HarperCollins Editions of

MARTIN HEIDEGGER
Basic Writings
Being a n ~ Time
Discourse on Thinking
Early Greek Thinking
The·End of Philosophy
Hegel's Concept of Experience
Identity and Difference
Nietzsche: Volume I, The Will· to
Power as Art
Nietzsche: Volume II, The Eternal
Recurrence of the Same
Nietzsche: Volume III, The Will to Power
as .Knowledge, and as Metaphysics
Nietzsche: Volume IV, Nihilism
On the Way to Language
On Time and Being
Poetry, Language, Thought
The Question Concerning Technology
and Other Essays
What Is Called Thinking?
MARTIN HEIDEGGER
BASIC WRITINGS
from Being and Cfime (1927)
toCfhe Cfask of Cfhinking (1964)
REVISED AND EXPANDED EDITION
EDITED, WITH GENERAL INTRODUCTION AND
INTRODUCTIONS TO EACH SELECTION,
BY
nAVIDFARRELLKRELL

-
HarperSanFrancisco
'A Division of HarperCollinsPublishers
Suggestions for Further Study 450
I. Being and Time: Introduction 37
II. What Is Metaphysics? 89
III. On the Essence of Truth III
@ The Origin of the Work of Art 139
V. Letter on Humanism 213
VI. Modern Science, Metaphysics, and Mathematics 267
VII. The Question Concerning Technology 307
VIII. Building Dwelling Thinking 343
00What Calls for Thinking? 365
X. The Way to Language 393
XI. The End of Philosophy and the Task ofThinking 427
IX
CONTENTS
Preface
General Introduction: The Question of Being
by DAVID FARRELL KRELL
Hannah Arendt was fond of calling the "Letter" Heidegger's Pracht-
stuck, his most splendid effort Yet a number of qu.esti0D:
s
might con- tinue to plague us. Is Heidegger's self-interpretatIon, hIS account of the '·'turning,". adequate here, even when we ·note that it is part of an
ongoing" "immanent critique" ?'!) .of .and· Time? More .important, are· the. motIvatIons of Heldegger s crItIque of manismand of the animal rationale altogether clear? Why, for In-
stance insist that there be an "abyss of essence"
froni animality? Perhaps most disturbing, .canHeidegger
invoke "malignancy" .and. "the rage of evil" without hreakinghis si-
lence and offering some kind of reflection on the Extermination? And
how can Heidegger's thought help us to think about those evils
continue to be so very much"at home in our world? However splendId
the "Letter on Humanism," it should only to call us to thinking.
LETTER ON HUMANISM
217
This new translation ofBrief uber den Humanismus by Frank A. Capuzziin collab- oration with J. Glenn Gray appears here in its entirety. I have edited it with reference
to the helpful French bilingual edition, Martin Heidegger, Lettre sur l'humanisme,
translated by "Roger Munier, revised edition' (Paris: Aubier Montaigne, 1964). A pre-
vious English translation by Edgar Lohl1er is included in Philosophy in the Twentieth
Century,edited by Barrett and Henry D.Aiken (New York: Randolll House,
1962), III, 271-302. The German text was first published in 1947 byA. Francke Ver-
lag, Bern; the present translation is based on the text in Martin Heidegger, Wegmarken (Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann Verlag, 1967), pp. 145-194.
We are still far from pondering the ·essence of action decisively
enough. We view action only as ·causing an effect. The actuality of
the effect is valued according to its utility. But the essence of action
is accomplishment. To accomplish means to unfold' something into
the fullness of its essence, to lead it forth into this fullness--
producere. Therefore only what. already is can really be accom...
plished. But what above all is Being. Thinking accomplishes the
relation of Being to the essence of man. It does not make or cause
the relation. Thinking brings this relation to Being solely as some-
thing handed over to' it from Being. Such offering consists in the
fact that in thinking Bei,ng comes to language. Language is the
house of Being. IQ its home man dwells. Those who think and those
who create with words are the guardians of this home. Their guard-
ianship accomplishes' the manifestation of Being insofar as they
bring th'e to language and maintain it in· language
through· their speech. Thinking does not become action only "be-
cause some effect issues from it or because. it is applied. Thinking
acts insofar 3sit thinks.. Such action is presumably the simplest and
at. the same time; the highest, because it c.oncerns· the relation of
Being to man. But all working or effecting lies in Being and is di-
BAS I·C W R I T IN G S
216
rected toward beings. 'Thinking, in contrast,lets itself be claimed
by Being so that it· can say the truth of Being..
plishes this letting. Thinking is.l'engagement par l'Etre pour [,Etre
[engagement by Being for Being]. I do not know whether it· is lin-
guistically possible to say both of these "pour") at once,
in this,way: penser, c'est l'engagement de' l'Etre [thinking is the en-
gagement of Being]. Here the possessive form "de r ..." is sup-
posed to express both subjective and objective genitives. In this
regard. "subject"\and "object" are inappropriate terms of metaphys-
ics,. which very early in the' form of "logic" and
"grammar" seized control of.the interpretation of language. We to-
day can only begin to descry what is concealed in that occurrence.
The liberation of language from grammar into a more original es-
sential fram.ework is reserved for thought and poetic creation.
Thinking is notmerely l'engagement dans taction for and by beings,
in the sense of· the actuality of the present situation. Thi.nking is
l'engagement by and for the truth of Bein'g. The history of Being is
never past but stands ever before; it sustains and defines every con-
dition et·· situation humaine. In order learn how to experience
the aforementioned essence of thinking purely, and that means at
the same time to carry it through, we must free ourselves from the
technical interpretation of thinking. The beginnings of that inter-
pretation reach back to Plato and AristotM. They take thinking itself
to be a techne, a process of reflection in service to·doingand mak-
ing. But here reflection is already seen from the perspective of prax-
is and poiesis. For this reason thinking, when taken for itself, is not
"practical." The characterization of thinking as theoria. and the de-
termination of knowing as "theoretical" behavior occur already
within the "technical" interpretation· of thinking. Such characteri-
zation is a reactive attempt to rescue thinking and preserve its au-
tonomy over against acting and doing. Sihce then "philosophy" has
been in the constant predicament of having to justify its existence
before the "sciences." It believes it can. do that most effectively by
elevating itself to the rank of a science. 'But such an effort is the
abandonment of the essence of thinking. Philosophy is hounded by
the fear that it loses Prestige and validity if it is not a science. Not
to be a science is taken as a failing that is eqUivalent to being un-
scientific. Being, as the element of thinking, is abandoned by the
technical interpretation of thinking. "Logic," beginning with the
Sophists and Plato, this explanation. Thinking is judged
by a standard that does not measure up to it. St,lch judgment may
be compared to the procedure of trying to evaluate the essence and
powers of a fish by seeing how long it can live on dry land. For. a
long time now, all too long, thinking has been stranded on dry land.
Can· then the effort to return thinking to its· element be called Hir_
rationalism"?
Surely the questions raised in your letter would have been better
answered in direct conversation. In written form thinking easily los-
es its flexibility. But in writing it is difficult above all. to retain the
multidimensionality of the realm peculiar to thinking. The rigor of
thinking, in contrast to-that of the sciences, does not consist merely
in an artificial, that is, technical-theoretical exactness of concepts.
It lies in the fact that speaking· remains purely in the element of
Being and lets the simplicity of its manifold dimensions rule. On
the other hand, written composition, exerts a wholesome pressure
toward deliberate linguistic formulation. TodayI would like to grap-
ple with only one of your questions. Perhaps its·.discussion will also
shed some light on' the others.
You ask: Comment redonner un sens au mot 'Humanisme'? [How
can we restore meaning to the word "humanism"?] This question
proceeds from your intention to the word "humanism." I
wonder whether that is necessary. Or is the damage caused by all
terms still not sufficiently obvious? True, "-isms"have for a
long time now been suspect. But the market of public opinion con-
tinually demands new ones. We are always prepared to supply the
demand. Even such names as "logic," "ethics," and "physics" begin
to flourish only when original thinking comes. to an end. During
the time of their greatness the Greeks thought without such head-
218 BASIC W R I T 1'·N G S
Letter on Humanism
219
ings. They did not even call thinking "philosophy." Thinking comes
to an end when it slips out of its element. The element is what
enables thinking to be a thinking. The !element is what properly
enables: it is the enabling [das Vetmogen]. It embraces thinking and
so brings it into its essence. Said plainly, thinking is the thinking of
B<::ing. The genitive says something two(old. Thinking is of Being
inasmuch asthinking, propriated by Being, belongs to Being. At the
same time thinking is of Being insofar !as thinking, belonging to
Being, listens to Being. As the belonging to Being that listens, think-
. ing is what it is according to its essential origin. Thinking is-this
says: Being has fatefully embraced its To embrace a "thing"
or a "person" in its essence means to love it, to favor it. Thought in
a more original way such favoring [Mogetl] means to bestow essence
as a gift. Such favoring is the proper essence of enabling, which not
only can achieve this or that but also can·let something essentially
unfold in its provenance, that is, leUt be. It is on the "strength" of
such enabling by favoring that something is properly able to be.
This enabling is what is properly "possible" [das "Mogliche"] , whose
essence resides in favoring. From this·favoting Being enables think-
ing, The former makes the latter possible. Being is the enabling-
favoring, the "may be" [das "Mog-liche"]. As the element, Being is
the "quiet power" of the favoring-enabling, that is, ofthe possible.
Of course, our words moglich [possible] arid Moglichkeit [possibili-
ty], under the dominance of "logic" and "metaphysics," are thought
solely in contrast to "actuality"; that is, they are thought on the
basis of a definite-the metaphysical.......interpretation of Being as
actus and potentia, a distinction identified with the one between
existentia and essentia. When I speak of the "quiet power of the
possible" I do not mean the possibile of a merely represented pos-
sibilitas, nor potentia as the essentia of an actus of existentia; rath-
er, I mean Being itself, which in its favoring presides over thinking
and hence over the essence of humanity, and that means over its
relation to Being. To enable something here means to preserve it in
its essence, to maintain it in its element.
f *:he .fundamen!al analysis of Dasein tries to define concrete structures
o elng In state, "ay,erage. everydayness·," For the nlost art
Dliselll:s. III the PU?"C (die Offentlichkeitl, which dictates the r:l e
of. that sh.all obtaIn for It In all di. nlensio..ns of I'. ts Il'Le, "W·· I g
d t k 1 ' ll, e enJoy ourse ves
an th a p as do;. read, see, and judge works of literature and art
as, ey . 0, .?t we a s?nnk back In revulsion froln the 'nlaSSeS' of Illen just as the
do,. and are scandalized by what they find shocking" (Sein und Zeit pp 126-27;
Heldegger that. public realm-the neutral, impersonal "they"':-'-tends
. levelhoff genUine poSSIbilities and force ind.ivi?uals to keep their distance from one
anot er and from thenlselves, It holds Daseln In subservience and hinders knowledge
When comes to an end by slipping out of its element it
thIS loss by procuring a validity for itself as techne, as an
mstrument of education and therefore as a classroom matter and
later a concern. By and by.philosophy becomes a technique
for. explaInIng from highest causes.. One no longer thinks' o'
. '} '. ' ne oc-
cupIes onese f with "philosophy." In competition with one another
such occupations publicly offer themselves as "-isms" and try··
more than the The dominance of such terms is not
ac.cIdental. It rests above all in the modern age upon the I'
d' t h'· pecu lar
IC Ip of the public realm. However, so-called "private exis-
really that is to say free, human being. It
SImply Ins.Ists on negatIng the public realm. It remains an offshoot
that depends .upon the public and nourishes itself by a mere with-
dra,:al from It. Hence it testifies, against its own will, to its sub-
to the public realm. But because it stems from the
domInance of subjectivity the public realm itself is the meta h" '.,..
II d" d .' P ySI
ca y con Ibone establishment and authorization of the' 0
f . d··d 1 . ., . penness
o m IVI ua bemgs in their unconditional objectification. Lan-
guage thereby falls into the service of expediting communication
along r?utes where objectification-the uniform accessibility of
to everyone-branches out and disregards .all limits, In
way comes under the dictatorship of the public realm,
;Vhlch deCIdes m advance what is intelligible and what must be re-
unintelligible. What is said in Being and Time (1927), sec-
27 and 35, about the "they" in no way means to furnish an
InCIdental contribution to sociology. * Just as little does the "they"
221 Letter on Humanism
BAS. I C WR I TIN G S
220
of the self and the world. It alJows the life-and-death issues of existence proper to dissolve in "chatter," which is "the ·possibility of understanding everything without prior dedication to, and appropriation of, the luatter at stake" (Sein und Zeit, p. 169). (All references to Being and Time in this essay and throughout the book cite the pagination of the Gennan edition. )-Eo.
*In section 34 of Being and Time Heidegger defines the existential-ontological dation of language as speech or talk (die Rede). It is as original a structure of being- as mood or understanding, of which it is the 111eaningfuI articulation. To it belong not only speaking out and asserting but also hearing ,and Jistening,heeding and being silent and attentive. As the Greeks experienced it, Dasein is living being that'speaks
t
not so much in producing vocal sounds as in discoveringthe world, and this by letting beings come to appear as they are. Cf. the analysis of logos in section 7 B of Reading I, above; on the crucial question of the "nlode of Being" of langttage, see Reading X, "The Way to Language."-ED;
mean merely the opposite, understood in an ethical-existentiell way,
of the selfhood of persons. Rather, what is said there contains a
reference, thought jn terms of the question of the truth of Being,
to the word's primordial belongingness to Being. This relation re-
mains concealed beneath the dominance of subjectivity that pre-
sents itself as the public realm. But if the truth of Being has become
thought-provoking for thinking; then reflection on the essence of
language must also attain a different rank. It can no longer be ,a
mere philosophy of language. That· is the only reason Being and
Time (section 34) contains a referenceto the essential dimension of
language and touches upon the simple question as to what mode of
Being language as language in any given case has. *. The··widely and
rapidly spreading devastation of language not only undermines aes-
thetic and moral responsibility in use of language; it arises
from a threat to. the essence of humanity. A merely cultivated use
of language is still rio proof that we have. as yet escaped the danger
to essence. These days, in fact, such usage might sooner testify
that we· have not yet seen and cannot see the danger because we
have never yet placed ourselves in view of it. Much bemoaned of
late, and much too lately, the downfall oflanguage is, however, not
the .grounds for,. but already a consequence of, the state of affairs
in which language under the dominance of the modern metaphysics
223
Letter on·Human.ism
of subjectivity almost irremediably falls out of its element. Language
still denies us its essence: that it is the house of the truth of Being.
Instead, language surrenders itself to our mere willing and traffick-
ing as an,instrument of domination over beings. Beings themselves
appear as actualities in the interaction of cause and effect. We en-
counter beings as actualities in a calculative businesslike way, but
also scientifically and byway of philosophy, with and
proofs. Even the assurance that something is inexplicable belongs
to these explanations and proofs. With such statements we believe
that we confront the' mystery. As if it were already decided that the
truth of Being lets itself at all. be established in causes and explan-
atory grounds or, what comes· to the same, in theirincomprehen-
sibility.
But if man is to find his· way once again into· the nearness of
Being he must first learn to exist in the nameless. In the same way
he must recognize the seductions of the public realm as'well as the
impotence of the private. Before he speaks man must first let him-
self be claimed again by Being, taking the risk that .under this claim
he will seldom have much to say. Only thus will the pricelessness
of 'its essence ·be once more bestowed upon the word, and upon
man a home. for dwelling in the truth of Being.
But in the claim upon man, in the attempt.to·make·man ready
for this claim, is there not implied a concern about man? Where
else does "care" tend but in the direction of bringing man back to
his essence?* What else does that in turn betoken but that man
*In the final chapter of division one of Being and Time Heidegger defines "care" as the Being of Dasein. It is a name for the structural whole of existence in all its modes and for the broadest and most basic possibilities of discovery and disclosure of self and world. Most poignantly experienced in the phenomenon of anxiety-which is not fear of anything at hand but awareness of my being-in-the-world as such- "care" describes. the sundry ways I get involved in the issue of nlY birth, life, and death, whether by nlY projects, inclinations, insights, or illusions. "Care" is the alI- inclusive. name for my concern for other people, preoccupations with things, and awareness of my proper Being.! It expresses the movement of my.life out of a past, into a future, through the present. In section 65 the ontological meaning of the Being of care proves to be temporality.-Eo.
BASIC WRITINGS
222
225
Letter on Humanism
The so-called Renaissance of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries
in Italy isa renascentia romanitatis. Because romanitas is what mat-
ters, it is concerned with' humanitas and therefore with Greek pai-
deia. ,But Greek civilization is always seen in its later form and this
itself is seen from 'a Roman 'point of view. The homo romanus of
the Renaissance also stands in ,opposition to homo barbarus. But
now the in-humane is the supposed barbarism of gothic Scholasti-
cism in the Middle Ages. Therefore a studium humanitatis, which
,in certain way reaches back to the ancients and thus also becomes
a revival of Greek civilization, always adheres to historically' under-
stood humanism. For Germans this is apparent ,in the humanism
of the eighteenth century supported by Winckelmann, Goethe, and
Schiller. On the other hand, Holderlin does not belong to "human-
ism," precisely because he thought the destiny of man's essence in
a more original way than "humanism"
But if one understands humanism in' general as a concern that
man become free for his humanity and find his worth in it, then
humanism differs according to one's conception of the "freedom"
and "nature" of man. So too are there various paths toward the
realization of such, conceptions. The humanism of Marx does not
need to return to antiquity any more than the humanism which
Sartre conceives existentialism to be. In this broad sense Christian-
ity too is a humanism, in that according to its teaching everything
depends on man's salvation (salus aeterna); the history of man ap-
pears in the context of the history of redemption. However different
these forms of humanism may be in purpose and, in principle, in
the mode and means of,their respective realizations, and 'in the
form of their teaching, they nonetheless all agree in this, that the
humanitas of homo humanus is determined with regard to an al-
ready established interpretation of nature, history, world, and the
ground of the world, that is, of beings as a whole.
Every humanism is either grounded in a metaphysics or is itself
made'to be the ground of one. Every determination of the essence
of man that already presupposes an interpretation of beings without
BAS l'e WR 1 TIN G S
224
(homo) become human (humanus)?Thus humanitas really does re-
main'the concern of such thinking. For this is humanism: meditat-
ing and caring, that man be human and not inhumane, "inhuman,"
that is, outside his essence. But in what does the humanity of man
consist? It lies in' his essence.
But' whence and how is the essence' of man determined? Marx
demands that "man's humanity" be recognized and acknowledged. *
He finds it in "society." "Social" man is for him "natural" man. In
"society" the "nature" of m'an, that is, the totality of "natural needs"
(food, clothing, reproduction, economic sufficiency) is equably se-
.cured. The Christian sees the humanity of man, the humanitas of
homo, in contradistinction to He is the man of the history
of redemption who as a "child of God" ',hears and accepts the call
of the Father in Christ. Man is not of this world, since the "world,"
thought in terms of Platonic theory, is only a temporary' passage to
the beyond.
Humanitas, .explicitly so called, was 'first 'considered and striven
for in the age of the Roman Republic. Homo humanus was opposed
to homobarbarus.Homo 'here means the who
exalted and honored Roman virtus through the "embodiment" of
the paideia [education] taken over from the Greeks. These were the
Greeks of the Hellenistic age, whose culture was acquired in the
schools of It was concerned with eruditio et institutio
in bonas artes [scholarship and training in good conduct]. Paideia
thus understood 'was translated as humanitas. The genuine roman-
itas of homo romanus consisted in such humanitas. We encounter
the first humanism in Rome: it therefore remains in essence a spe-
cifically Roman phenomenon, which'emerges from the encounter
of Roman civilization with the culture of late Greek civilization.
*The phrase der menschliche Mensch appears in Karl Marx, Econonlic-philosophic
Manuscripts of 1844, the so-called "Paris Manuscripts," third MS, p. IV. Cf. Marx- Engels-Werke (Berlin, 1973), Erganzungsband I, 536. This third ll1anuscript is perhaps the best source for Marx's syncretic based' on ll1an's natural, social,
practical, and conscious species-existence.-ED.
1. ef. MartinHeidegger, Yom des Grundes (1929), p. 8; Kant and the Problem
of !v!etaph'ysics, trans. ·Richard Tart (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990),
sectIon 43; and Being and Time, 44, p. 230.
asking about the truth of Being, whether knowingly or not, is meta-
physical. The result is that what is peculiar to all metaphysics, spe-
cifically with respect to the way the essence of man is determined,
is that it is "humanistic." Accordingly, every humanism .remains
metaphysical. In defining the. humanity of man humanism not only
does not ask about the relation of Beirig to the· essence of man;
.because of its metaphysical origin humanism even impedes the
question ·by neither recognizing n'or understanding it.· On the con-
trary, the necessity and proper form of the question concerning the
truth of Being, forgotten in and through metaphysics, can come to '
light only if the question "What is metaphysics?" is posed in the
midst of metaphysics' domination. Indeed every inquiry into Being,
even the one into the· truth of. Being, must at first introduce its
inquiry as a "metaphysical" one.
The first humanism,Roman humanism, and every kind that has
emerged from that thne to the present, has presupposed ·the ·most
universal "essence" of man to be obvious. Man is considered to be
an animalrational.e. This definition, is not simply the Latin trans-
lation of the Greek zoon logon echon but rather a metaphysical
interpretation of it. This essential definition of man is not false. But
it is conditioned by metaphysics. The essential provenance of meta-
physics, and not just. its limits, became questionable in Being and
Time. What is is above all commended to thinking as
what is to be thought, buf not at all left to the doubts of
an empty skepticism.
Metaphysics does indeed! represent beings in their·Being, and so
it thinks the Being of beingb. But it does not think the difference of'
both. I Metaphysics does ask about the truth of Being itself. Nor
does it therefore ask in whalt way·the essence of man belongs to the
truth of· Being. Metaphysiqs has not only failed up to now to ask
227' ,Letter on'Humanism
this question, the question is inaccessible to metaphysics as such.
Being is still waiting· for the time when it 'will become -thought-
provoking to man., With regard to the definition of man's, essence,
,however one may determine the ratio of the animal and the reason
of the living being, whether' as a "facultyof principles" or a "faculty
of categories" or in some other way, the·essence of reason is always
and. in each case grounded in this: for every ,apprehending of beings '
in their Being" Being itself is' already illumined andpropriated in its
, truth. So too with animal, zoon, an interpretation of "life" is already
posited that necessarily lies in an interpretation of beings as zoe and
physis, within which what· is living appears. Above and beyond
everything else, however, it finally remains to ask whether the 'es-
sence of man primordially and most decisively lies in the dimension
of animalitas at all. Are we really on the right ,track toward the
essence of man as long as we set him off as one living, creature
among others in contrast to plants, beasts, and God? We can pro-
ceed ih that way; we can in such' fashion locate man within being
as one being among others. We will thereby always be able to state
something correct about man. But we must be clear on this point,
that when we do this we abandon man to the ess'en,tial realm of '
animalit,,:s even if we do not equate him with beasts but attribute a
specific difference to him. In principle we are still thinking of homo
animalis-even when anima [soul] is posited as drtimus $ive mens
[spirit or mind], and this in turn is later posited as subject, person,
or spirit [Geist]. Such positing is the manner of metaphysics. But
then the essence orman is too little heeded and not thought in its
origin, the essential provenance that is always the essential future
for historical mankind'. Metaphysics'thinks of man on the basis of
animalitas and does not. think in the direction ofhis humanitas.
Metaphysics closes, itself' to the simple essential fact that man
essentially occurs only in his essence, where he is claimed by Being.
Only from that claim "has" he found that wherein his essence
dwells. Only from this dwelling "has" he "language" as the home
,BA SIC 'WR 'IT INC S 226
*In Being and Time (from the Greek ekstasis) Oleans the way Dasein
"stands out" io the variou$ Oloments of the temporality of care, being "thrown" out
of a past and "projecting" I itself toward a future by way of the present. The word· is
closely related to another !Heidegger· introduces· now to capture the unique sense of
map's ·1fhis too Oleans the way man "stands out" into the truth of
Being and so is exceptional among beingsthat are at hand only as things of nature or
human. production. Cf. of "existence" in Reading I, section 4,
above, and his use of in Reading IlL-ED.
that preserves the ecstatic for his essence.* Such standing in the
clearing of Being I the ek.,;sistence of man. This way of Being-is
proper only to mani. Ek-sistence so understood is not only the
ground of the possibUity of reason, ratio, but. is also th"at in which
the essence of man preserves the source that determines him.
Ek-sistence can be: said only of the essence of man, that is, only
of the human way "to be." For as far as our experience shows, only
man is admitted to tne destiny of ek-sistence. Therefore ek-sistence
can also never be of asa specific kind of
among others-granted that manls destined to think the essence
of his Being andno,tmerely to give· accounts· of the nature .and
history of his •constitution and activities. Thus even what we attri-
bute to man· as animalitas on the basis of the comparison with
"beasts" is itself grou·nded.inthe essence of ek-sistence. The human
body is something other than an animal organism. Nor
is the error of biologism over90me by adjoining a soul to the human·
body, a mind to and the existeritiell to the mind, and then
louder than before the praises ofthemind---{)nly to let
relapse into "life-experience," with a warning that think-
ing by its< inflexible I concepts disrupts the flow of life arid that
thought of Being distorts existence. The fact that physiology and
physiological/chemistry can scientifically investigate man as an or-
ganism is no proof tl)at in this "organic" thing, that is, in the body
scientifically explained, the essence of That has as
little validity as· the notion that the essence of nature has' been dis-
covered in atomIC energy. It could even be that nature, in· the face
it .turns toward manl's· technical mastery, is simply concealing its
229
Letter on Human.ism
essence. Just as little as the essence of man consists in being an
animal organism can this insufficient definition of man's essence
. be· overcome or offset by outfitting man with immortal soul, the
power of reason; or· the character of a person. In each·. instance
essence is passed over, and passed over on the basis of the same
metaphysical projection.
What 'man . as. 'it is called in the' traditional language of
metaphysics, the "essence" of man-lies in· his ek-sistence. But ek-
sistence thought in this way is not identical with the traditional
concept of existentia, which means actuality in contrast to the
of essentia as possibility. In Being and Time (p. 42) this
sentence is italicized: (·(The (essence' of Dasein lies in its existence."
However, here the opposition between existentia and essentia is not
under consideration, because .neither of these metaphysical deter-
minations of Being, let alone their relationship, yet in question.
Still less does the sentence contain a universal statement about Da-
sein, since the word came into fashion in the eighteenth century as
a name for "object," intending to express the metaphysical concept
of the actuality· of.the" actual. On the contrary, the sentence says:
man occurs essentially in such a way that he is the "there" [das
"Da"], that is, the clearing of Being. The ·"Being" of the Da, and
only if, has the fundamental character of ek-sistence, that is, of an
ecstatic ,inherence in the truth of Being. The ecstatic essence of
man consists in ek-sistence, which is different from the metaphysi-
cally conceived· existentia. Medieval philosophy conceives the latter
as actualitas. Kant represents existentia as actuality in the sense of
the objectivity of experience. Hegel defines existentia as the self-
knowing Idea of absolute subjectivity. Nietzsche grasps existentia as
the eternal recurrence of the Here it remains an.open· ques-
tion whether throughexistentia-in these explanations of it as ac-
tuality, which at first seem quite different-the Being of a stone. or
even life as the Being of plants and animals is adequately thought.
In any case living creatures are as they are without standing outside
their .Being as such and within the truth of Being, preserving in
BA slew R IT I N G S 228
such standing the nature of their Being. 'Of all the beings
that are, presumaqly' most difficult to think about are living
creatures, because .pn the one hand th.ey are in a certain way most
closely akin to us, 4nd on the other are at the same time separated
from our essence by an However, it might also
seem as' though essence of divinity is closer. to us .than what is
so alien in other creatures, closer, namely, in an essential
distance which, distant, is nonetheless more familiar to our
ek-sistentessence is our scarcely conceivable, abysmal bodily
kinship with the reflections cast a strange light. upon
the current and thetefore always still premature of man
as animal rationale. I. Because plants and animals are lodged in· their
respective but are never placed freely in the clearing
of Being whichalotie is "world," they lack language. But in being
denied not thereby suspendedworldlessly in their
environment. Still, itt this word "environment"converges all that is
puzzling about living creatures. In its essence, language is not the
utterance of an nor is it the expression of a living thing.
Nor can it ever be tqought in an essentially correct way in terms of
its symbolic perhaps not even in· terms of the character
of La*guage is the clearing-concealing advent of
Being itself.
Ek-sistence,thougpt in terms ofecstasis, does not coincide with
existentia in either fdrm or content. In terms of content ek-sistence
means standing out the truth of Being. Existentia (existence)
means in contrast ac#ualitas, actuality as opposed' to mere possibil-
ity as "Idea. Ek-sisten4e identifies the determination of what man is
in the destiny of Existentia is the name for the realization of
something that is as appears in its Idea.' The sentence "Man ek-
sists" is ·not an to the question of whether man actually is
or not; rather, it to the question concerning man's "es-
sence." We are accustomed to posing this question with equ.al im-
propriety whether we 4sk what man is or who he is..For in the Who?
or the What? we, are Ialready on the lookout for something like a
person or an object. But the' personal no less· than the objective
misses and misconstrues the essential unfolding of ek-sistence in
the history of Being. That is why the sentence cited from Being and
Time (p. 42) is careful to enclose the in quotation
marks. This indicates that "essence" is. now being defined from nei-
ther esse essentiae nor esse existentiae but rather from the ek-static
character of Dasein. As ek...sisting, man sustains Da-sein in that he
takes the Da, the clearing of Being, into "care." But Da-sein·
occurs essentially as "thrown." It unfolds essentially in the throw of
Being as ·the fateful sending.
But ,it w0uld be the ultimate error if one wished to explain the
sentence about man's ..sistent essence as if it were the secularized
transference to human beings of a thought that Christian theology
expresses about God (Deus est suum esse [God is His Being]); for
ek-sistence is not the realization of an essence, nor does ek-sistence
itself even effect and posit what is essential. If we understand what
Being and Time calls "proje9tion" as a representational positing, we
take it to be an achievement of subjectivity and do not think it in
the only way the "understanding of Being" in the context of the
"existential analysis" of "being-in-the-world" can be thought-
namely, as' the ecstatic relation to .the clearing of Being. Theade-
quate execution. and completion of this other thinking that aban...
dons subjectivity. is surely made more difficult. by the fact that in
the publication of Being and Time the .third division of the first
part, "Time and Being," was held back (cf Being and Time, p.87,
above). Here everything is reversed. 'The division in question was
held back because thinking failed in the adequate saying of this
turning [Kehre] and .did not succeed with the help of the .language
of metaphysics. The lecture "On the Essence of Truth," thought
out and delivered in 1930 but not printed until 1943, provides a
certain insight into the thinking of the turning. from "Being and
Time" to "Time and· Being." This turning is not a change of stand-
point from Being and Time, but in it. the thinking that was sought
first arrives at the location of that dimension out of which Being
231 Letter on Humanism
. BIA S-I CWRI TIN G S
230
233
Letter on Humanism
clumsily enough. What still today remains to be said could perhaps
