come to stand within it:  it is harmonious behavior, appropriate, skilled (geschickt).  When people behave this way while performing particular tasks like teaching or playing sports "we still employ such turns of speech as 'he has a gift for that and is destined for it.'  In this fashion we hit upon the genuine meaning of σοφόν, which we translate as 'fateful' ['geschicklich']."  The event of ὁμολογεῖν unfolds as fateful because with it humans come to their home, where they dwell and grow and can think of departure only as one without return.  The unfolding of this fateful event leads to the fateful saying   Ἔν Πάντα, one:  all, all:  one.  This belonging together of  ν and Πάντα is not a report which the Λόγος  delivers, but the basic way in which the Λόγος  transpires.  Πάντα signifies τὰ ὄντα (Fragment 7), the things which are, Ἔν is the single concealed unity of all things, and the Λόγος occurs as this revealing of Πάντα:  concealment of Ἔν .  Viewed from the side of the gathering as a whole, the Λόγος proceeds as a revealing of Ἔν and concealing of Πάντα.  Whether experienced from the former "analytic" or the latter "synthetic" perspective, Λόγος  remains the Same as ἀλήθεια, the unconcealment which retains concealment as its origin.  Heraclitus' announcement of the togetherness of   Ἔν and Πάντα and of revealing and concealing, does not, of course, grow from putting essentially different things together afterwards, but rather from a recognition of the closeness of everything to its other.[69]

            This experience is indeed a fateful one, but it is not the fateful itself;  Heraclitus indicates the fateful itself

unequivocally at the beginning of fragment B32:   Ἔν τὸ σοφόν μοῦνον, 'the unique One unifying all is alone the fateful.'  But if the Ἔν  is the same as the Λόγος, the result is:  Λόγος τὸ σοφόν μοῦνον.  The only properly  fateful matter is the Λόγος.[70]

Fragment 32 continues:  "... λέγ­εσθαι οὐκ ἐθέλει καὶ ἐθέλει Ζηνὸς ὄνομα," "...does not want and yet does want to be called by the name Zeus."[71]  Heidegger holds that "the word that carries the saying, ἐθέλω, does not mean 'to want,' but rather 'to be ready of itself for...,'" and takes the placement of the denial of readiness before its positive statement as crucial.  Most basically the Λόγος, Ἔν, cannot appear as any being, not even the highest being:  Zeus.  At the same time Ἔν  names nothing other than Ἔν Πάντα;  taken as all things Ἔν is ready of itself to take the name of the highest being.  In ὁμολογεῖν, then, "mortal λέγειν lies secured in the Λόγος ...  Thus it remains appropriated to the Λόγος.  In this way mortal λέγειν is fateful.  But it is never Fate itself, i.e.   Ἔν Πάντα as Λόγος."[72]  This subordination of mortals to Fate itself is precisely what Western thought overlooks when it thinks Being as a being subject to the laws of logic. 


IV. B.  Heraclitus' wondering in the clearing.

            Where the rules of logic show their inadequacy for an approach to Being and the latter appears as an overwhelming mystery wonder begins.  Wonder is stunned by the existence of beings at all, and cannot explain them by reference to yet other beings or a self-grounding highest being.  Wonder does not operate with easy guidelines which state that the contradictory cannot be--it stands far prior to such derived rules of thought.  It wonders at the clearing (Lichtung) in which beings come into being and are;  wonder unfolds as the clearing, the opening, and stays near this nearest.  In "Aletheia" Heidegger seeks to hear this wonder and inspire it in others through the Heraclitus fragment numbered 16, commenting that "because of its inner significance and ultimate implications, perhaps we ought to consider it the first."[73]  The fragment runs:

τὸ μὴ δῦνόν ποτε πῶς ἄν τις λάθοι

The English translation of Heidegger's essay offers this version of the Diels-Kranz German rendering of the Greek:

How can one hide himself before that which never sets?[74]

The occasion of this questioning wonder stands in connection to λάθοι, here rendered as "hide himself."  This word carries the fragment for Heidegger, for it points toward the realm of ἀλήθεια in which humans irrevocably stand.  To facilitate our "rediscovering just how this word speaks in Greek," Heidegger makes reference to Homer's Odyssey, VIII, 83ff., in which Odysseus remains concealed, ἐλάνθανε, with respect to the others while shedding tears.  Λανθάνω, then, does not so much mean "to hide oneself," as "to remain concealed":  λάθοι announces the original concealment or hiddenness which ἀλήθεια somehow overcomes. 

