Heraclitus 1, Section 8. Presentation. February 8, 2023. Draft.

Section 8 is the concluding lecture of the seminar on Heraclitus offered in the summer semester of 1943.  It would be followed by another seminar on Heraclitus in the summer semester of 1944.  The first, 1943 seminar is entitled “The inception of Occidental thinking: Heraclitus,” whereas the second is entitled “Logic: Heraclitus’ Doctrine of the Logos.” 

We must deal today with Section 8 of the first seminar.  As the concluding lecture, we should presume that Heidegger will wrap things up, will offer something like a conclusion concerning what has been discussed in the previous seven lectures.  But we might as well presume that Section 8 gives us a hint or a signal of what it is that will follow those discussions in the second seminar. 

So we are caught between a concluding word on “the inception of Occidental thinking” and the beginning of a word on Logic and the Heraclitean notion of the logos. 

So let me start at the end and present the sentences that I believe are that kind of a bridge between the first and the second seminar.  They are, in page 22 of Aaron’s handout:  “The true is the unsaid that remains the unsaid only in what is strictly and properly said.  To think essentially: this means to listen to what is unsaid in the consideration of what is said, and thereby to come into unanimity with what in the unsaid keeps its silence before us.” 

In the concluding page there is a reference to “the spiritual poverty of the modern world” (8.22), which of course Heidegger’s thought aspires to mitigate, although he thinks the real mitigation might or should be the work of the next generation of thinkers provided they are able not “to yield to the will of modernity” (8.22).   

If so, then the next generation of thinkers will recognize that startling claim, namely, that “the true is the unsaid that remains the unsaid only in what is strictly and properly said” (8.22).   

That statement is perhaps startling to the extent it does not seem logical to us.  According to logic, the true is what is said provided the logic is good enough.  But Heidegger insists that precisely within the best logic the true appears and remains only in what is unsaid.  What can he mean by that? 

Let me remind you of the end of Section 7, which was in fact articulated around an unsolved question, an open question.  The question was, in one of its formulations:  “why is das Seiende decisive and not rather das Nicht-Seiende and, what amounts to the same thing, the ‘nothing’?”  (7.20).  There is a mysterious or enigmatic priority of emerging over self-concealing.  We seem unable “to find the grounding for the priority of being, and thereby the priority of emerging” (7.21), unless, that is, we offer “metaphysical” answers, answers grounded in logic, or even in dialectics as the superior stage of logic.  What must be kept in mind, according to Heidegger, in order not to forget the essential, is that “physis names at the same time the relation of physis to kruptesthai and thus names philein, the favor of the bestowal of essence in which the two join themselves together into their essence” (7.21).   But it is precisely the non-forgetting that throws us into the enigma.  The enigma is, there is a priority of das Seiende over das Nicht-Seiende, a priority that baffles us, as we cannot seemingly justify it. 

Section 8 will presumably attempt to clarify the enigma, to offer a means to study it and process it.   If I am right, that enigma is equivalent to the enigma of the true, namely, that the true remains what is unsaid in what is properly said.  They are the same enigma.  But if the first presentation simply names the enigma, the second presentation attempts a response to it, or a clarification of it. 

Before reaching that clarification, which comes only at the end of Section 8, Heidegger proceeds by means of further study of Heraclitus’ “fundamental words.”  He has already offered us his interpretation of to dunon, physis, zoé, philía, harmonía.   They all, Heidegger says, name the same from different determinations of being.  He will continue his reordering of the Heraclitean fragments on the basis of a metonymic chain of equivalences of fundamental words.  Accordingly, he will now speak of fire, pur, and adornment, kosmos. 

About fire, he says, “the instantaneity of enflaming lightens the region of all indicating and showing, but also lightens, at the same time, the region of directionlessness, rudderlessness, and absolute opacity” (8.2).  In pur, therefore, we observe the simultaneity of revealing and concealing that we observe in the proper consideration of physis. 

About kosmos he tells us that we should think of “the one singular originary adornment” (8.6).  “kosmos does not mean only the entirety of beings (das Seiende im Ganzen), but rather the jointure of the conjoinment of beings, the adornment in which, and from out of which, beings gleam” (8.5).  It is “solely and suddenly the adornment that strikes like lightning into the unadorned.  Such ligthing places into the light (and thus also produces and provides) the dark and what is opposite to the lightening” (8.5).  In kosmos revealing and concealing come simultaneously into place.   Thus, the singular originary adornment is also the inconspicuous jointure. 

All of it leads into a clarification of Fragment 30, which Heidegger places in order as the eighth.   It is worth citing it as a whole, as Heidegger makes much of it: “This adornment mentioned here, the same in all that is adorned, is neither something produced by gods nor by human beings (anyone), rather it was always and is (always) and will be (always): namely, fire perpetually emerging, the expanses (clearings) igniting themselves, the expanses extinguishing (occluding) themselves (into the clearingless)” (8.6). 