become an impetus for. guiding of. man to the point"
where it thoughtfully attends to that dinlension of the truth of
Being which tho,roughly governs it. But even this could take place
only to the honor of Being and for the benefit of Da-sein, which
man ek-sistingly sustains; not, however, for the sake of man, so that
civilization and culture through man's.doings might be vindicated.
But in order that we today may attain to the" dimension of the
truth of Being in order to ponder it, we should first of all make
clear .how Being man and how it claims Such an
essential experience happens to us when it dawns on us that man
is in that he ek-sists. Were we to say this in the language of the
tradition, it would run: the ek-sistence of man is his substance. That
is why in Being and Time· the sentence often recurs,
stance'of man is existence" (pp. 117, 212, 314). But "substance,"
thought in terms of the history of Being, is already a blanket trans-
lation of ousia, a word. that designates the presence of what is
ent and at the same time, with puzzling ambiguity, usually means
what is present itself. If we think the metaphysical term "substance"
in the sense already suggested in accordance with the "phenome-
nological destructuring" carried out in Being anq Time (cf. p. 63,
above), then the statement "The 'substance' of man is ek-sistence"
says nothing else but that the way that man in his proper essence
becomes present to Being is ecstatic inherence in the truth of
Being. Through this determination of the essence of man· thehu-
manistic interpretations of man as animal rationale, as "person," as
spiritual-ensouled-bodily being, are not declared false and thrust
aside. Rather, the sole implication is that the highest determina-
tions'ofthe essence of man in humanism: still do not realize the
proper dig-nity of man. To that extent the thinking in Being and
Time is against humanism. But this opposition does not mean that
such thinking aligns itself against the humane and advocates the
inhuman, that it promotes the inhumane and deprecates the dignity
of man. Humanism is opposed because it does not set the human-
BAS [C WR·[ TIN G S
232
*See Jean-Paul Sartre, L'Itxistentialisme est un humanisme (Paris: Nagel, 1946),
pp. 17, 21, and
and Time is experiencedl, that is to say, .experienced from the fun-
damental experience of the oblivion of Being.
. By way of contrast, Sa;rtre expresses the basic tenet of existential-
ism in this way: Existence precedes essence.* In this stcitell1ent he
is .taking existentia and) essentia according· to \ their metaphysical
meaning, which from Plato's time on has said. that essentia precedes
existentia. Sartre reverses this statement. But the reversal of a meta-
physical statement remc!iins a metaphysical· statement.· With .. it he
stays with metaphysics in oblivion of the truth of Being. For even if
philosophy wishes to the relation ofessentia andexisten-
tia in the sense it had in medieval controversies, in Leibniz's sense,
or in· some other way, still· remains to ask first· of all from what
destiny· of Being this differentiation in Being as esse essentiae and
esse existentiae comes tq appear to thinking. We have yet to consid-
er why the questionabqut the destiny of Being was never asked and
why it could never be tlhought. Or is the fact that this is how it is
with the differentiationlof essentia and existentia not at alIa sign of
forgetfulness of Being? We must presume that this destiny does not
rest upon a mere failure of human thinking, let alone upon a lesser
capacity of early Westerrn thinking. Conc"ealed'in its essential prove-
. nance, thedifferentiat10n of essentia (essentiality) and existentia
(actuality) completely dpminates the destiny of Western history and
of all history by Europe.
Sartre's key about the priority of existentia over essen-
tia does, .however, using the name "existentialism" as an ap-
propriate title for a phUosophy of this sort. But the basic tenet of
"existentialism" has nqthing at all in common with the statement
from Being, and Time-+apart from the fact that in Being and Time
no statement about relation ·of essenfia and existentia can yet
be expressed, since there it is still a question of preparing something
precursory. As is from what we have just said, that happens
235
Letter on Humanis
111
.
*In Being and Time (see esp. sections 25-27, 38, and 68 C) Verfallen, literally a "falling" or "lapsing,". serves as. a third constitutive nloment of being-in-the-world.
Dasein is potentiality for Being, directed toward a future in which it can realize its
possibilities: this is its "existentiality." But existence is always out of a past
that determines its trajectory: this'is its "facticity." Meanwhile, Dasein usually busies
But metaphysics recognizes the clearing of either solely as
the'view' of what is present in "outward appearance" (idea) or criti...
cally as what is seen as· a result of categorial representation on the
part of subjectivity. This means that the truth of Being as the clear-
. ing itself remains concealed for metaphysics. However, this con-
cealment is not a defect of metaphysics but a treasure withheld from
it yet held before it, the. treasure of its own proper. wealth. But the
clearing itself is Being. Within the destiny of Being in 'metaphysics
the clearing first affords a view by which' what is present comes into
touch with man, who is present .to it, so that man himself can in
apprehending (noein) first touch upon Being (thigein,Aristotle,
Met. IX, 10). This view first gathers the aspect to itself. It yields to
such aspects when apprehending has become a setting-forth-before...
itself in the perceptio of the res cogitans taken as the subiectum of
certitudo.
But how--provided we really 9ught to ask such a question at all-
how does Being relate to ek-sistence? Being itself is the relation to
the extent that It, as the location of the truth of Being amid beings,
gathers to itself and embraces ek-sistence in its existential, that is,
ecstatic, essence. Because man as the one who ek-sists comes to
stand in this· relation that Being destines for itself, in that he. ecstat-
ically sustains it, that is, in' care takes it upon'himself, he' at first
fails to recognize tne nearest and attaches' himself to the next near-
est. He even thinks that this is the nearest. But nearer than the
nearest and at the same time for ordinary thinking farther than the
farthest.is nearness itself: the truth of Being.
Forgetting the truth of Being in favor. of the pressing throng of
beings unthought in their essence is what. ensnarement [Verfallen]
means in Being and Time. * This word does not signify the Fall of
BliA SIC . W R I TIN G S
234
itas of man· high 4nough. Of course essential worth of man
does not consist in Ihis being the substance of beings, as the "Sub-
ject" among, them,\ so that as the tyrant of .Being he may deign
to release, the beingness of beings into an all too loudly bruited
"objectivity.'''
Man is rather "thrown" from Being itself into the truth of Being,
so that. ek-sisting in\ this fashion ,he might guard the, truth" of Be-
ing" in order that might appear in the light of Being as the
beings, they are. Map 'does not decide whether and how beings ap-
pear, whether and God and the gods or history and nature
come forward into clearing Being,come to presence and
depart. The advent bf beings lies in the destiny of But for
man it is ever a of finding what is fitting in his essence
that corresponds to destiny; for in· accord with this destiny man
as ek-sisting has to the truth of Being, Man is the' shepherd
ofBeing. It is in this clirection alone that Being and Time is thinking
when .ecstatic is experienced as "care" (cf. section 44 C,
pp. 226ff.).
Yet Being-what isIi Being? It is It itself. The thinking that is to
come must learn to that and to say it. "Being"-that is
not'God and not a cbsmic ground. 'Being is farther,than all beings
is yet nearer to man than every being, be it a rock, a beast, a
work of art, a machin¢, be it an angel' or God. Being is the nearest.
Yet the near remains I:arthest from man. Man at first clings always
and only to beings. thinking represents beings as beings
it no doubt relates. itself to Being. In truth, however, it always thinks
only of beings as such; \precisely not, and never, Being as such. The
"question of Being" always remains a question about beings. It is
still not, at all what .its \elusive name indicates:' the question in the
dire'ction of Being. Pl1ilosophy, even when it 'becomes "critical"
through Descartes and\ Kant, always follows the of meta-
physical representation."!: It thinks from beings back to beings'with a
glance in passing Being. For every departure from beings
and every return to stands' .already·in the light of Being.
itself in affairs, losing itself in the present, forgetting what is lllost its own:
this is its Verfallensein. (Tl1e last-named is not simply a nlatter of 44everyday" dealings,
however, since the tendency to let theoretical problenlsslip into. the
solutions of a tradition affects interpretation itself.) To forget what IS 1110St Its own IS
what Heidegger means byi Uneigentlichkeit, usually rendered as "inauthenticity" but
perhaps better understoodIas "inappropriateness. "-ED. .
Man· understood it} a "moral-philosophical" and at. the same time
secularized way; it designates an essential relationship of
man to Being wjtnin Being's relation to the .essence. of man.Ac-
cordirigly, the termjs"authenticity" and "inauthenticity," which are
used in a· provisional fashion, do not imply a moral-existentiell or
an distinction but. rather a .relation which, be-
cause it has been from philosophy, has yet to be
thought for the time, an "ecstatic" relation of the essence of
man to the truth Being. Butthis relation is as it is not by reason
of ek-sistence; on the contrary, the essence of ek-sistence derives
existentially-ecstatiqally from the essence of the truth of Being.
The one thing would like to attain and for the first time
tries to articulate inl Being and Time is somethingsimple. As such,
Being the simple nearness of an unobtrusive
governance. The occurs essentially as language itself. But
language is not mete speech, insofar as the latter at
best as the unity Ipf phoneme (or written character), melody,
rhythm, and meaniing (or sense). We ·think of the phoneme and
written character a verbal body for language, of melody and
rhythm as its soul, has to do with meaning as its mind.
We usually think language as· corresponding to the essence of
man represented as janimal rationale, that is, as the unity of body-
soul"mind. But just lias ek-sistence-and through it the relation of
the truth' of Being Ito man-remains veiled in. the humanitas of
homo animaIis, so the metaphysical-animal explanation of lan-
gU'age cover up .the!: essence of language in the history of Being.
According to this language is the house of Being, which is
*Heidegger cites Sartre's L'Existentialisme est un humanisme, p. 36. The
of Sartre's remark is as follows. He is arguing (pp. 33ff.) "that God does not eXIst, and
that it is necessary.to draw the consequences to the end." To those who
the death of God leaves traditional values and nornlS untouched-and hunlanlSl1l IS
one such value-Sartre rejoins "that it is very distressing that God does not
because with him· vanishes every possibility of finding values in some intelligibly heav-
en; we can no longer locate an a priori Good since. there is no. infinite and perfect
consciousness to think it; it is nowhere written that the Good eXIsts, that we nlust be
honest, that we mustn't lie, precisely because we are in a situation where there are
only human
237 Letter on Humanism
propriatecl by Being and pervaded by Being. And so it is proper to
think the essence of language from its correspondence to Being
and indeed as this correspondence, that is, as the home of man's
essence.
But man is not only a living creature· possesses language
along with other capacities. Rather, language is the house of Being
in which man ek-sists by dwelling, in that he belongs to the truth
of Being, guarding it.
So the point is· that in' the. determination of the humanity of man
as ek-sistence what is essential is not man but Being-as the dimen-
sion of the ecstasis of ek-sistence. However, the dimension is not
something spatial in the familiar· sense. Rather, everything· spatial
and all space... time occur essentially in the dimensionality that Being
itself is.
Thinking attends to these simple relationships. It tries to find the
right word for them within the long-traditional language and gram...
mar of metaphysics. But does such thinking-granted that there is
something in a name-still allow itself to be as human...
ism? Certainly not so far as humanism thinks· metClphysically. Cer-
tainly not if humanism is existentialism and is represented by what
Sartre expresses: precisement nous sommes sur un plan oil if y a
seulement des hommes [Weare precisely in a situation where there
are only human beings].* Thought from Being and Time, this
say instead: precisement nous sbmmes sur un plan oil il y a
principalement l'Etre. [We are precisely in a situation where prinei...
pally there is Being]. But where does Ie plan come from and what
B1A SIC WRIT I 'NG S 236
239
Letter on Humanism'
If \2. See the lecture on Holderlin's hyInn, "Wie wenn anl Feiertage .. ," in Martin
Erliiuterungen zu Holderlins I)ichtung, fourth, expanded edt (FraIlkfurt
Main: V. Klostermann, 1971), p. 76.
law of its thinking into the law of history and simultaneously sub-
sume history into the system. Thought in a more primordial way,
there 'isthe history of Being to which thinking belongs, as recollec..
tion of this, history, propriatedby' it. Such recollective thought dif..
fers essentially from the subsequent presentation of history in the
sense of an evanescent past. History does not take place primarily
as a happening. And its happening is not evanescence. The hap-
pening of history occurs essentially as the destiny of the truth of
Being and from it.
Z
Being comes to destiny in that It, Being, gives
itself. But thought in terms of such destiny this says: it gives itself
and refuses itself simultaneously. Nonetheless, Hegel's definition of
history as the development of."Spirit" is not untrue. Neither is it
partly correct and partly false. It is as true as metaphysics, which
through Hegel first brings to language its essence-thought in
terJ:I1s of the absolute-in the system. Absolute metaphysics, with
its Marxian and Nietzschean inversions, belongs ,to the history of
truth of Being. Whatever stems from it cannot be countered or
pven cast aside by refutations. It can only 'be taken up in such a
}\lay that' its truth is more primordially sheltered in Being itself and
removed from the domain of mere human opinion. All refutation
the field ,of essential thinking is foolish. Strife among thinkers is
"lovers' quarrel" concerning the matter itself. It assists them
Ijnutually toward a simple belonging to the Same, from which they
what is fitting for them in/the destiny of Being.
Assuming that in the future man will be able to think the truth
qf Being, he will ,think from ek-sistence. Man stands ek..sistingly in
the destiny of Being. The, ek-sistence of man is historical as such,
'\Dlut not only or primarily because so much happens to man and to
human in the course of time. Because it must think theek..
of Da-sein, the thinking of Being and Time is essentially
l'lcpncerned, that the historicity of Dasein be experienced.
238
is it? L'Etre et Ie plan'! are the same. In Being and Time (p. 212) we
purposely and cautio\{lsly, say, iZ' y a l'Etre: "there is / it gives" ["es
gibf'] Being. JZy a translates "it gives" imprecisely. For the "it" that
here "gives" is 'Being itself. The "gives"names the essence of Being
that is giving, granting): its truth. The self-giving into the open, along
with the open region .:tself, is Being itself.
At the same 'time gives" is used preliminarily to avoid the lo-
cution "Being' is"; for "is" is commonly said"of some thing that is.
We call such a t.hinga:being. But Being "is" precisely not "a being."
If "is" is spoken without a closer interpretation of Being, then Being
is all too easily' a "being" after the fashion of the
familiar sorts of that act as causes and are actualized as ef-
fects. And yet Parmen1des, in the early age of 'thinking, says, esti
'gar "for there is iBeing."The primalmyste'ry for all thinking
is concealed in this phrase. Perhaps "is" can be 'said only of Being
in an appropriate way, so that no individual being ever properly "is."
But because' thinking spould 'be directed only toward saying Being
in its truth, instead of it as a particular being in terms of
beings, whether and how' Being is must remain an open question
for the careful attentioq. of thinking.
The esti gar einai of! Parmenides is still unthought today. That
allows us to gauge how stand with the progress of philo'sophy.
When philosophy attenps to its' essence it does not make forward
strides at all.' It remains!1 where it is in order constantly to think the
Same. Progression, is, progression forward from this place, is
a mistake that follows as the shadow that thinking ,itself
casts. Because Being is unthought, Being and Time too says of
it, "there is / it gives." yet one cannot speculate about this il y a
precipitately and' withoult a foothold. This' "there is / it gives" rules
as the destiny of Ilts history comes to language in the words
of essential thinkers. Tlrterefore the thinking that thinks into the
truth ofBeing is, as historical. There is not a "systematic"
thinking and next to it illustrative history of ,past opinions. Nor
is there, as Hegel only a systematics that can fashion the
But does not Being <znd 'Time say ,on p. 212, where the "there is I
it gives" comes to laqguage, "Only so long as Dasein is, is there
[gibt es] Being"? To pe sure. It means that only so long as the
clearing of Being does Being convey. itself to man. But
the fact that the Da, _he clearing as the truth of Being itself, pro-
priates is the· of Being itself., This is the destiny of the
clearing. But the sentence 'does not mean that the of man
in the traditional of existentia, and thought in .modern phi-
losophy as the actuality of the ego cogito, is that being through
which Being is first \sentence-.doesnot say that
Being is the product 9f man. The "Introduction" to Being and
Time (p. 85, above), .simply and clearly, even in italics, "Being
is the transcendens purp and simple." Just as the openness of spa-
tial. nearness seen the perspective of a' particular thing ex...
ceeds all things near a$d far, so is Being essentially broader than
all beings, because it the clearing itself. For all that, Being is
thought on the basis beings, a consequence of the approach-
at firstunavoidable-wlthin a metaphysics that is still dominant
Only from such a perswective does Being show itself in and as a
transcending.
The introductory "Being-is the transcendens pure and
simple," articulates in. simple sentence the. W<lY the essence of
Being hitherto has man.. This retrospective definition of
the' essence of Being the clearing of beings a$ such remains
indispensable for the prQspective approach of thinking toward the
question concerning the of Being. In this way thinking attests
to its essential unfolding\asdestiny. It is far from the arrogant pre-
sumption·that wishes to Biegin anew and'declares all past philosophy
false. But whether the of Being as the transcendens pure
and simple really does e*press the simple essence' of the truth of
Being-this and this is the primary question for a ·thinking
that attempts to think truth' of Being. That is why we also say
230) that how Being II is is to be understood chiefly from its
241
Letter on Humanism
3.' cf "The Ister" and "The Journey" [Die Wanderung), third stanza and ff. [In the translations by Michael Hamburger (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, ·1966), pp. 492ff. and 392ff.]
"meaning" ["Sinn"], that is, from the truth <?f Being. Being is
mined for man in the ecstatic projection But this projec-
tion does not create Being.
Moreover, the projection is essentially a thrown projection. What
throws in projection is not. man but Being itself, which sends
into the ek-sistence of Da-sein that is his essence. This destiny pro-
priates as the clearing of Being-which it is. The clearing grants
nearness to Being. In this nearness, in the cleariFlg of the Da, man
dwells as the ek-sisting one without yet being able properly to ex-
perience and takeover' this dwelling. In the lecture on Holderlin's
elegy "Homecoming" (1943) this nearness "of" Being, which the Da
of Dasein is, is thought on the basis of Being and Time; it is per-
ceived as spoken from the minstrel's poem; from the experience of
the oblivion of Being it is called the "homeland." The word is
thought here in an. essential sense, not patriotically or nationalisti-
cally, .but in terms of the history of Being. The essence of the home-
land, however, is also mentioned with the intention of thinking the
'homeless.ness of contemporary man from the essence of Being's his-
tory. Nietzsche was the last to experience this hornelessness. From
within metaphysics-he was unable to find any other way out than a
reversal of metaphysics. But that is the height of futility. On the
other hand, when Holderlin composes "Homecoming" he is con-
cerned that his·"countrymen" find their essence. 'Hedoes I1;ot at all
seek that essence jn an egoism of his nation. He sees it rather in
the context of a belongingness.to the destiny of the West. But even
the West is not thought regionally as the Occident in contrast to
the Orient, nor merely as Europe; but rather world-historically out
of nearness to the source. We have still scarcely begun to think of
the mysterious relations to the East. that found expression in Hold-
erlin's poetry.3 "German" is not spoken to· the so that the
B A 'is I C WR I TIN G S
240
4. Cf. Holderlin's poem "Remembrance" [Andenken] in. the· Tiibingen Memorial (1943), p.322. [Hamburger, pp.:488ff.]
243
Letter on Humanism
than the··mere cosmopolitanism of Goethe. For the same reason
Holderlin's relation to Greek is something essentially
other than humanism. When confronted with death, therefore,
those young Germans who knew about Holderlin lived and thought
something other than what the public held to be the typical Ger-
man attitude:
Homelessness is coming to be the destiny of the world. Hence it
is necessary to think that destiny in terms of the history of Being.
What Marx recognized ill an essential and significant sense, though
derived from.Hegel, .as the estrangement of man has its roots in the
homelessness of modern man.* This homelessness is specifically
evoked from the destiny of Being· in the form of metaphysics, and
through metaphysics' is simultaneously entrenched and covered up
as such.· Because Marx by experiencing estrangement attains. an
essential dimension of history, the Marxist view of history is .supe-
rior to that of other historical accounts. But since neither Husserl
. nor-so· far as I have seen till now-Sartre recognizes the essential
importance of the historical in' Being, neither phenomenology nor
existentialism enters that dimension within which dia-
Jogue with Marxism first becomes· possible.
For such dialogue it is certainly also necessary to free oneself
from naive notions about materialism, as well as from the cheap
refutations that are to counter it. The essence of materi-
alism does. not consist in· the assertion that everything is. simply
matter but rather in a metaphysical determination according to
which. every being appears as the material of labor. The modern
metaphysical essence of· labor is ,anticipated .in Hegel's Phenome--
nology· of Spirit as the self-establishing process of unconditioned
production, which is the objectification of the actual through man
as subjectivity. The essence of materialism is concealed
*00 the notion of Entfremdung, estrangement or alienation, see Marx's first Paris
MS, pp. XXIIff., Werke, Erganzungsband 1, 510-22. The relation of.estrangenlent to the "world-historical" developments that Heidegger here. stresses is perhaps Olore clearly stated in Marx... Engels, The German Ideology, Werke, III, 34-36.-En.
BA .SIC W R I TIN G .S
242
world might be reforPled through the German essence; rather, it is
spoken to· the so that from a. fateful belongingness to the
nations they mightblecome· world-historical along with them.
4
The
homeland of this dwelling is nearness to Being.
In such nearness, if at all, a decision may be made as to whether
and how God and gods withhold .their presence and the night
remains, whether anq how the day. of the holy dawns, whether and
how in the upsurgence of the holy an epiphany of Garland the
gods can .begin But the holy, which alone' is· the .essential
sphere of divinity, whJch in turn alone affords a dimension for the
gods arid for God; comes to radiate only when Being itself before-
hand and after preparation has been illuminated and is
experienced in its truti.h. Only thus does the overcoming of horne-
lessness begin from Being, a homelessness in which not only man
but the essence of mam stumbles aimlessly about.
Homelessnessso uI\lderstood consists in the abandonment of
Being by beings. is the symptom of oblivion of Being.
Because of it the trutn of Being remains ··unthought. The oblivion
of Being makes itself indirectly through the fact that man
always observes and only beings. Even so, because man.
cannot avoid having s01\l1e notion of Being, iLis explained merely as
what is "most general" therefore as something that encompas-
ses beings, or as a creation of the infinite being,or as the product
of· a finite .subject. At same time "Being" has long stood for
and, inverselY,l the latter the former, the two of them
caught in a curious andl still unraveled confusion.
As the destiny that sends truth, Being remains concealed. But
the world's destiny is herfilded in poetry, without yet becoming man-
ifest as the history of BeJng. The world-historical thinking of Hold-
erlin. that speaks out in the poem "Remembrance" \is therefore
essentially more primordial and thus more significant for the future
in the essence of teqhnology, about which much has been written
but little has been Technology is in its essence a. destiny
within Being and of the truth of Being, a truth that
lies in oblivion. Forltechnology does not go back'to the techne of
the Greeks in only but derives historically and essentially
from techne as a moae of aletheuein, a mode, that is, of rendering
beings manifest [Offqnbarmachen] , As a form of truth technology is
grounded in the histpry of metaphysics, which is itself a distinctive
and up, to now theqnly perceptible phase of the history of Being.
No matter which of various positions one chooses to adopt to-
ward 'the doctrines 6fcommunism and to their foundation, from
the point of view ofl the history of Being it is certain that anele-
m.ental experien.ce what is wo.rId.-historical speaks out. in it.
Whoever takes only as a "party" or a "Weltan-
schauung" is. thinki g too shallowly, just as who by the term
"Americanism" mea ,and mean derogatorily, nothing more than a
particular life-style.. he danger into which Europe as it has hith-
erto ,existed is ever ore clearly forced consists presumably in the
fact above all that it thinking---once its glory-is falling behind· in
the essential course f a dawning world· destiny which nevertheless
in the basic traits of its essential provenance remains European by
definition. No met physics, whether idealistic, materialistic, or
Christian, can in ac ord with its essence, and surely not in its own
attempts to explicate itself, "get a hold on" this destiny yet, and that
means thoughtfully 0 reach· and gather together what in the fullest
sense of Being' how i .
In the face of the ssential homelessness of man, man's approach-
ing destiny reveals it elf to thought on the history of Being in this,
that man find his w y into the truth of Being and set out on this
find. Every nationarsm is metaphysically an anthropologism, and
as such subjectivis . Nationalism is not overcome through mere
internationalism; it i rather expanded and elevated thereby into a
system. Nationalism is as little brought and raised to humanitasby
internationalism as ndividualism is, by an ahistorical
The latter is the ectivity of man in totality. It completes subjec-
245
Letter on Humanism'
tivity's unconditioned self-assertion, which refuses to yield. Nor can
it be even adequately experienced by a thinking that mediates in a
one...sided fashion. Expelled from the truth of· Being, man every-
where circles round himself as the animal rationale.
But the essence of man consists in his being more than merely
human, if this is represented as "being a rational creature." "More"
must not be understood here additively, as if the traditional defini-
tion of man were indeed to remain basic, only elaborated by means
of an existentiell postscript. The "more" means: more originally and
therefore more essentially in terms of his essence. But here some-
thing enigmatic manifests itself: man is in thrownness. This means
that man, as the ek-sisting counter-throw [Gegenwurf] of Being, is
more than animal rationale precisely to the extent that he is less
bound up with man conceived from subjectivity. Man is not the
lord of beings. Man is the shepherd of Being. Man loses nothing in
this "less"; rather, he gains in that he attains the truth of Being. He
gains the essential poverty of the shepherd, whose dignity consists
in being called by Being itself into the preservation of Being's truth.
The call comes ·as the throw from which the thrownness of Da-sein
derives. In his essential unfolding within the history of Being, man'
is the whose Being as ek... sistence· consists in· his dwelling· in
the nearness of Being. Man is the neighbor of Being.
But-as you no doubt have been wanting to rejoin for quite a
while now-does not such thinking precisely the humanitas
of homo humanus? Does it not think humanitas in a decisive sense,
as no metaphysics has'thought it or can think it? Is this not "hu-
manism"in the extreme sense? Certainly. It is a humanism that
thinks the humanity of man from nearness to But at the
same time·it is a humanism in which not man but man's historical
essence is at stake in its provenance from the truth. of Being. But
then does not the ek-sistence of man also stand or fall in this game
of stakes? Indeed it does.
In Being and Time (p.85,above) it is said that every question of
philosophy "recoils upon existence." But existence here is not the
actuality of the ego cogito. Neither is it the actuality of subjects who
BASIC WRITINGS 244
act with and. for each other and so become who they are. "Ek-
sistence," in fundamental· contrast· to every existentia and "exis-
tence," is' dwelling in the nearness of Being. It is the
guardianship, 'that is, the care for Being. Because there is some-
thing simple to be, fhought in this. thinking it seems· quite difficult
to the representational thought that has been transmitted as philos-
ophy. But the difficulty is'not a of indulging in a special sort
of. profundity and of building complicated concepts; rather,i( is
concealed in .the step back that lets thinking enter into a question-
ing that, experiences--and. lets the ha1?itual opining of philosophy
fall away. .
,It is everywhere 'supposed that the attempt in Being and Time
ended in. a blind alley. Let us not comment any further upon that
opinion. The thinking that hazards' a few steps in Being and Time
has even today notaavanced beyond that publication. But perhaps
in the meantime it has in one respect come farther into its, own
matter. However, as! long as philosophy merely busies itself with
continually obstructing the possibility of admittance into the matter
for thinking, i. e., into the truth' of Being, it stands safely beyond
any danger of shattering·against the hardness of that matter. Thus
to "philosophize" about being shattered is separated by a chasm
from a thinking that is shattered. If such thin'kingwere to go for-
'tunately.·for a man, no misfortune would befall him. He.would re-
,ceive the only gift that can come to thinking from Being.
,But it is also the case that the matter of thinking is not achieved
, in the· fact that talk about the "truth of Being" and the "history of
Being" is serin motion. Everything upon this alone, that
the truth of Being come to language and that thinking attain tothis
language. Perhaps, then, language requires much less precipitate
expression than proper silence. But who of us today would want to
imagine that his attempts to think are at home on the path of 5i-
lence?At best, thinking. could· perhaps point toward the truth of
Being, and indeed toward it as what is to be thought. It would thus
be more easily weaned. from mere· supposing and opining and'di-
247
Letter on Humanism
rected to the now rare handicraft of writing. Things that really mat-
ter,although they, are not defined for all eternity, even when they
come very late still come at the right time.
Whether the realm of the truth of Being is a bHndalley orwheth-
er it is the free sp'ace in which freedom conserves 'its essence is
something each· one may judge after he himself has .tried to go the
designated way, or 'even better, after ,he has gone a better that
a way befitting the question. On the penultimate page of Being
and Time (p. 437) stand the sentences: "'The conflict with -respect
to the interpretation of Being (that is, therefore, not the interpre-
tation of beings or of the Being of man) cannot be· because
it has not yet been kindled. And in the end it,·is not a .question of
'picking a quarrel,' since the kindling of the conflict does demand
some preparation. To this end alone the foregoing investigation is
under way." Today 'after two 'decades these sentences still Let
us also in the days ahead remain as wanderers on the way into the
neighborhood of Being. The question you pose helps toclatify
the way. '
You ask, Comment redonner un sens au mot 'Humanisme'? "How
can some sense be restored to the word 'humanism'?" Your question
not only presupposes a desire to retain the word "humanism" but
also contains an admission that this word has lost its
It has lost it through the insight that the essence of humanism is
metaphysical,which now means that metaphysics not only does not
pose the question concerning the truth of Being but also obstructs
the question, insofar as metaphysics persists in the oblivion .of
Being. But the same thinking that has led us to insight into the
questionable essence of humanism has likewise compelled', us to
think the essence of man more primordially. With .regard to this
more essential humanitas. of homo humanus there arises the possi-
bility of restoring to the word "humanism" a historical sense that is
older than oldest meaning chronologically, reckoned. The resto-
ration is not to be understood as though the word "humanism" were
wholly without meaning and a mere flatus 'vocis [empty sound].
BASIC WRITINGS 246
249
Letter on Humanism
simply mirrorings of what one believes he knows already before he
reads.· They all betray the same structure and the same foundation.
Because we are speaking against "humanism" people fear a de-
fense of.the inhuman and·a glorification of barbaric brutality. For
what is more "logical" than thatfor somebody who negates human-
ism nothing remains but the affirmation of inhumanity?
Because we are speaking against "logic" people believe we are
.demanding that the rigor of thinking be renounced and in its place
the arbitrariness of drives and feelings be installed and thus that
be proclaimed as true. For what is more "logical"
than that whoever speaks against the logical is defending the
alogical? '
Because'we are speaking against "values" people are horrified at
a· philosophy that ostensibly dares to despise humanity's best quali-
ties. For what more "logical" than that a thinking that denies
values must necessarily pronounce everything. valueless?
Because we say that the Being of man consists in "being-in-the-
world" people find that man is downgraded to a merely terrestrial
being, whereupon philosophy sinks into positivism. For what is
more "logical" than that whoever asserts the worldliness of human
being holds. only this life as valid, denies the beyond, and renounces
all "Transcendence"?
Because we refer to the word of Nietzsche on the "death of God"
