Franco Volpi - Heidegger and Aristotle

Translated by Pete Ferreira


But let us proceed by following the path of Heidegger's interpretation. It is now above all a matter of figuring out what it means to say that time is something about motion and that we experience it when we follow a moving body; since, at first glance, this doesn't seem very clear. Just consider, as noted by Heidegger, a concrete example, a pointer that moves from left to right by turning on one of its ends.

If in observing this body that moves we wonder where it is and where can time be found, we must note at the outset that time is certainly not a property of the pointer, nor its color, nor its size, nor its corporeality, nor its position (which we think of as a line). And, indeed, Aristotle does not say that time is a property of the moving body, but rather a property of the movement itself. And it is in looking to the latter as such that we can apprehend time as such.

However, Heidegger continues, the difficulty does not appear to be overcome, because we can follow the movement of the pointer — which is a local movement — observing its passage from one location to another, without however yet grasping time. If then we halt the movement of the pointer, we say that the pointer is stopped, but that time continues to elapse. And it would seem then that time is not related to the movement and does not depend on it.

Aristotle, in fact, does not say that time is movement (κίνησις), but instead something of movement (κινήσεως τι). And you have to see how and according to which modality time manifests itself in movement, of which it must be a property. Now, noting that in its movement the pointer passes through each of the places in its path in a given time, we can say that the movement happens over time, meaning that it is intra-temporal. But — Heidegger asks himself — if time is manifested in the movement while movement happens within time, what then is time? Perhaps some sort of container that encompasses the movement and that movement so to speak always brings time with it? And if the pointer stops, if it stops the movement, does time then also stop? In still moments what is time?

A page from Franco Volpi's Heidegger and Aristotle