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§8 [43-44]

of φύσις is understood by the Greeks in this commencement. We shall understand this only if we come to understand the Greek word ἀλήθεια, which we are not at all able to do by way of our corresponding German expression. Our German word Wahrheit [truth] has the same character as the words Schönheit [beauty], Vollkommenheit [completeness], and suchlike. However, the Greek word ἀ-λήθεια, un-concealment, corresponds to the German word Un-schuld [in-nocence], Un-endlichkeit [in-finity] : that which is not guilty, not finite. Correspondingly, ἀληθέα means that which is not concealed. The Greeks thus implicitly understand something negative in the innermost essence of truth, something that corresponds to the German un-. The α- is termed α-privativum in linguistics. It expresses the fact that something is lacking in the word it prefixes. In truth beings are torn from concealment. Truth is understood by the Greeks as something stolen, something that must be torn from concealment in a confrontation in which precisely φύσις strives to conceal itself. Truth is innermost confrontation of the essence of man with the whole of beings themselves. This has nothing to do with the business of proving propositions at the writing desk.

Φύσις is assigned to the λόγος and to ἀλήθεια, to truth in the sense of revealedness, for σοφία. This primal meaning of the Greek expression for truth is not as harmless as people believe and have hitherto taken it to be. Truth itself is something stolen. It is not simply there; rather, as a revealing, it ultimately demands the engagement of man as a whole. Truth is in part rooted in the fate of human Dasein. It itself is something concealed, and as such is something higher. This is why Heraclitus says: ἀρμονίη ἀφανὴς φανερῆς κρείττων.4 "Higher and more powerful than the harmony lying open to the day is the harmony which does not show itself (is concealed)." This tells us that what φύσις conceals is precisely what is proper to it, that which does not lie open to the day. The fact that in the later period up to Aristotle the function of the λόγος emerges more and more clearly as that of ἀποφαίνεσθαι is merely in keeping with this. This means that the λόγος has the task of compelling the ἀφανής, that which conceals itself and does not show itself (that which is not self-showing), to show itself, the task of making it manifest.

The Greek concept of truth presented here manifests to us an intimate connection between the prevailing of beings, their concealment, and man. Man as such, insofar as he exists, in the λόγος tears φύσις, which strives to conceal itself, from concealment and thus brings beings to their truth.

When in Being and Time I emphatically pointed to this primal meaning of the Greek concept of truth, this was not done merely in order to provide a better and more literal translation of the Greek word. Nor is it a matter of


4. Ibid., Frgm. 54.


Martin Heidegger (GA 29/30) The Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics