Franco Volpi - Heidegger and Aristotle

Translated by Pete Ferreira


Heidegger also radicalizes Verstehen – which expresses and articulates itself as Besorgen when referring to things, as Fürsorge in reference to others and as Worumwillen in reference to itself – as the foundation of care, in the same way as formerly he had radicalized Befindlichkeit. Therefore, in care (Sorge) moments of Befindlichkeit and Verstehen are pulled down to their unitary basis, i.e. to the original practical determination that connotes the apertural character of being-there in its being-in-the-world.

Now, in determining how Sorge is that original unity of passive and active moments, moments of receptivity and spontaneity, of voracity and rationality, one can say that Heidegger is raising and rephrasing the same problem that Aristotle identified for first, where he says that man is both νοῦς πρακτικός and ὄρεξις διανοητική40. The correspondence between care as fundamental determination of the opening of being-there in its being-in-the-world and practical determination of man given by Aristotle is thus complete.

Heidegger, obviously, insists on the differences. He claims for his determination of care an ontological level deeper than that achieved by the Aristotelian categories, arguing that care is ontologically prior to the distinction of πρᾶξις and θεωρία. "Care, as a primordial structural totality, lies 'before' ["vor"] every factical 'attitude' and 'situation' of Dasein, and it does so existentially a priori; this means that it always lies in them. So this phenomenon by no means expresses a priority of the 'practical' attitude over the theoretical. When we ascertain something present-at-hand by merely beholding it, this activity has the character of care just as much as does a 'political action' or taking a rest and enjoying oneself. 'Theory' and 'practice' are possibilities of Being for an entity whose Being must be defined as 'care'."41

40 Aristotle Nicomachean Ethics VI, 2, 1139 b 4-5. See also the similar comment that Heidegger makes in Nietzsche, vol. I, pp. 66-68.

41 GA 2, 257 (= Being and Time, § 41, trans. It., p. 303). [B&T p. 238, SuZ p. 193]

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