Franco Volpi - Heidegger and Aristotle

Translated by Pete Ferreira


Thus, in Aristotle, the practical consideration has to do with man as the subject of action and, as consideration of a matter determined in human life, it is next to many other possible considerations, which observe man in other respects. Therefore, as it examines the living by how they act, the practical philosophy of Aristotle does not exhaust consideration of the being of that entity which is man.

In Heidegger, on the other hand, practical-moral determination is not only one aspect given among many others, but it is the fundamental connotation of being-there. It thus becomes the ontological determination of being-there and therefore regarding the latter assumes a dimension that is so to speak about everything, in the sense that the practical-moral reference to one's own being is not only an act in certain determined actions or in pursuing specified purposes, but you do not have to do that much, both in following and in not following. It is chiefly concerned with living itself in its stark nakedness. As a result, life assumes for man the character of something necessary and inescapable, in the sense that it cannot be avoided, but should be taken up in all its gravity.

The can-be of being-there, which is at the foundation of his concrete project, doesn't explicate nor occur so much in choosing certain purposes nor deciding on particular actions, but before every decision and every choice, and precisely in the fact of not being able to not choose and not being able to not decide. Since the same evasion of choices and decisions is ultimately a way to choose and decide, that is one way in which the being of being-there is actualized.

Grounded on the practical determination of could-be, the concept of freedom also takes on a different significance in Heidegger. It doesn't mean so much that one could decide positively for this or that, but it becomes the fundamental structure that underlies every chance to decide. That is, said paradoxically: at the base of being able to decide is freedom, as a cannot not decide. Freedom is then for being-there that weight that, although weight of its own being and unlike any other weight, can be neither deposed nor relieved. Even in the absence of any action and of any virtue, it announces itself in the fundamental feeling of anguish, its true weight, that is, the weight that being-there, whether it likes it or not, has to take charge of and that is not so much that of each determined action, but that of its being and of its living in its entirety.

A page from Franco Volpi's Heidegger and Aristotle