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A Translation of Gelassenheit

by ,


With an Introduction by



Harper & Row, Publishers, New York Grand Rapids, Philadelphia, St. Louis, San Franci sc o

London , Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo, Toronto


Copyright © 1966 in the English translation by Harper & Row, Publishers, New York.

Printed in the United States of Americ l I.

English translation by John M. Anderson and E. Hans Freund.

All rights reserved. No part of thi s book may be used or rep r o- duced in any manner whatsoever without written permiss i on except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews. For information address Harper & Row, Publishers, In c ., 10East 53rd St. • New York , N.Y. 1002 2 .

First HARP E R COLOPHO N edition published 1969by Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc., New York, N.Y. 10022.

ISBN : 0 - 06-\3\ 4 59 - 5

OriginaUy published. by Verlag Gunther Neske , PfuUingen, under the . tide Gelassenheit ., copyright © 1959 by Verlag Gunther Nuke.

09 08 07 06

RRD(H) 40 39 38















Martin Heidegger ' s Discours e on Thinkin g / which is

tra n slated here , was published

statemen t of t he po i nt of view of h i s later thought. Since Hei d egger ' s l ater thought has evoked so much interest a m o n g philosophers and, in the la s t fe w years , theologians, it se e ms important to hav e significant examples of it avail- able in English. Discours e on Thinking i s a particularly good example for thi s purpos e no t onl y b ec au s e it i s so re- cent , but because of its format and s t y le. Discourse on Think i ng has t w o part s: a Me morial Ad - dress in h o nor of the German compo s er , Conradin Kreutzer, which Heidegger deliver e d to a gen e ral aud ie n ce, and a dialogue - or conversation - in whi c h the th e me stated in the address is developed in a more s p ec ializ e d and profound way. The dialogue w a s w ritt e n f ro m mor e ext e nd e d notes on a con v er s ation d ati ng from 1944 - 45 b e t wee n a teacher,

in 1959. It comprises a

a sc ient i st , and a s c holar . The work provid es an introdu c tion to the lat e r thought of Martin Heid e gger , an in t rodu c tion v ia h is conc e ption of

m e ditative thinking, whi c h i s ea s ily in te l l ig i bl e as it is e x - p ressed in the Memoria l Addr es s. The M e mor i al Address

1 . Marti n H e idegger , Gelass e nh e i t (Pful l ing e n: GUn t her N eske Ve r l a g,

1 959) .




formulates Heidegger's concern for meditative thinking, without elaborating the details of its fundamental nature. Nonetheless the Memorial Address makes clear Heidegger's understanding of the relation of meditative thinking to contemporary human life, and it states his claim that such thinking has a most important part to play in our life today. In addition, the style of the Address is clear, there is no technical terminology, and the Address has a poetic tone which conveys the high seriousness of the subject. Further, the explanatory Conversation provides a transi- tional introduction into the complexities of Heidegger's philosophy. It does so by virtue of being a conversation :

the characters of the protagonists can be seen in relation to the ideas they are discussing, the goal of the enterprise is reflected in the attitudes of the speakers, and the free and poetic tone of the speech emphasizes the human significance of the undertaking. This is not to say that the Conversation is easily understood, for it is not. But the reader will be able to see why Heidegger's undertaking is important, and will be able to appreciate why the fulfillment of this un- dertaking is so extraordinarily difficult. Those well versed in the intricacies of Heidegger's thought may find the Conversation a refreshingly con- crete presentation of one of the fundamental points in his philosophy. The interplay of thought and argument, the free use of word and metaphor, the poetic summaries, all offer a new perspective on an abstract argument, which

should be of help in rounding out an awareness

vision Heidegger has of the place of man in Being. And for the philosopher or theologian as yet unacquainted with Martin Ffeidegger's thought, the Memorial Address and

of the



Conversation might well provide a tempting taste of a phi- losophy which already has a place in history. We wish to acknowledge our indebtedness to Professor Glenn Gray for many valuable suggestions which have materially improved the translation. We thank him for these and for much other help in this enterprise. We are indebted to the Central Fund for Research of The Pennsyl- vania State University for grants which made pos s ible the completion of this work.



There are many wh o res i st a c e rtain kin d of philosophy.

They find i t hard to enjoy, abstract, and apparently of no great prac t ica l val u e. I t seems to th e m v a g u e and obscure no n sense . There have always be e n su c h peop l e in the vari-

ou s epochs of h u man

tho s e who find th e r e velations of speculat i v e thinking to be of utmo s t importance. In early Hindu thought , for e xample, the contra s t be t ween t he b eas t fab l e a n d the Up a n i shad s re- f l ect s this d i fferen c e i n outlook . The be a st fables of the Panchatantra de s cribe and po i nt up a science of survival, a hard c a lcu l a t ive view o f life and its poss i bilities, and an un s entim e ntal evaluation of i t s con t ent:

histor y, just as there have a l wa y s been

Make f riends , ma k e f r iends, however str o ng Or w ea k th e y b e :

Recall the c a ptiv e el e ph a nts That m ice se t fr e e .

How sharply such admonitions contras t with the mystica l mes sa g es of the Upanishad s ! How clear t hey are in formu- latin g the problems and method s of human survival, by casting them in the terms of animals and their ways - and h ow opa q ue and obscure are the U p a n is h ads in their unremitting ef f or ts t o reveal the ul t imate nature of thin g s:





The kno wi n g S e l f i s no t born , i t dies not; it sprang fro m n o thin g, n othing s p rang from i t.

The s am e s p lit o cc u r s in earl y Greek though t . Aesop's fables pr ese nt to us t h e lessons in calculation wh i ch are

the po i nt s of th e Pan c h a t a ntra , but the myths and tales of H es iod 's Th eog on y ha ve a nother both mor e ob sc ure and mor e fu nda m e ntal point t o mak e . It is t h is age -ol d di ffere n ce in o ut lo o k which form s the b asis for Marti n H ei d egger's Mem o r i a l Addr ess in honor o f the G e rm an co mposer C o n ra d i n Kr e utz e r . H eid e gger find s t h e o ut loo k of th e b e a s t fabl es re pr ese nt e d in modern so cie ty b y t h e ca l c u l at iv e thinkin g of contemporar y science and its a ppli e d di s cipl i n es . H e re is the cl e ar r e ali s m of anim al li fe, t he sh a rp and r e ali st i c v i e w , th e un s en t imental o utlo o k qui ck to take a d v an t a g e of c i r cum s ta nces t o attain an en d. W i t h thi s Heidegge r con t ra s t s an o the r kind of

t hi n ki n g w h ich h e ca l ls medi t ative,

i s imp l icit in ma n's n at u re. It i s e vi d ent t h a t h e fin d s medi- ta t i ve think i ng a d i ffi c ul t and c ry p t ic ente r pri s e, e v en if it

is a l s o on e of w h ic h ever y man i s capable. Inde e d , one of the e x ho rtati on s of h i s A dd r ess i s t o inspire us with the courag e and per s isten c e that - ar e n e c es sary to think in this w a y. A nd h e would a l s o m ak e e v id en t to u s that to think in th is way re qu i re s t w o attribu tes not at all c ommon , two sta nd s whic h m an c a n t ake, a n d which h e ca l ls r e Z e as e m e nt toward t hin gs and op e nn ess t o th e m yste r y . H ei d eg g e r r e lie ves s ome w h a t t h e cr y pt i c character of the se a t tri but es b y sho w ing t heir rel ev an ce to hu man life-- by sho w in g tha t m a n's i n te gr i t y, hi s autochthon y, d e pends upon such thinking . By this insistence he also dr i ves home the importanc e of such thinking to man ' s very being, claim-

a n d w h ic h , he sa y s,

ing , indeed , that even th e ultimate meaning of the calcula- ti v e th i nki n g of mod er n sc ie nce and i t s humanly significant application s a r e discern e d in and through meditati v e think- ing. But fundamentally H e idegger is urging his hearers and readers toward a kind of tran s mutation of themselves, to w ard a c ommitm e n t w hich will enabl e them to pa s s out of their bondage to w hat is clear and evident but s hallow, on to what is ultimate , ho w e v er obs c ure and dif fi cult that

maybe. What ev er the dif fi cul ty of Heid e gger ' s enterpri s e and of its goal , th e diff i cult y of c a rrying a r ea der toward it is not increased in the Memorial Address or t he explanatory Con- versation by technical te r minology or philosophical jargon .

It is true th a t H eidegg e r is notoriou s for the use of corn e d

words and phra s e s, a nd in many of his wr it i ng s th is in it s elf make s a g r a s p of hi s go a l difficult. It is true also t h at H ei de g g e r of te n illu str a t e s hi s po i n t s by r e fer e nc e to e arl i er w orks i n t h e h ist or y of ph i losophy and to ea r l ier thinke r s in comple x and o r i g i na l ways, someth i ng w hich mak es many of his es s a ys and books uncommonly in v ol v ed , even b y ph i losophical s tand ar d s . Y e t in th e M e morial Addr e ss

and in the di a logu e tha t d e v e lops it s th e m e, He i d eg ger has

cho s en a d i f fe r e nt a ppr o a c h. Th e re are a lmost no tec hnical or coin e d t e rms; ind ee d , th e re ar e essen t ia lly on ly thr e e, tran s lated h ere a s r e l e a se m e nt , in-dw e ZZin g, a nd that-

w ord s are s o int e g r a l l y c on-

nect e d wit h th e goal of th e A dd ress an d the di a lo g u e, one

may say th a t t h ei r meani n g i s made c l e ar b y th e cont ex t a s

a whol e ( or that the c onte xt f ail s t o mak e th e i r m e aning clear). In any case , th e peculiarity of the words i s not a bar to understanding and pa r ticipating in Heidegger's enter-

which-r e gion s . Sinc e t h es e



prise, for the words only s um . up and stand for the whol e of what is being said , wh i ch is to be gra s ped ' on the basis o f t he entire presentation. Th a t i s, w e should come to s ee the meaning of the s e s pecial words as we are l ed towa r d the goal Heidegger sets for u s. How doe s Heid egg er lead us toward the tran s muta t ion of man he desires , if not by making exte n sive u s e of te c h- nical terminology as in hi s earlier work s ? H e d oe s it , in part, b y u s ing a language that i s simple and ha s th e flavor of the earth. He strives fo r simile and m e taphor in v ol v ing th e soil and growth, a nd by t his means he ach ie ve s a po e ti c tone. No t t hat his se ntence stru c ture or paragraph or g ani - zat io n is poe ti c, for it i s n ot; b u t phrases a n d words oc- c u rring in th e l arg e r context oft e n evoke overtone s of feeling a s soci a ted with t he l and, with fie l ds , and with what i s the ground of things. 1 There is , then, n o veil of words standing between the aud i en c e and Heidegger's con c eption of m a n's authentic nature; rath e r , word s are u s ed with t he d irectness of r efer e n c e whi c h only poetic handling can ach i eve. Yet t he Addre ss and dialogue are not e s pe ci ally easy to follow, although t he form e r i s much s impl e r th a n the latter. Actually, He i deg ge r writes in th e mann e r and with the poetic tone of the my s tics , a s for example M e i s t e r Eckhart to whom he r efe r s . Thu s h is e nt e rpri s e mi g h t be con c e i v e d a s similar in diff i culty to the ta s k of the my st ics who, b y an extraordinary and poetic u se of words, want to take u s with them beyond th e ordinary and the fami l iar, to what is ultimate .

1 . For Hei d egger ' s view s on l anguage and its fu n c t ion c f . W a s ist M e ta- phyrsik? pp . 50 if . ( Frankfur t a . M . : Klo s t e rmann , 1929, 8 th ed . 1 96 0 ), and Unte r w e g s zur Spra c he ( Pf ulli ngen : Giint h er Neske, 1 9 5 9 ) .




T h is r a is e s th e q u e s t i o n o f whether H e i de gger' s meth o d s , t yp i ca l o f h is l at e r w r itings, pr o v i de a better method f o r d e al ing w i th th e u l t i mate than is to be found in his ear l ier writings , p a rti c u l a r ly in B e ing and T ime. It is o f t en c laimed th a t Heidegge r i n B eing and T ime f ailed t o ac - c o mplish what he i ntended. But what did he intend? The amount of tech n i cal terminology that must b e ma s tered if we are to judge w h ether the enterprise proj e cted in Being and Time succeeds o r not is very great . Fortunately , such mastery i s not esse n t i al to an u nderstan d ing of the outlin e s o f the enterprise i t s e l f . Indeed, He i degger sta t es the n at u re o f the enterpr i se succi nc tly in the firs t pages of this work:

D o we i n o ur time hav e an a ns we r t o t he qu es tion of w h a t w e really mean b y the word "being"? Not at a ll. So it - is fitting that w e should raise a n ew t h e question of t h e m e aning of Being. B u t ar e we now -

ada y s ev e n p e rpl e xed at ou r inabi l ity t o u nde r sta nd t he ex p ression "Being" ? Not at all . So first o f all we must reawak e n an under - standing f or th e meaning of th i s question . Our aim in the fol l ow -

ing tr ea ti se is to work out the qu es t i on of th e and to do so concr e tel y. f

Evidently , H e idegger intends to reawaken modern man to t he s i gnificance of the n a ture of Being, and to provide an account of its nature . This i s a bold enterpri s e, and one which belongs in the main s tream of W e stern philo s ophy . Tho s e who have read B e ing and Tim e will r e m e mber that one of its major theme s i s the claim that the traditiona l approaches to Being have fai l ed ; that the c o nception o f Be - ing as a generic ob ject, as beyon d experience , has misled phi l osoph i cal effor t s t o grasp its nature. In Bei n g and Time, b y contras t with tha t tr ad it ion, Heidegge r foll ows a method

meaning of B ei n g

2 . B ei n g a nd Tim e ( T ii b i n g en : N i emeyer, 1 929), E n g l ish t r anslation b y Mac q uarr ie a n d R ob i n s on (New York: Harper & R ow , 1 962) , p . 1 .



that begins with man and claims to prooeed from his au- thentic existence to an understanding of Being. If a r i ch and complex analysis may be sta t ed in a few sentences,

one might say that Heidegger's method is to develop, first, an account of experience which discloses man as that being for whom his own being is at stake. He then proceeds to

show that such a being as man

temporal. Finally, he adumbrates an account which would lead from time to Being. To restate this analysis of ! experi- ence: when and to the extent that man comes to d e fine himself as aware that his own being is at stake, he comes to authentic existence as temporal; and, as authentic, takes a place in and comprehends Being. The analysis of experience in Being and Time which is directed toward this end uses what is called the phenomeno- logical method, that is, it elicits from a variety of experi- ences certain pervasive structures of experience. These pervasive structures are, to use the Kantian term, transcen- dental, or, as Reidegger calls them, ontological; that is, they structure all of experience. Such structures ultimately reveal the temporal ground of man's being; as, for exam- ple, the structures called being toward death and resolve do, when we come to see that in them man is actively en- gaged in caring. The question we must ask next is whether a method eliciting man's temporal being in the terms of these tran- scendental structures enables Reidegger to carry out his enterprise and to formulate the nature of Being . As has been indicated, many readers of Being and Time have found the enterprise incomplete and incompletable. Logi- cally, the difficulty standing in the way of completion

is through and through


seems to be that the transcendental structures of experience which Heidegger elicits are formulated as static and final, These structures provide a grasp of man's being as tem- poral; but because they are the structures of man's experi- ence, they can do this in a limited way only. These struc- tures constitute the horizons of human awareness, and a method which explicitly formulates them extends our un- derstanding beyond the contents of awareness to its deeper nature as such . The formulation Of the horizons, the con- ditions awareness, reveals man as temporal; but such a formulation reveals this solely as man sees it, solely in hu- man terms, There is in such a method an ineluctably sub- jective orientation which must characterize its results. Thus it seems impossible to escape from subjective distortions and to learn anything about Being as such by means of the method Heidegger used in Being and Tit h e. What seems to be necessary in order to comprehend Being is a method of understanding which can grasp man's nature as tem- poral in terms of its ground, rather than simply in terms of the horizons of experience. Such a method could reveal man's temporality in relation to what was beyond man, and not merely in the terms of' man himself. But there is circumstantial as well as logical evidence for believing that the enterprise of Being c:-nd Tim e remains incomplete. We know, for example, that Reidegger out- lined this work, initially, to include material not published in the book, although it is probable that it was written. Being and Time as published consists of but a part of a longer projected study. We know what the unpublished parts of this study were intended to contain, for we have Reidegger's word on the matter. In part, the projected but





unpublished sections of the book were to have dealt with an analysis of the history of philosophy; and in part they were to have included an account of the relation between Time and Being. In this last part, it seems clear, the problem of how Being could be seen in relation to man's being as temporal was to have been discussed explicitly and, presum- ably, solved. That is, Heidegger's claim that Being can be disclosed along a path beginning in man's authentic ex- istence, which is fundamentally temporal, was to have been justified by showing the way to Being. That this part of the book has not yet been published, and that in the years im- mediately following the publication of Being and Time none of Heidegger's writings offers the solution, constitutes historioal evidence that the method and categories of Being and Time were somehow inadequate to deal with the prob- lem effectively. Heidegger himself says of this part:

The adequ a te reproduction of and participation in this other think- ing that l e aves subjectivity behind is ind e ed r e ndered difficult by the fact that when Being and Time was publish e d, the third Di- vision of the first Part, entitled "Time and B e ing" was held back. The Division in question was held back because thinking failed in adequately articulating this turn, and did not achieve its goal by means of the language of m e taphysics.f

is supported also by the fact that the book,

Introduction to Metaphysics/ published some years after Being and Time, deals with the problem of Being, but from a quite different direction. Where one might have supposed that the later book would be a completion of the

This view

(Frankfurt a.M.: Klosterm a nn, 1949), p . 178 .

