OFF THE BEATEN TRACK


the many. This in-different essence (essentiality in the sense of essentia) is, however, only the inessential essence. In what does the essential essence of something consist? Presumably it lies in that which a being, in truth, is. The true essence of something is determined by its true being, by the truth of each being. At the moment, however, what we are looking for is not the truth of essence but rather the essence of truth. A curious entanglement reveals itself here. Is it a mere curiosity, is it the vacuous hair-splitting of a playing with concepts, or is it - an abyss?

Truth means the essence of what is true. We will think it from out of the memory of the word used by the Greeks. Ἀλήθεια means the unconcealment of beings. But is that really a definition of the essence of truth? Are we not passing off a mere change of words - "unconcealment" instead of"truth" - as a characterization of the fact of the matter? Certainly we do not get beyond a change of names so long as we fail to experience what must happen for us to be compelled to speak the essence of truth in the word "unconcealment."

Does this require a revival of Greek philosophy? Not at all. A revival, even were such an impossibility possible, would not help us. For the hidden history of Greek philosophy consists from its beginning in this: that it does not measure up to the essence of truth that lit up in the word ἀλήθεια, and so, of necessity, has misdirected its knowing and saying about the essence of truth more and more into the discussion of the derivative essence of truth. In the thought of the Greeks and all the more completely so in the philosophy that followed, the essence of truth as ἀλήθεια remained unthought. Unconcealment is, for thought, what is most concealed in Greek existence. At the same time, however, it is that which, from early times, has determined the presence of everything present.

But why can we not be satisfied with the essence of truth that has, by now, been familiar to us for centuries? Truth means, today, as it has done for a long time, agreement of knowledge with the facts. In order, however, for knowledge, and for the sentence that forms and expresses it, to correspond to the facts it is necessary, first of all, that the fact which is to be binding on the sentence show itself to be such. And how is it to show itself if it is unable to stand out of concealment, unable to stand in the unconcealed? A statement is true by conforming to the unconcealed, i.e., to that which is true. The truth of statements is always, and is nothing but, such correctness. The critical concepts of truth which, since Descartes start out from truth as certainty, are mere variations on the definition of truth as correctness. This familiar essence of truth, truth as the correctness of representation, stands and falls with truth as the unconcealment of beings.


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