Franco Volpi - Heidegger and Aristotle

Translated by Pete Ferreira


For Heidegger, the traditional assumptions of the theoretico-constative attitude as the originary and determinative cognitive mode means a double misunderstanding. It means above all a misunderstanding of the originary modality of the relations of being-there to things, of taking care of them (Besorgen), which at first and most often is what one has to do with being in the technico-practical disposition (Zuhandenheit) and only in second place comes observing them as mere presence (Vorhandenheit). But mostly it's a misunderstanding of the practical and moral character of being-there's referring to its own being, which does not let it grasp itself in its own peculiarity, when it is understood according to the objectifying categories of mere observation.

From his discovery Heidegger derives some fundamental consequences for ontology regarding the determination of the fundamental mode of being of human life. (1) In criticizing the insufficiently radical metaphysical distinctions of man and nature, subject and object, consciousness and world, Heidegger transplants their roots, on the basis of the practical determination of the being of being-there, its ontic and ontological primacy. He thus distinguishes radically the ontological constitution of being-there from that of other entities. (2) In characterizing this constitution as one temporally determined, against the primacy of the metaphysics of the presence, he sets up the priority of the future dimension, and precisely on the basis of this consideration that it is the future being that the practical disposition must take responsibility for, it is about this future being that one decides. (This being also has the character of being-always-mine, that is, the character that Heidegger designates with the term Jemeinigkeit.) (3) Finally, Heidegger declares the need to understand anew on the basis of this discovery all the fundamental determinations of human life in their articulation and in their unitary connection.

What we will show now, is that the structure of human life that Heidegger here highlights and enhances as the ontological constitution of being-there, is basically a return and a re-purposing of the substantive sense of the characterization of being and of the moral life of man that Aristotle elaborates in Nicomachean Ethics Book VI.

A page from Franco Volpi's Heidegger and Aristotle