Philosophy and Literary Theory Series Editor: Hugh J. Silverman

This series provides full-scale, in-depth assessments of important issues in the context of philsophy and literary theory, as they inscribe themselves in the developing archive of textual studies. It highlights studies that take a philosophical or theoretical position with respect to literature, literary study, and the practice of criticism. The individual volumes focus on semiotics, hermeneutics, post-phenomenology, deconstruction, postmodernism, feminism, cultural criticism, and other new developments in the philosophico-literary debate.

Stephen Barker

Autoesthetics: Strategies of the Self After


Robert Bernasconi Veronique M. Foti Sabine I. Golz Richard Kearney

Heidegger in Question: The Art of Existing* Heidegger and the Poets: Poiesis/Sophia/Techne* Nietzsche/Derrida/Kafka/Bachmann Imagination

The Split Scene of Reading:

Poetics of Modernity: Toward a Hermeneutic Toward the Postmodern*

Jean-Francois Lyotard

Jean-Francois Lyotard and Eberhard Gruber and Christianity Louis Marin Michael Naas Jean-Luc Nancy Cross-Readings

The Hyphen: Between Judaism

Turning: From Persuasion to Philosophy: A Reading of Homer s Iliad The Gravity of Thought Filming and Judgment: Between Heidegger and Adorno* *Available in Paperback

Wilhelm S. Wurzer

Poetics of Modernity
Toward a Hermeneutic Imagination

Richard Kearney

i Humanity
an imprint of Prometheus Books 59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, New York

Published 1999 by Humanity Books, an imprint of Prometheus Books Poetics of Modernity: Toward a Hermeneutic Imagination. Copyright © 1995 Richard Kearney. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews. Inquiries should be addressed to Humanity Books, 59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, New York 14228-2197. VOICE: 716-691-0133, ext. 207. FAX: 716-564-2711. 03 02 01 00 99 6 5 4 3 2

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Kearney, Richard. Poetics of modernity : toward a hermeneutic imagination / Richard Kearney. p. cm. — (Philosophy and literary theory) Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 1-57392-610-8 1. Values. 2. Poetry. 3. Philosophy, European. I. Title. II. Series. BD232.K39 1995 121\8—dc20 94-18237 CIP Printed in the United States of America on acid-free paper

For Paul Ricoeur, Emmanuel Levinas, and Stanislas Breton


Hermeneutics of Myth and Tradition (Ricoeur II) 7. Ethics and the Right to Resist: Patocka's Testimony 10. The Poetics of Authorship: Kierkegaard's Dilemma 3.Contents Acknowledgments Introduction PART ONE: CONFRONTATIONS WITH TRADITION 1. Ideology and Utopia: The Social Imaginary (Ricoeur I) 6. Levinas and the Ethics of Imagining 9. Myth and Sacrificial Scapegoats: On Rene Girard 108 118 136 . Heidegger's Gods PART TWO: HERMENEUTIC DEVELOPMENTS 5. Surplus Being: The Kantian Legacy 2. Heidegger's Poetics of the Possible 4. The Narrative Imagination: Between Poetics and Ethics (Ricoeur III) PART THREE: C U R R E N T DEBATES ix xi 2 18 35 50 66 80 92 8.

Wolfe. Myths of Utopia and Ideology: From Yeats to Joyce 14. Postmodern Mirrors of Fiction: Rushdie. and Kundera 15. Derrida's Ethics of Dialogue PART FOUR: AESTHETIC APPLICATIONS 148 168 13.yiii / CONTENTS 11. Painting and Postmodernity Postscript Notes Index 180 185 194 203 211 249 . Derrida's Ethical Return 12.

I would also like to thank the journals and collections which published earlier versions of the studies in this volume.Acknowledgments I am grateful to my colleagues and students at University College Dublin and Boston College for their comments and assistance in the preparation of this manuscript. IX . and daughters. as acknowledged in the final note to each chapter. in particular Dermot Moran. Richard Cobb-Stevens. my appreciation goes to my wife. Above all. for their love and support. Anne. Mara Rainwater and Mark Dooley. Simone and Sarah.


But what matters is not so much the labels as the recognition that dilemmas of authority betray anxieties of value." This sentiment of living in a time of lack or mutation is developed by Hannah Arendt. And these anxieties also find voice in the endless vacillations before the trinity of options Kierkegaard identified for our "present age"—the aesthetic. Aristotle offered one of the first systematic accounts of this relation in the Nicomachean xi . For centuries. even absent. Art (aesthetics). Contemporary traumas of conscience have. provoked a growing persuasion that value is becoming ever more equivocal. however. Nietzsche knew this when he announced that God is dead. who argues that a special appeal to thought arises in the "odd in-between period" that inserts itself into historical time— an "interval altogether determined by things which are no longer and by things which are not yet. The crisis of morality. The end of art. The death of God. many philosophers have sought to acknowledge. questions of value went under three broad headings—the Good (ethics). Although Kierkegaard's own choice is an anguished "leap of faith. from Kant and Kierkegaard to Heidegger and Derrida. By "ethics" I understand the basic responsibility of self for other that Western philosophy registers in both its Greek and Judeo-Christian origins. others a paradigm shift from Old Masters of authority (First Cause. and God (religion). The subjects discussed in this volume are variations of such acknowledgment in continental thought. whether one subscribes to them or not. commenting that the value of value must itself be called into question. the ethical."1 Some choose to call this a postmodern moment of undecidability. and the religious. These are recurrent motifs of our times which. The studies in the first part of this volume look at various philosophical responses to this trinity of options. Heidegger speaks of modernity as an epoch "too late for the gods and too early for Being. Absolute Spirit) to alternative sites of authorship (humanist self or post-humanist other). Supreme Being. elusive." most of my studies focus on the tension between the other axes of the modern trinity—ethics and poetics.Introduction This volume addresses a presiding anxiety of our time—that of value.

Plato relates poiesis to both artistic and divine creation and recognizes it as having an intellectual as well as a manual dimension. Chaos became cosmos through the art of poiesis. And. symbol.2 Ethics is that fundamental way of being-toward-others that goes by the name of solidarity. social justice. Ethos is the "dwelling" alongside others in which the self finds itself as it cultivates value. The meaning of "poetics" also finds a mooring in original Greek usage. ta poioumena. Ricoeur employs the term to refer to creative processes of "semantic innovation"—myth. giving them names. Herodotus attributed the term to authors like Hesiod and Homer. if he does take the side of philosophical logos against poiesis in the Tenth Book of the Republic. 5 For the Greeks." and the "poetical. poiesis can cover any productive activity having an end or value beyond itself. honors." . Ethics in this broad sense can be distinguished from morality. tradition." the "practical. Any action which is the cause of a thing emerging from nonexistence to existence might be called poetry. and all the processes in all the crafts are kinds of poetry."4 Aristotle." he includes in the last category all those activities of production that result in some end which remains when the action is over—the art work produced by the artist. When Aristotle comes to dividing knowledge into the "theoretical. in short. Poetic things. in addition to Utopian and ideological productions of the "social imaginary. introduces a more systematic and hands-on definition of poiesis. particularly that of hermeneutic thinkers like Paul Ricoeur and Martin Heidegger. the ship produced by the shipwright. narrative. fiction. It is a precondition of morality. are those things shaped or formed by human acts. metaphor. It creates existing things from non-existing things. the constitution produced by the lawmaker. poetry means simply creation. can provide vision for what is otherwise invisible. understood as an act which contains its end within itself. He contrasts it to praxis. for his part. the text produced by the philosopher. Plato concedes. arts. or polls. "By its original meaning. can take very various forms. as you know. he acknowledges in other texts that poiesis can indeed be a form of divine "inspiration" or "enthusiasm" (entheos meaning "full of the god"). and outward forms. not an effect. In Book Six of the Nicomachean Ethics he speaks of it as an activity which aims at an end distinct from itself.3 Poiesis. and so on. My use of the term poetics in this volume also draws from a more contemporary usage.xii / INTRODUCTION Ethics under the heading of phronesis—a term designating a practical wisdom which deliberates about actions and ends in a context where human selves discover an ethos binding them to others in a community. Poiesis is the production of something conceived with a view to the idea or image of the product that the producer has in advance. or Moralitat. dream. or "substitution" (Levinas). and creation. in the strict sense of formal rules or prescriptions. who were the first to "make" (poiein) Greek culture by making stories of the birth of gods.