            In the fragment λάθοι is said questioningly of τὸ μὴ δῦνον, that which never sets.  Δῦνον is a participle of δύω which means to envelope, submerge and often describes the sun's setting into the sea;  thus δῦνον names going into concealment:  "the two main--because substantial--words with which the fragment begins and ends, δῦνον and λάθοι, say the Same."[75]  What this Same says Heidegger only hints at here.  The two "main words" both call up the notion of concealing so this Same seems at first to be the realm of concealing.  Yet the μή preceding δῦνον creates a distance from setting and the question mark following λάθοι places remaining concealed in doubt.  Thus "the fragment does not operate in the realm of concealment, but in the utterly opposite sphere."[76]  As will become clear, Heidegger does not have in mind here an opposite sphere which dispenses entirely with concealing, but the realm of revealing which must accept concealing as its inescapable counterpart.   The discussion continues by taking the word following δῦνον into consideration, for the fragment speaks of τὸ μὴ δῦνόν ποτε (the not setting ever), which might be read as τὸ μήποτε δῦνον, the never setting.  Positively phrased, Heidegger suggests, the ever-rising[77] comes to thought, in Greek:  τὸ ἀεὶ φύον.  Through this rephrasing Heidegger introduces φύσις into the discussion, but stresses that it must be considered as the ever-rising only in the sense of the never-setting:  the attempt must be made to avoid representing this as a present being, but to retrieve from their togetherness the space or manner in which things first gain the possibility of coming to presence.  This demand forces an immediate retreat for already in "the never setting [das niemals Untergehende]," that is, a nominal understanding of the participle, δῦνον threatens to take on the character of a thing.  Heidegger takes the bracketing of δῦνον by μή (rather than ούκ) and ποτέ to indicate that the participle must be considered verbally and suggests "the not setting ever". 

            The German reads here "das doch ja nicht Untergehen je," somewhat literally, "the still to be sure not to go under ever."  The phrase itself deserves some analysis because it offers some insight into Heidegger's approach to and intuition about the clearing (Lichtung).  Even as he tries to attain a verbal rendering of the Greek, the first word of the phrase, the neuter article "das" seems to send us back into a nominal formula, but ultimately Heidegger does not trust such distinctions and so here throws up a challenge against them.  The second word is a particle perhaps peculiar to German.  Used as a transition between sentences or a conjunction within one "doch" can carry the adversative sense of "however" or "nevertheless," but also has an emphasizing capacity when used with commands, affirmations, and negations.   In questions it anticipates a positive answer, while it abruptly denies negative questions when used as a response.  Its meaning, then, is thoroughly context dependent and spans the distance from the emphatic, through the affirmative and adversative, to the negative.  The next two words of Heidegger's phrase "ja nicht" make this distance out for everyday language:  "ja " means "yes," and "nicht," "not".  "Ja" also functions as a particle in the sense of "naturally" or "to be sure" and implies a touch of surprise that the issue at all comes into question.  The next word, "Untergehen," must according to Heidegger be understood verbally despite its capitalization and the article which precedes it;  the verb "untergehen" signifies, etymologically, "to go under," and may be translated by "to sink" or, of the sun, "to set;"  in its metaphorical usage it means "to perish"--i.e., descend into Λήθη.  The final word of the phrase is also the most unequivocal:  "je ," "ever" or "at any time";  still in particular contexts it means "respectively" and in others, sets up comparisons. 

The translation of τὸ μὴ δῦνόν ποτε as "das doch ja nicht Untergehen je," then, works to pull us through the interpenetration of the undifferentiated and differentiating, the dispensing jointure (Fügung --Heidegger's translation of Heraclitus' ἁρμονίη[78]) of λήθη and ἀλήθεια.  It begins with the extremely general das, proceeds to the highly undetermined doch, then, through the affirming question ja, to a sudden irrevocable negation of going under into Λήθη, and ends with the openness of time in which this all occurs.  Along the way certain possible understandings of these words get pushed into oblivion so that the others can stand forth in the gathering provided by the phrase as a whole.

