106 The Necessity of the Question [121—122]

of truth as correctness, which was actually grounded upon it, could gain an ascendancy over ἀλήθεια, could thrust it aside, and could by itself dominate the subsequent history of thought.

So if in fact the Greeks did not raise the question we are raising in making the openness of beings what is most worthy of questioning, then we are facing an omission and a neglect, especially in view of the incontrovertible passion of the Greeks to give a reason and an accounting for what they thought: λόγον διδόναι. On the other hand, however, we find it difficult to indulge in the self-righteous pedantry of accusing the primordial thinking of the Greeks, which, as the beginning, was the greatest, of such a lack.

The question therefore is why the Greeks did not ask about ἀλήθεια itself. Is their lack of inquiry a neglect? In order to reach an answer here we have to determine more closely the Greeks' primordial conception of ἀλήθεια. We translate ἀλήθεια as the unconcealedness of beings and thereby already indicate that unconcealedness (truth as understood by the Greeks) is a determination of beings themselves and not—as is correctness—a character of assertions about beings.

Yet the modes of thinking and speaking in Greek philosophy compel us still further. Plato and Aristotle, precisely the two thinkers who prepared the submergence of the primordial essence of ἀλήθεια, still always mentioned ἀλήθεια together with beings themselves: ἀλήθεια καὶ ὄν—"unconcealedness: that is to say, beings in their beingness." Often ἀλήθεια even stood alone in place of ὄν. Truth and beings in their beingness are the same. The result of all this is not simply that unconcealedness is related to beings themselves instead of to assertions about beings, but that unconcealedness constitutes the basic character of beings themselves as such.

How are we to understand that? Above all , how are we then to understand that the Greeks precisely did not ask about ἀλήθεια? For the most primordially proper question of their thought, guiding all their reflection, was precisely the question of beings as such: what is a being? Ἀλήθεια itself is a character of beings. It lay before the Greeks, as it were, in the immediate direction of the questioning that was most their own. Consequently, if ἀλήθεια indeed resided in the direction of their questioning, was their

Basic Questions of Philosophy (GA 45) by Martin Heidegger