painting). . . are part of this poetics of presencing—of which "poesy. as in the following passage from "Poetically Man Dwells . "Poetics.7 Poetics. . and "poesy" as a specialized profession of versifying. as the authentic gauging of the dimension of dwelling. But for this very reason they remain their own ways and modes in which truth orders itself into work. . They are an ever special poetizing within the clearing of what is. a saying which goes beyond mere verbal expression to include many other kinds of language and naming (e. Language is not poetry because it is the primal poesy. The various modes of artistic production. . . in all its modes from architecture to poesy. It is the Open that pervades and guides them. in this generous sense. rather. . Poetic license. . is the primal form of building."6 Once again. . includes the threefold function of cultivating (colere). in short. . It has the capacity. meaning "dwelling" or "habitation".. is poetry. This includes an appreciation of how poetics transgresses the narrow limits of the cognitive.Introduction I xiii Heidegger gives poetics a more allusive ontological reference. it draws close to the original Greek sense of ethos. extends over every significant expression of productive imagination where significance is accorded a sense beyond the immediately graspable and calculable. building." as one recent commentator put it. dwelling.g. to go beyond a strictly speculative knowledge. ": "Poetry. . poesy takes place in language because language preserves the original nature of poetry. As such. and letting dwell by unfolding something into the fullness of its being (producere). and happen only. "demands a sense . For Heidegger that something. which "needs our presence. . in the Open of saying and naming. . as the setting-into-work of truth. constructing (aedificare). its presencing being." or what normally goes by the name of poetry and verse. in the ontological sense of language which houses being." is nothing other than the event of being itself (das Ereignis). What all poetic events of being share is participation in the saying of being. Heidegger spells out his version of it in "The Origin of the Work of Art": Poetry [Dichten] is thought of here in so broad a sense . Poetry first of all admits man's dwelling into its very nature. from architecture to sculpture. . I am suggesting accordingly. always happen already. But man is capable of poetry at any time only to the degree to which his being is appropriate to that which itself has a liking [mogen] for man and therefore needs his presence. to link the most ancient understanding of this term with its more modern hermeneutic formulations. Building and plastic creation . exhausts the nature of poetry. is decisive for our deliberations. we find poetics being understood in the broad sense of a productive act beholden to something beyond itself. . The poetic is the basic capacity for human dwelling. Art. as Plato intimated in his more giddy moments. This distinction between poetics. that we must leave open whether art. My use of "poetics" endeavors. is simply one instance.

We would then find ourselves in the ethical and aesthetic domains barred from the cognitive" (understood as the domination of the object by means of knowledge). something that would . provisional. This is surely why Plato resorts to mythic narratives in the Phaedo to speak of the final judgment. suspend the possibility of determinate judgement. in its narrative and dramatic forms. For there are crimes that cannot be forgotten. . it is a function of poetics. Ethics deliberates on the relation between virtue and the pursuit of happiness. bears an endless debt to the untold stories of past victims. By means of poetry we learn how reversals of fortune result from this or that conduct. why Aristotle cites the story of Achilles to exemplify the otherwise abstract category of courage. poetics and ethics forge a certain alliance? Ricoeur locates the origin of such an alliance in the narrative function of imagination: a function he closely associates with phronesis. The narrative imagination. in which the relation between ethics and poetics can be read as one of convergence rather than conflict? If it is true that . as Ricoeur reminds us. the forms of understanding proper to ethical action {praxis) and poetical production (poiesis) are quite different from the exact modes of cognition proper to theoria. Might it not be said."10 Is there not a strong sense. as this is constructed by the plot in the narrative. 8 But to move beyond the cognitive. Francis to say what they mean by caritas.xiv / INTRODUCTION that there is something radically irrepresentable to its object. tentative. They are more approximative. The practical wisdom (phronesis) of ethics would be impossible without the narrative plots of poetics. something that prevents the object from being exhaustively represented in discourse by means of a concept. This ethical vocation of narrative pertains not only to virtues but to crimes. then. that in their common surpassing of theoretical reason. "victims whose suffering cries less for vengeance than for narration. is not to refuse all forms of understanding. The will not to forget alone can prevent these crimes from ever occurring again."9 Our familiarity (or habit as Aristotle would say) with the types of plot received from our culture enables us to learn to relate virtues with happiness and unhappiness. As Aristotle recognized. These exemplary lessons of poetics are no doubt what Aristotle meant by the "universals" that distinguish poetical imagination from a historical understanding confined to mere facts. Our ethical identity as a person or community is in great part dependent on our ability to tell our story and to learn from the stories of others. . to propose to imagination various figures that constitute so many "thought experiments by which we learn to link together the ethical aspects of human conduct and happiness and misfortune. in the sense of strict theoretical knowledge. indeed. and why Christian thinkers cite the examples of Christ or St. Now. more informed by the hit-and-miss. trial-and-error contexts of lived experience and example.

