12 ● Heidegger and Aristotle

as a confrontation with Scholasticism. Ultimately, Scholasticism depended on a distorted transmission of Greek concepts into Latin.

It would be misleading, however, to conclude from Gadamer’s provocative title—“Heidegger’s Theological Early Writings”—that this text is in any way a theological essay. This is a title that Gadamer takes up, at least in part, to parody Dilthey’s decision to give the same title to the discovery of the early works of Hegel. But in this essay, Heidegger only briefly refers to his earlier theological concerns and makes the explicit point that Scholastic as well as Lutheran reformed theology need to be brought to their source in Aristotle and that this overturning of theology through philosophy is central to the movement of destruction in the text. Indeed, we will see that one of the striking characteristics of Heidegger’s ontological reading of Aristotle’s Metaphysics is its incompatibility with the theologically oriented readings of Thomistic philosophy. In dismantling what he calls onto-theology, Heidegger clearly sees Aristotle on the side of ontology. In fact, there is a telling footnote in his 1922 Aristotle essay in which Heidegger insists on the fundamentally atheistic perspective of all genuine philosophizing and hints that it was because the history of philosophy remained guided by a theological bias that it was unable to fully and genuinely philosophize.36 He queries whether the idea of a philosophy of religion is not itself contradictory, even though his own courses had more than once bore this title.

Phenomenology, Heidegger demonstrates, is not just a hermeneutically naive appeal to the things themselves, as if it were a matter of recapturing or approximating some lost original position. It is the self-address of factical life. Heidegger’s pervasive claim in this essay is that philosophy is life, that is, the self-articulation from out of itself of life.37 This is why Heidegger says that genuine philosophy is fundamentally atheistic.38 To the extent that theology takes its cue from outside factical life, it can never do philosophy. All philosophical research, and Aristotle is seen as paradigmatic, remains attuned to the life situation out of which and for the sake of which it is inquiring. The first sections of this essay have to do with this situatedness, this overwhelming facticity, that defines the being of life.

What Heidegger emphasizes in his “destruction” of the history of philosophy in the second part of this essay is not the ability to point out the various trends and interdependencies that can be traced through the history of philosophy. The more important task of destruction is to bring into focus and set apart the central ontological and logical structures at the decisive

Walter Brogan - Heidegger and Aristotle