There is evidence that a new formulation of "Time and Being" exists and will ev e ntually be published. 4. An Introduction to M etaplvysics, English translation by Ralph Manheim (Yale University Press, 1959).

3 . Ub e r d e n Humanismus



enterprise begun earlier, it seems to be an . independent in-

quiry, or at least an experiment in a new approach. To

define this different approach Heidegger asks ' again the traditional question: Why does something exist, rather than nothing? Evidently an answer to this question would reveal something about the nature of B e ing, since it would reveal the relation of particulars to their ground. Yet while Heidegger"s efforts to answer this ultimate question are al- most as interesting as the question, they ' can not be - said to have provided the answer. What he does is to present an illuminating criticism of European philosophy. In this criticism, he shows how the tradition of European philoso- phy has concerned itself with an analysis of the oppo s ites of Being, such as becoming, appearance, and 'po on, and

~hen has tried to transcend these. oppo s a~riV i eat Be- mg. And he, by contrast to this sophistica t ed i approach,

offers the su.ggestion that

distorted intuition of Being in the earliest Greek philoso-

phers could put us on the right path, But t it is not

clear in the Introduction to Metaphysics what this path could be. When we turn to Heid e gger's later writings, for ex- ample the Memorial Address and Conversation which fol- low, we must view them in the light of the uncompleted enterprise formulated in B e ing and Time . We ' should ask, first, whether the enterprise is in general the same as the earlier one. If it is the same, we should ask, second, whether the methods used and the orientation to the problem are similar. Third, and finally, of course, we want to know whether the enterprise has at last succeeded. In the Memorial Address in honor of Conradin Kreutzer,

a return

to the naive but un-




Heidegger seeks t o s ho w his audience that it i s ti m e t o r e - new t h e search for a new gr oun d o f mean i ng , and th at the sen s e of the imp o rtance o f such a ground of meaning has been overlooked in the modern world where applied s c ience a nd ca l culative thinking dom i nate our lives . He calls upon us to reawaken to a task we have forgotten, and to und e r- take t h is task, h o w e ver arduous it may be. He goes so far as to suggest that if th i s task is und er taken, it might be comp l eted . The in t ere s ting thing in thi s analysis is t hat if the phrase " n e w ground of m e aning " is s ub s t it uted fo r the word "Being" in the passage quoted from B e ing and Time on page 15 above , t he enterprise formulated in the Me- m o r i al Address and tha t in Being a n d Time wo ul d be exact l y the s ame. Ind e ed, the enterprise of reawak e ning an aware- nes s of t h e s ignificance o f Bein g, and of determin i ng the na t ure of Bein g, see ms characte r i s ti c of both the e arlier and the later Heidegger . This answers our first qu es tion. But that answer raises the second qu e stion : Is the method i n th e se later writ i ngs t h e same as i n the earlier o nes? It has b e en noted alr e ady that the an sw er to this qu es tion is part i ally neg at i ve , a t l e a s t . For it h as b e en noted that H e id e gger' s u s e of language is mark e dly d i ffer e nt i n hi s l ater writ i ng s, and part i cula r l y in thos e tran s lat e d here.

Here he do e s not rely upon technical t e rminology, but upon poetic dir e ctne s s. However important this is, it is not the whole stor y ; and there is at l ea s t on e s e n s e in which He i deg- ger' s m e thod in the Memorial Addre ss and the Conver s a t ion is the s ame as in h i s ear l i e r wr i ting s . In th e Me mori a l A d dress it is claimed that man's natur e in c ludes the capac- ity for meditative thinking , and that t h e proper exercise of


this cap aci ty, d ifficul t t h o ugh it

is in te r ms o f re l easement



t o ward things and openness to my s tery, c an lead to a new g round o f meaning. This is the c l aim that man's nature pro- v i des the ba s is through w hich one win s an und e r s tanding of Being . Clearly , this i s the m e thod of B e ing and Tim e car - r i ed ov e r. It is inter es ting to ob se rve in t his conne ct ion t hat the method of the Conver s a t ion i s the s ame, fo r there each stage i n t h e approa c h to Being depends upon th e d e v e l op- ment of a stage i n the n a ture of thinking , which is man' s n a ture. In a v er y g e ner a l wa y, t h en, t he appro a ch in B e ing and Time to B e ing , an d in th e Me mor i al A dd ress a n d the Conv e r s ation to a ne w g round o f m e an in g , i s th e s ame . Yet this sim i larity must not r e main unqualified, for Heidegger hims e lf has said:

I hav e for sa k en a n e arli er po s i t i o n, not to e x chan ge it f or anoth e r, but b ec au s e e ve n t he form er p o sitio n w as o n l y a p a u se on the w a y. What la sts in th ink i ng is the way. 5

In t his ref e ren ce to hi s e arl i er thought , H eideg g er clearl y indicates that th e re ha s be e n a majo r c han ge . Y e t, if the natur e of B e in g i s s t i ll th e e nd a t w h ic h t hou g ht a im s, and if thou g h t is s till con ce i ved as mo v in g t o w ar d th is end throu g h ma n, in wh a t do es t he c han ge co n sis t? The Memo r i a l Addr e s s and t he Con v ersa t ion w h i ch de- velop s i t s th e m e r e fl ect thi s c hange in th e conc e p ti on of the def i ning char ac t er o f m a n ' s n atur e . In B e in g and Tim e this c h aract e r is und e r st ood as th e t r an s cend e ntal s tru c tur e of experience. But in th e Me mo r i a l A dd ress and th e Conver s a- tion , a s in oth e r la t er w ork s, thi s c ha r a c t e r is under st ood quite d i ffer en tly. How , then , is i t c o nce i ve d t h e re? It i s c o nceived as the way in which man is in v olved immediately

5. Unterwegs z ur Sprache (P£ullingen: Giinther Ne s ke , 1969), pp . 98 If.


and di rec tl y in B ei n g . Som e a spects of this new und e ~ s tand- in g are evi d e nt i n th e C o nv e r s ati o n. Firs t , th e Con ve r sa tion begins with a c r y ptic s ta t em en t of t hi s n ew c on ce p ti on a t-

tribut ed to th e T eacher, wh o says t h at"

conc e rnin g man 's n atu re i s not a qu es tion about man.l ' "

This seem s to be a p ar a dox ic al s t at e m e nt , and ye t th e s ug-

ge ~ t i on is th at t h e d eve l op m ent of thi s idea is to b e a th e me

d isc u ss i on. Im plie d in th i s c l ai m , tha t

th e qu esti o n


of th e s ub se q uent

man 's n at ur e i s to b e f ound in relat i on to s om e thin g e l se, is

a s u g g estio n th at t o com pre h e nd man on e m u st tran sce nd the specifi call y and m erely hu man, the s u bjective .

H e id egger ex p resses t his c laim metap h o r ic all y b y p l ac -

in g the Conv e r sa ti o n " far from hum a n hab i t a t i on. " It i s

wo r th n otin g t h at t h e Co nvers at io n begins at a di stance

from w h a t i s m ere l y huma n, a nd that it is t er m ina t ed a t a point where th e pa rti cipa n ts o n ce again app ro ach huma n hab ita ti on: th e sy mboli c signi fi cance sho u ld no t b e mi sse d. Bu t, t hir d , Hei d egger a l s o develops this c l aim exp lic it l y in

a numb er o f w a ys . For o n e exam pl e, co n side r t h e na tur e

of waitin g a s i t is an a l y z e d in t he Conve r sat i o n. W ai tin g is


hu m a n a ct i vity, o f co u rse; b u t He i degger wants t o sh o w


a t it h as a deeper significance and invo l ves a refe r ence

b ey o n d th e m ere l y hu ma n , th e s u bjective . N or m a ll y, w h e n

w e w ai t we w a i t f o r some th ing w h ic h interes t s u s o r w h ic h c a n provi d e u s wit h what we want. When we wait in t h is

hu ma n w a y, wai t i n g in vo l ves ou r desi r es, goa l s, a nd n ee d s.

But waitin g nee d not b e s o d ef in i t e l y c o lored b y ou r n a tu re. Th ere is a sense in whic h we can wai t with out k n owing for w ha t we w a it . We m ay wait, in this se n se, with out wait i n g f , or an yt h i n g; fo r an y th i ng , that i s, whi c h c ould

6. " Con ve r sa ti o n ," p . 58 below.


be grasped and expre s sed in s ubje c tive human terms . In

this sen s e we

come to have a reference beyond man. The differ e nce be- tween the se two kinds of wait i ng ma y be ex pressed by sa y - ing that when we wait i n a merel y human way we wait for, whereas in the deeper sense of waiting w e wait upon . The differ e nt prepo si tions are i ntend e d to r e f e r in the case of " for " to s ubje c ti v e human expe c tat i on s o f s ome s ort , but


simply wait; and in th i s sense waiting may

in the case of "upon " to what is , if given , a g i ft. A s H e id e g-

g e r sa y s: "In w aitin g

wai ting for.?" This i s to sa y that m an 's true na t ure may r e la te dir ec tl y to w hat trans c end s him , ho weve r di f ficult it may b e to s t a t e this in ordinary terms. In the c ontext of the Conver s at i on , thi s po ss ibl e tran s c e nd e n ce, w hich is found in man 's tru e na t u re, is dev e lop e d as a t ran s c e nd e nce t o Be i ng . Y et on e ma y obj ec t th a t whil e an anal ys is of w a it i ng into tw o ki nd s i s s u ggest i v e , it i s har d l y c o nclu s i ve in s ho w i n g tha t the mo ve m e nt from man to B ei n g ca n b e m a d e if the c orr ec t pa t h i s disc e rn e d . Wa i ting upon doe s not e v oke Be- i ng , eve n th o u g h th e s u gg e sti o n i s that i f a ny thin g re- s pond e d to s u c h w a iti n g, i t w ould be B eing. Let u s, t h er e- fore , con s id e r an o th e r a s pect o f the relat i on of m a n t o what tran sce nd s him. Th e comp re h e n s ion of m e dit ati ve t h i n k ing as a st ru ct u re of man r e l a t i n g dir e ctl y t o B eing is c l e a r ly the ce n t ra l th e me of t h e A dd r e s s and Con ve r s a t ion. Of cou r s e, thinkin g i s p e cul i arly human ; but it is hum a n in at l e ast t w o senses . Th e tradition a l and usu a l v i e w of t h i nk i ng see s i t a s the r e p rese nting of w hat i s t y p ic al of th i n gs; that is, as a kind o f human activity leading to an understanding

[upon] we l e av e open w hat we are

7. "Con v er s at i o n," p . 68 b e l ow .


of objects, In this sense it is a kind of willing, and so to be seen as something specifically and merely human. At one e xt reme this is what Heidegger calls calculative thinking, which is characterized by human methods of approaching thing s , and by the fact that in calculative thinking we deal with things in our terms for our advantage. Yet there is a second sense of th i nking, analogous to the second sense of waiting , in which thought refers beyond the human, transcends reference to human affairs: this is meditative thinking. Thinking of this second sort does exist. It is to be found, for one example, throughout the whole Conversation. And such thinking has a content, it is about something. To begin to comprehend what is involved in this kind of thinking, we may observe, somewhat negatively, that it does not repre- sent, that it does not construct a world of objects. By con- trast to representative th i nking , it is thinking which allows content to emerge within awareness, thinking which is open to content. Now thinking which constructs a world of ob- jects understands t hese objects; but meditative thinking begins w ith an awareness of the field within which these objects are , an awaren e ss of the horizon rather than of the objects of ordinary und e rstanding. Meditative thinking be- gins with an awareness of this kind, and so it begins with content which is given to it, the field of awareness itself . When viewed from within , as by a practitioner, for ex- ampl e, certain properties of meditative thinking may be discerned. Indeed, one of these p r operties has just been pointed out . Meditative thinking is thinking which is open to its content, open to what is given. A man engaged in meditative thinking might well characterize what he was



doing as being open; that is, he might comprehend medita- tive thinking as a fundamental property of human nature, the property of openness. Yet such thinking does not involve what is ordinarily called an act of will; for one does not will to be open. Quite the contrary, meditative thinking involves an annulling of the will . Yet, such thinking is not a passive affair either; clearly, man does not come t o be open through indifference or neglect. To be open is difficult for man . Since openness involves meditative thinking, it is suggestive to speak of this thinking as a higher kind of activity than

willing. But perhaps the real point is that this kind of think-

ing lies, as Heidegger says,

between activity and passivity Let us regard meditative thinking, then, as a higher kind of act i vity than is involved in the exercise of any subj e ctive human power. We might think of it , m e taphorically, as the activity of walking along a path which leads to Be i ng. Cer- tainly metaphorically , the conversation along the path referred to in the Conversation symbolizes such an acti v ity and such a direction . In any case, this higher activity of thinking in relation to the openness involved in it is so i m- portant that it needs a special name. H e idegger c a lls it re- leasement. Releasement is a defin i ng characteristic of man's true nature involving openness and, through it, di- rect and immediate reference beyond man to Being . Releasement involves openne s s , but it would be mislead- ing to suppose that that involvement is adequately sketched by the relatively simple account of the preceding pa r a - graphs. One goal of the Conversation is to provide a devel- oping comprehension of releasement as it involves and is


beyond the distinction


8. "Conversation," p . 61 below.



involved i n Being. In c on s equen c e , fo r example , H e idegger speaks of t w o asp e cts of r e leasem e nt , th e fi rs t of which is being r e l e a s ed from , and the second , a u t hentic relea s ement , may be described as being rel e ased to. 9 Again , for another example , r e l e a s ement has hidden in it , he says , a kind of s t e ad f a st n ess w hi c h i s rel at e d to a r es olve for truth , and w hi c h w h e n full y co mpreh ended is to b e call e d " in -d w ell - ing. , ,1 0 Me d i tati ve thi n k in g is n ot a si m ple o p e n in g t o Be- ing, a s th e nat ure o f au t h e n tic rel e asement ( r el ease m e nt to ) m ig ht s u gges t , f o r it in v ol ves a r es ol ve in r eg ard to B eing. I n meditati ve t h i n k in g, m an open s to B e ing and re s olv es for it s di sc lo s ur e. Su c h a reso l v e i s not a n exe rc ise of s ubj e ct i v e human powers; rath e r , it is t a ki ng a st a nd wh ic h r e v ea l s B eing, a ki n d of dw e ll i n g in B ei n g . Th is in -

n e r n at ur e o f re l ease m ent mu st b e co n si de re d l a t er in t hi s i n trodu c tio n; i t i s mentio n e d h ere on l y t o emphasiz e th e comp l ex i ty o f the re l ation of r eleaseme nt and o pen n e s s . Th e d e fini ng ch aracter o f ma n 's natu re (medit ati v e thin ki n g ) , t hen , is c o nce i ve d in t h e C o nv ersat io n in a w a y r a d ica ll y d if f e r e n t f rom t h a t i n B e i n g a nd T i m e . The t r an sce n de nt a l stru c tu re of exp e r ience ana l yze d i n B e in g

and Tim e

to w ard - d e ath , a n d te mporalit y is re pl a c e d in th e Co nvers a- t ion b y an a na l ys i s o f t h e hi g h er activ i ty o f me d i tativ e t h i n king w hi ch in v o lv e s B ei n g direct l y. T he i ntentio n of

th is change i s r evealed as a d elib e rate effo r t of Hei d eg g e r to assure th e po ss ib i li ty o f m o v i ng th r o ugh ma n t o B e ing. T here i s no doubt th a t H e id egge r believes t h i s t o b e pos- sibl e in t h e t er m s o f m e di t ati v e t hinking , for h e does not

in such t e rm s as b e in g- in - th e- worl d, b e in g -

9. "Conve r sat ion , " p . 7 3 bel o w . 10. "Conv ersat ion," p . 81 i f . b e lo w .



