overcome by λήθη, that concealment of Being which gives rise to the illusion that there is no such thing as Being. We translate the Greek word λήθη as "forgetting," although in such a way that "to forget" is thought in a metaphysical, not a psychological, manner. The majority of men sink into oblivion of Being, although—or precisely because—they constantly have to do solely with the things that are in their vicinity. For such things are not beings; they are only such things ἃ νῦν εἶναί φαμεν (249 c), "of which we now say that they are." Whatever matters to us and makes a claim on us here and now, in this or that way, as this or that thing, is—to the extent that it is at all—only a ὁμοίωμα, an approximation to Being. It is but a fleeting appearance of Being. But those who lapse into oblivion of Being do not even know of the appearance as an appearance. For otherwise they would at the same time have to know of Being, which comes to the fore even in fleeting appearances, although "just barely." They would then emerge from oblivion of Being. Instead of being slaves to oblivion, they would preserve μνήμη in recollective thought on Being. Ὀλίγαι δὴ λείπονται αἷς τὸ τῆς μνήμης ἱκανῶς πάρεστιν (250 a 5): "Only a few remain who have at their disposal the capacity to remember Being." But even these few are not able without further ado to see the appearance of what they encounter in such a way that the Being in it comes to the fore for them. Particular conditions must be fulfilled. Depending on how Being gives itself, the power of self-showing in the ἰδέα becomes proper to it, and therewith the attracting and binding force.

As soon as man lets himself be bound by Being in his view upon it, he is cast beyond himself, so that he is stretched, as it were, between himself and Being and is outside himself. Such elevation beyond oneself and such being drawn toward Being itself is ἔρως. Only to the extent that Being is able to elicit "erotic" power in its relation to man is man capable of thinking about Being and overcoming oblivion of Being.

The proposition with which we began—that the view upon Being is proper to the essence of man, so that he can be as man—can be understood only if we realize that the view upon Being does not enter on the scene as a mere appurtenance of man. It belongs to him as his most intrinsic possession, one which can be quite easily disturbed and