Plato's Sophist [168-169]

b) Criteria for the decision. The rank of the ἀληθεύειν as such. The autonomy of the "accomplishment" (ποιεῖν); σοφία as ὐγίεια of the ψυχή. Ontological priority according to the Greek concept of Being.

To understand this important decision with regard to the priority of σοφία over φρόνησις, we must keep in mind that Aristotle transfers the discussion of this entire question back to a purely ontological level. πρῶτον μὲν οὖν λέγωμεν ὅτι καθ᾽ αὑτὰς ἀναγκαῖον αἱρετὰς αὐτὰς εἶναι, ἀρετάς γ' οὔσας ἑκατέραν ἑκατέρου τοῦ μορίου, καὶ εἰ μὴ ποιοῦσι μηδὲν μηδετέρα αὐτῶν (1144a1ff.). Aristotle is saying, first of all, that the question about which of the two modes is more decisive is inappropriate as long as we do not consider these modes of Being precisely as modes of Being. As long as we interrogate the ἀρετή only in terms of what it provides and what it can be used for (ποιεῖ), we have not yet arrived at the appropriate question. The appropriate question is whether the mode of Being of the respective ἀληθεύειν is higher or lower. Even if neither of these two could accomplish anything, the question of the genuine character of their ἀρετή would still be necessary. For the ἀρετή is something like a τελείωσις; it is that which brings some being to itself in its most proper Being.1 In this way, Aristotle places the whole discussion within a purely theoretical consideration.

ἔπειτα καὶ ποιοῦσι μέν (1144a3f.). In that case, however, the same consideration of beings in themselves discovers that φρόνησις and σοφία in fact accomplish something, ποιεῖν, whereby ποιεῖν means to bring out, deliver, bring into being. Precisely this ποιεῖν of φρόνησις and σοφία, seen more closely, provides the foundation for the delimitation and higher position of σοφία over φρόνησις. This ποιεῖν will decide the ontological priority of σοφία.2 For the principle is: ἡ γὰρ ποιοῦσα ἄρχει καὶ ἐπιτάττει περὶ ἕκαστον (1143b35). "That possibility of human Dasein which in itself ποιεῖ, accomplishes something (which accomplishes something more properly than another one does), dominates and guides all others." Accordingly, if this principle is to be applied here, we must be attentive to discover in σοφία still, in spite of everything we have presented about it hitherto, a ποίησις. Now, Aristotle says that the philosopher 's pure considering in fact delivers something, ποιεῖ, and specifically τῷ ἔχεσθαι ποιεῖ καὶ τῷ ἐνεργεῖν (cf. 1144a6), "by the very fact of having it and carrying it out," hence not by results but simply by the fact that I live in this θεωρεῖν. This uncovering as such accomplishes something. Aristotle proposes a comparison which can be understood only if the ground of this comparison is secured in advance. He compares philosophy's theoretical considerations with health: καὶ ποιοῦσι μέν, οὐχ ὡς ἡ ἰατρικὴ δὲ ὑγίειαν, ἀλλ' ὡς ἡ ὐγίεια, οὕτως ἡ σοφία εὐδαιμονίαν (a3ff.).

1. Cf. Met. V, 16, 1021b20ff.

2. Heidegger delivered the following comments (up to page 118) extemporaneously. There are only very few indicating remarks in the manuscript. The editor could but rely on the transcripts of H. Jonas, F. Schalk, and H. Weiß.