Chapter Two

The Genesis of σοφία within Natural Greek Dasein (αἴσθησις,
ἐμπειρία, τέχνη, ἐπιστήμη, σοφία) (Met. I, 1-2)

§10. Introductory characterization of the investigation. Its guiding
line: the self-expression of Dasein itself Its course: the five levels of
εἰδέναι. Its goal: σοφία as μάλιστα ἀληθεύειν.

The first book of the Metaphysics is supposed to be an early work. But it refers to the Ethics,1 which has been proven to be late; that would contradict the supposition just mentioned. Of course, the reference to the Ethics may also be a later insertion. I consider a chronology of the writings of Aristotle impossible. Werner Jaeger calls Metaphysics I a grand "improvisation."2 At I, 3, 983a33 there is a reference to the Physics; here (Met. I, 3) the theory of the αἰτία is clearly elaborated;3 therefore the "unsettling reference" (Met. I, 1, 981b25) to the 'Ηθικά should be taken out. But this is in truth no reason; especially since at bottom nothing different is said there. If we think of the confusion which still is present in Plato regarding the fundamental concepts of τέχνη, ἐπιστήμη, σοφία, and φρόνησις, as well as regarding their relations, and compare this to the clearly superior presentation by Aristotle in Metaphysics I, 1, 2, then we may not speak of an "improvisation," even if it is called "grand." In Aristotle the fundamental concepts are already wholly clear at the very outset, assuming this first book of the Metaphysics actually is early. The first two chapters of Metaphysics I are conceived wholly within the same horizon as the one of Book VI of the Nicomachean Ethics. Admittedly, ἀληθεύειν is not as such explicit; this is shown at Metaphysics I, 1, 981b5ff., where, instead of ἀληθεύειν, Aristotle says λόγον ἔχειν, αἰτίας γνωρίζειν, and finally in general "to know the ἀρχή." Σοφία is hence to be determined as a mode of λόγον ἔχειν. That concurs with the determination of Dasein itself, i.e., of man as λόγον ἔχον.

What is the first and most original phenomenon of natural Dasein that one could call a preliminary stage of σοφία? When we raise such questions, we must begin by asking about a guiding line. The guiding line for Aristotle is to get "information" from Dasein itself, i.e., from what Dasein, which is self-expressive, means when it uses terms like σοφία and σοφός.

1. Met. I, 1, 981b25f.

2. W. Jaeger, Aristoteles: Grundlegung einer Geschichte seiner Entwicklung, Berlin, 1923. 2. Aufl., Berlin, 1955, p. 178.

3. Met. I, 3, 983a24f.

Martin Heidegger (GA 19) Plato's Sophist