Franco Volpi - Heidegger and Aristotle

Translated by Pete Ferreira


Before examining this fluent presence of Aristotle in Heidegger, it is appropriate to allow a preliminary clarification regarding the different approaches that from time to time characterize Heidegger's engagement with Aristotle. From a methodological point of view, assuming Heidegger's technical terminology, Heidegger's interpretation of Aristotle might generally be characterized as a first step, until the early 1930s, as 'destruction', while later, i.e. after turning (chronologically placeable precisely in the early 1930s), it is implemented as a localization of Aristotelian thought in the history of metaphysics, in turn as history of the forgetfulness of being. Now, these characterizations in Heideggerian terminology may appear to be somewhat ambiguous or trite, especially from their erosion by the Heidegger's huge bibliography, which has made them lose their bite. It is therefore appropriate to clarify the procedures that Heidegger follows in confronting the tradition in general, and Aristotle in particular. That's not to recall once again the sense of those well-known methodological clarifications, but rather to highlight the systematic horizon within which they assume consistency, and to lay out the ends they serve.

The so called 'phenomenological destruction' of traditional ontology – a term which until the late 1920s Heidegger shall designate as the proper methodological attitude, at the same time critical detachment and rapacious assimilation, towards the metaphysical tradition – is in fact the indispensable premise that is followed by a truly radical construction. And what is truly radical for Heidegger is that constructon that rests on fundamental ontology or – as he himself calls it – on the metaphysics of being-there, which would attain that foundation, which is precisely being-there, from which it will be possible to explain the connection of being and time in its complete articulation.

A page from Franco Volpi's Heidegger and Aristotle