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Thesis of Modern Ontology [258-259]

defective transmission of the text, which is clear here, but of the real difficulty of the problem itself.

For the present we have only to keep in mind the realization that the "is" signifies the being of a being and is not itself like an existent thing. In the statement "The board is black," both the subject, board, and the predicate, black, mean something existent—the thing that is the board and this thing as blackened, the black that is present in it. The "is," in contrast, does not signify something existent, which would be existent like the board itself and the black in it. About this "is" Aristotle says: οὐ γάρ ἐστι τὸ ψεῦδος καὶ τὸ ἀληθὲς ἐν τοῖς πράγμασιν, οἷον τὸ μὲν ἀγαθὸν ἀληθὲς τὸ δὲ κακὸν εὐθὺς ψεῦδος, ἀλλ᾽ ἐν διανοίᾳ;5 what this "is" means is not a being occurring among things, something present like them, but ἐν διανοίᾳ, in thinking. This "is" is synthesis and in fact, as Aristotle says, it is σύνθεσις νοημάτων,6 the being-combined of what is thought in thinking. Aristotle is here speaking of the synthesis of the S and P. In the passage cited, however, he says at the same time ἐνδέχεται δὲ καὶ διαίρεσιν φάναι πάντα,7 but all of this—the combining of the S and P in a proposition, which combination is expressed by the "is"—can be taken as διαίρεσις. S = P is not only a combination but also at the same time a separation. This observation by Aristotle is essential for understanding the structure of the proposition, which we have yet to investigate. In a corresponding passage Aristotle says that this "is" means a synthesis and is accordingly ἐν συμπλοκῇ διανοίας καὶ πάθος ἐν ταύτῃ8 it is in the coupling that the intellect produces as combining intellect, and this "is" means something that does not occur among things; it means a being, but a being that is, as it were, a state of thought. It is not an ἕξω ὄν, not a being outside thought, and not a χωριστόν, not something that stands for itself independently. But what sort of a being this "is" means is obscure. This "is" is supposed to mean the being of a being which does not occur among the extant entities and yet it is surely something in the intellect or, crudely speaking, in the subject, subjective. We can make a correct decision between these determinations, that the being designated by "is" and "to be" is not among things but nevertheless is in the intellect, only if we are clear



5. Aristotle. Metaphysica, book Epsilon, 4.1027b25ff. ["For falsity and truth are not in things—it is not as if the good were true and the bad were in itself false—but in thought." Trans. W. D. Ross, in The Works of Aristotle (Ross). vol. 8.]

6. Aristotle, De anima, 3.6.430a28.

7. Ibid., 430b3f.

8. Aristotle, Metaphysica, book Kappa, 8.1065a2-23. [The context reads: "As to that which 'is' in the sense of being true, ... [it] depends on a combination in thought and is an affection of thought (which is the reason why it is the principles, not of that which 'is' in this sense, but of that which is outside and can exist apart, that are sought)." Trans. Ross, in The Works of Aristotle (Ross), vol. 8.)


Basic Problems of Phenomenology (GA 24) by Martin Heidegger