h e s i tate to s p ea k dir ec t ly a bou t B e i ng and to give a n ac-

co unt of it s na tur e . In t h e C o n ve r sa t i o n , h owe v e r , H ei d e g-

but i n order to s tr es s an

in her e nt op e nn es s and ac tivi t y of B ein g, he us e s t h e word r eg ion a nd i ts co g n a t e s in s t ea d . That i s, a r e gion i s open; m ore ov e r , i t is pos s ibl e t o desig n ate a r egi on a s in h ere ntl y d y n a mi c b y u si n g th e p hrase t ha t-whic h - r eg ion s, and , eve n f~ rt h e r , to use t h e ver b r egioni n g to ex p ress th is a ctiv it y di rect l y , B u t l e t u s quote fro m s u ch a d ir ec t acco un t of B eing i n these n ew t erms to illu s tra te the poin t we are mak ing.

g e r doe s no t u se th e wor d


e in g;

T h e r eg i o n ga t hers , ju st a s i f no t hin g were hap pe ni ng , eac h to ~ac h. a nd ea c h ~o a i ll in t o an a bidin g , w hil e re s t ing i n itse l f . R e g i on - m ~ ~s a gat h e nng ~n d re - sh e l t e ring f o r an ex pa nd ed r e stin g i n an abldI~g. 5.0 th e r e gion its e l f i s at o n ce an ex p a n s e and an abiding . I t a bi d e s i nto t h e exp a nse of r es t i n g . I t e x p a nd s into t h e abiding o f w h a t has fr ee l y t u rn e d to w ard its e lf


N o w th e po i n t is n ot th at th e se sentenc e s b e c l ear out o f c o ntex t , but that they claim to giv e an exp l ic i t acco un t o f

B e i ng,

b een r eac h e d fro m t h e st art i n g point of me di ta t ive t ho u g ht ofr ma n ' s n at u re.

o f that-w h i ch -regio n s; an d t hat t h is acc o u n t h as


Thr ee q ue s t ions were aske d abo ve a b o ut th e c h arac t er is- tic s o f H eidegger ' s l a t er though t . T he f i rs t two h ave b ee n ~n s wered , for we c on clud e d t hat t h e goa l of h i s l at e r thoug ht I S the sam e a s, bu t it s m e thod different from that of hi s ~arh . er t h o u ght . D oes He i d e gg e r ' s e n terprise, as d evelo p e d ill h IS l ater tho u ght, s u c c e e d ? T h i s wa s the thi rd q u es tio n a n d i t rema in s b efo r e u s . I t w ould be imp o ss ibl e in t hi s brie f i nt ro du c t i on to f o r mulate an a n s w er to s u c h a basic



11. " C o n ve r sa t io n ," p . 66 b e l ow.


questi o n; but the key to i ts answer can be suggested. Th e who l e o f t he c laim implicit in the account Heidegger gives

of Being in the Conver s ation re s ts upon the assump t ion that the analysis of man ' s nature , as found in meditative think- ing, pro v ide s the key to a direct approach t o Being. Cl o s e attention to the natur e of this assumption, and to the evi - dence which Heidegger gives for it, will provide consider-

abl e insight into th e problem

In the Conversa t ion , three kinds of evidence seem to b e o ff e red for the ju s tif ic at i on of this assumption. Thi s evi - dence amounts to s ho w ing that Being a s rea c hed through med i tative thinking i s partly identical with the nature and movement of such thinking. Certainly if this were not s o , meditative th i nking would be powe r l e ss to reach B e ing . The detail s giv e n in th e Con ve r s ation mu s t be s tud i ed car e fully to und erst and the point fully, and here a sug- g es t i on of th e argumen t and i t s results mu s t s uffice . Fortu- nately, i t is the natu re of th e ev idence, and not its detai l s, which is important for a n understand i ng of Heidegger 's general cla i m. Thu s w e m ay ob ser v e f i r s t that meditative thinking i s an open i n g of man to s om e thin g, as is empha- sized b y call i n g s u c h t h i nk in g re l e a se m e nt . In rel ease m e nt man is op e n , that is, i s an openne s s. What then, we may a s k, does man open to? In a word, of course, th e an s w e r is: to th e given . But H e idegger is not content to p re sen t this answ e r , f or he w ishes to just i fy the identity h e i s claiming. To do s o , he a r gue s that th e given, too, is an openn es s and , as we shal l see, a n opening. Med i tat i ve think- ing charact e rizes man ' s true natur e, his b e ing, as opennes s in whi c h he is par t ly identified with the given. Man b e-


of ' its justif i cation.



co mes p ar tl y id e nt if i ed with t he giv e n b y ope n i n g t o it as i l l t urn, the g iven o pens t o h im.



Let us co nsider th i s argu m ent s o mewh a t m o re care f ully. As already n o ted, medit a tive think in g inv o lves an aware- n e ss of the field o f a wareness , o r, as Heidegger likes t o say, a n awaren ess o f th e h o rizon o f the c o nsci ou sn e ss o f o bjects. If o ne c o mprehen d s t his s itua tion fu l ly, one s ees t hat medi- t a tive t hi n king is an opening t o what is bey o nd the ho riz o n of such kn o wing. But the pos s ibility o f any such open i ng must depend to some degree up o n what l i es bey o nd the h o rizon, and, indeed, up o n the openness o f that. To restate the argumen t : viewed from w i thin, o ur consciousness o f the wor l d of o b jects i s an un b ou n ded fie l d o f awareness; v i ewed fr o m wit h in, this f ield of awareness has n o fixed limits , but only a horiz o n. In part, meditative think i ng consi s ts in becoming aware o f the horizon as such, that is , as an open - ing out and so as standing open. But an awarenes s of the horizon in this exp l icit sense as an openness i s possi b le just because t he horizon is se t w i thin a n o penness of which it is but one side, as it were. The openness in which the h o rizon of con s ciousness is set Heidegger calls the region .

What is evident of the horizon [its opennes s ], then, is but the side facing us of an openness which s urrounds us; an openness which is fille d wit h views o f the appearances o f what to our r e - pre-

senting are o b j e cts. In consequence th e horizon is sti l l some -

thing else besides a horizon

other side of i t self, and so the same as itself . You say that the h o rizon is the openness which surrounds us. But what is this op e n- ness as su c h, if w e disregard that it can a lso appear as the horizon of o ur re - p resenting? I t strikes me a s something like a region


[and] this s omething else is the

12. " C onvers a ti on, "

p. 64 ff. b e lo w .



That openness of man which is grounded in the openness of the region is but a part of the identity of man and the given of which we are speaking. A more important part of this identity is to be found in a common activity. As we have noted, the openness of man is an opening, a kind of higher activity. The openness of the region which is the ground of man's opening must also be grasped as move- ment, something which is easier if we name it properly as that-which-regions. The openness of the region is not a vacuum; if it were, it would go unnoticed by man. Man's

opening mu s t occur in his awareness of the givenne s s of

the transcendental horizon. As Heidegger says,

horizon is but the side of that-which-r e gions turned toward our re - presenting. That-wh i ch-regions surrounds us and

reve a l s rtse .

seems a region holds what comes forward to meet us; but We also said of the horizon that out of the view which it encircles, the appearance of objects comes to meet us. If now we comprehend the horizon through the region, we take the region itself as that which comes to meet US . ,,14 The basic s en s e in which the region i s an opening is complex, and is not perfectly stat e d in these quotations. However, the point being made is ju s t that the region is an opening; that we can and mu s t refer to it as that-which-regions; and that we can refer to its opening as such, that is, to region-

ing. In the opening of the region , its regioning, we have what supports and manife s ts itself in part as the opening of man , hi s meditative thinking. Now it is true that since that-which-regions is a region-



to us as


e hori onzon.

, , 18 0

ragaln, . "


15. "Conversation," p . 72 ff . below .



ing, a movement, we can understand man's nature as brought forth in this movement. That-which-regions is a dynamic ground in which man's nature emerges. Yet there is something ' unsatisfactory if the matter is left here, for such an account seems to place man and meditative think- ing as but a moment in the given development of that- which-regiol ' ls: it stresses the identity of man and that- which-regions . Such an account hardly touches upon the fact that meditative thinking does not simply occur as a part of a more inclusive , given development. Clearly , such thinking is more than an instance of such development. it also serves to receive the development. The reference of meditative thinking to that-which-regions as partly iden- tical with man may be s een in rel easement as such. In re- leasement as such , thinking is open to its ground as given. But the reference of thinking to that-which-regions as re- ceiver of it may be seen only in what Heid e gger calls in- dwelling. As in-dwelling, meditative thinking expresses the requirement of becoming true for that-which-regions . Through in-dwelling, man is able to express a resolve for truth. It is important not to mi s understand thi s requirement as a subjective one; for while the resolve for truth is made by man, what is required by him is independent of him. Truth is not subjective. Essentially, the resolve for truth is a requirement that the regioning of that-which-regions be an unveiling. In such disclosure, man's nature as think- ing serves not to create or to impose structure , but for

a receiving gions . ,,1~ Evidently

of the regioning there is a mutual

of that-which-re-

relation here for



Heldegger says, ".

the nature of man is released to



that-which-regions because this belongs to it so essentially, that withou t man that-which-regions can not be a coming forth of all natures, as it is. , , 16 Man is essential to this dis- closure. Clearly, then, the identity noted in man ' s opening and openness and the opening and openness of that-which- regions expresses only the relation of man to the given , and s o is but a partial identity. The relation between man and that-which-regions is much more oomplex than this , for the sense in which meditative thinking receives and is necessary for the coming forth of all natures is as important as this identity. Thus, to proceed from man's nature to Being, Heidegger needs to produce a second kind of evi- dence that this is possible. This is the evidence that man's natur e as it expresses the requirement of becoming true, the coming forth of all nature s, is compatible with that- which-regions and can playa po s itive part i n this respect. Man, in this sense , is the pecul i ar being with respect to whom that-which-reg i ons unveil s and di sc loses. This d i s- tin c tion of man, expressed in his re s olve for truth , makes him the standard for and the recipient of the disclosure of tha t -which-regions; man stands out in order to be where that-wh i ch-regions unveils. Or , we might say, man, as in- dw e lling , stands within that-which-regions and effectively r es olves for its disclosure , its coming forth in truth. But how can this disclosure take plac e ? How is this aspect of man ' s nature interwoven compatibly with the underlying identity already noted? The difficulty of showing how this is don e is just the difficulty of showing how man is brought forth i n t he regioning of that-which-regions and yet comes

16. "Conversation," p . 85 below .


forth in such a distinctive way-of showing, that is, how it is that man ' s nature is necessary because of having its ground in the givenness of that - which-regions , and yet is emergent as a nature which resolves for and receives the disclosure of its ground. Heidegger seeks to make the diffi- cult analysis which w ill clarify thi s point , first in terms of histor y, and then in an interesting generalization with respect to truth based upon hi s interpretation of hi s tory . There is a sense in which, as a consequence of man ' s re- solve fo r truth , that-which-r e gions is disclosed in history.F To understand this we must observe initially that the process of that-which-regions , its regiqn i ng, takes place in two

quite d i fferent ways. To emphasize this difference, Heideg- ger ref e rs to this process when it results in things as d e t e r - mining , but when it results in man he calls it r e gioning with resp e ct to man. Put in th i s way , this duality empha- sizes man's nature as involved in and involving truth, and contrasts it with the nature of things. Yet Heidegger holds that man's requirement of t r uth is the ba s is of the rel a tion of man to things and that this relation occurs as hi s tory. To be grasped as function i ng in this way, h ist ory mu s t be

under s tood in a very fundamental sense , that is , as

his t ory w hich does not con sis t in the happenings and deeds

Nor i n the cultural achievements of

of the


man. , , 1 8 What is fundamental in history is not its obvious s e quential character but , rather , historical thinking. the concept of the historical means a mode of knowing and is understoo~ broadl y. ,,1~ From this p e r s pec-

17 . For a g eneral account of h is tory see ldentitiit und Differenz (Pful - lin ge n : G ii nther N e sk e , 1957 ) , p . 64 and e lsewhere. 18 . "Co n v e r s ation," p . 79 below . 19 . Cf . ldentitiit und Differenz, p. 51 .



tive we should look for history where the articulation of the natures of things occurs, as in the evolution of the

subject-object relation

dologically. As these examples suggest, such history re- lates man to things because through it things are sustained by man's requirement that they become true, for this is a requirement that the nature of things be brought forth. Such an articulation, such history, is an aspect of the dis- closure of that-which-regions, a disclosure which takes

place in relation to man. Now history, as a mode of knowing, is a kind of re-

collecting, a returning to origins as well as an articulation . of the nature of things. But it is a return to origins not merely in the sense of recounting an intelligible story of development and change. As a mode of knowing, it is a return to origins in the sense in which intelligibility must

or in the sciences understood metho-

have its

what is the source of all articulation. It is in this most fundamental sense that history involves a beginning . His- torical knowing necessarily has origins which are prior to it, and it comprises an intelligible expansion which develops

in the terms of these origins. But what are these origins? We may understand some- thing more about them if we look at the more general circumstances of the bringing forth of all natures, of which history is an aspect. To comprehend fully this bringing forth of all natures, one must observe that for man to re- solve for truth and so to serve that-which-regions in this movement is to set aside subj ective demands and pretensions, to be, in a word, noble. Now nobility connotes heritage and origins; and suggests, in consequence, that resolving for

roots in what is prior to thought, must abide in



truth involves a return to man's origins . This "step back- ward," this return becomes explicit, not in going back to a literal beginning, but in the awareness that thinking as the resolve for truth is grounded. 20 The resolve for truth which expresses that-which-regions as the bringing forth of all natures, is not a subjective expression; rather, it springs from an inner necessity which man can come to understand as the ground of his thinking itself. It is not a necessity forced upon man from without. As an inner necessity it is given to man as a gift, a gift which justifies man in serving that-which-regions as the being for whom

the unveiling of that-which-regions occurs . His service in this exalted way is not accident, but a necessity demon- strated by the nature of thinking as having an origin prior to thought . And what is this origin? It is the nature of that- which-regions. "In the nature of thinking so understood,

we may have found what we


Let us pause briefly to note explicitly that our analysis has led us to the nature of that-which-regions. The ground of meditative thinking, as it involves a resolve for truth, is not that-which-regions, but its nature. Meditative think- ing, therefore, not only has two aspects corresponding to the two kinds of evidence we have been examining, but it is grounded in two aspects of that-which-regions. Medita- tive thinking as an openness and opening may be said to be grounded in that-which-regions as undisclosed, as veiled. And meditative thinking as involving the resolve for truth

may be said to be grounded in that-which-regions as dis-

This is the nature


t h

hi h

at-w IC -regions, .



21 . "Conversation," p . 85 below. My it a lics .

C f. Identitdt una Differenz, p. 51 .


closed, as unveiled. Yet as soon as we state the relation of meditative thinking to its grounds in this way, we suggest strongly that these grounds are related, since "that-which- regions and its nature can't really be two different things the self of that-which - regions is presumably its nature and identical with itself. ,,22 And implicit in this sug- gestion (which, indeed, Heidegger holds to be correct) is a further insight. If we could understand the relation of the two aspects of meditative thinking, this would give us the clue to the sense in which that-which - regions and its nature are related and together ground meditative think- ing as a whole and so man. Perhaps the relation of the two aspects of meditative thinking which we have kept apart here is not too difficult to sketch. Heidegger very early in the Conversation formulates what he call s a "daring definition" of thinking. "Then thinking would be coming-into-the-nearness of distance.t''" The movement of thinking referred to here is just the turn- ing of thought toward what is given, just the opening of thought to the given as such; and the approaching of what is given through the demand in thought that this be artic- ulated and so become true. We may conceive of the turn- ing toward the given and the opening to the given as set- ting the given at a di s tance, for this movement distinguishes thinking from its given content. And we may conceive of the resolve for truth / as a movement of approach, as nearing the given, since this movement elicits and reveals. And if we so conceive meditative thinking in its two aspects as nearing and distancing, then, as Heidegger says, "



perhaps we can express our experience during this conversa- tion by saying that we are coming near to and so at the same time remaining distant from If so, this complex movement would provide the concept needed - to understand the identity of that-which-regions and its nature.


