"Nothing is without reason" or "Nothing exists whose sufficient reason
for existence cannot be rendered". The sufficiency of the reason will be
of special interest here. Expressed positively, the principle states that
everything has a sufficient reason that can be rendered why it is so rather
than otherwise. "Everything" here refers to facts (fait, Monadologie
Werke Bd. I, Para. 32 S. 452) expressed in true propositions or "enunciations"
(Enonciation veritable, ibid.).
The German word for reason is 'Grund', and the principle of reason in German reads 'Der Satz vom Grund', which, because of the ambiguity of 'Satz', can also mean 'the leap from the ground'. In English, too, one synonym of 'reason' is 'ground'. The principle therefore provides the ground upon which truths stand by assuring that every state of affairs indeed has a ground, indeed, grounds that are sufficient to support the state of affairs. 'To suffice' comes from Latin sub- 'under' and 'ficere 'to make', suggesting that the principle slips in a ground underneath all states of affairs that happen to support them in their being thus rather than otherwise. Leibniz distinguishes between two sorts of truths, truths of reason (Raisonnement, ibid. Para. 33) and truths of fact (Fait, ibid.). The former truths can be analyzed by reason into simple, basic truths requiring no proof, so that all truths logically derived from them are "necessary" (necessaires, ibid.).
The latter sort of truths, Leibniz claims, can also have a "sufficient reason" (raison suffisante, Para. 36), even though they are "contingent" (contingentes, ibid.) and not necessary like the truths of reason. The reasons for the truth of contingent truths (that can possibly be otherwise) can be either "cause efficiente" or "cause finale" (ibid.). Leibniz asserts that an infinite number of both final and efficient causes goes into his present activity of writing his manuscript. The distinction between these two kinds of causes is of the utmost importance for Leibniz, for he claims that without final causes it is not possible to sufficiently ground certain important states of affairs. His standard example that recurs throughout his writings, and thus has the status almost of a paradigm, is that of the Newtonian laws of motion which, he asserts, cannot be provided with sufficient reason solely through efficient causes. The Newtonian laws of motion, enunciated first of all with regard to the motion of heavenly bodies, quickly come to dominate minds, for they show that the language of mathematics can be employed to understand elegantly and predictively the motion of physical bodies. This ushers in the striving, buoyed by tremendous confidence, that mathematics will be able to unlock the secrets of nature so that it can mastered by human reason.
Leibniz regards it as indispensable to consider final causes with respect to the laws of motion because their elegance and simplicity cannot be otherwise explained, i.e. given a sufficient reason. Since the laws of motion are not truths of reason, they are not necessary, and therefore contingent. They therefore could have been otherwise. But Leibniz introduces besides the principle of necessity, the "principle of convenience" (principe de la convenance, Principes de la Nature et de la Grace, Fondés en Raison Werke Bd. I, Para. 10 S. 430) according to which the laws of motion are subject to a "choice of wisdom" (choix de la sagesse, ibid.), namely a choice made by God. Being a matter of "choice", the laws of motion are chosen thus and not otherwise for a particular end or te/loj, namely, the end of a highest possible degree of perfection of the world. God as the supreme, omnipotent and perfect being has the power to choose the laws that govern the world to be as perfect as possible (Monadologie Para. 54).
The return to a sufficient reason on which all the states of affairs of the world, no matter how contingent they are, can be grounded leads Leibniz back to a "sufficient or ultimate reason" (raison suffisante ou derniere, ibid. Para. 37), an ultimate ground on which everything that exists can stand and be what and how it is. This ultimate ground is God, who has "the reason for his existence within himself" (la raison de son existence en luy même, ibid. Para. 45). God is thus self-grounding and as such the ultimate guarantor that the world has been set up in such a way that it is "convenient" in the sense that human reason can gain the most elegant possible insight into the grounds of even the most contingent states of affairs down to the last "detail" (detail, ibid. Para. 37). The principle of reason guarantees that the world has an order and a sense that can be seen by human reason and, even if it cannot yet be seen clearly by human reason, because the individual "monads" (Monades) are "limited and distinguished by the degree of distinct perception" (limitées et distinguées par les degrés des perceptions distinctes, ibid. Para. 60), it guarantees that there is a divine plan underlying the world whose set-up has been chosen by God according to the greatest possible "measure of perfection" (mesure de la perfection, Para. 54) and "the greatest possible order" (le plus grand ordre qui se puisse, Para. 58). Precise observation of the details of nature, such as the bodies of living organisms (cf. Para. 64), shows that each of the organs "in their smallest parts" (dans leur moindres parties, Para. 64) has been fashioned and produced for a particular end and purpose by "divine art" (l'art Divin, Para. 64) since "the universe is regulated by a perfect order" (l'univers étant reglé dans un ordre parfait, ibid. Para. 63).
Hegel juxtaposes the concept to ground/reason, the concept being a final cause. But not all final causes have the status of the concept, and Hegel distinguishes "the finite, the extraneous expediency" (die endliche, die äußere Zweckmäßigkeit, Enz. § 204 Anm.) from the "inner expediency" (innere Zweckmäßigkeit, ibid.) brought into play by Aristotle and revived by Kant which corresponds to a concept of life. There may be "extraneous expediency" in a thief stealing to satisfy his hunger or a soldier running away to save his life, and these ends of the satisfaction of hunger or saving one's life are certainly grounds for the thief's or soldier's action, and even sufficient grounds. "If a soldier runs away from battle to save his life, he acts in breach of his duty, but it cannot be maintained that the reason/ground that determined him to act in this way was not sufficient because otherwise he would have stayed at his post." (Wenn ein Soldat aus der Schlacht entläuft, um sein Leben zu erhalten, so handelt er zwar pflichtwidrig, allein es ist nicht zu behaupten, daß der Grund, der ihn so zu handeln bestimmt hat, nicht zureichend wäre, da er sonst auf seinem Posten geblieben sein würde. Enz. I § 121 Zus.)
