THE QUESTION CONCERNING THE ESSENCE OF UNTRUTH
question of the essence of truth, will also become a question specifically oriented to the essence of man.
Yet the question of un-truth in the service of the question of the essence of truth: is this not a detour, and perhaps a long-winded one? Why do we take this detour if it is precisely the essence of truth that we wish to know? We shall no longer take this reservation seriously. The question concerning untruth is not a detour, but is the only possible path, the direct path, to the essence of truth. But perhaps this path to the question of the essence of un-truth is very arduous, perhaps even the traces of this path can be found only with great difficulty. This is indeed certain. The proof lies in the fact that this path has hardly been trodden and is today totally unknown. Even the short, narrow, and steep stretch that was earlier trodden and opened up, is today long overgrown with the weeds of mere opinions, and covered over by doctrines and ideas which have become self-evident. The questioning, or better, the non-questioning concerning the essence of untruth, stands under the self-evident dogma that untruth is easy to understand if only one knows what <ι>truthι> is; then one just has to think of its denial. And one knows what truth is, namely a property of a proposition (judgement). However, if we are shaken out of the miserable triviality of such talk, we shall not presume to rectify everything at one stroke, but with care and patience we shall learn to grasp that one thing above all is necessary: to rediscover that stretch of the path of the question concerning the essence of untruth which was trodden once before. We have no thoughts of making this short, narrow, and steep stretch into a broad and comfortable highway suitable for everybody. All our efforts are directed to merely rediscovering this stretch of road and actually going along it. It is that stretch of the road of the question concerning untruth which, for the first and last time in the history of philosophy, Plato actually trod: in his dialogue the Theaetetus, which also bears the title The Dialogue on Knowledge'.
However, to actually travel on this road, and to actually once again ask the question of the essence of untruth, we must mark out our own way still more rigorously and definitely by reference to the traces which Plato's philosophical work left buried in the history of the spirit. Our interpretation of the cave allegory proceeded by artificially isolating this small section from the larger context of the dialogue. For the following exposition of the question of untruth it is not permissible to limit ourselves to isolated portions (doctrines) of Plato, e.g. by collecting, in the usual way with the help of a lexicon, passages where Plato talks about