ON THE ESSENCE AND CONCEPT OF φύσις


"translation" of the word "object." But beings can be experienced as objects only where human beings have become subjects, those who experience their fundamental relation to beings as the objectification - understood as mastery - of what is encountered. For the Greeks, human beings are never subjects, and therefore non-human beings can never have the character of objects (things that stand-over-against). Φύσις is what is responsible for the fact that the stable has a unique kind of standing-on-its-own. Φύσις is more clearly delineated in the following sentence:

III. "Indeed each of these beings [that are what they are and how they are from φύσις] has in itself the originating ordering (ἀρχή) of its movedness and its standing still (rest), where movedness and rest are meant sometimes with regard to place, [317 {GA 9: 247}] sometimes with regard to growth and diminution, other times with regard to alteration (change)." (192 b13-15)

Here in place of αἴτιον and αἰτία we find explicitly the word ἀρχή. The Greeks ordinarily hear two meanings in this word. On the one hand ἀρχή, means that from which something has its origin and beginning; on the other hand it means that which, as this origin and beginning, likewise keeps rein over, i.e., restrains and therefore dominates, something else that emerges from it. Ἀρχή means, at one and the same time, beginning and control. On a broader and therefore lower scale we can say: origin and ordering. In order to express the unity that oscillates between the two, we can translate ἀρχή, as originating ordering and as ordering origin. The unity of these two is essential. And this concept of ἀρχή gives a more definite content to the word αἴτιον (cause) used above. (Probably the concept ἀρχή, is not an "archaic" concept, but one that later was read back into the origins of Greek philosophy, first by Aristotle and then subsequently by the "doxographers.")

Φύσις is ἀρχή, i.e., the origin and ordering of movedness and rest, specifically in a moving being that has this ἀρχή in itself. We do not say "in its self" because we want to indicate that a being of this kind does not have the ἀρχή "for itself" by explicitly knowing it, insofar as it does not "possess" "itself" as a self at all. Plants and animals are in movedness even when they stand still and rest. Rest is a kind of movement; only that which is able to move can rest. It is absurd to speak of the number 3 as "resting." Because plants and animals are in movement regardless of whether they rest or move, for this reason not only are they in movement; they are in movedness. This means: they are not, in the first instance, beings for themselves and among others, beings that then occasionally happen to slip into states of movement. Rather, they are beings only insofar as they have their essential

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Martin Heidegger (GA 9) On the Essence and Concept of Φύσις - Pathmarks