Dasein as Praxis: the Heideggerian assimilation and the radicalization of the practical philosophy of Aristotle1


Franco Volpi



1 Introductory considerations: the presence of Aristotle in the work of Heidegger

There has never been any doubt as to the importance of Aristotle for Heidegger's thinking. Even at those moments which were least favourable for a comprehension of the meaning and the constant presence of Aristotle in the work of Heidegger, it would have been difficult to ignore the significance Heidegger accords to certain central themes belonging to the thinking of Aristotle, such as the problem of being or the problem of the φύσις, problems which, in Heidegger's speculations, also become dense thematic points which are continually recovered in the course of his development. Besides, Heidegger himself frequently underlined the importance that Aristotle has assumed in the formation and the development of his philosophical perspective.2 And if, in addition, one considers how many important studies on Aristotle have been motivated or inspired by Heidegger,3 one has at one's disposal reasons for supposing that the Heideggerian reading of Aristotle has penetrated much deeper than the published texts would, up to a few years ago, have allowed one to conclude. In any case, even if one limits oneself to the former, it is possible to trace the influence of Aristotle on Heidegger throughout the entire extent of his thinking, reaching from the youthful reading of the dissertation of Franz Brentano Von der mannigfachen Bedeutung des Seienden nach Aristoteles right up to the interpretation of being and the concept of φύσις in the essay written in 1939 and published in 1958.4

However, hitherto it has not been possible to reconstruct the continuous line of Aristotle's influence across the totality of Heidegger's work. It is only today, thanks to the publication of the university lectures, that one is in a position to get a more exact idea of the intensity of Heidegger's confrontation with Aristotle and to try and reconstruct it in its essentials. One can also say the same for Heidegger's confrontation with other great founding moments in metaphysical thinking, such as the works of Descartes, Leibniz, Kant, Hegel and Husserl.

In particular, the publication of the lectures for the Winter term 1925/6: Logik: Die Frage nach der Wahrheit,5 and of that of the Summer term 1927: Die Grundprobleme der Phänomenologie,6 has contributed documents of the first importance for the reconstruction of, and the confrontation with Aristotle. The same thing holds, one might say, of the lectures given in the Summer term 1931: Aristoteles, Metaphysik IX, 1-3: Vom Wesen und Wirklichkeit der Kraft7 and of certain parts of the lectures from the Winter term 1929/30: Die Grundbegriffe der Metaphysik: Welt-Endlichkeit-Einsamkeit.8 Numerous elucidations are also to be found in the publication of the lectures from the Summer term 1924 on Rhetoric,9 in that of the following term 1924/5 on Plato's Sophist10 (which, in its first part, carries a detailed interpretation of book VI of the Nichomachean Ethics) and finally in the lectures from the Summer term 1926: Grundbegriffe der antiken Philosophie,11 in which Heidegger handles the history of Greek philosophy from Thales to Aristotle and the final part of which is devoted to an interpretation of the totality of the Aristotelian philosophy. We will also find a number of fundamental indications, with regard to the beginning and to the first decisive development of the Heideggerian interpretation of Aristotle, in the lecture course from his first teaching assignment at Freiburg. Today, we are in a position to confirm this from the first of these lecture courses (which have just been published), that from the Winter term 1921/2: Phänomenologische Interpretation zu Aristoteles: Einführung in die phänomenologische Forschung;12 and in such a way that one can only hope that the other lecture courses from the first Freiburg teaching period, lectures which have not yet been included in the anticipated publication programme (on the grounds that one is not in possession of the original manuscript) might one day be published. By the same token, one has to hope that the celebrated interpretation of Aristotle, which Heidegger sent to Natorp and a résumé of which he even considered publishing in Husserl's Jahrbuch für Philosophic und phänomenologische Forschung, will also be published.13

2 The confrontation with Aristotle during the ten-year period of silence which precedes Sein und Zeit

In what follows, I will try to bring to light a speculative core whose impact upon the confrontation of Heidegger with Aristotle was, in my opinion, considerable at a particular moment, that is, during the ten-year period of silence which precedes the publication of Sein und Zeit and which coincides with the years of the first teaching at Freiburg (from 1919) and with those of the teaching at Marburg. The main reason for this limitation is that, both from the thematic point of view and from that which concerns the intensity of the confrontation, this period is without doubt the most interesting and, at the same time, the least investigated of Heidegger's extended engagement with Aristotle. In fact, I think - something that would have appeared strange only a few years ago - that this phase of Heidegger's thinking can be characterized in a definitive fashion by a radical appropriation and a voracious assimilation of Aristotle's ontology and of practical philosophy and this, more specifically, not only where Heidegger mentions Aristotle and interprets him explicitly but also and more especially, where he doesn't talk about him and seems to concentrate upon the speculative elaboration of the problems which converge later in Sein und Zeit. It's for this reason that, in order to grasp the full meaning of the confrontation of Heidegger with Aristotle, one has to take care not to be misled either by a zealous determination to verify the philosophical exactitude and extent of the Heideggerian reading or by too exclusive a concentration upon what Heidegger says about Aristotle explicitly. It is more important to adopt a perspective suitable to grasping and understanding how Heidegger takes up, assimilates, transforms and realizes certain of Aristotle's problems and determinations by rethinking them in relation with the fundamental questions which he confronts within his speculative horizon.

A few preliminary remarks are necessary in order to sketch out, at least in its main lines, the general horizon within which I see the confrontation of Heidegger with Aristotle taking place in this period. In my opinion, this confrontation is characterized (1) by the fact that it is to be situated in the framework of a radical resumption of fundamental themes which the Greeks thought out for the first time in a manner which has become decisive for the history of Western philosophy, themes which, since Hegel and Nietzsche, nobody has been able to take up as radically as Heidegger. (2) It is also characterized by a specific methodological disposition which can be designated, very generally, as a placing in question of the Western metaphysical tradition, a questioning which becomes more and more radical, to the point of ending up with a demand for an overcoming (Überwindung, Verwindung) of this tradition. In the period under consideration, this calling in question is defined by Heidegger himself as 'destruction', and more precisely as phenomenological destruction (which, together with reduction and construction make up the triple articulation of the phenomenological method).14 (3) Finally, from a thematic point of view, the confrontation with Aristotle up to Sein und Zeit is characterized by the fact that it bears fundamentally upon three main problems which are also the main problems of Sein und Zeit, namely the problem of truth, the problem of the ontological constitution of human life and the problem of time; the general horizon within which Heidegger confronts all these problems is certainly one which is marked by the question of being.

Of these three main problems, I will in particular consider the one which is central for the comparison I propose to make between Dasein and πρᾶξις, namely, the problem of the ontological constitution of, and of the fundamental and unitary modality of being which belongs to, human life. First of all one has to ask how Heidegger comes to identify and to treat this problem within the horizon of that question of being which he begins to raise, as he says himself, as early as his reading of Brentano's dissertation.

3 The problem of the unity of being qua πολλαχώς λεγόμενον as the guiding principle of Heidegger's research

There are undoubtedly many elements and speculative suggestions which have played a role in the formation of the Heideggerian problematic and which it would be worth our while to examine in detail. In the framework of an analysis of the relation with Aristotle, allow me to limit my task here to the elucidation of the only function, in the genesis of the three problems indicated, played by the question of being qua πολλαχώς λεγόμενον, a question which Heidegger takes notice of mostly by way of Brentano's dissertation.

According to the autobiographical testimony which he himself volunteered in Mein Weg in die Phänomenologie, his attention was from the very beginning captured by the problem of the plurivocity of being and, in consequence, by the question of understanding and of determining the fundamental and unitary sense, if there is one, which upholds the plurality of the others. In other words, if Being is to be expressed in multiple and diverse modalities and significations, what is its fundamentally unitary meaning, what does Being itself mean?15 As is well known, in his dissertation, Brentano examined the four fundamental significations of being (the πολλαχώς can consequently be considered as a τετραχῶς) which Aristotle catalogues and examines, especially in the Metaphysics, to wit: (1) the meaning of being according to the categorial figures (τὸ ὄν κατὰ τὰ σχήματα τῶν κατηγορίων), (2) the meaning of being in as much as it is true (τὸ ὄν ὡς ἀληθές), (3) the meaning of being according to the power or the act (το ον δυνάμει η ἐνέργεια), (4) the meaning of being in itself or incidentally (το ον καθ' αὑτὸ καὶ κατὰ συμβεβηκός). Faithful to the Aristotelian-Thomist tradition, Brentano did not however limit himself solely to describing the doctrine of the four fundamental significations but also tried to grasp their unitary connection in terms of the analogical unity of being. More precisely, in his attempt at a solution, he placed especial emphasis upon the fundamental character of the categorial signification and considered substance (qua primary category) as the unitary term to which all the other significations were related. So Brentano conceived ontology as ousiology, by interpreting being in a categorical horizon - to the point that he went so far as to attempt a sort of deduction of the categories on the basis of the general concept of being.16

When, therefore, in Mein Weg in die Phäinomenologie Heidegger declares that from the time of this reading of Brentano the problem of Being and of its unitary meaning did not cease to bother him,17 I think we have to take this testimony seriously, not as if it were an idealizing stylization of his philosophical formation aiming to display a constant attention for the question of being, even at the beginning but, on the contrary, as a credible document attesting to the effective genesis, in his youthful reflections, of the problem which was to remain central throughout his entire thinking. If one takes the autobiographical testimony of Heidegger seriously one can even take matters further than he was willing to explicitly acknowledge on this issue and recover the traces of an intensive reflection on the four meanings of being not only in the first writings - especially in the doctoral thesis on Duns Scotus18 which deals with the categorial signification of being - but also in the later speculation from the 1920s to Sein und Zeit, which, on the surface, no longer has anything to do with the problem of being qua πολλαχώς λεγόμενον.

The hypothesis which I wish to advance is that the fundamental direction of Heidegger's philosophical research in the course of the 1920s consists in a research into that unitary and fundamental sense which upholds the plurivocity of being. In particular, I want to suggest that, with this end in view, Heidegger at this time probes the four meanings, one after the one, to verify which among them can be considered as the fundamental and unitary meaning. Soon left unsatisfied by the ousiological and analogical solution sustained by Brentano,19 Heidegger, in the 1920s, concentrates his in-depth examination upon the meaning of being qua true. Behind this examination there clearly emerges the intention of determining whether this signification can assume the role of the fundamental meaning. Amongst the texts presently published, the lecture course from the Winter term 1925/6 (Logik: Die Frage nach der Wahrheit), but also the conclusive part of that from the Winter term 1929/30 (Die Grundbegriffe der Metaphysik: Welt-Endlichkeit-Einsamkeit) and the first part of that of the following term (Vom Wesen der menschlichen Freiheit: Einleitung in die Philosophie) attest to the central character of the equation of Being and truth for the Heideggerian comprehension of Being - all of which points out the value of the phenomenological reading of Aristotle. And in my opinion it is also necessary to concede that, with the same aim in view, Heidegger goes on as well to examine the signification of being from the standpoint of actuality and potentiality, as is attested by the lecture course from the Summer term 1931 (Aristoteles, Metaphysik 6, 1-3: Vom Wesen und Wirklichkeit der Kraft), again with a view to determining whether it can hold up as the fundamental signification.

In this context I would also like to suggest the hypothesis that, later on, Heidegger sees in the three significations of being assembled by Aristotle a fundamental point of departure, within the metaphysical domain, for recovering, by digging down beneath it, a more originary and primary pre-metaphysical determination of Being. I conclude that it is by questioning the four fundamental significations of being according to Aristotle that Heidegger comes to finalize these characteristics which more and more he will attribute to Being itself in so far as it is thought out of an originary experience. In attempting to go back beyond the determination of the ὄν ὡς ἀληθές, Heidegger comes to attribute to Being the character of ἀλήθεια and that, by the same token, it is by questioning the determination of the ον δυνάμει καὶ ἐνέργεια that he comes to attribute to Being, thought in a more originary manner, the character of Φύσις.

I would now like to show how, on the basis of his prevailing interest in the problematic of the plurivocity of being and the unitary meaning which upholds it, Heidegger arrives at a recuperation of Aristotle's practical philosophy (and principally of the thematic of the 6th book of the Nichomachean Ethics), when, in the course of the 1920s, he concentrates upon the signification of being as true.

