Franco Volpi - Heidegger and Aristotle

Translated by Pete Ferreira


The decade preceding the publication of Being and Time (1927), from the last years of the first period at Freiburg and the entire period in Marburg, is characterized in its speculative terrain by the strength with which, in engaging Aristotle, Heidegger puts into action this foundational intent. From a general point of view, it comes together as an urge for a truly radical philosophical knowledge, in the need to locate and determine the primary source from which it springs before it unfolds, and to which it later returns, the live wire of philosophizing.

Keeping this phase of Heidegger's confrontation with Aristotle firmly in place, we must now examine directly from where it springs, explains itself, and where it ends up. Before I start this review, however, it remains for me to make a brief comment about the studies on the subject. For sure, compared to other of Heidegger's interpretations of the classics of philosophy, that of Aristotle suffered relatively less of the skepticism with which the specialists have responded to Heidegger's bending of and violence on the texts. So much so, that in the vast sea of Aristotelian studies there has formed an interpretative current, represented by little known and established scholars, who are inspired by the more or less openly exegetical guidelines provided by Heidegger4. The same cannot be said, however, about studies of Heidegger with Aristotle in general, that is to say, about the role played by the interpretation of Aristotle in the evolution of Heidegger's thought. On this theme, the literature on Heidegger, otherwise superabundant, numbers but a few studies5. Helping to close this gap is one purpose of this research.

4 W. Bröcker, Aristoteles, Klostermann, Frankfurt a. M. 1935; H. Weiss, Kausalität und Zufall in der Philosophie des Aristoteles, Haus zum Falken, Basel 1942 (anastatic reprint, Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 1967); W. Szilasi, Macht und Ohnmacht des Geistes, Francke, Bern 1946 (especially the second part with interpretations of the Nicomachean Ethics, from books IX to XII of Metaphysics and from book II of De Anima); K. Ulmer, Wahrheit, Kunst und Natur bei Aristoteles. Ein Beitrag zur Aufklärung der metaphysischen Herkunft der modernen Technik, Niemeyer, Tübingen 1953; A. Guzzoni, Die Einheit des on πολλαχος λεγομενον bei Aristoteles, Phil. Diss., Freiburg i. Br. 1957; E. Tugendhat, Ti kata tinos. Eine Untersuchung zu Struktur und Ursprung aristotelischer Grundbegriffe, Alber, Freiburg-München 1958; R. Boehm, Das Grundlegende und das Wesentliche. Zu Aristoteles’ Abhandlung “Über das Sein und das Seiende” (Metaphysik Z), Nijhoff, Den Haag 1965; E. Vollrath, Studien zur Kategorienlehre des Aristoteles, Henn, Ratingen 1969; Id., Die These der Metaphysik. Zur Gestalt der Metaphysik bei Aristoteles, Kant und Hegel, Henn, Ratingen 1969 (specialmente pp. 15-92); F. Wiplinger, Physis und Logos. Zum Körperphänomen in seiner Bedeutung für den Ursprung der Metaphysik bei Aristoteles, Alber, Freiburg-München 1971; U. Guzzoni, Grund und Allgemeinheit. Untersuchung zum aristotelischen Verständnis der ontologischen Gründe, Hain, Meisenheim a. G. 1975; K. H. Volkmann-Schluck, Die Metaphysik des Aristoteles, Klostermann, Frankfurt a. M. 1979; I. Schüssler, Aristoteles. Philosophie und Wissenschaft. Das Problem der Verselbständigung der Wissenschaften, Klostermann, Frankfurt a. M. 1982.

5 So few, that the principals can be mentioned in the space of a note: W. Marx, Heidegger und die Tradition, Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 1961, pp. 25-51 («Gestalt und Sinn der aristotelischen ousia»);[Heidegger and the Tradition.] K. H. Ilting, "Sein als Bewegtheit. Zu Heidegger, Vom Wesen und Begriff der Physis (Aristoteles, Physik B 1)", Philosophische Rundschau, 10, 1962, pp. 31-49; J. Richardson, "Heidegger and Aristotle", The Heythrop Journal, 5, 1964, pp. 58-64; O. Laffoucrière, "Le destin de la pensée et “la mort de Dieu” selon Heidegger" (Phaenomenologica, 24), Nijhoff, La Haye 1968, pp. 74-105; D. Lewis, Aristotle’s Theory of Time: Destructive Ontology from Heideggerian Principles, «Kinesis», 2, 1970, pp. 81-92; W.F. Hood, The Aristotelian Versus the Heideggerian Approach to the Problem of Technology , in Philosophy and Technology. Readings in the philosophical problems of technology, ed. with an introduction by C. Mitcham and R. Mackey, The Free Press, New York 1972, pp. 347-363; J. Beaufret, Dialogue avec Heidegger. Philosophie grecque, Editions de minuit, Paris 1973, pp. 93-121, 124-145;[Dialogue with Heidegger.] Thomas Sheehan, "Heidegger, Aristotle, and Phenomenology", Philosophy Today, 19, 1975, pp. 87-94; D. E. Starr, Entity and Existence. An Ontological Investigation of Aristotle and Heidegger, Burt Franklin, New York 1975; D. F. Krell, "On the Manifold Meaning of Aletheia: Brentano, Aristotle, Heidegger", Research in Phenomenology, 5, 1975, pp. 77-94; H. Seidl, "Zur Seinsfrage bei Aristoteles und Heidegger", Zeitschrift für philosophische Forschung, 30, 1976, pp. 203-226; W. G. Brown, An Inquiry Into the Question About Truth and Sense in the Thinking of Heidegger and Aristotle, Phil. Diss., Pennsylvania State University 1978; Thomas Sheehan, "Heidegger’s Philosophy of Mind", in Contemporary Philosophy. IV: Philosophy of Mind, ed. by G. Fløistad, Nijhoff The Hague-Boston-London 1983, pp. 287-318; Id., "On the Way to Ereignis: Heidegger’s Interpretation of Physis", in Continental Philosophy in America, ed. by H. J. Silverman, J. Sallis, Th. M. Seebohm, Duquesne University Press, Pittsburg 1983, pp. 131-164; F. Volpi, Heidegger in Marburg: Die Auseinandersetzung mit Aristoteles, «Philosophischer Literaturanzeiger», 37, 1984, pp. 172-188.

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