            This is the interplay which Heidegger wishes to awaken in the phrase τὸ μὴ δῦνόν ποτε.  On the one hand, it evokes setting, going into concealment, concealing;  at the same time, however it holds these away (μή) and so suggests rising, upsurgence, revealing:  "The phrase τὸ μὴ δῦνόν ποτε, the not setting ever, means both revealing and concealing--not as two different occurrences merely jammed together, but as one and the Same."[79]  Does, Heidegger asks, such an insight prohibit the introduction of τὴν φύσιν to replace τὸ μὴ δῦνόν ποτε?  Only where φύσις denotes merely rising, but precisely for Heraclitus it does not suggest any such one-sidedness;  Fragment 123 runs:

φύσις κρύπτεσθαι φιλεῖ

Heidegger suggest the translation:

Rising (out of self-concealing) bestows favor upon self-concealing.[80]

The event of φύσις  is as much the event of rising into unconcealment as that of suppressing into concealment;  for all that comes forth into shining much remains left behind in oblivion.  What is phrased here as two separate occurrences really occurs only as a simple whole, and Heraclitus' fragment clearly points this out.  Heidegger suggests that the φιλεῖ of this fragment may refer to the ἁρμονίη ἀφανής in Fragment 54:

ἁρμονίη ἀφανὴς φανερῆς κρείττων

which we render following Heidegger's hint:

An unapparent jointure is more powerful than an apparent one.

Most unapparent of all reigns the interpenetrating jointure of revealing and concealing.

            The suggestion that τὸ μὴ δῦνόν ποτε says τὸ ἀεὶ φύον--if this latter is considered verbally and from the vantage of self-concealing--also provides occasion for a consideration of the role of πῦρ ἀείζωον, the fire: ever-living,[81] in Fragment 30, for Heidegger recognizes in this phrase one of Heraclitus' characterizations of the wonder inspiring clearing.  Ζῷον comes from the verb ζάω, to live.  In order to come to an understanding of the Greek experience of living Heidegger picks out the root ζα- from ζάω and attempts to characterize the word from this perspective:  "Linguistics explains that ζα- signifies an intensification.  Ζάθεος accordingly means 'most divine,' 'very holy';  ζαμενής, 'very forceful';  ζάπυρος, 'most fiery.'"[82]  Heidegger continues by seeking just what lies in "intensification," and determines it to indicate the fullness and purity of the coming to presence of that which the intensification touches: 

Ζα- signifies the pure letting-rise within appearing, gazing upon, breaking in upon, and advancing, and all their ways.  The verb ζῆν means rising into the light.  Homer says, ζῆν καὶ ὁρᾶν φάος ἠελίοιο, "to live, and this means to see the light of the sun."[83]

Ἀείζωον, then, says the Same as τὸ ἀεὶ φύον and τὸ μὴ δῦνόν ποτε.  The whole of Fragment 30 runs:

κόσμον, τὸν αὐτὸν ἁπάντων, οὔτε τις θεῶν, οὔτε ἀνθρώπων ἐποίησεν, ἀλλ' ἦν ἀεὶ καὶ ἔστιν καὶ ἔσται, πῦρ ἀείζωον, ἁπτόμενον μέτρα καὶ ἀποσβεννύμενον μέτρα.

World, the same for all, no god or man made, but it always was, is, and will be, an everliving fire, being kindled in measures and being put out in measures.[84]

Thus the world is thought as the ever-living, which in turn can be thought as fire which is not merely the glow of a flame, but the "worlding" of the world in

the sacrificial fire, the oven's fire, the campfire, but also the glow of a torch, the scintillation of the stars.  In "fire," lighting, glowing, blazing, soft shining hold sway, and that which opens an expanse in brightness.  In 'fire," however, consuming, welding, cauterizing extinguishing also reign.  When Heraclitus speaks of fire, he is primarily thinking of the lighting governance, the direction which gives measure and takes it away.[85]

This passage brings the essay back to the point from which it began: a thinking into the lighting.  Here revealing-concealing and the clearing or lighting emerge as the Same:  that gathering which ever holds sway.  Further, they show themselves as capable of eliciting the wonder of early Greek thought. 