4 The central character of the signification of being qua true and the topology of the loci of the truth

A preliminary remark is called for concerning the phenomenological character of the attitude with which Heidegger prepares the confrontation with Aristotle and carries it through. This character concerns the methodological attitude just as much as the thematic horizon of the confrontation. Moreover, one should not believe that, in announcing the phenomenological inspiration of his reading of Aristotle, Heidegger simply wanted to pay a tribute of gratitude to his master Husserl or, worse still, cover and conceal from him his detachment from phenomenological orthodoxy by using a purely nominal title. In effect, the methodological attitude which in Sein und Zeit is characterized by 'destruction' and which, let us say up to the Kehre, embodies the spirit in which Heidegger confronts the tradition, undoubtedly owes its origin to a variation and an integration of the phenomenological method theorized by Husserl. Just as for Husserl the philosophical attitude of the reduction which stands opposed to the natural and naive attitude of common sense places the former between brackets, so with Heidegger, an analogous critique has to be exercised, even when facing the evidence of the history of thinking, that is to say, when faced with the philosophical positions assumed and accepted by the tradition. And just as with Husserl the reduction was connected to phenomenological constitution, so, with Heidegger, destruction is a function of ontological foundation and construction. As Heidegger himself makes known, reduction, destruction and construction constitute the three essential and equally original elements in the phenomenological method.

The conceptual interpretation of being and its structures, that is, the reductive construction of being, necessarily implies a destruction, or, in other words, a critical de-construction [Abbau] of the received concepts which are at first necessarily operative in order to go back to the source from which they were drawn. . . . The three fundamental elements of the phenomenological method: reduction, construction, destruction are intrinsically dependent upon one another and have to be founded in their mutual belonging together. Philosophical construction is necessarily destruction, that is to say, de-construction, brought about by way of a historical return to the tradition, to what has been transmitted; this does not in any way mean a negation of the tradition nor a condemnation obliterating the latter but, on the contrary, a positive appropriation of this tradition.20

But in what concerns the phenomenological configuration of the thematic horizon within which Heidegger approaches Aristotle and, in particular, his practical philosophy, one has to bear in mind that this approach was adopted in the context of a concentration upon the problematic of being qua true and that the circumstance which was certainly determinative in this analysis is that Heidegger arrived at it on the basis of an in-depth study of Husserl's Logical Investigations (the traces of which can now be seen in the first part of the lecture course of the Summer term 1925 published under the title Prolegomena zur Geschichte des Zeitbegriffs.21 In the course of reflecting upon the comprehension of the truth proposed by Husserl, Heidegger systematically develops a conviction which had already taken root in Husserl's work, to wit, the conviction that judgment, assertion, understood as a synthesis or dihairesis of representations, does not constitute the original locus of the manifestation of truth but a dimension which has undergone a restriction with regard to the ontological depth and the originary extent of the phenomenon. Developing this conviction in a systematic way, Heidegger finishes up questioning three traditional theses on the truth, to wit: (1) the thesis that the truth consists in an adequatio intellectus et rei, (2) the thesis that the originary locus of its manifestation is the judgment, in as much as it is the connection or division of representations and of concepts, (3) the thesis that the authorship of these two theorems has to be attributed to Aristotle.22

In fact, with his thesis that not only acts of synthesis but also monothetic acts of simple apprehension can have a truth-character, Husserl had already called in question the traditional theory of truth as adequation. With this end in view he had also introduced a decisive distinction, namely the distinction between the truth of the proposition or of the judgment (Satzwahrheit) and the truth of intuition (Anschauungswahrheit), the latter is considered the more originary truth and therefore represents the foundation of the former. In addition, Husserl had introduced a fundamental innovation, recognized by Heidegger, which consists in the distinction and the theorization of categorial intuition. Conceived on the analogy of sensible intuition, it enabled Husserl to explain that modality of the apprehension of the elements of judgment whose identification (Ausweisung) goes beyond the sensible intuition, elements which, in the traditional theory of truth, had been understood as belonging to the domain of the categorial.23

Deepening the direction in which these Husserlian theses proceeded, Heidegger theorizes a fundamental distinction between the purely logico-categorial meaning of being-true (Wahrsein), which belongs to the proposition, and the ontological meaning of truth (Wahrheit), which belongs to the phenomenon of truth in its originary scope. In Heidegger's eyes, it is precisely this originary ontological depth of the phenomenon of truth which Aristotle takes account of as the decisive dimension, even if, clearly, he also recognizes the restricted signification of that being-true which is referred to the proposition. In consequence, Heidegger seeks to restore to those Aristotelian texts which bear upon the truth their originary scope, by freeing them from the fixed prejudices of a certain interpretative tradition which had prevailed hitherto and which can, according to Heidegger, even be found in a reading of Aristotle like that of Jaeger, which is innovative in other respects. Thus, the Heideggerian calling-in-question of the traditional theory of truth, initiated by the Husserlian phenomenological approach, goes along with a highly ontological reading of certain basic texts of Aristotle, such as De interpretation I, Metaphysics IX, 10, Nichomachean Ethics VI.

Heidegger proceeds toward an uncovering of the more profound ontological meaning of the phenomenon of truth by way of a kind of triple argumentative progression:


(1) First of all, he distinguishes the semantic aspect of the λόγος, that is to say, the property of having a signification, an aspect which belongs to every form of the λόγος, and the apophantic character which is not present in every form but only in that form par excellence of the λόγος which is the ἀπόφανσις, predication or assertion. The specificity of this particular form of the λόγος consists in the fact that it is a synthesis or a dihairesis of concepts and in the fact that, as such, it possesses the character of being-true or being-false, more precisely, of being-able-to-be-true or being-able-to-be-false.

(2) Then Heidegger inquires into the ontological foundation of predicative discourse, of the λόγος ἀποφαντικός, with a view to identifying the ontological condition of the possibility of its being-true or being-false. And he finds it in the ontological constitution of human life itself, in Dasein, which contains in itself the intrinsic possibility of assuming; even better, of being itself an uncovering attitude, that is to say, of opening, and of opening itself in relation to, being.

(3) Finally, deepening his calling-in-question, Heidegger inquires into the ultimate ontological foundation of the uncovering of being by Dasein. And he arrives at the conclusion that this foundation is to be sought in the fact that being itself has the ontological constitution of something which gives itself, which is accessible to and perhaps grasped by the particular being which bears within itself the uncovering attitude, that is to say, Dasein. With reference to the latter, being is potentially manifestativum sui. It is evident, manifest, disclosed, un-verborgen, ἀ-ληθές. The truth conceived as ἀ-λήθεια, as Un-verborgenheit, is therefore an ontologically constitutive character of being itself. It is an ante-predicative determination with reference to which the being-true or being-false of predication is a derived and restricted property.24


Following this argumentative progression, Heidegger arrives at a sort of topology or hierarchy of the loci of truth which he develops by assimilating certain Aristotelian theses in a radicalizing elaboration. In a somewhat expeditious but adequately synoptic fashion one can sum up the framework of this topology of truth as follows:


(1) The true is above all being itself in as much as it possesses the character of being manifest, disclosed. With this thesis Heidegger revives the ontological potency of the Aristotelian understanding of the truth which can be expressed in the equation: ὄν ὡς ἀληθές.

(2) The true is secondly Dasein itself, human life, in the sense that it is uncovering and that it develops this characteristic in its fundamentally uncovering attitudes. Behind this thesis it is not difficult to see the recovery of an Aristotelian idea, to wit, the idea of the Aristotelian determination of the human soul (ψῡχή) as being-in-the-truth {ἀληθεύειν). In Aristotle, in fact, and especially in Book VI of the Nichomachean Ethics, Heidegger sees an analysis of the different ways in which the soul uncovers being, is in the truth, an analysis which has not yet been obscured by modern theoretical prejudices. And he therefore sees in this analysis the first complete phenomenology of the fundamentally uncovering attitudes of human life, of Dasein.

(2.1) First of all, there is the specific modality of uncovering proper to the human soul and which distinguishes it both from the Gods and from the other animals: it is made manifest by way of the λόγος, which institutes the links and precisely under the five modes of being-in-the-truth proper to the soul: ἐπιστήμη, τέχνη, φρόνησις, νοῦς, σοφία;25

(2.2) but this modality of uncovering, determined by the λόγος, is founded in a direct and immediate manner of acceding to being and of uncovering it, which latter takes place either in the αἲσθησις, about which Aristotle says that it is always true (ἀεί ἀληθές),26 or in the noesis, which apprehends its object through a direct contact by, so to speak, touching it and which, for this reason, and because it neither effects a synthesis nor a diaresis, cannot be false but can simply not take place (in the ἀγνοειν).27

(3) The true is finally the form par excellence of the λόγος, to wit, the λόγος ἀποφαντικός or ἀπόφανσις, that is to say, predication or assertion in its affirmative (κατάφασις) or its negative (ἀπόφασις) form. And this holds either in the sense that the λόγος is an ἀληθεύειν qua λέγειν, or in the sense that the λόγος is ἀληθές qua λεγόμενον?28


It will now be necessary to undertake a deeper examination of the way in which Heidegger, having detached the comprehension of the phenomenon of truth from this latter dimension, that is, from the derivative and restrictive structure of predication, finishes up by radicalizing his inquiry into the traditional metaphysical conception of the truth. If, indeed, and thanks to his appropriation of Aristotle, Heidegger gains an ontological outlook which permits him to take the problem up again in a radical manner, there still remains open the question of the non-explicit presuppositions upon which even the Aristotelian conception of the phenomenon of truth is founded, and founded as a character of being qua manifest. The question Heidegger poses is the following:

What does Being have to mean if being-uncovering is to become comprehensible as a character of Being and even as the most authentic of all? If, in consequence, beings have in the end to be interpreted relative to their Being on the basis of being-uncovered?29

Even at this time, towards the middle of the 1920s, the vision of the problem which characterizes and will characterize Heidegger's thinking more and more is being clearly formed. Here already Heidegger thinks it possible to claim that the unquestioned foundation of the Aristotelian equation of Being and truth consists in the presupposition of a well-defined relation between Being and time and therefore in the presupposition of a certain comprehension of Being and of time themselves. Why? Because, in order that the truth, in the sense of being-uncovering, of being-disclosed (ἀ-λήθεια), can be characterized as an ontological characteristic of entities, the being of entities must first be implicitly understood as presence (Anwesen), for only what has previously been understood as present can later be determined as discovered, as disclosed, that is to say, as true (ἀ-ληθές) in the sense suggested by the Heideggerian etymology of the Greek word. But the interpretation of Being as presence has its implicit foundation in the presupposition of an unquestioned connection of Being with time, in the context of which the dimension of the present is taken to be the determinative dimension of time. In other words, with regard to an understanding of time which privileges the dimension of the present, there corresponds an interpretation of Being in which the primacy is consequently accorded to presence.

In this way Heidegger clears and, at the same time, prepares the ground for his interpretation of the history of metaphysics. Indeed, he arrives at the conviction - confirmed a little later by the celebrated interpretation of the Platonic myth of the cave - that metaphysical thinking is structured and takes form as the thinking of presence, that is to say, as a thinking which does not pose, in a sufficiently radical fashion, the question of the relation between Being and time in all its articulations. Heidegger arrives at this conclusion by way of his interpretation of the problem of truth in Aristotle from the time of the lecture course of the Winter term 1925/6. In a passage from this course which is very significant in this regard, he says:

The pure being-uncovering of beings, as Aristotle conceives it with reference to the simple, this pure being-uncovering signifies nothing other than the pure present, non-displaced and immovable, of what is present. Being-uncovering [Entdecktheit], that is to say in this case the pure present is, as present [Gegenwart], the supreme mode of presence [Anwesenheit], But presence is the fundamental determination of Being. So, being-uncovering, as the supreme mode of presence, that is as present, is a mode of being and precisely the most authentic mode of being of all, presence itself which is present. . . . That is to say: since Being is understood as presence and being-uncovering as present, and since presence [Anwesenheit] and the present [Gegenwart] are present, Being as presence can and even must be determined by the truth as present, and in such a way that the present is the supreme mode of presence. Plato already designated Being as present. And the term οὐσία which, in the history of philosophy, is peddled in a completely senseless fashion as substance, means nothing other than presence in a well-determined sense. One has to emphasize that the Greeks, Plato and Aristotle, did in fact determine Being as presence. But they were very far from understanding what that really means when they determined Being as presence and as present. . . . Once one has understood this problematic of the intimate connection of the understanding of Being on the basis of time, one is then certainly in possession of a clue with which to return to an elucidation of the history of the problem of Being and of the history of philosophy in general.30

Following which, Heidegger, from this moment on, tries to get back either beyond the ultimate presupposition on which the ontological understanding of the phenomenon of the truth is based or beyond the unquestioned presuppositions of Western thought which, from Plato to Husserl, take on for him the form of a metaphysics of presence.