It is therefore not enough to point to sufficient grounds for an action residing in an extraneous purpose or end; rather, this end itself must be justified against a concept of justice and the good. The principle of reason is therefore unable to deal with the indispensable distinctions between inner and external expediency, good and bad actions, just and unjust actions which require a further dialectical unfolding of thinking to the plane of the concept and the idea.
Hegel therefore emphasizes in the section on "Teleologie" (Enz. I §§ 204ff) that "the difference between the purpose as final cause and the merely efficient cause ... is of the highest importance" (ist der Unterschied des Zweckes als Endursache von der bloß wirkenden Ursache ... von höchster Wichtigkeit, § 204 Anm.) and he characterizes the latter as "belonging to not yet uncovered, blind necessity" (gehört der noch nicht enthüllten, der blinden Notwendigkeit an, ibid.) whereas the former "only effects itself and is in the end what it was at the beginning in its origin" (bewirkt nur sich selbst und ist am Ende, was er im Anfange, in der Ursprünglichkeit war, ibid.). The end is already seen from the beginning and is brought forth. "The ground/reason still has no determinate content in and for itself, still is not purpose, and therefore it is neither active nor productive; but rather, an existence only proceeds out of the ground/reason." (Der Grund hat noch keinen an und für sich bestimmten Inhalt, noch ist er Zweck, daher ist er nicht tätig noch hervorbringend; sondern eine Existenz geht aus dem Grunde nur hervor, Enz. § 122 Anm.) Purposive action sees its end 'ideally' from the beginning from within itself and, guided by this sight of the ideal, negates objectivity to bring forth, to produce the fore-seen end-result.
This line of thinking echoes Plato's and Aristotle's determination of the essence of te/xnh as a starting-point in know-how that knowingly fore-sees the end-product to be produced and governs the actions that lead to bringing forth this end-product. A te/xnh is a du/namij meta\ lo/gou, where the lo/goj has the task of fore-seeing the end, of bringing it knowingly into view and gathering into a know-how the actions required to achieve the desired final result. For Hegel, however, the end in view is not merely the finite, 'technical' ends seen by understanding, but infinite ends that conform to the speculative concept. Whereas for Leibniz, God is the ultimate reason or ground upon which all that happens in the universe rests, for Hegel, it is the concept that fulfils this role insofar as the concept in correspondence with objectivity is the Idea in its truth (Enz. § 213), and the Idea is the Absolute, God.
The many individual steps in dialectical thinking leading from abstract being in its immediacy to the Idea are to provide speculative insight into how it is that the world is in conformity with the thinking of God in the Idea. Hegel therefore agrees with Leibniz that God is the ultimate reason for the world, however, not as a blind ground, but rather as a concept in accord with divine wisdom. The "infinite purpose", according to Hegel, is realized in the world. "The execution of the infinite purpose is thus only to lift the illusion as if it were not yet executed. The good, the absolute good, is accomplished eternally in the world... The Idea in its process makes this illusion for itself, posits an other opposite itself, and its action consists in lifting this illusion." (Die Vollführung des unendlichen Zwecks ist so nur, die Täuschung aufzuheben, als ob er noch nicht vollführt sei. Das Gute, das absolut Gute, vollbringt sich ewig in der Welt... Die Idee in ihrem Prozeß macht sich selbst jene Täuschung, setzt ein Anderes sich gegenüber, und ihr Tun besteht darin, diese Täuschung aufzuheben. Enz. § 212 Zus.).
The world is thus shown through the dialectical movement of speculative thinking to have a purpose, an infinite, divine purpose in the sense that the concept corresponds to objectivity, despite the illusory appearance that it is otherwise. The end-result is the same as Leibniz', but it is reached via many more mediations in thinking. Hegel, indeed, is the thinker of mediation, of Vermittlung, so that nothing is simply accepted in its immediacy.
For Nietzsche, this first state of nihilism is accompanied by a second and third state. The second state comes about when it is realized that there is no unified "organization in all happenings" (Organisirung in allem Geschehn, ibid. S. 47) so that human beings could believe and be settled "in a deep feeling of connectedness with and dependency on a whole infinitely superior to humankind, a mode of divinity" (in tiefem Zusammenhangs- und Abhängigkeits-Gefühl von einem ihm unendlich überlegenen Ganzen, ein modus der Gottheit, ibid.). And finally, the third state of nihilism sets in when it is realized that there is no "true world" (wahre Welt, ibid. S. 48) behind a world of illusion so that a state of "disbelief in a metaphysical world" (Unglauben an eine metaphysische Welt, ibid.) sets in and one "concedes the reality of becoming als the sole reality" (giebt man die Realität des Werdens als einzige Realität zu, ibid.), without "any kind of secret paths to hinterworlds and false divinities" (jede Art Schleichwege zu Hinterwelten und falschen Göttlichkeiten, ibid.). In such a state of nihilism, there is no longer any possibility of lifting the illusion of which Hegel speaks to reveal an "infinite purpose" of the world, the "absolute good" that is "accomplished eternally in the world". For Nietzsche nihilism means, "the aim is missing; the answer to the question asking Why? is missing" (es fehlt das Ziel; es fehlt die Antwort auf das 'Warum?', Autumn 1887, KSA12:350). He thus denies the principle of reason with respect to the ultimate reason and ground on which the world is supposed to rest. But more than that — he questions the very category of purpose:
...warum könnte nicht ein Zweck eine Begleiterscheinung sein, in der Reihe von Veränderungen wirkender Kräfte, welche die zweckmäßige Handlung hervorrufen - ein in das Bewußtsein vorausgeworfenes blasses Zeichenbild, das uns zur Orientirung dient dessen, was geschieht, als ein Symptom selbst vom Geschehen, nicht als dessen Ursache? - Aber damit haben wir den Willen selbst kritisirt: ist es nicht eine Illusion, das, was im Bewußtsein als Willens-Akt auftaucht, als Ursache zu nehmen? [...] Es verändert sich, keine Veränderung ohne Grund - setzt immer schon ein Etwas voraus, das hinter der Veränderung steht und bleibt. Ursache und Wirkung: psychologisch nachgerechnet ist es der Glaube, der sich im Verbum ausdrückt, Activum und Passivum, Thun und Leiden. (KSA12:248, 249)In these passages Nietzsche denies the categories of purpose and causa finalis altogether, preferring instead the sole schema of blind cause and effect, thus doing away with what Leibniz regards as indispensable for gaining insight into how the world is set up. We will return to this Nietzschean questioning of the category of purpose further on, asking whether it would be more appropriate to restrict instead the applicability of the schema of cause and effect in favour of an interplay of rival and complementary purposes.
