Ancients and Moderns, Anxiety and Language
Socrates appears stupid in comparison to the moderns because he has no anxiety in the face of his work, which stands fearsomely before humanity. Homer knew the distinction between deception and falsehood. But the old Greek language does not seem to make it explicitly, in the sense of a lie, over and against an untruth. To say a falsehood is not always to lie. Homer had to go out of his way to speak of saying one thing to one’s heart, and another to someone else. Even if that weren't true one senses this movement even today. One has certain words at one’s disposal, but one’s dark conceptions see further. These dark conceptions deserve to be called language. Whereas the words are expressions. One gives expression and so makes the language show itself here and there.
But if someone seriously contemplates handing themselves over to language, someone who is called and notices that it is possible, the result ought to be anxiety in the face of existence. In fact, it is perhaps anxiety in the face of language. And that would be deeper. Existence is expressed, but language is a dark conception. It is strange that Socrates was so dumb, almost like an animal, in the face of this huge wave that he moved in, that he crashed against existence. It is not the least adequate to speak in terms of the question of whether something is added or taken away, divided or built on top. When the language forces the lie to become a thing, and for the falsehood to be left behind, as if a child had got its own life, and were no longer an embryo, the basis of the world is now persuaded to be transfigured in a wondrous and fearful way. It is fearful then to stand at the threshold of this power. Therefore, one must be shocked to see Socrates only reflecting on the feeling of wonder, but not understanding that which is diabolical and fiendish in this dark power. It is plain that Nietzsche, though in his overcompensation and ridiculous pride he remained much too sanguine at his own wisdom and prophecy, he nonetheless saw the darker power of the abyss and was properly afraid. He perhaps grew even very afraid, and thus his compensation was at the same time increased and grew all-the-more ridiculous and over-puffed (Cf. Jung).
The sense that creativity refers to new things coming into existence, and the refusal of the closed system, is not affected by this movement of language. No thing is involved at all. The Historial can not simply refer to the epistemological difference from age to age. And obviously not with a change in invented things. Husserl most of all understood this problem, that of the transfiguration of the obvious and the boring. Strauss stresses in his understanding of the ancients that truth was always beneficent and a kind of brilliant thing. Not only explicitly in the doctrine of Aristotle, but on the whole. Even if truth is denied, by an ancient, for the reason of scepticism, it is not held that the look into it, itself, would be fundamentally horrible. Only that the good thing does not exist, or can not be reached. It is ‘far off’. This fact of the change in outlook is worth reflection. Too often it is superficially connected to the great wars, as though it were a question on the same level as the French or Italian New Wave or Film Noir.