Franco Volpi - Heidegger and Aristotle

Translated by Pete Ferreira


For Heidegger all three of these solutions come from misunderstandings of the philosophical issue of the book, namely misunderstanding the connection of truth with ἐνέργεια. Against Ross he argues: "There is not the slightest justification for such a violent intervention in the text, which is completely in order at this point. It is just that the κυριώτατα is anomalous vis-a-vis the presupposed content of the chapter."33

Against Jaeger he observes: "If, like Jaeger, one adopts Schwegler's view that a chapter on logic could not substantively belong in the Metaphysics, then for the sake of consistency one should not attribute the addition of this chapter to Aristotle himself, expecially considering the manner in which Aristotle's chapters and books are composed and constructed."34 With regard to the Jaegerian interpretation of κυριώτατα, Heidegger rejects it, noting: "Jaeger's opinion becomes all the more curious when, to justify the rejection of chapter 10's placement in Θ, he goes even further than Schwegler. Jaeger sees the main 'external' hindrance to accepting 10 in the fact that the ὂν ἀληθές not only supposedly relates to the principal theme, but that this ὂν is taken as κυριώτατα, i.e. that beings as being-true are understood as the most proper beings. 'To me this is very improbable, and it will strike everyone else likewise.' 'If anyone were to support the placement of Θ 10 on the ground that only here is the κυριώτατα ὂν attained, he would misunderstand the wording, and besides, he would be thinking in an un-Aristotelian way. Jaeger wants to say that whoever maintains that Aristotle in Θ 10 conceives being-true as the most proper being does not understand what κυριώτατα means, moreover has a concept of being quite foreign to Aristotle. I maintain, by contrast, that anyone who conceives Θ 10 as belonging to Θ, and sees it as the genuine culmination of Θ and of Aristotle's Metaphysics as such, thinks not just in properly Aristotelian terms, but simply in Greek terms." 35

Finally, against Schwegler and generally against the blindness to the philosophical problem in the chapter, Heidegger concludes: "But how could the real theme of the chapter be so crudely and stubbornly overlooked? The commentators and those who cite them have, to be sure, also read the chapter and interpreted it. Certainly, but there is reading and reading. The question is whether we read in the right way, i.e. whether we are adequately prepared for seeing what is in front of us, whether we measure up to the problematic or not, whether we understand the problems of being and truth and their interconnection in a sufficiently primordial manner, whether we are thus able to move within the horizon of the philosophy of Aristotle and Plato. Or whether we rush at the philosophical tradition with worn-out philosophical concepts and their pseudo-problems, expecting that with such miserable qualifications we can decide which additions the text requires, and what Aristotle must have thought. This is what happens in the case of Schwegler. The problem of truth is known to belong to logic. Being is in any case self-evident and does not need to be placed in question. So if Aristotle includes, in the main book of his Metaphysics, a chapter which treats of truth from the very first sentence, this cannot properly belong here. Irrespective of its crudity or refinement, overall or in detail, nothing changes the fundamental untenability of such a procedure."36

33 GA 31, 83. [The Essence of Human Freedom, 59.]

34 Ibid, 82. [Ibid, 58.]

35 Ibid. [Ibid.]

36 Ibid, 89. [Ibid, 63]

A page from Franco Volpi's Heidegger and Aristotle