Heidegger’s answer is the clearing. The clearing is that some truth of being prevails because other truths of being do not.
I call 1–4 planks in Heidegger’s platform for thinking about truth. The metaphor of a platform is meant to emphasize that these elements of his view stand next to each other in the sense that no single plank encompasses all the others. Each plank or element, in other words, involves specific features that distinguish them from one another. They are linked together in such a way that they provide each other with mutual support, and they could not function independently of each other. But they also cannot be reduced to each other. They are different modes or ways of unconcealment, and together they provide the basis for our engagement in the world. The platform describes Heidegger’s considered view on truth and unconcealment. This is not to say that he is clear about the relationships between 1, 2, 3, and 4 at every stage of his career. Indeed, as I discuss in the next section, he is quite critical of his own earlier works on unconcealment for their failure to recognize plank 4.
In what follows, I want to try to explain more clearly what each plank in the platform consists in, and how each plank is linked to the next one. The first step is to say something about what holds them together. Heidegger proposes that each plank is a kind of truth, only because it involves unconcealment. So, we might ask, what, in general, is unconcealment? We will then be in a position to explain each plank in more detail.
UNCONCEALMENT IN GENERAL
The word that is generally translated as unconcealment or unconcealedness is Unverborgenheit. This, in turn, is Heidegger’s preferred, and rather literal, translation for the Greek word alêtheia, itself ordinarily translated as truth. Heidegger uses truth (Wahrheit) and unconcealment interchangeably for much of his career, well aware that this practice invites several contrary misunderstandings.
The first misunderstanding is to think that Heidegger defines propositional truth as unconcealment; the second is to transfer to the notion of unconcealment features present in our ordinary understanding of truth (see the Appendix to this chapter). Because the analysis of unconcealment is an analysis of the ground of propositional truth, it should be clear that unconcealment is not to be taken as a (re)definition of propositional truth. Heidegger was emphatic about this both early and late; compare, for instance, comments from the 1931 lecture course on the essence of truth:
the meaning of the Greek word for truth, unconcealment, initially has absolutely nothing to do with assertion and with the factual context, set out in the customary definition of the essence of truth, with correspondence and correctness (GA 34:11)
with the 1964 essay “The End of Philosophy and the Task of Thinking”: