16

Plato's Sophist [22-23]


Ἐπιστήμη is the title for what we call science. Φρόνησις is circumspection (insight), σοφία is genuine understanding, and νοῦς is a discernment that discerns by way of perception. Νοεῖν had emerged already at the decisive beginning of Greek philosophy, where the destiny of Greek and Western philosophy was decided, namely in Parmenides: discerning and what is discerned are the same.

If we apply ourselves to what Aristotle says about the modes of disclosure, then we acquire:

1. an orientation regarding the possible ways open to Greek Dasein to experience and interrogate the beings of the world,

2. a preview of the diverse regions of Being which are disclosed in the various modes of ἀληθεύειν as well as a preview of the characteristic determinations of their Being, and

3. a first understanding of the limits within which Greek research moved.

With this threefold acquisition we will secure the ground on which Plato moved in his research into the Being of beings as world and into the Being of beings as human Dasein, the Being of philosophically scientific existence. We will be brought into position to participate in the possible ways of Plato's research into Being.

Before Aristotle enumerated the modes of ἀληθεύειν, he said: ἀληθεύει ἡ ψυχή. Truth is hence a character of beings, insofar as they are encountered; but in an authentic sense it is nevertheless a determination of the Being of human Dasein itself. For all of Dasein's strivings toward knowledge must maintain themselves against the concealedness of beings, which is of a threefold character: 1.) ignorance, 2.) prevailing opinion, 3.) error. Hence it is human Dasein that is properly true; it is in the truth—if we do translate ἀλήθεια as "truth." To be true, to be in the truth, as a determination of Dasein, means: to have at its disposal, as unconcealed, the beings with which Dasein cultivates an association. What Aristotle conceives in a more precise way was already seen by Plato: ἡ ἐπ' ἀλήθειαν ὁρμωμένη ψυχή (cf. Sophist 228c1f.),1 the soul sets itself by itself on the way toward truth, toward beings insofar as they are unconcealed. On the other hand, it is said of the οἱ πολλοί: τῶν πραγμάτων τῆς ἀληθείας ἀφεστῶτας (Sophist 234c4f.), "they are still far from the unconcealedness of things. " We see thereby that we will find in Plato the same orientation as Aristotle's. We have to presuppose in them one and the same position with regard to the basic questions of Dasein. Hence the soul, the Being of man, is, taken strictly, what is in the truth.2

If we hold fast to the meaning of truth as unconcealedness or uncoveredness. then it becomes clear that truth means the same as compliance [Sachlichkeit], understood as a comportment of Dasein to the world and to itself in which beings are present in conformity with the way they are [der Sache nach].


1. Hereafter, when the Greek quotations deviate from the original text, on account of Heidegger's pedagogically oriented lecture style, the citation will will be marked with a "cf."

2. See the appendix.