Thursday, May 18, 2006

On the Essence of Truth--The Inner Possibility of Accordance

2. The Inner Possibility of Accordance
We speak of accordance in a number of ways: two coins on the table can be said to accord because they materially resemble each other, both in composition and form. But we also speak of accordance when we say, “The coin is round.” But how does the proposition accord with the object? It obviously cannot be like the first correspondence, that they are materially similar:
Now the relation obtains, not between thing and thing, but rather between a statement and a thing. But wherein are the thing and the statement supposed to be in accordance, considering that the relata are manifestly different in their outward appearance? The coin is made of metal. The statement is not material at all. The coin is round. The statement has nothing at all spatial about it. With the coin something can be purchased. The statement about it is never a means of payment.
We then ask the question: “How can what is completely dissimilar, the statement, correspond to the coin?” [121] The proposition could not become the coin without changing its nature; we must retain the proposition as a proposition. So, the relation must consist in something else; unless we can make this relation explicit then all talk of correspondence is meaningless.

The proposition “relates ‘itself’ to the thing in that it presents [vor-stellt] it and says of the presented how, according to the particular perspective that guides it, it is disposed.” “[T]o present” means to let the thing stand out as an object, as something (or some thing)--as a dog, as a mathematical equation, as a piece of art, etc. As it stands out, the object also “withstands” or is “opposed” to me: it is there, opposite me, and presents itself in its solidarity, singularity, and presence.2 Furthermore, this object only appears “within an open region” that precedes the appearing, which region is defined as “a domain of relatedness.” Within this domain entities are related and contextualized in terms of human comportments: the hammer is intelligible in the domain of construction, nails, wood, needs/desires (for shelter, convenience, as a job), etc. from which it gains its identity and meaning. From the above, the relation between the proposition and the thing is “the accomplishment” of the presencing (or making present) of the being through comportment.

Comportment is understood in terms of its ‘adherence’ to something, [122] namely what is made present, or “being.” Unlike Husserlian comportment that is related to subjective sense data, Heidegger sees comportment as being essentially towards beings that transcend the individual and her consciousness. “Every relatedness is a comportment,” or every relatedness is a gathering together of beings into a context whereby they are not made merely spatially present (spatial coordination to the other objects is not even necessary), but they are related in their manner of being--the hammer’s hardness is related to the hardness of the nails and wood, which is related to the nature of construction/building, etc. How man comports towards beings depends on the beings he is directing himself towards and the manner of his comportment. For example, hammers and pens each allow for different uses, hence they each determine how I can use them; similarly, the mode of my comportment will vary if I am playing soccer rather than playing chess, as each requires a different way of relating to the world (and confusing them will cause problems in doing either). It is only in this “open region” of comportment that beings first appear, which itself is a necessary precursor to saying things--making propositions--about beings.

This can occur only if beings present themselves along with the representative statement so that the latter subordinates itself to the directive that it speaks of beings such-as they are. In following such a directive the statement conforms to beings.
A statement can be “correct” only insofar as it opens up a region (and occurs within an open region; one must inhabit an open region in order to open up another region), through comportment, in which beings can appear in the manner prescribed by the statement. “Open comportment must let itself be assigned this standard,” even prior to any “pregiven standard for all presenting” (compare 117-119). Since this open comportment is itself the ground for the appearing of beings, of making propositions about beings, and the correctness of a proposition, then comportment itself “must with more original right be taken as the essence of truth.” Not only this, but open comportment also aligns us with the privative meaning of aletheia--the active un-concealing of beings, the presencing of that which is remote--which is missing from the usual understanding of truth. With this more primordial understanding, the traditional assumption that truth essentially deals with propositions is fundamentally faulty: “Truth does not originally reside in the proposition,” but necessarily comes both before and after it; before, because beings must appear prior to our propositions, and after, because the truth of the proposition itself depends on comportment making beings present (presencing beings). But this raises another question concerning the ground of this “inner possibility of correctness,” whereby it itself is made possible. [123]

Notes:

  1. This is the resistance of the “earth” to being controlled by a “world,” or the excess of beings in terms of any way we can make them “present” (see “Origin of the Work of Art”). It withstands any attempt to dominate it, or subsume it under a single interpretation. Within this lecture, this shows itself in terms of “untruth” and the “mystery of being.”

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