Heidegger interprets the "existere" of the being in the formulation of the principle of reason cited at the outset as a "Ständigkeit", i.e. as a "standingness" of the object, which is "thoroughly secured, perfect" (durch und durch sichergestellt, perfekt, ibid.) by a complete rendering of the grounds for its standing in existence. This "Voll-ständigkeit" (ibid.), i.e. "full-standingness" or "completeness" of the object's grounds that secures its existence is, according to Heidegger, a completeness of efficient causes, as he immediately makes plain: "The ground (ratio) as cause (causa) is related to the effect (efficere)" (Der Grund (ratio) ist als Ursache (causa) auf den Effekt (efficere) bezogen, ibid.).
But this means for Heidegger that the principle of reason is unleashed historically as a principle of total calculability of all beings. "Its [ratio's] pretension to power unleashes the universal and total accounting for everything to make it calculable" (Deren [der Ratio] Machtanspruch entfesselt die universale und totale Verrechnung von allem zum Berechenbaren, SvG:138). The "perfection" of grounds is now a "completeness of accountability" (Vollständigkeit der Rechenschaft, SvG:196), and "only this guarantees that every representational thought can count on and calculate with the object everywhere at any time" (verbürgt erst, daß jedes Vorstellen jederzeit und überall auf den Gegenstand und mit ihm rechnen kann, SvG:196). The principle of reason now means, "any being is regarded as existing if and only if it has been secured for representational thought as a calculable object" (Jegliches gilt dann und nur dann als seiend, wenn es für das Vorstellen als ein berechenbarer Gegenstand sichergestellt ist, ibid.).
Heidegger thus brings the Leibnizian principle of reason to resonate with the ostinato of his theme of modern technology that is "rasende Technik" in the twofold sense of 'mad' and 'racing'. "The perfection of technology is only the echo of the pretension to perfectio, i.e. the completeness of grounding" (Die Perfektion der Technik ist nur das Echo des Anspruches auf die perfectio, d.h. die Vollständigkeit der Begründung, SvG:198). And this perfection is no longer a perfection of God as the perfect, supreme being who guarantees that the universe has been set up in the most "convenient" way possible with the purpose of harmonizing with God's infinite goodness, but the perfection of total calculability. "The perfection is based on the thorough calculability of the objects. The calculability of the objects presupposes the unrestricted validity of the principium rationis" (Die Perfektion beruht auf der durchgängigen Berechenbarkeit der Gegenstände. Die Berechenbarkeit der Gegenstände setzt die unbeschränkte Geltung des principium rationis voraus, ibid.). And this is "the essence of the modern technical age" (das Wesen des modernen technischen Zeitalters, ibid.).
But Heidegger seeks a way out of this "destiny of being/sending from being" (Seinsgeschick, SvG:187) of the modern age and he does so by means of a leap that depends on listening to the principle of reason in a different, "second key" (zweite Tonart, SvG:177 and passim) which hears it as saying, "Being and ground/reason: the Same" (Sein und Grund: das Selbe, SvG:178 and passim). Being is the ground upon which beings as such are cast by being, the ground upon which beings shape up and stand and are as beings. The original word for ratio is the Greek lo/goj, whereas the Greek word for being, ei)=nai, means "presence" (anwesen, SvG:177). "Clarified in the Greek sense, 'being' means:shining into and over to unconcealment and, thus shining, enduring and whiling" (Im griechischen Sinne verdeutlicht, heißt 'Sein': ins Unverborgene herein- und herbei-scheinen und, also scheinend, währen und weilen, ibid.). The task of lo/goj in this eventuation of the shining of beings as such into presence is to glean them into a saying. Why? "Because le/gein means: to gather, to glean, to lay next to one another. Such laying, however, as gathering, gleaning, saving, preserving and keeping, is a letting-lie-before that brings to shining in appearance that which lies before us" (Weil le/gein heißt: sammeln, zueinander-legen. Solches Legen aber ist, als sammelndes, aufhebendes, bewahrendes und verwahrendes, ein Vorliegenlassen, das zum Vorschein bringt: das Vorliegende, SvG:179).
