Franco Volpi - Heidegger and Aristotle

Translated by Pete Ferreira


Within these essential coordinates, which allow us to more fully assess the presence of Aristotle in the so-called 'second' Heidegger, it now remains for us to look more closely at how Heidegger interprets being in the sense of true in light of Met. IX, 10 and then being in the sense of ἐνέργεια in light of the Met. IX, 1-3.

The digression on Met. IX, 10, made in the first part of summer semester 1930,26 begins with an illustration of the Greek understanding of being as presence, which for Heidegger is the horizon within which all Greek thought moves. In a form that already appears substantially like that he would use in subsequent writings, Heidegger argues here that the Greeks implicitly understood being as constant presence, orienting themselves under the constant presence of what to them underlies and lingers (ὑπομενον) in the movement of the coming to presence (παρουσία, Anwesung) and subtracts itself in the presence (ἀπουσία, Abwesung) of the entity. This something that remains is what is considered by the Greeks as the entity itself and is designated as οὐσία. Heidegger says: "1) The interpretation of movement as a fundamental characteristic of beings is oriented to ἀπουσία and παρουσία, absence and presence. 2) The attempt to clarify the what-being of beings, e.g. beautiful things as such, is oriented to παρουσία. 3) The traditional conception of οὐσία as substance likewise involves the primordial meaning of οὐσία qua παρουσία".27 From this point on, Heidegger will argue that because the lingering is such in relation to a happening and a movement, specifically in relation to the movement of the overcoming (μεταβολε) from ἀπουσία to παρουσία, the happening of being has the characteristic of 'motility' (Bewegtheit), and the movement par excellence is what Aristotle conceives as passage and progression from δυνάμις to ἐνέργεια.28

Now, it is in this context of the Greek understanding of being as presence that Heidegger again tackles the problem of the four fundamental meanings (in the sense of the categories, in the sense of true and false, in the sense of acting and potency and in the sense of accident), to see if and how they connect with this basic meaning of constant presence. In particular, he intends to test here if they connect with the meaning of being as truth (Met. IX, 10) and then the meaning of being as ἐνέργεια (Met. IX, 1-3).

26 See GA 31, §§ 6-9. [The Essence of Human Freedom]

27 Ibid, 66. [Ibid, p. 46]

28 This thematic and interpretative horizon was developed in the already cited interpretation of Bröcker, Aristoteles (1935). But this is also the horizon within which moves Marcuse's first interpretation of Hegelian thought (see H. Marcuse, Hegels Ontologie und die Grundlegung einer Theorie der Geschichtlichkeit, Klostermann, Frankfurt a. M., 1932, 1968, transl. It. E. Arnaud, preface by M. Dal Pra, L’ontologia di Hegel e la fondazione di una teoria della storicità, La Nuova Italia, Florence, 1969).

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