Franco Volpi - Heidegger and Aristotle

Translated by Pete Ferreira


Braig, however, intends to grasp and think the unity of being and, indeed, he sees it as one of the fundamental tasks of ontology. Right at the beginning of the treatise Vom Sein, he states that the question "what is being as such" must guide the search for an identical image (εἶδος) in all entities (and for this he designates the term 'eidology' the first part of ontological research)23. It is interesting now to consider how he thinks the unity of being compared to categorical differentiation. He says: "our universal judgment is: 'the entity is'. The meaning of that judgment is: every entity is a thing-substance with characteristics of substance, it is substance plus accidents. The categoria omnicomprensiva, which includes itself and all other possibilities underneath, is as much logical as ontological, the category of 'substance and accident'"24. Now, one can notice that in this attempt to think the common concept of being, the unity of substance and accident, is similar in structure to the one carried out by Brentano; since even Brentano, stressing the unifying strength of analogy, returns to the multiplicity of senses of being according to the categories, first to substance and accident, and then the concept of being.

In addition, Braig adheres to the conception of God as ipsum esse. This doctrine, developed – as is known – especially by Thomas Aquinas, contains a tendency to substantialize being, namely to conceive it as a hypostasis and identify it with God, though, especially in Thomas, this tendency toward the origin, probably Neoplatonic, is expertly combined with the doctrine of multiplicity of senses of creaturely being25. Now, Braig not only adhere to this doctrine, but at certain points it seems that he wants to introduce to it an ontological distinction between being and entities. Which, for the problem considered here, the genesis of being in Heidegger, is very significant.

So, just at the beginning of the treatise Vom Sein, instead of a preface Braig reports a large step in the Itinerarium mentis in Deum of Bonaventure of Bagnoregio, in which the ipsum esse is distinguished from individual entities " Ipsum esse adeo in se certissimum, quod non potest cogitari non esse, quia ipsum esse purissimum non occurrit nisi in plena fuga non-esse, sicut et nihil in plena fuga esse. (...) esse nominat ipsum purum actum entis: esse igitur est, quod primo cadit in intellectum (...)" 26. The passage then continues, illustrating the difficulties which this ontological difference leads to: " Mira est caecitas intellectus, qui non considerat illud, quod prius videt et sine quo nihil potest cognoscere. Sed sicut oculus, intentus in varias colorum differentias, lucem, per quam videt cetera, non videt, et si videt, non advertit: sic oculus mentis nostrae, intentus in entia particularia et universalia, ipsum esse extra omne genus, licet primo occurrat menti et per ipsum alia, tamen non advertit. Unde verissime apparet, quod, ‘sicut oculus vespertilionis se habet ad lucem, ita se habet oculus mentis nostrae ad manifestissima naturae’ [see Arist. Met. II, 1, 993 b 9-11]: quia assuefactus ad tenebras entium et phantasmata sensibilium, cum ipsam lucem summi esse intuetur, videtur sibi nihil videre, non intelligens, quod ipsa caligo summa est mentis nostrae illuminatio, sicut, quando videt oculus puram lucem, videtur sibi nihil videre ."27

23 Braig, Vom Sein, p. 18.

24 Ibid, p. 54.

25 See Kremer, Die neuplatonische Seinsphilosophie und ihre Wirkung auf Thomas von Aquin; Berti, Aristotelismo e neoplatonismo nella dottrina tomistica di Dio come “ipsum esse”. Also see on the problem of analogia entis, in connection with the problem of ipsum esse: P. Grenet, "Saint Thomas d’Aquin a-t-il trouvé dans Aristote l’analogia entis?", in L’attualità della problematica aristotelica, Antenore, Padova 1970, pp. 153-175; P. Aubenque, "Les origines de la doctrine de l’analogie de l’être", Les Etudes Philosophiques, nr. 1, 1978, pp. 1-12. (On analogia entis, in general, always valuable is the treatise of E. Przywara, Analogia entis, Johannes, Einsiedeln 1962).

26 Braig, Vom Sein, p. V (the passage is taken from Itinerarium mentis in Deum, V, 3).

27 Ibid, pp. V-VI (from Itinerarium mentis in Deum, V, 4).

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