File spoon-archives/heidegger.archive/heidegger_1998/heidegger.9804, message 6


Date: Wed, 1 Apr 1998 22:24:33 +0200
Subject: Re: Arche or Da?, ethos


Sorry for this reposting via the list.
Anthony asked me privately to resend to his address: Anthony.Crifasi-AT-flash.net,
but the e-mail bounced back to me.

Cologne, 30 March 1998

I wrote, among other things: 
> > Any conception of a (mere) shift in `value systems' or `world views'
> > must fall short of letting itself in for the transformation of the essencing 
of
> > truth itself and our belonging to the latter.

to which Anthony Crifasi replied: 

> As a defender of Heidegger against the "metaphysics of subjectivity,"
> I find myself agreeing with what you say here. Yet, should we be
> troubled that "being the recipient and plaything of the world in its
> many-fold and time-ly openness" includes Naziism, as is evident not
> only philosophically from Heidegger's analytic, but in Heidegger's
> own life? Or is such an "ethical" accusation merely "one more wild
> goose chase to keep the academic community concerned and employed"?
> It is obvious that Being-in includes Being-in-an-"ethical"-world too.
> But can there be any more specificity than this? After all, Naziism
> is also one possibiltiy of the world "in its many-fold and time-ly
> openness." Or is it impossible for the defender of Heidegger against
> the "metaphysics of subjectivity" to exclude Naziism as one
> possibilty of ethical Being-in?

> It is obvious that Being-in includes Being-in-an-"ethical"-world too.

To proceed from the recent discussion with Malcolm Riddoch, obviousness can be 
interpreted as that showing of something that is so immediate and self-evident 
that it does not require any evidence provided by the _logos_, i.e. discursive 
speech. But writing the "ethical" in Being-in-an-"ethical"-world in scare quotes 
should scare us into a distance from taking for granted that we know what 
"ethical" means. This means that "ethics” itself has to become a question. 

The question:
> Yet, should we be
> troubled that "being the recipient and plaything of the world in its
> many-fold and time-ly openness" includes Naziism,... 

Such an “inclusion” would be troubling indeed. What could it mean? A kind of 
compatibility of Nazism (a concrete, specific historical phenomenon) with 
propriation (Ereignis)? 

> After all, Nazism
> is also one possibiltiy of the world "in its many-fold and time-ly
> openness." 

This is more assertive, and presupposes that Nazism eventuated in a world 
already appropriated by propriation. To decide such a question, Nazism has to be 
located for thinking and within thinking, whether this thinking be metaphysical 
or a thinking that is no longer metaphysical (the commemorative thinking of 
propriation). Heidegger himself, in his public lectures at the end of the 
thirties on Nietzsche attempts such a locating of Nazism (the attribution of a 
locus within thinking) as a concretization of an extreme fundamental 
metaphysical stance which is given the title: the will to will. This is the 
metaphysical will that wills nothing other than itself, the will of in-finite 
self-assertion. 

It does not appear far-fetched to discern a connection between such a will to 
will and the efficient SS machinery of the death camps for the mass 
extermination of Jews, the handicapped, Communists, and others. What is so 
chilling about the Nazi programs of extermination is that murder is organized as 
an industrial process subject to the same criteria of efficiency as, say, a 
canning production process. The death camps were not organized only according to 
criteria of efficiency, however, but also as valorization (i.e. surplus-value 
producing) processes. If one considers the calculating extraction of personal 
effects and especially gold fillings during the murder process, it can be seen 
as a kind of macabre recycling process. The gold extracted from the corpses 
ended up in the treasury of the Third Reich. The will to will thus reveals 
itself to be a will to self-augmentation in the form of a valorization process. 
This question as to the inter-connection between the will to will and the 
abstract will to self-valorization needs to be investigated more closely. 

The racist component of Nazi ideology which was employed as criterion to make 
the distinction between superior and inferior humanity and thus opened the 
ideological path for branding inferior humanity as worthy of extermination seems 
to be an historical contingency. Especially when one considers that the will to 
will is not a human will, i.e. does not have its origins in humans themselves, a 
further macabre twist in the valorization of corpses could be a cannibalism in 
which the valorization process turns back on humankind not just as labour power, 
but as raw material for a production process. This too is a metaphysical 
possibility compatible with what encryptedly underlies Western history. 
Resistance against such a possibility can only lie in exposing it through a 
fundamental questioning. 

A completely different approach to the question of ethics in the Other Beginning 
is to consider the question of evil. How is evil to be thought in a questioning 
that sets out on a path from the thinking of propriation, which is claimed to be 
“das Verhaeltnis aller Verhaeltnisse” (“the most binding hold of all binding 
holds”, or “the epitome of all binding holds”, UzS:267)? How is such evil to be 
distinguished from evil within the metaphysics of subjectivity? (To take a foil 
here: evil as it was in the Middle Ages as the contravention of God’s will and 
ordained order as enforced by the Church has lost its metaphysical foundation in 
the modern age and in this sense it _is_ no more. The evil of witches, for 
example, is today a non-entity, a _mae on_.) 

Yet another approach to the question of ethics is to backtrack to a Greek 
understanding of ethics as ethos (_aethos_), as a mode of dwelling and how this 
can be thought more originarily within the hold of propriation in which human 
being becomes the property of beyng in coming into its own. 

My phrase:
> "being the recipient and plaything of the world in its
> many-fold and time-ly openness"
should not be taken lightly as implying that we humans are relieved of the 
weight of having to shape our own existences, both individually and with each 
other. “Plaything” is a way of pushing human being off centre stage to show that 
we, as Dasein, originate from somewhere else (the granting of propriation in 
which an historical world lights up) and also that Dasein itself is not 
substantial but a free casting out of ‘nothingness’. Dasein can only cast itself 
freely within the historical timespace granted by propriation, and it _must_ 
also do so. The thinking of granting occurs after the turn; before the turn it 
is transcendence which takes on this role. Heidegger writes e.g. in the winter 
of 1928/29: 

“‘Welt’ ist der Titel fuer das Spiel, das die Transzendenz spielt. Das 
In-der-Welt-sein ist dieses urspruengliche Spielen des Spiels, auf das ein jedes 
faktische Dasein sich einspielen muss, um sich abspielen zu koennen, derart, 
dass ihm faktisch so oder so mitgespielt wird in the Dauer seiner Existenz.” 
(GA27:312)

This is not easy to render satisfactorily, but provisionally: 
“‘World’ is the title for the game that transcendence plays. Being-in-the-world 
is this originary playing of the game into which each factical Dasein has to 
come into play in order for it to play out its game in such a way that 
factically a game is played with it during the duration of its existence.”

Dasein is not the source of its own game and thus, in this sense, is itself a 
‘plaything’ of the transcendence of being, into whose game it has to insert 
itself playfully.

Regards,
Michael
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