What makes a claim upon us

The worst way to practice thinking would be an academic course in “logic.” The usual, orthodox logic thinks, at best (if it thinks at all), “about” thinking. But we do not learn to think originarily when someone shows us how to think, in an inferior and long-since impossible manner, “about” thinking. Rather, we learn to think only when we try to attain an essential and genuine relation to what above all else is thought-worthy. And what is thought-worthy is certainly not “thinking” but what challenges thinking, what places thinking in its service and thus bestows rank and value upon it. We do not learn this essential thinking by means of any “logic.”

“Ground-Concepts” means to say: grasping the ground of everything, and that means to attain a relation to the “ground” of everything. What “ground” means here must be clarified step by step, along with what the relation to the ground consists in, to what extent a knowing belongs to this relation, and to what extent this relation is even itself a knowing. Thus it would be premature if we wanted to equate “ground” with “cause” of everything, and wanted furthermore to interpret this cause as a first cause in the sense of a creator according to the Bible and Christian dogma. It would also be premature to believe that with these “concepts” it is solely a matter of representing the ground. It is rather a question of extending our thinking toward the manner in which the ground includes us in its essence, not the manner in which we take the ground to be merely an “object” and use it for an “explanation of the world.”

However the essence of the ground, but also “the concepts,” i.e., the relation to the ground, might explain and confirm themselves to us, one thing remains clear in advance: no individual with a worked-out doctrine and viewpoint can arbitrarily, at any particular time, expound something and decide it by decree. It is also easy to see that an examination of previous viewpoints and doctrines concerning the “ground” and the “relation” to the “ground” at best provides a “historiological” familiarity and avoids precisely what is all-important: the relation through which we ourselves come into proximity with what strikes us essentially and makes a claim upon us. We do not wish to discuss doctrines. Rather, we want to become aware of the essential, in which we stand, or within which we are perhaps still driven to and fro without a footing and without understanding.

— Heidegger, Basic Concepts (tr. Aylesworth)

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