By allowing beings as such to lie in front of us in presence, the ground is laid for allowing other things to lay beside and be thus grounded. "Lo/goj names the ground. Lo/goj is presence and ground at one and the same time" (Lo/goj nennt den Grund. Lo/goj ist Anwesen und Grund zumal, ibid.). But in this gathering into presence that allows beings as such to appear and shine as that which lies before us, being itself remains hidden in withdrawal. Being remains in hiding as it sends the shapes of beings as such within historical sendings that Heidegger calls the "destiny of being" or "sending from being" (Seinsgeschick, SvG:187). "Rather, being, in hiding its essencing, allows something else to appear, namely, the ground in the shape of the a)rxai/, aiti/ai, the rationes, causae, the principles, causes and rational grounds" (Vielmehr läßt das Sein, indem es sein Wesen verbirgt, anderes zum Vorschein kommen, nämlich den Grund in der Gestalt der a)rxai/, aiti/ai, der rationes, der causae, der Prinzipien, Ursachen und der Vernunftgründe, SvG:183). The a)rxai/, aiti/ai, as thought by the Greeks are the grounds upon which beings can be grounded and thus known.
Aristotle says that knowledge is that which can be derived from a)rxai/, i.e. first principles. An a)rxh/ is a 'wherefrom', a 'whence', an origin from which something else can be led forth, derived in such a way that the origin governs the presence of that which is derived from it. Similarly, an ai)/tioj, a cause in the Greek sense, is that ground which can be 'blamed' for something else. One being is caused by another insofar as its existence is due to another. By attributing and showing an origin of beings in their presence, by 'blaming' their presence on other beings, the lo/goj or reason accounts for their presence as the beings which they are. This accounting-for, according to Heidegger, finally unfolds in the course of history to thoroughly calculative reason that calculates and precalculates the presence of beings in their totality on the grounds of a chain of efficient causes. There is no longer any purpose or end or te/loj in this calculating grounding of beings, but only what Heidegger calls a "will to will" (Wille zum Willen) that brings forth beings into presence merely for the sake of bringing-forth.
Whilst grounding all beings in their coming forth into and whiling in presence, however, being itself remains ungrounded. "Being as being remains without ground, without reason" (Sein bleibt als Sein grund-los, SvG:185). Being itself is therefore groundlessness, the "Abgrund" (ibid.), the abyss. On hearing the principle of reason in its "other key" (andere Tonart, SvG:178 and passim), beings in their presence can no longer be accounted for on the ground of an ultimate ground called God who bears the ground for His existence within Himself. The ultimate ground is now being, which is itself groundless. Because the sendings of being are themselves groundless, they are, according to Heidegger, a "game" (Spiel, SvG:186). The leap from the ground of the principle of reason is therefore a leap into the groundlessness of a game "into which we mortals are brought by dwelling near to death" (in das wir Sterbliche gebracht sind, ... indem wir in der Nähe des Todes wohnen, ibid.).
The measure of this groundless game in which we mortals are brought into play, according to Heidegger, is death. "Death is the still unthought measure for the immeasurable, i.e. the supreme game" (Der Tod ist die noch ungedachte Maßgabe des Unermeßlichen, d.h. des höchsten Spiels, SvG:187). No longer is there a supreme being as a ground for reason, but a supreme game of life and death of mortals dwelling on the Earth. The as yet unthought thought of death as the measure for the groundless game of being is the concluding thought in Heidegger's lectures on the principle of reason. Such a game can no longer be conceived in terms of efficient causes or final causes, which always recur to a being as ground, and not to being itself in its groundless play.
But is this the final, ultimate move in the movement from the ground of the principle of reason into groundlessness? Is only a "jump into being" (Satz in das Sein, SvG:98, 98, 103) possible from the firm ground of the ground of reason upon which beings must account calculatively for their presence? Could it be that beings themselves are at play with one another in such a way that this play eludes the grasp of the reach of grounds in the sense of efficient and final causes? Isn't a game understood already in a normal, everyday sense already beyond the reach of a calculability in terms of causes on which the moves in the game could be 'blamed' in a way that could be followed deductively, causally, calculatively by reason? Is there another way to jump into the groundless game? Such a jump would require in the first place letting go of the striving of calculative reason to secure every being completely in its standing presence.
The two kinds of cause, however, have traditionally worked in tandem, with the purpose of the final cause making use of the concatenations of cause and effect by what Hegel calls the "cunning of reason" (List der Vernunft, Enz. § 209). The will sets itself a purpose which it strives to achieve through its actions that are guided by a know-how that has insight into the interconnections of cause and effect and thus can manipulate the materials or objects in such a way that in the end the desired product can be brought forth. This productive way of thinking is transferred also to practices in fore-knowingly bringing about practical results. The human being in this way of thinking is an a)rxh/, i.e. a 'whence' or origin from where the movement of other beings is knowingly controlled. Hegel formulates this purposive mastery as a "power" (Macht, Enz. § 208 Anm.) of the "subjective purpose" (subjektiver Zweck, § 207) over the object through which "the object is posited as inherently null" (das Objekt als an sich nichtig gesetzt ist, § 208 Anm.). Nullity resonates already with the nihil of nihilism.
But what happens when there is not just one human being or 'the' human being as the master of beings and practitioner of 'instrumental reason' and instead a multiplicity of human beings, each of whom is thought as its own origin of action? One purpose then meets up with another purpose in interchanges of all kinds. Failing the subjugation or submission of one source of action to another, there can only be either a conflict or a congruence, a clash or complementarity between different purposes. A congruence of purposes is brought about by agreement, but there is no saying in advance whether such an agreement will be reached. Where there is a conflict of purposes, there is no saying which purpose will win out or even if one purpose will win out or if a compromise will be reached according to which the parties 'promise together' (Fr. com- 'together' and promittere 'to promise'). Each individual as free is its own groundless ground confronted with other independent, groundless, free grounds. As long as each of these individual grounds or groundless origins recognizes the other in a process of mutual recognition as independent, none is a controlling ground. Instead, the individuals, whether there be two or many, are involved in a groundless interplay in which many purposes are hazarded.
