§11. Truth as question of the essence of the true [29-30] 29

of truth, i.e., of the essence of the true, is something merely supplementary, nay, even superfluous. For the essence in the sense of the universal which applies in each case to the many particulars, as, e.g., the universal representation "house" applies to all real and possible houses, this universal is grasped and formulated in a concept. To think the mere concept of something is precisely to abstract from particular realities. Thus if we desire the true and seek it, we will not strive for truth in the sense of the mere concept, to which anything true as true is subordinated. When we seek the true, we want to gain possession o f that upon which our historical humanity is posited and by which it is thoroughly dominated and through which it is raised above itself. Every genuine attitude of man, who dwells in the real and wants to transform what is real, remove it from its place and liberate it to higher possibilities, will arrive at the univocal demand that can be expressed briefly as follows: we desire what is true, why should we be concerned with truth itself?

But insofar as we are here inquiring philosophically, and philosophy is the knowledge of the essence of things, we already have decided otherwise. In philosophizing, we reflect on the essence of the true, we abide by that which is precisely not a concern for ones who desire the true. And hence they, who desire the true, must reject our intention as something extrinsic and useless. It was not in vain, but rather in anticipation of this rejection of our proposal, that at the very outset we said philosophy is immediately useless knowledge. Our reflection on correctness and on truth itself can accomplish nothing toward the correct solution of economic difficulties, or toward the correct improvement and assurance of the public health, nor can it contribute anything to the correct increase of the speed of airplanes, or to the correct improvement of radio reception, and likewise just as little to the correct design of instructional projects in the schools. With regard to all these urgent matters of daily life, philosophy fails. Nay, even more: because it inquires only into the essence of truth and does not determine individual truths, philosophy will not be able to settle anything about the decisively true. Philosophy is immediately useless knowledge and yet still something else: sovereign knowledge.

If that is so, then knowledge of the essence of the true, i.e.,

Basic Questions of Philosophy (GA 45) by Martin Heidegger