it is "relative and for someone."14 If. however. particularly in romantic and modernist theory. but is only shown to be the situation that it was retrospectively in the light of the action. it is useful to recall that this was not always the case and need not always remain so. "Narrative Imagination. If this were to transpire we would have no answer to Heisenberg's fear that "man might become a lord of the earth. it is equally true that the situation does not have its meaning in advance of the action.Introduction I xv modernity has tended to separate them out. Ethical action {praxis) is actually construed as the final cause or end (ou heneka) of poetical production {poiesis).. is one which presupposes the prefiguring act of our everyday temporal experience and culminates in the refiguring act whereby textual narratives return us to a world of action. praxis. it remains answerable to action as its ultimate goal. When the story is over we reenter our lifeworlds transformed." A final word on the convergent relation between ethics and poetics. what courageous and what cowardly. Returning to the Greek distinction between poiesis and praxis. carried out by productive imagination in the text. in the production of a story about it—a storytelling that is itself a form of poiesis. poiesis becomes its guarantor. This I believe is what Ricoeur intends when he argues in Time and Narrative that the configuring act of poetics. far from being a threat to responsibility. what great and what small. Praxis is not only its own end—it is also the final goal of poiesis. according to a certain Greek tradition. Poiesis always has some further end in view. That is why." it is production for the sake of something—e.12 Ethical doing. Kierkegaard offered a powerful critique of the destructive consequences of aesthetic subjectivism from the point of view of an ethical . as Hannah Arendt observes. the poetical is ultimately what determines what is holy and what unholy. This retrospective characterization of ethical action arises. however imperceptibly. in short. we note that even though Aristotle subordinates the former to the latter he does so not in the form of a simple opposition but as a complementary dialectic. considered adversaries in so much of modern thought since Kant divorced aesthetic taste from ethical considerations and made the former a matter of subjective feeling or consciousness. then. poetics recognizes its bond to ethics and acknowledges its origin and end in the world of action.15 The crucial ethical import of this return journey from narrative to action is the central theme of my seventh chapter.13 If poiesis is indeed that which shows and brings forth what is meaningful in action. If it is true that ethical action is determined by the situation which calls for it. it also requires poiesis in order to show itself and be recognized as ethical action. Left to its own devices the productive function of poiesis might contrive to reduce the world to the image of its producer. needs poetical making in order to be effectively communicated and cultivated within an intersubjective community." who "everywhere encounters only himself.u But praxis is not just the finality of poiesis.g.

"16 More specifically. is the recurring motif of hermeneutic imagination. in itself. putting ourselves into question. where the encounters with Levinas and Derrida in particular amplify and accentuate the whole ethics/poetics debate. The hermeneutic model of imagination. The unifying thread running through the volume. The studies in this volume seek to think through the hermeneutic relationship of poetics and ethics—a relationship that has informed most of my published work. to be with the other and to come back to ourself as if to another. whose freedom is safeguarded by a certain poetic playfulness (of question and answer) that refuses to reduce otherness to my subjective will. that the following studies can be read as consecutive chapters or as individual essays in their own right. suspending the will to dominate. It is. My hermeneutic wager is that each new question added to the dialogue between poetics and ethics may amplify the "conversation that we are. we exist one-for-the-other. But the continuity of theme is also evidenced in the third section of the book. The hermeneutic capacity to go beyond oneself toward others is described by Gadamer as the prerequisite of "all human solidarity and the viability of society. from the detailed readings of Kant. Moreover. by merely reversing the poetical/ethical opposition in the form of an either/or. which overcomes subjective selfcenteredness so as to understand oneself-as-another." Let me say. The paradigm for such hermeneutic imagination is the poetic text that invites us to enter into its otherness and recognize ourselves in it. finally. the fact that every thinker discussed in this book (after Kant) has been formed or informed by one or more of the great . losing ourselves in order to find ourselves. an ethical gesture of welcoming what is different (dia-legein). he did little to overcome it. Kierkegaard. and especially of "narrative imagination. this motif is at its most visible in the second section. But. One would have to wait for a hermeneutic model of poetics—that is. In this sense. it entails an ethical engagement to enter into dialogical interaction with others. as will be obvious to the reader.17 To imagine the other is to imagine differently. has obvious ethical implications. where the extensive readings of Ricoeur's hermeneutics. To be sure.xvi / INTRODUCTION (and religious) perspective. hermeneutic imagination can be said to open a special space in which poetics and ethics may convene. Here I attempt further to address this issue through hermeneutic "conversations" with different continental philosophers (Parts I—III) and some concluding "applications" to literature and painting (Part IV). and Heidegger in the opening section to the concluding fragments on fiction. from Poetique du Possible (1984) to The Wake of Imagination (1988) and Poetics of Imagining (1991)." reveal my own philosophical allegiances. a non-subjectivist understanding of aesthetics—before a rapprochement with ethics could recommence. Poetics thus serves ethics by enabling each of us to be beyond ourself. The hermeneutic imagination thus combines the powers of ethics and poetics in the formation of an intersubjective culture (Bildung) where.

Husserl. and Heidegger—provides multiple affinities of idiom and theme. I believe. But the most affiliating element of all remains. .Introduction I xvii "phenomenologists"—Hegel. the "matter" of thought itself—that which invites each of these philosophers to think in the first place and continues to invite each of us readers to rethink their thinking here.



and. in Kant's words. fundamental questions of value gravitate less around external reality than around inward conditions of human consciousness. The announcement of being's "unreality" is central to the humanist turn in philosophy. Kant's declaration of the unreality of being is by no means unrelated to his equally revolutionary claim 2 . or imagination. most especially. is hailed as the common source of both our sensible and our intelligible knowledge of things. This anthropocentric reduction is epitomized in a semantic shift in two operative terms of modern thought—"transcendental" and "subjectivity. the notion of value becomes a human production. Most decisively with Kant. to its modern connotation of immanent human activity. This changing of the guards of being radically informs our understanding of value—poetical. A consequence of this reversal is that the subjectivity of the transcendental imagination." My opening chapter offers a critical reading of this Kantian thesis and explores its legacy in subsequent phenomenological interpretations by Brentano. the condition of the objectivity of the object. The subjectivity of the subject becomes. Henceforth. and religious. "transcendental" sheds its traditional reference to a real order of value "out there" and refers instead to an inner order of human experience. Heidegger. as that which underlies the solidity of things {hypokeimenon/subjectum). and after him with German Idealism and phenomenology. It is increasingly attributed to finite rather than divine minds. The ontological implications of this position are concisely stated in Kant's bold maxim that "being is not a real predicate. ethical. "subjectivity" undergoes a reversal of meaning from its old metaphysical connotation.1 Surplus Being: The Kantian Legacy Kant's Copernican Revolution ushers in a modern view of being. As I argue in the final part of this chapter." After the humanist turn. Husserl. as analyzed in the first edition of the Critique of Pure Reason. understanding. Likewise.

Poetics thus emerges as leading pretender to the throne of being." It arises in the context of his rejection of the ontological proof for the existence of God. Though it underwent several significant formulations—from Anselm's original presentation in Proslogium seu Alloquium de Dei Existentia through Bonaventure and Aquinas (who rejected it) to Duns Scotus and eventually Descartes—the proof can be broadly stated as follows: 1) major premise—God. But where does the legacy begin? The discussion of the ontological proof dates back to Anselm in the eleventh century. nor. i. including Hegel—the problem of being in general is intimately bound up with the problem of defining God's essence and existence. And in this interregnum called modernity. What is more. Here we encounter Kant's central thesis . the subsequent claim that God exists. What he does contest is the connection between the two claims—the argument that existence belongs to the concept of the most perfect being. As ens perfectissimum God possesses every positive attribute in a perfect manner. For Kant—and for most post-Kantian philosophy. God's essence (what he is) can have no meaning whatsoever unless he is. that he should lack the attribute of existence. therefore. exists in the first place. is the most perfect being. indeed. God's existence follows necessarily from our concept of his essence.. BEING AS UNREALITY Kant's thesis is most dramatically developed in a section of the Critique of Pure Reason (hereafter CPR) entitled "Transcendental Logic. We cannot think of God according to his essence without thinking of him as existing. 2) minor premise—existence belongs to the concept of the most perfect being. at least for a time. Kant does not dispute the primary claim that God is the most perfect being. insofar as we conceive God as perfect. The proof is characterized by the attempt to infer God's existence from the concept of his existence. gaining common currency in the scholastic debates of the Middle Ages.Surplus Being I 3 that transcendental imagination is the sine qua non of all knowledge. running from "the disappearance of God to the reappearance of Being. I.e." ultimate questions of value become virtually indistinguishable from the question of what it means to be human. by his concept. One might even argue that this legacy extends to Sartre's "atheistic" consideration of the matter in the concluding chapter of Being and Nothingness. It is inconceivable. Man becomes the maker of all things. 3) conclusion—therefore God exists. This in-between time was to become a critical concern of hermeneutic imagination. In the last hermeneutic analysis—inspired by Heidegger's reading of Kant in The Basic Problems of Phenomenology and the Kantbuch—being becomes an affair of our finite "temporalizing" imagination. it means that the determination of God as the most perfect of all beings derives from the idea of his existence. What does this mean? First.

