PLATO'S DOCTRINE OF TRUTH


in Greek thinking the "ideas" enable something to appear in its whatness and thus be present in its constancy. The ideas are what is in everything that is. Therefore, what makes every idea be capable as an idea — in Plato's expression: the idea of all ideas — consists in making possible the appearing, in all its visibility, of everything present. [134 {GA 9: 228}] The essence of every idea certainly consists in making possible and enabling the shining that allows a view of the visible form. Therefore the idea of ideas is that-which-enables as such, τὸ ἀγαθόν. It brings about the shining of everything that can shine, and accordingly is itself that which properly appears by shining, that which is most able to shine in its shining. For this reason Plato calls the ἀγαθόν also τοῦ ὄντος τὸ φανότατον (518 c9), "that which most shines (the most able to shine) of beings."

The expression "the idea of the good" — which is all too misleading for modem thinking — is the name for that distinctive idea which, as the idea of ideas, is what enables everything else. This idea, which alone can be called "the good," remains ἰδέα τελευταία, because in it the essence of the idea comes to its fulfillment, i.e., begins to be, so that from it there also first arises the possibility of all other ideas. The good may be called the "highest idea" in a double sense: It is the highest in the hierarchy of making possible; and seeing it is a very arduous task of looking straight upward. Despite the difficulty of properly grasping it, this idea that, granted the essence of idea, must be called "the good" in the Greek sense, somehow always constantly stands in view wherever any beings at all show themselves. Even where people see only the shadows, whose essence still lies hidden, there too the fire's glow must already be shining, even though people do not properly grasp this shining and experience it as coming from the fire, and even though here, above all, they are still unaware that this fire is only an offspring (ἔκγονον, VI, 507 a 3) of the sun. Within the cave the sun remains invisible, and yet even the shadows live off its light. But the fire in the cave, which makes possible an apprehending of the shadows that is unaware of its own essence, is the image for the unrecognized ground of any experiencing of beings that intends them without knowing them as such. Nevertheless, by its shining the sun bestows brightness upon everything that appears, and along with that brightness visibility and thus "unhiddenness." But not just that. At the same time its shining [135 {GA 9: 229}] radiates warmth and by this glowing enables everything that "comes to be" to go forth into the visibility of its stable duration (509 b).

However, once the sun itself is truly seen (ὀφθείσα δέ) — or, to drop the metaphor, once the highest idea is caught sight of — then συλλογιστέα εἶναι ὡς ἄρα πᾶσι πάντων αὕτη ὀρθῶν τε καὶ καλῶν αἰτία, (517 c), "then one


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Martin Heidegger (GA 9) Pathmarks