EARLY GREEK THINKING


We therefore failed to pay attention to a hint proffered us by the negation μή and the adverb note* for a more considered interpretation of δῦνόν. Μή is a word of negation. Like οὐκ, it signifies a "not," but in a different sense. Οὐκ denies something to whatever is being affected by the negation. Μή, on the other hand, attributes something to whatever comes within its sphere of negation, a refusal, a distancing, a preventing. Μὴ ... ποτε says: Not... ever... (Well, what then?)... does something essentially unfold otherwise than the way it does.

In Heraclitus' fragment μή and ποτέ bracket δῦνόν. Viewed grammatically, the word is a participle. Up until now we have translated it in the apparently more natural nominative meaning. This has served to emphasize the equally natural view that Heraclitus is speaking about the sort of thing that never falls prey to setting. But the negating μὴ ποτε touches on a certain land of enduring and essential occurring [Wesen], The negation therefore refers to the verbal sense of the participle δῦνόν. The same is true of the μή in the ἐόν of Parmenides. The phrase τὸ μὴ δῦνόν ποτε says: the not setting ever.

If we dare for a moment to change the negative phrase back to an affirmative one again, then it becomes clear that Heraclitus thinks the ever-rising; not something to which rising is qualitatively attributed, nor the totality affected by the rising. Rather, he thinks the rising, and only this. The ever and always-enduring rising is named in the thoughtfully spoken word φύσις. We must translate it with the unfamiliar but fitting term "upsurgence," corresponding to the more common "emergence."

Heraclitus thinks the never-setting. In Greek thinking, this is the never-going-into-concealment. In what domain, therefore, does the saying of the fragment take place? According to its sense, it speaks of concealment—i.e. it speaks of never going into concealment. At the same time, the saying directly signifies the always-enduring rising, the ever and always-enduring disclosure. The phrase τὸ μὴ δῦνόν ποτε, the not setting ever, means both revealing and concealing—not as two different occurrences merely jammed together, but as one and the Same.


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