THE QUESTION CONCERNING THE ESSENCE OF UNTRUTH


For Plato, therefore, unhiddenness is a theme, and at the same time not a theme. Because this is the situation with regard to un-hiddenness, an explicit clarification of the hiddenness of beings does not eventuate. But just this neglect of the question of hiddenness as such is the decisive indication of the already beginning ineffectiveness of unhiddenness in the strict sense. We must therefore maintain, as the guiding proposition for what follows, that the way in which one inquires into and discusses hiddenness is the index for the degree of primordiality of the question concerning unhiddenness as such. For the unhiddenness of beings is precisely wrested from hiddenness, i.e. it is obtained in struggle against the latter. The way in which the struggle against the hiddenness of beings, which means for unhiddenness, is engaged and followed through, shows how the opponent in this struggle is understood, i.e. how man himself estimates his own power, and lack of power, to truth.

But what is it that stands over against truth as unhiddenness and is opposed to it? Well, just the 'untruth'! So we are faced with the task of asking about how Plato and the Greeks of his time conceive of untruth. How does this struggle against untruth occur? Properly understood, this too is not a question about a past concept of untruth, namely Plato's concept, but asks if and how the hiddenness of beings, which opposes unhiddenness, makes itself effective. It asks if and how hiddenness is experienced precisely as what must be robbed and torn away, such that ἀλήθεια may occur, i.e. such that hiddenness may give way to unhiddenness. Since, for the Greeks, truth originally has a privative, negative character (what is no longer hidden), we must, in order to grasp the primordial essence of ἀλήθεια, place this 'negation' in question. But the necessary first step for this is the question concerning that which opposes truth, concerning the essence of untruth. To be sure, whether we thereby grasp the totality and essence of that against which ἀλήθεια seeks to assert itself, is an unavoidable, but subsequent, question.

Once again, the ancient word for truth is privative; it expresses a removal from, a ripping away, a going against ... , therefore an attack. Where is the enemy situated? What kind of struggle is it? Only if we really grasp these two things do we have any intimation of the essence of ἀλήθεια, i.e. of the origin of that which constitutes the innermost ground of the possibility of our existing Dasein.4 If truth is an attack, then the enemy must be un-truth. But if truth means un-hiddenness, then the enemy of truth must be hiddenness. Then it is not only falsity and incorrectness which is the enemy of truth. If this is the situation, then un-truth


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