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Seminar in Le Thor 1969 [70–71]

that they are usually occupied within ἀλήθεια. But it is with ἀλήθεια that the philosophers, those who are more Greek than the Greeks, are concerned, though admittedly not coming so far as to pose the question of ἀλήθεια (as such).

So the question is posed: in which form and to what extent is ἀλήθεια visible to the Greeks? Answer: in the form of τὸ αὐτό of νοεῖν and εἶναι, as expressed in the poem of Parmenides.

This answer leads to the question concerning the Greek sense of knowing. In Greek, knowledge is named νοεῖν and ἰδεῖν—as both indicate being open for that which gives itself from itself. The correspondence of the Parmenidean τὸ αὐτό with the λόγος of Heraclitus is to be understood from this: both name that gathering in which being makes its address.

And so the answer must run: for the Greeks ἀλήθεια is visible as λόγος, and λόγος means, much more originally than “to speak”: to let presencing [Anwesen lassen].

We took as our point of departure the question: what does “the question of being” mean? Because one understands it metaphysically as the question concerning the being of beings—and the former question has even led to this—the question concerning being as being has never been posed.

We will attempt to con¤rm this by investigating one of the most prominent answers to the metaphysical question concerning the being of beings: that of Plato.

The εἶδος is the being of beings, just as, in its Cartesian sense, the idea is such for the modern era. What is this εἶδος as first answer to the Greek question: What is the being of beings? How is this answer to be understood from what we have considered up to now?

That the being of this book should be an “idea,” that is straight away incomprehensible! For Plato, this book is a μὴ ὄν. Nevertheless, it is no o‹k ὄν, no nothing, no non-being, for it is there. But it is not a being, insofar as it is not that which lets it be as this being that it is.

This book is only a particular way of making the book-essence [das Buch-Wesen] perceptible. The o‹k ὄν must here be distinguished from the μὴ ὄν, negation distinguished from privation. Privation expresses itself through a lack, and this lack breaks out in the difference between εἶδος and eƒdwlon. This particular book is not εἶδος, but rather eƒdwlon.

Certainly there are many books which are not this particular book and are nevertheless still books. What is the pure essence of the book? In what sense can it be said that the εἶδος is the ὄντως ὄν? Where is this most extreme excess in the case of this book here? How does the Platonic idea precisely correspond to what the Greeks named presence, οὐσία?


Martin Heidegger (GA 15) Four Seminars