Franco Volpi - Heidegger and Aristotle

Translated by Pete Ferreira


The 'metaphysical' understanding of the phenomenon of technology that Heidegger alludes to here, is obviously the one he develops within the horizon of his earlier discovery of the Presocratics, in the vigorous confrontation with Nietzsche and in his affinity for Hölderlin's crepuscular theophany; it is the understanding in which, as we know, technology is interpreted as the essential fulfillment of the originary motivations of Greek metaphysics. Heidegger here confirms his belief that in classical Greek philosophy, Plato and Aristotle, the original experience of being as Φύσις and as Ἀλήθεια was concealed by a fundamental and progressive ambiguity, which is the ambiguity of τέχνη as the attitude that liberates and uncovers φύσις, but at the same time chases and captures it. τέχνη, in whose understanding this second sense is progressively affirmed, thus represents the terrain suitable for that essential change that marks the beginning of metaphysics. The original experience of being as Φύσις and as Ἀλήθεια becomes restricted, especially beginning with Plato, to determinations of ἰδέα and ὀρθότης, that is, it is carried out only within the circumscribed metaphysical horizon of the problem of the adequacy this understanding, and it is no longer in the fullness of its manifestness, which, particularly in Aristotle, still shines through.

Let us now see how, immediately following the writing of the essay on the Aristotelian concept of φύσις, there appears the horizon of understanding within which the essay was designed and in relation to which the hermeticism that conceals that sense can be dissolved.

The interpretation of the Aristotelian concept of φύσις, that Heidegger conducts in close textual reference to the first chapter of the second book of Physics, is presented as the 'translation' of the text into a language that brings to light the vibrancy of the philosophical problems that bring the text alive and that millennia of conceptual encrustations have concealed. This is actually an attempt to shake the obviousness that numb the understanding of Aristotelian determinations, to bring out the crucial importance of Physics for the development of all subsequent Western metaphysics.

At least briefly, we should recall the principal thematic points on which Heidegger focuses his attention and which at the same time, punctuate the rhythms of his interpretation of Phys. B, 1. They are:

A page from Franco Volpi's Heidegger and Aristotle