Franco Volpi - Heidegger and Aristotle

Translated by Pete Ferreira


That the "phenomenological destruction" of traditional ontology pursues fundamental purposes can be seen clearly in a passage from summer semester 1927, which shows that Heidegger thinks of destruction as a integral moment of the phenomenological method of reduction. More precisely, after claiming to want to take up again the method of reduction formulated by Husserl – considering it though not in the transcendental sense, as "reconditioning of the phenomenological gaze from the natural attitude of man that lives in the world of things and people to the transcendental life of consciousness and its lived noesis-noematici"1, but in the ontological sense of a "reconditioning of the phenomenological gaze (...) from the entity to the understanding of being (...) by that entity"2–, Heidegger asserts that it must be supplemented and completed by the instances of destruction and of construction. Reduction, destruction and construction are thought by Heidegger in their reciprocal connection as constitutive moments of the phenomenological method. So, the comparison with the history of philosophy in terms of "destruction" becomes a preliminary moment before phenomenological construction. As Heidegger himself states: "Construction in philosophy is necessarily destruction, that is to say, a de-constructing of traditional concepts carried out in a historical recursion to the tradition. And this is not a negation of the tradition or a condemnation of it as worthless: quite the reverse, it signifies precisely a positive appropriation of tradition. Because destruction belongs to construction, philosophical cognition is essentially at the same time, in a certain sense, historical cognition. "History of philosophy," as it is called, belongs to the concept of philosophy as science, to the concept of phenomenological investigation.3

The critical engagement with the tradition stays within the horizon of a fundamental finitude, represented by the metaphysics of being-there, within which Heidegger believes possible, and therefore pursues, fundamental purposes. The model paradigm and privileged point of reference for the implementation of this program is Aristotelian thought, in which, at least initially, Heidegger is convinced he will be able to detect a determination of the fundamental modes of being of conscious life, and a phenomenology of the natural attitudes of the latter, both free – even when placed in the context of the Greek understanding of being as presence – from the burden of the prejudices of modern theories of the subject.

1 GA 24, 29. [Die Grundprobleme der Phänomenologie. Marburger Vorlesung Sommersemester 1927 ed. F.-W. von Herrmann (1975).]

2 Ibid.

3 Ibid, 31 [The Basic Problems of Phenomenology, 23].

A page from Franco Volpi's Heidegger and Aristotle