Franco Volpi - Heidegger and Aristotle

Translated by Pete Ferreira


So, the issue of the four fundamental meanings is here rethought and reworked by Heidegger in clear reference to the problem of grasping the ultimate unity that rules that plurivocity. The scheme within which Heidegger synoptically summarizes the problem of being as πολλαχώς λεγόμενον indicates clearly the direction towards which, thinking with Aristotle against Aristotle, the Heideggerian investigation orients itself.42

τὸ ὂν τὸ εἶναι κατὰ τὰ σχήματα κατὰ δύναμιν ὡς ἀληθές κατὰ τῆς κατηγορίας ἢ ἐνέργειαν ἢ ψεῦδος συμβεβηκός οὐσία ποιόν ποσόν ποῦ ποτέ λόγος ? ? ? ?

Heidegger sees in the Aristotelian doctrine both the planting of the problem of the unity of the multiple meanings of being as well as an attempt to think it through to its solution, precisely in the theory of analogy and in the reflections on the convertibility of the entity and oneself. Still, the Aristotelian way of thinking the unity of being is in the Heidegger's eyes too weak. He notes: "It is certainly true, one might say, that Aristotle maintained the primordial affinity of being and oneness; certainly, one may further acknowledge, Aristotle also constantly refers at the same time to the πολλαχώς. But nothing is thereby accomplished toward resolving the decisive question: How then is ὂν (εἶναι) ᾗ πολλαχώς λεγόμενον, being as said in many ways, κοινον τί, somehow held in common for the many?"43

Instead Heidegger explicitly asks himself the question of the unity of being in the strong sense, as attested by the overlap of the questions that worry him: "Is this one being [Sein] something before all unfolding, that is, something that exists for itself, whose independence is the true essence of being? Or is being in its essence never not unfolded so that the manifold and its foldings constitute precisely the peculiar oneness of that which is intrinsically gathered up? Is being imparted to the individual modes in such a way that by this imparting it in fact parts itself out, although in this parting out it is not partitioned in such a way that, as divided, it falls apart and loses its authentic essence, its unity? Might the unity of being lie precisely in this imparting parting out? And if so, how would and could something like that happen? What holds sway in this happening? (These are questions concerning Being and Time!)"44

42 See GA 33, 17 [Aristotle's Metaphysics Theta 1-3 On the Essence and Actuality of Force, 14]. It is interesting to compare this scheme with that proposed by Brentano, Von der mannigfachen Bedeutung des Seienden nach Aristoteles, pp. 175-177. Brentano tries in his scheme to connect the categorical plurivocity of being with the common concept of being; for Heidegger it is not only about explaining the plurivocity according to the categories, but also according to other fundamental determinations; the question marks indicate at once both the difficulty of the solution of the problem and the direction in which his demand tend towards.

43 Ibid, 30-31. [Ibid, 25.]

44 Ibid, 31. In parentheses Heidegger then adds significantly: "those are questions after Being and Time." [Ibid]

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