§6 Hidden counter-essence [128-130]

is already a superficial question. because no one remembers to ask what kind of man is alone capable of carrying out the "mastery" of technology. The "philosophies" of technology pretend as if "technology" and "man" were two "masses" and things simply on hand, as if the way Being itself appears and withdraws had not already decided about man and technology, i.e., about the relation between beings and man and hence about the hand and the word and the unfolding of their essence.

The question of λήθη interrogates this relation of Being to man. and therefore our elucidation of the essence of πρᾶγμα, the action of the hand, had to refer to the typewriter, assuming a thoughtful meditation is a thinking that thinks of our history (the essence of truth), in which the future comes toward us.

People are generally inclined to consider philosophy an "abstract" affair. If now, apparently all of a sudden and arbitrarily, we speak of the typewriter, that is taken to be a digression, a view attesting to the fact that people are precisely not truly disposed to ponder the "concrete" they celebrate so much. i.e., to come within the proximity of the essence of things and to remove the concealment thrust upon things by mere use and consumption. Λήθη and the typewriter—this is indeed not a digression for anyone not submerged in the oblivion of Being.

According to Pindar, ἀίδώς, awe, by which Being itself cares for its essence, and through which essence it dispenses ἀλήθεια to beings and to man, has λάθα for its counter-essence. The poetical words of Pindar about λήθη attest to the fact that for the Greeks the mutual counter-essence of ἀλήθεια and λήθη was experienced originally. We might therefore expect that this essential correlation between ἀλήθεια and λήθη would also, in a correspondingly original way, be thought through by the Greeks and posed in thinking. This expectation is not fulfilled. The Greeks never did explicitly think through ἀλήθεια and λήθη with regard to their essence and the ground of their essence, since already, i.e., prior to all thinking and poetizing, these pervade the to-be-thought as its "essence." The Greeks think and poetize and "deal" within the essence of ἀλήθεια and of λήθη. but they do not think and poetize about this essence and they do not "deal" with it. For the Greeks it suffices to be claimed by ἀλήθεια itself and to be encompassed by it. It is a sign of the necessity ruling its essence that Greek humanity, at its inception, does not need to think about the essence of ἀλήθεια (and of λήθη). And when, at the time of the close of the Greek world, in a certain sense a thinking "about" ἀλήθεια is inaugurated, then this inauguration is precisely a sign of that imminent closing. But the history of the modern world and its generations is much different.

When ἀλήθεια and λήθη are explicitly mentioned in the thoughtful speech of the Greeks. there it has the character of primordial legend and is μῦθος.

Martin Heidegger (GA 54) Parmenides