Plato's Sophist [95-96]

It is noteworthy that πάντα in natural speech means the whole in the sense of the totality, the sum. The σοφός understands τὰ πάντα, the totality, the sum, without, however, having acquired knowledge καθ᾽ ἕκαστον, from the particulars. He understands the sum without having run through every single unit. In this way, knowledge of the πάντα, accompanied by an obvious lack of knowledge of the particulars, is enigmatic.

2.) τὸν τὰ χαλεπὰ γνῶναι δυνάμενον καὶ μὴ ῥᾴδια ἀνθρώπῳ γιγνώσκειν, τοῦτον σοφόν (a10ff.). The σοφός is the one who is able to disclose that which is difficult to disclose, i.e., that which is not easily disclosed by man in his immediate existence, by the πολλοί. What the σοφός can disclose is hence not only concealed but difficult to unconceal, and that because it does not readily reveal itself to the most immediate everyday Dasein, i.e., it does not reveal itself in the common easy way.

3.) τὸν ἀκριβέστερον καὶ τὸν διδασκαλικώτερον τῶν αἰτιῶν σοφώτερον εἶναι περὶ πᾶσαν ἐπιστήμην (a12ff.). In every "science" and τέχνη, the σοφός is "more profound"; he goes more to the foundations of things. That is why he is better able to teach, to instruct; he can make things clear and can more genuinely explain how things are. The reason is that he does not see things in their immediate aspect but in their genuine whence and why.

4.) τῶν ἐπιστημῶν δὲ τὴν αὑτῆς ἕνεκεν καὶ τοῦ εἰδέναι χάριν αἱρετὴν οὖσαν μᾶλλον εἶναι σοφίαν ἢ τὴν τῶν ἀποβαινόντων ἕνεκεν (a14ff.). Σοφία is a kind of ἐπιστήμη accomplished simply for its own sake. That is, in σοφία the disclosure of what is disclosed is accomplished merely for its own sake and not with a view to what could possibly result from it, i.e., its practical applicability. Σοφία is the ἐπιστήμη that is determined solely by the pure tendency toward seeing, and it is carried out simply τοῦ εἰδέναι χάριν, in order to see and, in seeing, to know. As such, σοφία guides, leads, and predelineates.

Aristotle discusses in detail these four moments in which everyday Dasein expresses its opinions about the σοφός and σοφία. We may say in anticipation that all four moments have in view a disclosure that concerns the first origins of beings purely as such. This means, conversely, that the idea of σοφία as concerned with the αἰτία as such and specifically with τὰ ἐξ ἀρχῆς, i.e., the ἀρχαί, makes explicit what Dasein strives for implicitly and without clarity.

1.) To what extent does the σοφός understand "everything"? τὸ μὲν πάντα ἐπίστασθαι τῷ μάλιστα ἔχοντι τὴν καθόλου ἐπιστήμην ἀναγκαῖον ὑπάρχειν (a21f.). The σοφός knows "everything" because he, more than any other, has at his disposal the disclosure of the "general." Because σοφία is an εἰδέναι καθόλου, the σοφός necessarily understands πάντα. We need to note that immediate understanding conceives the whole as a sum total, and for it therefore this understanding of "everything" is very enigmatic, since a knowledge of the particulars is lacking in this "whole."