Franco Volpi - Heidegger and Aristotle

Translated by Pete Ferreira


With substantial agreement with Aristotle, Heidegger still manages a radical shift, which must be highlighted. Aristotle based his characteristic of human life on the basis of the determination of man as rational animal, namely as the living thing gifted with λόγος; when gifted with λόγος, man is able to assess and decide on its life and the ways and forms of its actualization. Heidegger instead, so to speak, overturns this relationship at its foundations, so that in his conception it is the λόγος that is founded on the peculiarity of the being of being-there and to be interpreted as a way of actualization of the latter, and not the other way around. The originary essential determination of man is therefore not in its being animale razionale, but rather in the disposition and practical connotation of its way of being.

Said differently: the Aristotelian conception gives a determination of man as animale razionale, derived from theoretical considerations of anthropological and metaphysical type, within the context of which the pratico-moral consideration then observes being and man's life in this aspect. In the Heideggerian conception, instead, each determination of a theoretical type, whether psychological, anthropological or metaphysical, is deemed not to be originary regarding the eminently practical connotation of the being of being-there, and is therefore bracketed and shelved when characterizing the latter. The result is that the practical disposition that connotes the being of being-there is made absolute and radicalized until it becomes a fundamental ontological determination.

Therefore, the practical-moral connotation of human life given by Heidegger, despite the substantial analogy presented, fits into a different ontological framework and consequently assumes different values.

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