            From here Heidegger proceeds to point out that the fragment places men and gods, τίς, anyone--not anything, in a special relation to this lighting.  They remain ever in relation to that which makes possible the ever rising, for this lighting bears them along with it as the very way in which they are:

Gods and men are not only lighted by a light--even if a supersensible one [ein übersinnliches]--so that they can never hide themselves from it in darkness;  they are luminous in their essence.  The are alight [er-lichtet ];  they are appropriated into the event of lighting [in das Ereignis der Lichtung vereignet], and therefore never concealed.[86] 

This peculiar relatedness to the clearing distinguishes gods and mortals from other beings, and, belonging to it, they lose themselves when it falls into forgetfulness.  In the word Λόγος Heraclitus expresses in language this special relatedness of mortals to the clearing, and he, too, saw how humans forgot this relatedness and even indebtedness;  Fragment 72 runs:

ᾧ μάλιστα διηνεκῶς ὁμιλοῦσι λόγῳ, τούτῳ διὰ­φέρονται, καὶ οἷς καθ΄ ἡμέραν ἐγκυροῦσι, ταῦτα αὐτοῖς ξένα φαίνεται.[87]

Heidegger translates the fragment with the following words: 

From that to which for the most part they are bound and by which they are thoroughly sustained, the Λόγος, from that they separate themselves;  and it becomes manifest:  whatever they daily encounter remains foreign (in its presencing) to them.[88]

Thus, we might note, nothing so elaborate as a history of metaphysics is required to bring about a forgetting of Being in most humans, but that this seems the timeless way of mortal existence.  What, however, comes to pass in the West, through the development of the λόγος into logic, is the erection of a structure of thought which systematically  prevents thinking from dwelling in the clearing since it prohibits thought from engaging with non-beings.


V.  Conclusion

            I have emphasized the shift in Heidegger's thought from a focus on Dasein to a focus on language as the site of Being.  While such a shift certainly does occur it should not obscure Heidegger's persistent interest in the togetherness of Being and the human being--a concern he also consistently finds motivating Heraclitus.  Both the first and last fragments cited in this paper[89] bring out this concern from the perspective of man's going about with beings:  he cannot come into accord with them if he does not recognize their sustaining togetherness and his place within it.  Heidegger claims that the West attempts to deal with this foreignness of beings by acquiring ever greater logical and technical knowledge of them.  In this way beings become predictable and manageable for humans so that a certain harmony seems accomplished as beings are made to stand at the service of the human will.  Heidegger sees in this modern technological experience of beings the possibility that humans themselves will become mere predictable entities beside others manageable by a technological system which creates its own necessities.  Through these manufactured necessities Being would assert its power over humans, and humans, having lost their sense of togetherness with Being, would become helpless subjects of technology.

            Heidegger sketched out this view of the future in 1953.[90]  Forty years later the technological will has spread across the globe and ingrained itself into daily life in much the way that Heidegger envisioned.  What technology, however, does not seem to have accomplished is a total domination of Being and man:  this single whole remains too overwhelming to ever succumb to the sort of containment Heidegger envisioned.  Φύσις has revolted against the technological demands made on in it in an array of environmental problems which are forcing a recognition that nature conceals greater power than the designs of technology reveal.  At the same time physics has demonstrated the deep togetherness of all things in a way which violates some of the basic assumptions of an analytic approach to nature.[91]  On the other side of the whole which humans and Being form forces seem to be arising to combat the homogenization of the human being which the technological approach requires.  Across Europe, for instance, there is an increased interest in nearly forgotten dialects and languages;  in the United States we witness the emphasis on multi-culturalism and diversity.

            These phenomena suggest that modern Being is not so easily describable as technological;  while most entities may show themselves in accord with such a gathering, a broader gathering prevails in which phenomena which do not evince a technological Being may emerge.  Heidegger forgets that while the Greeks have a decisive influence on shaping the clearing for the West they do not do so without themselves being influenced from the East, both by the Semites and the Egyptians.  The way in which beings showed themselves among these peoples still exercises an effect--and not only translated through the Greeks--on the gathering which prevails in the West.  Certainly our tribal heritage from Old Europe broadens this clearing even further.  Thus while the words of the Greeks dominate (not, of course, numerically) our Western languages and so Being, we do retain a foothold for questioning the technological meaning of Being as it comes down to us from the Greeks.

                [1]Trs. John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson, (New York:  Harper & Row, 1962).  Sein und Zeit, sixteenth edition, (Tübingen:  Max Niemeyer Verlag, 1986), p.  1.  The page numbers of the later German editions are given in the margins of Macquarrie and Robinson's translation. 

            For the most part I use the translations in the English works cited, but occasionally I have altered them according to more prevalent practices so as to bring out the continuity of word choice apparent in the German texts.  See glossary, p.  46, below.

            [2]Ibid., p.  2.