in any sense. actuality (or existence) refers to modality. It is rather "the position of a thing or of certain determinations in themselves. Existence (or being) is added to the concept rather than precontained within it. it is not a predicate extrapolated from our concept." Being is not a predicate but position. Assertion is the relating of something to something or the combining of the two. Existence supervenes upon our concept. as in epistemological realism. is that being is not a predicate of anything whatsoever. actuality refers to its existence—that the something exists. he asserts. Being comes to things from without. means quite literally thingness {Sachheit). Reality refers to quality. accordingly. To summarize the comparative history of this idea. he is referring not to the totality of things as they actually are but to the totality of all possible things. realities are the what-contents of possible entities regardless of whether they exist or not. The logic of Kant's statement. By quality Kant designates whether a predicate is ascribed to a subject or not—whether a predicate is affirmed or denied of a subject. when Kant says that being is not a real predicate he means that it is not already part and parcel of the real content of a thing. Where exactly it comes from is a question to which I will return below. When Kant speaks about the omnitudo realitatis.4 / CONFRONTATIONS WITH TRADITIONS that "being is not a real predicate. for Kant. The reality of something is distinct from its being or existence. By predicate Kant means something that is asserted in a judgment." Being is understood by Kant to mean existence. Reality is the property of affirmative judgment. but in the Platonic concept of eidos. is not a predicate of anything. Reality. but that existence does not belong. that being is not a real predicate." What he does not mean is the external world. More simply put. to a conceptual determination. If reality refers to the what-content (res) of something. He is thinking of the whole of all real-thing-contents as possibilities—or what the Scholastics called essences. This distinction is reflected in Kant's claim that the two terms belong to quite different categories of understanding. one could say that the Kantian concept of reality finds equivalents not only in the medieval concept of the res or the Leibnizian concept of possibilitas'. In a difficult and dense passage (CPR B 626f)> Kant offers a detailed exposition of this thesis. It is what belongs to the res. It is a radical exteriority. Nor does he mean actuality (being or existence). What he states is not simply that existence does not belong to the concept of the most perfect being (as Aquinas maintained in his famous objection). Being. One can say. or clarify. Reality is the determination of a thing— what Heidegger will call the thingness of the thing. But first we must ascertain. We here find ourselves before a fundamental Kantian distinction—that between reality and actuality. Realitas is for Kant what possibilitas is for Leibniz. what precisely Kant means by "reality. that every predicate is a real predicate to the degree that reality is the affirmative predicate possessing real thing-content. So. That something exists (its being-actuality-existence) is not part of what that something is .

that philosophers may legitimately refer to God as ens realissimum—or as Kant puts it. accordingly. could thus be said to deal with the quality of things rather than with their modality. of God as of every being. The quality of being. it defines a certain modality in contrast to others (possibility or necessity). Kant grants. is an entity whose existence is at one with his essence." Actuality does not refer to the real content of something.Surplus Being I 5 (its reality-essence-content). It is simply to deny their "actuality. quidditas. as outlined by Husserl. to take Husserl's famous example in Ideas. and in some respects vindicate. their real contents as Sachheit. modality refers to an attitude of the knowing subject toward what is being judged." It is a way of saying. But this judgment about God's qualitative determination makes no assertion. its possible existence as a fictional entity has as much "real content" as an actually existing entity. B 627). that being is not a real predicate in the sense that it is not a determination of the concept of a thing relating to its real content. But for a modern philosopher of finite beings such ontological correspondences seem unavailable. Only God. This ostensibly untenable assertion is simply another manner of illustrating Kant's basic argument that existence is not the same thing as reality. it suspends the existential question regarding the actual being of things in order to describe their essential (real) contents. So much for reality as a category of quality. they are completely the same . Husserl's claim that the phenomenologically "reduced" world—resulting from the bracketing of existential judgment concerning the actuality of things and the resultant free variation in imagination of its essential structures—yields intuitive access to the real truth of things? The phenomenological attitude. In other words. This is why existence is not a real predicate. whose reality and actuality are identical. about his actual. that even if a centaur does not exist. What of actuality as a category of modality? For Kant. while a hundred possible and a hundred actual thalers are radically distinct in virtue of their existence. in Aquinas' terms. or necessary modality. possible. whatness. That is why to speak of imaginary entities as "possible" is in no way to deny their reality—that is. The complementary of actuality is not negation (which is the complementary of affirmation in the category of quality) but the alternative modalities of "possibility" or "necessity. "A hundred actual thalers contain not the least bit more than a hundred possible thalers" {CPR.1 Reality is concerned with the thing's essence (the what) rather than with the thing's existence (that it exists). Is this not a key point of modern philosophy? Does Kant's quality/modality distinction not anticipate. allerrealstes Wesen—because he is considered the being with the greatest possible real contents. is different from the modality of being. God is the being who lacks no real determination. Kant's own most explicit formulation of this distinction is found in his famous maxim. in Kant's view.

The that is always irreducible to the what. and I could not say that the exact object of my concept exists." But there are problems here. What is this something new? The actuality of being. what would exist would be not exactly the same but more than I had thought in the concept." says Kant. by whatever and by however many predicates I please (even in an exhaustive determination of it). They share the same what-content. The thalers in my dream have exactly the same reality as the thalers in my hand. Being is always more than reality. we could say that the difference between the reality and the existence of something is that between what is posited and how it is posited. it is only the existential synthesis which relates whatness to an actual object. Thus we find the logic of Kant's thinking issuing in the following equation: Being = existence = actuality = position. Whereas predicative synthesis is preoccupied with these real-contents. What kind of position or positing is Kant talking about here? It seems that he is referring to an existential synthesis (A is A) rather than a predicative synthesis (A is B). for this (existent) also goes to the absolute position of the thing itself. The "what" question yields the . it is not concerned with the real characteristics of something. the real content of the thaler or of God remains the same. being is disclosed as surplus being. To put it in another way. This is why existence is "absolute position. but more is posited by an existent than by something merely possible. If being is not a real predicate then how can it be positively determined? And yet to say of something that it exists. II. or has being amounts to positing that thing. Kant's thesis that being is not a real predicate thus prefigures Heidegger's notion of the "ontological difference. nevertheless my proceeding further to think that this thing is [exists] makes not the least addition to the thing [to its whatness as res}. Existence is always other than essence. "The concept of position. B 628) What applies here to thalers applies equally to God. Existential positing is not the same as predication. BEING AS POSITION Kant's claim that being is not a real predicate leads to a related claim that being is position. (CPR. is. Existential synthesis adds the actual being of the object to the real-contents of the concept. "is one and the same as that of being in general." It adds something new to the predicative content of a thing."2 Once again. For otherwise. Kant explains: "Nothing more is posited in an existent than in something merely possible (for in this case we are speaking of its predicates). As Kant explains: When therefore I think of a thing. To posit the existence of something one is obliged to go outside of the conceptual representation of the real-contents of that thing.6 / CONFRONTATIONS WITH TRADITIONS in virtue of their reality. To return to Kant's distinction between quality and modality." Being is surplus being—that which is not a being. regardless of whether it actually exists or not. In neither case is existence to be considered as a real predicate.

