§3 [12,13,14]

Thus it happens that this dialogue manifests a peculiar intertwining. Precisely on the path of a reflection on the Being of beings, Plato attains the correct ground for interpreting the sophist in his Being. Accordingly, our first orientation toward Aristotle will focus on what he says about beings and Being.

§2. Orientation toward Plato's Sophist,
with Aristotle as point of departure.

a) The theme: the Being of beings.

At first, beings are taken wholly indeterminately, and specifically as the beings of the world in which Dasein is and as the beings which are themselves Dasein. These beings are at first disclosed only within a certain circuit. Man lives in his surrounding world, which is disclosed only within certain limits. Out of this natural orientation in his world, something like science arises for him, which is an articulation of Dasein's world, and of Dasein itself, in determinate respects. Yet what is most proximally there is not yet known in the sense of a cognition; instead, consciousness has a determined view about it, a δόξα, which perceives the world as it for the most part appears and shows itself, δοκεῖ. In this way certain views are initially formed in natural Dasein, opinions about life and its meaning. Both the sophist and the orator move in them. Yet insofar as scientific research gets underway from this natural Dasein, it must precisely penetrate through these opinions, these preliminary determinations, seek a way to the matters themselves, so that these become more determinate, and on that basis gain the appropriate concepts. For everyday Dasein this is not an obvious course to pursue, and it is difficult for everyday Dasein to capture beings in their Being—even for a people like the Greeks, whose daily life revolved around language. The Sophist—and every dialogue—shows Plato underway. They show him breaking through truisms and coming to a genuine understanding of the phenomena; and at the same time they manifest where Plato had to stand still and could not penetrate.

In order to be able to watch Plato at work and to repeat this work correctly, the proper standpoint is needed. We will look for information from Aristotle about which beings he himself, and hence Plato and the Greeks, had in view and what were for them the ways of access to these beings. In this fashion we put ourselves, following Aristotle, into the correct attitude, the correct way of seeing, for an inquiry into beings and their Being. Only if we have a first orientation about that do we make it possible to transpose ourselves into the correct manner of considering a Platonic dialogue and, once having been transposed, to follow it in each of its steps.

Martin Heidegger (GA 19) Plato's Sophist