Because that-which-regions regions all, gathering everything to-

gether and letting everything return to itself, to rest in its own iden- tity. Then that-which-regions itself would be nearing and distancing a characterization which should not be thought of dialecti-


[but] in accordance with the nature of thinking


This third compatibility of thinking and that-which-regions must not be viewed statically; it must be comprehended as an intricate movement weaving the given and veiled aspect of that-which-regions into its unveiled and articulated as- pect. Not any part, but the whole of this movement is Being. This bold characterization of Being has been reached through man, for Heidegger's claim to have proceeded from man to Being rests upon h i s analysis of meditative think- ing. In this analysis there are central strands of three kinds. In the first place, there are the two analyses which claim to show that meditative thinking can be grounded in that- which-regions as such and in the nature of that-which- regions. We have considered these analyses in the last few pages. They are analyses that lead from certain specifiable characteristics of think i ng to what grounds thinking so far as it has these characteristics. We refer to the character- istics of opening and openne s s on the one hand, and to the resolve for truth on the other. The third analysis support-



p. 86 below.


. "Conversation,"

p. 86 below.



p . 68 below.

25. "C o nversation,"

p . 86 below.



ing H ei d egge r ' s claim that B e in g i s a ttainable has ju st been g iv e n. It i s an anal ys i s s u ggesting tha t th e c o n t i nu ity be- t ween th e t w o aspects o f tho u g ht w hi c h is found in t h e mo veme nt o f "co min g -i nto - t h e - nearness of d ist anc e" m u s t r e fl ec t a c on t inui ty b e t wee n t h e a ppa r en tl y d if f eren t ground s o f th ese aspects, tha t i s, be twee n that -w hic h- reg i on s as s u c h an d i ts n a t u re.

A s s oon as this final anal ys i s i s p rese nt e d i t ju s t ifies shi f t- ing p ers p ectiv e f rom ma n to B eing . It ju s tifi es such st at e -

m e nts a s "Truth 's n a ture c an come fort h ind e p en d ent l y of

ma n onl y be ca u se the n a tur e of man (as r e l easeme nt to tha t - v. h ic h-r eg io n s ) i s use d b y th at-w h ic h-r e g i on s in r e- gionin g both with r e sp ec t to m a n a nd to sust a in d eter m i n-

in g . E v id e ntly truth 's i nd e p en d e n ce fr o m man i s a relat ion

to h u ma n natur e, a r e l a tio n w hi c h r es ts on t h e r eg i o ni ng o f hu ma n na tu re i nto t h at - which-regio n s. ,, 2 6 It ju stif i es

a ski ng s u c h a que s t ion a s , "Y e t what then w oul d b e t h e natu re of t h i nking if that-w h ich-re g ions i s th e near n ess o f d i s tance ?,,27 Fr om t h e p e r spective a ffor d ed b y this fina l

ana l ysis, o ne is able to see man 's natur e , t h e n at u re o f think -

i n g, as determ in ed

hu man re l ation to that-whi c h - r egions .

b y B e in g, a s "

the e ssentia l ly ,, 28 E v id e ntly

we stan d h e re in the mid s t of the ultimate, having s teppe d b eyond our s u bjecti v e human p e r s p e ctive - yet a word of

c a u tion is ne c essa r y ! And, indeed , H e id e gger c a utio n s u s i n

v i ew h e u ses, an d for s o me t ime

w e h ave sa id e v e r yt h i n g i n th e mode of suppo s i ti on

a n u m b er o f ways . Thu s , to d e p i c t t h is says h e u s e s, th e s ubjun c t ive m o o d , "

2 6. " Co nversat i o n ," p. 8 4 b e l ow . 27 . " Co n versa t ion," p . 86 b e l ow . 28 . "C o n v er sati o n , " p . 87 b e lo w .


only . ,,29 Thus , to name the nature of


thinking in its de-

pendence upon that-which-regions, he falls back upon t he Greek word comprising H e raclitus' 122nd F ragment , and

then del i berately reads meaning into it until it s e e m s to be


s point he adds , "Whi c h in its nature , ne v erthele s s , w e are still seeking. ,, 81 And , finall y, he per s onifie s Be ing in the imaginative figure of Night and recasts the argument imaginatively , for "the child in man. ,, 82

By such cautionary wo r ds and modes of express i on, Heidegger wishes to prevent too literal and too stri c t an in- terpre t ation of what can be said f r om the midst o f the ult i - mate. We may understand the significance of this caution if we recall that it is th e cont i nuity , attained in the inter- wea v in g in thinking of op e n i ng an d op e nnes s o n th e one

hand , and the resolve for truth on the o t h e r , t hat p r o vi d e s


fi n a l s tep to Bein g. W e ma y be incl i n ed to for g et , i n

t h e into x i ca ting moment when we s tand on th i s step, th a t th e con t inuit y ach i e v ed i s specifi c a nd pa r t i c ula r, tha t i t is ju st th a t c on ti nuit y w h i c h i t is, and tha t i t p r ob a bl y w ill

va n is h . I f we fo rget c o nti nu ity of thin ki n g

th i s, we sh all forget, to o , that th e as spec i fic and particu l ar must re fl e ct

so met hi ng s p ecific and partic ul a r a bo u t th e movemen t i d en t ifying t h a t- w h ic h- regions as suc h an d its nature, s o m e- th i ng of t he vani s hin g w h ic h is a n a s p e c t of B e i n g .

" the be st name for w hat w e

a v e oun .




so B

ut at Just . t



2 9 . " Con ve r s ation, " p. 85 be l ow . 50 . " C onversa tion, " r- 8 9 b e l ow . 5 1. " C o n ver s a ti o n , " p . 89 be l ow. 5 2 . " Con v er s ation," p. 89 below.






Let my first public word in my home town be a word of thanks.

I thank m y homeland for

all that i t ha s g iv e n m e along

the path of m y life . I have tried to e x plai n th e natur e of

thi s e ndowm e nt in t h o se f ew pag es en t i tle d " D er F e ld w e g "l

whi c h first app e ar e d in 1 9 49 in a book honoring th e hun- dred t h a nni ve r sa r y of th e d e ath o f Conrad in Kr e u t z e r . " I thank Mayor S c huhl e for h is wa rm-h ea r te d w e l c ome. And

I am es peci a ll y grat e ful

memo r i a l addr ess at t o da y's ce r e mon y . Honor e d Gue s t s , Fri e nd s and Nei g hbors! W e are

g a th e r e d to ge th e r in co mm e mora ti on of t h e c ompos e r Con - radin Kr e utzer , a na t i ve of our r e gion. If we ar e to honor a man who se c a llin g it i s to . b e cr e ativ e, we must , above all,

dul y hon o r hi s w o rk . In

through the p e r f ormance of his compo s it i ons . Conradin Kreu t zer' s compo sitio n s ri ng forth toda y in

• This s p eec h w as p r es e nt e d at th e cel eb r a t io n of th e 1 7 5 th birthd a y of th e co mpo se r C o n r a din Kr e utz e r on O c tob e r 5 0, 19 55, in M essk ir c h. 1 . C o u n tr y Path ( Tr . ) .

Z . C o n radi n K r e u t z er ( 1780 - 1 849 ), G e r ma n com p oser a n d conduc to r . H e

w a s h i g hl y p r odu c t ive in c onc er t, ch a mb e r a nd chur c h mus i c, op e ras and musi ca l pl ays , c horu s es a nd s o n g s . Of h is w or k s s om e o f h is choru s es for m e n an d on e of h is op e r a s a r e sti ll we ll k n ow n in G e r m any . (Tr . )


for the privil ege of giving the

th e c a se o f a mu s i cia n this is done



s ong and chorus, in o per a a nd in c h amber music. In t h es e sounds t he arti s t him s e l f is pre s ent ; for the master's pres - ence in th e work is the only true presence. The greater t he master, the more completely his person vanishes be h in d h is work. Th e mu s icians and s ingers who take pa r t in tod a y's ce l e- bration are a wa r rant that Co n radin Kre u tzer's w o rk w ill c ome to b e heard on this occasion. But does this alone con s t i tute a memorial cele b ration? A memor i al ce lebrat i on mean s tha t w e think back , that we

think. Yet w hat ar e we to think and

which is d e voted to a composer? Is it not the disti n ct i on o f music to "speak" thro u g h the ' so u nding of tones and so n ot to n ee d ordinary language , th e language of words? So they say. And y et the qu e stion remains : Do playi n g and singing alone make our cele b r a ti on a t hought f ul c e lebrat i on , on e in w hich we think? Hardly! A n d s o a "m e morial address" has been put on th e program. It is to h elp us to think back both to the compo s er we honor and to his work. T hese memorie s com e a liv e as s oon as we re late the s tory of Conradin

Kr e u t z e r's lif e,

Through su c h a r e la t ing w e c a n find much that is j o yful and sorrowful, much that is in s tru c t iv e and exemp l ary . But at bottom w e merely a l low our s elv e s to be e ntertained by such a talk . In l istening to such a story , no thinking at a ll is need e d, no refle c ting is demand e d on what concerns each one of u s imm e diately and c ontinuously in his very being. Thus e v en a memorial addre ss gives no a s surance that we will think at a memor i al ce lebration . Let u s not fool ourse l ves. All of u s, inc l uding th o se wh o think professi o nally, as it were, are often e no ugh tho u gh t -

to sa y a t a memori al

and reco u nt and des c r i be hi s works.


poor ; we all are far t o o eas il y t hou g h t -l ess. T h oug htl essness i s an uncanny vi s i tor who comes and goes everywhere in today' s world. For nowadays we tak e in everything in the quickest and che a pe s t way, only to forg et it ju s t as quickly , i nstantly. Thus one gatheri n g follo w s on the heels of an - oth e r. Commemorative ce l ebrations grow poorer and poorer i n thoug h t. Com m emora ti on a nd t hough tl essness are found si de by s i de. But even while we are thoughtle ss, w e do not give up our capac i ty to think. We rath e r us e th is capac i ty impli c i t ly , though strangely: that is , in thoughtl ess ness we l et it lie

Still only that ca n lie fa l low which in itself i s a

ground for growth, such as a f i e ld. An expres s way, wh e re nothing g r ow s, cannot be a fal l ow fi e ld . Ju s t as w e can gro w deaf only be c au se we hear , ju s t a s we can g row old onl y b ec au se we wer e youn g; s o we ca n grow thou g ht - p oor

or e v e n t hou g ht - l ess only b ec au s e man at the c or e of h i s

be i ng ha s th e

and is d e stined to think. We can o nl y lo se or , a s the phra s e goe s , g e t loo s e from that whi c h we kno w ingly or unknow- ingl y pos sess. Th e g r o wi n g thoughtl ess n ess mu s t , th e r e fore , sp ri ng from s o me p r oc ess tha t gna ws at th e ve ry marrow of man today: man today is in fli g ht from thinking. This flight- from-thought is th e ground of thoughtl ess n ess . But p ar t of .thi s flight is that man w i ll n e i t her se e nor admit it. Man today w ill e v e n flatly d e n y thi s fli g ht from thin ki n g . He will a sse rt the oppo s it e . H e w ill s a y -and quite ri g htly- that there w e re at no time such far-reaching plan s, s o many inquiries in so ma n y areas, research carr i ed on as passion - ately a s today. O f co u rse. A n d this display of ingen ui ty and



fa l low.

capacity to think; ha s " spi rit and r ea son"



deliberation has its own great usefulness. Such thought remains indi s pensable. But-it also remains true that it is thinking of a special kind. Its pecul i arity consists in the fact that whenever we plan, research, and organize, we always reckon with conditions that are given. We take them into account with the cal- culated intention of their serving specific purposes. Thus we can count on definite results. This calculation is the mark of all thinking that plans and investigates. Such thinking re- mains calculation even if it neither works with numbers nor uses an adding machine or computer. Calculative think- ing computes. It computes ever new, ever more promising and at the same time more economical possibilities. Cal- culative thinking races from one prospect to the next. Calculative thinking never stops, never collects itself. Cal- culative thinking is not meditative thinking, not thinking which contemplates the meaning which reigns in every- . thing that is. There are, then, two kinds of thinking , each ju s tified and needed in its own way: calculative thinking and medi- tative thinking. This meditative thinking is what we have in mind when we s ay that contemporary man is in flight-from - thinking . Yet you may protest: mere meditative thinking find s i t s elf floating unaware above reality. It loses touch . It is wor t h- less for dealing with current business. It profits nothing in carrying out practical affairs. And you may say, finally, that mere meditative thinking, persevering meditation, is "above" the reach of ordinary understanding. In this excuse only this much is true, ' medi- tative thinking does not just happen by itself any more than




does calculative thinking. At times it requires a greater effort. It demands more practice. It is in need of even more delicate care than any other genuine craft. But it must also be able to bide its time, to await as does the farmer, whether the seed will come up and ripen. Yet anyone can follow the path of meditative thinking in his own manner and within his own limits. Why? Be- cause man is a thinking, that is, a meditating being. Thus meditative thinking need by no means be "high-flown." It is enough if we dwell on what lies close and meditate on what is closest; upon that which concerns us, each one of us, here and now; here, on this patch of home ground; now, in the pre s ent hour of history. What does this celebration suggest to us, in case we are ready to meditate? Then we notice that a work of art has flowered in the ground of our homeland. As we hold this simple fact in mind, we cannot help remembering at once that during the last two centuries great poets and thinkers have been brought forth from the Swabian land. Thinking about it further makes clear at once that Central Germany is likewi se such a land, and so are East Prussia, Silesia, and Bohemia. We grow thoughtful and ask: does not the flourishing of any genuine work depend upon its roots in a native soil? Johann Peter Hebel once wrote: "We are plants which- whether we like to admit it to ourselves or not-must with our roots rise out of the earth in order to bloom in the ether and to bear fruit." (Works, ed. Altwegg III, 514.) The poet means to say: For a truly joyous and salutary human work to flourish, man must be able to mount from the depth of his home ground up into the ether. Ether





here means the f r ee air of the high heavens, the open realm

of the spirit .


. •

We grow mo r e thoughtful and ask: does this claim of Johann Peter Hebel hold today? Does man still dwell calmly b e tween heaven and earth? Does a med i tative spirit . still reign over the . land? Is there still a life-givi n g home- land in whose ground man may stand rooted, that is, be autochthonic?

Many Germans have lost t heir homeland, have ' had t o leave their , villages and towns, have been driv e n from th e ir nativ e soil. Countless others whose homeland was

saved, have yet wa n d e red off . They have been caught N : p

in the

wastelands of industrial dis t ricts. They ar e strangers now to their former homeland. And those wh o hav e stay e d on in their homeland? Often they are still more homeless than

those who have been driven from th e ir homeland. Hourly and daily they ar e chained to radio and television. Week

after week the movies carry them off in t o uncommon , but often merely common, realms of the i magina t ion, and give the illusion of a wor l d that is no . werld. Picture magazines are everywhe r e available. All that w i th which mod er n techniques of communi c ation stimulate , as s ail, and d ri ve

man - aU

hi s fields around hi s f arm s t ea d, closer t han th e sky over the earth , close r th a n the c hange from night to day , closer than the convent i ons and c u s tom s of his v i llag e , th an the tradition of his native world. We grow mo re thoug h t f ul and a s k : Wh a t , is happ e ning here-s-wi t h those d r i ven from their hom e land no l e ss than with those who have rem a ined? Answer : , the rootedn e ss,

turmoil of the big cities, and have rese tt led in the

t hat is already much closer to man today than




the autochthony, of man is threatened today at its corel" Even more: The loss of rootedness i s caused not merely by circumstance and fortune, nor does it stern only f r om t he negligence and the superficiality of man ' s way of life. The loss of autochthony springs from the spirit of the age into which all of us were born. We grow still more thoughtful and ask: If this is so, can man, can man's work in the future still be expected to thrive in the fertile ground of a homeland and mount into the ether, into the far reaches of the heavens and the spirit? Or will everything now fall into the clutches of planning and calculation, of organization and au t omation? If we reflect l i pon what our celebration today suggests, then we must obs e rve the loss of man's auto c hthony with wh i ch our age is threatened. And we ask: What r e ally is happening in our age? By what is it charac t erized? The age that is now beginning has been called of late the atomic ag e. Its most conspicuous symbol is the atom bomb. But this s y mbolizes only the obvious; for it was recognized at once that atomic energy can be used also for peacefu l purposes. Nuclear physic i sts everywhere are bu s y with vas t plans to implement the peaceful uses of atomic energy. The great industrial co r porations of the leading countr i es, first of all England, have figared out already that atomic energ y can develop i nto a gigantic busines s . Through this atomic bu s iness a new era OD happines s i s en- visioned . Nuclear science, too, does not stand idly by. It publicly proclaims this e ra of happ i ness. Thus in July of this year at Lake Constance, e i ghte e n Nobel Prize winners




. 5 . The German Bodenstiindigkeit is translat e d rootedness or auto c hsboro:

depending on a lite r al or a more figurative connotation . (Tr.)



stated in a proclamation: " S c ience [ and that is mode rn n atural sc i e n c e] is a road to a happier hum a ~ life . " Wh a t i s th e s e nse of this statement? D o e s it spring from ref l e ction? Do es it ev e r ponder on the m e aning of the atomic a ge ? No ! For if we res t cont e nt with this statement of s ci e nc e , we remain a s far as pos si ble from a ref l ecti v e in si ght into our age . Why? Becau se we forg e t to ponder. Be ca us e w e fo r g e t to a s k : W h at is the ~round th a t en a b l e d mod er n t ec hnol o gy to discov e r and s et free n e w energi e s in Natur e ?