            [3]Ibid., pp.  3-4.

            [4]"Aristotle himself knew the unity of this transcendental 'universal' as a unity of analogy in contrast to the multiplicity of the highest generic concepts applicable to things," ibid., p.  3.

            [5]Ibid., p.  4.

            [6]Ibid., p.  7.

            [7]"Vorhanden," to be strictly distinguished from "zuhanden," "ready-to-hand."  The former term suggests that a thing is  as an isolated presence, meaningless in itself, which humans can approach or from which they can turn away.  The second term describes things as being necessarily tied to each other (and Dasein) in a totality of interdependent meanings (useful, harmful, etc.).  Neither term describes the Being of Dasein.  On "ready-to-hand" see p.  9, below;  on the distinction between "present-at-hand" and "ready-to-hand," see p.  11.

            [8]Being and Time , p.  53.

            [9]Generally Heidegger seeks to consider all three of these existentialia  of equi-primordiality (for example on p.  203 and p.  263) so that we should add here that discourse is constituted by state-of-mind and understanding even as it constitutes them.  Keeping this explicit equal status in mind, my exposition places discourse in a somewhat more central role than either state-of-mind or understanding alone.  These two are presented by Heidegger as basically parallel structures which discourse holds together by providing their means of unfolding.  This subtle priority of discourse over the other two main existentialia  suggests that even in this early work Heidegger is preoccupied (though non-thematically) by what the Greeks called λόγος.

            [10]Ibid., p.  134.

            [11]Ibid., pp.  137-138, original in italics.

            [12]Ibid., p.  144.

            [13]Ibid., p.  148.

            [14]Ibid., pp.  160-161.

            [15]Ibid., p.  161.

            [16]Ibid., p.  165.

            [17]Ibid., p.  156.

            [18]Ibid., p.  32.  Heidegger refers his readers to:  De Interpretatione  1-6, Metaphysica Z  4, and Ethica Nicomachea Z .

            [19]Ibid., p.  34.

            [20]Ibid., p. 33.

            In their translation of "Aletheia" in Martin Heidegger, Early Greek Thinking , trs. David Farrell Krell and Frank A. Capuzzi, (San Francisco:  Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc., 1975;  1984), Krell and Capuzzi provide the following philological information from T. Gaisford's Etymologium Magnum  (Oxford, 1848), pp.  62, 51:  " λήθω = λανθάνω:  ἀληθές τὸ μὴ λὴθῃ ὑποπίπτον.  Λήθω is a collateral form of λανθάνω, I escape notice, am hidden, unseen or forgotten by others.  Gaisford describes ἀληθές as that which does not sink into λήθη, the source of oblivion," p.  103.  Gaisford's etymology is cited and incorporated in the New (9th) edition of LSJ:  Liddell-Scott-Jones, A Greek-English Lexicon , (Oxford:  Clarendon Press, 1940;1953), 64a11-12.

            [21]Published are Divisions One and Two of Part One.  The original project envisaged a third division to Part One and a Part Two, also with three divisions.  Some of the material contemplated for these portions has appeared under other titles.  Cf.  Being and Time , pp.  39-40. 

            [22]Being and Time , p.   219.

            [23]Diels-Kranz, Die Fragmente der Vorsokratiker , (Berlin:  Weidmannsche Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1951), p.  150.  My and Heidegger's text and numbering of the fragments follows Diels-Kranz except where otherwise noted.

            [24]Following Heidegger's rendering of ἀξύνετοι as "den Unverständigen."   The Greek word exhibits an alpha privative prefixed to the adjective συνετός which derives from the verb σθνίημι, "to send, bring, or set together," and, metaphorically, "to perceive, hear:  to take notice of, observe, understand, know."  The imagery of bringing together will later play an important role for Heidegger, see  p.  20, below.

            [25]Tr.  Ralph Manheim (Garden City, N.Y.:  Doubleday & Co., Anchor Books, 1961).  Einführung in die Metaphysik, (Tübingen:  Max Niemeyer Verlag, 1953). 

            [26]Being and Time , p.  161, and p.  10, above.

            [27]Introduction , p.  13.  ("Im Wort, in der Sprache werden und sind erst die Dinge," Einführung , p.  11.)

            [28]Ibid., p.  14.

            [29]Ibid., p.  102.

