Franco Volpi - Heidegger and Aristotle

Translated by Pete Ferreira


If one firmly holds onto the idea that time is a property of the movement, as Aristotle says, it would seem that with the end of movement the passage of time would also cease. And yet we say that the pointer remained unchanged for a given time. But, again, Aristotle does not say only, in an indeterminate way, that time is something of movement, but indicates precisely what it is of movement; the number.

But even this precision doesn't appear to clear the field of all the difficulties. It is strange, in fact, says Heidegger, that time is determined by number, which as such is considered as something that is beyond time, something timeless, independent of time. It is true that Aristotle says that time is number in the sense of the numbered (αριθμούμενον); but, taking the example of the pointer, what is it of its movement that is numbered? Since the pointer moves according to a local movement, we can clearly number the individual places, the individual points, through which it passes in its moving.

However, even by numbering all the places and points that it passes in its movement, not even now can we grasp time, because the sum of these places or points doesn't result in time, but rather the route taken by the pointer, neither does it give a temporal determination, but rather a spatial determination.

We could then count the speed of the pointer according to the formula that physics tells us (s = d/t), namely dividing the route taken for the time taken to traverse it. But even doing that we'll at most find that in the determining velocity time is somehow involved, yet despite this time cannot be determined any more precisely. Indeed, Heidegger notes that the physics formula, rather than dissipating, seems to aggravate the difficulties; since it is curious that movements take time, without the time being consumed by such use: if we in fact think that in a certain period of time there are a certain number of movements, and if we think that at the same time another number of movements, the time 'taken' will not be changed, but will remain the same, as if, contrary to what has been said so far, time did not depend on the number of movements.

A page from Franco Volpi's Heidegger and Aristotle