§29 [204-205]

§29. Addendum: The innovation in Plato's Sophist with regard to
the ground of the Greeks' research into Being.1

a) The double guiding line of the research into
Being in Plato's Sophist: concrete Dasein
(the philosopher, the sophist); λέγειν.

If we consider the dialogue Sophist as a whole and proceed from its title, we find on closer inspection a remarkable innovation compared to previous endeavors of Greek philosophy. For now, a determinate mode of existence, namely that of the philosopher, is offered as ground for a discussion of Being and beings. The dialogue has no other goal than to explicate this ground, this concrete mode of Dasein, and thereby to create, as it were, the milieu within which beings can show themselves in their Being. I say that this new foundation for research into the Being of beings is remarkable compared to the starting point of the usual Greek consideration of Being, e.g., compared to the position of Parmenides, where Being is simply determined in correlation with νοεῖν. These are indeed basically the same, insofar as the philosopher is the one who, in a preeminent sense, νοεῖ, perceives, considers, but yet with this difference, that for Parmenides this νοεῖν remains wholly undetermined. He does not say whether it is the νοεῖν of a determinate realm of Being or of beings in general; he speaks of Being only in general and in an undetermined way, and likewise for νοεῖν. The innovation with respect to the research, not with respect to the result, resides in this, that the ground upon which rests the question of the meaning of Being now becomes concrete. The task of the appropriation of the ground becomes more difficult but the result richer. This can be seen in the fact that even non-beings are acknowledged in their Being and in any case are put into question. In both instances, as in general, it is shown that something can be settled about beings with regard to their Being only insofar as the beings are present, or, as we say, insofar as beings can be encountered at all. It is simply a matter of adhering to the beings encountered, in their most immediate and most original way of being encountered, and, within this, of questioning how the beings show themselves. This is the one direction in which the question of the meaning of beings, the question of Being, is raised.

1. We have here the transition from the nineteenth session (Thursday, January 8, 1925) to tho twentieth (Friday, January 9). It is an expanded and more definite version of the beginning of the former session (p. 132) and leads directly to the determination of dialectic in Aristotle. On account of its own train of thought, it could not be incorporated into the earlier version. It is here reproduced separately.

Martin Heidegger (GA 19) Plato's Sophist