Only if the process of mirroring each other in mutual recognition leads to one recognizing the other as superior does submission take place and the one individual becomes the tool of the other. In this case, the schemata of efficient causes and final causes are once again applicable insofar as the superior individual is established as an origin with the power to control the other. But such social power relations depend essentially on the submission of one to the other within the process of recognition, and this process always remains in play. It is never concluded once and for all. The relations among the individuals remains a continual power play based on a dialectic of mutual recognition and submission (whether voluntarily by free will or involuntarily under duress, in which case the submission is a subjugation).
As long as the process of recognition is a mutual mirroring of each other as formally equal origins without the submission of one to the other, the outcome of interactions between the individuals can be only the outcome of a game, an interplay, which is unpredictable because the two or many points of origin in interplay offer no secure ground 'wherefrom' such a prediction could be fore-knowingly made (a circumstance that must be denied by modern scientific psychology). The interplay itself is groundless and its outcome is always insecure. Both or all individual origins maintain their power, albeit that the power may consist only in the power of persuasion. The only ground for interplay can be agreement based on trust. Trust becomes an always retractable ground upon which interplay becomes reliably possible, and only on this ground does the result of the interplay become securely predictable, but always within the terms of the agreement and under the proviso that the basis of trust is not destroyed. Trust, which is engendered and supported by making and keeping promises mutually 'sent forth' (L. pro-mittere), is one of the basic elements enabling interplay to go on without the intervention of a superior social power or physical violence which degrades the other to a mere object. Such an interplay on the basis of mutually esteeming each other at least as formally equal players depends on the players adhering to fair rules of play for the interplay. Such fair rules of interplay do not guarantee any particular outcome but only that, whatever the outcome, all players will recognize the outcome as just and equitable, even if some players lose. The entire interplay depends upon the players esteeming each other as players without taking unfair advantage of each other. Although each player may have a different aim, it is possible that through the interplay of recognition and the power plays among equal individuals a mutually satisfying outcome can come about, but such an outcome is beyond the reach of the principle of reason, which can never render the sufficient reason for one outcome rather than another.
This leads us to the question of the fairness and rightness, or justice, of interplay, which cannot be mastered by any principle of reason since it presupposes a superior governing origin wherefrom the other is treated as an object, even though this other may be itself an origin potentially governing its own movements. The question concerning the fairness of interplay goes hand in hand with the question of the legitimacy of social power. These intimately related questions do not arise only with the modern age in which the individual, 'bourgeois' subject comes into its own, and nor do they concern only the foundations of metaphysics with Plato and Aristotle; rather, they go back even to the origins of philosophy. The oldest philosophical fragment handed down from the Greeks is that of Anaximander. It reads: e)c w(=n de\ h( ge/nesi/j e)sti toi=j ou)=si kai\ th\n fqora\n ei)j tau=ta gi/nesqai <kata\ to\ xrew/n: di/donai ga\r au)ta\ di/khn kai\ ti/sin a)llh/loij th=j a)diki/aj> kata\ th\n tou= xro/nou ta/cin., where only the part in pointed brackets is today regarded by philologists as genuinely Anaximander's words.(3) This fragment has traditionally been read as the wisdom of a 'Pre-Socratic natural philosopher', a fusiolo/goj, as Aristotle and Theophrastos, and then the entire tradition, have characterized him. Heidegger, however, is at great pains to show that Anaximander's fragment concerns all beings, ta\ o)/nta, including natural things, made things, gods and human beings, circumstances, moods, social practices and usages, etc.
The saying is obviously about right or justice (di/kh) and wrong or injustice (a)diki/a) (assuming for the moment that these standard translations are adequate) and the key to understanding it is to interpret the phrase, di/donai ...ti/sin a)llh/loij. Di/donai means 'to give' and a)llh/loij means 'one another'. So the saying concerns at its heart a giving to one another. But what do they give to each other? Ti/sij is what they give to each other. Ti/sij can mean simply 'penance', 'penalty' or 'payment', a negative meaning relating to compensating a wrong, as if they had done wrong to each other, but it is related more fundamentally and positively to tima/w 'to esteem, value, honour, revere' and timh/ 'esteem, value, worth, estimation, honour', a word and phenomenon that plays an important role throughout Plato's and Aristotle's political and ethical writings as one of the major goods of living striven for and prized by human beings. Both goods and people can have timh/ (value, worth) and therefore be esteemed, estimated, valued by others. Goods, for example, are 'estimated' in being worth something in exchange for each other. This is their exchange-value as expressed in another good. Goods 'esteem' and 'estimate' each other in the market-place in competitively showing off their value (what they are good for) to each other and expressing their value in each other. In this sense, they 'give' worth to each other.
The competition arises of itself from the many beings in interplay, each of which vies to display its value in comparison to other beings' value, matching themselves against each other by way of rivalry. Goods and people esteem and estimate each other in acknowledging each other's value; a thing does this by showing and offering itself in its valuableness for a human usage, and humans appreciate this value. Human beings esteem each other's worth in all their encounters as who they are, i.e. present themselves. The intercourse between individuals is based essentially on mutual esteem, even though, in the modern age, this estimation may be only the formal estimation of each other as a person who is regarded and respected as such, masking a deeper-seated indifference. For the most part, each individual is estimated in vieing to have the abilities it has on offer and display recognized.