people regard such a gesture as atheism. For what is more "logical"
than that whoever has experienced the death 'of God is godless?
Because in all the respects mentioned we everywhere speak
against all that humanity deems high and holy our philosophy
teae,hes an irresponsible and destructive "nihilism." For what is
more "logical" than that whoever roundly denies what is truly in
being puts himself on the side of nonbeing and thus professes the
pure nothing as the· meaning of reality? '
What is going on here? People hear talk about "humanism," "log-
ic," ."values," "world," and "God." They hear something about
B AI SIC W R I TIN G S
I
The "humanum" in the word points to humanitas, the essence of·
I .
man' the "-ism" that the essence of man is meant to be
essentially. is the sense that the word "humanism" has
as such. To restore asense to it can only mean to redefine the
meaning of the That requires that we first experience the
essence of man morejprimordially; but it also demands that we show
to what extent this¢ssence in its .own way becomes fateful. The
essence of man ek-sistence. That is what is essentially-that
i.. s from Being"itselfLat issue here; insofar as Being' appropriates
, . I .
man as ek-sisting for I guardianship over the truth of Being into this
truth itself. now means, in case we decide to retain
the word that the ofman is essential for the truth of Being,
, I
specifically in such away that what matters .. is not man simply as
such. So we are a curious kind of"hlimanism." The word
results in a name tHat is a Lucus anon Lucendo [literally, a grove
where no light
,Should we· still the name "humanism" for a "humanism"
that contradicts all humanism-although it in no way ad-
I
vocates the inhuman? And keep it just so that by sharing in the use
of the na.me perhaps swim iIi the predominant currents,
stifled in' subjectivism and submerged in oblivion of
Being? Or by means of open resistance to "human-
ism" risk a shock could for the first time cause perplexity con...
the of homo humanusand its basis? In this way
it could awaken a reflection-if the· world-historical moment did not
itself such a reflection-that thinks· not only about
man but also about the "nature" of man, not only about his nature
but even more primprdiallY about the dimension in which the
sence of man, by Being itself,. is at home. Should we
not rather suffer a longer those inevitable misinterpre-
tations to which path of thinking· in. the element of Being and
time has hithertobe¢n exposed and let them slowly dissipate? These
misinterpretations· ate natural reinterpretations. of what was read, or
248
opposition to They recognize and accept these things aspos-
itive. But a way that is not strictly deliberate-
, they immediately aSsume that what speaks against something is au-
tomatically its negation and that this is "negative" in the sense· of
destructive. And somewhere in Being and Time there is explicit talk
of "the phenomenplogical· destructuring." With the .assistance of
logic and often invoked people come· to believe that
whatever is not is negative and that it seeks to degrade
reason-and theref:ore deserves to be branded as depravity. We are
sofilled with"logic"lthat anythingthat disturbs the habitual somnolence
of is automatically registered as a ,despicable
contradiction. We pitch everything that does not stay. close to·the
familiar and ·belovtd positive into the previously excavated pit of
pure which negates everything,. ends in. nothing, and so
consummates nihilism. Following this logical course we let every-
th:ing expire in a nfhilism. we invented· for ourselves· with the aid of
logic. . '
But does the which a thinking advances against ordinary
opinion necessarilt point toward pure 'negation. and· the negative?
This . then, to be sure, happens inevitably arid con...
elusively, that is, tithout a clear prospect of
when one posits in! advance what is meant by the "positive" and on
this basis makes ad absolute and absolutely negative· decision about
the range of opposition to it. Concealed in such a proce-
dure is the refusall to' subject to reflection this presupposed "posi-
tive" in which. one1believes oneself saved, together with its position
and opposition.· Byl continually appealing to the logical conjures
up the illusion· th4t one is entering into· thinking
when in fact one nas ·disavowed it.
It ought to be.sdrnewhat clearer now that opposition to "human-
ism" in no way· implies a defense of the inhuman but rather opens
other vistas.
"Logic" understfnds thinking to be the representation of beings
in their Being, wI1ich representation proposes to itself in the gen-
erality of the concept. But how is it with meditation on Being itself,
that with the thinking that thinks the truth of Being? This think-
ingalone reaches the primordial essence· of logos, which was already
obfuscated and· lost in Plato and 'in Aristotle, the founder of "logic."
To think against "logic" does not mean to break a lance for the
illogical but simply to trace in thought the logos and its essence,
.'which appeared in the dawn of thinking, that is, to exert ourselves
for the first time in preparing for such reflection. Of what value are
even far-reaching systems of logic· to us if, without really knowing
what they are doing, they recoil before the task of simply inquiring
"into the essence of logos? Ifwewished to bandy about objections,
which is of course fruitless, we could say with 'more right: irratio-
nalism, as a denial of ratio, rules unnoticed and uncontested in the
defense of "logic," which believes it can eschew meditation on logos
and on the essence of ratio, which has its in logos.
To think against "values" is not to maintain that everything inter-
preted as "a value"-"culture," "art," "science," "human dignity,"
"world," and "God"-is valueless. Rather, it is .important finally, to
realize that precisely through the characterization of something as
"a value" what is so valued is robbed of its worth. That is to say, by
the assessment of something as a value what is valued is admitted
<?nly .as .an object. for man's estimation. But wh'at a thing is in its
,. Being is not exhausted by its being an object, 'particularly when
objectivity takes the form of value. Every valuing, even where it
values positively, is a subjectivizing. It does not let beings: be. Rath-
er, va,luing lets beings: be· valid-solely as the objects of its doing.
.. The bizarre effort to "prove the objectivity o'f values does not know
what it is doing. When o'ne proclaims "God" the altogether "highest
value," this is a degradation of God's essence. Here as elsewhere
thinking in values is .the greatest blasphemy imaginable against
'Being. To think against values therefore does not mean to beat the
drum· for the valuelessness and nullity of beings. It means rather to
bring the clearing of the truth of Being·before thinking, as against
subjectivizing beings into mere objects.
250
B· ·IA.S 1 C W R 1 T ··1 N G S· Letter on Humanism 251
The reference I to as the basic trait of the
humanitas of hotrnohumanus does not assert that man is merely ,a
"worldly" creatufle, understood in a Christian sense, thus a creature
turned away God and so cut loose from "Transcendence."
What is really by this word would be more clearly called "the
transcendent." The transcendent is supersensible, being. This 'is
considered the lj.ighest being in the sense of the first cause of all .
beings. God is thought as this first cause. However,' in the' name ,
"world" does not in any way imply earthly as
, opposed to being, nor the "worldly" as opposed to the
"spiritual." For "world" does not at all signify beings or any realm
of beings but tM openness of Being. Man is, and is man, insofar as
he is the ek-sisting' one., He stands out into the openness of Being.
Being itself, as the throw has projected the essence of man
into "care," is as Ithis openness. Thrown in such fashion, man stands
"in" the Being. "World" is the clearing of Being into
which man stan,ds out on the basis of his thrown essence. "Being-
in-the-wofld" the essence of ek-sistence with regard to
the cleared dimension' out of which the ek-sistence, essen-
tially unfolds. l1houghtin terms of ek-sistence, "world" is in a cer-
.' . ,
tain sense "the beyond" within existence and for it. Man
is ne'ver first anp foremost'man on the 'hither side of the world, as
a "subject," this is taken as "I" or "We." Nor is he ever
simply a merelsubject which always simultaneously is related to
objects, so that Ihis essence lies in the subject-object Rath-
er, before all this, man in his essence is ek-sistent into the openness
,of Being, into ithe open region that clellrs the "between" within
which, a "relation" of subject to objectcan "be."
The statemeIjlt that the essence of man consists inbeing-il1-the-
world likewise contains no decision about whether man in a theo-
logico-metaphysical sense is merely a this-worldly or an other-worldly
creature.
With the existential determination of the essence of man, there-
fore, nothing is decided about the "existence of God" or his "non-
253 Letter on Humanism
5, Martin Heidegger, Yom Wesen des Grundes, p. 28 n. 1.
being,:' ?O more than about the possibility or impossibility of gods.
Thus It IS not only rash but also an error in procedure to maintain
the interpretation of the essence of man from the relation of
hIs essence to the truth of Being is atheism. And what is mOre th'
b
. I' ' IS
ar Itrary c asslfication betrays a lack of careful reading. No one
bothers to notice that in my essay "On the Essence of Ground" th
£ 11 . ". e
0. owmg .app'ears: Through the ontological interpretation of Da-
as ?o decision, whether positive or negative,
IS made concermng a pOSSIble being toward God. It is, however the
case that through an illumination of transcendence we first achieve
an adequate concept of Dasein, with respect to which it can now be
asked the Dasein to God is ontblogically or-
dered. If :-e thmk about thIs remark too quickly, as is usually the
case, we wIll declare that such a philosophy does not decide either
for or against the of God. It remains stalled in indiffer-
Thu.s it is unconcerned' with the religious question. Such
IndIfferentism ultimately falls prey fo nihilism.
But does foregoing observation teach indifferentism? Why
then are partIcular words in the note italicized--and not just
dom For no other reason than to indicate that the thinking
thmks question concerning the truth of Being ques-
tIons pnmordlally than metaphysics can. Only from the truth
of Bemg can the essence of the holy be thought. Only from' the
of the holy is the essence of divinity to be thought. Only in
the hght of the essence of divinity can it be thought or said what
the word "God" is to signify. Or should we not first be able to hear
and understand all these words carefully if we are to be permitted
as men, that is, asek-sistent creatures, to experience a relation of
God How man at the present stage of world history ask
at all senously and ngorously whether the god nears or withdraws,
when, he has above all neglected to think into the dimension in
which alone that question can be asked? But this is the dimension
B A S",1 C W R I T I ,N' G S
252
-, of the holy, which indeed remains closed as a dimension if the open
region of Being is Qot cleared and in its clearing is near man. Per-
haps what is distin<;tive about this world-epoch consists in the clo-
.sure of the dimension of·the hale [des·Heilen). Perhaps that is the
sole malignancy [Unheil].
But with this reference the thinking that points toward the truth
of Being· as what is:to be thought has in noway decided in favor of
theism. It can be theistic as little as ·Not,however, because
of an indifferent attitude, but out ofiespect for the boundaries that
have been set for tllinking as such, indeed set by what gives itself to
thinking as what isi to be thought,by the truth of Being. Insofar as
thinking limits itself to its task it directs man at the present moment
of world's destiny into the primordial dimension of his historical
abode. When thinking of this speaks the truth of Being it has
entrusted itself to. what is more essential than: all values and all types
of beings. Thinking does not overcome metaphysics by climbing still
higher, it, transcending it somehow or other;.thinking
overcomes metaphysics by climbing back.downinto the nearness of
the nearest The descent, particularly where man has strayed into.
subjectivity, is arduous and more dangerous than the ascent
The descent leads the poverty of the ek-sistence of homo human-
us. In ek-sistenceitheregion of homo animalis, of metaphysics, is
abandoned. The dominance'of region is the mediate and deep-
ly rooted basis fori the blindness·' and arbitrariness· of what is called
"biologism," .but of what is known under the heading
matism." To thinI< the truth of Being at the same time means to
think the humanity of homo humanus. What counts is humanitas
,in the service of the truth of Being, but without humanism in the.
metaphysical sense.
But if humanitas must be viewed as so essential to the thinking
.ofBeing, must nQt "ontology" therefore be supplemented by "eth-
ics"? Is not that ¢ffortentirely essential you express in the
sentence, "Ge que je cherche a {aire, depuis longtemps deja, c'est
preciser Ie rapport de l'ontologie avec une ethique possible" ["What I
have been trying to do for a long time now is to determine precisely
the relation of ontology to a possible ethics"]?
Soon after Being and'Time appeared a young friend asked me,
"When are you going to write an ethics?" Where the essence of
man is. thought so esseIl;tially, Le., solely from the question con-
cerning the. truth of Being, but still without elevating man to the
center of beings, a longing necessarily awakens for a peremptory
directive and for rules that say how man, experienced from ek...
sistence toward Being, ought to live in a fitting manner. The desire
for an ethics presses ever more ardently for fulfillment as the ob-
vious no less than the hidden perplexity of man soars to immea-
surableheights. The greatest care must be fostered upon the ethical
bond at a time when technological man, delivered over to mass
society, can be kep( reliably on call only by gathering and ordering
all his plans and activities ina way that corresponds to technology.
Who can disregard our predicament? Should we not safeguard
and secure the existing bonds even if they hold human beings to-
gether ever so tenuously and merely for the present? Certainly. 6ut
does this need ever release thought from ·the task of thinking what
still remains principally to be thought and, as Being, prior to all
beings, is their guarantor and their truth? Even further; can think-
i.ng refuse to think Being after the latter has lain hidden so long. in
oblivion but at the same time has made itself known in the present
moment of world history by the uprooting of all beings?
Before we. attempt to determine more precisely the relationship
between "ontology" and "ethics" must ask what and
"ethics" themselves are. It becomes necessary to whether
can be designated by both still remains near and proper
to. what is assigned to thinking, which as such. has to think above
all the truth of Being.
Of course if both and "ethics," along with all thinking
in terms of disciplines, become and if our thinking
254
B :A S Ie W R I·T I N G S
Letter on Humanism 255
therewith becomes more disciplined, how then do 'matters stand
with the question! about the relation'between these two philosoph-
ical disciplines?
Along with "logic" and "physics," "ethics" ,appeared for the first
timein the school of Plato. These disciplines arose at a time when
thinking was becoming "philosophy," philosophy episteme (science),
and science itself a matter for schools and academic pursuits. In
the course of a philosophy so ':Jnderstood, science waxed' and think-
ing waned. Thinkers prior to this period knew neither a "logic" nor
an "ethics" nor "physics." Yet their thinking was neither illogical
nor immoral. But :they did think physis in a depth and breadth that
no subsequent was ever again able to attain. The tragedies
of Sophocles-provided such 'a comparison is at all 'permissible-
preserve the ethos in their, sagas morepriinordially than Aristotle's
lectures on "ethics." A saying of Heraclitus which 'consists of only
three words says something so simply that from it the essence of
the ethos jmmediately, comes to light.
The saying of Heraclitus (Fragment 119) goes: ethos anth'ropoi
daimon. This is Qsually translated, "A man's character is hisdai-
mon." This translation thinks ina modern way, nota Greek 'one.
Ethos ,means. abdde, dwelling place. The word names the open re-
gion in which man dwells. The open region ofhis abode allows what
pertains to man's essence, andwhatin,thus arriving resides in near...
ness to ,him, to appear. The abode of man contains and ,preserves
the' advent of what belongs to man in his essence. According to
Heraclitus's phrase this is daimon, the god. The fragment says: Man
dwells, insofar ;he ,is 'man, in the nearness of god. A story that
Aristotle reports (Departibus animalium, I, 5, 645a 17ff.) agrees
with this of Heraclitus.
The story is told of something Heraclitus said to SOlne strangers who wanted
to come, visit him. ::Having arrived, they saw him warming hinlself at a stove.
Surprised, they stood there in consternation-above all because he encour-
aged: them, the astounded, ones, and called for them' to CODle in, with the
words, "For here too the gods are present."
The story.certainly speaks for itself, but we may stress ,a few aspects.
The group of foreign visitors, in their importunate curiosity about
the thinker, are disappointed and perplexed by their first glimpse of
his: abode. 'They believe they should meet the thinker in circum-
stances which, contrary·to the ordinary round of human life, every-
where bear traces of the exceptional and rare and so of the exciting.
The group'. hopes that in their visit" to the thinker they will find
things that will provide material for entertaining conversatio'n-at .
least for a while. The foreigners who wish to visit the thinker expect
,Jo catch.sight of him perchance at that very moment when, sunk
in profound meditation, he is thinking. The visitors want' this "ex-
perience" not in order to be overwhelmed by thinking ,but simply
so they can say they saw and heard someone everybody says is a
thinker.
Instead of this the sightseers find Heraclitus by'a stove. That is
surely a' common and insignificant place. True 'enough, bread is.
baked here. But Heraclitus is not even busy baking at the stove. He
stands there merely to warm himself. In this altogether everyday
place he betrays the whole poverty of his life. The vision of a shiv...
ering thinker offers little of interest. At this disappointing spectacle
even the curious lose their desire to come any closer. What are they
supposed to do here? Such an everyday and unexciting occur-
rence-somebody who is' chilled warming himself at a stove-any-
one can find any time at home. So 'why look up a The
visitors are on the verge of going away again. Heraclitus reads the
frustrated curiosity in their faces. He knows that for the crowd the
failure, of an expected" sensation to materialize is enough to make
those who have just' arrived leave. He therefore encourages them.
'He invites them explicitly to come in with the words, Einai gar kai
entautha theous, "Here too the gods come to presence."
This phrase places the abode (ethos) of the thinker and his deed
in another light. Whether the visitors understood this phrase at
once-or at all-and then saw everything differently in this other
light the story does not say. But the story was told and has come
257
Letter on Humanism
'B A S I CWR I TIN G S 256
down to us today because what it reports derives from and charac-
teriies,the atmosphere surrounding this thinker. Kai entautha,
"even here," at the Istove, in that,ordinary place where every thing
and every' condition,· each deed and thought. is intimate and com-
monplace, that is, £amiliar [geheuer], there" in the sphere of
the familiar, einai ,theous, it is the case that "the gods come to
presence. "
Heraclitus' ethos anthropoi daimon, "The (famjliar)
abode for man is open for th.e ptesencingof god' (the
unfamiliar one)."
If the name in keeping with the basic meaning-· of the
, word ethos, should now say that "ethics" ponders the'abode of man,
then that thinking 'Yhich thinks the truth of Being as the primordial
element of man, as' one whoek-sists, is in itself the original· ethics.
However, this is not ethics in the first instance, because it
is ontology. For ontology always thinks solely the being' (on) in its
Being. But as long as the truth of Being is not thought all ontology
remains without its .foundation. Therefore the thinking that in
Being and Time tri<ts to a9.vance thought in 'apreliminary way into
the truth of Beingichatacterizes itself as "fundamental ontology."
[See Being and sections 3 and 4, above.] It strives to reach
back into the essential ground from which. thought concerning the
truth of Beingemerges./ By initiating another inquiry this thinking
.is already removed ifrom the- "ontology"of metaphysics (even that
of Kant). "Ontology" itself, however, whether transcendental or pre-
critical, is subject to criticism, not because it thinks the Being of
beings and thereby reduces Being to a concept, but because it does
not •think the truthl of Being and so fails to recognize that there is
a thinking more rigorous than the conceptual. In the poverty of its
first· breakthrough, i the thinking that. tries to advance thought into
the truth of Being! brings .only a small' part. of wholly other
dimension to language. This language even falsifies itself, for it does
not yet succeed in retaining the essential help ofphenomenological
seeing while dispensing with the con,cern with "sci-
ence" .and "research.'" But in order' to make the attempt at thinking
recognizable and at the same time understandable for existing phi-
losophy, it could at first be expressed only within' the' horizon of
that existing philosophy and its use of current terms.
In'the meantime I have learned to see that .these very terms were
bound to lead immediately and inevitably into error. For the terms
and the conceptual'languagecorresponding to .them were not re-
thought by readers from the matter/particularly to be thought;
rather, the matter was conceived according to the established ter;;
minology in its customary meaning. The thinking that inquires into
the truth of Being_and. so defines man's essential abode from Being
and toward Being is neither ethics. nor ontology. Thus the question
about the relation of each to the other no longer .has any basis in
this sphere. Nonetheless, your question, thought in a more original
way, retains· a meaning and an essential importance.
For it must be ·asked: If the thinking that ponders the' truth of
Being defines the essence of humanitasas ek-sistence from the lat-
ter's belongingness to Being, then ·does thinking remain only a the...
oretical representation of Being and of man; or can we obtain from
such .Knowledge directives that can be readily applied to our active
lives?
The is that such thinking is neither theoretical no'r prac- _
ticaL It comes to pass before this distinction. Such thinking is, in-
sofar as it is, recollection of Being and-nothing else. ·Belonging.to
Being, because thrown by Being into the preservation of its truth
and claimed for such preservation, it thinks Being. Such thinking
has nq result. It has no effect. It satisfies its essence in that it
But it is by saying its matter. Historically, only one saying [Sage]
belongs to the- matter of thinking, the one that is in each case ap-
propriateto its ,matter. Its material relevance is essentially higher.
than the validity of the sciences, because it is freer. 'For '. it lets
Being-be.
Thinking builds upon the house of Being, the house in, which the
jointure of Being fatefully enjoins the essence ofITlan to dwell in the
259 Letter on Humanism
'B A S' lewR 1. 'f INC S 258
*Citing an analysis of the word "in" by Jacob Grimm, Heidegger relates "being-in"
to innan, wohnen,. inhabit, .reside, .or dwell. To be in the world means to elwell and
be at home there, i.e., to be familiar with nleaningful structures that articulate people
and things. On the meaning of dwelling, see Reading VIII.--"':Eo.
truth of Being. This dwelling is the essence of "being-in-the-\yorld."
The referencein Being and Time (p. 54) to "being-in" as "dwelling" is
no etymological game. * The same· reference in the 1936 essay.· on
Holderlin's verse, ·"Full of merit, yet poetically, man dwells· on this
earth," is no adornment of a thinking that rescues itself from science
by means of _poetry. The talk about the house of Being is no transfer
of the image "house" to Being. But one day we will, by thinking the
essence of Being ina way appropriate to its matter, more readily be
able to think ,what "house" and "to dwell" are.
And yet thinking never creates the house of Being. Thinking con-
ducts historical ek-sistence, that is, the humanitas of homo human-
us, into the realm of theupsurgence of healing [des Heilens].
With healing, evil appears all the more in the clearing of Being.
The essence.ofevil does not consist in the mere baseness of human
action, but rather in the malice of rage. Both of these, however,
healing·and the raging, can essentially occur only in Being, insofar
as Being itself is what is contested. In it is concealed the essential
provenance of nihilation. What nihilates illuminates· itself as the
D:egative. This can be addressed in the "no." •The "not" in no way
arises from the no-saying of 'negation. Every, "no" that does not
mistake itself as willful assertion of the positing power of subjectiv-
ity, but rather remains a letting-be of to the
claim of. the nihilation Every "no" is simply the affir...
mation of the "not" Every affirmation consists in acknowledgment.
Acknowledgment lets that toward which.it·goes come toward it. It
is believed that nihilation is nowhere to be found in beings them...
,selves. This .is ,correct as long·a,s one·seeks. nihilation as some kind
of being, as an 'existing quality in beings. But in so seeking, one is
not seekingnihilation. Neither is Being any existing quality that
allows itself to be fixed among: beings. And yet Being is more in
261
Letter on·Humanism·
being than any occurs essentially in Being
itselfwe can never discern it as a being among beings. Reference to
this impossibility never in any way proves that the origin of the not
is no...saying. This proof appears to carry only 'if one'posits beings as
what is objective for subjectivity. From this alternative it follows that
every "not," because· it never appear,s as something objective, must
inevitably ,be the product of a subjective act. But whether no-saying
first posits. the "not" as something merely thought, or whether
nihilation first requires the "no" as is to be said in the letting-
be of beings-this can 'never be decided at all by a subjective reflec-
tion of a'thinking already posited as subjectivity. In such a reflection
we have not yet reached the dimension where the question can be
appropriately formulated. It remains to ask, granting that thinking
belongs. to ek-sistence, whether every "yes" and "no" are not them-
selves already dependent upon Being. As these dependents, they
can never first posit the very thing to which they themselves belong.
Nihilationunfolds essentially in Being. itself, and not at all in the
existence of man-so far as this is the subjectivity of the
ego, cogito. Dasein· in no waynihilates as a human subject who
carries out nihilation in the sense of denial; rather, Da-sein nihilates
inasmuch as it belongs to the essence of Being as that essence in
which man, ek-sists. Being nihilates-as Being. Therefore the· "not"
appears in the absolute Idealism of Hegel and Schelling as the neg-
ativity of negation in the essence of Being. But ,there Being is
thought·in the sense of absolute actuality as unconditioned will that
'wills itself· and does so as the will of knowledge and of love. In this
willing Being as will to power is still concealed.' But just why the
negativity of absolute subjectivity is "dialectical," and why nihilation
comes to· the fore through this dialectic but at the same time is
veiled in its essence, cannot be. discussed here.
The nihihlting in Being is the essence of what I call the nothing.
Hence, because it thinking thinks the nothing.
To healing Being first grants ascent into grace; to raging its cCJm-
pulsion to malignancy.
B· A SIC WR IT I N G S 260
Only so far as man, ek-sisting into the truth of Being, belongs to
Being can- there come from Being itself the assignment of those
directives'\ that must. become law and rule for -man. In Greek, to
assign is- nemein. Nomos is not only law but more originally the
assignment contained in the dispensation. of Being. Only the assign-
ment is capable of dispatching man into Being. Only such dispatch;"
ing is capable' of supporting and obligating. Otherwise all law
remains merely something fabricated by human reason. More es-
sential than instituting. rules is that moan find the way to his abode
in the truth of Being. This abode first yields the experience of
-something we can on to..The truth of Being offers a hold for
all conduct. "Hold" in oUf language means protective heed. Being
is the protective heed that holds man in his -ek-sistent essence to
the -truth of such protective heed-in such a way that it houses ek-
sistence in language. Thus language is at once the house of Being
and the home of human beings. Only because language is the
of the essence of man -can historical and.· human beings
not be at home in their language, so that for them language be-
comes a mere container for their sundry preoccupations.
But 'now in what relation does the ,thinking of Being stand to
_theoretical and practical behavior? -It exceeds all contemplation be-
cause it cares for the light in which a- seeing, as theoria, can first
live-and move. Thinking attends to the clearing-of·Being in that it
puts its saying of Being into language as the -·home of -ek-sistence.
Thus thinking is a deed. But a- deed that also surpasses -all praxis.
Thinking towers above action and production, not through the gran-
deur oEits achievement and not as a consequence of its effect, but
through the humblciness of its inconsequential accomplishment.
For thinking in its saying merely brings the unspoken word of
Being to_language.
The usage "bring 'to language"/employed here is now to be taken
quite literally. Being comes, clearing itself, to It is per-
petually under way.to language. Such arriving-in its turn brings ek-
sisting thought to in a.saying. Thus language itself is. raised
into the clearing of Being. Language is· only in this mysterious and
yet for us. always pervasive way. To the extent that language which
has thus been brought fully into its essence is historical, Being is
entrusted to recollection. Ek-sistence thoughtfully dwells in the
house of Being. In all this it is as if nothing at all happens t.hrough
thoughtful saying.
But just now an example of the inconspicuous deed-of thinking
manifested itself.· For to the extent that we expressly think the usage
"bring to language," which was granted to language, think only that
and nothing further,· to the extent that we retain this thought in
the heedfulness of saying as what in the future continually has to
be thought, we have brought something of the essential unfolding
of Being itself to language.
What is strange in the thinking of Being is its simplicity. Precisely
.this keeps us from it. For we look for has its world-
historical prestige under the name the-form of the
unusual, which is accessible only to initiates. At the same time we
c;onceive·-of thinking on the model of scientific knowledge and its
research projects. We measure deeds by the impressive and success-
ful achievements of praxis. But the deed of thinking is neither the-
oretical nor practical, nor is it, the conjunction of these two forms
of behavior.
Through its simple essence, the .thinking of Being makes itself
unrecognizable to us. But if we become acquainted with the unusu...
al character of the simple, then another plight immediately befalls
us. The suspicion arises that such thinking of Being falls prey to
arbitrariness; for _it cannot cling to beings. Whence -does thinking
take its measure? What law governs its deed?
Here the third question of your letter m.ust be entertained: Com...
ment sauver l'elementd'aventure que comporte toute recherche sans
faire de la philosophie une simple aventuriere? [How can we pre-
serve the elem-entof adventure that all research contains without
simply turning philosophy into an adventuress?] I shall mention po-
etry now only in passing. -It is confronted by the same question, and
262 BAS I CWR I T IN G S
Letter on Humanism 263
*L'avenant (cf. the Englishadvenient) is nlost often used as an adverbial phrase, iJ.
l'avenant, to be in accord, confornlity, or relation to sonlething. It is related to l'aven-
lure, the arrival ofsome unforeseen challenge, and l'avenir, the future., literally, what
is to come. Thinking is in relation to Being insofar as Being advenes or arrives. Being
as arrival of presencing is the "adventure" toward which Heidegger's thought is on the
way.-Eo.
in the same manner, as thinking. But Aristotle's words in the Poet-
ics, ·although they have pondered, are still valid--that
poetic composition is truer than exploration of beings.
But thinking is an adventure not only as a search and an inquiry
into the unthought. Thinking, in its essence as thinking of Being,
is claimed by Being. Thinking is related to Being .. as what arrives
{l'avenant*).Thinking as such is bound to the advent of Being, to
Being as advent. Being has already· been dispatched to.. thinking.
Being is as the· destiny of thinking. But destiny is in itself historical.
Its history has already come to language in the saying of thinkers.
To bring tOr language ever and again this advent of Being that
remains, and in its remaining waits for. man, is the ·sole matter of
thinking. For this reason essential thinkers always say the Same.
But that does not mean the identical. Of course they say itonly.to
one who undertakes to think back on Whenever thinking,
in historical recollection, attends to the destiny of Being, it h'as al-
ready bound itself to what is fitting for it, in accord with its desti-
ny.To flee into the identical is not dangerous. To risk discord· in
order to say the Same is the danger. Ambiguity threatens, and mere
quarreling.
The fittingness of the saying of Being, as of the destiny of truth,
is the first law of thinking-not the rules of logic, which can be-.
come rules only on the basis of the law of Being. To attend to the
fittingness of thoughtful saying does not only imply, however, that
we contemplate at every turn what is to be said of Being and how it
is to be said. It is equally essential to. whether what is to be
thought is· to. be said-to what extent, at what moment of the his-
tory of Being, in what sort of dialogue with this history, and·on the
basis of what claim, it ought to .be said. The threefold thing men-
tioned. in an earlier is determined in its cohesion by the law
of the fittingness of thought on the history of Being: rigor of med-
itation, carefulness in saying, frugality with words.
It is time .to break the habit of overestimating philosophy and of
thereby asking too much of it. What is needed in the present world
crisis is less philosophy, but more· attentiveness in thinking; less lit-
erature, but more cultivation of the letter.
The thinking that is to come is ho longer philosophy, because it
thinks more originally than metaphysics-a name identical to phi..
losophy. However, the thinking that is to· come can no longer, as
Hegel demanded, set aside the name "love of wisdom" and become
wisdom itself in the form of absolute knowledge. Thinking is on the
descent to the poverty of its provisional essence. Thinking gathers
language into simple saying. In this way language is the language
of Being, as clouds are the clouds of the sky. With its saying, think-
ing lays inconspicuous furrows in language. They are still more in..
conspicuous than the furrows that the farmer, slow of step, draws
through the field.
265 Letter on Humanism BAS I C WR I TI N G S 264

