Franco Volpi - Heidegger and Aristotle

Translated by Pete Ferreira


The treatise is divided into the three volumes mentioned above, dedicated respectively to ontology, logic and the theory of knowledge. The middle volume, which deals with being, is itself divided into three parts, in accordance with the threefold articulation that, according to Braig, characterizes the different themes of ontology as a science of being in general; these themes: eidology, which is the doctrine of being that questions about the properties of entities ("Vom Wesen des Seienden", pp. 18-99), nomology, or the doctrine of the laws concerning the effects of entities on their existence and their movement ("Vom Wirken des Seienden", pp. 100-133,) and teleology, or the doctrine of the ends of entities ("Vom Zwecke des Seienden", pp. 134-158).

Within this framework, that in substance proposes to be nothing but a metaphysica generalis, the themes and key issues of the Aristotelian-Thomistic ontology are examined; above all the concepts of being, existence, nothing, substance and accident, space and time, of potential and activity, of reality and necessity, are all examined; and this repertoire is then completed at the end of each chapter with a selections of excerpts taken from the works of Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, and the doctrine of the Catholic Church (particularly in support and illustration, historical and systematic, of the thesis presented in the text).

Already from this general description, it can be said that Braig's treatise contributed – along with the Brentano's dissertation – to align the interests of the young Heidegger toward the problems of ontology, focusing his attention in particular on classics like Aristotle, Thomas and Suarez. And also the very fact, seemingly irrelevant, that at the end of chapters – in addition to reporting, as has been said, excerpts taken from classical texts of ontology – Braig offers incidental etymological reconstructions of the concepts examined, probably Heidegger's initiation to the etymologies that meander almost everywhere throughout his work, and in virtue of which he discovers in the originary etymology of key words of Western thought the seeds of deep metaphysical meanings.

These elements, which testify to Braig's importance in Heidegger development in a significant but indirect way, however, find their equal, and their confirmation too, in a more essential plan. Although it is somewhat risky, if not impossible, given the scarcity of accessible sources today, to go beyond ascertaining parallels and thematic correspondences, one can however propose some befitting hypotheses.

A page from Franco Volpi's Heidegger and Aristotle