Franco Volpi - Heidegger and Aristotle

Translated by Pete Ferreira


When you consider that the contemporary period as a whole is understood by Heidegger as the era of the implementation of technology, which is the total forgetfulness of Φύσις, i.e. of that being that is not produced and made by man nor is on man dependent, we understand now the importance of the interpretation of the Aristotelian concept of φύσις not only in light of the confrontation with Aristotle, but in the general putting in question of metaphysics and the desire to overcome the line of its happening, to examine its before and after, and then connecting Φύσις and Τέχνη as beginning and carrying-out of an essential event that has its foundation in the structure of being itself.

Regarding the importance that Aristotle has on the framework within which Heidegger radicalizes his critique of metaphysics, it should be noted that in reality the importance for Heidegger is that in Aristotle the original pre-Socratic sense of φύσις still echoes and that, therefore, through his thought we can trace back to that sense. The fact is that in Aristotle there appears the consideration of τέχνη, and the decisive conceptual determinations for all of Western thought are also captured, signaling the greatness of Aristotle within the horizon of metaphysics; so that greatness is basically preceded, especially in view of the later Heidegger, by a negative sign.

The general horizon of Heideggerian speculation is no longer characterized here by the desire to appropriate radically the foundational intentions of the great philosophical tradition (Aristotle, Kant, Hegel, Husserl), but it is the abandonment of these foundations and the turn to the experience of a new thinking that matures through the reading of the Presocratics (as virgin and auroral thought), Nietzsche (as an experience of the completion of metaphysics), and Hölderlin (as a 'hermetic' thinker carrying the message of a new beginning). The gradual wane of the presence of Aristotle in the writings of the later Heidegger, despite numerous scattered references60, confirms this shift of perspective and purpose.

In a certain sense we can however note that even here the thematic horizon of ontology, i.e. the horizon that Heidegger gains through confrontation with Aristotle, remains crucial. This is because the search for what is before and beyond the metaphysical decision is also conducted, basically, from the beginning, and essentially without end, from the thematic horizon of the problem of being; it is precisely within this horizon that Heidegger implements his understanding, his anamnesis and his critique of the metaphysical disease and therefore even his pursuit of the un-thought in Western philosophy. But also the horizon of the problem of being is a given; it is precisely that horizon that identifies the original motivation of philosophy with the ontological problem and that it comes about for the first time with Aristotle.61

60 Among the main references to Aristotle of the 'later' Heidegger to remember: GA 5 (= Holzwege),80-81, 322-325, 351 (trans. It., pp. 77, 300-302, 327); Vorträge und Aufsätze, pp. 9-13, 41 ff, 68 (tran. It., pp. 8-10, 31 ff, 49); Was heißt Denken?, Niemeyer, Tübingen 1954, pp. 40-41, 47, 128, 134-135 (tran. It. by U. Ugazio and G. Vattimo, preface by G. Vattimo, Che cosa significa pensare?, Sugarco, Milano 1978-1979, pp. 92-94, 101, 83-84, 92-93); Was ist das — die Philosophie?, Neske, Pfullingen 1956 (trans. It. by C. Angelino, Che cos’è la filosofia?, Il Melangolo, Genova 1981); Der Satz vom Grund, Neske, Pfullingen 1957, pp. 29- 30, 110-114, 120-121, 135-136; Nietzsche, vol. I, pp. 66-69, 76-78, 160, 595, 597, 599-604; vol. II, pp. 73-77, 111-112, 131-132, 167, 237-238, 403-411, 416, 430; GA 9, 437-438 (trans. It. by F. Volpi, Hegel e i Greci, Verifiche, Trento 1977, pp. 103-104).

61 See K. Held, Heideggers These vom Ende der Metaphysik, «Zeitschrift für philosophische Forschung», 34, 1980, pp. 535-560.

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