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razão suficiente / princípio do fundamento / principium rationis / principe de raison / princípio da razão / principle of reason / principio de razón / Satz vom Grund / Satz vom zureichenden Grund / principium rationis sufficientis / principe de raison suffisante / princípio de razão suficiente / principle of sufficient reason / principio de razón suficiente


Heidegger   begins his analysis   of the Principle of Ground by listening as closely as possible to the way in which this Principle, after a long period of “incubation” lasting some two thousand years, was finally formulated by Leibniz  . What is said by Leibniz is evident to everyone: nothing is without ground. Is it not strange, then, Heidegger asks, that it took so long to formulate this principle? The Principle of Ground is so transparent to us that we are already finished with it as soon as we hear it (SG [1], 16). But this very fact should give us pause. For, as has been Heidegger’s constant view from Being and Time on, we tend to be thoughtless about that which is most familiar to us. And so it might well   be that the Principle of Ground is the most “enigmatic” (rätselvollste: SG, 16) of all propositions. Indeed it will be Heidegger’s strategy, in these opening lectures of SG, to throw us into confusion about a principle we all take to be self-evident. As with the concept of Being in the opening pages of Being and Time, Heidegger will show that the Principle of Ground is only superficially simple and devoid of difficulty. When it is understood more deeply, it will turn out to be clouded and confusing.

The difficulties which Heidegger sees in the Principle of Ground have to do with its “formal” character as a “principle” (Grundsatz). In the first place, Heidegger holds, this “first principle” throws us into a perplexing circle. Inasmuch as it is a “principle,” it is the “foundation” (Grund) of other propositions (Sätze). The proposition which asserts that everything must have a ground is itself a “fundamental proposition” (Der Satz vom Grund ist ein Grundsatz: SG, 21). Thus in order to clarify the Principle of Ground we need to know what a “principle” is. But in order to know what a “principle” (Grundsatz) is, we need to know what “ground” or “fundamental” means (cf. WG [2], 10-3). Yet where are we to find what “ground” means except in the Principle of Ground (Satz vom Grund: SG, 23)? In order to assure the reader that he is not simply exploiting a peculiarity of the German language, Heidegger shows that the same difficulty inheres in Leibniz’s Latin expression principio rationis, for a “principle” according to Christian Wolff is “that which contains within itself the reason for another.” A “principle” thus contains the “reason’’ for what follows from the principle (SG, 30-1). [CaputoMEHT  ]

[1GA10 Der Satz vom Grund. 3. Auflage. Pfullingen: Verlag Günther Neske, 1965.

[2The Essence of Reasons. A Bilingual Edition containing the text of Vom Wesen des Grundes. Trans. T. Malick. Northwestern University Studies in Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy. Evanston, 1969.