Franco Volpi - Heidegger and Aristotle

Translated by Pete Ferreira


1) first of all, the distinction between entities as natural (τὰ φύσει ὄντα) and as artifacts (τὰ ποιούμενα), which is mainly based on the observation that the first have in them the principle of movement and stillness (φύσις), while the latter have not in themselves, but rather in another, the principle of their production (τέχνη) (192 b 8-32);

2) the feature of natural entities of being a substance (οὐσία), since they are substrate (ὑποκείμενον) and nature is always in a substrate (192 b 33-34);

3) the indemonstrability of natural entities in the sense of their being immediately accessible to experience much as colors are to the eye (193 a 3-8);

4) the characteristic nature of being raw material, which acts as a substrate to each entity that has in it the principle of the movement (ἡ πρώτη ἑκάστῳ ὑποκειμένη ὕλη) and shape (ἡ μορφὴ καὶ τὸ εἶδος τὸ κατὰ τὸν λόγον) (193 a 28-31); Heidegger sees the novelty of these determinations in the fact that they are decisions of the way of being of φύσις, not simple determinations of the entity as those of ρυθμός and of το πρώτον ενυπάρχον εκάστω αρρυθμιστον that are used in the understanding of nature of his predecessors (193 a 9-28);

5) the fundamental difference of nature and technology with regard to generation (that man is born from man, while bed is not born from bed, 193 b 8-9);

6) the fact that regarding generation Aristotle considers nature as a path to the same nature (ὁδός εἰς φύσιν) (193 b 12-13);

7) the fact that form and nature are told in a twofold way, since even deprivation (στέρεσις) is in a sense form (193 b 18-21).

Without going into the details of the Heideggerian interpretation here, it will suffice to set the basic outcomes which it entails.

(1) Heidegger think above all of the peculiarity of the Aristotelian determination of nature, which consists in its being for natural entities both the principle of the movement (ἀρχή κινήσεως τοῦ κινουμένου καθ᾽ αὐτό) and figure and form (μορφὴ καὶ εἶδος) at the same time, and precisely as γένεσις and as κίνησις. From the unity of these two determinations results the essential connotation of nature according to Aristotle, which Heidegger interprets as a connotation of being, that is, as determination of the being of natural entities, and not as being a character of the entity; it is also very different from the way of being of the products of τέχνη, a difference that decisively affects the development of Heidegger's critical attitude towards modern technology.

A page from Franco Volpi's Heidegger and Aristotle