we stand before a tree in bloom

“We stand outside of science. Instead we stand before a tree in bloom, for example – and the tree stands before us. The tree faces us. The tree and we meet one another, as the tree stands there and we stand face to face with it. As we are in this relation of one to the other and before the other, the tree and we are. This face-to-face meeting is not then, one of these “ideas” buzzing about in our heads. Let us stop here for a moment, as we would to catch our breath before and after a leap. For that is what we are now, men who have leapt, out of the familiar realm of science and even, as we shall see, out of the realm of philosophy. And where have we leapt? Perhaps into an abyss? No! Rather, onto some firm soil. Some? No! But on that soil upon which we live and die, if we are honest with ourselves. A curious, indeed unearthly thing that we must first leap onto the soil on which we really stand. When anything so curious as this leap becomes necessary, something must have happened that gives food for thought. Judged scientifically, of course, it remains the most inconsequential thing on earth that each of us has at some time stood facing a tree in bloom. After all, what of it? We come and stand facing a tree, before it, and the tree faces, meets us. Which one is meeting here? The tree, or we? Or both? Or neither? We come and stand just as we are, and not merely with our head or our consciousness facing the tree in bloom, and the tree faces, meets us as the tree it is. Or did the tree anticipate us and come before us? Did the tree come first to stand and face us, so that we might come forward face-to-face with it?

What happens here, that the tree stands there to face us, and we come to stand face-to-face with the tree? Where does this presentation take place, when we stand face-to-face before a tree in bloom? Does it by any chance take place in our heads? Of course; many things may take place in our brain when we stand on a meadow and have standing before us a blossoming tree in all its radiance and fragrance when we perceive it. In fact, we even have transforming and amplifying apparatus that can show the processes in our heads as brain currents, render them audible, and retrace their course in curves. We can – of course! Is there anything modern man can not do? He even can be helpful now and then, with what he can do. And he is helping everywhere with the best intentions. Man can – probably none of us have as yet the least premonition of what man will soon be able to do scientifically. But – to stay with our example – while science records the brain currents, what becomes of the tree in bloom? What becomes of the meadow? What becomes of the man – not of the brain but of the man, who may die under our hands tomorrow and be lost to us, and who at one time came to our encounter? What becomes of the face-to-face, the meeting, the seeing, the forming of the idea, in which the tree presents itself and man comes to stand face-to-face with the tree?” -Heidegger

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