CONTENTS

Preface
General Introduction: The Question of Being by DAVID FARRELL KRELL I. Being and Time: Introduction II. What Is Metaphysics? III. On the Essence of Truth

IX

37 89 III 139 213 267 307 343 365 393 427

@

The Origin of the Work of Art

V. Letter on Humanism VI. Modern Science, Metaphysics, and Mathematics VII. The Question Concerning Technology VIII. Building Dwelling Thinking

00 What Calls for Thinking?
X. The Way to Language XI. The End of Philosophy and the Task ofThinking

Suggestions for Further Study

450

and. The Germ an text was first published in 1947 byA .esti0D:s mig ht continu e to plague us. But the essence of action is accomplishment. Thinking doe s not bec ome action only "because some effect issues from it or because. hIS account of the '·'turning. It does not make or cause the relation. The actuality of the effect is valued according to its utility.. Is Heidegger's self-interpretatIon. But what ~'is" above all is Bein g. 217 . Thinking acts insofar 3sit thinks . to lead it fort h into this full nes s-producere. IQ its hom e man dwe lls.<se~Rea of ~ein~ . We are still far from pondering the ·essence of action decisively enough. To accomplish means to unfold' something into the fullness of its essence.canHeidegger invoke "malignancy" .. the highest. pp. the present translation is cke Verbased on the text in Martin Heidegge r.e dited by Willi~nl Barrett and Henry D." it should only se~ve to call us to thinking. LE TT ER ON HU MA NIS M ?'!). his most splendid effo rt Yet a number of qu. Glenn Gray appears collabhere in its entirety. Lettre sur l'hum ence translated by "Roger Munier. We view action only as ·cau sing an effect. alre ady is can really be accom. the same time. are· the. adequate here.important. revised anisme. plished. Language is the house of Being. But all working or effecting lies in Being and is diThis new translation ofBrief uber den Humanismus by Frank A. 145-194. Therefore only wha t. III. Thinking brings this relation to Being solely as something han ded ove r to' it from Bein g. 271-302. The ir guardianship accomplishes' the manifes tation of Being insofar as they bring th'e manife~tation to languag e and maintain it in· language thro ugh · thei r speech. 1962). Tho se who thin k and those who create with words are the guardia ns of this home. Martin Heidegger. Cap uzzi in oration with J.and· Time? More . 1967). Wegmarken (Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klosterm ann Verlag. Fran lag. for Instance insi st tha t ther e be an "abyss of essence" ~eparating huma~ity froni animality? Perhaps most disturbing. A previous English translation by Edgar Lohl1er is included in Philosophy in the Twentieth Cent ury. Thinking accomplishes the relation of Being to the essence of man. Suc h offering consists in the fact that in thinking Bei. I have edited it with refer to the helpful Fren ch bilingual editi on.A iken (New York: Rand olll House. it is applied. even when we ·note tha t it is par t of an ongoing" "immanent critique" . motIvatIons ding of Heldegger s crItIque of ~u­ man ism and of the anim al rationa le altogether clear? Why. Suc h action is presumably the simplest and at.216 BA S I·C W R I T IN G S Han nah Arendt was fond of calling the "Letter" Heidegger's Prachtstuck.ng comes to language. Bern. .oncerns· the relation of Being to man. 1964). "the rage of evil" without hre akin ghi s silence and offering some kind of refle ction on the Extermination? And how can Heidegger's thought help us to thin k about those evils th~t continue to be so very much "at hom e in our world? However splendId the "Le tter on Humanism. bec ause it c. edition' (Paris: Aubier Montaigne.".

