§16 [123-124]

A being that always is does not at all first need to be produced; it is always already constantly there as finished. Insofar as Aristotle understands the ἀγαθόν as τέλος— being finished—and counts the τέλος among the other causes, like ὕλη, εἶδος, and ἀρχὴ κινήσεως,1 he achieves for the first time a fundamental ontological understanding of the ἀγαθόν. If we take the ἀγαθόν as value, then this is all nonsense. The proper meaning of the ἀγαθόν is rather this:

ἀρχή τοῦ ὄντος.

We must hold fast to this genuine sense of the ἀγαθόν as long as our concern is to understand the expression ἀγαθόν as a properly philosophical term.

We are thus led to the following circumstance, namely, that insofar as the ἀγαθόν is not primarily related to πρᾶξις but instead is understood as a basic constitution of beings in themselves, the possibility is predelineated that the ἀγαθόν as ἀρχή is precisely the object of a θεωρεῖν, indeed that exactly with regard to a being as ἀεὶ ὄν, as everlasting being—in relation to which I can take no action—the correct comportment is θεωρία. This possibility is predelineated by the interpretation of the ἀγαθόν as πέρας. How Aristotle interprets this we will see in the following session.2

We have now merely gained the following possibility: although the ἀγαθόν is oriented toward πρᾶξις, yet, on the basis of the fundamental ontological understanding of the ἀγαθόν, a way is open to see that there is a comportment which, as theoretical, presents the correct relation to the ἀγαθόν. Thus Aristotle can say that σοφία, within which he sees this θεωρεῖν, is a quite peculiar φρόνησις, a τοιαύτη φρόνησις (982b24). It is not φρόνησις as we know it in relation to beings which can be otherwise, in relation to the objects of our action; it is a φρόνησις which is indeed directed to an ἀγαθόν, but an ἀγαθόν that is not πρακτόν. Aristotle's designation of σοφία as a τοιαύτη φρόνησις manifests at the same time an orientation against Plato, who did not attain a very discriminating understanding of these phenomena. When Aristotle speaks of σοφία as φρόνησις, he is indicating eating thereby that he sees in σοφία (as Plato did in φρόνησις) the highest mode of ἀληθεύειν and in general man's highest comportment, the highest possibility of human existence.

1. Met. I, 3, 983a26ff.

2. This announcement occurs in the thirteenth session (November 24, 1924). The "following session" is the fourteenth (November 25, 1924). It contains, however, no corresponding explication.

Martin Heidegger (GA 19) Plato's Sophist