Plato's Sophist [205-206]

The other direction goes immediately together with the first for a more concrete research into Being, insofar as the encountered beings (= the world, in naive ontology) are present to everyday Dasein, which speaks about the world2 in such a way that discoursing and addressing become at the same time a further guideline orienting the question of Being. That is, how do beings look insofar as they are addressed and spoken of, insofar as they are λεγόμενα? This question about Being, following the guideline of λέγειν, is at the same time the proper origin of logic. "Logic" in the Greek sense has at first nothing at all to do with thinking but instead stands wholly within the task of the question of Being. Thus the Sophist-as well as all the other dialogues of Plato grouped around it—is a remarkable turning point between the position of Parmenides and the one of Aristotle, which consummates all these projects of Greek ontology. This meaning of the Sophist shows itself, to be sure, only if we grasp it originally enough as regards what it did not settle at all and what from that position could not be settled. Fundamental difficulties remain which this position cannot remove and which are present for us.3 Hence not only the world as encountered, but also the world insofar as it is spoken of, are given in this double sense as the guiding lines of research into Being.

b) Λόγος as guiding line of Aristotle's research into Being

Hence λόγος, discourse about the world and beings, has the role of the guiding line insofar as beings are present in the λεγόμενον. Even where the research into Being, as is the case with Aristotle, goes beyond dialectic, beyond confinement to beings as addressed, toward a pure grasping of the ἀρχαί, toward θεωρεῖν—even there it can be shown that λόγος is still fundamental for the final conception of Being. Even Aristotle, although he overcomes dialectic, still remains oriented toward λόγος in his entire questioning of Being. This state of affairs is the origin of what we today call formal ontology and is taken up into it. Διαλέγεσθαι is a way of asking about beings with regard to their Being, a way in which λόγος is and remains the guiding line. For Aristotle, however, λόγος manifests itself in its peculiar relational structure: λέγειν is always a λέγειν τι κατά τινος. Insofar as λόγος addresses something as something, it is in principle unfit to grasp that which by its very sense cannot be addressed as something else but can only be grasped for itself. Here, in this primary and predominating structure, λόγος, as it were, fails. There remains, if one passes beyond it, only a new idea of λόγος: the λόγος καθ᾽ αὐτό, as Aristotle has shown in chapter 4 of Book VII of the Metaphysics.

2. AH: the "is" in simple saying and asserting.

3. See the appendix.

Martin Heidegger (GA 19) Plato's Sophist