If however the progressive radicalization of the caUing-in-question of the comprehension of truth certainly already indicates the final direction in which Heidegger will deepen his confrontation with metaphysics, and if it exhibits several aspects which make it interesting and which provide a motive for further examination, nevertheless it seems to me that it is still not carried through in the spirit and with the intentions which will later characterize his proposal with regard to the overcoming of metaphysics. Or better: if Heidegger already envisages here the possibility and the necessity of calling-in-question the fixed philosophical themes of the tradition, this calling-in-question still does not aspire to overcome, and so to abandon, metaphysical thinking with a view to moving off in another direction. Rather, it is a matter of a calling-in-question which proceeds from the conviction that metaphysics is not built on a sufficiently radical basis and which does not therefore envisage an overcoming of metaphysics in the sense of Überwindung or of Verwindung but rather of a foundation which is more truly original. In fact, at this time Heidegger still thinks that it is possible to achieve a radical foundation for ontology by way of a Dasein's analytic and, in consequence, right up to the Kant book of 1929, he calls his programme 'fundamental ontology' or 'metaphysics of Dasein', thereby attributing to the terms 'ontology' and 'metaphysics' a meaning which is entirely positive. It is precisely with a view to a radically founded construction that Heidegger assumes the methodological attitude of the 'destruction', an attitude which allows him to clear the way.

In what concerns the foundational attitude of this programme, I don't think it is an accident if, up to the Kehre, Heidegger pays special attention to Aristotle, Descartes, Leibniz, Kant, Husserl; and if, after the Kehre, on the contrary, with the progressive radicalization of his critique and with the circumventing of metaphysics, he abandons any foundational intention. And it is also significant that this progressive radicalization ripens within a horizon which is marked by the confrontation with Nietzsche, that is to say, with the densest and most advanced point in the corrosive critique of Western philosophy, a horizon which is marked at the same time by an assiduous restitution of pre-Socratic thinking, that is to say, a thinking which precedes the metaphysical decision of the West, a horizon which is marked finally by an affinity for, and a proximity to, the twilight theophany of HGlderlin which, with reference to the destiny of metaphysics, represents the alternative, and the possibility of the new God to come.

5 The uncovering structure of Dasein and the focalization of the horizon of πρᾶξις

To return to the question of the role of the problematic of the plurivocity of being and, in particular, of the signification of being as true, one might say that it is while analysing this last signification in the horizon of the founding intentions mentioned above that, in the course of the 1920s, Heidegger comes to place at the centre of his speculative efforts the problem of the apprehension and determination of the fundamental ontological structure of human life, of the ψῡχή, of Dasein, more exactly, of the latter in its specific character as being-uncovering, in its being an ἀληθεύειν. So it is within the typically phenomenological horizon of the problem of the constitutive structure of the 'subject' that Heidegger interprets the Aristotelian determination of the ψῡχή as ἀληθεύειν, and it is by way of this juncture of a phenomenological approach with Aristotelian elements that he paves the way for his analysis of existence.

But why is πρᾶξις central, and where does it get this characteristic? From what is the importance of the Nichomachean Ethics (an importance announced in my title) derived? There are many indications which, in my opinion, speak in favour of the hypothesis that Heidegger arrived at an Aristotelian determination of πρᾶξις while trying to solve the problems that Husserlian phenomenology had raised but which, in his view, the Husserlian understanding of subjectivity had left open rather than resolved.

In Heidegger's view, Husserlian phenomenology got stuck in a fundamental aporie, to wit, the aporie of the belonging of the subject to the world and of the simultaneous constitution of the world by the subject. Heidegger did not find satisfying the solution proposed by Husserl, a solution which consisted in distinguishing the psychological subject which participates in the world and the transcendental subject which constitutes the world, and which distinguishes the reality of the former from the ideality of the latter. Certainly, Heidegger shares with Husserl the conviction that the constitution of the experience of the world cannot be explained by retreating to a being which has the same modality of being, the same ontological constitution as the world. Heidegger, however, distances himself from Husserl because the Husserlian determination of transcendental subjectivity seems to him to have been won, predominantly and unilaterally, on the basis of a theoretical consideration of the acts of the life of consciousness.31

Why this impression? Because, by way of his analysis of the phenomenon of truth and by way of the topology of the loci of its manifestation, Heidegger comes to be convinced that θεωρία is only one of the different possibilities and modalities of the uncovering attitude through which man accedes to being. Alongside θεωρία and before θεωρία there is, for example, the uncovering attitude of ποίησις or that of πρᾶξις by means of which too man is related to being and apprehends it. Heidegger takes his bearings from Aristotle precisely because Aristotle still retains the plurality of the uncovering attitudes of human life and, in the 6th book of the Nichomachean Ethics, offers the first systematic analysis differentiating the three fundamental uncovering attitudes of the soul, to wit, θεωρία, ποίησις and πρᾶξις, together with the specific forms of knowledge which go along with them, namely, σοφία, τέχνη and φρόνησις.

In consequence, I think that one's chances of coming to terms with the speculative labour of Heidegger during the 1920s are improved if one rereads the analysis of Dasein, developed in the fundamental ontology, in the light of the phenomenological reading of Aristotle, in particular, the Nichomachean Ethics, and if one pays attention to the fact that the results of this voracious assimilation of Aristotle are often deposited in passages and in argumentative connections where Heidegger does not speak about Aristotle explicitly.

6 Aristotle's practical philosophy as the background to the analysis of existence: correspondences, transformations, differences

It is precisely the Aristotelian horizon of certain fundamental determinations developed by Heidegger in his analysis of existence which I want to bring out by identifying the correspondences by means of which one can see how Heidegger takes up again and reformulates the substantive meaning of equivalent concepts from the practical philosophy of Aristotle in a few fundamental terms of his own analysis.

The first correspondence, a correspondence which is so obvious that it stands in no need of a special proof, is the correspondence between the three fundamental modalities of being, namely, Dasein, Zuhandenheit and Vorhandenheit, modalities distinguished and determined in the lectures from the 1920s, as also in Sein und Zeit, and the three Aristotelian determinations of πρᾶξις, ποίησις and θεωρία. (1) Θεωρία is the uncovering attitude which has both a descriptive and a veritative character, for it is directed toward the simple affirmation of the way in which things behave, the apprehension of the truth of beings; the knowledge which belongs to it is σοφία. According to Heidegger, when human life assumes this uncovering attitude, being presents itself in a modality he calls Vorhandenheit.32 (2) Ποίησις is the productive, manipulative, uncovering attitude, in which one finds oneself when one handles entities and this attitude aims at the production of works. Τέχνη is that kind of knowledge which guides the latter towards its objective. When one assumes this attitude, beings present themselves to us in that modality of being which Heidegger calls Zuhandenheit. (3) Praxis is the uncovering attitude which is realized in this form of action, whose goal is contained in itself (οὗ ἕνεκε), that is to say, in its success as action and not in something external to it (ἕνεκε τινος). Φρόνησις, or prudence, is the kind of knowledge which belongs to the latter and which gives it its orientation. My hypothesis is that the uncovering attitude of πρᾶξις is the attitude on which Heidegger bases his analyses, with a view to attaining the fundamental thematic determinations with which he designates the ontological structure of human existence, of Dasein.

This last correspondence, which certainly appears as the most problematic and the most disputable, but which, in my view, is for all that the most significant and the most central, has to be developed in greater detail. But first, it would be suitable to make a brief remark about the nature of the Heideggerian recovery of the fundamental meaning of the three determinations of πρᾶξις, ποίησις and θεωρία. It is obvious in fact that Heidegger does not commit himself to a simple recovery of these determinations but that, in taking them up, he profoundly modifies the structure, the character and the connection of these determinations. The most perceptive transformation seems to me to be the accentuation, better the absolutization, of the ontological character which, to a certain extent, they also possess with Aristotle, but which, with him, is not the only character, not even always the determinative character. Let me explain: Heidegger explains the Aristotelian determinations of πρᾶξις, ποίησις and θεωρία as if they were only modalities of being, thereby rigorously excluding any understanding of their ontic significance. Clearly, what interests Heidegger, from the standpoint of a determination of the fundamental ontological structure of Dasein, are not particular πράξεις, ποιησεις and θεωρίᾳ. but only the ontological power of these concepts. To be sure, in Aristotle's text he finds indications which can sustain his highly ontological reading: if, for example, one considers the distinction between πρᾶξις and ποίησις brought to light in the Nichomachean Ethics VI, in connection with Metaphysics IX, 6, one can see quite clearly that even with Aristotle it is not a question of a purely ontic distinction, that is to say, that it does not refer exclusively to particular actions amongst which certain would be πράξεις and others ποίησις. It is a distinction which also has a philosophical and ontological meaning to the extent that it points out a modality of being. With the result that it is capable of referring to the same ontic class of actions while introducing an ontological distinction: making a speech, for example, can be either a ποίησις, a production of λόγοι, or a πρᾶξις, the exercise of an activity which is its own goal; the distinctive character of this activity, its distinctive modality of being, which arises out of the intention and out of the goal with regard to which it is executed, does not become apparent at the ontic level but only upon the ontological plane. It is the ontological quintessence of the Aristotelian concepts of πρᾶξις, of ποίησις and of θεωρία that Heidegger underlines in his interpretation and which he extracts and absolutizes through his recuperation of these concepts in the determinations of Dasein, of Zuhandenheit and of Vorhandenkeit.

One other determinative transformation is the change of order in the hierarchy of the three attitudes. It is not θεωρία which is considered to be the supreme attitude, as the highest and preferred activity for man. Rather, in the ontological context established by Heidegger, it is the attitude of πρᾶξις, linked to a whole series of other determinations implied by it, which becomes the central connotation, to the extent that it is conceived as the fundamental modality of being and as the ontological structure of Dasein. Together with this reversal, there goes a change in the relation with the other determinations: Zuhandenheit (which recovers the determination of θεωρία) and Vorhandenkeit (which corresponds to the determination of θεωρία) are connected and tied to Dasein (for which, ontologically speaking, πρᾶξις is the modality of being). The) indicate, respectively, the ways of being in which, correlatively, beings are bound up depending on whether Dasein, the 'originary πράξις', is articulated together with beings in the constative and observational attitude or in the manipulative and productive. Ποίησις and θεωρία, together. are both modalities of the unitary attitude of Dasein which Heidegger names Besorgen. In this way, by tracing ποίησις and θεωρία back to a deeper common dimension, Heidegger obtains two further results: he shows the connection between Zuhandenheit and Vorhandenkeit, between ποίησις and θεωρία and between the latter and Dasein, the originary πρᾶξις. In addition, and against the traditional conception, he succeeds in showing that θεωρία is not an originary attitude but that it is derived from a modification of the poietic attitude (in consequence, as is well known, from the phenomena of Auffälligkeit, of Aufdringlichkeit and Aufsässigkeit33).

Ontological interpretation, hierarchic displacement and unitary structuration are the determinative transformations to which Heidegger subjects the Aristotelian concepts of πρᾶξις, ποίησις and θεωρία in the recovery of their substantive meaning. But what is the rationale for these transformations? In view of the impossibility of offering a detailed analysis, I will limit myself here to what seems to me to be the basic reason. This consists, in my opinion, in the fact that Heidegger moves progressively towards the conviction that the Aristotelian determinations in question, as they are presented in the Nichomachean Ethics, are in fact indicative of the three fundamental uncovering attitudes of human life, the three forms in which the soul is in the truth, and that they therefore constitute the first completely phenomenological analysis of Dasein, but that Aristotle does not succeed in posing explicitly, and in a sufficiently radical manner, the problem of the unity which lies at the bottom of these three determinations and which sustains them. In other words, Aristotle did not succeed in grasping the fundamental ontological constitution of human life. According to Heidegger, as is well known, this omission is due to the fact that, by remaining within the horizon of a metaphysics of presence, Aristotle remains tied to a naturalistic understanding of time which prevents him from seeing that the unitary structure of human life is originary temporality.