This i s due to a re v olution in le a d ing con ce pts whi c h

h a s b ee n go i ng on f or the p as t se v e ral ce nturi es, and by whi c h man is pl ace d in a di f f ere nt world . Thi s r a d ica l r e v - o l ution in outlook h as com e a b o ut in mod e rn philo sop hy .

F r o m thi s

ari s es a c om p l e t e l y n e w r e l a tion o f m a n to the

world an d h is pl ace in i t . Th e wo r ld n o w a p pe ar s as a n ob -

j ec t op e n to t h e a tta c k s of c al c ula ti v e t h o u g h t , atta c k s th a t

no thi n g i s b e l ie v e d ab l e a n y lo nger t o res i s t . N a tur e b e -

c o m e s a g i gan t ic g as olin e s ta tion, a n e n erg y s our ce f or

mod er n t ec hn o l og y an d in du s try. Thi s r e l a tion o f m an to th e w o rld a s s u c h , in p rinc ipl e a t e ch n ica l o n e , d e v e l o p e d i n th e s e v enteen th cen tu ry f ir s t a nd on l y i n Eur op e . It lon g

r e m a in e d unk n ow n i n oth e r c o nt in e n t s,

to get h e r a li e n t o form e r a g es a nd hi s to ries.

Th e pow er c on c e al e d i n mo d er n t ec hn o l ogy d e ter mi nes t h e rela t i on o f m a n t o th a t whi c h e x i sts. It rul es th e whol e e a r th . In dee d, alr ea dy m an is b e gin nin g to a d va n c e b eyon d

th e ear th into

g i g anti c s our ce s o f powe r ha ve b eco m e k now n through th e di sc o ve ry of at omi c e n e r g y th a t in th e f or esee ab l e f utur e the wo r ld's d e m a nd s for e n e rgy of a ny k i nd wil l b e e nsured

a nd it w as al-

ou te r s pa oe . In n o t qui te t w en t y y e a r s, s u c h




f o r eve r . Soon the pro c u reme n t of the new e nergi e s will no

as is

t h e occurrence of coa l , oi l , and timb e r . I n the for e seeable

future it wi l l b e p ossib l e to bu i ld atomic

anywhere on earth. Th u s th e decisive q uest i o n of science and t ec hnology to- day is no longer : Where do we find suf f icient q u antities of fuel? The decisive q u est i o n now r uns: In what way c an we tame and dir e ct t h e unimag i nab l y vast amounts of ato m i c e n e r g i e s, and s o sec u r e mankind against th e d a ng e r that th e se g igantic energies sudd e nly - ev e n without mi l i - tary action s -break out s om e where, " ru n away" and de- stroy e v e rythin g ? If th e tami n g of a tomi c e r i erg y is successf u l, and i t will

longer be ti e d to c e rtai n countri es and cont i n e nt s,

power · s t ations

. b e suc ce s s fu l , t h e n a totally new e ra of t e chnica l d eve lop - m e nt wi ll b e gin . What w e know now as the t ec h n olo gy of fi l m and televi s ion, of t ra nsportat i on and es pecially air tran s portation, of n e ws r e porti n g, and as m e d ica l and nutritional t echno l o gy , i s pr es umably only a crud e start . No one c an for e see th e r adi c al chang e s to com e . But tech : " nolo g i c al advan ce will mov e f as t e r and fa s te r and ca n nev e r

b e s topped. I n al l ar e as

cir c l e d e ve r mor e tightl y b y th e fo r c es of t ec hno l ogy . Th ese f o r ce s, whi c h everywh ere and every minut e claim, e nchain, drag along, press and impose upon m a n und e r th e fo r m of som e te c hni c a l c o ntrivan ce or oth e r - th ese for c e s , since

man h as not ma d e th e m, have mov e d long sin ce ? e yond his will and have outgrown hi s capa c ity f o r d ec i s ion . But this too is c h aracteristic of th e n e w world of t ec hnol - ogy, that its accompli s hments c ome mo s t spe e di l y to be k n own a n d p u blic l y ad m ire d. Thu s to d ay e v eryone wi ll be

of his ex i s tenc e , man wi l l b e en -







able to read what this talk says about technology in any


mercy of the irresistible superior power of technology? He

competently managed picture magazine or hear it on the radio. But-it is one thing to have heard and read some-

would be if man toda y abandon s any int e ntion to pit medi- tative thinking decisively against merely calculative think- ing. But once meditative thinking awakens, it must be at

the autochthony of the works of man.

thing, that is, merely to take notice; it is another to understand what we have heard and read, that

is, to

ponder. The international meeting of Nobel Prize winners took pla c e again in the s umme r of thi s y e ar of 1955 in Lindau. There the American chemist , Stanley, had this to say:

"The hour i s near wh e n life w ill be placed in the hands of the ch e mi s t who will be able to s y nthesize , split and change living substance at will." W e take notice of such a statement. We even marvel at the daring of s c ientific re- search, without thinking about it. We do not stop to con- sid e r that an attack with technologicalmeans is being pre-

work uncea s ingly and on every last occasion - hence, also, here and now at thi s commemoration. For here we are con- sidering what is threatened especially in the atomic age:

Thus we ask no w: e v en if the - old rootedne s s is being lost in thi s age , may not a new ground and f oundation be granted a g ain to man , a foundation and ground out of which man's nature and all his works can flourish in a new way even in the atomic age? What could the ground and foundation be for the new autochthony? Perhap s the an s wer we are lookin g for lies

pared upon the life and nature of man c ompar e d with

at hand ; so near that we all too

e as i l y overlook it. For the

whi c h th e e x plo s ion of the h y dro g en bomb mean s l i ttl e . For pr ec i s el y if th e h y drogen bomb s do not ex plode and human lif e on e arth is preserved , an uncanny change in the world mov e s upon u s . Y e t it i s not that the wo r ld is b e coming entir e ly t e chn i cal which is really uncanny. Far mor e uncanny is our being unprepar e d for this t r ansform a tion, our inability to con- front m e d i tatively what is r e all y dawn i ng in this age. No s ingle man, no g roup of m e n , no comm issi on of prominen t s tatesmen , s c ie nti s t s, and te c hnic i ans , no con- feren c e of leaders of commerce and indu s try , can brake or direct the progress of history in th e atomic ag e . No merely human organization i s capable of gaining dominion over it . Is man, then, a defenseless and perplexed victim at the

wa y to w hat i s near i s a l w ays the longest a nd thus the hardest for u s human s . Thi s w a y i s th e wa y of m e ditative thinking. M e d i tative thinking demands of u s not to cling one-sidedl y to a si ngl e id e a, nor to run down a . one-track cour s e of ideas: Meditativ e thinking demand s of u s that we engage ours e lves with what at first sight does not go to- gether at all. Let us g i ve it a trial . For all of u s, the arrangem e nt s , de- vice s , and machinery of technology are to a gr e at e r or lesser extent indi s p e nsabl e . I t would be fooli s h to attack tech- nology blindly. It would be shortsight e d to condemn it as the work of the de v il. We depend on te c hnical devices; they even challenge us to ever greater advanc es . But sud- denly and unaware we find ourselves so firmly shackled to



these technical devices that we fall into bondage to them . Still w e c an act other w i s e. W e c an u s e te c hnica l de v ic e s ,

and y et w i t h p r op e r u se al s o k ee p ou r s elv e s s o f ree of t h e m, th at we may l et go o f th em a ny t i m e . We c a n u se t ec hn i cal

to b e u se d , an d al s o l e t t h e m a lone

de v i ces a s the y ou ght

a s s om e t h i n g w hi c h d o e s not aff e c t our inn e r a nd re al core.

We can affirm the unavoidable u s e of t e chnical d ev ic es , and :

a l s o d e ny th e m th e r i ght to domina te us , and so to w arp, con f u s e , a nd la y wa s t e our natur e . Bu t w ill n ot s a y i n g bo th yes an d n o t hi s way to tec hn i c a l de v i c es mak e o u r r e lat ion t o tec hn o l og y am b i v al e nt and in s e cure? On the co n t rary! Ou r r elati on t o t e c h no l ogy w ill b ec om e wonderfull y simpl e a nd r e la x ed. We l e t t ec hni c al

d ev ic es en t e r our d a i l y l ife , a nd a t t h e

t h e m out s i de , tha t i s, l e t t h e m a l on e, as t h i n gs

n oth i n g ab s o l ute bu t r e ma i n dep e nd e n t u pon som e thing h i g h e r . I wo ul d ca l l t h is comportm en t toward t e ch n o lo gy wh i c h ex p r ess e s " y es " and a t th e s a m e t ime " no, " by a n old w ord , r e l e a s e m e nt towa r d thing s? H a v i n g th is c o mpo r t m e nt we n o l on ge r v ie w th i n gs o n l y in a t e chni ca l way . It gi v es u s c l ea r visio n a n d w e no t i ce tha t w hil e t h e produ c t io n and u se o f m ac h i n es d e mand s o f u s an o th e r r e l at ion to t h i n gs, i t i s no t a m e a n i ngl ess r e l ati o n . F ar ming a nd a g ri c ult u r e , fo r ex a mp l e , n ow ha v e t ur n e d into a motoriz e d f ood indu s t ry . Thu s h ere , evi d e ntly, a s

s a m e ti m e l e av e

w hi c h are

a lth o u g h u se d to d ay i n

G en na n i n the se n se of "composure," "ca l mness ," an d "u n concer n , " a l s o h a s olde r m eanings, b ei n g use d b y ea r ly G erman m yst i cs (as Meiste r Eck - h art ) i n . t he sense o f l e t ting t he world go an d giving o n ese lf t o G o d . "R . e l easemen t" is no t as ol d a w or d i n English, but b eca u se it · is r a r e a n d so f ree fro m t oo s pe c if i c c o n n o t a ti ve m ea n i ngs , it c a n car ry wi th r e l ati v e ea s e t h e v ery specia l an d co mpl ex m e an i ngs wh ic h a re impli c it h ere a nd m a d e expl ici t i n the C on ve r sa t i o n w h i c h f o l lo w s. ( Tr .)

4 . D ie G elasse nh ei t z u d e n D ingen . G elassen h eit ,




elsewhere, a profound change is taking place in man ' s rela-

t i o n to nature and to the world. But the meaning that reigns

in this c hange remains ob s cur e .

There is t hen in a l l t e c hnical proc esse s a mean i ng , not in v ent e d or made by u s, which la y s claim to w hat

man does and leav es undon e. We do not know

nificance of th e uncanny increasing domi n ance of atomic technology. Th e m e aning p e r v adin g t e c hn o lo gy hid e s it - s e lf . But if we expli c itl y and c ontinuou s l y h ee d th e fact t hat such h i dd e n m e anin g to uch es us e veryw h e r e i n th e w orld

of t ec hnolo gy, w e s tand a t once wit h i n t h e re a lm of that which hide s it s e lf from u s , and h i d es i t s e lf just in ap- proaching u s . That which s hows its e lf and ' at th e same time withd r aws is the e ss ential trait of what we c a ll the mystery. I call t he compor t m e nt w hi c h enab les us to keep open to the meaning hidden in t e chnolog y , op e nn ess to the

the s ig-

y s te r y


. R e l e as e m e nt toward t h i n gs and openn es s to the m y stery

b e long to g ether. They grant us t h e possibility of dw e lling

in th e world in a totall y d if f e r e nt w ay . The y pr o mi se us a

n ew gro und and f o undation upon w hi c h we ca n s ta nd and e ndu re in th e world o f t e chnol o gy wi t hout b e i n g imp e riled b y i t .

R e l e as e m e nt tow a rd thin gs and openn e s s to the m ys tery giv e u s a vision of a n e w autochthony which s om e day even

mi g h t b e fit to recap t u re th e o ld and now rapidl y di s appear -

in g au t och t h o n y in a c han ge d form . Bu t for th e time b e ing - w e do not kno w for how lon g - man finds him se l f in a pe ril ou s situa t ion. Why ? Ju st be- cau s e a third world war might break o ut unexpectedly and b ring about the comp l ete annihilati o n of humanity and the

56 DI S C O UR S E


d estru .c t i on o f t h e e a r th ? No. In t his daw ni ng at o mic age a far greater danger t hr eatens - precise l y w h en t h e danger of a third world war has been removed . A strange assertion! Strange ind e ed , b ut on l y as long a s we do n o t medit a t e . In what sen s e is the statement j u s t made vali d ? This a s se rtion is va l id in the sense t h at the approaching tide o f t echnological revolution in the at o mic age cou l d so c a p ti - vate , bewi t c h, dazzle , and beguile man tha t c alc ul a t i ve thinking may someda y come to be accepted and practiced as the onl y way of thinking. What great danger then might move upon us? Then there might g o hand in hand w i t h the greatest ingenuity in ca l c ul ativ e plann in g a n d inventing ind i f f erence toward meditat i ve thinking, tota l tho u ghtlessness . And t h en? Then man would have denied and thrown a w ay his own special nature -- that he is a meditative being. Therefore , the i s sue

Therefore, the issu e

is th e s a v ing of man 's e s sential nature.

is k eeping meditativ e th i nking ali ve. Yet releasement toward things and o penness to the

myste ry nev e r happen o f th e m s elves. Th e y do not befall us accid e ntall y . Both flouri s h only through persis t ent , cou- rageou s think i ng. P e rhaps toda y' s memorial celebration will prompt us to-

we think of

Conr a din Kreutzer by thinking of the origin of his work, the l i fe-gi v ing power s of hi s Heub e rg homeland. And it

i s w e who think if we know ourselves here and now as the men w ho must find and prepare the way into the ato m i c age , through it and out of i t . If releasem e n t toward things and openness to the myste r y awaken within u s , then we sho ul d arrive at a path that

ward thi s. I f we respond to the prompting,




will le ad to a n e w groun d a nd f o un dation. I n tha t gr o und t h e creativity w h ic h pr o du c es la s t i ng w o rks could strike n e w roo ts .

a changed age, the

tru . th o f what Johann Peter Hebel says should b e renewed:

Thus i n a d ifferent manner and in

We are plants whi c h-whethe r w e like to admit it to ourselves o r

our ro ots r is e out o f t h e earth in or d er to blo o m

no t-m u s t wi t h

i n the et h er and to bear fr u it .





Scientist: Toward the last you stated that the que s tion co n- cerning man's nature is not a quest i on about man. Teacher: I said only that th e qu es tion con ce rn i ng man's


u navoid a ble.

mak e s a con s id e ration wh e th e r this i s the ca s e

S c ientist: Ev e n so, it is a my s tery to m e how man's nature is ever to b e found by looking away from man. Teach e r : It i s a myst e ry to m e too ; so I se e k to c l arify how far this is po ss ible, or p e rhaps e v e n n e cessary . - Sci e nti s t: To b e hold man' s natur e without looking at man ! T e acher : Why not? If thinking is what distingui s h es man's nature, th e n sure l y the es s enc e of t his nature, n a mely the na t ur e of thinking, can be seen only by l ooking away

from th i nking. Scho l ar: But thinking, und e rstood in th e traditiona l way, as r e -presen t ing is a kind of willing; Kant, too , under-

* This disco u rs e was t a ken fr o m a conv e rsation wr i tten d ow n in 1944 -- 4 5 between a scientist, a scholar, and a teac h er.

