The Interpretation of the Being-There of Human Beings [165–167]

Aristotle exhibits the concrete meaning of these three aspects of ἦθος by pursuing the opposite course, in asking about the opposite situation: how is it, in the manner and mode in which the speaker offers himself, that we acquire the opinion that he deceives, that he misleads? Aristotle examines the conditions of the possibility of showing oneself to be one who deceives. What is missing in the manner and mode in which he offers himself, so that we do not take him for someone who in fact has the right ἦθος?

1. In his discourse, the speaker can appear as an οὐκ ὀρθῶς δοξάζων,168 “one who does not form his views in the right manner.” In the course of the discourse, the speaker appears as one who does not have the right perspective on the matter about which he speaks; the one in question does not entirely see the matter. The view that he conveys is not oriented toward what the matter genuinely is, it is missing the ὀρθότης. As soon as the hearer notices the flaw, the speaker loses πίστις; he no longer is in consideration as to the matter for which he speaks.

2. Certainly, the first aspect can belong to the speaker, for he can have the right φρόνησις; the speaker can appear as one who looks around, but nonetheless as one who is not willing to say169 what appears to him to be the case, about which he has this or that view. The hearer can notice, in the course of the discourse, that the speaker is well-versed but does not say everything; the speaker screens his own position and view of the matter. He is not properly serious in what he says to his audience, as he knows still more. As soon as the hearer notices this, he withdraws his trust from the speaker, does not take him seriously, since the speaker does not seriously present himself in what he says.

3. The speaker can offer himself as one who looks around and as one who is serious in what he says, and still the hearer can notice that he is deficient in the requisite good will. He can counsel something, recommend something as συμφέρον that he believes is συμφέρον, and yet despite the fulfillment of these two aspects, the hearer can notice in the course of discourse that the speaker does not bring himself to say what is best—he withdraws the best counsel for want of good will since the people are not interested in it. In the counsel he delivers, he can withhold the most decisive positive possibility that his φρόνησις has entirely at his disposal. He is satisfied with presenting before the assembly a serious proposal, though not the best one.170 Even then the hearer loses real trust.

Alternatively, a speaker who shows himself to be one who speaks out for the matter out of good will, with seriousness, and in a way that looks around,

168. Rhet. Β 1, 1378 a 11 sq.: οὐκ ὀρθῶς δοξάζουσιν.

169. Rhet. Β 1, 1378 a 12 sq.: ἢ δοξάζοντες ὀρθῶς διὰ μοχθηρίαν οὐ τὰ δοκοῦντα λέγουσιν.

170. Rhet. Β 1, 1378 a 13 sq.: ἢ φρόνιμοι μὲν καὶ ἐπιεικεῖς εἰσὶν ἀλλ’ οὐκ εὖνοι, διόπερ ἐνδέχεται μὴ τὰ βέλτιστα συμβουλεύειν γιγνώσκοντας.

Martin Heidegger (GA 18) Basic Concepts of Aristotelian Philosophy

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