address, namely, the course on Aristotle’s fundamental concepts (SS 1924) and the course on Plato’s Sophist (WS 1924–1925).

Brian Hansford Bowles


Being-There and Being-True According to Aristotle

(Interpretations of Nicomachean Ethics , Book VI )

Today I will try to explain the concept of truth as it is found in Greek philosophy or, if you will, in the Greeks’ natural, everyday understanding of life.4 Such a clarification of the meaning of truth—or of “being-true”—in Greek philosophy is not merely of antiquarian interest. Its aim is, rather, to bring us to a radical and fundamental reflection [Gesinnung] within the parameters of a fundamental question of science and, more generally, of human existence. I shall present my treatment of the concept of truth by way of an interpretation of Nicomachean Ethics, Book VI. The foundations of contemporary science as well as of philosophy are rooted in the investigations carried out by Greek philosophers—ultimately and especially in those of Aristotle. This is true to such an extent that in many areas of thinking we no longer know about these origins and simply make our way among clichéd, worn-out meanings, or with words that have been torn from their roots. It is entirely up to us whether we get a clearer sense of the historical foundations of how we see, think and interpret, or whether we instead treat history as a mere collection of antiquities. We must first understand that history does not lie behind us like some object, but rather that we ourselves are history, and consequently that we bear the responsibility for how we deal with it—only then will our engagement with the historical past, that is, with ourselves, become a truly burning issue.

The aim of the present interpretation is to enable Aristotle to speak again, not in order to bring about a renewal of Aristotelianism, but rather in order to prepare the battleground for a radical engagement with Greek philosophy—the very philosophy in which we still stand. If an examination of Aristotle’s text should show that much of what we say here is not to be found there in the text, that would not be an argument against our interpretation. An interpretation is a genuine interpretation only when, in going through the whole text, it comes upon that which common sense never finds there, but which, although unspoken, nonetheless makes up the ground [Boden] and the genuine foundations of the kind of vision from out of which the text itself came to be. We need not go further into the steps

4. Note the slight variations in the subtitle (“Interpretations of Nicomachaen Ethics, Book VI”) and the date of delivery of the address vis-à-vis the preliminary editorial note for this chapter. Additionally, the address is dated “December 2, 1924, Cologne.” All notes occurring in the text are those of the translator [BHB] or editor [TK].

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