Franco Volpi - Heidegger and Aristotle

Translated by Pete Ferreira


Movement is thus structurally associated with dimensionality (and with continuity), and Aristotle expresses this connection saying that "movement is dependent on magnitude" (Ἀκολούθει τῷ μεγέθει ἡ κίνησις, 219a 11). For Heidegger this Ἀκολούθειν expresses nothing less than an "a priori founding connection (apriorischer Fundierungszusammenhang)"68, which must be understand correctly, since Aristotle uses it to express the relationship between time and movement, where he says that "time follows movement" (ὁ χρόνος Ἀκολούθει τῇ κινήσει, 219b 23). This means that along with time movement or the limit case of movement, namely stillness, is always assumed; and as movement assumes dimensionality and continuity, even the experience of time requires in its turn movement, dimensionality and continuity.

As regards the determination of continuity, it is important to understand how the continuous comes about and how it is made up of its parts, i.e. points. Now, with the experience of movement we are aware of the body in motion, not the movement itself (τόδε γαρ τι τὸ φερομενον, ἡ δὲ κίνησις οὔ, 219b 30), also in the matter of the continuous we are not aware of continuity as such, but only the individual elements that make it, i.e. the points (experienced in a particular horizon and a certain succession). The movement of the pointer, for example, we are aware of it when we perceive its move from a point to the next point, from this point here to that point there, from here to there. The move is always a move that takes place between two determined points, and the two points to which the move relates are not any two points, but are determined by a precise sequence, that of before and then. We grasp the move if we take the first step as a before and, holding it firm as such, we expect the next point coming as an after. We experience the move holding on to the first and expecting the latter. Following the movement of the pointer we say, now here, now there, and so within the context of before and after we experience time.

It is true that following the motion of the pointer from one point to another we follow in fact a movement and not yet time; but just to signal the various points through which the hour hand passes, we say now-here and now-there, and saying this now we attribute time to motion, we anticipate the temporal determination and impose it on particular movement (that of the pointer or that of the Sun). So, when we look at the clock and say, ' now it's nine' , we impose time to the clock, we read a number and we mean that number as a timestamp. The time is not in the clock, but when we say "now", it tells us a number that within the horizon of this now becomes time. Time flows from the fact that we read the number of the movement within the horizon of the temporal determination of now. But from where did we get this now? For Heidegger, we draw it out – so to speak – from ourselves, we derive it from the time dilation that characterizes our very being as finite being. The source before the experience of time is the very structure of the soul, of human life, of being-there, which has the fundamental character of temporality.

68 Heidegger captures here the importance of the term Ἀκολούθειν in Aristotle, subsequently studied primarily by J. Hintikka, Time and Necessity, chap. III (but see also E. P. Brandon, Hintikka on akolouthein "Phronesis", 23, 1978, pp. 173-177, and W. Rehder, Über Hintikkas Interpretation von akolouthein in De interpretatione 12-13, «Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie», 62, 1980, pp. 58-66).

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