But in writing it is difficult above all. to an end." and "physics" begin to flourish only when original thinking comes. "-isms"have for a long time now been suspect. and the determination of knowing as "theoretical" behavior occur already within the "technical" interpretation· of thinking. Sihce then "philosophy" has been in the constant predicament of having to justify its existence before the "sciences.Etre [engagement by Being for Being]. We are always prepared to supply the demand. it sustains and defines every condition et·· situation humaine.. all too long. Such characterization is a reactive attempt to rescue thinking and preserve its autonomy over against acting and doing. You ask: Comment redonner un sens au mot 'Humanisme'? [How can we restore meaning to the word "humanism"?] This question proceeds from your intention to ret~in the word "humanism. as the element of thinking. 'Thinking. Even such names as "logic. Thinking is notmerely l'engagement dans taction for and by beings. Thinking is.discussion will also shed some light on' the others. The beginnings of that interpretation reach back to Plato and AristotM.l'engagement par l'Etre pour [. In written form thinking easily loses its flexibility. Or is the damage caused by all ~uch terms still not sufficiently obvious? True. is not "practical. that is. Thi. a long time now.. in this. Not to be a science is taken as a failing that is eqUivalent to being unscientific. in contrast. The history of Being is never past but stands ever before.way: penser. exerts a wholesome pressure toward deliberate linguistic formulation. Today I would like to grapple with only one of your questions. does not consist merely in an artificial. The rigor of thinking.218 BASIC W R I T 1'·N G S Letter on Humanism 219 rected toward beings. c'est l'engagement de' l'Etre [thinking is the engagement of Being]. when taken for itself. They take thinking itself to be a techne. technical-theoretical exactness of concepts. I do not know whether it· is linguistically possible to say both of these ("p~r"and "pour") at once. Thinking is judged by a standard that does not measure up to it.nking is l'engagement by and for the truth of Bein'g." I wonder whether that is necessary." The characterization of thinking as theoria.. In order t~J learn how to experience the aforementioned essence of thinking purely. Perhaps its·. which very early ~n in the' form of Occ~dental "logic" and "grammar" seized control of. a process of reflection in service to·doingand making. is abandoned by the technical interpretation of thinking. We today can only begin to descry what is concealed in that occurrence.ework is reserved for thought and poetic creation. Being. we must free ourselves from the technical interpretation of thinking. "Logic. For this reason thinking." is supposed to express both subjective and objective genitives. The liberation of language from grammar into a more original essential fram. 'But such an effort is the abandonment of the essence of thinking. On the other hand. But here reflection is already seen from the perspective of praxis and poiesis.. to retain the multidimensionality of the realm peculiar to thinking. It lies in the fact that speaking· remains purely in the element of Being and lets the simplicity of its manifold dimensions rule." "ethics. St. thinking has been stranded on dry land. "subject"\and "object" are inappropriate terms of metaphysics. Can· then the effort to return thinking to its· element be called Hir_ rationalism"? Surely the questions raised in your letter would have been better answered in direct conversation. Here the possessive form "de r . in contrast to -that of the sciences.lch judgment may be compared to the procedure of trying to evaluate the essence and powers of a fish by seeing how long it can live on dry land. T~inking acc~m­ plishes this letting. sa~ctions this explanation. in the sense of· the actuality of the present situation. and that means at the same time to carry it through." beginning with the Sophists and Plato. During the time of their greatness the Greeks thought without such head- . written composition.lets itself be claimed by Being so that it· can say the truth of Being. But the market of public opinion continually demands new ones." It believes it can. In this regard.the interpretation of language. Philosophy is hounded by the fear that it loses Prestige and validity if it is not a science. For. do that most effectively by elevating itself to the rank of a science.

Heldegger ar~es that. Being is the "quiet power" of the favoring-enabling. By and by. nor potentia as the essentia of an actus of existentia. belongs to Being. It holds Daseln In subservience and hinders knowledge ings. sec~o~s 27 and 35.." Thinking comes to an end when it slips out of its element. However. a distinction identified with the one between existentia and essentia. whose essence resides in favoring. It SImply Ins. . 0.. listens to Being.ge comes under the dictatorship of the public realm.. under the dominance of "logic" and "metaphysics. all obtaIn for It In all di. Thought in a more original way such favoring [Mogetl] means to bestow essence as a gift. t~.. so-called "private exist~nce ~s ~ot really es~ential.fundamen!al analysis of Dasein tries to define concrete structures o ~m~n elng In ~ts predoml~ant state... * Just as little does the "they" ~eplaces thIS loss by procuring a validity for itself as f *:he pre~a. I mean Being itself. Thinking is of Being inasmuch asthinking. that is. that is to say free. Hence it testifies. to maintain it in its element. human being. The genitive says something two(old. It embraces thinking and so brings it into its essence.nlensio." In competition with one another such occupations publicly offer themselves as "-isms" and try·· t~ off~r more than the others~ The dominance of such terms is not ac. against its own will.?t we a ~o s?nnk back In revulsion froln the 'nlaSSeS' of Illen just as the do. Being is the enablingfavoring..n s of I'.ivi?uals to keep their distance from one anot er and from thenlselves. "ay. . What is said in Being and Time (1927). propriated by Being. As the belonging to Being that listens. It remains an offshoot that depends . It rests above all in the modern age upon the I' d' t h'· pecu lar IC at~r~ Ip of the public realm. ' P ySI ca y con Ibone establishment and authorization of the' 0 f .e.." For the nlost art Dliselll:s. They did not even call thinking "philosophy. and are scandalized by what they find shocking" (Sein und Zeit pp 126-27. ~e read.all limits. and that means over its relation to Being. see. . . To embrace a "thing" or a "person" in its essence means to love it. that is. As the element. leUt be." are thought solely in contrast to "actuality". The former makes the latter possible. I C WR I TIN G S When th~nking comes to an end by slipping out of its element it techne. they are thought on the basis of a definite-the metaphysical.erage. thinking is the thinking of B<::ing. and judge works of literature and art as. public realm-the neutral. Said plainly. the "may be" [das "Mog-liche"]. Thinking is-this says: Being has fatefully embraced its ess~nce. "W·· ourseIves ' l l . ne cupIes onese f with "philosophy.. ~~sorbed posslbl~ltJes re~lr. think.upon the public and nourishes itself by a mere withdra.philosophy becomes a technique for. explaInIng from highest causes. It is on the "strength" of such enabling by favoring that something is properly able to be.rat~ry. III the PU?"C (die Offentlichkeitl. Of course.Ists on negatIng the public realm. '} '.. ey . levelhoff genUine poSSIbilities and force ind. everydayness·. belonging to Being. rather.:al from It. II d" d . This enabling is what is properly "possible" [das "Mogliche"] ... that is. From this·favoting Being enables thinking. The !element is what properly enables: it is the enabling [das Vetmogen]. The element is what enables thinking to be a thinking.cIdental. Such favoring is the proper essence of enabling. which in its favoring presides over thinking and hence over the essence of humanity. But because it stems from the domInance of subjectivity the public realm itself is the meta h" '. which dictates the r:l e of.Letter on Humanism 220 221 BAS.lt~ral concern. d··d 1 .d t k that g 1 sh. about the "they" in no way means to furnish an InCIdental contribution to sociology. In thl~ way la~gua. ing is what it is according to its essential origin.. To enable something here means to preserve it in its essence. our words moglich [possible] arid Moglichkeit [possibility]. e enJoy an th a ~ ~u~ p easu~es as ~hey do. to favor it.n . When I speak of the "quiet power of the possible" I do not mean the possibile of a merely represented possibilitas.interpretation of Being as actus and potentia. which not only can achieve this or that but also can ·let something essentially unfold in its provenance. ofthe possible. Language thereby falls into the service of expediting communication along r?utes where objectification-the uniform accessibility of ev~rythlng to everyone-branches out and disregards . as an mstrument of education and therefore as a classroom matter and later a cu.Vhlch deCIdes m advance what is intelligible and what must be reI~ctedas unintelligible. impersonal "they"':-'-tends t~ . ts Il'Le. At the same time thinking is of Being insofar !as thinking. to its subservl~nce to the public realm. One no longer thinks'' o' oc. penness o m IVI ua bemgs in their unconditional objectification.

see Reading X. is ther e not implied a con cern abo ut man ? Wh ere else does "car e" tend but in the dire ctio n of brin ging man bac k to his essence?* Wh at else does that in turn beto ken but that man *In the final chapter of division one of Being and Time Heidegger defin es "care" as the Being of Dasein. The··widely and rapidly spreading devastation of lang uag e not only und erm ines aesthet ic and mor al responsibility in e~ery use of language. it arises from a thre at to. Rat her. preoccupations with things. on the cruc ial question of the "nlode of Being" of langttage.grounds for. Wit h suc h stat eme nts we believe that we con fron t the' mystery. incli nations. and appropriation of. )-Eo .Eo. thou ght jn term s of the que stio n of the trut h of Being. whether by nlY projects. p. Before he speaks man mus t first let him self be clai med again by Being. Most poignantly expe rienced in the phen ome non of anxi ety. As if it were already dec ided that the trut h of Being lets itself at all. As the Greeks experienced it. The se days. To it belong not only speaking out and asserting but also hearing . (All references to Being and Time in this essay and throu ghou t the book cite the pagination of the Gen nan edition. and upo n man a home."-ED . But in the clai m upo n man . not the . We encou nter beings as actualities in a calculative businesslike way. *In section 34 of Being and Time Heid egger defines the existential-ontolog ical foun~ dation of language as spee ch or talk (die Rede).222 BA SI C W RI TI NG S mea n merely the opposite. as yet esca ped the dan ger to o~r essence. but also scientifically and byw ay of philosophy. and awareness of my proper Being." which is "the ·possibility of understanding every thing without prior dedication to. nam e for my conc ern for othe r people. Mu ch bem oan ed of late. however. "Car e" is the alIinclusive. . Eve n the assu ranc e that som ethi ng is inexplicable belongs to thes e exp lana tion s and proofs.heeding and being silent and attentive. Onl y thus will the pricelessness of 'its esse nce ·be onc e mor e best owed upo n the word. the essence of hum anit y. insights. throu gh the present.whic h is not fear of anything at hand but awareness of my being-in-the-world as suc h"care" describes. It alJow s the life-and-death issues of exist ence proper to dissolve in "chatter.! It expresses the movement of my.to· mak e·m an ready for this claim. in thei rinc omp reh ensibility. to the word's primordial belongin gness to Being. in the atte mpt . and this by letting beings come to appe ar as they are.life out of a past. But if the trut h of Being has bec ome thought-provoking for thin king .. and muc h too lately. but already a con seq uen ce of. wha t is said ther e con tain s a refe renc e. taki ng the risk that . or illusions. It can no long er be . for dwelling in the trut h of Being. Dasein is living being that'speaks t not so muc h in producin g vocal sounds as in discoveringthe world. Beings themselves app ear as actualities in the inte ract ion of cau se and effect. A merely cultivated use of language is still rio pro of that we have. the analysis of logos in section 7 B of Reading I. suc h usage mig ht soo ner testify that we· have not yet seen and can not see the dan ger bec aus e we have nev er yet plac ed ourselves in view of it. "The Way to Lang uage . of which it is the 111eaningfuI articulation. Letter on·H uma n. Cf. with explan~tions and proofs. und erst ood in an ethical-existentiell way. above.und er this claim he will seld om have muc h to say.is m 223 of subjectivity alm ost irre med iabl y falls out of its elem ent. wha t com es· to the sam e. Tha t· is the only reas on Being and Time (section 34) con tain s a referenceto the essential dim ensi on of language and touc hes upo n the sim ple que stio n as to wha t mod e of Being lang uag e as lang uag e in any given case has. the dow nfal l ofla ngu age is. in fact .i nstr ume nt of dom inat ion over beings. the stat e of affairs in whi ch lang uag e und er the dom inan ce of the mod ern metaphysics of the self and the world. be established in causes and explanatory grou nds or. It is as original a structure of beingin-the~world as mood or understan ding. In the sam e way he mus t reco gniz e the sedu ctio ns of the pub lic real m as'well as the imp oten ce of the private.and Jiste ning. In section 65 the ontological meaning of the Being of care proves to be temporality. Thi s relation remains con ceal ed ben eath the dom inan ce of subjectivity that presents itself as the public realm. and death. of the self hoo d of persons. then refl ecti on on the esse nce of language mus t also atta in a diff eren t rank. life. It is a nam e for the structural whole of exist ence in all its modes and for the broadest and most basic possibilities of discovery and disclosure of self and world. into a future. *. the luatter at stake" (Sein und Zeit.a mer e philosophy of language. 169). Lan gua ge still den ies us its essence: tha t it is the hou se of the trut h of Being. But if man is to find his· way onc e again into· the nea rnes s of Being he mus t first lear n to exist in the nameless. Instead. lang uag e surr end ers itse lf to our mer e willing and trafficking as an. the sund ry ways I get involved in the issue of nlY birth.

The gen uine romanitas of homo romanus consisted in suc h humanitas. that the humanitas of homo humanus is dete rmi ned with regard to an already established inte rpre tatio n of natu re. in the mod e and mea ns of. * He finds it in "society." thou ght in term s of Platonic theory. But' whe nce and how is the esse nce' of man determined? Marx dem and s tha t "man's humanity" be recognized and acknowledged. H umanitas.-ED. whi ch . The hum anis m of Marx does not nee d to retu rn to antiquity any mor e than the hum anis m which Sart re conceives existentialism to be. the so-called "Pariappears in Karl Marx." precisely bec ause he tho ugh t the destiny of man's essence in a mor e original way than "hu man ism " ~ould. in contradistinction to Deita~. was 'first 'considered and striven for in the age of the Rom an Republi c. alwa ys adheres to historically' und erstood hum anis m. We enc oun ter the first hum anis m in Rome: it ther efor e remains in essence a specifically Rom an phe nom eno n.in the hum anis m of the eigh teen th cen tury sup por ted by Win cke lma nn.in '~ cert ain way reaches back to the anc ient s and thus also becomes a revival of Gre ek civilization. they nonethe less all agree in this. is only a temporary' passage to the beyond. But in wha t does the hum anit y of man consist? It lies in' his essence.224 BA S l'e WR 1 TI N G S n'th e con cern of suc h thinking. who exalted and hon ored Rom an virtu s thro ugh the "embodiment" of the paideia [education] taken over from the Greeks. For Ger man s this is app aren t . and the gro und of the world.opp osition to homo barbarus. But if one und erst and s hum anis m in' general as a con cern that man bec ome free for his hum anit y and find his wor th in it." base d' on ll1an 's natural. that is. repr odu ctio n.But Gre ek civilization is always seen in its late r form and this itself is seen from 'a Rom an 'point of view. So too are ther e various paths toward the realization of such . For this is humanism: meditating and caring. 1973). Goe the. This third ll1anuscri pt is perhaps the best source for Marx's syncretic "hum~nism. then hum anis m differs according to one 's con cep tion of the "freedom" and "na ture " of man. The Chr istia n sees the hum anit y of man . The homo romanus of the Renaissance also stands in . Eve ry dete rmi nati on of the essence of man that already presupposes an inte rpre tatio n of beings with out .Homo ~u. who se cult ure was acquired in the schools of philo~ophy. of bein gs as a whole. conceptions. Cf. *The phrase der menschliche Mens ch Manuscripts of 1844." third MS. practical. whi ch'e mer ges from the enc oun ter of Roman civilization with the cult ure of late Greek civilization. that is. world. He is the man of the history of redemption who as a "child of God " '." "Social" man is for him "na tura l" man.explicitly so called. Holderl in does not belong to "hu man ism. (homo) bec ome hum an (hu man us)? Thu s humanitas really does remai Letter on Humanism 225 The so-called Renaissance of the fou rtee nth and fifte enth cen turi es in Italy isa renascentia romanitatis . In "society" the "na ture " of m'an.manus 'her e mea ns the Roma~s." that is. IV. the history of man appears in the con text of the history of redemption. history. .cured. Every hum anis m is eith er gro und ed in a metaphysics or is itself mad e'to be the gro und of one. In this broa d sense Chr istia nity too is a hum anis m. in that acco rding to its teac hing everything depends on man's salvation (salus aeterna). Paideia thus understood 'was translated as humanitas. p. 536. eco nom ic sufficiency) is equably se. since the "world. On the oth er han d. clothing. it is con cern ed with' humanit as and ther efor e with Gre ek paideia. Ma n is not of this world. Erganzun gsband I. the totality of "na tura l needs" (food. . the humanitas of homo.t heir resp ective realizations. social. The refo re a studium humanitatis. Because romanitas is wha t matters. and 'in the form of thei r teaching. and conscious species-existe nce. "inh uma n. Econonlic-philosophic s Manuscripts. MarxEngels-Werke (Berlin. It was con cern ed with eruditio et institutio in bonas artes [scholarship and train ing in good conduct]. and Schiller. Homo humanus was opposed to homobarbarus. However different thes e forms of hum anis m may be in purpose and.hears and accepts the call of the Fath er in Christ. But now the in-h uma ne is the suppos ed barbarism of gothic Scholasticism in the Middle Ages. The se were the Greeks of the Hellenistic age. in principle. outside his essence. that man be hum an and not inhu man e.

Above and beyond everything else. that when we do this we abandon man to the ess'en. think in the direction of his humanitas. every humanism . This essential definition of man is not false. and Being and Time. Being is still waiting· for the time when it 'will become -thoughtprovoking to man.remains metaphysical. it finally remains to ask whether the 'essence of man primordially and most decisively lies in the dimension of animalitas at all. . p. This definition. beasts. Kant and the Problem of !v!etaph'ysics. We will thereby always be able to state something correct about man. became questionable in Being and Time. and so it thinks the Being of beingb. Such positing is the manner of metaphysics. I Metaphysics does no~ ask about the truth of Being itself. 8.226 . the essential provenance that is always the essential future for historical mankind'. ef. and this in turn is later posited as subject. buf not at all left to the gn~wing doubts of an empty skepticism. an interpretation of "life" is already posited that necessarily lies in an interpretation of beings as zoe and physis. The first humanism. whether' as a "faculty of principles" or a "faculty of categories" or in some other way. the·essence of reason is always and. where he is claimed by Being. or spirit [Geist]. essence.BA SIC 'WR 'IT INC S . is that it is "humanistic. What is questionabl~ is above all commended to thinking as what is to be thought. But it is conditioned by metaphysics. its limits. is metaphysical.track toward the essence of man as long as we set him off as one living. forgotten in and through metaphysics. can come to ' light only if the question "What is metaphysics?" is posed in the midst of metaphysics' domination.apprehending of beings ' in their Being" Being itself is' already illumined andpropriated in its .. The essential provenance of metaphysics. Only from this dwelling "has" he "language" as the home . But we must be clear on this point. Indeed every inquiry into Being. . is not simply the Latin translation of the Greek zoon logon echon but rather a metaphysical interpretation of it. se~tion 44. In principle we are still thinking of homo animalis-even when anima [soul] is posited as drtimus $ive mens [spirit or mind]. itself' to the simple essential fact that man essentially occurs only in his essence. 1990). person. But it does not think the difference of' both. and God? We can proceed ih that way. p. Martin Heidegger. truth. humanity of man humanism not only ~ does not ask about the relation of Beirig to the· essence of man. Metaphysiqs has not only failed up to now to ask 1. this question. With regard to the definition of man's. we can in such' fashion locate man within being as one being among others. But then the essence orman is too little heeded and not thought in its origin. Being. in each case grounded in this: for every .e." Accordingly. must at first introduce its inquiry as a "metaphysical" one. specifically with respect to the way the essence of man is determined. ·Richard Tart (Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Metaphysics closes. however. Are we really on the right . and not just. The result is that what is peculiar to all metaphysics..Roman humanism. within which what· is living appears. Yom W~sen des Grundes (1929).however one may determine the ratio of the animal and the reason of the living being.tial realm of ' animalit. sectIon 43. has presupposed ·the ·most universal "essence" of man to be obvious. In defining the. zoon.:s even if we do not equate him with beasts but attribute a specific difference to him.because of its metaphysical origin humanism even impedes the question ·by neither recognizing n'or understanding it. Man is considered to be an animalrational. even the one into the· truth of. 230.· On the contrary. Metaphysics'thinks of man on the basis of animalitas and does not. Only from that claim "has" he found that wherein his essence dwells. So too with animal. Nor does it therefore ask in whalt way·the essence of man belongs to the truth of· Being. whether knowingly or not. trans. and every kind that has emerged from that thne to the present. Metaphysics does indeed! represent beings in their·Being. the necessity and proper form of the question concerning the truth of Being. creature among others in contrast to plants.Letter on'Humanism 227' asking about the truth of Being. the question is inaccessible to metaphysics as such.

