THE ESSENCE OF TRUTH


letting-through, as setting beings free, as wrenching beings from hiddenness and overcoming their concealment. He would regard the ideas themselves as just beings of a higher order. Deconcealment would not occur at all.

It is clear from this that liberation does not achieve its final goal merely by ascent to the sun. Freedom is not just a matter of being unshackled, nor just a matter of being free for the light. Rather, genuine freedom means to be a liberator from the dark. The descent back into the cave is not some subsequent diversion on the part of those who have become free, perhaps undertaken from curiosity about how cave life looks from above, but is the only manner through which freedom is genuinely realized.

Truth, in other words, is not something one abidingly possesses, and whose enjoyment we put aside at some point in order to instruct or lecture other people, but unhiddenness occurs only in the history of permanent freeing. History, however, is always a matter of the unique task posed by fate in a determinate practical situation, not of free-floating discussion. The liberated one will go into the cave and give his views on what, down there, is taken as beings and the unhidden. The freed one has a view only for essence. The liberator is the bearer of a differentiation. Since he can distinguish between beings and being, he insists on a divorce between beings and what appears to be, between the unhidden and what (like the shadows) conceals itself precisely in its self-showing. He insists, therefore, on the divorce between being and appearing to be, truth and untruth. At the same time, with this divorce, there arises their co-belonging. Only on the basis of the divorce between the true and the untrue does it become clear that the essence of truth as unhiddenness consists in the overcoming of concealing, meaning that unhiddenness contains an essential connection with hiddenness and concealing. This means that ἀλήθεια is not just the manifestness of beings, but (we can now more clearly understand the alpha privatum) is in itself a setting-apart. Thus the section we have been discussing does indeed speak of truth, in respect of its essential relatedness to concealing and the concealed. Untruth belongs to the essence of truth.

Deconcealment, the overcoming of concealment, happens only through a primordial struggle against hiddenness. A primordial struggle (not just polemic) is the kind of struggle which first creates its enemy and assists its enemy to the most incisive antagonism. Unhiddenness is not simply one river bank and hiddenness the other, but the essence of truth as deconcealment is the bridge, or better, is the bridging over of each towards and against the other.


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Martin Heidegger (GA 34) The Essence of Truth