7 Dasein as the 'ontologizing' of πρᾶξις: the practical origin of the determinations of existence (Zu-sein, Sorge, Jemeinigkeit, Worumwillen, Befindlichkeit and Verstehen, Gewissen, Entschlossenheit) and the consequences

But why then, and in spite of this critique, does one have to insist on the fact that the understanding of the modality of the being of Dasein is drawn from an ontologized concept of πρᾶξις? Because it seems to me that several indications speak in favour of this thesis, which tells us in an undeniable fashion that the characterization of Dasein and the determination of its fundamental structures are accomplished within an eminently 'practical' horizon (in the Aristotelian sense of πρᾶξις). By interpreting the structures of Dasein across the filigree of the Aristotelian understanding of πρᾶξις and of its sustaining categories, I will then try to bring to light the structural, conceptual and even sometimes terminological correspondences between Heidegger's and Aristotle's vision of the problem, without thereby ignoring or denying the differences. In as much as the points taken into consideration previously prepare the way, the legitimacy of this reconciliation of determinations which, on the surface, are so divergent will appear self-evident, both in and of itself, and in the context of the concepts and terms which this reconciliation makes possible. Besides, one can count upon the confirmation deriving from the fact that Heidegger himself, in his interpretations of Aristotle, and notably of the Nichomachean Ethics from the 1920s, explicitly understands the ἐπιστήμη πρακτική as an ontology of human life, of Dasein, and also suggests the equation of Dasein and πρᾶξις.34

7.1 Having-to-be (Zu-sein) as a practical determination

To begin with, in my opinion, one has to read the characterization of Dasein as having-to-be (Zu-sein) in an eminently practical sense. Having-to-be is introduced by Heidegger in paragraphs 4 to 9 of Sein und Zeit. With this characterization, indicative of the modality in which Dasein is and relates itself to its being, Heidegger wants to stress that this relation of Dasein to its being is not carried through in an attitude of observation and assertion, in a sort of turning back upon itself, in a theoretical and reflective introspection, but rather in a typically practico-moral attitude in which what is at stake is the very being of Dasein and in which one has to come to a decision about this being and uphold, whether one wants to or not, the weight of this decision. In other words, Heidegger wants to point out that Dasein does not in the first instance stand in relation to its being with a view to asserting and describing its significance and essence, to saying, for example, that it is animal rationale, but to decide what to do with this being, to choose, amongst different possibilities, the one which he will assume as his own and realize.35

To be sure, one cannot ignore the fact that Heidegger only retains the practical connotation of the ontological structure of Dasein as having-to-be as long as he pursues the project of apprehending and of determining the structure of Dasein in its specificity on the basis of Dasein itself in its purity. One knows that, later, when Dasein is no longer understood in itself but out of the horizon in which it is always already constituted, Heidegger will systematically eliminate all trace of this practical connotation and will determine the 'open' character of existence no longer as having-to-be, but as ek-sistence in the opening of being.36 But precisely the very insistence with which Heidegger retracts the practical characterization of Dasein leads one to believe that it is the right way to recuperate the first Heideggerian understanding of the ontological modality of existence.

7.2 Care (Sorge) as the root of the practical structure of Dasein

It is only on the basis of the practical comprehension of the auto-referential structure of Dasein that it becomes possible to grasp, in its structural unity, the other existential connotations that Heidegger proposes. It becomes understandable, for example, why Heidegger designates the fundamental modality of Erschlossenheit, the open character of Dasein and the unity of the existential determinations by means of a concept which, from the thematic point of view, comes from practical philosophy, namely, the concept of care (Sorge). The determination of Sorge through which Heidegger takes up again and points out the phenomenon which Husserl designated as intentionality is, in my opinion, drawn from an ontological interpretation of the character of human life, designated by Aristotle through the term ορεξις. The proof? It is enough to collate the passage from Aristotle's text in which the term ορεξις, or the corresponding verb ορέγομαι, appears and to see how Heidegger translates them. One discovers that he always makes use of his term <ι>Sorge. The most notable passage comes from the beginning of the Metaphysics where the initial proposition 'πάντες ἄνθρωπῷ τοϋ ειδέναι όρέγονται φΰσει' is translated by Heidegger as 'Im Sein des Menschen liegt wesenhaft die Sorge des Sehens', whereby it is important to stress not only the correspondence between όρέγονται and Sorge but also the ontological interpretation of πάντες ἄνθρωπῷ by 'Im Sein des Menschen'.37

Within the same practical horizon one also comes to understand better why Heidegger designates as Besorgen (at the root of which lies the productive-manipulative disposition of ποίησις rather than the constative-descriptive disposition of θεωρία) the modality within which Dasein lays itself open to and relates itself to things, and as Fürsorge the modality of being through which Dasein is in relation with others. One understands better because these determinations have their common unitary root precisely in the practical character of Sorge, and that indicates, again, that the entire structure of Dasein is practical in nature.

It isn't necessary to recall here how Heidegger directs his analysis toward an investigation of the unitary foundation which sustains the auto-referential practical structure of Dasein, indicated by Zu-sein. As is well known, Heidegger finds this foundation in the idea, thematized and conceptualized by him, according to which Dasein is not something that is realized and fulfilled in the momentary actuality of a pure activity but is structurally a capacity (Seinkönnen) which surpasses ,and reaches beyond the confines of presence in order to be exposed to the temporal ecstasis of the future, in which the projection of its possibilities is unfolded, and the past, which is always the horizon and the inevitable context for projection. So, for Heidegger, capacity is a modality of being characterized by a fundamental ontological and temporal suspension proper to Dasein in as much as the latter is originally open and free-for; and since this liberty is not something that Dasein chooses but which belongs to its very ontological constitution, it follows that Dasein perceives it as something which it cannot get rid of, as a weight, the weight of the unbearable lightness of its being which makes itself known in the Grundstimmung of anxiety.

Heidegger draws certain fundamental conclusions from the ontological interpretation of the practical structure of Dasein.


(1) Against the metaphysical priority of the present and of presence, he upholds the primacy of the future. Precisely because Dasein is related to its being in a relation of a practical kind, when deciding about its being the being which represents what is at stake in this decision is always a future being, for - as Aristotle frequently underlines - deliberation (βουλευσις) and decision (προαίρεσις)38 bear upon the future.

(2) The being toward which Dasein stands in relation in the practical auto-reference is always the very being of Dasein itself, and it's for this reason that Heidegger attributes to it the character of Jemeinigkeit, being in every instance mine. I surmise that with this determination Heidegger is rethinking, and giving an ontological interpretation of the meaning of, a characteristic which belongs to the knowing of φρόνησις and which Aristotle formulates when he says that φρόνησις is a αυτῳ ειδέναι.39

(3) In view of all these elements Heidegger upholds a radical distinction between the ontological constitution of Dasein and that of beings different from Dasein, by basing it on the consideration that Dasein is the only being ontologically constituted as a Zu-sein. Upon this distinction Heidegger also founds the ontic and ontological priority of Dasein, and he criticizes the inadequate radicality of the metaphysical differentiation of man and nature, subject and object, consciousness and world, precisely because they are not rooted in a true apprehension of the fundamentally unitary structure of human life.

(4) The practical determination of the being of Dasein finally implies the rejection of the traditional theory of self:consciousness, conceived as a knowledge of self of a reflexive and informative kind and obtained by way of an inspectio sui, by way of a sort of turning back of consciousness, or of the subject, upon itself. The identity of Dasein is constituted practically to the extent that the latter refers, according to its own nature, to its Zu-sein, by assuming the latter or by not assuming it. In addition, this self-reference is not developed exclusively by means of transparent acts of the understanding but also depends upon 'inferior acts', on moods, on the sensible and passive components of human life. In this way Heidegger puts a double distance between himself and the metaphysical tradition where the specificity of the being of human life is re-duced and restrained within the objectifying categories of pure observation and within a theoretical horizon dominated by doctrines of presence and of consciousness.


The practical structure which designates and determines the ontological constitution of Dasein is the result - and this is still my contention - of a kind of speculative sedimentation (in Heidegger's thinking and even in the terminology of this period) of the essential meaning of the determinations of being and of the moral life of man presented by Aristotle in the Nichomachean Ethics, We are talking here of a sedimentation produced in the form of an ontological interpretation and whose intention is to validate and to realize the ideas which it takes up again. To be sure, by linking the Heideggerian analysis of existence so closely to Aristotle, doubts inevitably arise, doubts which can moreover be based, at least apparently, on Heidegger's own text. In fact, in his presentation of the programme of an existential analytic, Heidegger quite explicitly distances himself from Aristotle: he criticizes, for example, the Aristotelian thesis in accordance with which the primacy of man is founded on the fact that the soul, in as much as it knows, is a kind of reflection of all beings, or this other thesis according to which the essence of man consists in his anima rationalis. Nevertheless, one should note that Heidegger did not fail to acknowledge, on several occasions, his indebtedness vis-à-vis Aristotle. This even happens in the course of his existential analyses where, ordinarily, Heidegger covers up and effaces the traces of his productive assimilation.40 Let us therefore consider which are the relevant determinations of Aristotle's practical philosophy taken up in Heidegger's existential analysis. To do this, and so to verify our thesis, it will be necessary to reread the critical passages from the existential analysis in a spirit which I would call a deciphering rather than interpreting, a spirit which is however well supported by the Marburg texts and which, in addition, finds ample support in Sein und Zeit.

What is taken up first of all is the general framework of the problem which engages Aristotle's attention. In fact, one can say that in the horizon established by the consideration of ἐπιστήμη πρακτική - a term, I want to emphasize, translated by Heidegger as Ontologie des menschlichen Lebens - Aristotle considers human life in totality as a πρᾶξις and not as a ποίησις;41 and πρᾶξις is considered as the specific κινήσις of human life, which is not simply oriented toward the conservation of life itself, towards living pure and simple (ζῆν), but which is βίος, the project of life which, once vital conservation is assured, comes to terms with itself in the space which opens up before it in relation to the problem of how to live, that is, to the choice of the preferable form of life for man, to the problem of living well (εὖ ζῆν) and to the means suited to realizing this goal. This means that man, qua political animal endowed with λόγος, carries the weight of the responsibility of deliberating (βουλευσις), of choosing and of deciding (προαίρεσις) about the modalities and the forms of his life by turning toward that which he takes to be the best. As we know, it is the wise man, the prudent man (φρόνιμος), who succeeds in deliberating well, in choosing and deciding well and who realizes right action (ευ πράττειν), the good life (εὖ ζῆν) and therefore happiness (ευδαιμονια).

This fundamental intuition of Aristotle's is taken up again in my sense by Heidegger and reformulated by means of a transformation which ontologizes and radicalizes it while accentuating its substantial significance. In fact, for Heidegger Dasein too is that particular being whose being is always in question and this most especially in that eminently practical sense in which Dasein has to decide about the forms and modalities of its own self-realization, even in those limiting cases where this decision is a matter of not deciding or abstaining from making a decision. As Aristotle would have it, Dasein is the being who must decide, τὰ αὑτῷ ἀγαθὰ καὶ συμφέροντα.42 And just as with Aristotle, one's success in life is determined by following the φρόνησις, with Heidegger too it's only when Dasein is attentive to the call of conscience and recognizes this 'having to decide' as its task and as its very being, that is, when it recognizes itself in its practical character by assuming the latter in the projection of its own possibilities, in the realization of its πρᾶξις, it is only then when Dasein takes responsibility for its being that it realizes itself as authentic (φρόνιμος).

