Franco Volpi - Heidegger and Aristotle

Translated by Pete Ferreira


4. The unity of being and being as ἐνέργεια (1931)

Capturing in this way the determination of being as truth in relation to the Greek understanding of being as presence, Heidegger then has to establish how it connects with the determination of ἐνέργεια (Met. IX, 1-3). The interpretation of these three chapters of book IX of Metaphysics occupies the entire course of the summer semester 1931. Beyond the details of this interpretation, it should be noted in general that this is an important course for at least two reasons. (1) First of all it is important because Heidegger delivers the interpretation of Met. IX, 1-3 in an overall reappraisal of Aristotelian ontology, and this reconsideration represents an essential reference when assessing the evolution of Heidegger's exegetical attitude. (2) But it is also important because through the interpretation of Met. IX, 1-3 Heidegger comes to understand that the determination of being as ἐνέργεια is not only closely connected with the determination of being as truth, but also contains a decisive trace for finding what is before and beyond metaphysics, a search that Heidegger undertakes in an ever more thorough manner.

The introductory part of the course (§§ 1-6) very clearly confirms the hypothesis presented in the investigation we're carrying out here, that the general horizon of Heidegger's confrontation with Aristotle is that of the problem of the four fundamental meanings of being, namely that horizon that had been looming since its seeds were planted by reading Brentano and Braig, and were tested with various surveys and studies during the 1920s. Here, at the beginning of the 1931 course, after having examined in the preceding semesters the meaning of being as truth, and approaching the examination of the ultimate fundamental meaning of being, Heidegger takes stock of the situation and in a concise but illuminating context presents the entire issue of being as πολλαχώς λεγόμενον. Beyond the restatement of the problem, what it is necessary to now underline is that here Heidegger's questioning is concentrated and converges towards its focal point; that is say in an unequivocal manner toward grasping the fundamental unity of being; toward which end it had been heading from the very start.

A page from Franco Volpi's Heidegger and Aristotle