Anaximander's fragment therefore says something about the esteem which people and things give to each other through acknowledging each other's value. Esteeming each other amounts to conceding each other the space in presence to show off the value inhering in each thing or person in a competitive interplay. Only in granting each other this space to present themselves as valuable and estimable, only by holding each other rightly in estimation is right satisfied and wrong overcome. The Greek word for right, di/kh, means a state of affairs, i.e. a conjuncture, in which everything is in joint. Kata\ to\ xrew/n, with which the first half of the saying ends, has usually been rendered as "according to necessity", but, as Heidegger points out, xrew/n is related to h( xei/r, 'the hand' which in this context would be the hand of the destiny of being that hands out presence for the presentation of beings' value to each other, thus overcoming the out-of-jointness that arises from wrong self-presentations and from not paying due heed to each other's worth. Such habitual practice of mutual esteem among all beings is the core of ethics, i.e. of right as second nature. A first, rough rendering of Anaximander's fragment that formulates the thoughtful experience it embodies would be accordingly:
Whence all beings come to presence, however, thither they also depart <according to the handing-out into presence, for they do right by giving each other due esteem, thus bringing everything into joint> according to the order of time.In thus hearing the echo from Anaximander with Heidegger's help, we begin to understand, provisionally, that right is done in the interplay among all beings insofar as they estimate each other's worth in contesting with each other in self-presentation, each striving to attain its end: an acknowledged, worthy stand in presence for a time. The perversion, hindering or prevention of this free interplay for the sake of wrongly gaining a stand in the space of presence beyond one's due is the highest wrong of an unfair, ugly conjuncture that is out of joint. For the sake of gaining a stand in presence, for instance, the intervention and support of a higher power in the interplay may be welcomed, but at the cost of spoiling the chances of other players' self-presentations, thus putting the game out of joint and making it ugly. The principle of reason is the ground upon which the power of knowledge, and hence control, is one-sidedly exercised over other beings from a governing origin, thus positing them as "null" (nichtig, Enz. § 208 Anm.), i.e. as of no value and importance, for the sake of a purpose that has been posited one-sidedly, whereas the side-step into the groundlessness of interplay opens the possibility of each being's showing itself in its valuableness, vieing fairly in mutual estimation with all other beings. Only thus can everything come into joint, and the interplay show a fair face.
The saying speaks of ta\ o)/nta, of beings in the very broadest, all-inclusive sense, of how their coming comes to them as present for a time and of how their going away takes them out of the present of presence. They come from among beings that are absent and they also return there. The first part of the saying reads in translation: "From those, however, becoming presences to beings, also arises their going-away back into them." Beings in their being are 'die Anwesenden' or 'das Anwesende', 'that which is present', which unfortunately must be rendered in English in this clumsy way (cf. however below). Heidegger discusses at length in GA78:48ff why it is justified to render in German the Greek plural ta\ o)/nta in German as the singular 'das Seiende' rather than 'die Seienden'. In German, beings in the unity of their being are 'das Seiende'. By rendering the Greek plural as singular in German, there is nevertheless the danger of obscuring that the very being of beings depends upon their plurality, as will be worked out in the interpretation offered below. In English, by contrast, the appropriate rendering of ta\ o)/nta is 'beings qua beings', maintaining the plural. 'Beings' can mean both entities in their plurality and beings in their being, an ambiguity serving to obscure the ontological difference between being and beings. Because beings come and go from absence to presence and vice versa, they are what is present or absent in the clearing of presence, for which I now propose the unusual translation as the 'presents' and 'absents' in order to avoid having to render 'die Anwesenden' as 'those which are present', and also because beings themselves are 'the presents' given (and used) by being, i.e. by presencing itself. An obsolete signification of 'presents' is 'things present, circumstances' (OED) which is herewith revived. The temporal interpretation of being as presencing and beings as 'presents' finds support already in the saying itself, which speaks of the coming and going of beings "according to the order of time", even if this addendum is not originally from Anaximander.
Heidegger interprets to\ xrew/n as "the oldest name in which thinking brings the being of beings to language" (der älteste Name, worin das Denken das Sein des Seienden zur Sprache bringt. HW:334), thus implicitly naming the ontological difference between being and beings as the difference between to\ xrew/n and ta\ o)/nta. This ontological difference is now said temporally as the difference between Anwesen und Anwesendem, presencing and presents, i.e. that which is present. If to\ xrew/n is thought from 'hand', it is the handing-out that hands out presencing, using beings as the presents that come to present themselves in the present and also withdraw into absence, all within the open clearing of presence which encompasses also two modes of absence, earlier and later. Handing-out thus hands out first of all three-dimensional time-space. Beings are the presents handed out and used by being that present and absent themselves within the clearing of three-dimensional time-space. As presents, beings are used by being to present themselves as presents and to withdraw as absents. Insofar, to\ xrew/n is a handing-out that uses, i.e. a usage (xrh=sij), and therefore Heidegger hazards a rendering of to\ xrew/n as "der Brauch" (usage, HW:338, GA78:134) instead of "Notwendigkeit" (necessity). This is in line with the insight that needs arise from usages, not conversely: being needs beings because it uses them, not conversely.
The present (Gegenwart as distinct from Anwesenheit, presence) itself is the conjuncture in time-space between the two modes of absence whence presents come and whither they go. The presents come into and while for a time in the present before going back into absence, and in this sense they are temporally finite, even the 'immortal' gods. Presents are only within this three-dimensional time-space, and each has its while in the present. Their presence as presents in the conjuncture of the present is only in joint for as long as they present themselves for the allotted time of presence, without striving to exceed finite limits into to\ a)/peiron, i.e. limitlessness, of which Anaximander is also said by Simplikios to have spoken (cf. HW:339 and GA78 §§25-27). Such excessive striving marks, above all, human being.