5 8




5 9

stands thinking this w a y wh e n he charact e riz e s it as spontan e ity . To think is to wi l l, a nd to will is to think . S c i e ntis t: Th e n th e s tat e m e nt th a t the natur e of thinking is someth i ng oth e r th a n thinking means that thinking is somethi n g other than willing .

qu es tion as

T e ac h e r : And th a t is why, in answ e r to your

to what I r ea lly want e d from our med i t a tion

on the

n a tur e of think i n g , I r e p l i e d: I w a nt non - willing . Sc ie nti s t : Meanwhil e this formu l ation ha s prov e d am b igu- .

Scholar: Non - willing , for on e thing, means a willin g in such a w ay a s to i nvol ve n e gation , b e it eve n i n th e se n se of a n eg · a ti o~ l whi c h i s d irec t e d a t w i ll i ng and r e nounc es it. No n -will i n g m ea n s , th e r e fo re: w i lbn g l y to re noun ce w i l lin g. A nd t h e t e rm non-willin g m e a n s , f urth er, wh a t r em a i n s a b s olu te l y o ut s id e a ny k i nd of w i l l . S ci e nti s t: S o th a t it c an n e v e r b e carr i e d out or r eac h e d b y a ny wil l ing . T e a c h e r: nut perhaps w e c ome near e r to it by a will ing i n the fi rs t se n s e o f non-willing . S c hola r : You se e , t hen, th e t w o s e n s e s of no n- willin g s tan d i n g in a d efinite r e l a tion to e ach oth e r .

T e a c h e r : N o t onl y d o I see th is re lation , I c o nfes s th a t e v e r

ou s

a s

since I h ave t r i e d t o r ef l ec t on wh a t mov es our

v e r sa ti o n , i t h a s c l ai m e d my att e ntion, l eng e d me .

c on - if not c hal-

Sc ie nti st : A m I ri g ht i f I s tat e th e re l a tion of th e on e se n se o f n on- w i ll i n g to th e oth er as fol low s? Y ou w a nt a non- willi ng in t h e sense of a r e noun c in g of w i lling, s o th a t throu g h this w e m a y r e l ease , or at l eas t prepare to re-



lease, ourselves to the sought-for essence of a thinking that is not a willing. Teacher: You are not only right, but by the gods! as I wo u ld say if they had not . flown from us, you have uncovered something essential . Scholar: I should now be tempted to say that you , in your interpretation of the ambiguous talk about non - willing, have s urpassed both us and your s elf-if anyone were en- titled to mete out prai s e and if that were not contrary to the style of our conversations. Scientist: That I succeeded in this, was not my doing but that of the night having set in, which without forcing compels concentration. Scholar : It leaves us time for meditating by slowing down our pace. Teacher: That is why we are still far from human habita- tion.

Scientist: Ever more openly I am coming to tru s t in the in- conspicuous guide who takes u s by the hand-or better said, by the word - in this conversation. Scholar: We need thi s guidance, because our conversation becomes ever more difficult :

Teacher: 1£ by "difficul t " you mean the unaccustomed task which consists in weaning ourselves from will. Scholar: Will, you say , and not m e r e ly willing


and so, you state an exciting demand in a

released manner. Teacher: 1£ only I possessed already the right releasement, then I would soon be freed of that task of weaning. Scholar: So far as we can wean ourselves from willing, we contribute to the awakening of releasement.


Teacher: Say rather, to keeping awake for Scholar: Why not, to the awakening? Teacher: Because on our own we do not awaken release- ment in ourselves.

Scientist: Thus releasement is effected from somewhere else. Teacher: Not effected, but let in.




Scholar: To be sure I don't know yet what the word release- ment means; but I seem to presage that rel ea s ement awakens when our nature is let-in so as to have dealings with that which is not a willing. Scientist: You speak without letup of a letting-be and give the impression that what is meant is a kind of passivity. All the same, I think I understand that it is in no way a matter of weakly allowing things to slide and drift along.

Scholar: Perhaps a higher acting is concealed in release- ment than is found in all the action s within the world

and in the machinations of all mankind

. which higher acting is yet no activity.



T e acher:

Scientist: Then releasement lies-if we may u se th e word

the distinction between activity and pas-

lie - beyond sivity


because releasement does not belong to the

domain of the w ill.

Sci e ntist : The transition from willing into releas e ment is what seems difficult to me.

Teacher: And all the more, since the nature of release- ment is still hidden.

Scholar: Especially so because even releasement can still be thought of as . within the domain of will, as is the case with old masters of thought such as Meister Eckhart.



Teacher : From whom , all th e sa me , much c an be l e a r ned .

ha ve call e d re l e asem e nt

e vid e ntl y d oe s not m e an ca s tin g o f f sin f ul se lfi s hn e ss and

l e ttin g se lf-w i ll g o in favor of th e d ivi n e will .

T e a c h e r : No , not that. Sci e n tis t : In man y r es p e cts i t is c l ea r to m e w h a t th e word r e l ease m en t s h o uld not s ign i f y for u s . B u t a t the same t im e, I k n o w l es s an d l ess wh a t we a re t a lk i n g about.

Sch o lar : Ce r tai nl y; but w h a t w e

W e a r e ' t ry in g to d e t e rmi ne th e n a tur e

of th i nking .

W h a t has r e l ease ment t o do w it h thinkin g? .T eac h e r: N o t h i n g if we c on cei v e t h i nk i n g in th e trad i ti o nal w ay as r e - p r ese n t ing . Y e t p er h a p s th e natu re o f think - i n g we are see king i s fi xe d in re l ease m e n t . S c i e n tist : With t h e b est o f w ill , I ca n not r e- pr e s e nt to my-

se l f t hi s n a tu re of th inki n g. T e a c h e r: Pr ec i se l y " beca u s e thi s will o f y our s and your m ode o f t hinkin g as re - prese n t in g p r eve nt it. S c i e n t i s t : But th e n , w h at i n th e wo r ld am I t o do ? Schol a r: I a m a s kin g m ys e lf that t o o . T eac h e r: W e a r e to d o n ot h ing but wai t. Sc h o l a r: T h at i s po o r c o nso l atio n. T e a c h e r: Poor or no t, we sh ould n ot a wa i t c on so lation - s o met h i n g w e wo uld s t i ll b e d o i ng i f w e b ec ame dis -

c S c i e nti s t : T h e n wh at are we to w a it for ? An d w h e r e a re w e t o w ait? I h a rdl y kno w a n y mo re w h o an d w h ere I a m. T e a c h e r: N o ne of u s kno w s th a t , as s o on a s we st o p fooling ou rse lv es . S c h o la r : A nd y e t w e s till hav e our p a th ? T e ach e r : To b e s ur e . But by fo r get t ing it too quickly we give up th i nking .


n s o l a t e.


0 N A co UN TRY



Sci e ntist:

What are we s till to think a bout , in ord e r to

p a ss ov e r to and - into the nature of thinking wh i ch we h a ve not y e t com e to know?

T e ach e r : Why, about that from wh e nc e alon e such a transi- tion c an happ e n .

S c holar: That m ea ns that you would not di sc ard th e tradi- tion a l vi e w o f t h e n a tur e of t h ink i n g ? T eac h e r : Ha v e y ou f o r gott e n wh a t I s a id in our e a r lier c on vers ati o n about w ha t i s revo luti o n a ry ? Scz: e n tis t : Forg e tfuln ess do e s s ee m to b e an e s p ec i a l danger I I I s uch co nv ers a t ion s .

S c h o la r: So no w , if I und e r s tand c orr ec tl y , we are to v i e w wh at we ca ll re l easeme n t in conn ec ti o n w i th th e n at u r e ?f thi n k i n g as ta l ke d a bout , ev e n though we ha r d l y know It a nd a b ov e a ll ar e un a bl e to pla ce it prop e rly. Teac h e r : I mea n exa c t l y th a t.

Sci e nt ist:

Pr evio u s l y, w e h a d c ome to se e t h in kin r- i n t he


f or m of t ra n sc e ndenta l-ho riz on a l r e - prescn t inj-,

S c hol ar: This re- p res e nt i n g, fo r in s tan ce , p l aces b efore u s what is typica l of a t ree, of a pit c h er, o f a b o wl , of a ston e , of p l an t s , an d of anima ls as th a t view int o wh ic h w e l oo k when on e th in g co n f ront s u s in th e a p pearance of . a . t r e e , anoth e r thing i n th e ap p earanc e of a pitc h e r,

t hi s II I t h e

a p p ea ranc~ of ston es , many in t h e a pp e ar ance of pl an t s , an d many II I the a p p e arance of an i ma l s .

S c i e n tist : You d e s cri b e, o n ce again, t h e h or i zo n wh ic h e n -

ap p e aranc e o f a b ow l, va r i ou s th i ng s i n the

circ l e s t h e view of a thing - t h e

f i e ld o f vi s ion.

T e ac h e r : I t go e s b eyond the a p pearance o f th e ob jec t s . S c h o l a r : Ju st as tr a n sce nd ence p asses b ey ond th e p e r cep t i on of obj ec t s.



Teacher: Thus we d etermine what is ca l led horiz o n a nd transcendence by means of this going beyond and pass- ing beyond

Schola r :

presenting of o bjects. Teacher: Horiz o n and transcendence, thus, are experienced and determined only re l ative to objects and our re- presenting them. Scholar: Why do you stress this? Teacher : To sugge s t that in this way what lets the horizon be what it is has not yet been encountered at all . Scientist: What do you have in mind in this statement? Teacher: We say t hat we look into the horizon. Therefore the field of v i s i o n is something open, but its openness is not due to' our l o oking . Scholar: Likewise we d o not place the appear a nce of ob- jects , wh i ch the view within a field of vision offers us,

w hi ch refer b ack : to objects and o ur re -

into this openne s s

Scientist : .

Teacher : What is evident of the horizon , then, is but the side facing us of an o penness which surrounds us; an openness w h ic h is filled with views of t h e appearances o f

what to our re-presenting are objects. Scientist : In consequence the horizon is still something else besides a horizon. Yet after what has b e en said this someth i ng else is the other side of itself , and so the same as i tself. You say that the horizon i s the openness which surrounds us. But what is this openness as such, i~ we dis- regard that it can also appear as the h o rizon of our re - presen t ing?

rather that comes out of this to meet us.





Teach e r : It strikes me as something like a r e gion, an en- chanted region where everything belonging there re- turns to that in which it rests.

Scho l ar: I'm not sure I understand what you say n ow.

Teac h er: I don't understand it either , if by "understand- ing" you mean the capacity to re - present what is put be-

f o re us as if sheltered amid

the familiar and so secured. ,

for I, too, lack the familiar in which to place what I tried to say about openness as a region. Scientist: That is perhaps impossible here , if for no other ~eason than because presumably what you call a region IS exact l y that which alone permits a l l sheltering. Teac h er: I mean s o mething li ke this; but not only this. Scholar: You spoke of "a" region in which everything re - ~urns to itself. Str i ctly speaking , a region for everything I S not one region among many, but the region o f all regions.

Teacher: You are right; what is in question is the region. Scientist: And the enchantment of this region might well

if I may call

be the reign of its nature, its regioning, it that.

Scho l ar : It seems a regi o n holds what comes forward to meet us; but we also said of the horizon that out of the view which it encircles, the appearance of objects comes to meet us. If now we comprehend the horizon through the region , we take the region it s elf as that which comes to meet u s .

Teach e r: In this way, indeed, we w ould characteriz e the region through its relation to us, ju s t as we did a moment ag o with the h o rizon-wherea s we are searching for the



n a ture , i n itself, o f the o penn~ss th a t surrounds us. If we now say t h is is the region, and say it with the me a n- i ng we ju s t gave it, then t he word mus t name s o m e t hi ng e l se. Scie n t i st: Moreover , the comi n g to mee t us i s n o t a t al l a basic characteristic of reg i on, l et a l one the basic char- acteristi c . What does this word imply? Schola r: In its older form it is " Gegnet" and means open expan se . Can anything be learned from this about the nature of what we now cal l the region? . Teach e r : The region gathers , ju s t as if nothing were happening , each to each and each to all into an ab i ding , while resting in itself. Regioning is a ga t h e ring a n d re-sheltering for a n expanded resting in an abiding. Scholar : So the region it s elf is at once an expan se and an abiding. It abides into the ex pan se of r es t i n g . I t expands into th e abid i ng of w h a t h as f r e el y turned to w ard its e lf.

In v iew of thi s u s a g e o f th e wo r d, we ma y a l s o s a y "that - "

wh ic h-regions"

in pla ce 0 f t h e f arm '1 iar ' regIOn . .


Tea c h e r : That-whi c h-r e gion s i s an ab i ding ex p a n s e which , gath er ing all, open s its e lf , s o that in it op e nn es s is halted and he l d , letting e verything m e r g e i n its own r e sting. Sci e nti s t : I believe I see th a t-which - r e gions a s w i t hdrawing ra t h er th a n comin g to m ee t u s

1 . T he G er ma n w o r d for r egio n i s G eg e nd . W ha t is in qu es tion. here ,

how e v e r i s no t re g i on i n gene r al, b u t a s H ei d egger sa ys, " the r e lp0n of

H e id egge r

a ll r egion s " ( "die Geg e nd a l le r G eg e nd e n" ) or th e ~ e gion

u ses an o ld v a ri a nt o f G e g e nd as the wor d f o r t h e r egl~n : d i e G eg n et - a w or d th a t s t il l o ccu r s in s p ok en G er m an al tho u gh onl y ill S o ~th German dial ects . S i n ce a n analo gous varia n t i s not a vai l a ble fo r th e E n ghs h c oun~ e r - p a rt, die G eg n e t ha s b ee n r e nd e red i n th e t ex t b y . th e p hras e t ~ a t-whl c h- region s . That-which - r eg i o ns reflects a mov e m e nt attribut e d by He i d egg e r to die Ge g n e t and further emphasized by his u se o f the v e rb g e gnen ( to re-

gion) . ( Tr . )






so that things which a p pear in that - which-

regions no longer have the character of objec ts . T e a ch e r : They no t only no longer st a n d o ppos i te us, they no longer stand at al l .

Scientist: D o they li e , then, o r ho w ab o u t th e m ? Teach e r : They lie, if by this we mean that re s ting which was jus t discus s ed.

Scienti s t : But where do t h ings rest? What does resting con s i s t of?

to the abiding o f the

Teach e r : They re s t in the return expan se of their self-belonging.

Scholar: But in this return, which after al l is movement, can ther e be re s t?

Teach e r: Indeed there can, i f rest i s the seat and th e reign of a ll mo ve ment.

Sci e nt ist: I mu s t conf es s that I can't q u i t e r e -pr ese nt i n my mi n d all t hat you say about r e gion, expan s e and a bidin g , and a bout return and r es ting.

Scholar : Probably it ca n ' t be re - pr e s e nted at a ll , in

s o far

a s in re-presenting everything ha s become an obje c t that s tands oppo si te u s within a horizon .

Sci e nti s t :


Then we can't rea ll y describe what we h ave

T e a c h e r: No. An y de sc r i ption would r e ify it . Sch o l a r : Ne v e rthle ss i t l et s it se lf b e nam e d , and being n a m e d i t can b e tho ugh t about

e a c h e r:


only if thi nk ing i s no

long e r re - p res enting.

S c i e nti s t:

T e a c h e r: Perhaps we now . are c l ose to be i ng release d int o the nature of think i ng

Sc hol ar :

But th e n what e l se s hould it be?

thr o ugh wa i ti n g f or its nat u r e .



Teacher: Waiting, all right; but never awaiting, for await- ing already links itself with re-presenting and what is re-presented. Scholar: Waiting, however, lets go of that; or rather I should say that waiting lets re-presenting entirely alone. It really has no object. Scientist : Yet if we wait we always wait for something.

Scholar: Certainly , but as soon as we re-present to ourselves and fix upon that for which we wait, we really wait no longer . Teacher: III waiting we leave open what we are waiting for. Scholar: Why? Teach e r: Because waiting releases itself into openness

Scholar :

into the expanse of distance

Teach e r :

in whose nearness it finds the abiding in

which it remains. Sci e ntist : But remaining is a returning. Scholar: Openness itself would be that for which we could do nothing but wait. Sci e ntist : But openness itself is that-which-regions

T e ach e r:

into which w e ar e relea s ed by w ay of wait-

ing , when we think. Sci e ntist , Then thinking would be coming-into-the-near-

ness of d i stance. Scholar: That is a daring definition of its nature, which we have chanced upon.

