Franco Volpi - Heidegger and Aristotle

Translated by Pete Ferreira


Heidegger then asks further about the foundation of this practical connotation of being-there; he asks himself, then, what is the ontological nature of the basis on which being-there rests on. The answer he gives to this question is that the being of being-there is not something that's easily located and current, but it's a can-be that expands beyond the confines of its current-ness, both towards the future, in the design and actualization of its being, as well as in the direction of the past, in the sense that the latter is always the condition and horizon for its projection. The can-be is thus a 'suspended being' of being-there which is the ontological dimension of its freedom, of its being-free-for; it is because of this connotation that it is forced to shoulder the burden of deciding its own being, that is the burden that is manifested in the fundamental feeling of anguish.31

Harnessing systematically the ontological scope of the discovery of the eminently practical character of being-there in terms of having-to-be (which is opening, can-be and freedom), Heidegger can criticize the understanding of man's being put in place by metaphysics.

The latter, in fact, leaving aside the practical nature of human life, takes as privileged and determinate perspective in the knowing about of neutral observation, in the ascertainment and description of verifiable type; the objectifying cognitive function – linked to the ideal of visual engagement – is made absolute as a paradigm of knowledge. Now, the detailed and verifying attitude which so develops not only gives that entity that is man the ability to reflect in an un-subjective and perspective-less knowledge, and thus objective and universal, of all the other entities; but that assumes some cognitive mode both for the grasping and determination of the being of human life itself, which would then be reaped and observed by means of a reflection on itself. The metaphysical tradition founds the ontological primacy of man on the ability that human life has to cognitively reflect on all external reality as well as itself: human life is consciousness and self-consciousness.

31 See Being and Time, § 40. In the light of practical character of the determination of being-there as having-to-be and considering the productive appropriation of Aristotle's practical philosophy by Heidegger, one should also remove the consistent textual footholds that existentialist readings of Heidegger have found in these passages of Being and Time (see those of A. De Waelhens, La philosophie de Martin Heidegger, Nauwelaerts, Louvain-Paris. 1942, and those of P. Chiodi, L’esistenzialismo di Heidegger, Taylor, Torino 1965).

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