It is also possible to maintain that, in the 1920s, Heidegger is concerned to identify and determine the Grundbewegtheit, the fundamental characteristic of mobility proper to the being of human life in the practical self-reference by which it is determined. In the Aristotelian thesis in accordance with which πρᾶξις is κίνησις του βιου, the movement specific to human life,43 Heidegger sees decisive support for, and substantial confirmation of, the direction of his research, which leads him to distance himself from Husserl in order to come nearer to Aristotle and, at the same time, to filter his reading of Aristotle through the problems which he inherited from Husserl. In this way a highly productive interaction ensues between the demand for a speculative enrichment, which makes use of Aristotle, and a reading of Aristotle which is fertilized by a speculative orientation which determines in advance the problems to be tackled.

It is not possible to offer here an analysis of Aristotle's understanding of πρᾶξις and it is still not possible to pursue in detail the interpretation offered by Heidegger of Book VI of the Nichomachean Ethics due to the absence of certain texts like the Winter 1924/5 lectures on Plato's Sophist, the introductory part of which contains a detailed reading of Book VI, or the Summer 1926 lectures, the last part of which is entirely devoted to a general interpretation of Aristotle's ontology, including what Heidegger calls the ontology of human life, that is, the ἐπιστήμη πρακτική. But the evidence in our possession does nevertheless suffice, in my opinion, to indicate at least the basic direction of Heidegger's thinking.

In what concerns the central concept of πρᾶξις, Heidegger thinks he detects in Aristotle, as we have seen, a dual employment of the concept: an ontic employment in which the term indicates particular πράξεις and in accordance with which these πράξεις are certainly distinguished but at the same level as the ποίησις and the particular θεωρίᾳ: this is how it is used for example at the beginning of the Nichomachean Ethics; and a philosophical and ontological use in which πρᾶξις does not indicate particular actions but a modality of being. In this latter sense, πρᾶξις is the concept employed to determine the modality of being proper to human life, its specific κινήσις. It is this use of the term one finds, for example, in Nichomachean Ethics VI, 5, or in Metaphysics IX, 6. The fundamental structure of this κινήσις is ορεξις in its two consecutive moments of δίωξις and φυγή, and what characterizes human life more exactly is an ορεξις closely bound to νοῦς πρακτικός and susceptible of being oriented by the διανοεισθαι of the λόγος, in the case of φρόνιμος, by an ὀρθός λόγος. Praxis arises out of the juncture of these two moments, ορεξις and νοῦς, by way of the process of deliberation (βουλευσις) which ends up in choice and in the decision to act (προαίρεσις). If the ορεξις is right and the λόγος true, there results not only good deliberation (ευβουλια) but also the success of the πρᾶξις, ευπραξια .

Reflecting in depth upon the Aristotelian structure of πρᾶξις and upon the determinations which it contains, Heidegger draws therefrom, I think, so many fundamental determinations which he no longer considers as particular moments of action but, due to his having 'ontologized' the concept of πρᾶξις, as ontological characteristics of human life. It follows that in his existential analysis one finds, hidden and disguised in an ontological envelope, an entire series of conceptual and terminological correspondences with the Aristotelian conception of πρᾶξις. But before examining them, it is necessary to insist again upon the nature of the transformation that Heidegger accomplishes in taking up the Aristotelian understanding of πρᾶξις.

It has already been pointed out how Heidegger, both with and against Husserl, appropriates the Aristotelian characterization of the three fundamentally uncovering attitudes (πρᾶξις, ποίησις, θεωρία) and it has already been emphasized that with this appropriation he criticizes the lack of an explicit position on the problem of the fundamentally unitary determination which upholds all the others, and traces this lack back to the metaphysical horizon of presence and to that naturalistic understanding of time which prevents Aristotle from grasping the fact that the unitary structure of human life is originary temporality. Taking up again Aristotle's fundamental indications but freeing them at the same time from the metaphysical hypotheses by which they are conditioned, Heidegger thinks that it is important to reformulate these practical determinations as ontological designations, as modalities of being: this is where one finds the origin of their ontologizing interpretation. In other words: against the theoretical and objectifying unilaterality of modern metaphysics, Heidegger finds it worthwhile to take up again the fundamental intuitions of Aristotle's practical philosophy, intuitions which lie outside such a" unilaterality. However, it is still necessary to purify them of the metaphysico-anthropological slag in which they are embedded. From an inadequately pure ontological point of view, the Aristotelian understanding of πρᾶξις is situated in the general framework of a prior conception of man as animal rationale and remains bound to the latter. It depends upon and falls with such a conception. According to Heidegger, on the contrary, since the validity of my metaphysical and anthropological framework is in doubt, the practical understanding of human life no longer refers to anything which can be relied upon. Every substantive support which was operative in the tradition is now considered derivative and defective with regard to an originary action, to that πρᾶξις which constitutes the being of Dasein and which must be understood in and for itself regardless of any pre-determination and pre-constitution. In the absence of any region in which it can be constituted, πρᾶξις has to be self-constituting; and in this way it becomes the originary ontological determination, self-sufficient, its own objective. It becomes ou ἕνεκε, Worumwillen.

Here we come across a fundamental difference. With Aristotle, the practical issue represents a particular way of viewing human life, precisely in as much as the latter is capable of action and in as much as it is itself action. It is therefore just one particular issue among others, alongside, for example, the physical, biological or psychological issue. In. addition, it is not a privileged issue but, by virtue of the lesser degree of precision (ακρίβεια) to which it lends itself, it has been considered a sort of philosophia minor. In any case, it does not exhaust the understanding of human life. With Heidegger, on the other hand, practical determinations are not determinations which exist alongside other possible determinations but represent the ontological constitution of Dasein itself. This means that as constitutive, their content is not something that Dasein can freely choose to have or not to have but is something from which it cannot be abstracted. Decision, for example, or πρᾶξις itself, are not conceived as possibilities which Dasein can realize or not, but become ontological predicates which characterize its being before, and therefore independent of, its will, its choice, its decision.

This brings with it another displacement in the characterization of πρᾶξις. There, where it is conceived as a possibility which one can grasp or not, πρᾶξις takes on a, so to speak, positive connotation. It is a possible way of realizing the being of man but not necessarily the only way. But if it becomes the very ontological structure of Dasein it is its inevitable character, the impossibility of avoiding it which is then underlined and accentuated. Hence, πρᾶξις is not only in question in the execution of determinate actions or in the pursuit of particular goals, it precedes each execution and each pursuit. And it is precisely this characteristic of inevitability, arising from the 'ontologization' of πρᾶξις as a structure of Dasein which confers upon the being of Dasein the characteristic of weight, which conveys the impression that the lightness of this being is unbearable.

The 'ontologization' of πρᾶξις then provokes a last transfiguration. It results, so to speak, in the evaporation of its specific weight as an activity and in the loss of certain characteristics which, with Aristotle, belong to it constitutively; above all, its inter-personality and its rootedness in a κοινωνία. With Heidegger, 'ontologization' drives πρᾶξις into a sort of heroic solipsism which deforms its very appearance.

So it appears undeniable that the Heideggerian 'ontologization' of the Aristotelian concept of πρᾶξις provokes some fundamental transformations and displacements. But in spite of these transformations and displacements, the prevailing correspondences will still have to be examined by considering how the Heideggerian determination of the 'open' structure of Dasein takes up again the decisive moments of the Aristotelian understanding of the moral being of man.

7.3 The articulation of Sorge in the complementary determinations of Befindlichkeit and Verstehen

It is well known that Heidegger establishes the openness of the being of Dasein, its Erschlossenheit, by affirming the originary unity of Dasein and world. The unitary sense of Erschlossenheit and of its Existenzialien, is care (Sorge), its three structural moments are Befindlichkeit, Verstehen and Rede.44 However, the simple translation of these terms, almost impossible in any case, does little to help one grasp the meaning which Heidegger confers upon them. Rather, it tends to conceal this meaning. It might be helpful to consider that, with these concepts, Heidegger takes up again, rethinks and elevates to ontological rank so many transitional determinations of the being of man as 'subject' of action, by transforming them and inserting them into the ontologically more profound and more radical context established by his metaphysics of Dasein. In Befindlichkeit, he elevates to ontological rank and leads back to its unitary root, the determinations of the acting subject which had traditionally been thought within the framework of the doctrine of the passions, that is to say, as moments of passivity, of receptivity and finitude.45 Similarly, in Verstehen, I believe that Heidegger ontologizes the active moment of projection and of spontaneity. The two moments are, in addition, co-originary with regard to the third moment, Rede, which will be left here in parentheses, but about which one can say that it designates the ontological foundation of the rational and discursive character of Dasein. What has to be underlined is the correspondence of these moments to two central determinations of the Aristotelian theory of action. Let us see how.

Befindlichkeit46 represents the ontologization of ontic moods in as much as it is the ontological foundation of their possibility. In Befindlichkeit, which is rooted in Sorge, Dasein is open to its having-to-be. It is confronted with the nudity of its 'daß es ist und zu sein hat', more precisely in such a way that its Whence* (Woher) and its 'whither' (Wohin) are hidden from it. This is its Geworfenheit. What Heidegger wants to point out with this determination is that there belongs to the constitution of Dasein not simply elements which are pure, transparent, suited to spontaneity and rationality but also moments which are troubled and opaque, the condition of the possibility of which he tries to determine through the concept of Befindlichkeit. For Heidegger, in other words, human life constitutes both itself and its own identity by taking account not only of its transparence, its self-determination and its spontaneity but also in assuming as its own, the opacity of its Stimmungen, which latter follows precisely from the fact that it is, in its fundamental structure, Sorge. The constitutive function of Stimmungen is valid even for the purest attitudes of human life, that is to say, for θεωρία, about which Aristotle says, as Heidegger reminds us, that it can only take place in the calm of ραστωνη and of διαγωγη.41

In order to bring out the relation to Aristotle what is important here is that Heidegger, in the very paragraph in which he deals with Befindlichkeit (§29) explicitly cites Aristotle, more exactly, the doctrine of the passions (παθε), especially as presented in book II of the Rhetoric. While disengaging this doctrine from the context in which Aristotle situated it, Heidegger maintains that it has to be interpreted as 'the first systematic hermeneutics of the everydayness of being-with-one-another' (die erste systematische Hermeneutik der Alltäglichkett des Miteinanderseins), and he also notes that since Aristotle hardly any progress has been made in the understanding of the passions, at least until phenomenology. In addition, we also know that Heidegger devoted the lectures of the Summer term 1924 to this ontological reading of the Aristotelian doctrine of the passions. Even if, in order to offer a more precise evaluation, we should wait until this text has been published, one can already affirm without hesitation that this retrieval of the Aristotelian doctrine of the passions plays an important role in the Heideggerian project of a complete and radical comprehension of the structure of human life, comprehension of such a kind that it cannot be reduced exclusively to an analysis of cognitive acts, still less to scientific cognition.

In what concerns the complementary determination with regard to Befindlichkeit, that is, Verstehen,48 one can say very generally that it represents the ontological condition of the possibility of active and spontaneous determinations, of the auto-transparence of Dasein. It is the determination which reflects the productivity of capacity (Seinkönnen). In spite of the meaning suggested by the German term and even more, by the Latin translations, Verstehen indicates the ontological status of Dasein in as much as it is activity, in as much as it has the character of Entwurf, in as much as it projects its being by relating itself to itself in the practical attitude referred to above. Without entering into the details of the analysis of this determination, it is enough to take up again the synthetic definition which Heidegger gives of it: Verstehen is 'the existential being of Dasein's own potentiality-for-being; and it is so in such a way that this being discloses in itself what its being is capable of'.49

The fact that Heidegger considers Verstehen as an ontological modality of Seinkönnen, that he attributes to it the structure of the project, and that he associates its signification with the ontic signification of 'knowing how to do something' certainly places this determination within the horizon of practical comprehension. To be sure, qua ontological, strictly speaking, it precedes any distinction between theory and πρᾶξις. But that doesn't prevent its thematic connotation, arising from the field of πρᾶξις and the fundamental features of the phenomenon of acting from which it proceeds, being filtered through the ontological network. If, for example, one takes the retrieval of the treatment of Verstehen conducted in the lecture course of the Summer term 1927: Die Grundprobleme der Phänomenologie, where the filter for excluding every ontic determination is not so tight as in Sein und Zeit, one finds the claim (highly significant for my thesis) that Verstehen is 'the true sense of action' (der eigentliche Sinn des Handelns).50 Heidegger's determination to refuse any interpretation of Verstehen in the sense of a cognitive operation opposed to Erklären is also, and evidently, directed toward defending the practical conception of Verstehen.

