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Heidegger beyond Aristotle

In his better moments Heidegger translates ἀλήϑεια not by Wahrheit (“truth”) but by neologisms like Erschlossenheit and Unverborgenheit. The first is usually brought into English as “disclosedness,” which in fact parallels the structure of the alpha-privative: ἀ-λήϑεια, dis-closedness. Unverborgenheit is usually rendered as “unhiddenness” or “unconcealedness.” which likewise parallels ἀ-λήϑεια. However, the double negative in those terms fails to capture the positive and more vivid image of the English word “openness.” As Heidegger puts it (misusing the word Wahrheit to translate ἀλήϑεια), “By the term Wahrheit we understand the openness/manifestness of things.”27 It is important to remember two things: (1) In Plato and Aristotle ἀλήϑεια is the openness or intelligibility of things, and (2) such ἀ-λήϑεια/dis-closedness is phenomenological—that is, it occurs only when there is a correlative human act of ἀ-ληϑεύειν (the dis-closing of something). When Heidegger speaks of the “dis-closedness of an entity” he is saying that the entity is opened up as meaningful only in and for a human act of apprehension (Vernehmen). Heidegger always preserves the phenomenological correlation between whatever is open/intelligible and the apprehending of what is open/intelligible. So, on the one hand, the kind of disclosedness of things is their meaningful (not just their sensible) disclosedness, and this occurs not off by itself in some pre- or extra-human scenario but only in and with the human apprehension of those things.28 On the other hand, when Heidegger speaks of the disclosedness of the clearing, he means the hidden presence of the openness that lets things be intelligible (“have being”).29 Heidegger simply wants to know why and how that is the case.


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Heidegger interprets ἀ λήϑεια philosophically as an analogical term with three distinct and in fact layered meanings, which we may designate as ἀλήθεια-1, ἀλήθεια-2, and ἀλήθεια-3. Taking these three in the reverse order: ἀλήθεια-3 refers to the correctness of a statement, the de facto agreement of a proposition with the state of affairs to which it refers—what has traditionally been called the correspondence of intellect and thing (adaequatio intellectus



27. GA 38: 79.21–22 = 68.12–13: “Unter Wahrheit verstehen wir die Offenbarkeit von Seiendem.”
28. GA 9: 442.30–31 = 334.28–29: “[Wir] müssen daran erinnern, daß die ἀλήϑεια, griechisch gedacht, allerdings für den Menschen waltet.” GA 87: 103.2: “Das Sichzeigen [ist] schon bezogen auf ein Vernehmen.”
29. This intelligibility is not yet the truth of correspondence. Things show up as meaning something or other, whether that meaning is correct or not.


Thomas Sheehan - Making Sense of Heidegger