The Question of the Essence of Untruth [222–224]

In Plato, we experience the two kinds of truth flaring up once again. From Plato on, the determination of truth as a property of the proposition gains the upper hand. Today it is so self-evident that no one would allow himself to fall into believing otherwise, on pain of penalty.

d) The necessity of a transformed retrieval

Now, why don’t we want to just leave things as they are with this concept? Such self-evidence in a conception is usually already an embarrassment, and is a sign that the question has slipped into the self-evident. Why aren’t we leaving it at that? I have already indicated the inner difficulty.

To begin with: “This chalk is white.” This is the proposition. The sense of the proposition, the nexus of meaning, is something totally different from the chalk itself, with which the sense is supposed to correspond. The sense is questionable. The correspondence of our thinking to this thing is possible, then, only if the thing is revealed to me in advance as it is given to me. Supposing that the correspondence of the proposition (with the thing) were a characteristic of truth, then the thing would already have to have truth so that the assertion could be measured against it. So the assertion already presupposes the openness of things.

A still more essential problem is that this concept of truth cannot help us determine human truth. On this basis we cannot comprehend conviction, inner decision, or the truth of a work of art.

We cannot even raise a question about these authentic truths on the basis of the usual concept of truth. Hence the inner necessity of posing the question of truth anew, not in isolation from the tradition, but neither by reaching blindly back into the inception of philosophy.

Given these two fundamental possibilities of interpreting truth, unconcealment and correctness, we must take up the question of the essence of truth anew and pursue it further, in the context of the historical situation of our Dasein. Precisely that which came to light for the first time among the Greeks, but which the Greeks could not get in hand, is to be extended on the basis of our concepts.

If we now take a look at things formally, we gather two points:

1. Truth is a happening that happens with humanity itself, that is not possible without the history of the human essence. Truth is something that happens to beings, a happening based on the entirety of human being.

2. Truth as unconcealment is essentially related to concealment: pulling one out of the cave, assailing the concealed, tearing beings out of concealment.

If we move in the direction of Greek experience, we must ask: what is it, really, that unconcealment assails? What does concealment mean?

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