Franco Volpi - Heidegger and Aristotle

Translated by Pete Ferreira


This imposes, before concluding, some critical comments. The abandonment of metaphysics and the renunciation of the onto-theological forms of thought that emerge in the later Heidegger, based primarily on a diagnosis and a criticism of the present age, in which the essence of modern technology is interpreted as the fullest and most complete implementation of the originary motivation from which were born Greek philosophy and ἐπιστήμη. Heidegger's argument is known: technology represents the comprehensive epochal horizon that denotes our modernity. Its basis resides in the fundamental metaphysical decision that occurred with the Greeks, with the philosophy of Plato and Aristotle, and which consisted in looking away from the original opening of being and turning to the entity, interpreted as what is present and what is retained as presence by τέχνη. With this incipient oblivion of being in favor of the entity in the sense of the present entity the foundations were laid, on which subsequent Western history could develop as a history of the conquest, and cognitive and operational domination of, the entity by man, who in turn increasingly asserts itself as subject of the entity it bends and subdues as object. And this project of domination would arrive at its realization in modern technology. The essence of modern technology would thus be the complete forgetfulness of being (as Ἀλήθεια and as Φύσις), and precisely in the double sense of the forgetfulness of being and the forgetting this forgetting.

Without going into the details of Heidegger's interpretation of modern technology, allow us to fix that aspect of it that seems more relevant in relation to our investigation. It consists in the fact that Heidegger thinks he can seize an essential connection between the essence of the modern technology and the Greek ideal of philosophy and of ἐπιστήμη, namely in the sense that modern technology would be the establishment and fulfillment of the original motivations of philosophic and epistemic understanding. Metaphysics and all its forms, from Greek ἐπιστήμη until the Nietzschean will to power, is interpreted as a figure in a single story, seeing all entities in the character of their presence and in the final instance is driven by the will to dominate through knowing and doing. The essence of modern technology, in which this attitude in dealing with entities becomes total and absolute, thus representing the ultimate form of metaphysics, the form in which the latter would be at its peak, at its completion and at its end. Furthermore, in the later Heidegger this destiny in the metaphysical oblivion of being and subjectivity is not seen as man's machination, as a conscious and voluntary decision, but belongs to the happening of being itself, and is thus interpreted as an event that you subtract from the dispositions of man.

A page from Franco Volpi's Heidegger and Aristotle