            [30]"Λέγω, λέγειν, Latin legere , is the same as the German word 'lesen' <to gather , collect, read>:  'Ähren lesen, Holz lesen, die Weinlese, die Auslese' <to glean, to gather wood, the vintage, the cream of the crop>; 'ein Buch lesen' <to read a book> is only a variant of 'lesen' in the strict sense, which is:  to put one thing with another, to bring together, in short, to gather;  but at the same time the one is marked off against the other," Introduction , p.  124.

            [31]Ibid., p.  124.  Odyssey  XXIV 106.  Heidegger also sees this sense of λόγος at work in Aristotle's Physics , Q  I, 252a 13:  he translates "τάξις δὲ πᾶσα λόγος" as "'all order has a character of bringing together,'" Introduction , p.  125.

            [32]Whether anything else performs such gathering remains here an open question--both with respect to Heidegger's work as a whole and in general.  In the Introduction  , however, Heidegger clearly limits Being to language (cf. p.  15, above) and so equates it with λόγος as gathering--although he does not attribute a recognition of this equivalence to Heraclitus.

            [33]This last sentence takes us somewhat beyond what Heidegger works out in the Introduction , although in essence such an analysis may be seen to underlie the discussion found there.  Heidegger makes this analysis explicit in "Logos,"  Early Greek Thinking , pp.  76-78.

            [34]Heidegger does not cite his source for the fragment, but he clearly is operating with the text I have adapted from T. M. Robinson, Heraclitus, (Toronto:  University of Toronto Press, 1987), p.  10, which adds ξυνῷ to the traditional text and brackets as "doubtfully ascribable" to Heraclitus what Heidegger's translation and my citation omit entirely:  τουτέστι τῷ κοινῷ.  ξυνὸς γὰρ ὁκοινός.

            [35]Cf. Robinson, p.  11;  Diels-Kranz, p.  151.

            [36]Introduction , p.  131.

            [37]Cf. note 1, p.  15, above.

            [38]Ibid., p.  129.

            [39]Ibid., p.  130.

            [40]Ibid.  For the Greek, see p.  42, below.

            [41]Introduction , p.  170.

            [42]Heidegger provides an object (λόγος) for οὐκ ἐπιστάμενοι and renders:  "those who do not grasp the λόγος,... 'are not able to hear or to speak,'" ibid., p.  132.

            [43]Ibid., p.  178.

            [44]Ibid., p.  175.

            [45]Being and Time , p.  165.

            [46]Heidegger finds this especially in Parmenides' Fragment 3 and the first line of Fragment 6, see Introduction , pp.  168-9.

            [47]Introduction , p.  192. 

            [48]Cf. Martin Heidegger, "Plato's Doctrine of Truth," tr. John Barlow, Philosophy in the Twentieth Century , Vol. III, eds. William Barret and Henry D. Aiken (New York:  Harper & Row, 1971), pp. 251-270.  Platons Lehre von der Wahrheit.  Mit einem Brief über den "Humanismus,"  (Bern:  A. Francke, 1947), pp.  5-52. 

            [49]Cf.  Being and Time , pp.  165-6;  Introduction , pp.  64-65, 185-8;  "Logos," p.  77.

            [50]Introduction , p.  186.

            [51]Ibid., p.  187.


            [53]Ibid.  In a passage added during the reworking of the lecture text for its publication in 1953 Heidegger continues:  "That Hegel should have given the name of 'logic' to what is actually metaphysics, i.e. 'physics,' recalls both logos as abode of the categories and logos in the sense of the original φύσις,"  pp.  187-8.

            [54]Ibid., pp.  193-4.

            [55]Cf. "The Question Concerning Technology," tr., William Lovitt;  "Modern Science, Metaphysics, and Mathematics," trs., W. B. Barton, Jr., and Vera Deutsch, both in Basic Writings , ed. David Farrell Krell, (San Francisco:  HarperCollins Publishers, 1977).  Also, "The Principle of Identity," tr., Joan Stambaugh, Identity and Difference , (New York:  Harper & Row, Publishers, 1969).  "Die Frage nach der Technik," Vorträge und Aufsätze , Teil I, (Pfullingen:  Verlag Günther Neske, 1954), pp.  5-36;  the second essay is a selection from:  Die Frage nach dem Ding  (Tübingen:  Max Niemeyer Verlag, 1962), pp.  50-83;  Stambaugh's translation is followed by the German text.

