the Greeks, he still continued to insist on his other principal criticism, his rejection of what he calls Heidegger’s “historical construction,” namely, the thesis that in Plato there occurred a change from truth as unconcealment to truth as correctness.

Another who, after the debate with Friedländer, no longer agreed with this thesis was Heidegger himself. When I spoke with him about Plato in 1975, I was surprised at the candidness with which he voiced his dissatisfaction with his book Plato’s Doctrine of Truth. The book was, he said, no longer tenable (nicht mehr haltbar). Yet this only reiterated what Heidegger had written in a text composed in 1964. In the text “The End of Philosophy and the Task of Thinking” he writes: “But then the assertion about an essential transformation of truth, that is, from unconcealment to correctness, is also untenable [nicht haltbar].”7

What are the consequences of this very remarkable retraction? Can the determination of Platonic thought as the first beginning remain intact, that is, somehow be reconstituted? Can the historical framework of Contributions to Philosophy, the opposition between the first beginning and another beginning, remain in force, or is it, on the contrary, thoroughly destabilized? More specifically, how is the relation between the two determinations of truth to be reconfigured in the Platonic text once Heidegger’s thesis of a change from one to the other has been set aside? Can it be simply a matter of now granting that the Platonic text is ambiguous or two-sided, that both senses of truth are operative there? Even then, it would still be imperative to determine just how these two senses belong together in the Platonic text.

How might one today venture such a reconfiguration—beyond the debate over Heidegger’s interpretation and even in a certain countermovement to that interpretation? One possibility can be opened perhaps by something that can be gleaned from Heidegger’s specific statement regarding the alleged outcome of the change in the determination of truth. In this statement Heidegger says that after the change “The idea is not a presenting foreground [ein darstellender Vordergrund] of aletheia but rather the ground that makes it possible” (GA9, 234). The formulation suggests—or in any case can be taken to suggest—that prior to the change the idea is a presenting foreground of aletheia. But then if there is no change, if the alleged change did not occur, one might well suppose, without limitation or qualification, that the idea simply—or not so simply—is a presenting foreground of aletheia.

The idea would be the look by which things come to be present, the look


7. Heidegger, Zur Sache des Denkens (Tübingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag, 1969), 78. { Basic Writings, p. 447 }


186 John Sallis


John Sallis - Plato’s Other Beginning