In any case living creatures are as they are without standing outside their . only man is admitted to tne destiny of ek-sistence.inherence in the truth of Being. in· the face it . be· overcome or offset by outfitting man with ~n immortal soul. Cf. above. and then louder than before ~inging the praises ofthemind---{)nly to let ~verything relapse into "life-experience. as. 42) this sentence is italicized: (·(The (essence' of Dasein lies in its existence.open· question whether throughexistentia-in these explanations of it as actuality. Still less does the sentence contain a universal statement about Dasein. Kant represents existentia as actuality in the sense of the objectivity of experience. of an ecstatic . is also th"at in which the essence of man preserves the source that determines him. and the existeritiell to the mind.. The fact that physiology and physiological/chemistry can scientifically investigate man as an organism is no proof tl)at in this "organic" thing. being "thrown" out of a past and "projecting" I itself toward a future by way of the present.neither of these metaphysical determinations of Being. Ek-sistence so understood is not only the ground of the possibUity of reason. Medieval philosophy conceives the latter as actualitas. and only if.tmerely to give· accounts· of the nature . ·1fhis too Oleans the way man "stands out" into the truth of Being and so is exceptional among beingsthat are at hand only as things of nature or human." with a warning that thinking by its < inflexible I concepts disrupts the flow of life arid that thought of Being distorts existence. the sentence says: man occurs essentially in such a way that he is the "there" [das "Da"].and history of his •constitution and activities. a mind to the~oul. but.* Such standing in the clearing of Being I c~ll the ek. the clearing of Being. and passed over on the basis of the same metaphysical projection. which is different from the metaphysically conceived· existentia. It could even be that nature. that is. Nor is the error of biologism over90me by adjoining a soul to the human· body. production.228 BA s l e w R IT I N G S Letter on Human. This way of Being-is proper only to mani. that is. which means actuality in contrast to the me~ning of essentia as possibility. here the opposition between existentia and essentia is not under consideration.Being as such and within the truth of Being. The ·"Being" of the Da.sistence of man. The human body is something e~sentiaUy other than an animal organism.." intending to express the metaphysical concept of the actuality· of. that is. has the fundamental character of ek-sistence. and his use of ek-si~tence in Reading IlL-ED." For as far as our experience shows. essence. since the word came into fashion in the eighteenth century as a name for "object. that is. H~idegger'sdefinition of "existence" in Reading I.inthe essence of ek-sistence. only of the human way "to be. What 'man . Thus even what we attribute to man· as animalitas on the basis of the comparison with "beasts" is itself grou·nded. In each·. in the body scientifically explained. ratio. On the contrary. The word· is closely related to another !Heidegger· introduces· now to capture the unique sense of map's Being~k-sistence. the power of reason. let alone their relationship. section 4." However. Hegel defines existentia as the selfknowing Idea of absolute subjectivity. or· the character of a person. is simply concealing its *In Being and Time "e~static" (from the Greek ekstasis) Oleans the way Dasein "stands out" io the variou$ Oloments of the temporality of care. Nietzsche grasps existentia as the eternal recurrence of the same~ Here it remains an . which at first seem quite different-the Being of a stone. The ecstatic essence of man consists in ek-sistence. because . 'it is called in the' traditional language of metaphysics. Ek-sistence can be: said only of the essence of man. In Being and Time (p. Therefore ek-sistence can also never be t~ought of asa specific kind of livingcreatu~e among others-granted that manls destined to think the essence of his Being andno.turns toward manl's· technical mastery. the "essence" of man-lies in· his ek-sistence. the essence of manconsists~ That has as little validity as· the notion that the essence of nature has' been discovered in atomIC energy. instance essence is passed over. or even life as the Being of plants and animals is adequately thought. But eksistence thought in this way is not identical with the traditional concept of existentia. Just as little as the essence of man consists in being an animal organism can this insufficient definition of man's essence .the" actual.is~r. preserving in . i~ yet in question.ism 229 that preserves the ecstatic for his essence.

" This turning is not a change of standpoint from Being and Time.Such reflections cast a strange light. above). closer. the thinking that was sought first arrives at the location of that dimension out of which Being . Nor can it ever be tqought in an essentially correct way in terms of its symbolic charact~r. as' the ecstatic relation to . That is why the sentence cited from Being and Time (p. actuality as opposed' to mere possibility as "Idea. In terms of content ek-sistence means standing out ~nto the truth of Being. Still.thougpt in terms ofecstasis. 4nd on the other are at the same time separated from our ek-sisten~ essence by an abyss~ However. presumaqly' th~ most difficult to think about are living creatures. perhaps not even in· terms of the character of sign~fication. are Ialready on the lookout for something like a I. for ek-sistence is not the realization of an essence. the clearing of Being. provides a certain insight into the thinking of the turning. If we understand what Being and Time calls "proje9tion" as a representational positing. This indicates that "essence" is." We are accustomed to posing this question with equ. sisting." they lack language.." But Da-sein· itse~f occurs essentially as "thrown. ho~ever distant.al impropriety whether we 4sk what man is or who he is. "Time and Being. because .third division of the first part. nor does ek-sistence itself even effect and posit what is essential. person or an object. Ek-sisten4e identifies the determination of what man is in the destiny of trut~.87. now being defined from neither esse essentiae nor esse existentiae but rather from the ek-static character of Dasein.the clearing of Being. As ek. is nonetheless more familiar to our ek-sistentessence t~an is our scarcely conceivable. B IA S-I CWRI TIN G S Letter on Humanism 231 such standing the ~ssential nature of their Being. But the' personal no less· than the objective misses and misconstrues the essential unfolding of ek-sistence in the history of Being.' The sentence "Man eksists" is ·not an answ~r to the question of whether man actually is or not. and completion of this other thinking that aban. But . in an essential distance which. itt this word "environment"converges all that is puzzling about living creatures. abysmal bodily kinship with the be~st. Here everything is reversed. it res~onds to the question concerning man's "essence.pn the one hand th. by the fact that in the publication of Being and Time the . Because plants and animals are lodged in· their respective environm~nts but are never placed freely in the clearing of Being whichalotie is "world. 42) is careful to enclose the word'~essence" in quotation marks. Theadequate execution. language is not the utterance of an 9rga~ism. it might also seem as' though th~ essence of divinity is closer. does not coincide with existentia in either fdrm or content. La*guage is the clearing-concealing advent of Being itself..did not succeed with the help of the .it w0uld be the ultimate error if one wished to explain the sentence about man's ~k. nor is it the expression of a living thing.is surely made more difficult." thought out and delivered in 1930 but not printed until 1943.sistent essence as if it were the secularized transference to human beings of a thought that Christian theology expresses about God (Deus est suum esse [God is His Being]).. 'The division in question was held back because thinking failed in the adequate saying of this turning [Kehre] and . but in it. But in being denied language·theYa~e not thereby suspendedworldlessly in their environment. The lecture "On the Essence of Truth. rather. upon the current and thetefore always still premature desi~nation of man as animal rationale.than what is so alien in other li~ing. into "care.. creatures. dons subjectivity. man sustains Da-sein in that he takes the Da.language of metaphysics. p. Existentia is the name for the realization of something that is as ~t appears in its Idea. from "Being and Time" to "Time and· Being. to us . Existentia (existence) means in contrast ac#ualitas. Ek-sistence.For in the Who? or the What? we.230 . namely. we take it to be an achievement of subjectivity and do not think it in the only way the "understanding of Being" in the context of the "existential analysis" of "being-in-the-world" can be thoughtnamely. In its essence.ey are in a certain way most closely akin to us. 'Of all the beings that are." It unfolds essentially in the throw of Being as ·the fateful sending." was held back (cf Being and Time.

63.d oings might be vindica ted. As is obvio~s from what we have just said. aside. s clumsily enough . That is why in Being and Time· the sentenc e often recurs." though t in terms of the history of Being. as "person . the sole implica tion is that the highest determ inations'o fthe essence of man in human ism: still do not realize the proper dig-nity of man. that is to say. justi~y using the name "existentialism" as an appropria te title for a phUosophy of this sort. so that civilization and culture throug h man's. man to the point" becom e an impetu s for. ~t still· remain s to ask first· of all from what destiny· of Being this differen tiation in Being as esse essentiae and esse existentiae comes tq appear to thinking. But even this could take place only to the honor of Being and for the benefit of Da-sein .rtre expresses the basic tenet of existentialism in this way: Existen ce precede s essence. Rather. For even stenphilosophy wishes to de~ermine the relation ofessentia andexi tia in the sense it had in medieval controversies. that essentia precede stateme nt. 1946).· With . 117.-~D. By way of contras t. usually means what is present itself.232 BAS [C WR·[ TIN G S Letter on Humanism 233 and Time is experiencedl. Were we n~w to say this in the languag e of the traditio n. But this opposit ion does not mean that such thinkin g aligns itself against the human e and advoca tes the inhuma n. 21. thediff erentia t10n of essentia (essentiality) and existen and (actuality) comple tely dpmina tes the destiny of Wester n history of all history detetmin~d by Europe .experi enced from the fundament al experie nce of the oblivion of Being. and elsewhere. But the basic tenet of nt "existentialism" has nqthing at all in commo n with the stateme the fact that in Being and Time from Being. But the reversal of a metaexistentia. which from Plato's time on has said. we should first of all make clear ." are not declare d false and thrust spiritual-ensouled-bodily being. But "substa nce. is already a blanket translation of ousia. If we think the metaph ysical term "substa nce" in the sense already suggested in accord ance with the "pheno menological destruc turing" carried out in Being anq Time (cf. pp. Or is the fact that this is how it at alIa sign of with the differen tiationl of essentia and existentia not forgetfulness of Being? We must presum e that this destiny does not rest upon a mere failure of human thinkin g. which man ek-sistingly sustains. To that extent the thinkin g in Being and Time is against human ism. . 314). a word. it he if stays with metaphysics in oblivion of the truth of Being. *See Jean-Paul Sartre. and Time-+ apart from no stateme nt about th~ relation ·of essenfia and existentia can yet be expressed.roughly governs it. Conc"ealed'in its essential provetia . not.* In this stcitell1ent he is .however. L'Itxistentialisme est un humanis me (Paris: 17. We have yet to consider why the questio nabqut the destiny of Being was never asked and is why it could never be tlhought. But in order that we today may attain to the" dimens ion of the truth of Being in order to ponder it. let alone upon a lesser capacit y of early Westerrn thinking. "The'sub~ stance 'of man is existen ce" (pp. since there it is still a questio n of prepari ng someth ing s precursory. Sartre's key propositi~n about the priority of existentia over essentia does. What still today remain s to be said could perhap of. guiding thees~ence of where it though tfully attends to that dinlens ion of the truth Being which tho. or in· some other way. above). that designates the presenc e of what is pre~­ ent and at the same time. Sartre reverses this physical statem ent remc!iins a metaphysical· stateme nt. nance. in Leibniz's sense. that happen Nagel. . it would run: the ek-sistence of man is his substan ce. Sa. Human ism is oppose d becaus e it does not set the human . 212. then the statem ent "The 'substa nce' of man is ek-sistence" says nothing else but that the way that man in his proper essence of become s present to Being is ecstatic inheren ce in the truth Being. p. that it promot es the inhuma ne and depreca tes the dignity of man. for the sake of man. Throug h this determ ination of the essence of man· thehuas manisti c interpr etation s of man as animal rationale. . with puzzlin g ambiguity.taking existentia and) essentia accord ing· to \ their metaphysical s meanin g. however.how Being con~erns man and how it claims him~ Such an essential experie nce happen s to us when it dawns on us that man is in that he ek-sists.

Met. the bein gne ss of bein gs into an all too loud ly bru ited "objectivity. as the loca tion of the trut h of Bein g ami d bein gs. Being as such . sect ion 44 C. of the pres sing thro ng of beings unt hou ght in thei r esse nce is what. trea sure of its own prop er. The thin king that is to com e mus t lear n to e~perience that and to say it. wea lth. ecst atically sust ains it. a mac hin¢ . for in· acco rd with this dest iny man as ek-sisting has to g~ard the trut h of Being. Dasein usually busies . It yields to suc h aspe cts whe n app rehe ndin g has bec ome a sett ing. However. "Be ing "-th at is not 'Go d and not a cbsm ic grou nd. Thi s mea ns tha t the trut h of Bein g as the clea r. 235 But met aph ysic s reco gniz es the clea ring of Bein~ eith er solely as the' view ' of wha t is pres ent in "ou twa rd app eara nce " (idea) or criti .already·in the ligh t of Being." But existence is always '~thrown" out of a past that determines its trajectory: this'i s its "facticity. Pl1ilosophy. Wit hin the dest iny of Being in 'me taph ysic s the clea ring first affords a view by whi ch' wha t is pres ent com es into touc h with man . ecst atic . he' at first fails to reco gniz e tne nea rest and atta che s' him self to the nex t nea rest. eve n whe n it 'bec ome s "cri tica l" thro ugh Des cart es and\ Kan t. and 68 C) Verfallen. He eve n thin ks that this is the nea rest .to it.''' Ma n is rath er "thr own " from Bein g itself into the trut h of Being. Yet the nea r rem ains I:arthest from man . 226ff. trut h" of Being" in ord er that b~ings mig ht app ear in the ligh t of Bein g as the beings. alwa ys follows the co~rse of met aphysical representation. The "qu esti on of Being" always rem ains a que stio n abo ut beings. whe ther and ~ow God and the gods or hist ory and natu re com e forward into ~he clea ring ~f Bei ng. itself to Being. Ma n at first clings always and only to beings. ing itse lf rem ains con cea led for metaphysics. in' care takes it upo n 'him self . Yet Bei ng. cally as wha t is see n as· a resu lt of cate gorial repr esen tatio n on the part of subjectivity.he mig ht gua rd the. Of cou rse th~ esse ntia l wor th of man doe s not con Letter on Humanis 111 . 10). Ma p 'does not dec ide whe ther and how beings appea r. them . esse nce . literally a "falling" or "lapsing.is nea rnes s itself: the trut h of Being. so that man him self can in app rehe ndin g (noein) first touc h upo n Bein g (thigein. this con cea lme nt is not a defe ct of met aph ysic s but a trea sure with held from it yet held befo re it. secti ons 25-27. ens nare men t [Verfallen] mea ns in Being and Time. at all wha t . * Thi s word doe s not signify the Fall of *In Being and Time (see esp.234 BliA SI C . that is.". Bec ause man as the one who ek-sists com es to stan d in this · rela tion tha t Bein g dest ines for itself. the. Thi s view first gath ers the aspe ct to itself."!: It thin ks from beings bac k to bein gs'w ith a glan ce in passing towa~d Being.ecstatic existen~e. Ma n is the' she phe rd ofBeing. It is in this clirection alon e that Being and Time is thin king whe n . \precisely not. be it a rock. 'Being is fart her. is exp erie nce d as "car e" (cf.).Aristotle.Being he may deig n to release. than all beings an~ is yet nea rer to man than every bein g. It is still not. W R I TI N G S sist in Ihis bein g the sub stan ce of bein gs." Meanwhile. it always thin ks only of bein gs as such . direc ted toward a future in which it can possibilities: this is its "existentiality realize its . in that he. they are. The adv ent bf beings lies in the dest iny of Being~ But for man it is ever a qU~lstion. gath ers to itse lf and emb race s ek-s iste nce in its existential. For gett ing the trut h of Bein g in favor.. be it an angel' or God . a bea st. IX. however. who is pres ent . pp. For every dep artu re from bein gs and every retu rn to the~ stands' . serves as. 'B~fwhen thin king repr esen ts beings as beings it no dou bt relates. Dasein is potentiality for Being. as the "Su bject" amo ng. a third constitutive nlom ent of being -in-the-world. of find ing wha t is fitti ng in his esse nce that corr espo nds to s~ch destiny. But the clea ring itse lf is Being.wha t is Ii Being? It is It itself. com e to pres enc e and dep art. ek-sisting in\ this fash ion . itas of man · high 4no ugh .its \elusive nam e indicates:' the que stio n in the dire'ction of Being. so that . a work of art. Being is the nea rest . that is. itse lf in the perceptio of the res cogitans take n as the subiectum of certitudo. But how --pr ovid ed we really 9ug ht to ask suc h a que stio n at all how doe s Bei ng rela te to ek-sisten ce? Bein g itself is the rela tion to the exte nt tha t It. But nea rer than the nea rest and at the sam e time for ordi nary thin king fart her than the fart hest .fort h-be fore . and nev er.. 38.\ so that as the tyra nt of . In trut h.

We ·think of the phoneme and written character a~ a verbal body for language. Rather. the humanitas of homo animaIis.* Thought from Being and Time. The one thing thtn~ing would like to attain and for the first time tries to articulate inl Being and Time is something simple. It tries to find the right word for them within the long-traditional language and gram.relation which. the simple nearness of an unobtrusive governance.. determination of the humanity of man as ek-sistence what is essential is not man but Being-as the dimension of the ecstasis of ek-sistence. the essence of ek-sistence derives existentially-ecstatiqally from the essence of the truth of Being. itself in q~otidian affairs. there is no. p. But where does Ie plan come from and what *Heidegger cites Sartre's L'Existentialisme est un humanisme. usually rendered as "inauthenticity" but perhaps better understood Ias "inappropriateness.Accordirigly. But language is not mete speech. As such. that we mustn't lie. melody. insofar as wer~present the latter at best as the unity Ipf phoneme (or written character). . ism? Certainly not so far as humanism thinks· metClphysically. and meaniing (or sense)."-ED. Rather. which is propriatecl by Being and pervaded by Being. time occur essentially in the dimensionality that Being itself is. "-ED. Certainly not if humanism is existentialism and is represented by what Sartre expresses: precisement nous sommes sur un plan oil if y a seulement des hommes [Weare precisely in a situation where there are only human beings]. the re~dy-nlad. the termjs"authenticity" and "inauthenticity. it is nowhere written that the Good eXIsts. r~ther. Thinking attends to these simple relationships. He is arguing (pp. . rhythm. mar of metaphysics. forgetting what is lllost its own: this is its Verfallensein. on the contrary. guarding it. of melody and rhythm as its soul. But does such thinking-granted that there is something in a name-still allow itself to be d~scribeq as human. so d~es the metaphysical-animal explanation of langU'age cover up . We usually think o~ language as· corresponding to the essence of man represented as janimal rationale.essence. But just lias ek-sistence-and through it the relation of the truth' of Being Ito man-remains veiled in. infinite and perfect consciousness to think it.236 B 1 SIC A WRIT I 'NG S Letter on Humanism 237 Man· understood it} a "moral-philosophical" and at. And so it is proper to think the essence of language from its correspondence to Being and indeed as this correspondence. as the unity of bodysoul"mind." which are used in a· provisional fashion. 33ff. The ~ontext of Sartre's remark is as follows.e solutions of a tradition affects interpretation itself. losing itself in the present. this sho~dd say instead: precisement nous sbmmes sur un plan oil il y a principalement l'Etre. because with him· vanishes every possibility of finding values in some intelligibly heaven. precisely because we are in a situation where there are only human ~eings. because it has been h~therto·concealed from philosophy. So the point is· that in' the. But man is not only a living creature· w~o possesses language along with other capacities. everything· spatial and all space.. has yet to be thought for the fir~t time. however. of man.the!: essence of language in the history of Being.) "that God does not eXIst.. However.to draw the consequences to the end. pally there is Being]. as the home of man's essence. 36. that is. the same time secularized way. that is. and that it is necessary. since the tendency to let theoretical problenlsslip into. in that he belongs to the truth of Being. we can no longer locate an a priori Good since. that we nlust be honest. it designates an essential relationship of man to Being wjtnin Being's relation to the . The n~arness occurs essentially as language itself. Being remainsmys~erious. a~dwhatever has to do with meaning as its mind. an "ecstatic" relation of the essence of man to the truth o~ Being. rather a . According to this essenc~. do not imply a moral-existentiell or an "anthropologic~l" distinction but.. language is the house of Being.) To forget what IS 1110St Its own IS what Heidegger means byi Uneigentlichkeit. the dimension is not something spatial in the familiar· sense. [We are precisely in a situation where prinei. Butthis relation is as it is not by reason of ek-sistence. (Tl1e last-named is not simply a nlatter of 44everyday" dealings." To those who asser~ th~t the death of God leaves traditional values and nornlS untouched-and hunlanlSl1l IS one such value-Sartre rejoins "that it is very distressing that God does not exi~t. language is the house of Being in which man ek-sists by dwelling.

Because it must think theek. for "is" is commo nly said "of some thing that is. as thin~ing. Assuming that in the future man will be able to think the truth qf Being. p. Klosterm ann. Progression. "Wie wenn anl Feiertage .itself casts. It is as true as metaphysics. The. J Zy a translates "it gives" imprecisely. The happening of history occurs essentially as the destiny of the truth of Being and from it. only a systematics that can fashion the law of its thinking into the law of history and simultaneously subsume history into the system. progression forward from this place."The primalmyste'ry for all thinking is concealed in this phrase. as recollec . The "gives" names the essence of Being that is giving.of essential thinkin g is foolish. of thinking.." in Martin il:H~idegger. 212) we purposely and cautio\{lsly. says. See the lecture on Holderlin's hyInn. History does not take place primarily as a happening. There is not a "systematic" thinking and next to it ~n illustrative history of . Being. history. that the historicity of Dasein be experienced. It can only 'be taken up in such a }\lay that' its truth is more primordially sheltered in Being itself and removed from the domain of mere human opinion." If "is" is spoken withou t a closer interpretation of Being. instead of ~xplainingit as a particular being in terms of beings. tha~ is."Spirit" is not untrue. The esti gar einai of! Parmenides is still unthou ght today. 76. But though t in terms of such destiny this says: it gives itself and refuses itself simultaneously. Thoug ht in a more primordial way. Erliiuterungen zu Holderlins I)ichtung.think from ek-sistence." yet one cannot speculate about this il y a precipitately and' withoult a foothold.. there 'is the history of Being to which thinking belongs. tion of this. fers essentially from the subseq uent presentation of history in the sense of an evanescent past. All refutation ~n the field . the thinking of Being and Time is essentially l'lcpncerned. along with the open region . he will . is a mistake that follows ~hinking as the shadow that thinking . ek-sistence of man is historical as such. in the early age of 'thinking. Nor is there.:tself. But Being "is" precisely not "a being. esti 'gar ein~i. . gives itself. Whatever stems from it cannot be counte red or pven cast aside by refutations. iZ' y a l'Etre: "there is / it gives" ["es gibf'] Being. When philosophy attenps to its' essence it does not make forward strides at all. '\Dlut not only or primarily because so much happens to man and to t~ings human in the course of time. "for there is iBeing . say.' It remains!1 where it is in order constantly to think the Same.past opinions.238 Letter on Humanism' 239 is it? L'Etre et Ie plan'! are the same. then Being is all too easily' repres~ntedas a "being" after the fashion of the familiar sorts of being~ that act as causes and are actualized as effects. It assists them Ijnutually toward a simple belonging to the Same. Because Being is ~till unthou ght. That allows us to gauge how ~hings stand with the progress of philo'sophy. Nonetheless. Absolute metaphysics.hinga:being.. which through Hegel first brings to language its essenc e-thou ght in terJ:I1s of the absolu te-in the system. In Being and Time (p. expanded edt (FraIlkfurt :~m Main: V. granting): its truth. is Being itself. This' "there is / it gives" rules as the destiny of Being~ Ilts history comes to language in the words of essential thinkers. Strife among thinkers is ~he "lovers' quarrel " concer ning the matter itself. Such recollective though t dif. so that no individual being ever properly "is. s~stence of Da-sein. belongs . Z Being comes to destiny in that It.to the history of ~he truth of Being. Man stands ek. Perhaps "is" can be 'said only of Being in an appropriate way. fourth. The self-giving into the open. propria tedby' it. And yet Parmen1des. 1971). whethe r and how' Being is must remain an open question for the careful attentioq. historical. ." But because' thinking spould 'be directed only toward saying Being in its truth. "there is / it gives. Being and Time too says of it. Hegel's definition of history as the development of. Tlrterefore the thinking that thinks into the truth of Being is. If \2. from which they ~ind what is fitting for them in/the destiny of Being.. And its happen ing is not evanescence.. Neithe r is it partly correct and partly false. as Hegel thoug~t. We call such a t.sistingly in the destiny of Being. For the "it" that here "gives" is 'Being itself. At the same 'time "i~ gives" is used preliminarily to avoid the locution "Being' is". with its Marxian and Nietzschean inversions.