But the practical horizon for the Heideggerian comprehension of Verstehen also becomes apparent in the function which the latter fulfils in the constitution of the identity of Dasein. The structure of the project proper to Verstehen also implies a knowledge, a sight (Sicht), which accompanies and orients the projecting. It is the self-knowledge through which Dasein achieves transparence, Durchsichtigkeit. This last term is the one Heidegger employs, as he points out himself, to avoid the identity of Dasein being conceived in the horizon of Warhnehmen, of Vernehmen, of Beschauen and of Anschauen, that is to say, in the horizon of acts of apprehension of a theoretical kind, acts upon which the traditional understanding of self-consciousness depended. The Heideggerian effort to be rid of the theoretical horizon of presence therefore gets deposited in the determination of Verstehen and of Durchsichtigkeit; on the other hand, the effort to reach a more originary comprehension of the being of Dasein also gets deposited therein. However, as the terms chosen by Heidegger and the explanations which he gives demonstrate, it seems to me evident that this more radical originality is attained through the ontological exploitation of the thematic field of πρᾶξις, even if the ontological elimination of every ontic element aims at placing the originary comprehension of the being of Dasein at a more profound level than that of πρᾶξις, ontologically conceived.

The hypothesis I am going to risk is that through Verstehen (and in spite of all the transformations which are produced and which I do not wish to deny) Heidegger rethinks and reformulates the substantive meaning of the function which, in the Aristotelian theory of action, is filled by the νοῦς πρακτικός. Just as the latter is the complement of πρᾶξις, so Verstehen represents the determination corresponding to Befindlichkeit. To be sure, Verstehen is not confined within the limits of a theory of action but concerns the totality of Dasein: as such it is to be explained with reference to things like Besorgen (implying poietic and theoretical attitudes), with reference to other things like Fürsorge, and with reference to itself as Worumwillen. And it has its roots, just like Befindlichkeit, in the unitary structure of Sorge. And so it obviously finds its place elsewhere than in the νοῦς πρακτικός of the Aristotelian comprehension of action. But in spite of this displacement, in conceiving of the being of Dasein as Sorge, as complementary to and co-originary with Befindlichkeit and Verstehen, of Geworfenheit and Entwurf, of Reluzenz and of Praestruktion, that is to say, as the unity of passivity and activity, of receptivity and spontaneity, of horizon and constitution, one can say that Heidegger takes up again and reformulates, in an ontologically radicalized framework the same problem as Aristotle grasped and confronted in Book VI of the Nichomachean Ethics where he says that man is the ἀρχή which is at the same time ορεξις διανοητική and νοῦς ορεκτικός.51 And just as with Aristotle the connection of ορεξις and of νοῦς always takes place across the λόγος, in an analogous fashion Heidegger theorizes the co-originality of Befindlichkeit and Verstehen with Rede.

To be sure, Heidegger insists upon the differences. He tells us that

care, as an originary totality, 'precedes' in an apriori-existential fashion, any 'behaviour' and 'situation' of Dasein: which means that it too is always already to be found therein. It follows that this phenomenon does not in any way express a primacy of the practical attitude over the theoretical attitude. The purely intuitive determination of something present is no less characterized by care than is a 'political action' or calm resignation. 'Theory' and 'πρᾶξις' are possibilities of being of a being whose being has to be determined as care.52

This passage, which appears opposed to my thesis, in fact confirms it. For, on the one hand, Heidegger can obviously and with reason proclaim the differences to the extent that he interprets Sorge not as a determinate comportment of Dasein, whether theoretical, practical or poietic, but as the unitary ontological foundation which renders possible all the different comportments. But, on the other hand, in order to specify the essential characteristics of this unitary foundation he has recourse to determinations and to concepts which he borrows from Aristotle's practical philosophy. The very fact that on several occasions he experiences the need to distract us from an interpretation of Sorge in this sense, rather than allaying our suspicions only confirms that it is precisely in this direction that the source of his determination has to be sought.

Similarly when, immediately afterwards, Heidegger says that 'the phenomenon of care in its totality is essentially something that cannot be torn asunder; so any attempts to trace it back to special acts or drives like willing and wishing or urge [Drang] and addiction [Hang], or to construct it out of these will be unsuccessful'; and when he adds: 'willing and wishing are rooted with ontological necessity in Dasein's care; they are not just ontologically undifferentiated experiences occurring in a "stream" which is completely indefinite with regard to the meaning of its being'. This is no less the case with urge and addiction which too are grounded in care in so far as they can be exhibited in Dasein at all. In affirming all this Heidegger obviously wants to underline the extreme radicality of his comprehension of the being of Dasein as Sorge and so to confirm the ontological precedence of Sorge with regard to the traditional practical determinations which he mentions. But the necessity of drawing a line between the ontological level of Sorge and that of the other determinations depends precisely upon the fact that, outside of all that, and from the thematic point of view, Sorge is homogeneous with them. Besides, it is precisely this very homogeneity which allows Sorge to be the unitary ontological foundation. Because it is only between homogeneous elements that a relation of foundation can be established.

This homogeneity between care and the other traditional practical determinations of ορεξις and appetitus, of inclination and addiction, becomes even clearer and more undeniable in the treatment of the phenomenon which Heidegger handles in the lectures of the Summer term 1925. In this course, Heidegger presents the phenomenon of Sorge in a closer relation with the moments of drive (Drang) and addiction (Hang) which he seems to consider as the explanation for the structure of Sorge itself. In spite of the fact that Heidegger never ceases to underline the difference in ontological depth between the traditional determinations and his own, the appearance of Sorge in the two moments of Drang and Hang confirms its correspondence with ορεξις and its two moments of δίωξις and φυγή.53

7.4 Gewissen as the 'ontologization' of φρόνησις

In the light of these considerations, one also understands why, as Gadamer recalls, confronted with the difficulty of translating the term φρόνησις, Heidegger could exclaim: 'Das ist das Gewissen!'54 Evidently, he was thinking of his determination of conscience (Gewissen) as the locus where potentiality for being, the fundamental practical determination of Dasein, becomes manifest to itself. In Sein und Zeit (§§54-60), it is indeed the case that conscience is characterized as the locus for the 'attestation by Dasein of its authentic potentiality-for-being' (daseinsmäßige Bezeugung eines eigentlichen Seinkönnens); there, where Dasein is ready to listen to the appeal of conscience in the attitude of wanting-to-have-a-conscience (Gewissen-haben-wollen) and of resoluteness (Entschlossenheit), it is able to attain the authentic realization of existence.55 In an analogous fashion, with Aristotle, φρόνησις is the knowledge which constitutes the horizon in which πρᾶξις can succeed as ευπραξια and human living, which is, in sum, a πρᾶξις, can be realized as living well (εὖ ζῆν). And just as with Aristotle, φρόνησις always implies knowledge of καιρός56 so conscience, with Heidegger, is always referred to the Augenblick.57

So Heidegger certainly had his reason for translating φρόνησις by Gewissen; and, for my part, I think I have reason for thinking that Gewissen is the ontologization of φρόνησις. The passage from the Nichomachean Ethics which arouses the Heideggerian exclamation to the effect that φρόνησις is Gewissen furnishes, in my opinion, both the occasion and the motive for an ontologizing operation. Consider the end of chapter 5 from Book VI where Aristotle, after having given a definition of φρόνησις as ἕξιν ἀληθῆ μετὰ λόγου πρακτικὴν περὶ τὰ ἀνθρώπῳ ἀγαθὰ καὶ κακά, admits that even this definition does not suffice to entirely exhaust its essence. For it is something more than a ἕξις. Curiously enough, Aristotle does not succeed in saying what it is, but limits himself to developing a proof which confirms his claim: any ἕξις can be forgotten but φρόνησις cannot be forgotten.58 I suppose that in reflecting upon this question: in what is φρόνησις 'more'? Heidegger must have arrived at the conclusion that, if it is more than a ἕξις and if, therefore, it cannot be overlooked, it must be a characteristic of the soul itself. It therefore has to be ontologized. But the ontologization of φρόνησις yields as a result Gewissen.

7.5 Entschlossenheit as the 'ontologization' of προαίρεσις and the other possible correspondences

One could continue this catalogue of correspondences and indicate how the same ontologization is accomplished by Heidegger in the case of other determinations of Aristotle's practical philosophy. I am going to limit myself here to an inventory. With the term Jemeinigkeit,59 as I have already indicated, Heidegger ontologizes the determination by means of which Aristotle designates a characteristic which belongs to φρόνησις, the fact that it is a 'knowledge concerning the self (το αύτώ ειδέναι). And again: the designation of Dasein as Worumwillen60 is the ontologization of the determination of πρᾶξις as οὗ ἕνεκε. In fact, since the distinctive characteristic of πρᾶξις is the fact that it is not with reference to anything else (ἕνεκε τινος) like ποίησις, but that it contains in itself its own goal (οὗ ἕνεκε) and since Dasein is pre-eminently an ontologized πρᾶξις, the latter must possess, par excellence, the characteristic of οὗ ἕνεκε. This is the characteristic that Heidegger attributes to it with the designation Worumwillen.

Finally, the determination of Entschlossenheit61 is, in my opinion, the ontologization of προαίρεσις, with this difference, that the latter is situated as a special moment within the Aristotelian theory of action, while Entschlossenheit is a characteristic of the being of Dasein. An indisputable confirmation of this latter correspondence comes from the fact that, in translating Aristotle, Heidegger renders προαίρεσις by Entschlossenheit. Among the passages which attest to this, the one which seems to be particularly significant occurs in the lecture course of Summer 1926, on the Grundbegriffe der antiken Philosophie. Heidegger interprets the passage from Book IV, 2 of the Metaphysics, where Aristotle differentiates philosophers into dialecticians and sophists, and translates:

Dialektik und Sophistik haben gewissermafien dasselbe Gewand angezogen wie die Philosophie, aber sie sind es im Grunde nicht; die Sophistik sieht nur so aus. Die Dialektiker zwar nehmen ihre Aufgabe ernst und positiv, sie handeln vom koinon, aber es fehlt ihnen die Orientierung an der Idee des Seins. Beide bewegten sich um dasselbe Gebiet wie die Philosophie. Die Dialektik unterscheidet sich durch die Art der Moglichkeiten: sie hat nur begrenzte Moglichkeiten, sie kann nur versuchen; die Philosophie dagegen gibt zu verstehen. Die Sophisten unterscheiden sich durch die Art der Entschlossenheit zur wissenschaflichen Forshung: sie sind unernst.

What has to be underlined is that Heidegger translates here with Entschlossenheit zur wissenschaflichen Forschung what, in the original Greek, stands as: προαίρεσις τοῦ βίου.

8 Conclusive considerations: from Heidegger to Aristotle and from Aristotle to us

I hope that the correspondences I have pointed out will, if not prove, at least render plausible, the general thesis with regard to a retrieval by Heidegger of the framework for the problems posed by Aristotle's practical philosophy, and to a general correspondence between the practico-moral understanding of human life with Aristotle and the Heideggerian existential analysis. With this in mind, I would like to finish up by citing a passage which shows very clearly, and yet again, how Heidegger struggles to get close to Aristotle or, if you prefer, to bring Aristotle close to himself. Towards the end of the lecture on the 'Grundbegriffe der antiken Philosophie', having dealt with the five modalities of the ἀληθεύειν of the ψῡχή and the movements which correspond to them, Heidegger poses the problem of the unitary structure of the ψῡχή, of the being of human life, and he replies by giving, with Aristotle, the following definition of man: 'άνθρωπος ist ζῷον, dem die πράξις zukommt, ferner λόγος. Diese drei Bestimmungen zusammengezogen: ζωή πρακτική τοῦ λόγον έχοντος ist das Wesen des Menschen. Der Mensch ist das Lebewesen, das gemäß seiner Seinsart die Möglichkeit hat zu handeln.'62

To be sure, one must also add that in taking up again the Aristotelian determinations of πρᾶξις, Heidegger 'ontologizes' them and that this ontologization is the equivalent for him of a radicalization. For it permits him to grasp the fundamental unitary connection which upholds these determinations and which is, notoriously, temporality conceived in an originary way (Zeitlichkeit). At the end of all this, and once he has carried through his 'ontologization', Heidegger takes up a distance with regard to Aristotle. Aristotle was not able to see originary temporality as the unitary ontological foundation of the determinations of human life which, nevertheless, he grasped and described, because he remains within the horizon of a naturalistic, chronological and non-chairological understanding of time. Even the celebrated aporie of the relation between the ψῡχή and χρόνος explicitly raised by Aristotle (Physik IV, 14, 223 to 21, 29) which is handled in a magisterial manner by Heidegger in his commentary on the Aristotelian treatment of time,63 seems to be insufficient, in Heidegger's eyes, to extract Aristotle from the horizon of the naturalistic understanding of time.