Scientist: I only brought

together that which we have

, named, but without re-pre s enting anything to myself.

Teacher : Yet you have thought s omething. Scientist: Or, really, waited for something without know- ing for what. Scholar: But how come you suddenly could wait?


Scientist: As I see more clearly just now, all during our conversation I have beenwaiting for the arrival of the nature of thinking. But w aiting it se lf ha s be c ome clearer to me now and therew i th thi s too , that presumably we all became more waitful along our path.





Can you tell us how this is s o?

Sci e ntist:

I'll be glad to try , pro v iding I don't have to run

the risk that you will at once pin me down to particular words.

Teacher: In our conversations, we don't usually do that. Scholar: Rather, we see to it that we move freely in the realm of words.

Teacher: Because a word does not and nev~r can re-present anything; but signifies something, that is, shows some- thing as abiding into the range of its expre ssi bilit y . Scientist : I am to say why I came to wait and th e way I suc- ceeded in clarifying the nature of thinking. I tr ie d to re- lease myself of all re-pres e nting , because waiting moves into op e nness wi t hout re-pr ese n t ing an y thing. A nd , re- leased from re-present i ng , I t r ie d to r e l e a s e m yse lf pur e ly to that-which-r e gions because that -w h i ch-region s i s the opening of openness.

Teacher: If I have it rightly , then, you tried to l e t yourself into releasement.

Scientist : To be honest, I did not think of this partic- ularly, although we just spoke of releasement. The oc- casion which led me to let myself into waiting in the way mentioned was more the course of the conversation than the re-presentation of the specific objects we spoke about. Scholar: We can hardly come to releasement more fittingly than through an occasion of letting ourselves in.



Teacher: Above all when the occasion is as inconspicuous

as the s i lent cour s e of a con v ersation that moves us.

Scholar: But that mean s, the c onversation bring s us to that

path T e ach e r :

whi c h seem s nothing el s e than re I ea s ement itself

wh i ch i s something like r e st.

Scholar: At thi s point , how movement comes from r e s t and remain s let into rest suddenly becomes clearer to me.

Teacher: Th e n rel e a se ment would be not only a path but

a movemen t .

Scholar: Wh e re doe s this strange path go? Where does

th e mo v ement proper to it res t?

Teach e r: Wh er e e l s e but in that-wh ic h-regions , in r e la-

tion to which rel e a se ment i s what it is.

Sci e nti s t : Finally I must now go ba c k and ask , how far is

it r e ally re leasem e nt into wh i ch I tried to l e t myself?

Scholar : Th is qu esti on c au ses u s gr ea t em ba rr a ss m e nt.

Teach e r: In whi c h we ha v e found our s elv es con s tantly along our path. Sci e n t ist: How so?

B e cause w hat w e have de si gnat e d by a w ord

n eve r h a s th at w ord han ging on it like a nam e plat e . Sci e nti s t: Wha teve r w e d e s ign a te ha s b ee n n a m e l ess b e fore;

T e a c h e r :

. this is t r u e a s w e ll of what w e nam e relea s em e nt. What

whether and

how far th e n a m e is ad e q ua te ? Sch o lar: O r do es all d esignati on remain an a r b i trar y act w i th r eg a r d t o th e n a m e l ess ? T e ach e r : But is i t r ea ll y set tl e d th at ther e i s t h e nam e less at all? Th e r e is much whi c h we oft e n cannot say, but only becau s e the name it ha s does not occur to us.

do we go by, th e n, in o r d e r to estimate





Scholar: By virtue of what kind of designation would it have its name?

Teacher: Perhaps these names are not the result of designa- tion. They are owed to a naming in which the namable, the name and the named occur altogether.

Scientist: What you just said about naming is unclear to me.

Scholar: Probably that is connected with the nature words.

Scientist : Ho w ever, what you noted about de s ignation , and about the fact that there is nothing nameless, is clearer to me .


Scholar: Because we can test it in the case of the name releasement.

Teach e r: Or have te s ted it already. Sci e ntist: How so?

Teach e r : What is it that you designated by the name re- lea s ement?

Scienti s t : If I may say so, not I but you have u se d this name. Teacher: I, as little as you , hav e done the designating. Scholar: Th e n who did it? None of us? T e ach e r : Pre s umably , for in the region in w hich we stay everything is in the best order only if it has b e en no one ' s do i ng .

Sci e ntist: A mysterious region where there is nothing for which to be answ e rable.

Teach e r: B e caus e it is the reg i on of the word , which is an s werable to itself a lone .

Scholar : For u s it remains only to li s ten to t he answer proper to the word.

Teacher: That is enough; even when our telling is only a retelling of the answer heard . • .

72 DI S C 0 URS ' E


Scientist: . and when it doesn't matter in this if there is a first retel l ing or who does it ; al l the more since o ne often doesn't know whose tale he retel l s. Scholar : So let's not quarrel over who first introduced the name, releasernent, let us consider o n ly wha t it is we name by it . Scientist: And that is waiti n g, as the experience I referred to indicates. Teacher : And so not something name l ess, but what is a l ready designated. What is this waiting? S cientist: Insofar as waiting re l ates to o pen n ess and open- ness i s t h at-w hi c h- reg i ons, we can say t ha t waiting is a re l ati o n t o th a t- w h ic h - r egio n s. T ea ch er: Per h aps i t is eve n th e re l ati on to that - whic h- regio n s, in sof a r as waiting releases itse l f t o that-which - regions, an d in doi ng so lets that - which-regions reign purely as such. Scholar: Then a relation to something would be the true relation if it were held in its own nature by that to which it relates . Teacher: The relation to that-which-regions is waiting. And wai t ing means : to re l ease oneself into the openness of that-which-regions. Scholar : Thus to go into that-which - regions. Sci e ntist: That sounds as if before then we had been out- side that - which-regions , Teacher: That we were, and yet we were not . Insofar as we as thinking b eings (that is, be i ngs who at the same time re-present t ranscendenta ll y) stay w i thin the hori- z o n o f transce n dence, we are not an d : never could be outsi d e that-which-regi o ns. Ye t th e h orizon .is bu t the


0 N A C 0 UN TRY


7 3

~ide o f that - w h ich -r egions tur n ed towa r d our re-present - mg. That - which-regions surrounds us and reveals itself to us as the horizon .

Scholar: I t seems to me that as the ho r i z on it rather con- ceals itself.

Teacher: Certainly, nevertheless we are in that-which- regions when, re - presenting transcendentally, we step out into the h orizon. And yet again we are still not in it,

so far as we have not re l eased ourse l ves for that - which-

regions, as such. S c ientist: Some thi ng w hi ch happens in waiting .


Teache r : As you h ave said, in wait i ng we a re release d f r o m our transcende nt a l relatio n to t h e ho riz on . Sci entist: This b e i ng - re l eased -f ro m is t h e f i rst aspe c t of re-

l easement; yet a l one exh a ust i t. Scho l ar, How not ?

Teacher: So fa r as a uthentic re l e a sement may come ab o ut without necess a rily being preceded b y such being-re- leased-from horizontal transcendence . Scholar: If authentic releasement is to b e the proper re - lation to that - which - regions, and if this relation is de - termi n ed solely b y what it is related to, t hen authentic releasement must be based upon that-which-regions, and must have received from it movement toward it. Teacher: Releasemen t comes o ut of that - w h ich-regi o ns be- cause in re l easement man stays released to that-which- regions and, ind eed, thro u gh this itse l f. He is released to it in his being, insofar as he original l y b e l ongs to it. He b e l ongs t o it ins o f a r as he is appropriated initial l y to t hat - which-regions an d , i ndeed, throug h t h is itse l f.

that d o es n ot h i t its na tu re exa c t l y, le t



Scholar: In fact (supposing that it is waiting which is essen- tial that is all-decisive), waiting upon something is based on our belonging in that upon which we wait. Teacher: Out of the experience of and in relation to just such waiting upon the opening of that-which-regions, waiting came to be spoken of as releasement. Scholar: Thus waiting upon that-which-regions is named adequately. Scientist: But if heretofore the reigning essence of think- ing has been that transcendental-horizonal re-presenting from which releasement, because of its belonging to that- which-regions, releases itself; then thinking changes in releasement from such a re-presenting to waiting upon that-which-regions. Teacher: Yet the nature of this waiting is releasement to that-which-regions. But because it is that-which-regions which then lets releasement belong to it, since resting in it, the nature of thinking lies, if I may say so, in the re- gioning of releasement by that-which-regions.

Scholar: Thinking

is releasement to that-which-regions be-

cause its nature lies in the region i ng of releasement. Teacher: But by this you say that the nature of thinking is not determined through thinking and so not through waiting as such , but through the other-than-itself , that is, through that-which-regions which as regioning first brings forth this nature. Scientist: I can follow, after a fashion, all that we have said now about releasement, that-which-regions, and region- ing; all the same I can re-present nothing of it to myself.




2 . See Introduction for comment on the use of "waiting upon," p. 25. (Tr. )





Scholar: You aren't supposed to-if said in accordance with its nature.

you think what was

Scientist: You mean that we wait upon it in accordance with the changed nature of thinking. Scholar: That is, wait upon the regioning of that-which- regions, so that this releases our nature into that-which- regions , and so into belonging to it. Teacher: But if we are already appropriated to that-which- regions?


What good does that do us if we aren't truly

appropriated? Scholar: Thus we are and we are not. Scientist: Again this restless to and fro between yes and no. Scholar: We are suspended as it were between the two. Teacher: Yet our stand in this betweenness is waiting. Scholar: That is the nature of rel easement into which the regioning of that-which-regions regions man. We pre- sage the nature of thinking as releasement. Teacher: Only to forget releasement again as quickly. Scientist : That, which I myself have experienced as waiting. Teacher: We are to bear in mind that thinking is in no way self - sub s isting relea s ement. Releasement to that-which- regions is thinking only as the regioning of relea s ement, a regioning which releases releasement into that-which- regions ,

Scholar: However, that-which-regions also makes things endure in the abiding expan s e. What are we to call the regioning of that - which-region s with respect to things? Scientist: It can't be regioning with respect to man for that is the relation of that-which-regions to releasement,







and r e l e asement i s s aid to s helt e r in itself the nature of

effect, nor the transcendental-horizonal

relation; and

thinking , wh e rea s things themselves do not think. T e ach e r : Evidently thin gs are t hing s ' through the region- ing of that-whi c h-r egi ons as an e arlier conversation on th e abiding of the pit c her in the expanse of that-which- . region s showed. Ho we v er, t h e r e gioning of that-wh ic h- region s doe s not cau s e and effect thing s, as little indeed

hence neither an ontic nor an ontological relation. Scholar: But evidently , the relation of that - which - regions to the thing also is not regioning with respect to man ' s nature .

Teacher: What are we then to call the relation of that- which - regions to the thing , if that - which - regions lets the

as that-which-regions

regions in it s regioning is neither the horizon of release- m e nt; nor is it th e horizon of things , whether we ex- perience th e m only as objects or take them as "things-

effects r e leasement . That-which-

more b r iefly and mor e ge n e r a ll y : the r e lation between

thing abide in itself? Sci e ntist : It determines the thing, as thing. Scholar : Therefore , it is best called the determining. Sci e ntist: But determining is not making and effecting; nor

in-themselves" and in addition to objects . Scholar: What you now say seems to me so decisive that I

is it rendering

possible in the sense of the transc e n- \

would like to try fixing it in scholarly terminology . Of


but only the det e rmining .

course I know that such t e rminology not only freezes

Sci e ntist: We must first learn to think what d e termining

thou g ht , but at the same time also renders it ambiguous

I S •••

wi t h j u s t that ambigu i ty wh ic h unavoidably adheres to

T e a c h e r:

by learning to become aware of the nature of

ordinary t e rminology. T e a c h e r: A fter that sc holarly reservation , you shouldn ' t

th i nking Scholar :

. that is by waiting upon determining and re-

h es itate to speak in a sc hola r l y mann e r. Schol a r : As y ou st ate it , t h e r e lation of that - which-regions to r e l ea s ement i s nei t h er a conn e c t ion of cau se to e f fect, nor the tran sce nd e ntal - horizon a l r e la t ion. To s tate it still

that - whi c h - re g ion s and re l e a s em e nt , if it c a n still be con - sid er ed a relation , can be thought of neither as ontic nor as ontological

gioning w ith r e sp e ct to man . Sci e nti s t : Neverth e l ess, s uch nam i ng is al s o of some h e lp even now in brin g in g a ce rt a in c la r i ty into th is v a r i e ty of re lat i on s . Still , pr e ci se l y that r e lation rema i n s und e - fined w ho s e cha r a cte rization conc e rns me most of all . I m e an th e relation of man to th e thing . Scholar: Why are you so p e r s i s tent about thi s relation? Scientist: Earlier we began by illum i nating the r e lation

T e ach e r :

but only a s reg i oning .

betw ee n the ego and the object by way of the factual re-

S c ientist : Similarly, al s o , the relation between that-which-

lation of thought in th e phy s ical sciences to natur e . The

regions and the thing is neither a connection o f cause t o

relation between the ego and the object, the oft e n men-


. ,


tioned subject-object relation, which I took to be most general, is apparently only an historical . variation of the relation of man to the thing,so far as things can become objects . Teacher : even have become objects before they at- tained their nature as things. Scholar : The same is true of the corresponding historical change of the human being to an ego

Teach e r:

which likewise emerged before the nature of

man could return to itself


providing we do not regard the coin i ng of

man into the animal . rationale as final

S c holar :

conver s ation. Sci e nti s t: I he s itate to decide upon this so quickly . How- ev e r, something else has b e come cl e ar to m e . In the rela- tion between ego and object there is conc e al e d s om e thing historical, something which belongs to the hi s tory o f man's nature. T e a c h e r : Only so far a s man's natur e do e s not r e ceive its stamp from man , but from what we call t hat - whi c h-re- gions and its regioning, do es th e h is tory you pr e sage b e come the history of that-wh i ch-regions. Scientist : I c an't follow you tha t far y e t. I am con te nt if some obscu r ity in the r e lation betw ee n e go and obj e ct

is remov e d for . me by this insight into its hi s tori c al ch a r - a c ter. For when I decided in favor of th e m e thodological type of analysis in the physic a l sci e nces , you said that th is way of looking at it was historical . Scholar: You strongly objected to that statement.

which would hardly be possible after today's









Scientist : Now I see what was meant : The program of math- ematics and the experiment are gnmnded in t he relation of man as ego to the thing as object. Teacher : They even constitute this relation in part and un- fold its historical character . Scientist: If any examination which focuses on what is a part of history is called historical, then the methodolog - ical analysis in physics is , indeed , historical. Scholar: Here the concept of the historical signifies a mode of knowing and i s understood broadly. ' T e acher: Understood, presumably, as focused upon a his- tory which does not consist in the happenings and deeds of the world. Scholar: Nor in the cultural achievements of man. Scientist: But in what el se ? Teach e r: The historical rests in that-which-regions, and in what occurs as that-which-regions . It rests in what, com- ing to pass in man, r e gions him into his nature. Scholar : A nature we hav e hardly experienc e d as yet, sup- posing it has not yet been realized in the rationality of the animal.

Scientist : In such a situation we can do nothing but wait for man's nature. Teach e r : Wait in a r e leasement through which we belong to that-which-regions, which still con ce als its own natu re . Scholar : We presage r e leas e ment to that - which - regions as th e s ought-for nature of thinking. Teach e r; When we let ourselve s into releas e ment to t hat- which-regions , w e w i ll non-willing. Scienti s t: Releasement is indeed the release of ones e lf from transcendental re-presentation and so a relinqcishing of

80 DI S C 0 UR S E O N


the wi lling of a h or izo n . S uc h r e linqu i shin g no lon g er

stem s f rom a wil l ing, exce pt t h a t t he o ccas i o n fo r r e l e a s - ing on ese lf to belon g in g to that-which-r eg ion s r e quir e s

a tra ce of w i lling. Thi s trac e , how e ver, van is he s while

releasing one s elf and is compl e tely extingui s h e d ' in re- lea se m e nt .

Scholar : But in what wa y s is relea se ment related to w hat

is not w illin g ?

