Franco Volpi - Heidegger and Aristotle

Translated by Pete Ferreira


Heidegger here makes his move – like he will do later in Being and Time – with a problematization of the three traditional theses on truth: the first thesis states that the place of truth is the proposition; the second says that truth is adequacy or the coincidence of thought and being, of representation and thing; the third, finally, gives Aristotle the authorship of both previous assertions.

Heidegger questions these three theses by following a triple argumentative progression. (1) First he distinguishes in language the semantic factor from the apophantic factor expressed in assertion or predication. (2) He then examines the peculiar structure of predication, that is, its being true or false, with the intention of laying bare its basis. (3) The latter is finally apprehended by distinguishing the being-true (Wahrsein) of the predication of truth (Wahrheit) in a more originary, pre-predicative, and ontological sense, that is, from that truth that is the very nature of being.


Based on a reading of the first chapter of De Interpretatione, supplemented by references to the third book of De Anima, Heidegger captures and determines the character of the λόγος as that 'discovering' attitude of conscious human life, of being-there, by which in language and by words it accesses the entity and makes it manifest. Distinguished from simple inarticulate and the non-semantic sounds (ἀγράμματοί ψόφοι) of animals, proper semantic sounds (φωναί σημαντικαί) represent the elementary units of human language. They can be simple or they can be connected. If they are simple, you simply say (φάσις, dictio), expressing individual names (ὀνόματα, nomina) or individual verbs (ρήματα, verba). If you are connected, then we have in a real sense speech, that is discourse, the λόγος. In turn, the latter can be not apophantic – such as prayer (εὐχή) or other forms of λόγοι analyzed in Poetics and Rhetoric – or apophantic. In ἀπόφανσις, predication, as a form of speech, you have the statement (κατάφασις, affirmatio) and denial (ἀπόφασις, negatio). And it is precisely in these last two forms that the λόγος takes on the character of the could-be-true or false. Schematically, this structuring of language can be depicted as follows:

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