thalers) possess exactly the same what-content. unless."4 III. that is.3 Kant's refutation is far more radical and raises fundamental questions about the entire modern understanding of the terms reality and existence. The "how" question. is their radically different understanding of what is meant by perception.. B 273) to mean that to be is to be perceived. Kant's arguments seem to indicate that it is the relation of the existent object to its concept. the rapport between the how and the what of something. demonstrates that to say that something is posited as actual is to say that something more is posited than if it were posited as only possible. however. The single most dramatic consequence of the Kantian thesis was undoubtedly that being was now seen as position. They interpreted Kant's statement that "perception is the sole characteristic of actuality" (CPR. What separates them. however. we encounter the idealist and phenomenological versions of being as meaningful appearance to consciousness. he did so not because he doubted that God's existence was a real predicate of his essence but because he doubted the capacity of the finite human mind to know or understand this. The relevance of all this to the question of the ontological argument is clear. They found some support for this view in Kant's claim in the first part of the Critique of Pure Reason. But then I am talking not of a proof but of a tautology. we find the empiricist reading of position as sensible apprehension. On the one hand. Empiricists understood perception as a psychological rapport between representation and sensation. While Aquinas also contested the ontological argument that God's actual existence could be derived from our concept of his existence. What both these versions share is the modern notion of being as perception (in the broadest sense). Once again we must ask what this "more" means. On the other. If I think the concept I cannot thereby attribute existence to what is thought in the concept. Being is reduced to the meaning and value of being and is equated with our understanding of being—based for Kant and the German Idealists in "productive imagination. BEING AS PERCEPTION Kant's thesis that being is position was followed by two distinct interpretations.g. By thus exposing the weakness of the minor premise in the ontological argument—that existence belongs to the concept of God—Kant believes he has exposed the ontological argument per se. entitled "Transcendental Aesthetic." that sensible intuition through space and time is a precondition of subjective knowledge. that is. Since existence in general is not a real predicate it does not belong to the concept of that thing.Surplus Being I 7 answer that actual and possible things (e. I presuppose the actuality of the thing as part of the concept. The Kantian equation of being with absolute position was taken as . the productive attitude of the human subject toward the mode of being of the object.

no striving without something striven for. In Psychology from an Empirical Standpoint he refers to this relation as intentionality—no hearing without something heard. the what of something (what Kant called "reality") is now considered ontologically inseparable from the how of its perception (what Kant called "position")—perception now being understood as the intentional relation between perceiving consciousness and the thing perceived. however. phenomenology holds that the being of something is inseparable from our attitude to the relation between that thing's representational content and the object referred to by the representation. shape. he writes: "My standpoint in psychology is empirical: experience alone is my teacher. Brentano's explicit departure from Mill's rejection of a priori knowledge clearly indicates his redefinition of our perception of being to include dimensions of experience ruled out by traditional empiricism. the phenomenon of perception is defined as an intentional . no hoping without something hoped." Moreover. In this manner. In the opening sentences of Psychologie vom empirischen Standpunkt (1874). 5 Brentano's role should not be underestimated. He even coined the resonant term Psychognosie to convey his conviction that the human perception of being—which it is the aim of philosophy to explain—cannot be based on the methods of the natural sciences but requires a new descriptive/intuitive/phenomenological science. 1889). that certain fundamental insights into the being of things could be achieved at one stroke and without any induction {Vom Ursprung der sittlicher Erkenntnis. for Brentano. but he reformulates this to entail a dynamic relation between the perceiving subject and the object perceived.8 / C O N F R O N T A T I O N S WITH TRADITIONS stating that what exists as actual is what is perceivable by our senses. and other what-contents) is not some transcendent ontological substance but a psychological attitude of perception. The phenomenological reading of Kant's equation of being and position extended the understanding of perception beyond the empirical. Brentano thus remains faithful to Kant's definition of being as position or perception. In his Vienna lectures and later writings. phenomenology sees this relation as one of intentional constitution or production rather than of empirical correspondence between particulars. In other words. he replaced the term empirical psychology with that of descriptive psychology. Unlike empiricism. a perception surpassing the empirical limits of sensible intuition and embracing an activity of constitution. This was to prove the launching pad for Husserl's reformulation of perception in Logical Investigations (1900—01) in terms of a "categorial intuition" of a thing's being. size. to its color. According to this view. the "being" that is added to our knowledge of the real predicates of an object (e.g. this ideal intuition meant. Like empiricism. no joy without something we feel joyous about. no believing without something believed.. Franz Brentano represents a significant transition between empiricism and phenomenology. But I share with others the conviction that a certain ideal intuition [ideale Anschauung] can be combined with such a standpoint.

It is not like the color white or any other empirically observable property of volume or texture. Husserl breaks more radically with empiricism than his mentor in declaring fiction to be "the life of phenomenology as of all eidetical science . From the point of view of categorial intuition. . Brentano clung to the notion of an "ideal intuition" that would amplify the model of perception beyond the sensible apprehension of particulars to the intentional intuition of being. provides a solid basis for scientific truth. to the practice of "imaginative variation" whereby consciousness prescinds from the particular fact of something to its universal essence—the latter being defined as the invariant structure produced through the free variation of all its possible modes of being (i. The being of the thing is not reducible to the nature or sum of its predicates. He goes further than Brentano. separated by Kant under the distinct notions of quality and modality. He acknowledges that Kant was actually equating being with existence (or position). And yet it . are conjoined by Brentano under the category of intentionality. the empirical status of an object is irrelevant. irrespective of whether its properties exist actually or possibly. The aim of Brentano's new psychology—which set the agenda for Husserl's phenomenology—was to provide a rigorous scientific understanding of truth as self-evident. if not more important. being is the act of positing a thing's essence (its reality as quality) in whatever modality it determines (actual or possible). Fiction is as important. however. The "is" is not tangible in such a basic manner. and positivism. Indeed. Husserl shared Brentano's conviction that the categories of intentionality and ideal intuition furnish criteria for scientific rigor.Surplus Being I 9 act of consciousness. ..e. While granting the empiricist rejection of innate ideas. as projected by fantasy or fiction). in admitting fictional entities into the arsenal of ideal intuition. Being as reality intentionally perceived by a real consciousness. To put it in another way. In his discussion of categorial intuition in Investigation 6. The real and actual. But Husserl remarks that Kant's thesis can only be applied to the copula (this is white) insofar as it designates the "belonging" of some essential property—real or imaginary—to an object."6 He is referring here. historicism. the source whence the knowledge of "eternal truths" draws its sustenance. Husserl agrees with the Kantian thesis that being is not a real predicate to the extent that the categorial intuition—outlined in Investigation 6 of Logical Investigations—is described as an intentional positing of being. Its existence is irreducible to its reality. of course. counteract the relativism of his age as advanced by utilitarianism. than fact when it comes to something's intentional being qua phenomenon. he hoped. Such a category of evidence would. Husserl alludes to Kant's maxim that being is not a real predicate (§43). the "is" grasped by the categorial intuition is not itself part of what the object actually is. In its existential or predicative senses.

