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§1 The goddess "truth" [15-16]

truth." In the meantime, however, we always and constantly desire "the truth." Every age of history seeks "the true."

But how seldom and how little does man understand the essence of the true, i.e., truth. Even if we people of today found ourselves in the happy condition of knowing the essence of truth, that would still not guarantee our being capable of thinking what in the early thought of the Greeks was experienced as the essence of truth. For not only the essence of truth, but also the essence of everything essential, has in every case its own wealth, from which an age in history may only draw a small amount as its own portion.

If we say in anticipation and without proof that the goddess Ἀλήθεια appears in the "didactic poem" of Parmenides not just for the sake of "poetic" embellishment but rather that the "essence" "truth" holds sway throughout the words of the thinker, then we need to clarify in advance the essence of ἀλήθεια.

The attempt to attain by means of thinking the proximity of the essence of ἀλήθεια, in order to be solicited by it, shall require of us, who are still more distant from this essence than the Greeks themselves already were, vast detours and remote prospects. Such things, however, would be necessary even for us to be able to think only a little of the word of Anaximander, Heraclitus, or Parmenides in such a way that we are thinking out of that dimension in which there shows itself what for these thinkers is the to-be-thought and what remains for the future, although in a veiled way, the to-be-thought. And every endeavor to think ἀ-λήθεια in a somewhat suitable manner, even if only from afar, is an idle affair as long as we do not venture to think the λήθη to which, presumably, ἀλήθεια refers back.

What the Greeks name ἀλήθεια we ordinarily "translate" with the word "truth." If we translate the Greek word ''literally," however, then it says "unconcealedness." It seems as if the "literal translation" consisted simply in patterning our word to correspond with the Greek word. While this is the beginning of literal translation, it is also in fact its end. The work of translation does not exhaust itself in such imitative building of "word-forms," which then often sound artificial and ugly. If we merely replace the Greek ἀλήθεια with our "unconcealedness," we are not yet actually translating. That occurs only when the translating word "unconcealedness" transports us into the domain of experience and the mode of experience out of which the Greeks or, in the case at hand, the primordial thinker Parmenides say the word ἀλήθεια. It is therefore an idle play with "word-forms" if we render ἀλήθεια by "unconcealedness," as has become fashionable recently, but at the same time attribute to the word "unconcealedness," now meant to replace the word "truth," a significance which we have merely gleaned