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Becoming and Being

July 8, 2009

I couldn’t resist a brief interlude on the word phusis (which, in Greek philosophy, meant something like being):

Phusis means the emerging sway, and the enduring over which it thoroughly holds sway. This emerging, abiding sway includes both “becoming” as well as “Being” in the narrower sense of fixed continuity. Phusis is the event of standing forth, arising from the concealed and thus enabling the concealed to take its stand for the first time.

–Heidegger, Introduction to Metaphysics, chapter 1.

God, that’s stunning. I think it’s a beautiful way to describe emerging identity; becoming who you feel you are. There’s something about the idea of standing forth that feels empowering: “here I am, this is who I want to be, and now I want you to see that”. Personally, I’d rather not exist in a state of “fixed continuity”, but the word “sway” sounds pleasantly fluid.

I know Heidegger didn’t mean any of this, but this is how he made me feel. When I reached this part of the book, I got goosebumps.

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