But eve n the West is not tho ugh t regiona lly as the Occ iden t in con tras t to the Ori ent. in the cleariFlg of the Da. But that is the heig ht of futility.] "me anin g" ["Sinn"].ot at all seek that esse nce jn an egoism of his nati on. nor mer ely as Eur ope . Moreover. is tho ugh t on the basis of Being and Time. that is.The \sen tenc e-.240 B A 'is I C WR I TI N G S But does not Being <znd 'Time say . it is perceived as spo ken from the minstre l's poe m. is also men tion ed with the inte ntio n of thin king the 'homeless.3 "Ge rma n" is not spo ken to· the worl~ so that the 3." Just as the ope nne ss of spatial. from the exp erie nce of the oblivion of Being it is called the "ho mel and ." artic ulat es in. Nie tzsc he was the last to exp erie nce this hornelessness. a con seq uen ce of the app roa chat firs tun avo idab le-w lthi n a met aphysics that is still dom inan t Onl y from suc h a perswective doe s Being show itself in and as a tran scen ding . "Being is the transcendens pur p and sim ple. is ther e [gibt es] Being"? To pe sure . Being is ~llu­ min ed for man in the ecst atic proj ecti on [Entwurf]~ But this proj ection does not crea te Being. Tha t is why we also say (p~ 230) that how Bei ng is is to be und erst ood chie fly from its II Letter on Humanism 241 derung). _he clea ring as the trut h of Being itself. On the othe r han d. but rath er world-historically out of nea rnes s to the sou rce. itself to man . It mea ns that only so long as the clea ring of Bei ng pro~riates doe s Being convey. The "Int rod ucti on" to Being and Time (p. and 392ff.d oes not say that Being is the pro duc t 9f man . the proj ecti on is essentia lly a thro wn proj ecti on. The esse nce of the hom eland . however. bec ause it i~.' cf "The Ister" and "The Journey" [Die Wan .simply and clearly. sa~s . It is far from the arro gan t presum ptio n·th at wishes to Biegin ane w and 'declares all past phil oso phy false.~ruth of Being. For all that .this and this alo~e is the prim ary que stio n for a ·thinking that atte mpt s to thin k th~ trut h' of Being. "On ly so long as Das ein is. man dwells as the ek-sisting one with out yet bein g able prop erly to experi enc e and take ove r' this dwelling . "Be ing -is the transcendens pur e and simple.on p. Fro m with in met aph ysic s-he was una ble to find any oth er way out than a reversal of metaphysics. from the trut h <?f Being.ness of con tem por ary man from the esse nce of Being's history.. But the sen tenc e 'does not mea n that the Das~in of man in the trad ition al sens~ of existent ia.to the dest iny of the West. 'He doe s I1. eve n in italics. whi ch the Da of Das ein is. whe re the "the re is I it gives" com es to laqg uag e. not patriotically or nationalisti cally. He sees it rath er in the con text of a belo ngin gne ss. is that bein g thro ugh whi ch Being is first f~shioned . . and tho ugh t in . Wh at throws in proj ecti on is not.sein that is his esse nce . so is Being essentially bro ade r than all beings." The word is thou ght here in an. nea rnes s seen fro~ the pers pective of a' part icul ar thin g ex. that foun d expression in Holderlin's poetry. But the fact that the Da. [In the translations by Michael Ham burg er (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. Being is thou ght on the basis o~ beings. propriates is the· dispensa~ion of Bein g itself. esse ntia l sens e. whe n Hol derl in com pos es "Ho mec omi ng" he is con cern ed that his· "co untr yme n" find thei r essence. man but Being itself. Thi s retrospective defi niti on of the' esse nce of Bei ng fr~m the clea ring of beings a$ suc h rem ains indi spen sabl e for the prQspective app roac h of thin king tow ard the que stio n con cern ing the . o~e simple sen tenc e the. But whe ther the de~inition of Being as the transcendens pur e and sim ple really does e*press the sim ple esse nce ' of the trut h of Bei ng.. Thi s is the destiny of the clearing.mo dern philosophy as the actu ality of the ego cogito. whi ch send s ma~ into the ek-sistence of Da. In this nea rnes s. pp. In this way thin king attests to its essential unfo ldin g\as dest iny. 212. the clea ring itself. Thi s destiny propriates as the clea ring of Bei ngwhi ch it is. above). third stanza and ff. We hav e still scarcely beg un to thin k of the mys terio us rela tion s to the Eas t. In the lect ure on Holderlin's elegy "Ho mec omi ng" (1943) this nea rnes s "of" Being. ceeds all thin gs nea r a$d far. The intr odu ctor y defi~ition. ·1966). The clea ring gran ts nea rnes s to Being. W<lY the esse nce of Being hith erto has jllum~ned man . 85. . 492ff.but in term s of the history of Being.

their presence and the night remains. and thro ugh metaphysics' is simultaneo usly entr enc hed and covered up as such.as the estr ang eme nt of man has its roots in the homelessness of mod ern man. . of the holy dawns. a hom elessness in which not only man but the essence of mam stumbles aim lessly about. nor -so · far as I have seen till now -Sa rtre recognizes the essential importance of the historical in' Bein g. stresses is perh aps Olore clearly stated in Marx.* Thi s homelessness is specifically evoked from the destiny of Being· in the form of metaphysics. The mod ern metaphysical essence of· labor is .begin anew~ But the holy . a decision may be mad e as to whe ther and how God and th!~ gods withhold . whe ther anq how the day. tho ugh derived from . Hom~lessness is the symptom of oblivion of Being.subject. The relation of. because man . The essence of materialism does.in Hegel's Phenome-nology· of Spirit as the self-establishin g process of unc ond itio ned production. whe ther and how in the upsurgence of the holy an epiphany of Gar lan d the gods can . What Marx recognized ill an essentia l and significant sense.anticipated . Werke. [Hamburger. neit her phenomenology nor existentialism enters that dimension within which ~productive diaJogue with Marxism first becomes · possible. . The oblivion of Being makes itself ~nown indirect ly thro ugh the fact that man always observes and h~ndles only beings. The German Ideology. if at all. Cf. those young Ger man s who knew abo ut Holderlin lived and thou ght something oth er than wha t the pub lic held to be the typical German attitude: Homelessness is coming to be the destiny of the world.SI C W R I TI N G . therefore. But since neit her Husserl . XXIIff. it is spoken to· the Germ~ns so that from a.. not con sist in· the asse rtion that everything is.:488ff. For suc h dialogue it is certainly also necessary to free oneself from naive notions abo ut materia lism. 34-36. estra ngem ent or alienation. can not avoid having s01\l1e notion of Being. pp. or as a creation of the infi nite bei ng.· Because Marx by experie ncing estr ang eme nt attains. Even so. every being appears as the material of labor. iLis explained merely as what is "most general" ~nd therefor e as something that encompasses beings. Because of it the trut n of Being rem ains ··unthought. The essence of materialism is conceal ed *00 the notio n of Entfremdung. comes to radiate only whe n Being itself beforehan d and after ··exten~ive preparat ion has bee n illuminated and is experienced in its truti. Werke. pp. Hen ce it is necessary to thin k that destiny in terms of the history of Being. Engels. that speaks out in the poe m "Remembrance" \is therefore essentially mor e primordial and thus more significant for the futu re 4. Only thu s does the overcoming of hornelessness begin from Being. Wh en con fronted with dea th. But the world's destiny is herfilded in poe try. p. At lh~ same time "Being" has long stood for "~eings" and . III. 4 The hom elan d of this his~orical dwelling is nearness to Being. 510-22. In suc h nearness.essential sphere of divinity. Being remains concealed. see Marx's MS.32 2.superior to that of oth er historical acco unts. ] Letter on Hum ani sm 243 than the··mere cosmopolitanism of Goe the. with out yet becoming man ifest as the history of BeJng. or as the pro duc t of· a finite .242 BA . fateful belongingness to the nations they mightblecome· world-h istorical along with them. rather.Hegel. Hom eles sne ssso uI\lderstood con sists in the aba ndo nme nt of Being by beings. the two of them cau ght in a curious andl still unravele d confusion. .-E n. the· Tiibingen Memorial (1943). an essential dimension of history. For the same reason Holderlin's relation to Gre ek civi Iiz~ti'on is som ethi ng essentia lly othe r than hum anis m. inverselY. simply mat ter but rath er in a metaphysic al dete rmi nati on according to which. which is the objectificati on of the actual thro ugh man ~experienced as subjectivity. the Marxist view of history is .S world might be reforPled thro ugh the Ger man essence. Holderlin's poem "Rem emb ranc e" [Andenken] in.es trang enlen t to the "world-historical" developments that Heidegger here. As the destiny that sends trut h.h. which alone' is· the . whJch in turn alon e affords a dimension for the gods arid for God. Erga nzun first Paris gsba nd 1. The wor ld-historical thinking of Holderlin. as well as from the che ap refutations that are ·suppo~ed to cou nter it.l the latter fo~ the former.

that man find his w y into the truth of Being and set out on this find.existed is ever ore clearly forced consists presumably in the fact above all that it thinking---once its glory-is falling behind· in the essential course f a dawning world· destiny which nevertheless in the basic traits of its essential provenance remains European by definition. man' is the bei~g whose Being as ek. As a form of truth technology is grounded in the histpry of metaphysics. Expelled from the truth of· Being. Forltechnology does not go back'to the techne of the Greeks in nam~ only but derives historically and essentially from techne as a moae of aletheuein. as the ek-sisting counter-throw [Gegenwurf] of Being.and mean derogatorily. The latter is the ~ub ectivity of man in totality. if this is represented as "being a rational creature. But at the same time·it is a humanism in which not man but man's historical essence is at stake in its provenance from the truth. only elaborated by means of an existentiell postscript. and surely not in its own attempts to explicate itself. Neither is it the actuality of subjects who . Man is not the lord of beings. The "more" means: more originally and therefore more essentially in terms of his essence. No met physics.ce ~f what is wo. nothing more than a particular life-style. to now theqnly perceptible phase of the history of Being. But the essence of man consists in his being more than merely human. Every nationarsm is metaphysically an anthropologism. Man loses nothing in this "less". Nor can it be even adequately experienced by a thinking that mediates in a one. and as such subjectivis . He gains the essential poverty of the shepherd. -historical speaks out. The call comes ·as the throw from which the thrownness of Da-sein derives. In his essential unfolding within the history of Being.244 BASIC WRITINGS Letter on Humanism' 245 in the essence of teqhnology. he danger into which Europe as it has hitherto . from the point of view ofl the history of Being it is certain that anelem. But-as you no doubt have been wanting to rejoin for quite a while now-does not such thinking thi~k precisely the humanitas of homo humanus? Does it not think humanitas in a decisive sense. of rendering beings manifest [Offqnbarmachen] . a mode. In Being and Time (p. This means that man. Nationalism is as little brought and raised to humanitasby internationalism as ndividualism is. materialistic.above) it is said that every question of philosophy "recoils upon existence. of Being." But existence here is not the actuality of the ego cogito. But then does not the ek-sistence of man also stand or fall in this game of stakes? Indeed it does. whose dignity consists in being called by Being itself into the preservation of Being's truth. It completes subjec- tivity's unconditioned self-assertion. rId. man everywhere circles round himself as the animal rationale.ental experien. "get a hold on" this destiny yet." "More" must not be understood here additively. as if the traditional definition of man were indeed to remain basic.. a truth that lies in oblivion. Nationalism is not overcome through mere internationalism. he gains in that he attains the truth of Being. rather. is more than animal rationale precisely to the extent that he is less bound up with man conceived from subjectivity. that is. man's approaching destiny reveals it elf to thought on the history of Being in this. can in ac ord with its essence.85. But here something enigmatic manifests itself: man is in thrownness. by an ahistorical colle~tivism. No matter which of ~he various positions one chooses to adopt toward 'the doctrines 6fcommunism and to their foundation. whether idealistic. destiny within the~history o~ Being and of the truth of Being. Man is the shepherd of Being. it i rather expanded and elevated thereby into a system. sided fashion. in it. It is a humanism that thinks the humanity of man from nearness to ·~eing. or Christian.. about which much has been written but little has been t~ought. sistence· consists in· his dwelling· in the nearness of Being. In the face of the ssential homelessness of man. which is itself a distinctive and up. which refuses to yield. Whoever takes "co~munism" only as a "party" or a "Weltanschauung" is. as no metaphysics has'thought it or can think it? Is this not "humanism"in the extreme sense? Certainly. Technology is in its essence a. and that means thoughtfully 0 reach· and gather together what in the fullest sense of Being' how i .. just as t~ose who by the term "Americanism" mea . Man is the neighbor of Being. thinki g too shallowly.

for each other and so become who they are. He. after . or 'even better. .the step back that lets thinking enter into a questioning that. of homo humanus there arises the possibility of restoring to the word "humanism" a historical sense that is older than ~ts oldest meaning chronologically. On the penultimate page of Being and Time (p.·is not a . fhought in this.·for a man. Perhaps. thinking it seems· quite difficult to the representational thought that has been transmitted as philosophy. profundity and of building complicated concepts. And in the end it. It has lost it through the insight that the essence of humanism is metaphysical.question of 'picking a quarrel. reckoned.It is everywhere 'supposed that the attempt in Being and Time ended in. Whether the realm of the truth of Being is a bHndalley orwhether it is the free sp'ace in which freedom conserves 'its essence is something each· one may judge after he himself has .although they. because it has not yet been kindled. own matter. insofar as metaphysics persists in the oblivion .i( is concealed in . are not defined for all eternity. . lets the ha1?itual opining of philosophy fall away. from mere· supposing and opining and'di- rected to the now rare handicraft of writing. But the same thinking that has led us to t~is insight into the questionable essence of humanism has likewise compelled'. However. and indeed toward it as what is to be thought. Let us not comment any further upon that opinion.246 BASIC WRITINGS Letter on Humanism 247 act with and.But it is also the case that the matter of thinking is not achieved . a blind alley. as! long as philosophy merely busies itself with continually obstructing the possibility of admittance into the matter for thinking. "Eksistence. not the interpretation of beings or of the Being of man) cannot be· s~ttled. It would thus be more easily weaned.." in fundamental· contrast· to every existentia and "existence. To this end alone the foregoing investigation is under way. If such thin'kingwere to go for'tunately. Things that really matter. the care for Being.regard to this more essential humanitas. no misfortune would befall him. The restoration is not to be understood as though the word "humanism" were wholly without meaning and a mere flatus 'vocis [empty sound]. i. It is the guardianship. us to think the essence of man more primordially." is' e~static dwelling in the nearness of Being.of Being. that the truth of Being come to language and that thinking attain tothis language. into the truth' of Being.would re.which now means that metaphysics not only does not pose the question concerning the truth of Being but also obstructs the question. Everything depe~ds upon this alone. then. could· perhaps point toward the truth of Being. 437) stand the sentences: "'The conflict with -respect to the interpretation of Being (that is. e. it stands safely beyond any danger of shattering·against the hardness of that matter.ceive the only gift that can come to thinking from Being. thinking. therefore. language requires much less precipitate expression than proper silence. With . But perhaps in the meantime it has in one respect come farther into its. . The thinking that hazards' a few steps in Being and Time has even today notaavanced beyond that publication. in the· fact that talk about the "truth of Being" and the "history of Being" is serin motion. But the difficulty is'not a mat~er of indulging in a special sort of. experiences--and.tried to go the designated way. 'that is." Today 'after two 'decades these sentences still hold~ Let us also in the days ahead remain as wanderers on the way into the neighborhood of Being. Thus to "philosophize" about being shattered is separated by a chasm from a thinking that is shattered. Because there is something simple to be. The question you pose helps toclatify the way.he has gone a better way~ that is~ a way befitting the question. But who of us today would want to imagine that his attempts to think are at home on the path of 5ilence?At best. ' You ask. rather. . Comment redonner un sens au mot 'Humanisme'? "How can some sense be restored to the word 'humanism'?" Your question not only presupposes a desire to retain the word "humanism" but also contains an admission that this word has lost its meanin~. even when they come very late still come at the right time.' since the kindling of the conflict does demand some preparation.

" For what is more "logical" than that whoever roundly denies what is truly in being puts himself on the side of nonbeing and thus professes the pure nothing as the· meaning of reality? ' What is going on here? People hear talk about "humanism..248 B AI SIC I W R I TIN G S Letter on Humanism 249 The "humanum" in the." ." The word results in a name tHat is a Lucus anon Lucendo [literally. cer~ing the humani~as of homo humanusand its basis? In this way it could awaken a reflection-if the· world-historical moment did not itself alreadycompe~ such a reflection-that thinks· not only about man but also about the "nature" of man. that the es~ence·of man is essential for the truth of Being. For what is more "logical" than thatfor somebody who negates humanism nothing remains but the affirmation of inhumanity? Because we are speaking against "logic" people believe we are . That requires that we first experience the essence of man morejprimordially. I specifically in such way that what matters .the inhuman and·a glorification of barbaric brutality." "world.by means of open resistance to "humanism" risk a shock th~t could for the first time cause perplexity con. not only about his nature but even more primprdiallY about the dimension in which the es~ sence of man. is not man simply as such. valueless? Because we say that the Being of man consists in "being-in-theworld" people find that man is downgraded to a merely terrestrial being. stifled in' metaphysi~al subjectivism and submerged in oblivion of Being? Or shouldthi~king. whereupon philosophy sinks into positivism. from Being"itselfLat issue here. I . word points to humanitas.· They all betray the same structure and the same foundation. Should we not rather suffer a l~tt1ewhile longer those inevitable misinterpretations to which th~ path of thinking· in. . That is what is essentially-that is. man as ek-sisting for I guardianship over the truth of Being into this truth itself. Because we are speaking against "humanism" people fear a defense of. For what i~ more "logical" than that a thinking that denies values must necessarily pronounce everything.me wemig~t perhaps swim iIi the predominant currents. For what is more "logical" than that whoever asserts the worldliness of human being holds. is at home. of what was read. "ijuman~sm" now means. a grove where no light penet~ates]. dete~mined by Being itself.Should we· still ke~p the name "humanism" for a "humanism" that contradicts all ~revious humanism-although it in no way adI vocates the inhuman? And keep it just so that by sharing in the use of the na. and renounces all "Transcendence"? Because we refer to the word of Nietzsche on the "death of God" people regard such a gesture as atheism. The essence of man li~s i~ ek-sistence. So we are thin~ing a curious kind of"hlimanism. or a simply mirrorings of what one believes he knows already before he reads."values. To restore sense to it can only mean to redefine the meaning of the wor~. in case we decide to retain the word . the element of Being and time has hithertobe¢n exposed and let them slowly dissipate? These misinterpretations· ate natural reinterpretations.demanding that the rigor of thinking be renounced and in its place the arbitrariness of drives and feelings be installed and thus that "irrationali~m" be proclaimed as true.hes an irresponsible and destructive "nihilism. only this life as valid." They hear something about a . the essence of· I man' the "-ism" indi~ates that the essence of man is meant to be take~ essentially. but it also demands that we show to what extent this¢ssence in its . Th~s is the sense that the word "humanism" has as such." "logic." and "God. . For what is more "logical" than that whoever has experienced the death 'of God is godless? Because in all the respects mentioned we everywhere speak against all that humanity deems high and holy our philosophy teae. denies the beyond.own way becomes fateful. For what is more "logical" than that whoever speaks against the logical is defending the alogical? ' Because'we are speaking against "values" people are horrified at a· philosophy that ostensibly dares to despise humanity's best qualities. insofar as Being' appropriates ..

· Byl continually appealing to the logical on~ conjures up the illusion· th4t one is entering straightforw~rdly into· thinking when in fact one nas ·disavowed it. ends in. It means rather to bring the clearing of the truth of Being·before thinking. which has its gro~nd in logos. It ought to be. without really knowing what they are doing. even where it values positively. Of what value are even far-reaching systems of logic· to us if. for man's estimation. Here as elsewhere thinking in values is . Rather.S 1 C W R 1 T ··1 N G S· Letter on Humanism 251 opposition to these~ They recognize and accept these things aspositive." "science. we could say with 'more right: irrationalism.as . . Concealed in such a procedure is the refusall to' subject to reflection this presupposed "positive" in which. we invented· for ourselves· with the aid of logic. But how is it with meditation on Being itself. tithout a clear prospect of anythingelse~nly when one posits in! advance what is meant by the "positive" and on this basis makes ad absolute and absolutely negative· decision about the range of possi~le opposition to it.despicable contradiction. that is~ with the thinking that thinks the truth of Being? This thinkingalone reaches the primordial essence· of logos. as against subjectivizing beings into mere objects. When o'ne proclaims "God" the altogether "highest value. That is to say." To think against "logic" does not mean to break a lance for the illogical but simply to trace in thought the logos and its essence.important finally. which was already obfuscated and· lost in Plato and 'in Aristotle. and so consummates nihilism. by the assessment of something as a value what is valued is admitted <?nly . elusively.the greatest blasphemy imaginable against 'Being. But withhe~rsay-in a way that is not strictly deliberate. We are so filled with "logic"lthat anything that disturbs the habitual somnolence of prevailingopin~on is automatically registered as a . And somewhere in Being and Time there is explicit talk of "the phenomenplogical· destructuring." this is a degradation of God's essence. The bizarre effort to "prove the objectivity o'f values does not know what it is doing. is a subjectivizing. We pitch everything that does not stay.'which appeared in the dawn of thinking. To think against "values" is not to maintain that everything interpreted as "a value"-"culture.sdrnewhat clearer now that opposition to "humanism" in no way· implies a defense of the inhuman but rather opens other vistas. that is. ' But does the "ag~inst" which a thinking advances against ordinary opinion necessarilt point toward pure 'negation. nothing." With the .happens-an~ then.luing lets beings: be· valid-solely as the objects of its doing." "art. wI1ich representation proposes to itself in the gen- erality of the concept.250 B· ·IA. they recoil before the task of simply inquiring "into the essence of logos? Ifwewished to bandy about objections. But wh'at a thing is in its ." "human dignity. . It does not let beings: be. which negates everything. Every valuing. to realize that precisely through the characterization of something as "a value" what is so valued is robbed of its worth. to be sure. . close to·the familiar and ·belovtd positive into the previously excavated pit of pure negatio~. Following this logical course we let everyth:ing expire in a nfhilism. the founder of "logic." which believes it can eschew meditation on logos and on the essence of ratio. together with its position and opposition.." "world. happens inevitably arid con. "Logic" understfnds thinking to be the representation of beings in their Being.an object. Being is not exhausted by its being an object. which is of course fruitless. and· the negative? This . it is . as a denial of ratio. 'particularly when objectivity takes the form of value. rules unnoticed and uncontested in the defense of "logic.assistance of logic and ratio-s~ often invoked people come· to believe that whatever is not pos~tive is negative and th~s that it seeks to degrade reason-and theref:ore deserves to be branded as depravity. they immediately aSsume that what speaks against something is automatically its negation and that this is "negative" in the sense· of destructive. va... one1believes oneself saved." and "God"-is valueless. To think against values therefore does not mean to beat the drum· for the valuelessness and nullity of beings. that is. . to exert ourselves for the first time in preparing for such reflection. Rather.

