Basic Concepts of Ancient Philosophy [102-103]


According to the possible lighting, the kind and source of the light, there are various possibilities of access to the beings themselves. Difference in the source of light according to the mode of Being of Dasein: difference in the understanding of Being.

It is not unusual for Plato to present figuratively a basic problem he does understand but has not completely mastered.

b) The cave allegory: levels and relativity of truth.12

Cave:13 image of our Being in the spatial surrounding world. The light in the cave. Outside the cave: the sun and the beings it shines on and whose growth it conditions and promotes, Being in the proper sense: image of the world of the Ideas, the sun represents the highest Idea. What in the allegory represents the highest, the world of Ideas, is in actuality, outside of the allegory, our spatial surrounding world, which is symbolized in the allegory by the cave. The spatial surrounding world, illuminated by the sun, has a double function: 1. as symbol: the highest; 2. as the actual world: the lower.

As a being,14 that which in each case immediately shows itself. It is assumed as a being and accepted as a being, δόξα, δέχεσθαι (without proof). Insofar as Dasein is, it has a ἕδρα (cf. 517B2), a "seat" and a place and thereby has surroundings. A surrounding world, even if accessible only to a small degree, is already disclosed with Dasein. A light, an illumination is required for anything at all to be seen, even if only the shadows in the half-darkness of the cave. In other words, for a being to be experienced there must already be an illumination of Being. An understanding of Being. The light must shine, although it is not necessary that the light itself already be seen or even be grasped consciously at all. Those in chains know nothing about the light and can never know about it. The light is there, Dasein lives in an understanding of Being, without knowing about it.15

The first level of truth:

a) Pre-givenness of a world in general; seat.

b) Understanding of Being, inexplicit. Being is neither seen nor conceived.

c) A determinate mode of letting be encountered (εἰκασία ["image"]).

d) διαλέγομαι, speak all the way through," to speak about that, about beings.

12. Republic, bk. 7, 514Aff.; see Morchen transcription, no. 41, p. 199f.

13. In the manuscript, this inserted page bears the title, "Cave allegory."

14. See Morchen transcription, no. 41, p. 200.

15. See supplement no. 2, p. 159.

Basic Concepts of Ancient Philosophy (GA 22) by Martin Heidegger