18

Plato's Sophist [25-26]


In ordinary conversation one adheres to what is said, and, in hearing what is said, real knowledge is not necessarily achieved every time. That is, to understand a proposition, I do not necessarily have to repeat it in each of its steps. Some days ago it rained, I can say, without presentifying to myself the rain, etc. I can repeat propositions and understand them without having an original relation to the beings of which I am speaking. In this peculiar confusion, all propositions are repeated and are thereby understood. The propositions acquire a special existence; we take direction from them, they become correct, so-called truths, without the original function of ἀληθεύειν being carried out. We participate in the propositions, with our fellows, and repeat them uncritically. In this way λέγειν acquires a peculiar detachment from the πράγματα. We persist in idle talk. This way of speaking about things has a peculiar binding character, to which we adhere inasmuch as we want to find our orientation in the world and are not able to appropriate everything originally.

It is this λόγος which subsequent considerations—those that had lost the original position—viewed as what is true or false. It was known that the detached proposition could be true or false. And insofar as such a detached proposition is taken as true without knowing whether it is actually true, the question arises: in what does the truth of this proposition consist? How can a proposition, a judgment, which is a determination of something in the soul, correspond with the things? And if one takes the ψυχή as subject and takes λόγος and λέγειν as lived experiences, the problem arises: how can subjective lived experiences correspond with the object? Truth consists then in the correspondence of the judgment with the object.

A certain line of thinking would say: such a concept of truth, which determines truth as the correspondence of the soul, the subject, with the object, is nonsense. For I must have already known the matter in question in order to be able to say that it corresponds with the judgment. I must have already known the objective in order to measure the subjective up to it. The truth of "having already known" is thus presupposed for the truth of knowing. And since that is nonsensical, this theory of truth cannot be maintained.

In the most recent epistemology, a further step is taken. To know is to judge, judging is affirming and denying, affirming is acknowledging, what is acknowledged is a value, a value is present as an ought, and thus the object of knowledge is actually an ought. This theory is possible only if one adheres to the factual carrying out of the judgment as affirmation and, on that basis, without concerning oneself with the being in its Being, attempts to determine what the object of this acknowledgment is. And since the object of knowing is a value, truth is a value. This structure is extended to all regions of Being, so that ultimately one can say: God is a value.