Take Care of Everything (Our Duty of Care)

Annibale Carracci, Pan (c. 1592)

The saying μελέτη τὸ πᾶν [melete to pan] has been attributed to Periander, Second Tyrant of Corinth (c. 628-588).

It has sometimes been mistranslated as “practice makes perfect” (melete “care, practice, exercise”), but it is better translated “take care of everything.”

It is the motto of Heidegger’s Mindfulness (1997; 2006, 3, likewise in Nietzsche vol. 3 [1989; 1991] and the Heraclitus seminar [1970; 1979]), which he translates into German as “Habe das Ganze im Sinn“: “take into care beings as a whole” (to pan “the all, the whole,” i.e. beings as a whole). But, more importantly, the saying drives his reading of the relation of human beings to being in Basic Concepts (1981; 1993). It prefaces his “Elucidation of the title of the lecture ‘Basic Concepts,'” in particular, his discussion of the claim (Anspruch) of such basic or “ground-concepts” (Grund-Begriffe) upon us . . .

From the time when the essential configuration of Western history . . . begins to unfold, a saying is handed down to us that goes μελέτη τὸ πᾶν, “Take into care beings as a whole” [das Seiende im Ganzen]—that means, consider that everything depends upon the whole of beings, upon what addresses [anspricht] humanity from there. Always consider the essential, first and last, and assume the attitude that matures us for such reflection. Like everything essential, this attitude must be simple, and the suggestion that intimates this attitude (which is a knowing) to us must be simple as well. It suffices for this suggestion to distinguish what humanity, having come to itself, must attend to. (3)

. . . and it drives his “Discussion of the ‘Is,’ of Beings as a Whole” (21ff.), broadly, that

if we attempt to think the whole of beings at once, then we think . . . that the whole of beings “is,” and we consider what it “is.” We think the whole of beings, everything that is, in its being.

He argues that to what “is” belongs the currently actual, the not actual or possible, and the necessary. “Taking into care beings as a whole” requires that we must acknowledge all three aspects.

But there is another threesome at work here: Meletē (Μελέτη, “Care”) was one of the original three Boeotian Muses, along with Mnēmē “Remembrance” and Aoidē “Song” the essential aspects of poetry—or the “saying of being” for Heidegger (Pausanias, The Description of Greece 9.29, sec. 2). As Gary E. Aylesworth suggests in his introduction to Basic Concepts,

Melete has been interpreted as the discipline or practice necessary to learn the art, Mneme as the retention required for recitation and improvisation, and Aoide as the poetic song itself, the culmination of the other two aspects. In the earliest tradition of Greek thinking, care, remembrance, and song were understood as religious powers. (xii)

Three aspects of saying: care, remembrance and song, of which more later . . .


3 thoughts on “Take Care of Everything (Our Duty of Care)

  1. Pingback: Promoting Safe Practices in Education | Personal Injury At Work
  2. Pingback: consent on medical treatment | World University Information
  3. Pingback: Personal Injury Law Solicitors UK For Personal Injury Claims UK | Injury Lawyers

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