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Basic Concepts of Aristotelian Philosophy

GA18:305-306 – agathon - Bem

Critique of the Platonic Discourse on the ἀγαθὸν καθóλου (Nicomachean Ethics A 4)

sábado 26 de junho de 2021, por Cardoso de Castro

HEIDEGGER, Martin. Basic Concepts of Aristotelian Philosophy. Tr. Robert D. Metcalf and Mark B. Tanzer. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2009, p. 207-208

Since, accordingly, the ἀγαθóν itself, as πέρας   of πρᾶξις  , characterizes the being of the world as being-there thus and so at each moment [Sein   der Welt   charakterisiert als jeweils so und so daseiendes  ], the discourse of an ἀγαθὸν καθóλου, of a “good in general,” [Guten überhaupt] makes no sense. Not   only does ἀγαθóν not mean something like “value” [Wert  ] (if one understands its genuine sense, it cannot mean an ideal   way of being of values and value-contexts [ideales Sein von Werten und Wertzusammenhängen]) but rather a particular mode of the being-there [Weise   des Daseins] of those beings [Seienden  ] with which we have to do in πρᾶξις, oriented to the καιρóς. Thus it is self-evident that, in the discussion of the ἀγαθὸν καθóλου in the Nicomachean Ethics (critique of Plato  ), Aristotle   refers to the categories. Since the ἀγαθóν is being-determination of the surrounding world [Seinsbestimmung der Umwelt], the mode of being of the world that primarily characterizes it, the categories must be brought into play, insofar as the being-character of the ἀγαθóν is to be clarified now. With an appeal to the categories, Aristotle says: there is no ἀγαθὸν καθóλου; ἀγαθóν is what it is always as πρακτóν. The πρακτóν is characterized through the categories of τóδε τι, of ποσóν, of πρóς τι as χρήσιμον, in relation to time as καιρóς. There is no good that hovers over being, insofar as ‘good’ is the determination of the world’s being-there [Bestimmung   des Weltdaseins], the world with which I have to do. The ἀγαθὸν καθóλου would, accordingly, be a good that has no being at all.

Thus Aristotle shows, in Book 1, Chapter 4 of the Nicomachean Ethics, that there is no good in general, insofar as ἀγαθóν is πέρας, and πέρας is πέρας of πρᾶξις, and πρᾶξις is always ‘this here’ [diese da] as at each moment [jeweilige]. Also, the ἀγαθὸν καθ’ αὑτó, which does not have the character of conduciveness [Charakter der Beiträglichkeit  ], the “good in itself” at which we stop, is not to be understood as ἀγαθὸν καθóλου. Here, Aristotle raises an objection against himself. That is, one could say: there is no ἀγαθὸν καθóλου insofar as the συμφέροντα come into consideration. But perhaps it is different in the case of the ἀγαθὰ καθ’ αὑτά. For example, φρονεῖν, ὁρᾶν, ἡδοναί τινες, τιμαί, are the sorts of things that we put under our care for their own sakes. Aristotle, for his part, poses the question: if there, in fact, being ἀγαθὰ καθ’ αὑτά already means that there is nothing contained in it but an Idea  , does καθ’ αὑτά already mean καθóλου? Were it ὥστε μάταιον ἔσται τὸ εἶδος, “then the look would be empty.” That is, were this ἀγαθὸν καθ’ αὑτó a way of being in itself in the sense of an Idea, a γένος, a “universal,” [Allgemeines] then there would be nothing there for πρᾶξις to be concerned about, whereas the view of πρᾶξις goes right to the “outermost,” [Äußerste] ἔσχατον, to the καιρóς, to the ‘here and now’ [hier und jetzt  ] under such and such circumstances [Umständen]. Πρᾶξις needs something definite. The being-character of the ἀγαθóν is oriented to the καιρóς, determined by its position. The ἀγαθὸν καθ’ αὑτó as Idea would be empty if it had no εἶδος. One can see how sharply Aristotle sets apart ἰδέα and εἶδος. By εἶδος, he understands the “appearing” [Sichausnehmen] of a being of the world, here and now, as πρακτóν. Therefore if the ἀγαθóν is an Idea, then the sense of its being is straightforwardly πρᾶξις, which possesses it as τέλος  , incommensurately. Furthermore, it is shown that these various ἀγαθά – φρóνησις is in another regard ἀγαθóν, as is ἡδονή – cannot be situated in a universal γένος. Indeed, language has a certain κοινόν, in the sense that it addresses various beings with one meaning-content [Bedeutungsgehalt], but the meaning-character [Bedeutungscharakter] of κοινόν is not universal, not γένος, but rather κατὰ ἀναλογία  ν. Besides that, Aristotle left us nothing about analogy. [GA18MT  :207-208]

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