therefore. Perception becomes interpretation.8 It cannot be "objectified. allows what is presented to be presented. The categorial intuition can operate.10 / CONFRONTATIONS WITH TRADITIONS makes no sense without the support of the senses. When we say that something before us is white. we are intuiting not just the property white but the presencing of this property of sense that surpasses the simple perception of particular features and aims at the total ontological identity of the object (whether this object be actually or imaginatively present to us). We are thus better able to focus on the identity of a thing's "being" and the non-empirical manner of its appearing. in that it extends the model of perception to include a grasp of the ontological difference between the objective status of the thing perceived and the non-objective status of the presentation of this thing. unlike aesthetic beauty. "The appearing of things does not itself appear to us. accordingly. BEING AS INTERPRETATION Categorial intuition goes beyond sensory intuition in two main senses. Categorial intuition is what enables us to see this thing as such and such. The categorial surplus does not itself appear as an object—only as the self-effacing condition of presentation. one could not perceive the former without the latter. therefore: first. second. Art and imagination can play a key role here. in the absence or presence of the object insofar as it designates the belonging of something (the color white) to something (the chalk). We should think of sense here in the original connotation of aisthesis—a phenomenological experience of meaning that precedes the dualistic opposition between sensation and understanding. Categorial intuition reaches beyond and beneath the confines of sensuous intuition. Being. Seeing this becomes seeing as."7 This "living through" is what categorial intuition is all about." as Husserl acknowledges." only "lived through. to be more exact. in its non-presentation. The "being" of something is disclosed as that which. We can only grasp the being of something to the extent that we grasp its sensible particulars in the light of the surplus sense of its presentation. They can liberate intuition from direct dependence on particular sensible instances and enable us to freely vary the modes of presentation. Or. however. the "is" itself tells us not what a thing is but that it is—and that such and such properties belong to it. The aesthetic appreciation of painting or poetry provides a useful analogy. Indeed. not the color white—as in sensuous intuition—but the being-colored. "We live through it. IV. is not bound to the whatness of the object." This living through acknowledges consciousness as a hidden operation (Vollzug) . What we intuit categorially is not the whiteness but the belonging. insofar as it surpasses empirical particulars in order to grasp ontological identity. The empirically present particulars and the ontological presentation itself are not related discontinuously as phenomenon to noumenon but continuously as one part of the same phenomenon (entityISeiende) to another (being/Sein).

9 Moreover. as Husserl asserts on several occasions in the Krisis (1939). Husserl's most significant contribution to this new beginning lies in his treatment of categorial intuition. adverting—in quotation marks— to the difference {Unterschied) between "consciousness" and "thing". a great part of Heidegger's remaining philosophy. While Husserl represents an advance on Kant in that he develops the difference between beingas-perception and reality into the difference between being-as-consciousness and reality. he still shares with Kant the tendency to reduce both being and reality to the tenets of transcendental idealism. Western philosophy prepares for a new beginning {ein anderer Anfang)." 10 What Husserl failed to spell out sufficiently. For Heidegger. Reason and sense can only be preserved as historical projects and practices if thinkers observe their ethical vocation to this ongoing poetics of human experience. In §83 of Being and Time (significantly the final section of the work) he expands on Husserl's position (in Ideas §42). To return to the question of ontological surplus. What began as Kant's distinction between being and reality in the first Critique becomes in Being and Time Heidegger's difference between the manner of being of Dasein (existence) and the manner of being of those beings which are "objectively" present to Dasein (reality). 11 It is here that Heidegger locates the crucial transition from an essentialist to an existential-hermeneutic . It is here that Husserl offers a phenomenological basis for a contemporary dialogue between ethics and poetics. In Being and Time and subsequent works. As is known. . Martin Heidegger set out to redress this balance by pushing the Kantian and Husserlian intimations of the difference between being and reality in a more "fundamental" hermeneutic direction. Though he overcomes the metaphysical dualism of phenomenon and noumenon he still remains a captive of the Copernican Revolution.Surplus Being I 11 or work {Leistung) of creation (Bildung). In §63 he spells out what he calls the "primary ontological difference between existence and reality" in terms of the difference between Dasein (as temporal horizon of being) and Vorhandenheit (as objects present at hand). Husserl himself comes close to a recognition of this ontological difference between modes of appearing when he observes that "a fundamental and essential difference [Unterschied] arises between being as consciousness and being as r e a l i t y . written after the famous "turn. a principal difference between modes of givenness. both in this passage and in the passage on categorial intuition in Investigation 6 is the radically ontological nature of this difference. . however. Phenomenological intuition is an event of creative vision. The Copernican Revolution comes full circle. the disclosure of the workings {Leistungen) of this creativity in our everyday lives and history involves." was devoted to a relentless exploration of the ontological difference between being and beings. an ethical responsibility. Husserl's phenomenology still remains subject-centered.

43) If such be Kant's via negativa to a definition of being. in turn. whether possible or actual. wall. Now Kant says. (p. . the actuality of something actual. . Kant says that actuality is not a real determination. is not a real predicate. extension. this concept of position is. being is not itself a being. Actuality does not affect the what. his tentative formula of a via affirmativa. We ascribe to this thing something like existence. as we saw above. BEING AS DASEIN The most concise and comprehensive formulation of this trajectory in modern philosophy is to be found in Heidegger's own hermeneutic reading of the Kantian thesis in The Basic Problems of Phenomenology?2 This is how Heidegger formulates the ontological significance of Kant's definition: That is real which belongs to a res. The question arises. its whatness. A hundred thalers do not differ in their what-contents whether they be a hundred possible or a hundred actual thalers. The meaning of this negative proposition is that actuality. 2) that this intentional relationship of noesislnoema entails a radically extended (phenomenological) model of perception. in our terminology. it involves. 4) that since this categorial intuition is not restricted to empirical facts but reaches to more fundamental dimensions of the thing's being. they are. What sort of determination then is existence and actuality? Negatively. . We can thus trace the lines of development from Kant's thesis that being is position to Husserl's thesis that being is intuition to Heidegger's thesis that being is interpretation (i.e. is not itself anything actual or existent. B 272-73). door. to its inherent or essential content. an ontological interpretation. Actuality. is that being is identifiable with "position in general. the meaning of being). Citing Kant's formula that the "perception [which supplies the material to the concepts]. is the sole character of actuality" (CPR. or not. V. Heidegger comments that it is perception which intrinsically reaches the actuality or existence of things—but perception in a special sense. He interprets Kant as follows: The specific character of absolute position. color—real predicates or determinations. real determinations of the thing "house. possibility. existence. size. To the thing "house" belong its foundation.. . as Kant defines it. roof. 3) that such a model embraces a categorial intuition of being. . Nevertheless. in the short or long term." regardless of whether it is actually existent.12 / CONFRONTATIONS WITH TRADITIONS phenomenology. reveals itself as perception. The decisive claims made by Husserl were 1) that the essence of a thing is the intentional relationship between that thing and consciousness. the reality." Moreover. but the how of the being. identifiable with perception. we still say that the house exists or. is extant. the existence of the existent. necessity—which can be called predicates only in an improper sense—are not real-synthetic. . as Kant . to a thing in the sense of a Sache.

