The Question of the Essence of Untruth [228–229]

“Many people lost the use of their limbs once the illness came over them; some lost their eyes, others were attacked {assailed} immediately, once they recovered, by the remaining-concealed of all beings alike. And thus it came about that they knew nothing either of themselves or of their kin.”

The topic, then, is the remaining-concealed of all things alike—a happening that breaks in on human beings like a fate. This (falling away) has the consequence that human beings as individuals are unable to know anything about themselves or about others. ἄγνοια [ignorance] = consequence of λήθη [concealment, oblivion] {. . .}4

We say simply: they lost their memory. This is a purely subjective expression that does not do justice to Greek reality. ἔλαβε: seize them, befall them. λήθη is an objective power; it came over people like φόβος, ἄλγος, ὕπνος [fear, pain, sleep]. (A quite definite mode of openness.)

Only through a quite specific process of subjectivization does λήθη receive the subjective meaning of forgetting. The question is whether forgetting can be explained at all in a subjective way. For this word λανθάνω (I am concealed) also calls for a very definite construction in the Greek language, such as λανθάνω ἥκων = I remain and am concealed as one who is coming. Concealment is a characteristic of my Being itself, and not a property based on the other’s failure to grasp what is going on.

Openness, as well as concealment, is for the Greeks an objective happening. This is why in the Greek way of thinking, the true can substitute for Being. For what is unconcealed is precisely what is. Being true and Being are generally synonymous in Platonic language. On the one hand, Being means for the Greeks being present, not absent, not concealed; on the other hand, truth means unconcealment.

This equivalence has persisted in Western thought, and is still taught today—but in a different sense. Today one says: what is, is what is posited in a proposition as being.

These remarks should suffice to prepare us for the substantive question.

4. {In Hallwachs’s transcript there follow two fragmentary sentences marked with question marks, whose sense is unrecognizable and which are thus not open to conjecture.}

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