IS made concermng a pOSSIble being toward God. a "relation" of subject to objectcan "be. No one bothers to notice that in my essay "On the Essence of Ground" th £ 11owmg . being.of Being. when." What is really m~ant by this word would be more clearly called "the transcendent. asek-sistent creatures. "World" is the clearing of Being into which man stan. understood in a Christian sense." is as Ithis openness." wh~ther this is taken as "I" or "We. "Beingin-the-wofld" d~signates the essence of ek-sistence with regard to the cleared dimension' out of which the "ek-'~of ek-sistence. This 'is considered the lj. And what is mOre th' . that is. with respect to which it can now be asked . Rather. Man is.N' G S 253 The reference I to "being~in-the-world" as the basic trait of the humanitas of hotrnohumanus does not assert that man is merely . Only from the truth of Bemg can the essence of the holy be thought.1 C W R I T I . It is. "being-in-the~wo~ld. creature. Thrown in such fashion. nor the "worldly" as opposed to the "spiritual. l1houghtin terms of ek-sistence. he has above all neglected to think into the dimension in which alone that question can be asked? But this is the dimension 5. beings. Being itself. Thus It IS not only rash but also an error in procedure to maintain t~at the interpretation of the essence of man from the relation of hIs essence to the truth of Being is atheism. 1. nothing is decided about the "existence of God" or his "non- . thus a creature turned away fro~ God and so cut loose from "Transcendence.ds out on the basis of his thrown essence. p. however the case that through an illumination of transcendence we first achieve an adequate concept of Dasein. to experience a relation of God to~an? How c~n man at the present stage of world history ask at all senously and ngorously whether the god nears or withdraws. God is thought as this first cause. .' in the' name . However. so that Ihis essence lies in the subject-object relati~. If :-e thmk about thIs remark too quickly. wh~h as the throw has projected the essence of man into "care. Through ~em as bemg-m-~he-world ?o decision. Such IndIfferentism ultimately falls prey fo nihilism.. as is usually the case. Martin Heidegger. into ithe open region that clellrs the "between" within which." For ~s "world" does not at all signify beings or any realm of beings but tM openness of Being. 28 n. man stands "in" the openn~ssof Being. With the existential determination of the essence of man." The statemeIjlt that the essence of man consists inbeing-il1-theworld likewise contains no decision about whether man in a theologico-metaphysical sense is merely a this-worldly or an other-worldly . opposed to hea~enly being.~ow the ~elationship?f Dasein to God is ontblogically ordered. It remains stalled in indiffer~n~e. before all this. essentially unfolds." Nor is he ever simply a merelsubject which always simultaneously is related to objects. e 0.:' ?O more than about the possibility or impossibility of gods.Letter on Humanism 252 B A S".app'ears: " . He stands out into the openness of Being. But does t~e foregoing observation teach indifferentism? Why then are partIcular words in the note italicized--and not just ran~ dom o~es? For no other reason than to indicate that the thinking t~at thmks fr~m th~ question concerning the truth of Being questIons ~ore pnmordlally than metaphysics can. as a "subject. Only from' the esse~ce of the holy is the essence of divinity to be thought. the ontological interpretation of Da.a "worldly" creatufle. Man is ne'ver first anp foremost'man on the 'hither side of the world. and is man. therefore. insofar as he is the ek-sisting' one. I' ' IS arbItrary c asslfication betrays a lack of careful reading.s it is unconcerned' with the religious question. Or should we not first be able to hear and understand all these words carefully if we are to be permitted as men. ' . Thu. being. "world" is in a certain sense preci~ely "the beyond" within existence and for it. man in his essence is ek-sistent into the openness .ighest being in the sense of the first cause of all ." The transcendent is supersensible." "world" does not in any way imply earthly as . Yom Wesen des Grundes. whether positive or negative. Only in the hght of the essence of divinity can it be thought or said what the word "God" is to signify. we wIll declare that such a philosophy does not decide either for or against the exist~nce of God.

It can be theistic as little as atheistic~ ·Not. because of an indifferent attitude. but out ofiespect for the boundaries that have been set for tllinking as such.however.thinking overcomes metaphysics by climbing back. Insofar as thinking limits itself to its task it directs man at the present moment of th~ world's destiny into the primordial dimension of his historical abode. What counts is humanitas . Who can disregard our predicament? Should we not safeguard and secure the existing bonds even if they hold human beings together ever so tenuously and merely for the present? Certainly. as Being. in oblivion but at the same time has made itself known in the present moment of world history by the uprooting of all beings? Before we..in the service of the truth of Being." along with all thinking in terms of disciplines. 6ut does this need ever release thought from ·the task of thinking what still remains principally to be thought and. "Ge que je cherche a {aire. Le.but ~lso of what is known under the heading "prag~ matism. delivered over to mass society. attempt to determine more precisely the relationship between "ontology" and "ethics" ~e must ask what ~~ontology" and "ethics" themselves are. is mo~e arduous and more dangerous than the ascent The descent leads ~o the poverty of the ek-sistence of homo humanus. which indeed remains closed as a dimension if the open region of Being is Qot cleared and in its clearing is near man. Perhaps what is distin<. must nQt "ontology" therefore be supplemented by "ethics"? Is not that ¢ffortentirely essential ~hich you express in the sentence. The dominance'of t~at region is the mediate and deeply rooted basis fori the blindness·'and arbitrariness· of what is called "biologism.tially. a longing necessarily awakens for a peremptory directive and for rules that say how man. Thinking does not overcome metaphysics by climbing still higher. The desire for an ethics presses ever more ardently for fulfillment as the obvious no less than the hidden perplexity of man soars to immeasurableheights.ng refuse to think Being after the latter has lain hidden so long.254 B :A S Ie W R I·T I N G S Letter on Humanism 255 -. truth of Being. Of course if both ~'ontology" and "ethics. what is more essential than: all values and all types of beings. but without humanism in the.. But with this reference the thinking that points toward the truth of Being· as what is:to be thought has in noway decided in favor of theism. depuis longtemps deja. experienced from ek.ofBeing. can thinki. subjectivity. transcending it somehow or other. is abandoned. of metaphysics. become untenable~ and if our thinking . In ek-sistenceitheregion of homo animalis.by the truth of Being. has to think above all the truth of Being. metaphysical sense. particularly where man has strayed into. what is assigned to thinking. c'est preciser Ie rapport de l' ontologie avec une ethique possible" ["What I have been trying to do for a long time now is to determine precisely the relation of ontology to a possible ethics"]? Soon after Being and'Time appeared a young friend asked me. of the holy. is their guarantor and their truth? Even further. surmounti~g it. thought so esseIl.. "When are you going to write an ethics?" Where the essence of man is." . When thinking of this ~ind speaks the truth of Being it has entrusted itself to.tive about this world-epoch consists in the clo. can be kep( reliably on call only by gathering and ordering all his plans and activities ina way that corresponds to technology. which as such. but still without elevating man to the center of beings. prior to all beings." To thinI< the truth of Being at the same time means to think the humanity of homo humanus. indeed set by what gives itself to thinking as what isi to be thought. solely from the question concerning the. sistence toward Being. It becomes necessary to ponde~ whether ~hat can be designated by both t~rms still remains near and proper to.downinto the nearness of the nearest The descent.sure of the dimension of·the hale [des·Heilen). The greatest care must be fostered upon the ethical bond at a time when technological man. ought to live in a fitting manner. But if humanitas must be viewed as so essential to the thinking . Perhaps that is the sole malignancy [Unheil].

) agrees with this fragmen~ of Heraclitus. The open region ofhis abode allows what pertains to man's essence. These disciplines arose at a time when thinking was becoming "philosophy. That is surely a' common and insignificant place. At this disappointing spectacle even the curious lose their desire to come any closer. "Here too the gods come to presence.appeared for the first timein the school of Plato. of an expected" sensation to materialize is enough to make those who have just' arrived leave. are disappointed and perplexed by their first glimpse of his: abode.sight of him perchance at that very moment when. "A man's character is hisdaimon. But :they did think physis in a depth and breadth that no subsequent ~'pnysics" was ever again able to attain. According to Heraclitus's phrase this is daimon. In the course of a philosophy so ':Jnderstood. So 'why look up a thi~ker? The visitors are on the verge of going away again. andwhatin. insofar ~s . But Heraclitus is not even busy baking at the stove. But the story was told and has come . This is Qsually translated. I. The vision of a shiv.is 'man. Thinkers prior to this period knew neither a "logic" nor an "ethics" nor "physics. in their importunate curiosity about the thinker. they stood there in consternation-above all because he encouraged: them. contrary·to the ordinary round of human life. 'They believe they should meet the thinker in circumstances which." This phrase places the abode (ethos) of the thinker and his deed in another light. ering thinker offers little of interest. sunk in profound meditation.preserves the' advent of what belongs to man in his essence. 5. the god. Ethos . he is thinking. the astounded. science waxed' and thinking waned." philosophy episteme (science). He stands there merely to warm himself. ::Having arrived. In this altogether everyday place he betrays the whole poverty of his life. baked here. hopes that in their visit" to the thinker they will find things that will provide material for entertaining conversatio'n-at . in the nearness of god.but simply so they can say they saw and heard someone everybody says is a thinker. abdde. Einai gar kai entautha theous. but we may stress . everywhere bear traces of the exceptional and rare and so of the exciting. "For here too the gods are present. how then do 'matters stand with the question! about the relation'between these two philosophical disciplines? Along with "logic" and "physics. The story is told of something Heraclitus said to SOlne strangers who wanted to come. visit him. sagas morepriinordially than Aristotle's lectures on "ethics. What are they supposed to do here? Such an everyday and unexciting occurrence-somebody who is' chilled warming himself at a stove-anyone can find any time at home. least for a while. 645a 17ff. 'He invites them explicitly to come in with the words.. The word names the open region in which man dwells. The tragedies of Sophocles-provided such 'a comparison is at all 'permissiblepreserve the ethos in their.a few aspects." "ethics" . The foreigners who wish to visit the thinker expect . The abode of man contains and . Heraclitus reads the frustrated curiosity in their faces." This translation thinks ina modern way..he .him. He knows that for the crowd the failure.Jo catch. The visitors want' this "experience" not in order to be overwhelmed by thinking .means. The group of foreign visitors. they saw him warming hinlself at a stove.256 'B A S I CWR I TIN G S Letter on Humanism 257 therewith becomes more disciplined. comes to light." Yet their thinking was neither illogical nor immoral. nota Greek 'one. ones. The group'. Surprised. dwelling place. True 'enough. The fragment says: Man dwells. Instead of this the sightseers find Heraclitus by'a stove. and called for them' to CODle in." A saying of Heraclitus which 'consists of only three words says something so simply that from it the essence of the ethos jmmediately. to appear.thus arriving resides in near. with the words." The story .certainly speaks for itself. The saying of Heraclitus (Fragment 119) goes: ethos anth'ropoi daimon. and science itself a matter for schools and academic pursuits. A story that Aristotle reports (Departibus animalium. Whether the visitors understood this phrase at once-or at all-and then saw everything differently in this other light the story does not say. bread is. ness to . He therefore encourages them.

as' one whoek-sists. this thin~ing is not ethics in the first instance. oretical representation of Being and of man.is already removed ifrom the.. should now say that "ethics" ponders the'abode of man.vance thought in 'apreliminary way into the truth of Beingichatacterizes itself as "fundamental ontology. Such thinking is. that is. Nonetheless. Historically. the one that is in each case appropriateto its . is subject to criticism. Therefore the thinking that in Being and Time tri<ts to a9.'" But in order' to make the attempt at thinking recognizable and at the same time understandable for existing philosophy. sections 3 and 4. but because it does not •think the truthl of Being and so fails to recognize that there is a thinking more rigorous than the conceptual. because it is freer. the house in. in that.matter.e ptesencingof god' (the unfamiliar one).them were not rethought by readers from the matter/particularly to be thought. For the terms and the conceptual'languagecorresponding to . ethos anthropoi daimon.. so defines man's essential abode from Being and toward Being is neither ethics.and "research. 'f INC S Letter on Humanism 259 down to us today because what it reports derives from and characteriies. The thinking that inquires into the truth of Being _ and. Kai entautha. which the jointure of Being fatefully enjoins the essence ofITlan to dwell in the . retains· a meaning and an essential importance. whether transcendental or precritical. However. minology in its customary meaning. then ·does thinking remain only a the. word ethos. or can we obtain from such .Knowledge directives that can be readily applied to our active lives? The an~wer is that such thinking is neither theoretical no'r prac. Thus the question about the relation of each to the other no longer . recollection of Being and-nothing else.foundation.has any basis in this sphere. Such thinking has nq result. because thrown by Being into the preservation of its truth and claimed for such preservation._ ticaL It comes to pass before this distinction. "e~en there" in the sphere of the familiar. the matter was conceived according to the established ter." Heraclitus' himse~fsays." [See Being and Ti~e. however. tries to advance thought into the truth of Being! brings . Its material relevance is essentially higher. For it must be ·asked: If the thinking that ponders the' truth of Being defines the essence of humanitasas ek-sistence from the latter's belongingness to Being.matter of thinking.· each deed and thought." in keeping with the basic meaning-· of the . But as long as the truth of Being is not thought all ontology remains without its . it lets Being-be. "The (famjliar) abode for man is t~e open r~gion for th. "Ontology" itself. insofar as it is. einai . only one saying [Sage] belongs to the.ordinary place where every thing and every' condition. 'For '. In the poverty of its first· breakthrough. it is the case that "the gods come to presence."ontology"of metaphysics (even that of Kant). £amiliar [geheuer]. thought in a more original way.these very terms were bound to lead immediately and inevitably into error. It has no effect. In'the meantime I have learned to see that . then that thinking 'Yhich thinks the truth of Being as the primordial element of man.] It strives to reach back into the essential ground from which. For ontology always thinks solely the being' (on) in its Being. for it does not yet succeed in retaining the essential help ofphenomenological seeing while dispensing with the i~appropriate con." at the Istove. It satisfies its essence in that it is~ But it is by saying its matter. it thinks Being. thought concerning the truth of Beingemerges. because it is ontology. it could at first be expressed only within' the' horizon of that existing philosophy and its use of current terms. of th~t wholly other dimension to language. your question.theous. is intimate and commonplace. "even here.cern with "sci- ence" .258 'B A S' l e w R 1. than the validity of the sciences. This language even falsifies itself.to Being." If the name "eth~cs./ By initiating another inquiry this thinking . is in itself the original· ethics. rather. Thinking builds upon the house of Being. above. not because it thinks the Being of beings and thereby reduces Being to a concept. nor ontology. ·Belonging.only a small' part.the atmosphere surrounding this thinker. i the thinking that.

. Acknowledgment lets that toward which.. however. Nihilationunfolds essentially in Being. This dwelling is the essence of "being-in-the-\yorld. must inevitably .correct as long ·a. The talk about the house of Being is no transfer of the image "house" to Being.. i. In such a reflection we have not yet reached the dimension where the question can be appropriately formulated. . Hence. saying." The referencein Being and Time (p. evil appears all the more in the clearing of Being. but rather in the malice of rage.--"':Eo.is . ·"Full of merit. In it is concealed the essential provenance of nihilation. And yet Being is more in *Citing an analysis of the word "in" by Jacob Grimm. But .." and why nihilation comes to· the fore through this dialectic but at the same time is veiled in its essence. they can never first posit the very thing to which they themselves belong. thinking thinks the nothing." because· it never appear. whether every "yes" and "no" are not themselves already dependent upon Being. The nihihlting in Being is the essence of what I call the nothing. Therefore the· "not" appears in the absolute Idealism of Hegel and Schelling as the negativity of negation in the essence of Being.· on Holderlin's verse. can essentially occur only in Being. But one day we will. Being nihilates-as Being.e.. And yet thinking never creates the house of Being. cannot be.selves. To healing Being first grants ascent into grace. The essence. It is believed that nihilation is nowhere to be found in beings them. "no" that does not mistake itself as willful assertion of the positing power of subjectivity. ek-sists.' But just why the negativity of absolute subjectivity is "dialectical. This . mation of the "not" Every affirmation consists in acknowledgment.ofevil does not consist in the mere baseness of human action. itself. Every. but rather remains a letting-be of ek~sistence. cogito. It remains to ask." is no adornment of a thinking that rescues itself from science by means of _poetry. Heidegger relates "being-in" to innan. insofar as Being itself is what is contested. by thinking the essence of Being ina way appropriate to its matter. to raging its cCJmpulsion to malignancy. into the realm of theupsurgence of healing [des Heilens]. or whether nihilation first requires the "no" as wh~t is to be said in the lettingbe of beings-this can 'never be decided at all by a subjective reflection of a'thinking already posited as subjectivity. to be familiar with nleaningful structures that articulate people and things. inhabit.it·goes come toward it. being than any being. yet poetically. Da-sein nihilates inasmuch as it belongs to the essence of Being as that essence in which man. In this willing Being as will to power is still concealed. Both of these. granting that thinking belongs. Reference to this impossibility never in any way proves that the origin of the not is no.260 B ·A SIC WR IT I N G S Letter on·Humanism· 261 truth of Being.or dwell.s as something objective. wohnen. see Reading VIII." •The "not" in no way arises from the no-saying of 'negation.. discussed here.there Being is thought·in the sense of absolute actuality as unconditioned will that 'wills itself· and does so as the will of knowledge and of love. * The same· reference in the 1936 essay. From this alternative it follows that every "not. the humanitas of homo humanus. But whether no-saying first posits. because it thinks'Be~ng. As these dependents. What nihilates illuminates· itself as the D:egative.~ecausenihilation occurs essentially in Being itselfwe can never discern it as a being among beings. healing·and the raging. But in so seeking. the "not" as something merely thought. This proof appears to carry only 'if one 'posits beings as what is objective for subjectivity.what "house" and "to dwell" are. Every "no" is simply the affir. 54) to "being-in" as "dwelling" is no etymological game. rather. On the meaning of dwelling.be the product of a subjective act. to ek-sistence. as an 'existing quality in beings. This can be addressed in the "no. To be in the world means to elwell and be at home there. the nihilation il1umined~. Neither is Being any existing quality that allows itself to be fixed among: beings. more readily be able to think . . man dwells· on this earth.answers to the claim of. that is. nihilation as some kind of being.reside. Dasein· in no waynihilates as a human subject who carries out nihilation in the sense of denial. . and not at all in the existence of man-so far as this is thou~htas the subjectivity of the ego. With healing.s one·seeks. Thinking conducts historical ek-sistence. one is not seekingnihilation.

clearing itself. For we look for thinking~which has its worldhistorical prestige under the name "philosophy"~in the-form of the unusual.seeing. Nomos is not only law but more originally the assignment contained in the dispensation. Only because language is the ~ome of the essence of man -can historical ~ankind. We measure deeds by the impressive and successful achievements of praxis. then another plight immediately befalls us. to assign is. To the extent that language which has thus been brought fully into its essence is historical. For thinking in its saying merely brings the unspoken word of Being to_language. not through the grandeur oEits achievement and not as a consequence of its effect. What is strange in the thinking of Being is its simplicity. Thinking attends to the clearing-of·Being in that it puts its saying of Being into language as the -·home of -ek-sistence." which was granted to language.hrough thoughtful saying. Being is the protective heed that holds man in his -ek-sistent essence to the -truth of such protective heed-in such a way that it houses eksistence in language. Only the assignment is capable of dispatching man into Being. Thus language itself is.262 BAS I CWR I T IN G S Letter on Humanism 263 Only so far as man. More essential than instituting. -It is confronted by the same question. Thus thinking is a deed. always pervasive way.saying. But if we become acquainted with the unusu. But just now an example of the inconspicuous deed-of thinking manifested itself. At the same time we c.~ sisting thought to lang~age in a.nemein.· to the extent that we retain this thought in the heedfulness of saying as what in the future continually has to be thought. Ek-sistence thoughtfully dwells in the house of Being.and. In Greek. ment sauver l'elementd'aventure que com porte toute recherche sans faire de la philosophie une simple aventuriere? [How can we preserve the elem-entof adventure that all research contains without simply turning philosophy into an adventuress?] I shall mention poetry now only in passing. the conjunction of these two forms of behavior. rules is that moan find the way to his abode in the truth of Being.. of Being.deed that also surpasses -all praxis. we have brought something of the essential unfolding of Being itself to language.ust be entertained: Com. but through the humblciness of its inconsequential accomplishment. Otherwise all law remains merely something fabricated by human reason. to language~ It is perpetually under way. The suspicion arises that such thinking of Being falls prey to arbitrariness. Such arriving-in its turn brings ek.thinking of Being stand to _theoretical and practical behavior? -It exceeds all contemplation because it cares for the light in which a. But a. Language is· only in this mysterious and yet for us. think only that and nothing further. the . as theoria. belongs to Being can. This abode first yields the experience of -something we can hol~ on to. The usage "bring 'to language"/employed here is now to be taken quite literally. Being is entrusted to recollection.to language. Thinking towers above action and production. for _it cannot cling to beings.· human beings not be at home in their language. raised into the clearing of Being. Only such dispatch. Precisely .The truth of Being offers a hold for all conduct. But the deed of thinking is neither theoretical nor practical. But 'now in what relation does the . In all this it is as if nothing at all happens t. which is accessible only to initiates.onceive·-of thinking on the model of scientific knowledge and its research projects.this keeps us from it.there come from Being itself the assignment of those directives'\ that must. nor is it. become law and rule for -man.thinking of Being makes itself unrecognizable to us. "Hold" in oUf language means protective heed. and . Being comes..· For to the extent that we expressly think the usage "bring to language. ek-sisting into the truth of Being.." ing is capable' of supporting and obligating. Thus language is at once the house of Being and the home of human beings. so that for them language becomes a mere container for their sundry preoccupations. Through its simple essence. Whence -does thinking take its measure? What law governs its deed? Here the third question of your letter m. can first live-and move. al character of the simple.

losophy.To flee into the identical is not dangerous. the Englishadvenient) is nlost often used as an adverbial phrase. Being as arrival of presencing is the "adventure" toward which Heidegger's thought is on the way.be said. Being is as the· destiny of thinking. because it thinks more originally than metaphysics-a name identical to phi. Being has already· been dispatched to . confornlity. in what sort of dialogue with this history. They are still more in. as what arrives {l'avenant*). which can be-. To attend to the fittingness of thoughtful saying does not only imply. Thinking is related to Being . it ought to . set aside the name "love of wisdom" and become wisdom itself in the form of absolute knowledge. to be in accord. as thinking.to break the habit of overestimating philosophy and of thereby asking too much of it. The thinking that is to come is ho longer philosophy. is the ·sole matter of thinking. in historical recollection. But destiny is in itself historical. l' avenant.264 BAS I C WR I TI N G S Letter on Humanism 265 in the same manner. in an earlier ~etter is determined in its cohesion by the law of the fittingness of thought on the history of Being: rigor of meditation. draws through the field. Thinking is on the descent to the poverty of its provisional essence. that we contemplate at every turn what is to be said of Being and how it is to be said. Ambiguity threatens. it h'as already bound itself to what is fitting for it. at what moment of the history of Being. or relation to sonlething. be said-to what extent. in its essence as thinking of Being. and mere quarreling. In this way language is the language of Being. The fittingness of the saying of Being. slow of step. To risk discord· in order to say the Same is the danger. frugality with words. what is to come. iJ. in accord with its destiny. thinking lays inconspicuous furrows in language. . The threefold thing mentioned. man. attends to the destiny of Being. as of the destiny of truth. It is related to l' avenlure. and·on the basis of what claim. ·although they have scarcely~een pondered. p~nder whether what is to be thought is· to. literally.Thinking as such is bound to the advent of Being. the future. But thinking is an adventure not only as a search and an inquiry into the unthought. the arrival ofsome unforeseen challenge. conspicuous than the furrows that the farmer. and l' avenir. Thinking. Its history has already come to language in the saying of thinkers. as Hegel demanded. For this reason essential thinkers always say the Same. It is equally essential to. to Being as advent. less literature. come rules only on the basis of the law of Being. but more cultivation of the letter. However. are still valid--that poetic composition is truer than exploration of beings. as clouds are the clouds of the sky.to one who undertakes to think back on them~ Whenever thinking. To bring tOr language ever and again this advent of Being that remains.. the thinking that is to· come can no longer. With its saying.. thinking. Thinking is in relation to Being insofar as Being advenes or arrives.-Eo. But Aristotle's words in the Poetics. however. Of course they say itonly. but more· attentiveness in thinking.. It is time . What is needed in the present world crisis is less philosophy. But that does not mean the identical. carefulness in saying.. is the first law of thinking-not the rules of logic. is claimed by Being. and in its remaining waits for. Thinking gathers language into simple saying. *L'avenant (cf.

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