§4. The possibility and the being of truth

the philosophical appropriation of the genuine philosophical content that is locked up inside that logic.

§4. The possibility and the being of truth in general.

When we assign philosophizing logic the fundamental task of really asking the question, “What is truth?” it might seem that we are giving only a preliminary formulation of the problem and that logic is not yet being put on the genuine road to originality.

The question to be asked before all others has to be: Does it make any sense to ask about truth? Is not the very idea of truth an illusion? “Is” there truth at all?—in other words, is there something whereby things are given just as they are? And we could even ask the further question: Are there things at all? And then we would end up with a whole series of questions that the ancient skeptics have already asked.

Compare Gorgias, as described by Sextus Empiricus:

ἐν γὰρ τῷ ἐπιγραφομένῳ περὶ τοῦ μὴ ὄντος ἢ περὶ φύσεως τρία κατὰ τὸ ἑξῆς κεφάλαια κατασκευάζει, ἕν μὲν καὶ πρῶτον ὅτι οὐδὲν ἔστιν, δεύτερον ὅτι εἰ καὶ ἔστιν, ἀκατάληπτον ἀνθρώπῳ, τρίτον ὅτι εἰ καὶ καταληπτόν, ἀλλα τοί γε ἀνέξοιστον καὶ ἀνερμήνευτον τῷ πέλας. (Adversus mathemati-cos VII, 65)

In his book On Non-being or On Nature, Gorgias discusses three major theses in succession: first, that there is nothing; second, that if there is something, it cannot be apprehended by human beings; and third, that even if it can be grasped, it still cannot be expressed and made intelligible to others.

Before the question of what truth is, there comes the question of whether it is at all. Before sketching out what it is, we have to prove that it is. Against this position, we may propose this formal argument: focusing on and discussing the question whether there is truth at all implies that we already have some understanding of truth. We [20] must somehow know what a thing is if we are to decide its being or non-being.

So, even if it should turn out that there is no truth and that it cannot be understood and communicated, we still have to clarify what we mean by “truth.”

In fact, precisely because this thesis is supposed to be held as a fundamental proposition, the content of the thesis as well as the meaning of “truth” must have the transparency of a principle. But that implies

Martin Heidegger (GA 21) Logic : the question of truth

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