And yet: Aristotle does anticipate correctly, even if only at the ontic level, the intuition which Heidegger raises to the ontological power with the equation of Dasein and Zeitlichkeit. This is a conjecture which can be based upon a passage from De anima III, 10, where it seems as though Aristotle attributes to man, as a specific characteristic distinguishing him from animals, the perception of time (χρόνου αἲσθησις).64 The attribution is, to tell the truth, controversial; but the fact that Heidegger, who shows that he knows the passage very well, nevertheless interprets it without hesitation in this sense, and the fact that, in addition, he links the perception of time with the capacity for action in order to define the specific character of human life, lends unquestionable credence to this conjecture. To explain the difference between the ορεξις of animals and that reasonable action proper to human life, he refers to the passage mentioned at De anima III, 10, and he translates:

Dieser Gegensatz von Trieb und eigentlich entschlossener, vernünftiger Handlung ist eine Möglichkeit nur bei lebendigen Wesen, die die Möglichkeit haben, Zeit zu verstehen. Sofern das Lebendige demTrieb überlassen ist, ist es bezogen auf das, was gerade da ist und reizt, τό ηδύ. Darauf strebt der Trieb hemmungslos, auf das Gegenwärtige, Verfügbare. Aber dadurch, daß im Menschen die αἴσθησις χρόνου liegt, hat der Mensch die Möglichkeit, sich τό μέλλον zu vergegenwärtigen als das Mögliche und das, um dessentwillen er handelt.

Can one still remain in doubt about the deep furrow that the voracious interpretation and assimilation of Aristotle has dug in Heidegger's speculative path? Obviously, I think not; but I also think that it is no longer possible to doubt that Heidegger's thinking succeeds in reactivating and reformulating the substantive meaning of certain fundamental problems # posed by Aristotle with a radicality of which no one else seems capable today. In this sense, and especially for the phases on which I have concentrated my analysis, this thinking represents one of the most dense and significant moments in the presence of Aristotle in our century. By means of it we are referred back to Aristotle and from Aristotle to us. With a view to gaining an awareness of the problems of the contemporary world, of nihilism and technology, Heidegger has taught us that it is necessary to immerse oneself in the Aristotelian bath - and this before any speculative utopianism, before every form of rebellion or dadaist thinking in which most of those who have wanted to take up his challenge and try to think the problems which we inherited from him, have fallen.

I know that the Heideggerians are going to say: you have completely reduced Heidegger to Aristotle, to the point of finding in Aristotle a correspondence and even an anticipation of the fundamental discovery made by Heidegger at Marburg, the specification of the unitary ontological structure of Dasein in originary temporality. The non-Heideggerians, on the contrary, will protest as follows: what you have tried to pass off as Aristotelian doesn't have much to do with Aristotle and looks more like a philosophical pastiche produced by a fascination with Aristotle.

My response: I know that one has to be on one's guard against this danger but one has to risk it. If I gave the impression of levelling Heidegger down to Aristotle, the optic distortion is inevitable and I apologize for it. I simply wanted to show - against the old existentialist interpretation, and against more recent interpretations which only see in Heideggerian thinking (much too expeditiously and much too rapidly), the overcoming of the tradition - how Heidegger spanned this tradition and entered in depth into a confrontation with its dominant founding moments by reinstating the substantive sense of the confrontation with Greek culture. I am aware that I adopted only one among other possible routes and that I threw light upon only one of the numerous facets of Heidegger's work. I am also aware that what I have done is only a first step on the way to understanding the meaning of Heidegger's speculative path, a step which necessarily has to leave aside other possible readings without moreover trying to compete with them. Finally, I am particularly aware that the interpretation I have proposed still has to face the explicit retractions undertaken by the second and last Heidegger. But if it is objected that my reading gets under way by neglecting the interpretation Heidegger himself has given to his thinking, I have to reply: if that is a sin, it is a sin I have committed voluntarily. Moreover, I have no intention of repenting.

Translated by Christopher Macann

Notes

1 For the citation of writings by Heidegger published in the Gesamtausgabe (Frankfurt: Klostermann, 1975ss.) we will use the sign GA followed by Arabic numerals to indicate the volume.

2 Especially with regard to autobiographical considerations contained in the letter to W. J. Richardson from the beginning of the month of April 1962 and published as the preface to the study by the latter entitled Heidegger: Through Phenomenology to Thought, Phaenomenologica 13 (La Haye: Nijhoff, 1963), pp. vii-xxiii, and in 'Mein Weg in die Phänomenologie' (1963) reproduced in M. Heidegger, Zur Sache des Denkens (Tubingen: Niemeyer, 1969), pp. 81-90; cf. also the preface to the first edition (1972) of the Frühe Schriften, reproduced in GA 1, pp. 55-7.

3 I am thinking here, in the first place, of that interpretation and reproduction of Aristotle's practical philosophy proposed by *Hans-Georg Gadamer in the celebrated chapter on the contemporary interpretation of Aristotle's Ethics from Wahrheit und Methode (Tubingen: Mohr, 1960), of certain interpretations of Eugen Fink (Metaphysik der Erziehung im Weltverständnis von Platon und Aristoteles (Frankfurt: Klostermann, 1970), but also of numerous monographs such as: Walter Bröcker, Aristoteles (Frankfurt: Klostermann, 1935); Helen Weiß, Kausalität und Zufall in der Philosophie des Aristoteles (Bale: Haus zum Falken, 1942); reprinted (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1967); Wilhelm Szilasi, Macht und Ohnmacht des Geistes (Berne: Francke, 1946) (in particular the second part which contains the interpretations of the Nichomachean Ethics VI, Metaphysics IX and XII and De anima II); Karl Ulmer, Wahrheit, Kunst und Natur bei Aristoteles. Ein Beitrag zur Aufklärung der metaphysischen Herkunft der modernen Technik (Tubingen: Niemeyer, 1953); Alfredo Guzzoni, Die Einkeit des on pollachos legomenon bei Aristoteles (Freiburg University, Ph.D. thesis, 1957); Ernst Tugendhat, Ti kata tinos. Eine Untersuchung zu Struktur und Ursprung aristotelischer Grundbegriffe (Freiburg-Munchen: Alber, 1958); R. Boehm, Das Grundlegende und das Wesentliche. Zu Aristoteles' Abhandlung 'über das Sein und das Seiende (Metaphysik Z)' (La Haye: Nijhoff, 1965); Ernst Vollrath, Studien zur Kategorienlehre des Aristoteles (Ratingen: Henn, 1969), and Die These der Metaphysik. Zur Gestalt der Metaphysik bei Aristoteles, Kant and Hegel (Ratingen: Henn, 1969), pp. 15-92; Fridolin Wiplinger, Physis und Logos. Zum Körperphänomen in seiner Bedeutung für den Ursprung der Metaphysik bei Aristoteles (Freiburg-Munchen: Alber, 1971); Ute Guzzoni, Grund und Allgemeinheit. Untersuchung zum aristotelischen Verständnis der ontologischen Gründe (Meisenheim: Hain, 1975); Karl-Heinz Volkmann-Schluck, Die Metaphysik des Aristoteles (Frankfurt: Klostermann, 1979); Ingeborg Schüßler, Aristoteles Philosophic und Wissenschaft. Das Problem der Verselbständigung der Wissenschaften (Frankfurt: Klostermann, 1982).

4 M. Heidegger, Vom Wesen und Begriff der Physis, Aristoteles, Physik B, I, reproduced in GA 9, pp. 239-301.

5 In 1976 in GA 21 (text established by Walter Biemel).

6 In 1975 in GA 24 (text established by Friedrich-Wilhelm von Herrmann).

7 In 1981 in GA 33 (text established by Heinrich Huni).

8 In 1983 in GA 29-30 (text established by Friedrich-Wilhelm von Herrmann).

9 GA 18.

10 GA 19.

11 GA 22.

12 Appeared in 1985 in GA (text established by Walter Bröcker and Käte Bröcker-Oltmanns).

13 Cf. E. Husserl, Briefe an Roman Ingarden, Phaenomenologica 25 (La Have: Nijhoff, 1968), pp. 25-7. In a letter addressed to Gadamer (from the year 1922) Heidegger sets out in detail the contents of this interpretation: "First part (ap. 15 sheets) deals with Nich. Eth. Z, Met. A, 1-2, Phys. A. 8; the second (same length) Met. ZHQ, De motu an., De anima. The third part appears later. Since the Jahrbuch will be published later I can offer you a separate copy.' The letter is quoted in G.-G. Gadamer, Heideggers Wege (Tubingen: Mohr, 1983), p. 118. (Gadamer lost the copy of the manuscript Heidegger had sent him during the bombing of Leipzig, but another copy of the manuscript has since been found and published in Dilthey-Jahrbuch, 6 (1989), pp. 228-69.

14 Notoriously, Heidegger clarifies the meaning of the 'phenomenological destruction' of the history of ontology in Sein und Zeit (GA 2), §6. Further valuable information is to be found in the lectures of Summer 1927, Die Grundprobleme der Phänomenologie, where one learns how Heidegger is able to get the idea of a destruction from an extension of the Husserlian method of reduction and how, as a result, he conceives the triple articulation of the phenomenological method of reduction, destruction and construction (cf. GA 24, §5).

15 Cf. Heidegger, Zur Sache des Denkens, p. 81.

16 Cf. F. Brentano, Von der mannigfachen Bedeutung des Seienden nach Aristoteles (Freiburg: Herder, 1862; reprinted Hildesheim: Olms, 1960).

17 In addition to Brentano's dissertation, Heidegger also mentions the treatise by Carl Braig, Vom Sein, Abriß der Ontologie (Freiburg: Herder, 1896); for the analysis of the contents of this last work, in connection with the genesis of the problem of Being in the young Heidegger, I refer the reader to my monograph Heidegger e Aristotele (Padova: Daphne, 1984), pp. 52-64.

18 M. Heidegger, Die Kategorien- und Bedeutungslehre des Duns Scotus (1915), reprinted in GA 1, pp. 189-411.

19 In a later but nevertheless very interesting statement which is to be found in the lecture course of Summer 1931, Heidegger says:

20 GA 24, p. 31. In the same context of the Heideggerian development of the phenomenological method one finds illuminating indications in the ontological orientation which Heidegger provokes in the self-understanding of phenomenology. The latter is not a redirection of the natural attitude towards a philosophical disposition which opens up a perspective on the constitutive operations of subjectivity but it brings about a transition for any ontic consideration of being to its ontological consideration, that is, to a consideration which bears upon the modalities of being and, therefore, upon the being of beings. But listen to Heidegger:

Being must be grasped and thematized. . . The apprehension of being, that is, phenomenological research, is directed necessarily and in the first instance at beings, but only in order to be definitively re-directed from beings and led back to their being. The fundamental element in the phenomenological method, in the sense of a leading back of the questioning from beings naively apprehended to being, we designate by the expression phenomenological reduction. Therewith we make use of a central term of Husserl's phenomenology, though only in a nominal and not in a real way. For Husserl, the phenomenological reduction, which he first worked out expressly in Ideas, is a method for reading back the phenomenological viewpoint from the natural attitude of humans living with each other in a world of things, to the life of transcendental consciousness and its noetic-neematic lived experiences in which objects are constituted as correlates of consciousness. For us, the phenomenological reduction means the leading back of the phenomenological viewpoint from an apprehension of beings (however determined) to an understanding of their being. (GA 24, pp. 28-29)

Here, as also in the objections advanced on the occasion of the drafting of the Encyclopedia Britannica article, the Heideggerian critique of Husserlian phenomenology seems not to be an immanent critique which moves back within the Husserlian position to its specific presuppositions. In my opinion, it assumes the form of a sort of ontological torsion which gets away from the Husserlian position right away and, so to speak, attacks it from the rear. And it has to be added that Heidegger introduces, with reference to Husserl, a decisive change not only in the attempt to understand the philosophical approach in an ontological and non-transcendental sense but also in the attempt to understand the motives which provoke the redirection of the natural attitude towards the philosophical. The redirection does not consist in a Active operation which takes place in the head of the professional philosopher but lies rooted in a fundamental Stimmung, that is in an anxiety in which the conversion from inauthenticity to authenticity is prefigured and in which, consequently, there takes place that assumption of the existential disposition which is the philosophical disposition par excellence.

