However, we would have poorly understood the earlier interpretation of the cave allegory if we had not already learnt where the concept of man is supposed to come from. For this allegory gives precisely the history in which man comes to himself as a being in the midst of beings. And in the history of man's essence it is precisely the occurrence of unhiddenness, i.e. of deconcealment, that is decisive. We first get to know what man is from the essence of unhiddenness; the essence of truth is what first allows the essence of man to be grasped. When we said that precisely this essence of truth is an occurrence which happens to man, this means that the man whose liberation is depicted in the allegory is set out into the truth [in die Wahrheit ver-setzt]. That is the mode of his existence [Existenz], the fundamental occurrence of his Dasein. Primordial unhiddenness is projective de-concealing as an occurrence happening 'in man', i.e. in his history. Truth is neither somewhere over man (as validity in itself), nor is it in man as a psychical subject, but man is 'in' the truth. Truth is something greater than man. The latter is in the truth only if, and only in so far as, he masters his nature, holds himself within the unhiddenness of beings, and comports himself to this unhiddenness.

But the question is what truth itself is. The first step towards understanding this question is the insight that man comes to himself, and finds the ground of his Dasein, in that event of deconcealment which constitutes the unhiddenness of beings.

There is something further we discover from the allegory, namely that what man is cannot simply be read off from the living beings running around on this planet. Rather, we can only ask about this when man himself somehow comes to be what he can be, whether it be this or that. The only way in which we can really understand man is as a being bound to his own possibilities, bound in a way that itself frees the space within which he pursues his own being in this or that manner.

What man is cannot be established within the cave. It can only be experienced through participation in the whole history of liberation. We saw that βία, violence, belongs to this liberation: man must use a kind of violence to be able to ask about himself. Knowledge of what man is does not fall into anybody's lap, but man must first place himself in question, must comport himself to himself as that being who is asked about, and who, in this asking, becomes uneasy. The question of man's essence can be put only by man coming to a decision on himself, i.e. on the powers that carry and define him and on his relation to these; in brief, by man becoming what he can be. We understand the question 'what is man?' as asking



Martin Heidegger (GA 34) The Essence of Truth