In the conjuncture of the present beings enjoy their worth in being estimated, esteemed, heeded by the other presents that are also presenting themselves rivalrously for a time in the present. In this way they give di/kh which, according to the dictionary, would be rendered as 'custom, usage or right as dependent on custom, law'. Heidegger therefore translates di/donai di/khn as 'sie geben Recht', i.e. 'they give right', and makes a connection between right and "rectus, 'straight', 'upright' (rectus, 'gerade', 'aufrecht', GA78:161) as well as "Richtung" (direction) and "Weisen" ('to direct', including in the sense of a 'to give a directive'). Hence I hazard to say, bringing in an alternative accentuation to Heidegger's, beings 'give right' to themselves and the handing-out of presence by taking a 'right', upright stand, each showing itself off in the present as it is, thus disclosing its powers forthrightly. Heidegger then interprets di/kh from its related verb, namely, dei/knumi in the sense of 'weisen' (GA78:161), i.e. 'to show, point, direct', so that di/kh itself would be a 'showing, pointing, directive', and 'giving right' would be 'giving a directive into an upright stand', thus being used 'rightly' by the handing-out which is being/presencing. Being uses beings in giving them the directive to while uprightly as presents with one another in the present for a time. This translation of di/kh is prior to and hence free from any legal meaning, referring instead to how beings themselves stand and show themselves in presence, namely, rightly, uprightly, forthrightly. Correspondingly, a)diki/a as the negation of right is wrong in the sense of a self-presentation that is deceptive, i.e. not upright, lacking in rectitude, as a consequence of not following the directive of the handing-out of presence. Accordingly, an interpretive English rendering of the saying reads:
Out from among the absents in absence whence a coming-to-stand in the present is granted to presents, back to the same does their going-away withdraw them into absence, <thus [they are] used by the handing-out that hands out into presencing and absencing, for they do right by following the directive into their upright stands, giving one another due worth in estimation, thus bringing the present conjuncture of presents into joint> according to the three-dimensional order of time-space.Beings (ta\ o)/nta) are the presents and absents handed out and used by being (presencing) into the time-space of presence, whiling for a time in the present, giving each other their due worth, coming from an absence and withdrawing again into absence. Heidegger barely speaks of absents (die Abwesenden) and absence (Abwesen, Abwesenheit) in connection with the interpretation of e)c w(=n and ei)j tau=ta, and does not speak at all of the three dimensions of time-space in the context of his interpretation of Anaximander. Instead he relates both these plural expressions (GA78 §§11f) to the singular to\ xrew/n which he interprets as "presencing itself" (die Anwesung selbst, GA78:125) whence beings have their emergence into presence and whither they are withdrawn. As far as I can see, Heidegger speaks of absence only at GA78:116, where he interprets fqora/ as "escape/going-away in ab-sencing" (Entgehen im Ab-wesen, not Entgehen ins Ab-wesen) and as that "wherein that which escapes/goes away out of presencing into absence comes to stand" (worin das aus der Anwesung heraus Entgehende in die Abwesenheit zu stehen kommt). Only in this latter formulation can a being standing in absence be construed, but Heidegger does not take this further, except much later and en passant when he mentions that "ge/nesij and fqora/ name the emergence (coming-to-stand) from absence into presence and the escaping (going-away) from presence into absence" (ge/nesij und fqora/ nennen das Entstehen aus dem Abwesen in das Anwesen und das Entgehen aus dem Anwesen in das Abwesen. GA78:158). The two ecstatic temporal dimensions of absencing are not named, and his remark in passing has no effect on the translation of the fragment. In particular, xro/noj (time) is not interpreted as three-dimensional time-space, not even later on in § 21, where Heidegger interprets the final phrase of the saying, kata\ th\n tou= xro/nou ta/cin. There xro/noj is translated as "Erweilnis" (GA78:200), a neologism that can be rendered as 'enwhiling'. The "order of enwhiling" is then the "allotment of and directive into whiling" (der als Erweilnis fügenden Zu- und Einweisung, GA78:201).
'Right' (di/kh), i.e. the directive into an upright stand in the present conjuncture, is that state of affairs in which the presentation of presents in the present is mutually an upright, forthright self-presentation and thus in joint, i.e. fair. Such fairness is to\ kalo/n. Each present has its own allotted finite time in the present where it can shine like gold, being estimated in its worth in an interplay with one another. The presents handed out and used by being as beings include both human beings and things, in particular, useful, practical things and nature regarded practically, whose worth in the present comes about in an interplay of mutual estimation of worth of their inherent potentials and powers as presented. In the case of practical things and useful pieces of nature such as areas of land and stretches of water, these potentials are their use-value in the usages of human living. In the broader sense, however, the sky can be said to 'esteem' the Earth, for instance, in raining upon it. In the case of mortals, i.e. human beings, the coming and going out of the present is the initial coming of birth (ge/nesij) and the final going-away of death (fqora/), since human beings are those beings who are ex-posed to, stand-out toward death, death itself being a present withheld for a life-time in absence toward which each mortal is ecstatically stretched. But also within the allotted time of a lifetime there are those special conjunctures in which a human being shines and is esteemed most radiantly in the present, as when an athlete wins a contest, and such moments amount to a repeated coming and going from the radiant light of the clearing.