            [56]Tr. David Farrell Krell, (San Francisco:  Harper & Row, 1979).  (Pfullingen:  Verlag Günther Neske, 1961).

            [57]Untranslated.  Gesamtausgabe, Band 55, Heraklit , (Frankfurt am Main:  Vittorio Klostermann GmbH, 1979), pp.  3-181.

            [58]English translation cited in note 1, p.  13, above.  Vorträge und Aufsätze, Teil III, pp.  53-78.

            [59]English translation cited in note 2, p.  20, above.  Vorträge und Aufsätze, Teil III, pp.  3-25.

            [60]Untranslated.  Heraklit , pp.  185-387.

            [61]"Logos," p.  59.  Diels-Kranz, p.  161, has "...|ἓν πάντα εἶναι" having rejected the traditional "εἰδέναι" for "εἶναι".  Heidegger drops the verb entirely, "By what right?  Because the Ἔν Πάντα suffices.  But it not only suffices:  it remains far more proper for the matter thought here, and likewise for the style of Heraclitean speech," "Logos," p.  69.  The capitalization of Ἔν Πάντα  is Heidegger's addition;  I follow his capitalizations here and throughout.

            [62]Robinson, p.  37.

            [63]"Logos," p.  60.

            [64]Ibid., p.  61.  The German reads, "zum Sammeln gehört das einholende Einbringen," Vorträge , p.  5.  Krell and Capuzzi move Einbringen  (to bring in, [in the cited passage, "brings under shelter"]) into connection with das Bergen (save, salvage, contain, conceal), which they render "the sheltering" and to which Heidegger's discussion immediately turns.  In English "sheltering" can both preserve something so it can become manifest or conceal it so it becomes lost.  The German bergen  carries both these connotations as well, and also exhibits the same root as Unverborgenheit , unconcealment.  Within this dynamic the rendering of Einbringen  as "brings under shelter," seems justified.

            [65]Cf. pp.  23-24, above.

            [66]"Logos," p.  66. 

            [67]Ibid., pp.  65-6.

            [68]Ibid., p.  66.  I see here a sort of coming to terms with the world into which we are thrown(cf.  p.  8, above), for "ὁμολογεῖν remains a λέγειν which always and only lays or lets lie whatever is already, as ὁμόν, gathered together and lying before us," p.  67.

            [69]Cf., ibid., p.  71 where Heidegger alludes to Fragments 67 and 88.

            [70]Ibid., p.  72.

            [71]The English translation of Diels-Kranz's German provided by Krell and Capuzzi.


            [73]"Aletheia," p.  104.


            [75]Ibid., p.  110.

            [76]Ibid., p.  110-1.

            [77]"das ständig Aufgehende ," the verb aufgehen , literally "to go up," has several senses, some clearly relevant here:  to self-open, rise, come up (of plants);  it is also used in the phrase "to go up in flames."

            [78]"Aletheia," p.  115.

            [79]Ibid., p.  113.

            [80]Ibid.  Robinson translates:  "<A thing's? (the world's)> real constitution has a tendency to conceal itself," p.  71.  Charles Kahn, The Art and Thought of Heraclitus , (Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 1979) gives the more familiar rendering:  "Nature loves to hide," p.  33.

            [81]Following Heidegger's suggestion that ἀείζωον does not so much modify πῦρ as name anew the same, cf. "Aletheia," p.  117.

            [82]Ibid., p.  116.


            [84]Robinson, p.  25.  Phillip Wheelwright, Heraclitus  (New York:  Atheneum, 1964) comes closer to capturing the middle voice probably operative in the last clause by rendering ἁπτόμενον μέτρα καὶ ἀποσβεννύμενον μέτρα "kindling itself by regular measures and going out by regular measures," p.  37.

            [85]"Aletheia," p.  117.

            [86]Ibid.,  p.  120.

            [87]Diels-Kranz has, following λόγῳ:  τῷ τὰ ὅλα διοικοῦντι.  Robinson finds this phrase--including λόγῳ--"doubtfully ascribable" to Heraclitus, p.  44.

            [88]Ibid.,  p. 121-122.

            [89]Fragments 1 (pp.  14-15, above) and 72 (previous page).

            [90]In "The Question Concerning Technology,"  see note 2, p.  29.

            [91]See, for instance, Bernard d'Espagnat, "The Quantum Theory and Reality", Scientific American, 11/Nov. 1979, pp. 158-181.


© Brian Bard 1993, 2012