Heidegger does him the hermeneutic honor of explaining what he. 47) What Kant was unable to unravel. it is monstrous to talk of a house with a "perception" added to it. But surely. as perceived has the character of perceivedness. only one thing." The thing is posited in the relationship of cognition." They "add to the concept of a thing [of something real] . belonging in a certain sense to the object. ." Since Kant himself fails to provide any clarification on this key matter. a posteriori. really meant to say—or at least should have said. 69) The puzzle can only be resolved by moving beyond the Kantian categories . color. roof. that is to say. And worse again to talk of real predicates furnished with the subjective/cognitive property of "absolute position. and yet not itself anything objective.g. "merely subjective. it is not subjective and also it is not objective. as the basis of all intuitive knowledge. size) is to say that what is added is not another real predicate. the real predicates of the whatness of a house being its doors. The predicate of actuality adds perception to the concept of a thing. 46) Accordingly. In this perception the existent. was the precise phenomenological nature of this perception. and object was still inadequate to a proper understanding of the way in which the "perceiving" and the "perceived" correspond in the phenomenon of the thing's being as "perceivedness. even though we must always continue to maintain that the perceived being. Perceivedness belongs perhaps to the Dasein's intentional comportment.. subject. to say that the perception that belongs to the subject as its manner of comportment is added to the thing means the following: The subject brings itself perceivingly to the thing in a relation that is aware of and takes up this thing "in and for itself. In Heidegger's view. the extant entity. perceiving immediately transcends it. the extant thing at hand. and belonging to the Dasein and its intentional existence and yet not itself anything subjective. as soon as we wish to talk about such a sphere. Heidegger offers the following re-reading of Kant's thesis: Perceiving as intentional falls so little into a subjective sphere that. gives itself in its own self. to the perceived. Kant. (p. B 286].Surplus Being I 13 says. as Heidegger objects." What Kant lacked was the phenomenological category of intentionality developed by Brentano and Husserl. . in short. The real exhibits itself as an actual entity. the faculty of knowledge [CPR. in the large sense. equals absolute position equals perception. existence. This something existential refers back to the human subject: it is nothing other than perception understood. This perceivedness is a remarkable and enigmatic structure. to say with Kant that existence is something added to the perception of a thing's whatness (e. Kant's concept of existence as perception can only make sense in terms of a phenomenological understanding of perception: What alone can he mean? Plainly. His critical terminology of a priori. Kant thus says in short: actuality. Equipped with this phenomenological armature. (p. (p.

Such a reading . Heidegger's reading of Kant's theory of imagination is as controversial and as contested as his reading of Kant's thesis of being. precontained within the thingness of things. But statements like "being is position in general" remain unclear and ambiguous. written about the same period as Being and Time and published just two years after it in 1929. Heidegger concludes accordingly that "the task is now to pursue the structure of Dasein's comportments and to ask above all how it is grounded ontologically in the basic constitution of the Dasein. and that those German Idealists who came after him—Schelling. 14 What Kant's thesis—"being is not a real predicate"—wants to say is that being (Sein) is not a being (Seiende). by association. carried out in his Kantbuch. pointing out that Kant was to dramatically revise his radical claims for imagination in the second edition of the Critique of Pure Reason. to claim that the modern understanding of being implies an understanding of Dasein is to claim. Heidegger concedes that what Kant and the German Idealists called transcendental imagination is in fact a prefiguration of Dasein. Lacking the conceptual apparatus of hermeneutic phenomenology. and the methods of positive science were clearly insufficient for a proper phenomenological understanding because they asked about specific kinds of being (psychology inquired after psychical being. He is quite circumspect about this equation. What Kant lacked was a phenomenological ontology of human Dasein. BEING AS IMAGINATION The closest Kant got to anticipating the phenomenological disclosure of Dasein was with his analysis of transcendental imagination. Ultimately at issue here is the ontological difference between being (existence as Dasein) and beings (essences with real predicates). it was impossible for him to grasp that the question of the being of beings is inextricably related to the question of existence understood hermeneutically as Dasein. Fichte. In short. physics after physical being) but not after the being of things qua being. he identifies this reading of the Kantian imagination. Kant was unable to redefine "perception" as the intentional projection of Dasein toward things. and Jacobi in particular—proved incapable of extrapolating the full ontological implications of this initial discovery. In the conclusion to Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics.14 / CONFRONTATIONS WITH TRADITIONS of subject/object and embracing a radical phenomenology of Dasein. 13 Kant was still largely captive to the "natural attitude"."15 VI. He thus failed to fully explain why Dasein is not one more thing amongst things— a real predicate among others." Furthermore. as a key component of the originally planned Part Two of Being and Time (to have been entitled "A Phenomenological Destruction of the History of Ontology under the Guidance of the Problematic of Temporality"). that it is implicitly connected with imagination.16 Heidegger equates the temporalizing/projective powers of Dasein with those of what Kant called "productive imagination. Without this.

prior to apperception. To disclose being as time.17 I will summarize here five key characteristics: 1. Kant points the way beyond the metaphysical habit of reducing one element of knowledge to another by rooting both—the schemas of sensible intuition and the categories of understanding—in the pre-predicative apprehensions of pure imagination. (This is what Derrida will later refer to as the "deconstruction of presence"). productive/formative/projective—powers of imagination. albeit without recognizing its full deconstructive consequences. it now transpires. for Heidegger. it is difficult for Kant to articulate his initial insight. . Imagination is the common "productive" source presupposed by both epistemological poles. the "common root" of the two stems of knowledge: sensation and understanding. the unity of all knowledge presupposes the poetic—that is. . In a passage from section three of the Transcendental Deduction in the first Critique. "Synthesis is the result of imagination without which we would have no knowledge whatsoever. a cogent example of the hermeneutic destruction of Western metaphysics—the disclosure of the formative workings of temporality behind the ostensibly timeless concepts of Being. transcendental imagination belongs to the prereflective and usually ignored realm of everyday lived experience. which divides knowledge into binary opposites of sensible and intelligible. is to disclose it as poiesis—as an event of productive imagination. such as the claim that imagination is a "blind but indispensable faculty of the mind of which we are scarcely ever aware" or "an act concealed in the depths of the human soul. Kant concedes as much. Imagination is part of the "unthought" {ungedacht) dimension of existence which escapes the objectifying classifications of metaphysical thought.Surplus Being I 15 of being in terms of Dasein/imagination is." This means that the transcendental deduction of categories. It underlies and undermines the dualist edifice of traditional metaphysics." 3. 2. . understood as pure presence. Transcendental imagination is. Once again. whose actual modes of activity nature is hardly likely ever to allow us to discover or have open to our gaze. or again. by Kant's own admission. he writes: "The principle of the necessary unity of the pure (productive) synthesis of imagination. is the ground of possibility of all knowledge". The transcendental "I think" which founds the unity of all knowledge in apperception is itself dependent upon a prior synthesis of imagination. The next stop for a post-dualist epistemology is an ontology of Dasein. which grounds reliable knowledge. But it is at least implicit in certain passages from the first Critique. Since I have dealt with Heidegger's reading of the Kantian imagination as a prehguration of Dasein in some detail elsewhere. To the extent that this imagination remains unacknowledged by speculative metaphysics. Like Dasein (its other name).

