Franco Volpi - Heidegger and Aristotle

Translated by Pete Ferreira


In light of all these considerations that highlight the thematic connection and correspondence between the Heideggerian analysis of being-there and the Aristotelian consideration of man's moral action, one also understands then too why, as Gadamer recalled, faced with the difficulty of translating the term φρόνησις Heidegger could exclaim: "Das ist das Gewissen!"45. He was evidently thinking of his own determination of conscience (Gewissen), in which the having-to-be, i.e. the practical structural disposition of being-there, manifests itself to itself. A review from this perspective of §§ 54-60 of Being and Time, which is about "this attestation an authentic potentiality-for-Being-one's-Self is to be given us to understand", may shed light on how even in his own determination of conscience Heidegger orients himself by Aristotle, and precisely on that structure of practical knowledge that Aristotle designates by the term φρόνησις. Even here, however, it should be noted that while φρόνησις is about the being and moral action of man, conscience becomes for Heidegger an ontological connotation of being-there, a determination of its being.

Now, in that series of analyzes of everyday life that trendy existentialism has misunderstood, but at the same time made famous, Heidegger shows how it is so because of the structure of the having-to-be, in which in having to take charge of its own being, being-there is confused and tends mostly, in daily attitude, get rid of this burden; it thus acts out its being not for itself, but according to the ways of the common impersonality of the They (Man) foreshadow and provide, and which being-there assumes in an inauthentic manner. This disorientation (Unheimlichkeit) and this tendency that Heidegger calls fallenness (Verfallen) is unnatural to being-there, precisely because having to choose for oneself in practice puts it inside its own structure is something that cannot be avoided, but is the necessary consequence of his way of being.

45 See H.-G. Gadamer, "Heidegger und die Marburger Theologie", in O. Pöggeler (Ed.), Heidegger. Perspektiven zur Deutung seines Werks, Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Köln 1970, pp. 169-178, especially p. 171 (now in Gadamer, Heideggers Wege, pp. 29-40, especially p. 32).

A page from Franco Volpi's Heidegger and Aristotle