Franco Volpi - Heidegger and Aristotle

Translated by Pete Ferreira


Now, given the fact that we experience time where we experience movement, a decisive aporia surges, one on which Heidegger pushes to give his interpretation of the Aristotelian text a turn in the direction of his equation of being-there and temporality. The aporia arises from the fact that we can think of situations, such as that of darkness, in which our experience of the motion of bodies is interrupted. And one must then ask whether the experience of interrupted movement also interrupt our experience of time. Apparently not, because, as Aristotle explains (219 a 4-6), we still experience the movement of our mental states; that is, since the soul manifests itself as something that is moving, with it time is always manifested. Hence the additional aporia: If there were no soul, would time exist or not? (πότερον δὲ μὴ οὔσης ψυχῆς εἴη ἂν ὁ χρόνος ἢ οὔ, 224 a 21). Apparently not, because, as we have said, if time is the number of the movement, the soul is the entity that numbers it (223 a 25). The ontological place of time, Heidegger concludes his interpretation, is the soul.

This assigning of time to the soul as its ontological place might make it seem that time is something subjective. And this is contrary to what emerged from the interpretation of the phenomenon of intratemporality, in which we saw that time 'contains' and 'hugs' natural entities and things, and as such is objective, indeed the most objective of all the 'objects'. So, on the one hand it seems to be objectively present everywhere, in the heavens (ἐν οὐρανοί), at sea (ἐν θαλάσσῃ) and land (ἐν γει), that is everywhere (ἐν παντὶ), on the other hand it seems to be something of the soul (ψῡχή). In observing this (223 a 16-18), Aristotle captures an aporia from which comes the dichotomy between the subjective and the objective understanding of time, which was destined to cross the entire history of Western philosophy.

Now, leveraging this fundamental aporia, Heidegger grafts onto the interpretation of the Aristotelian treatise on time his analysis of the ontological structure of being-there. In fact, from Heidegger's perspective, the problem of subjectivity or objectivity of time can be solved only clarifying the fundamental mode of being of that entity which numbers movement and that therefore it is the home of the experience of time, namely for Aristotle the soul (ψῡχή), for Heidegger being-there (Dasein).

A page from Franco Volpi's Heidegger and Aristotle