And it is here, in the midst of his explanation of the Heraclitean fundamental word “kosmos,” that Heidegger launches a renewed attack on metaphysical ontotheology.  Kosmos has “nothing to do with a ‘cosmology'” (8.7) (I add, still less to do with a cosmopolitanism).  Our metaphysical conception of the cosmos, whether it comes from a biological way of thinking (for which God would be a “gaseous vertebrate” (8.7); I wonder where he found that definition), or from a conception derived from the science of physics, Heidegger tells us, “fails when it attempts to think what is dispatched to thinking” in Heraclitean kosmos (8.7). 

The subsection closes with two further important remarks.  One of them is understated, but it is presumably fundamental to the Heideggerian oeuvre as a whole.  It is related to the airplane words Heidegger told his friend Dr. Boss and which Laurence translated for us in the Slack platform: “It is decisive … to grasp the ‘having been’ not as mere shadow of the present, but as a directly-presencing, as a full mode of presence, as much presence as the present. Otherwise one remains in the understanding of the time of the expiring now points”  (GA89 Zollikoner Seminare, p. 666 [2018].  Compare that with the following remark on kosmos:  “if we absolutely must employ a temporal characteristic here, then we name the originary adornment ‘the pre-temporal,’ and indicate thereby that kosmos is more originary than every temporality, and that indeed the temporal grounds itself in it, which is only possible if kosmos is ‘time’ itself, this word certainly being understood in an inceptual sense” (8.9).

Kosmos is time itself, in an inceptual sense.  This reminds us of Anaximander: physis is kosmos and kosmos is perpetually emerging fire: “fire perpetually emerging, the expanses igniting themselves, the expanses extinguishing themselves” (8.6).  Expanses names metron, translated by Heidegger as the di-mension.  “the open, the sprawling and widening clearing” (8.11) which “unfolds in itself as the favor in which emerging and occluding reciprocally grant their essential ground” (8.12).  We are back in the inconspicuous juncture, and therefore back in the enigma of why, if emerging and occluding reciprocally grant themselves, there ought to be a priority of emerging. 

Subsection b of Section 8 is on aletheia. Aletheia is the answer to the preceding question.  Aletheia is always aletheia for someone, a tis, a human or a god.  “Only those whose essence cannot remain concealed over against physis are beings in such a way that they correspond in their being to emerging.  The corresponding bearing of physis to physis must have in itself the essential features of emerging, self-opening, non-self-occlusion, non-self-concealment.  Non-self-concealing is self-revealing abiding in revealing and unconcealment–or, as the Greeks said, in aletheia” (8.14-15). 

The priority of emerging over self-concealment thus lies in the fact that there is a correspondence, a philein, between the never-submerging and the tis that corresponds to it necessarily through a revealing into unconcealment.   This philein sends us back, of course, to the Parmenidean word regarding the sameness of noein and einai.  In that irreducible sameness, which can nevertheless be betrayed, the priority of emerging over self-concealing, hence of das Seiende over das Nicht-Seiende, is anchored.  Aletheia is thus the “unconcealment of the self-concealing” (8.12), which grants the relative preeminence of unconcealment for us corresponding humans. 

Truth is, therefore, the inception.  Remember the first fragment in Heidegger’s order:  how could a someone, anyone, conceal themself from the never-submerging?  If truth is the inception, and if the inception rules not just at the beginning of human time but throughout human history, “then we ourselves,” Heidegger says, “–and indeed the present age of the Occident–are in need of an inceptual transformation that would leave behind every other turning point (be it Copernican or otherwise) in the history of thinking.  The historical essence of Occidental humanity is in need of a prolonged transformation so that it may enter into its inception and learn to recognize that a consideration on ‘the essence of truth’ is the essential thinking within the inception of being itself, and only this” (8.17).

Subsection c of Section 8, the last section, and the culmination of Heidegger’s efforts in the seminar, turns to the notion of logos, which as we know will be central for the 1944 Seminar.  In Fragment 93, which is the tenth in Heidegger’s ordering, Heraclitus opposes legein to kruptein.  The logos reveals by gathering, and what it gathers is “the originary self-joining oneness of the inconspicuous jointure” (8.20). 

But as it turns out there is something even more originary than legein, an “even more originary letting appear” (8.20).  It is what the god intimates, the god’s semainein (to give a sign).  Giving a sign involves at the same time indicating the revealing and the concealing in an originary oneness. 

And this is why “the true is the unsaid that remains the unsaid only in what is strictly and properly said” (8.22).  Below logos, infralogically, the true abides. The effort to think the true inceptually is therefore absolutely committed to an infralogic of concealing even while respecting the priority of emergence.  Perhaps this ought to remind us of what Heidegger said in Section 7: “the claim that ‘logic’ is not competent to illuminate the truth of being says something other than the claim . . . that the illumination of being can do without ‘logic'” (7.17)

Is the true–time?  “The human cannot escape the unsaid” (8.22).   


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