Franco Volpi - Heidegger and Aristotle

Translated by Pete Ferreira


Starting instead from the early 1930s, during the elaboration of the turn, the confrontation with the metaphysical tradition develops ever more decisively in terms of a critical detachment from it, and it is considered as the history of forgetfulness of being, occurring in the event of being itself, Heidegger separates finitism itself from the attitude of foundational thought he'd assumed previously, gradually abandoning the fading foundational plans for fundamental ontology. And in keeping with this new provision in its confrontation with the metaphysical foundations of the tradition, we find within Heidegger's thinking a change of reference points: while in the foreground they emerge out of Nietzsche, Hölderlin and the Presocratics, in a different light one sees the central priority accorded to Aristotle. Despite the seminars that Heidegger keeps dictating on Aristotelian thought, the latter no longer seems to occupy a privileged position, nor is it an object of direct interpretation, nor is it a common thread in unraveling the plot of this speculation. The essay on the Aristotelian concept of φύσις, which seems to contradict this claim, in fact confirms it. Since the greatness that Heidegger gives to Aristotle is basically like the echo and reverberation of the original splendor of the Physis of the Presocratics. It belongs to the latter, then, and not so much to Aristotelian thought, to function as the determinative horizon.

Therefore, despite the almost constant presence of Aristotle within the horizon of Heidegger's speculative interests, differences in disposition and in importance cannot be suppressed. Even at a quick glance, the phase in which the confrontation reaches its maximum intensity stands out unambiguously. This is the moment in which Heidegger – addressing issues left open by Husserl and by searching for the solution through a progressive transformation and radicalization of the ontological structure of phenomenology – arrives at the idea and project of a fundamental ontology. And it is precisely the speculative horizon within which fundamental ontology gains consistency, that is the perspective Heidegger takes in the 1920s, and builds up to its extreme possibilities, which is linked to the predominant motivation that Heidegger's interest in Aristotle springs from.

A page from Franco Volpi's Heidegger and Aristotle