Like useful things, human beings vie for their appropriate stand in the present, coming to shine and estimating each other's worth in an interplay enabled by presencing itself, through which those who present their excellence tower above the rest. But even those excellent ones have their own time to while in the present, enjoying the reflections of estimation. Their share of worth is allotted in the rivalrous interplay that determines each human being's worth, sometimes fortuitously. This is shown by Pindar's Fifth Isthmean Ode that Heidegger interprets in extenso in GA78:65-101 § 8. This ode relates to the contests at the Isthmean games where young men, in displays of their athletic and other abilities, show themselves off in phallic stands in the clearing where they have come together in the present. The competitors vie to hear the "fair word of fame" (ei)/ tij eu)= pa/sxwn lo/gon e)slo\n a)kou/v. Isthm. V line 15) that acknowledges their worth. Although tied to a particular present moment of victory, such fame then resounds throughout a lifetime and perhaps even beyond, enhancing the winner's stance, his reputation, within a community, i.e. fame is a present that persists in the present, as if the athlete were immortal and did not have to go away into absence. His achievements — and thus in a certain sense, he himself — are recalled recurrently to the present. Line 15 is followed immediately by a warning against the hubris of striving to become Zeus, for "you have everything if the allotted share of the fair reaches you; mortal things befit mortals" (ei)/ se tou/twn moi=r" e)fi/koito kalw=n. qnata\ qnatoi=si pre/pei. Isthm. V lines 16-18). There is rivalry among beings, especially human beings, in striving to have their worth estimated and validated in the clearing of the present when they present themselves and put their powers on display.
The phenomenological interpretation of the extant fragment of Anaximander's archaic saying allows deeper insight into the temporal meaning of being as presencing in its relation to (human) beings in their interplay than that provided, say, by the fifth book of the Nicomachean Ethics, not to mention modern discussions of commodity exchange-value in political economy and its critique from Adam Smith on in which all trace of being as standing presence has been lost in oblivion. Commodity value (timh/) and the striving for timh/ (esteem) among men already abundantly thematized in Plato and Aristotle are shown to be more deeply games of presencing played in presencing's time-space, in particular, games among mortals vieing for estimation of their finite, mortal powers. Through such insight, rivalry among individual mortals is not done away with, but seen no longer merely in the light of individual personal ambition and the striving for the gain of wealth. Rather, such mortals are first of all granted presence as the presents of presencing, and strive and vie with each other to stand phallically in the shining light of the present for a while. The temptation of hubris, however, misleads them to strive to present themselves not uprightly and to exceed their allotted time in shining presence, thus putting the interplay of mutual estimation out of joint.
By contrast, Heidegger suggests in the following passage that a recasting of being and human being from the insight into its temporal nature as presencing amounts to an overcoming of so-called individualism altogether, which he locates solely in the modern age. "Insofar as they are human beings out of the essencing of their presencing in the gleaming of the pure brightness, they have already met in destinal sending through themselves as presents." (Insofern sie Menschen sind aus dem Wesen ihres Anwesens im Erglänzen des reinen Lichten, haben sie [sich] einander, durch sich als Anwesende, schon im Geschick getroffen. GA78:93) Insofar as he conceives such individualism as "some sort of non-destinal meeting-together of the already individualized multitude of people in some sort of agreement [that] effects community" (Nicht irgendein geschickloses Zusammentreffen der bereits vereinzelten Vielen der Menschen in irgend eine Übereinstimmung bewirkt Gemeinschaft, GA78:93), his rejection of individualism is justified. However, such a conception has itself overlooked that the modern individual itself is already enabled by, and goes hand in hand with, and is, a kind of sociation mediated by a reified medium, namely, value, an insight to be had from the mature Marx and Hegel. This kind of sociation is itself a destinal sending from being with its own kind of reified interplay among beings.
Heidegger does not conceive value as a reified medium of sociation (in the various value-guises of money, commodity, capital, wages, interest, etc.) in the gainful game of estimation among things and mortals. Rather, he asserts that value as "the goldness of gold has dissolved into an effectiveness within the circulation of payment transactions" (Das Goldsein des Goldes hat sich aufgelöst in eine Wirksamkeit innerhalb des Umlaufs des Zahlungsverkehrs, GA78:70) in an "effectiveness in causing effects" (Wirksamkeit im Verursachen von Wirkungen, GA78:70). Heidegger thus has a technical-causal conception of value and money, and displays a patent lack of elementary understanding of a market economy. Moreover, (exchange-)value in its various masks is the reification of what the Greeks experienced as timh/. Heidegger ignores that value in the modern age is, and has already been disclosed by Marx to be, the medium for estimating the value of things and people in an "exchange process" (Austauschprozeß) that, more properly, is to be seen as a gainful game ungraspable by the schema of cause and effect. Would the gainful game be overcome when human beings knew themselves as presents of the giving of presence into the finite, temporal clearing? Or would it be only gotten over in a stepping back from an unconditional striving for gain and estimation that puts the game out of joint?
Human being itself is used by being as the destination for the presencing of beings as such. Their shining in the present would have no recipient, their being no radiance, were it not for recipient human being existing as Da-sein in the Da of time-space. Hence human beings, as those exposed to the clearing of time-space in which the interplay of mutual estimation takes place, are never 'out of play'. They are the presents needed as witnesses to the spectacle of beings' interplay. Anaximander's saying points to the interplay of estimation among all beings in their plurality. Only by virtue of this interplay do beings come to shine and hence be in having their shine of presence reflected in due heed and esteem. They would have no worthy stand in presence as disclosed without such interplay and without such interplay being witnessed. Insofar, their very being as presents depends not only on the granting-withholding handing-out by presencing itself, but also on the interplay of estimation among beings of all kinds to which human beings as such are witness. The plural forms employed in Anaximander's saying are therefore indispensable and should be given due regard explicitly, and not conflated carelessly with the singular, as is natural in German. The in-jointness of right can then be seen as fair interplay among a plurality of presents in the present.