Plato's Sophist [180-181]

Admittedly, this discernment, insofar as it is to grasp the ἀρχή, must leave λόγος behind. It has to be ἄνευ λόγου in order to have the possibility of grasping an ἀδιαίρετον. The character of λέγειν is indeed to speak of something as something. But what is utterly simple, ἀπλοῦν, is what can no longer be spoken of as something else. Everything ἔσχατον and everything πρῶτον can be grasped properly only if the νοεῖν is not a διανοεῖν but a pure onlooking. Here the disclosure in the mode of the carrying out of λόγος fails and recedes.

That λόγος can recede here is a fact grounded in λόγος itself. For λόγος as λόγος, according to its very sense, is not already ordered toward ἀληθεύειν, toward the disclosure of beings, toward truth. Speaking as such does not primarily have the meaning of ἀποφαίνεσθαι, letting beings be seen. On the contrary, only a quite specific λόγος is λόγος ἀποφαντικός. This fundamental state of affairs must be kept in mind in order to understand the basic sense we have to make out of the Greek concept of truth.

b) Λόγος and ἀλήθεια.

a) Λόγος σημαντικός (speech) and λόγος ἀποφαντικός
("judgment") (De Int., chapter 4; De An. II, 8).

Hence it is not intrinsic to λόγος to be true, to uncover beings, ἀληθεύειν. Not every λόγος is ἀποφαντικός. But indeed every λόγος is ἀποφαντικός. Aristotle treats this in De Interpretatione, chapter 4: ἔστι δὲ λόγος ἅπας μὲν σημαντικός,... ἀποφαντικὸς δὲ οὐ πᾶς, ἀλλ' ἐν ᾧ τὸ ἀληθεύειν ἢ ψεύδεσθαι ὑπάρχει (16b33ff.). All speech is as speech σημαντική; σημαίνειν means "to signify." Thus all speech means something, it is understandable. All speech has in itself a ἑρμηνεία, a comprehensibility, as Aristotle shows in the De Anima.5 But to mean something in this way and at the same time to let the thing meant show itself in this meaning, ἀποφαίνεσθαι—that does not occur in all speech. On the contrary, speaking, which is in its very sense σημαντική, becomes ἀποφαντική, only if there is present in it either a disclosing, ἀληθεύειν, or a distorting, ψεύδεσθαι. For not only to disclose but also to distort is to let be seen, even if disclosing is the proper letting be seen. Hence not all speech contains either ἀληθεύειν or ψεύδεσθαι. Therefore speech, in its very sense, is at first neither true nor false. οὐκ ἐν ἅπασι δὲ ὑπαρχει, οἷον ἡ εὐχὴ λόγος μέν, ἀλλ' οὔτ' ἀληθὴς οὔτε ψευδής (17a3f.). A request, e.g., is neither true nor false. This must be understood in the Greek sense: a request, as a request, does not at first have the sense of letting be seen that which is requested.

4. Nic. Eth. VI, 6, 1140b31ff. Cf. p. 40.

5. De An. II, 8, 420b5ff. Cf. p. 12f.