T e a c h e r : Af ter all we sai d about the e ndurin g of the abid- ing expa n se , a bou t l e tting r est i n re t urn i n g, abou t t he r e gionin g o f tha t - w hich-r e gion s, it is hardly pos si ble to speak of that-whi c h-r e gions as w ill. Scholar: C e rt a inly the fact that on the one hand both the regioning w ith respect to man a nd the d e termining of that-wh ic h-regions , and on the other hand , all effecting and c au s ing are e ss ent i ally and mutuall y exclusi v e , shows how ali e n that is to anything pe r taining to t he will .

Teach e r: For every will wants to actualize, and to ha v e actuality as i t s element . Scientist : Someone w ho heard us s ay this could easily get the impression that r e l e asement floats in th e realm of

unr e alit y and so in nothingn e ss , and , lacking all pow e r

of a c t i on , i s a will-l e s s letting

in of e ve r y thing and ,

b as i cal l y, t h e d enia l of th e will to li v e!

Scholar: Do y ou t h en c o ns ider it n ecess ar y to coun t er thi s

po ss ibl e m is und erst and i ng b y s ho w in g i n what r espec t

som e th ing like po w er of action and resolve also reign in rel ea s em e nt ? S c i e nti s t : Y es I do, althou g h I don't fail to r e cognize that all such names at once misinterpret releasem e nt as per - t ain in g to th e will.





Schola r: So , for example , one n ee d s t o und ers tand "re- so lve " a s it is under s tood in B e i n g and Tim e: as the opening of m a ns particularl y under t ak e n by him for op e nn ess . T e ach e r: which we think of as that-whi c h - r eg ions. Scholar : If , in accordance with Gr e ek ' st or y , an d thought ,

we ar e awar e of t h e nature o f tru t h a s a di s - c l os ur e a nd


r ecove r y; then t hat- w hi c h- r egion s, we ar e r e m ind e d , i s pr es u ma b ly th e h idd e n c om i n g fo rt h of thi s nat ur e . Sci e nti s t: Th e n t h e nature of th i nk ing, na me l y , re lea se - m e nt to that-wh ic h-re g ions , would b e a r es ol ve for the coming forth of t r uth ' s nature . T e ach e r: T he r e could b e a st e adfa s tness h i dden in release- ment, res i ding s impl y in the fact that r e l e as e ment b e - com es i ncr e asingly clear e r about its inner nature and,

b ei ng s t e adfast , st and s within th i s. Scholar: That would be behavior which d i d not become a swag g ering comportm e nt , but w hich coll e c te d it s elf into and r e mained alwa ys the composure of relea s ement. Teach e r: R e leasement , t hus composedly steadfast , would b e a r e c eiv ing of the regioning 0 f that-wh i ch - regions . Sci e n t ist: This composed steadfastne s s, in which the nature

of r e l ease ment re s t s, could be said perhaps to correspond t o th e high es t willing; but i t could not . Th i s r es ting in it se lf of r e l e a s em e nt , which l et s i t b e long to t h e region - ing of that- w hich-r e gion s wit h r e spe c t to ma n

T e a c h e r :

and aft e r a fa s hion t o d e t e rmin i n g a s w ell

Sci e nt is t :

th is st eadfa s tn ess of a b e lon g i ng to that-

w hic h - r e g i ons which re st s in it se lf , still la cks a name. Scholar: P er haps the word " i n-d w ell i ng" could name some

of this . A t a f r i e nd's I once read a few l i nes which he

5 . D a s e i n ( Tr . ) .



had copied somewhere. They contain an explanation of this word. I still remember them. They read :

In-dwelling Never one truth alone; To receive intact The coming forth of truth ' s nature

In return for boundless steadfastness:

Imbed the thinking heart In the humble patience Of unique high-minded

- And noble memories.

Teacher : The in-dwelling in releasement to that-which-

regions would then be the real nature of the spontaneity

of thinking.


Scholar: And, :£ollowing the quoted lines, thinking would be commemoration, akin to what is noble. T e acher: In-dwelling in releasement to that-which-regions would be noble-mindedness itself . Scientist: It seems to me that this unbelievable night en- tices you both to exult . Teacher: So it does, if you mean exulting in waiting, through which we become more waitful and more void . Scholar : Apparently emptier, but richer in contingencies. Scientist: Then please tell me also, in your curious empti- ness , in what respect rel easement can be akin to what is noble. Scholar: Noble is what has origins. T e acher : Not only that, but abides III the origins of its nature. Scientist: Now authentic releasement consists in this: that man in his very nature belongs to that-which-regions, i.e., he is released to it.





Scholar : Not occasionally, but-how shall we say it-prior to everything. Scientist: The prior, of which we really can not think

Teach e r:

because the nature of thinking begins there.

Scientist: Thus man ' s nature is released to that-which-re- gions in what is prior to thought . Scholar: Which is why we also added at once: and, indeed, through that-which-regions itself. Teacher: It appropriates man's nature for its own re- glOnmg. Scientist: So we have explained releasement. Neverth e less we have neglected to consider--something that struck me at once--why man's nature is appropriated by that- which-regions. Scholar: Evidently the nature of man is released to that- whi c h-regions because this belongs to it so e ss entially, that without man that-which-regions can not be a com- ing forth of all natures, as it is. Sci e nti s t : This is hardly conceivable.

Teach e r: It cannot be conceived at all so long as we want to re-present it to ourselves , that is, forcibly bring be- fore ourselves an objectively given relation b e twe e n an object called "man" and an object called "that-which-

r e gions."

Sci e ntist : That may be so. But even if we are mindful of that, doesn't there remain an insurmountable difficulty in the statement of the essential relation of human na- ture to that-which-regions? We have just character i zed

that-which - regions as the hidden nature of truth. If to be brief we say truth in place of that-which-regions, then the statement of the relation of human nature to



that-which-region s is this: human nature is gi v en over to t ruth , becau s e truth need s man. Y e t now t he distin- guishing characteristic of truth-particularly in its re-

lation to man-is, is i t not , to be what it is independent of man? Scholar: H e re indeed you touch upo n a d i ff i culty w e can

di s cu s s onl y after we ha v e e x plained th e nature of truth

as such , and have more clearly determined the nature of man . Teach e r : No w we a r e but on our wa y to both. Neverthe- less , in order to mak e clearer w hat we have to reflect upon if we con si der this relation by itself, I would like to par a phrase th e statement about the relation of truth to man.

Sci e n t i s t: Fo r the pre s ent , then , what y ou are to say about

it w ill be an a ss ertion only.

Teacher : A s suredly , and I m e a n this : the nature of m a n i s re lea s ed to that-which-r e g i on s and u s ed by it accord- ingl y, for this rea s on a lone--that man o f h i m se lf ha s no power o v er truth and it remain s ind epen dent of him. Truth ' s natur e can come f orth i nd e p e nd e ntly of man only b e cau s e th e nature of man ( as r e l e a se ment to th a t - which-reg i on s ) i s u s ed by that- w hi c h-reg i on s in r eg ion - ing bo t h w i t h r e s p ect t o man and t o s u s ta i n d e t e rmining. Evid e nt l y tru t h ' s ind e p e nd e nce from man is a relation to human nature, a relation wh ic h rests on th e region- ing of hum a n nature into that -w hich - re g ion s. Scholar: If this w e re so , then man , as in-d w elling in re- lea se ment to t hat-which-r e g io n s, w ould ab i d e in the origin of his nature, which in consequence we may para - phrase : man is he who is made use of for the nature of


truth. And so , abiding in hi s origin, man would be drawn to what i s noble in his nature. He would have a presenti- ment of the noble mind. Scientist : This presentiment could hardly be anything other than waiting , for the in-dwelling of relea s ement has been thought of as wai t ing.

Scholar: So i f that-which - regions were the abidin g

patience would extend the furthest-even to the expanse of the abiding , be ca use it can wait the lon ge st T e ach e r : A patient nobl e- mind e dne s s w ould be pu r e res t- ing i n it s elf of t hat w illing , which , renouncing willing, has relea s ed itself to what is not will. Scholar: Noble-mindedn e s s would be the nature of thinking and th e r e b y of th a nkin g . T e ach e r : Of that t hanking whi c h doe s . not hav e t o t hank for s omething, but onl y th a nks for b e ing allo we d to th a nk. Scholar : In the nature of t hinking s o under s tood , w e may ha ve found what we see k.

S c i e nti s t: On the s uppo s i tion that we hav e found

that i n




e x pan s e,

which everything in our conversation appears to rest.

Thi s is the nature of t ha t - w hich-r eg i o n s . Teach e r : B e cau se th is is only s uppo s ed , l e t u s add that for som e tim e , as y ou ha ve not e d p er haps , we ha v e said everything in the mod e of s upposition only . Scientist: All the s am e I can no longer hold back th e confe s - sion that while i t s natu r e ha s near e d , that -w hi c h - r e g i ons its e lf seem s to me to b e furth e r a w ay th a n ev e r b e fore. Scholar: You mean to say t hat you are near to its nature and yet are distant from that-which-regions itself?



Scientist : But that-which-regions and its nature can't really

we may speak here of things

be two different things-if

at all. Scholar: The self of that-which-regions is presumably its nature and identical with itself.

Teacher : Then perhaps we can express our experience during this conversation by saying that we are coming near to and so at the same time remaining distant from

that-wh ic h-regions; although such remaining is, to be sure, a returning. Scholar: Only the nature of waiting and of releasement

. Scientist: Then what is that nearness and distance within . which that-which-regions opens up and veils itself, ap- proaches and withdraws? Scholar: This nearness and distance can be nothing out- side tha t - w hi c h-regions.

Teach e r: Because that- w hich - r e gions regions all , gather- ing everything together and letting everything return to itself , to rest in its own identity. Scientist: Then that-which-regions itself would be nearing and di s tancing. Scholar: That-which-regions itself would be the nearness of distance, and the di s tance of nearne s s


would be named in what you say.

a characterization which should not be thought

of dialectically


but how?


In accordance with the nature of thinking so far

as determined solely by that-which-regions. Scholar: And so by waiting, by in-dwelling in releasement . Teacher: Yet what then would be the nature of thinking if that-which-regions is the nearness of distance?





Scholar, Probably this can no longer be said in a single word. Still I know a word which up to now seemed to me

appropriate to name the nature of thinking and knowing.

so of

Scientist: I would like to hear this word .

Scholar: It is a word which had occurred to me as early as our first conversation. I had this in mind when I re- marked at the beginning of today's conversation that I owed a valuable suggestion to our first conversation on

a country path. Several times in the course of today's

conversation, I was about to propose this word; but each time it seemed to fit less what neared us as the nature

of thinking .


yours . It is as if you didn't want to reveal your discovery too soon.

Scientist: You talk mysteriously about this thought

Scholar: The word I have in mind was not my discovery;

it is merely a scholarly thought.

Scientist: And thus, if I may say so, an historical reminder? Scholar: If you want to put it that way. Also it would have suited well the style of today's conversation, for in the course of it we often threw in words and sentences from Greek thought. But now this word no longer suits what we are attempting to name by a single word. Teacher: You mean the nature of thinking ( that in-dwell- ing releasement to that-whi c h-regions ) which is the es- sentially human relation to that-which-regions, some- thing we presage as the nearness of distance. Scientist: Even if the word is no longer suitable, you might divulge it to us at the end of our conversation; for we again near human habitation, and in any case, must break off our discussion.



T e ach e r : A n d even if this w o rd, ear li er esteemed by y o u as

a valu a ble suggestion , is no longe r s u itable, it cou l d make clear to u s that meanwhile we ha v e c o me to confront som e thing in e ffable.

Scholar : T his word is Herac l itus ' word . Sci e nti s t : From which fragment did you take i t ? Scholar: This word s truck me b ecause it stands a l one. It is that word, which, all by itse l f, c o nstitutes Fragment 122 . Sci e ntist: I don't kn o w this sh o rtest o f Herac l itus' Frag-

m e nts.

Scholar: It is scarcely notic ed by ot h ers either, b ecause o ne

can d o h ard l y anythi n g with a si ng l e w o r d. Scientist: Bow d o es t he fra gm ent r ea d ? S chola r: 'AYXt~(lahl Scientis t: Wha t does it mea n ?

Scho l ar : The Greek word t ran s ates as g o mg o war .

Scient i st : I regard th i s word as an exc ell ent name for desig- nating the nature of kn o wledge; for the character o f advanc i ng and m o ving toward ob j ects is strik i ngly ex -

pres se d in it. Scholar : It appeared so to me too. That i s also probably why

it o c cu r r e d to me in our fir s t conversation , w hen w e s poke





o f the a c tion, t he a c hie v ement, the work inherent in

modern s cienti f ic kno w l e dge, and, above all, in research. Scienti s t: Actually , on e c ould u s e th i s Greek word to make

c le a r the fa c t that sci e nti f ic re s earch is a kind of attack

o n nature but one which neverthele s s allows nature to



b e h e ard. 'AYXt~(laLrt; "going toward": I coul d thmk of Her ac litus' word as k e yword in an essay on the nature of mod e rn science . S cho l ar : For that re a s o n, to o, I have h esit at ed to u tt er the





word at th i s po i nt; for

it does n ot hi t that nature o f

thinking which we have c ome to assume a long our way. S c i e ntist : Indeed, waiting is really alm o st a c o unter - move - m e nt to going t o ward.

Scholar : Not to say a counter-rest.

T e acher : Or simply r e st. Yet has i t been definitely decide d that 'A YXt~(l(jLrtmean s go i ng toward? Scholar: Tran s lated literally it s ays "g o ing near." Teach e r: Per h aps we c o uld think o f i t also as: "moving- into-nearness . "

S c ientist : Yo u m ea n t h at quite litera l l y in t h e sense o f "let- t i ng- o ne s e lf -i n to-ne ar nes s " ? Teac h er, A bo ut t h at.

Sc hol ar: Then th is word might b e the name, an d p erhaps the best name, fo r what we have fo und.

Teach e r : Which, in its nature, nevertheless , we are st i l l seeking.

Scholar: 'AYXt~(l(jtrt: "m o v ing - i n to-nearness . "

Th e word

could rather,

our walk today along th i s count ry path.

so it seems to me n o w, b e the name f o r

T e ach e r : Which guided u s d e ep into the night .

Sci e ntist:

that gleams ever m o re spl e ndidly


Scholar :

a nd over w h e lms the stars

T e a c h e r:

because it n e ars their distances in th e heav-


Sci e ntist:


a t l east for the narve o bserver, although n o t

f o r the exact s c ientist .

Teac h e r: Eve r t o the child i n man, ni ght neig h bors stars.


S cho l a r : She binds t ogether with o ut seam o r edge or thread.

90 D I S C 0 U R S EON



Scientist: She neighbors; because she works only with near- ness. Scholar: If she ever works rather than rests

while wondering upon the depths of the height.

Scholar: Then wonder can open what is locked?






By way of waiting if this is released

. and human nature remains appropriated to

that Teacher , '


from whence we are called.


This g lossary includes only those words especially important to the argument which are translat e d in more or less unusual ways.

ahnen Ausd a uer


be s innliches Denken B es t an dnis Bod e n bod enst andig Bod e n s t a ndigkeit

Edelmut ei gent li c h ei n l asse n , sich einlassen

Ent sc hlo s senheit



Fern e

ge -e i g n e t , geeignet


e gnen

to presage ste a dfastness

determining, regioning with resp e ct to things medit a tive thinking st e adfa s tness found a tion, ground, soil root e d , autochthonic roo te dness, autochthony

noble mi n d, noble-mind e dness

au t h e ntic

let in , release; release oneself to , let one se lf in, engage in resolve

country path

di s t a nt


appropriated, appropriate (d)

to region




Gegnet gelassen Gelassenheit Gela s senheit zu den Dingen Grund Grund und Boden

th a t - which - regions released r e l e asement releasement toward things ground ground and foundation




origins, origin

In - sich - beruhen Instandigkeit

r e sting in itself in-dwelling


human nature





O ff ene , das O ff enheit fur das Geheimnis

openness op e nness to the mystery

rechnende s Denken

calculative thinking

T ec hnik tran s zendental- horizontal

technology tran s cendental - horizonal

iiberlassen (adj.)





appropriated by


regioning (with respect to man)

verhalten (adj . ) Verhaltenheit verweil e n verw e ilende Weite vorstellen

walt e n warten auf Weile Weil e der Weite , die Weite Weite der Weile, die Wesen wesend e Wahrheit west, Gegnet

west , Wahrheit


composed composure to abide, endure abiding e x panse to re - pre s ent


to reign to w ait for, upon abiding abiding expanse expanse expanse of the abiding nature, essence (rarely) coming forth of truth's nature that - which-regions first brings forth a nature truth's nature comes forth