§13. The possibility of λόγος being false

τὸ μὲν γὰρ λέγειν τὸ ὂν μὴ εἶναι ἢ τὸ μὴ ὂν εἶναι ψεῦδος, τὸ δὲ τὸ ὂν εἶναι καὶ τὸ μὴ ὂν μὴ εἶναι ἀληθές. (Metaphysics IV 7, 1011b26)
To say-and-show that what-is is not, or that what-is-not is, is to cover-over. But to show that what-is is, and what-is-not is not, is to uncover.

And if we read this determination of truth in our role as twentieth century Europeans, we think it is really quite trivial. But we need to consider that this determination is the result of the greatest philosophical effort that Plato and Aristotle ever made. You can hardly conceive of what it means to press forward into such a “triviality.” So: truth and falsehood are taken in connection with λέγειν, speaking.

The essential element in this text is that speaking is understood here not as judgment but, as the translation indicates, as the showing of a being, ἀποφαίνεσθαι. Once this basic structure of λέγειν is understood, this determination of being-true and being-false can offer no support to the notion that truth is a matter of verifying the correspondence between beings and the images or copies of them formed in consciousness.

By its very meaning, to indicate a being is to be already present with that being, even [164] when the subject matter that the speech indicates is not bodily present but only intended. Even when absent, the very sense of the statement entails that the being itself is intended, not some representation or image that “corresponds” to the absent being.

Truth is not a relation that is “just there” between two beings that themselves are “just there”—one mental, the other physical. Nor is it a coordination, as philosophers like to say these days. If it is a relation at all, it is one that has no analogies with any other relation between beings. If I may put it this way, it is the relation of existence as such to its very world. It is the world-openness of existence that is itself uncovered— existence whose very being unto the world gets disclosed/uncovered in and with its being unto the world.

Aristotle certainly did not really see this phenomenon, in any case not in the ontological structure that is proper to it. But even less did he invent anything like a copy-theory of truth. Rather, he stuck to the phenomena and understood them as broadly as possible. That is, he avoided a fundamental error in seeing, and thus kept the road open— only, of course, to have it thoroughly blocked again.

The second text from which we can understand truth and falsehood in Aristotle’s sense comes from Metaphysics VI 4. I emphasize that these explications de texte do not yet constitute an authentic interpretation but are only preparatory. Only later will we come to understand the phenomena on the basis of σύνθεσις.