Posts Tagged 'truth'

Plato’s Influence on Badiou


Peter Hallward writes about the three influences Plato (429-347 BCE) has on Alain Badiou‘s thought:

First, the belief that philosophy proceeds only when provoked by things or events beyond its immediate purview, outside the conceptual homogenenity of tis own domain-an encounter with a friend or lover, an argument, a political debate or controversy, the demonstrations of mathematics or science, the illusions of poetry and art…Philosophy, in other words, lacks the pure independence of a system of “total knowledge…; for Plato, philosophy doesn’t begin thinking in relation to itself, but in relation to something else.”

Second, Badiou upholds the essential Platonic commitment to the true or Ideal, as distinct from the merely apparent or prevalent.  For both Badiou and Plato, to think means to “break with sensible immediacy.”  Thought does not begin with representation or description but with a “break (with opinion, with experience), and thus a decision…Badiou never flirts with the knid of transcendnece associated with those Forms famously expounded in the Phaedo and the Republic…What is true as opposed to false, what is real as opposed to unreal, is always clear and distinct, always ideal in the sense that any thinking subject can participate in the discovery of its consequences, as its co-inventor or “co-worker.”

With Plato, finally, Badiou asserts the emphatically universal dimension of philosophy as the only dimension consistent with truth…The operation of truth will be subjective and immanent rather than transcendent, but truth it will be, every bit as eternal as it is in Plato. (Hallward ,5-6)


Hallward, Peter.  Badiou: A Subject to Truth.  Minneapolic, MN: Unversity of Minnesota Press, 2003.

Heidegger on Truth and Philosophy

Heidegger at his desk

Michael Inwood writes that for Martin Heidegger:

Truth is uncovering and uncoveredness, shedding light and light shed.  Someone who simply accepts and passes on the current chatter, even if the chatter happens to be in some sense correct, sheds no light of his own.  A great philosopher, by contrast, sheds light even if his views are mistaken.  Such errors as he makes are likely, Heidegger believes, to stem from his having taken over something of the tradition without adequate inspection.  But in any case the thought of great philosophers is never flatly false.  It is never solidified into something simply false or simply true; it is always, as Heidegger said of himself, ‘on the way’, in transit, never at its destination.  It always sheds light to guide us in the right direction, even if that leads away from the philosopher himself.  Chatter does not do that, Chatter is inert and self-enclosed.  It ‘tranquillizes’ us into thinking that matters are entirely settled and disinclines us to look further. (Inwood, 55)


Inwood, Michael.  Heidegger: A Very Short Introduction.  New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Heidegger’s Earth/World Rift Through Art

Van Gough's 'A Pair of Shoes', 1887.  Heidegger used this painting to describe artwork and truth.

Van Gough's 'A Pair of Shoes', 1887. Heidegger used this painting to describe artwork and truth.

Heidegger, being greatly influenced by the pre-Socratics, talked about two realms of being (kinda like how Sartre talked about two realms of being: being-for-itself and being-in-itself).  Earth and World.  The World is the realm of all human relations, activity, consciousness, action, culture, etc.  The Earth is the realm of nature, animals, rock, oceans, etc.

Earth extends beyond human historical time…and is not mastered by human decisions and choices.  (Collins and Selina, 129)

These two realms are related in taking two opposing sides of αληθεια (truth) and artwork is that which creates a rift (Riss in German) through the partially unconcealed Earth and the partial concealed World.

Truth comes, in a way, from nothing.  (Inwood, 122)

All art, then, is essentially Dichtung…mean[ing] something like ‘invention’ or ‘projection’…All great art involves a ‘change…of the unconcealment of beings’ (Heidegger, 72); it illuminates the ordinary, it rips us for a time out of the ordinary into another world, or it changes our whole view of the world. (Inwood, 123)

All art is dichterisch, inventive or projective…the essence of Dichtung, Heidegger continues, is the founding of truth.  ‘Founding’, Stiftung, has three senses, and art involves founding in all three senses.  First, ‘bestowing’…truth cannot derive from what went before.  It comes as a gift…

Second, founding is ‘grounding’…It comes from nothing, but is addressed to a people…

Thirdly, founding is ‘beginning’…A genuine beginning is not simple or primitive; it contains the end latent within itself; it is a leap forward (Vorsprung), that leaps over everything to come…The history of art is not a steady cumulative process, but is punctuated by massive explosions of creative energy that leave future generations to do what they can with the pieces. (124-5)


Collins, Jeff and Howard Selina.  Introducing Heidegger.  Lanham, Maryland: Totem Books, 2006.

Heidegger, Martin.  “The Origin of the Work of Art,” in Poetry, Language, Thought.  Translated by A. Hofstadter.  New York: Woodpaths, 1975.  Quoted in Inwood, Heidegger, 2000.

Inwood, Michael.  Heidegger: A Very Short Introduction.  New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.


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