21 GA 20, pp. 13-182. The original subtitle of the lecture 'Prolegomena zu einer Phänomenologie von Geschichte und Natur' very clearly announces Heidegger's intention to keep close to Husserlian phenomenology, at least with respect to its terminology.

22 Cf. M. Heidegger, Sein und Zeit, §44, and GA 21, p. 129.

23 These positions are presented in the 6th Logical Investigation (sect. II, chap. VI: 'Sinnlichkeit und Verstand') which is the Husserlian text to which Heidegger prefers to refer. With regard to the confrontation between Heidegger and Husserl, I refer the reader to what I have written in 'Heidegger in Marburg: Die Auseinandersetzung mit Husserl', Philosophischer Literaturanzeiger, 37 (1984), pp. 48-69, and in 'La trasformazione della fenomenologia da Husserl a Heidegger', Teoria, 4(i) (1984), pp. 125-62.

24 One can find this argumentative progression in the lecture from the Winter term 1925/6 (cf. GA 21, p. 1, Hauptstuck). It can also be found in that of the Winter term 1929/30 (GA 29/30, §72-3), where the quest for the ontological foundation of the phenomenon of truth takes a significant turn. The emphasis is no longer on the uncovering attitude of Dasein, but rather on its being-free (Freisein), that is, no longer on the spontaneity and the productivity of Dasein, but on the ontological character (being-free) of the horizon constitutive of its condition. Finally, it can be found in the lectures from the Summer term 1930 (GA 31, §9), where, in interpreting Metaphysics IX, 10, Heidegger concentrates on the ὄν ὡς ἀληθές.

25 Cf. Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics VI, 3, 11139 b 15-17.

26 Cf. Aristotle, De anima III, 3, 427 b 12; 428a 11, 428 b 18.

27 Cf. Aristotle, Metaphysics IX, 10. Heidegger, at least twice, spends a considerable time on the interpretation of this critical chapter of the Metaphysics, in the lectures from 1925/6 (GA 21, pp. 170-182) and in that of 1930 (GA 31, pp. 73-109).

28 Heidegger insists upon this differentiation in the introduction to the lectures from the Winter term 1924/5, to wit: (1) τό πράγμα εστι ἀληθές, (2) ἡ ψῡχή αληθεύει, (3) ό λόγος ὡς λέγειν αληθεύει, (4) ό λόγος ὡς λεγόμενον εστι ἀληθές. Obvious traces of this topology of the loci of truth are to be found in Sein und Zeit, §§7B and 44.

29 GA 21, p. 190.

30 GA 21, pp. 193-194.

31 As is well known, the Heideggerian critique of Husserl's understanding of consciousness makes itself known on the occasion of their unsuccessful collaboration on the drafting of the article on phenomenology for the Encyclopedia Britannica. The different drafts of this article and Heidegger's critical remarks have been published in E. Husserl, Phänomenologische Psychologie, Vorlesung Sommersemester 1925, ed. W. Biemel, Husserliana IX (La Haye: Nijhoff, 1962). Cf. in addition the article by W. Biemel, 'Husserl's Encyclopaedia-Britannica- Artikel und Heideggers Anmerkungen dazu', Tijdschrift voor Filosofie, 12 (1950), pp. 246-80. Today, it is also necessary to take into account the detailed articulation of the Heideggerian critique in the university lectures: cf. GA 20, §§4-13; 21, §§6-10; §§4-5. A confrontation with Husserl (more exactly with the article 'Philosophic als strenge Wissenschaft') is also to be found in the first Marburg lectures (Der Beginn der neuzeitlichen Philosophie, 1923-4, GA 17).

32 Confirmation of this correspondence comes from the suggestive conjunction that by Vorhandenheit Heidegger translates (and, I would add, 'ontologizes') the Aristotelian idea of wonder (θαυμάζειν), in which the desire for knowledge is rooted: 'διὰ γὰρ τὸ θαυμάζειν οἱ ἄνθρωποι καὶ νῦν καὶ τὸ πρῶτον ἤρξαντο φιλοσοφεῖν, ἐξ ἀρχῆς μὲν τὰ πρόχειρα τῶν ἀτόπων θαυμάσαντες' (Aristotle, Metaphysics I, 2, 982b 12-13).

33 Cf. M. Heidegger, Sein und Zeit, §16 and also 69b.

34 Traces of this understanding and of this suggestion can be found first in texts from this period published by Heidegger himself: from the Anmerkungen zu Karl Jaspers' 'Psychologie der Weltanschauungen' (1919/21; GA 9) to the book on Kant und das Problem der Metaphysik (1929; GA 3). For example, in the lecture 'Phänomenologie und Theologie' (1927) one finds the statement: 'Existieren [ist] Handeln, πρᾶξις' (GA 9, p. 58). But they are to be found explicitly elsewhere, especially in university lectures, notably in the introductory part of the lecture from the Summer term 1924/5 on the Sophist and in the concluding part of the latter from the Summer term 1926 on the 'Grundbegriffe der antiken Philosophic'. While waiting for these texts to be published, one can draw valuable hints from the book by H. Weiß, Kausalität und Zufall in der Philosophie des Aristoteles; H. WeiB, who attended the lectures given by Heidegger, makes a fairly circumstantial summary of the Heideggerian interpretation of Aristotle's practical philosophy in chap. 3 of his book, by entitling it significantly: 'Menschliches Dasein - πρᾶξις' (pp. 99-153).

35 The practical structure of the reference of Dasein to its being has been well analysed by E. Tugendhat, Selbstbewufitsein und Selbsbestimmung. Sprachanalytische Interpretationen (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1979), pp. 164-244.

36 The withdrawal of the emphasis placed upon the practical connotation of Dasein as having-to-be and the substitution for the former of a thematization of its ontological horizon as ek-sistence is to be found in numerous writings, for example, in the last part of Was ist Metaphysik? (1929), in Vom Wesen der Wahrheit (1930, 1943), especially in §4, in Einleitung in die Metaphysik (1935), in the Brief über den Humanismus (1946), in the Einleitung to the 5th edition (1949), of Was ist Metaphysik?', and besides in marginal notes from the 'Hütten-exemplar' of Sein und Zeit> published in the GA 2. In what concerns the emphasis accorded to Aristotle, I find it very significant that the conversion from one perspective to the other should be clearly announced in the reproduction of the interpretation of the phenomenon of truth with Aristotle, previously handled in the lectures of 1925/6 and in the lectures of 1929/30 in an interpretative direction that Heidegger himself declares to have been altered (cf. GA 29/30, §72-3).

37 Cf. GA 20, p. 380. Previously, in place of Sorge Heidegger had employed the term Selbsbekümmerung (corresponding to the Greek ἐπιμέλεια), a use which one finds, for example, in the review of Jasper's Psychologie der Weltanschauung (cf. GA 9, pp. 1-44, in particular pp. 30-5), and in the lecture course of the Summer term 1920/1 Einleitung in die Phänomenologie der Religion.

38 Cf. for example Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics VI, 2, 1139b 7-11, and HI, 5.

39 ibid., VI, 1141b 34.0.

40 In a revealing note from Sein und Zeit, §42, for example, Heidegger says that if he

came to accord a dominant role to that 'care' which governs the previous analytic of Dasein, it is in the context of his attempts to interpret the Augustinian anthropology - that is the Greco-Christian - with reference to the foundations established in the Aristotelian ontology.

The fact that Heidegger here talks only of the Aristotelian ontology and does not mention the practical philosophy should not deceive us for, according to him, the latter is also an ontology and, more specifically, an ontology of human life.

41 'δὲ βίος πρᾶξις, οὐ ποίησις, ἐστιν' (Aristot. Politics I, 4, 125a 7).

42 Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics VI, 5, 1040a 26.

43 Cf. Aristotle, Eudemian Ethics II, 3, 1220b 27 and 6, 1222b 19.

44 Cf. Heidegger, Sein und Zeit, §§39-45.

45 The fact that Heidegger translates the Augustinian term affection with Befindlichkeit brings an important counter-proof against this association. It is to be found in the lecture Der Begriff der Zeit (1924), where Heidegger quotes Augustin Lecture XIII, 27:

Heidegger paraphrases:

(M. Heidegger, Der Begriff der Zeit, ed. H. Tietjen (Tubingen: Niemeyer, 1989), pp. 10-11.

46 Cf. Heidegger, Sein und Zeit, §29.

47 Cf. Aristotle, Metaphysics I, 2, 982b 22, quoted by Heidegger, Sein und Zeit, §29.

48 Cf. Heidegger, Sein und Zeit, §31.

49 'Das existenziale Sein des eigenen Seinkonnens das Dasein selbst, so zwar, daB dieses Sein an ihm selbst das Woran des mit ihm selbst Seins erschlieBt' (Heidegger, Sein und Zeit, §31).

50 GA 29, p. 393.

51 Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics VI, 2, 1139b 4-5. Cf. the treatment of ορεξις in Heidegger, Nietzsche, vol. I (Pfullingen: Neske, 1961), pp. 66-8.

52 Heidegger, Sein und Zeit, §41.

53 Cf. Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics VI, 2, 1139a 21-3. The correspondence between Sorge and ορεξις is all the more interesting in that Heidegger goes out of his way to find a determination corresponding to Sorge not only in Aristotle but also in Kant. He thinks he can find it in the Gefühl der Achtung, which is at the bottom of personalitas moralis (cf. GA 24, pp. 185-99). Heidegger emphasizes explicitly that the Kantian concept of Gefühl der Achtung, conceived on the analogy of such opposed determinations as Neigung (which arises in the course of the self-elevation of practical reason) and Furcht (which arises in the course of the submission of the law) would correspond to the Aristotelian concept of ορεξις with its two moments of δίωξις and φυγή (cf. GA 24, pp. 192-3).

54 Cf. H.-G. Gadamer, Martin Heidegger und die Marburger Theologie (1954), reproduced in the already cited collection by the same author, Heideggers Wege, pp. 29-40, in particular pp. 31-2. But cf. also the slightly different version of the same episode in H.-G. Gadamer, 'Erinnerung an Heideggers Anfänge', Itinerari, 25 (1-2) (1986) (dedicated to Heidegger), pp. 5-16, esp. p. 10.

55 The importance of conscience for Heidegger can be measured by the fact that in 'Anmerkung zu Karl Jaspers' Psychologie der Weltanschaunung' Heidegger has already made known the need to analyse this concept and its history in connection with the problematic of existence, and not simply as if it were a matter of a task of scholarship (cf. GA 9, p. 33).

56 Cf. for example, Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics I, 4, 1096a 26, 32 (where καιρός is defined as τὸ ἀγαθὸν ἐν χρόνῳ) or III, 1, 1110a 14 (where Aristotle says that the τέλος τῆς πράξεως is κατὰ τὸν καιρόν).

57 Cf. Heidegger, Sein und Zeit, §68.

58 'λήθη μὲν τῆς τοιαύτης ἕξεως ἔστι, φρονήσεως δ' οὐκ ἔστιν' (Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics VI, 5, 1140b 29).

59 Cf. Heidegger, Sein und Zeit, §9.

60 Cf. Heidegger, Sein und Zeit, §§18, 26, 41, 69c.

61 Cf. Heidegger, Sein und Zeit, §§60, 62.

62 The end of this passage is also important: 'Derselbe Mensch taucht dann wieder bei Kant auf: der Mensch der reden, d.h. begründend handeln kann.' It is not necessary to note that it is a question of the same man that one finds in Heidegger.

63 Cf. GA 24, §19a.

64 Cf. Aristotle, De anima III, 10, 453b 5-8.