[μέγιστoν δὲ τoῦτ’ ἔνι τῇ ἡμετέτᾳ τέχvῃ]: that it is able in all possible ways to test [βασανίζειν] whether the mind of a youth gives birth [ἀπoτίκτει τoῦ vέoυ ἡ διάνoια] to a mere semblance and falsehood [εἴδωλoν καὶ ψεῦδoς] or to something genuine and true [ἢ γόνιμόν τε καὶ ἀληθές]” (150b9–c3). Note the identification here of what is false with semblance and of what is true with what is genuine: we thus have in Socrates’ description of the very goal of his method precisely the conception of falsehood and truth that Heidegger claims is abandoned in favor of correctness and incorrectness. But how does Socrates test a δόξα to determine whether it is a false semblance or the true and genuine being sought for? All of Theaetetus’s “births” in the dialogue of course prove false. But how do they prove false? Not, clearly, through the matching of what Theaetetus says to some pregiven representation or perception, not through the comparison of his “ignorance-birds” with his “knowledge-birds.” Instead, what shows a δόξα to be false is nothing other than dialectic, the give-andtake of question and answer through which the “faultiness,” “inadequacy,” and “unsatisfactoriness” of a δόξα must eventually emerge. As Socrates suggests in the Gorgias, true and genuine is what survives the test of the elenchos, while false and fake is what does not (473b). There is no question here of “correspondence” or “matching,” because truth and falsehood are not understood here primarily in terms of assertion and predication. Theaetetus’s beliefs are false not because they do not hit on the right predicate, but because, when submitted to questioning, they prove to reveal the phenomenon only partially and incompletely.
Of course, this assumes that Socrates and Theaetetus already exist in a relation to that which they seek; otherwise, by looking to what or by reckoning with what could they come to see a given δόξα as falling short? This is the circularity of the discussion to which Socrates draws our attention: he and Theaetetus must continually assume what they seek to know, especially since what they seek to know is the nature of knowledge itself! This circularity cannot be eliminated, since it is the very structure of our relation to being: in striving after being, we must already “have” in this very striving what is striven after. What this circularity means is only that δόξα, in its twofold possibility of being true and being false, must be situated within this striving after being. It is only within this striving, and the dialectic that defines it, that something can both come to appear in a way that is distorted or skewed and ultimately come to be recognized as such. The general problem, then, with the explicit accounts of false δόξα in the dialogue is that they abstract it from this striving/dialectical relation to being, abstract it from the very context within which Socrates tests the falseness or genuineness of a δόξα, and treat it as some kind of objective matching or mismatching between two things. Here the circle repeats itself, but now in such a way as to be vicious and absurd: false δόξα must