Franco Volpi - Heidegger and Aristotle

Translated by Pete Ferreira


In this way, by indicating in his early writings the presence in nuce of the fundamental problems of his mature speculation, Heidegger in this way circumscribes the questions about in his early writings and, by parceling out his reading, he can offer guidelines for interpreting his speculative path. Now of course, the publication of the Gesamtausgabe certainly makes available to scholars important materials with which to better understand this self-interpreting and to verify step by step the transition of the problematic from the youthful writings to Being and Time. They were already present in the Marburg lectures that have been published so far, but particularly relevant in this regard will be the publication of the first Freiburg lectures6.

For now, however, we can already make use of a series of autobiographical details that Heidegger furnished and which can be precious, directly or indirectly, for the reconstruction of the circumstances of his intellectual and philosophical education. Almost each of the directions that they suggest could be made the subject of further discussion and research: his reading of Brentano's dissertation On the manifold sense of being according to Aristotle, the study of treatise Vom Sein by theologian Carl Braig, the teachings of the art historian Wilhelm Vöge, his reading of Hölderlin (1908), the repeated reading of the Logical Investigations;iIn addition, his proximity and confrontation with Heinrich Rickert and with Emil Lask, his interest in the mystical Germany, prior to Protestantism, in Meister Eckhart, and especially in German mysticism7; finally, a number of catalysts that appear in German cultural life between 1910 and 1914, like the augmented 2nd edition of Nietzsche's Will to Power, the translations of Kierkegaard and Dostoevsky, the resurgence of interest in Hegel and Schelling, the Gesammelte Schriften publishing of Dilthey, and the poetry of Rilke and Trakl.

Among all these signs, it is obvious they take on special importance when referencing the rise in Heidegger of the need for a revival of the problem of being, which remains consistently present throughout Heidegger's thought and Heidegger himself claims as the unifying thematic horizon that embraces the different perspectives through which his speculative evolution passes. In this sense, then, the autobiographical incidents where Heidegger recalls his young reading of Brentano's On the Several Senses of Being in Aristotle and the treatise Vom Sein by Carl Braig are particularly important. It is then a matter of submitting these two texts to a rigorous examination in order to identify in the origins of the Heideggerian conception of being the emergence of Aristotle, filtered through the scholastic interpretations of Brentano and Braig.

6 In addition to Aristotle, the theme of these lectures were especially Husserl, early Christian thought, phenomenology of religion, and Augustine and Neoplatonism.

7 It is not unlikely that interest in mysticism had been aroused in the young Heidegger by Engelbert Krebs (Freiburg 4-10-1881 - pub. 11/29/1950), who was his friend and confidant, and early on he attended some of his seminars. Among his works we can mention: Meister Dietrich von Freiberg, Münster, 1906; Logos als der Heiland im ersten Jahrhundert, Freiburg i. Br. 1909; Theologie und Wissenschaft nach der Lehre der Hochscholastik, Münster 1912; Was kein Auge gesehen, Freiburg i. Br. 1918; Grundfragen der Komische Mystik, Freiburg i. Br. 1921; Dogma und Leben, 2 vols., Paderborn 1921-1925; St. Augustin. Der Mensch und Kirchenvater, Köln 1930.

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