7

§1 [9,10,11]


It would be idle to go back over phenomenological trends and issues; instead, what counts is to bring oneself into position to see phenomenologically in the very work of discussing the matters at issue. Once an understanding of these is gained, then phenomenology may very well disappear. Our lectures do not intend to train you to be phenomenologists; on the contrary, the authentic task of a lecture course in philosophy at a university is to lead you to an inner understanding of scientific questioning within your own respective fields. Only in this way is the question of science and life brought to a decision, namely by first learning the movement of scientific work and, thereby, the true inner sense of scientific existence.

Let us now proceed to the second point of our preparation, namely the correct grasp of the historical past we encounter in Plato.


b) Historiographical-hermeneutical preparation. The basic principle of hermeneutics: from the clear into the obscure.
From Aristotle to Plato.


This past, to which our lectures are seeking access, is nothing detached from us, lying far away. On the contrary, we are this past itself. And we are it not insofar as we explicitly cultivate the tradition and become friends of classical antiquity, but, instead, our philosophy and science live on these foundations, i.e., those of Greek philosophy, and do so to such an extent that we are no longer conscious of it: the foundations have become obvious. Precisely in what we no longer see, in what has become an everyday matter, something is at work that was once the object of the greatest spiritual exertions ever undertaken in Western history. The goal of our interpretation of the Platonic dialogues is to take what has become obvious and make it transparent in these foundations. To understand history cannot mean anything else than to understand ourselves—not in the sense that we might establish various things about ourselves, but that we experience what we ought to be. To appropriate a past means to come to know oneself as indebted to that past. The authentic possibility to be history itself resides in this, that philosophy discover it is guilty of an omission, a neglect, if it believes it can begin anew, make things easy for itself, and let itself be stirred by just any random philosopher. But if this is true, i.e., if history means something such as this for spiritual existence, the difficulty of the task of understanding the past is increased. If we wish to penetrate into the actual philosophical work of Plato we must be guaranteed that right from the start we are taking the correct path of access. But that would mean corning across something that precisely does not simply lie there before us. Therefore, we need a guiding line.