Franco Volpi - Heidegger and Aristotle

Translated by Pete Ferreira



From among the problems in the last chapter of Aristotle's discussion of time (Phys. IV, 14), Heidegger first tackles that of determining the earlier (πρότερον) and the latter (ὕστερον), whose function in the definition of time is crucial. Then comes the question of where is time and in what way it is (a question that is reprised in book VIII, where time is associated with celestial movement and with the νοῦς). And in answering this question one gets to a further problem, which for Heidegger is fundamental, namely the problem of the dependence of time on the soul in the sense that, as you'll see, if time is the number of movement, it can only exist if we admit the existence of a numbering, and doing that numbering is the soul; and for Heidegger it is a matter of grasping the fundamental ontological determination of the soul, on the basis of which you can understand what it means that time is in the soul. The solution to these problems is closely related, according to Heidegger, with the determination of the concept of intratemporality (Innerzeitigkeit) and with the response given by the aporia already raised in chapter X on the ontological placement of time. And given that for Aristotle time is a certain property of movement and it is measured by motion, in order to resolve the issue of ontological 'place' of time, you need to find that movement on which time is originally measured. And this movement is the revolution (κυκλοφορία) of the first celestial sphere.

Having laid out the main problems presented by the Aristotelian treatment of time, Heidegger focuses on the interpretation of the definition according to which time and number is the number of the movement according to before and after. In doing so, he strives to bring out the profound speculative dynamic that animates the Aristotelian discussion of the problem and which unites in a single connecting thread the various issues raised. Heidegger's interpretive strategy unfolds at various ways, of which it is appropriate here to give the sequence: (1) it is first of all to determine the phenomenon of time in relation to the phenomena with which it is tightly connected to in a link with Ἀκολούθειν, and which are movement (κίνησις or μεταβολε), dimensionality (μεγέθος) and continuity (συνέχεια). (2) Next, consider the analogies and dis-analogies between time and space, distinguishing in particular the instant (νυν) from point (Στύγα) by the character of passing (ἐκ τινός εἰς τι) the first does and the second does not, and for the character of limit that instead the second has, but not the first. (3) It is then necessary to understand the determining of number and to distinguish between numbered and numbering, while considering that while the point as a limit belongs to the being of what it delimits (i.e. it has the same characters), the instant — through which movement is measured by obtaining its time — when it is not a limit, it isn't part of the being in movement. Consequently, time as the number of movement can only be experienced based on movement, but it doesn't have the being of movement. (4) Lastly it remains to clarify the relationship between numbered and numbering, and more specifically between time as movement numbered and the soul as what numbers it.

A page from Franco Volpi's Heidegger and Aristotle