An Alternative Reading of the Ends of Ereignis

(For reasons of protocol, and to the extent the following notes are part of a correspondence, I will refrain from naming my interlocutor. If the interlocutor wishes to continue the conversation here, however, that would be great and most welcome. I think the issue–not my position or my interlocutor’s, significant and important as the latter may be–is urgent enough to make it somewhat public, or at least generally available.)

X, as promised, I read your text, which I liked very much.  I think you make a very persuasive case, the best I have seen, on Ereignis, in particular by taking what we may call the Sheehan interpretation (we must become who we are, and Eignung, dynamis, propriation belong to physis in general, that is, to plants and animals, and then to the human being), and connecting it beautifully to history, and to the historical event without which there would be no process of propriation, since only history—temporal events in the world– can trigger it. This is ultimately the reason why Heidegger decided to keep Ereignis, as opposed to Ereignung, for instance, as his primary word, his singulare tantum. The historical connection is essential, a proper political structuration of history opens up potentially in it, and you may be right that an entire “philosophy of history” can also be derived from it, and yet, as you say, “appropriation” has to do with the singular coming into one’s own of Da-sein, which is a second temporal register. But how do we understand the latter? Is it just a matter of reestablishing the full subjectivation of the thinker? Is appropriation full hermeneutical retrieval? I think it is something else, and precisely not that. At this point I may concede, if you insist, that you are right regarding Heidegger’s own self-interpretation regarding his notion, but only because even if that were the case I would still want to take things in a different direction.

Towards the beginning of the text you say, certainly quoting Heidegger, that with Ereignis we will no longer be thinking within the Greek inheritance.   This seems a bit counterintuitive to me on two grounds.   First, because of the association you make with Parmenides’ to auto noein kai einai (thinking and being are the same), and also with Heraclitus’ homologein, both of which words have to do with the pursuit of the relation of being to the human and viceversa.  And, second, given the Pindaric imperative about becoming who one is, which you also mention briefly in essay.  What is then so specifically un-Greek about an understanding of Ereignis as the process of appropriation when you place it in that triple context (Parmenides, Heraclitus, Pindar)?  I think your argument has to do with Heidegger’s insistence that appropriation, that is, Ereignis, is to be understood in the post-subjective, phenomenological way that obviously was not available to the Greeks, since they had not been exposed to our history.  In other words, you claim that Ereignis, understood as you understand it, belongs strictly within what we could call the end times of metaphysics, as a preparation for the second inception in the Heideggerian sense.  I would contend, however, that in your interpretation Ereignis still comes through as a Greek concept, hence not likely to facilitate a second inception. In order for it to be properly conceptualized as “outside the Greek inheritance” I believe something else, a supplement in interpretation, or a torsion in the very notion of interpretation itself, is needed.

In order to provide a reference you yourself do not provide, we could also appeal to the 1929-30 seminar on world, finitude, and solitude, and the references there to “awakening to a closedness,” which is proper to Da-sein and not the animal and marks for Heidegger the very site of Da-sein, to the extent that Da-sein is no longer animal rationale, as it is to circumscribed in its Ex-istence in strict difference to animal resources as Heidegger understands them.  This (human) awakening to a closedness, which is an awakening precisely not to any fullness of being but to the experience of the oblivion of being as such, is an awakening, hence an activation, of the appropriation process, always latent in any case, since it is a general human pre-dis/position, but only rarely acted upon.  And things open up and the modern subject is left behind, and there is a promise in it: we must become who we are, as Nietzsche wanted us to. In any case, I think it can be said that this intuition, in spite of a possible Aristotelian antecedent which is mostly implicit, true enough, would be historically new, in the post-Nietzschean, Heideggerian reading, but I am not sure it can be said that it is somehow outside the Greek inheritance.  

