The question of origins has occupied people of all cultures and epochs. In a particular way it determines the thinking of philosophy, which in its classical understanding is concerned with seeking out first causes and principles. In this, it follows on from the line of enquiry followed by myth, which in its turn gives an account of first beginnings and causes. Outside philosophy, too, a variety of notions of origins give direction and orientation to enquiry in the sciences, in world views and religions, in theories of nature and of history. The question of origins cannot be reduced to one single question or answered with one single answer. It belongs to that circle of open questions which, according to Kant, philosophy can neither answer nor ignore. The papers presented here provide material for discussing the heterogeneity of the questions posed and reflect the tension inherent in the reference to origins as a whole.
Emil Angehrn, Universität Basel, Schweiz.