Plato's Sophist [75-76]

Therefore we say that he who disposes of τέχνη is σοφώτερος, more of a σοφός, than someone who has recourse only to ἐμπειρία: καὶ σοφωτέρους τοὺς τεχνίτας τῶν ἐμπείρων ὑπολαμβάνομεν (a25f.). The new phenomenon, which makes it possible to speak of τέχνη as σοφωτέρα over and against ἐμπειρία, lies on the path of seeing, not of the carrying out in practice. The latter remains untouched. In fact, it can even as such turn out better in ἐμπειρία than in τέχνη: πρὸς μὲν οὖν τὸ πράττειν ἐμπειρία τέχνης οὐδὲν δοκεῖ διαφέρειν, ἀλλὰ καὶ μᾶλλον ἐπιτυγχάνοντας ὁρῶμεν τοὺς ἐμπείρους τῶν ἄνευ τῆς ἐμπειρίας λόγον ἐχόντων (a12ff.). "It seems that with regard to carrying something out in practice, nothing distinguishes ἐμπειρία from τέχνη; indeed we even see that the ones who dispose of ἐμπειρία reach the goal better than those who, without ἐμπειρία have only the λόγος," i.e., have at their disposal, as uncovered, the outward look, the structural connections within the production. The one who has got used to the right way of doing something, who has put his hand to the task, has for the most part, as regards results, a priority over the one who merely has at his disposal greater understanding. αἴτιον δ᾽ ὅτι ἡ μὲν ἐμπειρία τῶν καθ᾽ ἕκαστόν ἐστι γνῶσις ἡ δὲ τέχνη τῶν καθόλου, αἱ δὲ πράξεις καὶ αἱ γενέσεις πᾶσαι περὶ τὸ καθ᾽ ἕκαστόν εἰσιν (a15ff.). "The reason resides in this, that τέχνη, by its very sense, is concerned with the καθόλου," the outward look which recurs in all the single cases, whereas the meaning of πρᾶξις is, e.g., healing, i.e., making this particular determinate sick person healthy. Πρᾶξις is concerned with the καθ᾽ ἕκαστον. (Here we touch upon concepts, the καθόλου and the καθ᾽ ἕκαστον, which are very important for grasping the distinction between σοφία and φρόνησις. We will still have to consider these concepts more precisely. Their meaning coincides with the ἀεί ὄν and the ἐνδεχόμενον ἄλλως ἔχειν.) Thus the one who disposes of ἐμπειρία has for the most part, as far as results are concerned, a priority over someone who disposes only of the λόγος. Indeed the latter person often fails precisely in practice. And yet, in spite of this shortcoming or failure, τέχνη or the τεχνίτης receives a priority: namely, as being σοφώτερος. The σοφία therefore is not in this case a matter of greater skill (which derives from trial and error) but of a greater power in looking disclosively upon that to which the practice refers. The μᾶλλον has to do with a "more" of insightful understanding, a "more" of autonomous, simply disclosive looking. Τέχνη has its τελείωσις in εἰδέναι. To that extent, ἐμπειρία has a drawback versus τέχνη in that what its object is remains hidden to it: the εἶδος is still συγκεχυμένον.3 On the other hand, in τέχνη the "what" of its object is given.

3. Cf. Phys. I, 1, 184a21f., and Heidegger's interpretation on p. 59ff.