Franco Volpi - Heidegger and Aristotle

Translated by Pete Ferreira


IV. The presence of Aristotle after the 'turn'

1. The radicalization of the critique of metaphysics

To highlight the presence of Aristotle in Heidegger's thought at those stages where it has not been fully assessed or evaluated, i.e. during the period of young learning, the first teachings at Freiburg and those at Marburg, while conducting our investigation we purposely set aside Heidegger's best known interpretation of Aristotle, namely the essay "On the Essence and Concept of φύσις in Aristotle's Physics B, 1", which was written in 1939, but published only in 1958 in the magazine "Il Pensiero".1 Actually, this essay has so far been Aristotle's only appearance in Heidegger that has been explicitly considered and studied; and it is in reading it that many of the studies of Aristotle that we've discussed were inspired.2

Even at first glance you notice immediately the difference of perspective, the different tone that supports the approach that Heidegger puts in place here, compared to the process of productive assimilation that was evident through the analysis of the writings of the 1920s. How can this profound diversity be explained? What are the reasons for this evident variation of tone that keeps us from grasping the connection and continuity between the two periods, and which threatens to obscure the real deep objectives according to which the essay on φύσις can be understood?

1 M. Heidegger, Vom Wesen und Begriff der Φύσις. Aristoteles, Physik B 1, "Il Pensiero", 3, 131-156, 1958, pp. 265-290 (trans. It. G. Guzzoni), now in GA 9, 239-301. [Pathmarks, "On the Essence and Concept of φύσις in Aristotle's Physics B, 1".]

2 Despite their common inspiration by Heidegger, these studies have a number of differences and divergences, both in their understanding of this inspiration and in the themes they consider. So, for example, the book by W. Bröcker (Aristoteles, 1935) clearly within the horizon of interpretation that Heidegger opens in the early 1930s, conceiving the Aristotelian concept of being as 'motility' (Bewegtheit). The survey of H. Weiss (Kausalität und Zufall in der Philosophie des Aristoteles, 1942) when dealing with the concept of φύσις takes into account ulterior developments in Heideggerian reflection; in addition, it is in my view also important because in Chapter 3 (pp. 99-153) it closely refashions Heidegger's interpretation of πρᾶξις (Nic. Eth. VI) as being fundamental for human life, confirming the argument put forward in our survey (see III, 3). From within the orbit of Freiburg and Heidegger's school, thus being able to consider previously unpublished texts and courses, comes the work of K. Ulmer (Wahrheit, Kunst und Natur bei Aristoteles, 1953), of E. Tugendhat (Ti kata tinos, 1958), and from A. Guzzoni (Die Einheit des pollachos legomenon bei Aristoteles, 1957), which takes into account the perspective of the later Heidegger. It follows closely, given the particular closeness of its author to Heidegger, the survey of F. Wiplinger (Phusis und Logos, 1971). A reference to a much freer Heidegger interpretation, criticizing it on some fundamental points, occurs in another more recent investigation from the Freiburg environment, namely U. Guzzoni (Grund und Allgemeinheit, 1975). Finally harking back to Heidegger pretty much directly are other works conceived in different environments apart from Freiburg, such as the monograph by R. Boehm (Das Grundlegende und das Wesentliche, 1965) or the studies produced in Cologne: E. Vollrath (Studien zur Kategorienlehre des Aristoteles, 1969), K.-H. Volkmann-Schluck (Die Metaphysik des Aristoteles, 1979), I. Schüssler (Aristoteles. Philosophie und Wissenschaft, 1982). (For complete references for these studies see footnote 4 of p. 17.)

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