Plato's Sophist [133-134]

With regard to ἀληθεύειν, the uncovering of beings, σοφία has the priority.

Over and against this rather popular discussion of σοφία and its relation to man, Aristotle himself has a much more original understanding of the entire question. It is precisely the treatment of these difficulties that leads him to show how σοφία is the highest possibility for man. In order to clear the way for indicating this briefly, we must hold fast to the following. Σοφία is, according to its idea: τῶν ἐξ ἀρχῆς αἰτίων ἐπιστήμη (cf. Met. I, 3, 983a24f.) . As far as the question of the being of ἀληθεύειν, i.e., the mode of Being of Dasein, is concerned, this idea entails: 1.) complete autonomy in itself, and 2.) a relation to genuine beings in their Being, a dwelling with them. This idea requires one to be posited freely on oneself in having beings in themselves present. That raises the question of whether σοφία can be a κτῆσις and ἕξις of man. For human Dasein is δούλη; it is delivered over to ἀναγκαῖα, which are ἄλλως ἔχοντα; it is forced to dwell with such ἀναγκαῖα and ἄλλως ἔχοντα. Man cannot constantly dwell among the τιμιώτατα; for man, this autonomous mode of Being, forever attending to the τιμιώτατα, is unthinkable.

This question receives its keenness when one considers that σοφία is a θεῖον. Aristotle's characterization of σοφία as a θεῖον is purely ontological in intention; metaphysics is not theology. Σοφία is an ἐπιστήμη, one that is θειοτάτη. And it is so in a twofold way: 1.) it is κτῆσις of a θεός, and 2.) it makes thematic τὰ θεῖα. This is a very early anticipation of Aristotle's metaphysics.4 Insofar as σοφία is 1.) κτῆσις of a θεός, i.e., insofar as the comportment in it is divine, it is νοῦς, νοεῖν, νόησις; and insofar as 2.) σοφία is τῶν θείων, i.e., insofar as it has as its object the θεῖον, it is νοήσεως. Hence 1.) as κτῆσις of a θεός, σοφία is νόησις; and 2.) as making τὰ θεῖα thematic, σοφία is νοήσεως. We will not now look more closely into this.

According to our investigations thus far, the θεῖον in σοφία is presented in the following way: insofar as σοφία 1.) has the θεῖον as its object, to that extent it has as its object the ἀεί and insofar as 2.) the θεῖον is in it as a mode of comportment, it is a pure and simple onlooking, sheer θεωρεῖν. The comportment of σοφία is in keeping with its object. It tarries constantly with what is everlasting. Its distinguishing mark is that, as θεωρεῖν, it constantly dwells on that which always is. Hence the idea of this mode of existence resides in a constant actual presence to the ἀεί. Nevertheless, Aristotle emphasizes5 that human existence cannot sustain this comportment throughout the whole time of its life. The way of man's temporality makes it impossible for him to attend constantly to the ἀεί. Man needs recreation and relaxation from θεωρεῖν.

4. Met. XII, 7.

5. Nic. Eth. X, 7, 1177b2bff., in connection with X, 6, 1176b33f.