Franco Volpi - Heidegger and Aristotle

Translated by Pete Ferreira


Allow me then to advance a critical hypothesis, which would permit retrieving the substantive sense of that connection with the Greeks that Heidegger himself has taught us to look for. In short, this hypothesis could be formulated thus: as relevant and focused as the Heideggerian diagnosis of the pathologies of the modern world might appear, its diagnosis of the disease appears equally problematic. Precisely because he reconnects the pathological condition of modernity to the original motivation of philosophy and he interprets it in the framework the very happening of the subtraction of being by human disposition, because of this Heidegger must renounce any concrete indication and especially any reference to traditional forms of therapy. Neither reason nor intellect can any longer provide the necessary guidance and support. After the experience of the disenchantment of the world, neither virtue nor morals are possible. Catharsis is given as a last resort to Gelassenheit, that is to say, to that heroic disposition of the thought that withstands the test of nihilism and technology. But this heroism, which can no longer even be like what the old Husserl called for, a heroism of reason, risks creating around him a will and a vacuum in which restorative or utopian reactions might easily get a footing.

Heidegger is fully aware of this, as he shows unequivocally, for example, in his response to Ernst Jünger. Faced with the problem of overcoming of nihilism that, like Nietzsche perceives in a famous fragment on "the will to power" (nr. 23), threatens to become the normal condition, Heidegger does not fall for the ingenuity of those attempts that think they can crossover the line of nihilism without asking and thinking deeply the problem that is metaphysics, either of the living God or of the dead God, removed in the forgetfulness, namely the problem of being. He notes, "Today we are especially tempted to evaluate the thoughtfulness of thinking according to the tempo of reckoning and planning, which justifies its technical inventions directly for everyone by its economic successes. This evaluation of thinking puts excessive demands on it through standards that are alien to such thinking. At the same time, one subjects thinking to the presumptuous demand of knowing the solution to riddles and bringing the salutary."1 By contrast, Heidegger takes account of the need to gather the intact forces and the possible aids for standing upright in the "wake of nihilism".2

1 GA 9, 406. [Pathmarks, "On the Question of Being", pp. 306-307.]

2 Ibid. [Ibid, p. 307.]

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