THE ESSENCE OF TRUTH
specific meaning. We do not want to discover various peculiarities of ἐπιστήμη, properties of a knowing which happens to occur somewhere or other, but we are interested in what is at stake in knowing-one's-wayaround in something. We are inquiring into what is decisive for it. Our questioning attempts to take a measure: it asks after the measure and law of the possibility of knowing-one's-way-around. Questioning is preparation for, and enabling of, a law-giving. The question 'what actually is that - knowledge?' means: what actually is at stake therein, i.e. how does it come about that, in knowing, man stands under a claim?
If we fully reflect upon the fact that what is in question is a human activity, and indeed not a trivial one but a fundamental activity of man that rules over and makes possible his whole Dasein, then the leading question of the Theaetetus, 'what is knowledge?', turns into the question of how man is to understand himself in his fundamental activity of knowing- his-way-around in things, of the conditions which must pertain if he is to be a knower. In this question 'what is ἐπιστήμη?' man asks after himself. He places himself in question. Such questioning brings man himself before new possibilities. The apparently innocuous what-question is revealed as an attack by man on his own self, on his proximal persistence in the usual and common, on his forgetting of first principles. It is an attack by man on what he proximally believes himself to know, and at the same time it is a determining intervention in what he himself can be, in what he wants to be or wants not to be.6
We are not concerned with making unambiguous a hitherto perhaps ambiguous word (ἐπιστήμη) such that we arrive at a definition. The 'concept' that is sought for this, as for every philosophical word, is not a typeconcept for present things, but an attacking intervention in the essential possibility of human existence. With this question, set in train by Plato, man acquires and secures a new stance and self-transparency, which then continues over centuries. How man subsequently takes himself as a knower: this means what subsequently counts for him as knowable or not knowable. This is not self-evident, nor is it simply given to man like a nose or ears, nor does it come to man in his sleep, nor is it the same at all times.