Is an ethics still possible? Heidegger and 'practical philosophy'


  • Franco Volpi Università di Padova



Heidegger always claimed as his own one sole question, that of being. Consistently with this, he refused to write an ethics. Indeed he criticized the legion of those who, appealing to “value”, strove vainly to revive virtue and possible moralities in the age of technology. And yet, in Heidegger’s very own school thinkers were formed who have made an essential contribution to the ethical and political thought of our century. Going through the list of participants in the seminars that he held in the twenties at Freiburg and Marburg, we find many of those who later would carry on that broad debate about the problems of praxis which was eventually dubbed the “rehabilitation of practical philosophy”: names such as Hans-Georg Gadamer, Hannah Arendt, Joachim Ritter, Leo Strauss and Hans Jonas. How can this be explained? Franco Volpi finds the deep reasons for this surprising connection in the path traversed by Heidegger during the decade of silence that occurred between his doctoral thesis (1915) and the publication of Being and Time (1927), which coincided with the years of his first teaching period at Freiburg (1919-1923) and those of his teaching at Marburg (1923-1928). In this period Heidegger undertook an exhaustive appropriation of the practical philosophy of Aristotle, to the point that it can be said that the way leading to Being and Time was paved with a nearly continuous reference to Aristotle, and that the opus magnum of Heidegger was a “version”, in a modern key, of the Nicomachean Ethics.



How to Cite

Volpi, Franco. “Is an Ethics Still Possible? Heidegger and ’practical philosophy’”. Acta Philosophica 11, no. 2 (September 30, 2002): 291–313. Accessed December 4, 2023.