§1. The necessity of a double preparation for
interpreting the Platonic dialogues.

Our lectures will make it their task to interpret two of Plato's late dialogues.1 The reason for restricting the interpretation to these two dialogues is that their thematic content requires an especially penetrating understanding. The appropriation of the issues we are about to broach must be carried out in such a way that they are brought home to us constantly anew. Being and non-being, truth and semblance, knowledge and opinion, concept and assertion, value and non-value, are basic concepts, ones which everyone understands at first hearing, as it were. We feel they are obvious; there is nothing further to be determined about them. The interpretation of the two dialogues is to make us familiar with what these concepts really mean. A double preparation will be required:

1.) an orientation concerning how such peculiar objects as Being and non-being, truth and semblance, become visible at all: where things like that are to be sought in the first place, in order then to be able to deal with them;

2.) a preparation in the sense that we grasp in the right way the past which we encounter in Plato, so that we do not interpret into it arbitrary viewpoints and foist upon it arbitrary considerations.

The double preparation thus comprises an orientation concerning, on the one hand, the character of the objects to be dealt with and, on the other hand, the ground out of which we attain the historical past.

As to the first, we can let a consideration of the method and aim of phenomenology serve as the preparation. This consideration should be taken merely as an initial brief indication. It is indeed our intention, in the course of the lectures and within a discussion of the concepts, to introduce ourselves gradually into this kind of research—precisely by taking up the matters at issue themselves.

a) Philosophical-phenomenological preparation. Method
and aim of phenomenology.

The expression "phenomenology" is easily the most appropriate to make clear what is involved here. Phenomenology means φαινόμενον: that which shows itself, and λέγειν: to speak about.

1. Heidegger is referring to the dialogues Sophist and Philebus. In this course only the interpretation of the Sophist was actually worked out.

Martin Heidegger (GA 19) Plato's Sophist