Franco Volpi - Heidegger and Aristotle

Translated by Pete Ferreira


While agreeing with Husserl on the fact that the constitution of the experience of the world cannot be explained by recourse to an entity which has the same characterization of being in the world, and thus while agreeing on the need to have recourse to an entity of a different ontological structure, Heidegger disagrees from the determination that Husserl gives of the latter in terms of transcendental subjectivity, consciousness or the I. Mainly, because Husserl had not sufficiently clarified the way of being of this entity, despite it being the Archimedean pivot of his theory of knowledge; but then also because the Husserlian determination of subjectivity had been taken up principally and unilaterally from the orientation implicit from theoretical and rationalistic determinations.

Now, as the topology of the loci of the truth reconstructed by Heidegger on the basis of the interpretation of Aristotle highlights, θεωρία and reason are only one of many possible ways of the attitude of discovering whereby man has access to things and grasps them. Next to θεωρία, and maybe before θεωρία, there are, for example, the practical-moral attitude (πρᾶξις) and the technical-practical attitude (ποίησις); they themselves represent ways in which being-there finds itself in relationship with the entity and discovers it.

We understand then why even regarding this problem Heidegger seeks recourse to Aristotle, finding in him the originary determinations of conscious life for those who look for them. In an interpretation of the Nicomachean Ethics Book VI dating back to the first lessons from Freiburg, but traces of which are there in the Marburg courses and in Being and Time, Heidegger believes he can locate in the Aristotelian treatment of dianoetic virtues the elaboration of several determinations of conscious human life, which Husserl had flattened into the single category of θεωρία.

Also contributing to his separation from Husserl let's add the circumstances that through the 'hermeneutics of facticity' elaborated during the first period at Freiburg and based on the interpretation of early Christian thought, Heidegger came to the conviction that in order to grasp human life in the original fullness of its given-ness it was necessary to have access to it before its leveling produced by the objectifying categories of θεωρία. In doing so, Heidegger had lept beyond Luther's criticism of Aristotelian terminology, recovering, nevertheless, the latter and highlighting, for example, the importance of the Aristotelian determinations of καιρός28.

28 A significant trace the importance of this determination is what Heidegger says about it towards the end of the course of summer semester 1927: "Aristotle already saw the phenomenon of the instant, the καιρός, and he defined it in the sixth book of his Nichomachean Ethics; but, again, he did it in such a way that he failed to bring the specific time character of the καιρός into connection with what he otherwise knows as time (νΰν)." (GA 24 , 409). – For importance of the young Luther to the Heideggerian hermeneutics of effectiveness see Pöggeler, Der Denkweg Martin Heideggers, 40-41.

A page from Franco Volpi's Heidegger and Aristotle