In the artwork, claims Heidegger, there is a happening of truth. It is the happening of truth in the work that defines the artwork as a work. Truth, for Heidegger, stands in an essential relation to being. Consideration of the artwork as the happening of truth is thus determined on the horizon of the being of beings, and is therefore no longer metaphysical. But in what sense is there a happening of truth in the artwork? What is truth on Heidegger’s account?
Metaphysics conceives of truth as the relationship of correctness between intellect and object. Heidegger points out that this conception of truth presupposes the prior disclosure or unconcealment of the object. It is in terms of this original unconcealment of beings that Heidegger understands truth. Truth is unconcealment. This accords the concept with the etymological meaning of the corresponding Greek word: aletheia.
To the essence of truth as unconcealment, however, belongs the basic possibility of concealment. The reverse holds as well: only on the presupposition of unconcealment can there be concealment. This pair of mutually implicatory concepts form the structural dynamic within which beings are first disclosed at all, that is, come to take a stand in that which Heidegger calls the “clearing”. The clearing is “won”, Heidegger tells us, as the result of the “primal strife” between concealment and unconcealment. Beings are able to be disclosed at all only insofar as the clearing in which they presence is constituted out of the opposition of concealment and unconcealment. Truth is this dynamic opposition, and truth as the unconcealment of beings is constituted out of this dynamic opposition. Truth as unconcealment is in this sense self-grounding for Heidegger.