Franco Volpi - Heidegger and Aristotle

Translated by Pete Ferreira


Another essential feature of the instant is that it is not to be understood only as a point, as if the temporal continuity had to be understood in analogy to the line, with the instant which marks a time-span corresponding to the point that marks a line; the instant has rather the character of horizon, given that its constituent moments include the start and the finish as well as the character of dimensionality and extensionality.69 Moreover, whereas the instant has the character of passing (ἐκ τινός εἰς τι), it is never as a point next to another point, it is never limit (when not accidentally referring to another and not as such); regarding passing and dimensionality, it is open and widens to the dimension of the no longer and the not yet; with the instant you can mark the boundaries, but it is never in itself limit.70

The instant is not limit (περας), but it is number (αριθμός). Aristotle clearly distinguished the two moments, in the sense that while the limit belongs to be what is bounded, the number can determine anything (numbering and measuring) without being part of what is numbered or measured and without having any way of being. Saying then that time is the number of movement, Aristotle tells us we experience it by numbering and measuring movement, but this time – precisely as number – is part of the movement or body moved.71

Regarding number, the instant – and thus also the time that consists of moments – is measurement (μέτρον). And the measuring of a moving body with respect to its movement is its being-in-time, its intratemporality (τὸ ἐν χρόνῳ εἶναι, 221 a 4). That things are in time, means that in their motion they are measured in time in relation with the dimensional character of the latter. But they are not measured as such, but rather only in the specific character of being-in-motion, only in so far as they are in motion or at rest (μετρήσει δ’ὁ χρόνος τὸ κινουμενον και τὸ ἠρεμούν, ᾗ τὸ μὲν κινουμενον τὸ δὲ ἠρεμούν, 221 b 16-18). Obviously, things are in time in a way other than how moments are in time, which are in time by constituting it. Things moving are included in time as the number is contained in the numbering. To express the way that time holds things, Aristotle uses the verb περιεχεσθαι, and with it wants to indicate that time embraces moving things without being part of them. And it is because of this particular rapport that, without time being motion, whenever we experience movement we experience with it the time that embraces it (ἅμα γαρ κινήσεως αισθανομεθα και χρόνου, 219 a 3).

69 So Heidegger stresses here, while in a footnote to § 82 of Being and Time he says that "Aristotle means the νῦν as στιγμή" (GA 2, 570; It. trans., p. 613).

70 Footnote to § 82 of Being and Time, Heidegger had said "Aristotle conceives νῦν as ὅρος» (GA 2, 570; It. trans., p. 613).

71 In this respect Heidegger observes: "this is a peculiar character of time which would be later interpreted by Kant in some sense as a form of intuition" (GA 24, 353). [The Basic Problems of Phenomenology, p. 250]

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