Just to dwell on that for a moment: when you bring up the 1928 seminar on the concept of time and the notion of being-towards-its-own-being, a clear forerunner of Ereignis as appropriation, how can we not think of Heraclitus’s ankhibasie and what Heidegger makes of it in Conversations on a Country Path?  Yes, the identification of thinking and being, the old Parmenidean word, is not really an identification.  There is a gap between thinking and being, without which appropriation would not need to take place.  Without the gap appropriation would be always already fully served. And the gap is unfillable and it cannot be brought to a close.  The relationship between thinking and being, or between the human and being, is not a relation of identity—it is rather, as you put it, a relationship of “belonging together,” a Bezug not a Verhaltnis. Asymptotic, as Tom Sheehan puts it. But, again, how is this not at least prefigured in Greek thought?

You constantly appeal to hermeneutics and how to best enter the hermeneutic circle, which I agree is an important issue in Being and Time. In my opinion, however, the “derangement” (Verrückung) of the human’s relationship to being at the end of metaphysics, that is, at the end of the metaphysical epoch, which Heidegger announces in the late 1930s, is precisely a displacement from meaningfulness as such.  Let me put it this way: the structure of meaningfulness described in Being and Time is not to be denied, as it constitutes our world, but it also constitutes the world of “metaphysical humanity” as such.  The Ausgesetzheit, the breakdown in expectations that takes place in the ontological event preparing the second inception, which is an event of historical “derangement,” is not to be conceptualized—just my opinion—in terms of meaning primarily.  In a sense, it would primarily be a destruction of hermeneutics, a destruction of the meaningfulness apparatus of “metaphysical humanity”—this is the Verrückung.  So the Einkehr, the entry that awaits us in the process of appropriation is an Einkehr into the truth of being, and not into a fuller, more complete, renewed structure of significance.  The structure of significance would be placed under erasure, crossed out, like Seyn in the essay Over the Line from the 1950s. What would this mean?

To put it bluntly, appropriation would be an appropriation into truth (concealment/unconcealment, without dissimulation) rather than an appropriation into meaning.  I think this is decisive. The thought is not alien to you. You come very close to it a couple of times, for instance, when you point out that truth is not just present-ed meaning but rather the interplay of concealment and unconcealment, which preempts any kind of fullness of meaning (and rather prompts errancy, even if it is an assumed and free errancy)  Also when you talk about the “abyssal dimension,” which in my opinion is the rupture of the hermeneutical circle.  The notion of Verhaltnis, restraint, which Heidegger describes all too briefly and cryptically in Contributions as the fundamental disposition of the thinker at the epochal end of metaphysics, has a lot to do with this in my opinion. Restraint is the necessary relation to the errant truth.  But I think you recoil from all that if I am right that the final position you take is substantially: “one’s life becomes hermeneutical, hence recollective as well as forward-looking.” You appeal with it to a full pleroma of sense, which appropriation could never provide except metaphysically.

My reference here is Lacanian analysis and the notion of truth that emerges through it.  There are only “true fictions,” there is no such a thing as full recollection, full meaningfulness, except as delusion.  But realizing that, and furthermore dwelling in the very gap between private grammars and collective grammars—that is the moment of the analytic act as such: a form of “traversing the fantasy,” which is a form of truth that can no longer be restricted to the region of true fictions. The latter is the hermeneutical region.   In the realm of “true fictions,” the realm of meaningful interpretation, there can be no second inception: we are still within metaphysics.

Gedächtnis, another key Heideggerian word, as memory could precisely be the memory of the disruption always and in every case, the memory of the “fundamental unknowability” that leads us at most towards a radically paradoxical “hermeneutical retrieval,” which is the hermeneutical retrieval not of signification but of the breakdown of signification.  This is the im-memorial as such. One lives there.  And, for me, that is the “excess,” the radical point of non-measure between being and thinking that organizes the Bezug between the two.  This is what I would call, perhaps, un-Greek.

I agree with everything else in your brilliant essay but, roughly, that would be my preferred direction in the end, in terms of thinking and pursuing “appropriation.” It does not matter to me so much whether this is to be so with or perhaps beyond Heidegger. I do not know.  But I think it is still very much “within the Heideggerian inheritance.” 

Thank you so much for your brilliant text!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s