This power of imagination is the Siamese twin of what we have been calling "surplus being. It is the invisible source of our vision: that which makes a world possible by making a world. which first enables us to perceive the world as a series of "objects. At the most fundamental level of being. Moreover. The second edition of 1787 no longer sought to see metaphysics as a work of poetics." that time involves a schematizing of our sensible experience. no Dasein without time." 4. Kant had argued in the first part of the Critique of Pure Reason.16 / C O N F R O N T A T I O N S WITH TRADITIONS presupposes the prior synthesizing power of imagination. and no . and future. Imagination is Dasein understood as being-in-the-world." But the temporal schemas are not themselves objects nor even representations of objects. primordial time itself is. It is poiesis without why—or. But if it is indeed that which founds and forms our world (as Sartre also recognizes in L'imaginaire18). "imagination."19 It is because of this enigma of foundationless foundation that Kant felt compelled to rewrite the first edition of the Critique of Pure Reason six years after its publication in 1781. being forever projected and produced as an ecstatic unity of past. it remains itself without foundation. prefiguring the future in terms of memory and refiguring the past in terms of anticipation. the transcendental self appears "unchanging and abiding" from the point of view of empirical or chronological time. intimately linked with the transcendental self of imagination. hermeneutically prefiguring and transfiguring one's world horizon as that toward which one projects one's possibilities. of being itself." and "primordial time" are inextricable allies. "Kant saw the unknown. This dense Heideggerian analysis might be put in the following shorthand—no Sein without Dasein. "Imagination cannot itself be derived from any other faculty. present. but the deeper "primordial time" which is the very horizon."20 5." "transcendental self. as a dualist edifice suspended over the bottomless pit of imagination. entitled appropriately the "Transcendental Aesthetic. Precisely because it is one with time itself. Primordial time is not reducible to images but it is. Imagination is the foundationless foundation of our "knowledge of all things. deleting most of the controversial claims for imagination." Heidegger insists. and first name. retraceable to the hidden workings of the productive imagination." as Heidegger graphically remarked. "Schemata are transcendental determinations of time"—and not just the empirical time of objective measurement (what Heidegger calls clocktime)." It is the blind spot of truth which enables us to see things as identifiable objects without itself being seen. as Schelling would put it. nonetheless. which is internally temporalized. This poetic productivity of imagination "appears" timeless precisely because it precedes the chronology of linear time. imagination is a power at once human and divine for it is nothing less than the "unconscious poetry of being. Imagination is the frontierless zone where time and being meet. "He had to draw back. as suggested.

imagination becomes another name for Dasein—or surplus being. Perhaps this was what Heidegger had in mind in Poetry. The relationship between poetics and ethics will be analyzed in Chapter 3. And it is productive like Dasein in its free and spontaneous activity of projecting (entwerfen) and understanding (verstehen) its existential possibilities. There is. . To recap the import of these five points. It is. Thought. and therefore temporally situated. . as the "formal a priori condition of all experience. imagination. imagination reveals itself to be the prefiguration par excellence of Dasein. In this receptive/productive role of poiesis. no mere reduction to human subjectivity. is a poetics of the possible. It is the very origin of the creative unreality of being. for Heidegger. when he wrote that "poetic images are imaginings in a distinctive sense: not mere fancies and illusions but imaginings that are visible inclusions of the alien in the sight of the familiar. Language." makes it essentially receptive to experience. Once again. we might say that Kant's most significant contribution was his acknowledgment that the metaphysical concept of being as timeless presence ultimately rests upon the schematizing and temporalizing powers of productive imagination.Surplus Being I 17 time without imagination. Thus understood. ."21 We have come a long way from the ontological proof—and are well on the way toward a poetics of hermeneutic imagination. Dasein. 22 . however. Imagination is finite like Dasein in that its "aesthetic" function of time. the hermeneutic circle leading from metaphysics to poetics seems inescapable. like its pseudonym. The relationship between poetics and God will be further explored in Chapter 4. always the belief that poetics leads beyond the limits of modern subjectivism and humanism. By such sights the god surprises us. In this strangeness he declares his unfaltering nearness.

the real auctor of auctoritas was increasingly denominated as a mind at once finite and infinite in its powers." It amounted to a reformulation of the German Idealist concept of transcendental imagination as the manifestation of the divine in humanity. But it was not just a matter for philosophy. who was calling him to do so? On whose authority? In whose name? More disturbingly still. In short. was called to "speak out" about the meaning of revelation for modernity.2 The Poetics of Authorship: Kierkegaard's Dilemma Soren Kierkegaard was characteristically modern in relating his age's crisis of authority to his personal crisis of authorship. Traditionally. In the correlative fields of art and literature. Existentialism was considered by many to be a typical expression of this triumph of subjectivity. was predictably exercised by this dilemma of authority and authorship. Schelling. interrogating the role of the prophetic author in the modern age. how could one speak of the authority of the God-Man without presuming 18 . that authors began to seek a source (auctor) of meaning and value within the human self. and Hegel to identify human and divine value. Kierkegaard. Soren Kierkegaard. epitomized in Samuel Coleridge's description of imagination as the "repetition in the finite mind of the eternal act of creation—the infinite I AM. one of the founding figures of modern existentialism. As political revolutions swept through Europe establishing modern secular states in place of traditional empires. authority was associated with a Supreme Being or Divine Maker. Kierkegaard was engaged in a traumatic inner dialogue between self and soul. This equation deeply informed the thinking of romantic poetics. If he. after the Copernican Revolutions of Descartes and Kant. Nowhere did it become more apparent than in his dramatic debate on the paradox of the God-Man in 1848. even religion went through sea changes with efforts by the likes of Feuerbach. It was not until the arrival of philosophical modernity. the divine author of nature was replaced by the humanist author of fiction.

I confine my analysis to Journal entries registered after the 1848 conversion and to four main works written in explicit or implicit reaction to this "conversion": 1) Sickness unto Death (written in 1848 and published in 1849— henceforth referred to as SD). and the religious. It dominated his influential works in the aftermath of his 1848 experience.The Poetics of Authorship I 19 oneself to be some kind of man-god? How distinguish between Imitatio Christi and self-apotheosis? Between sanctity and sacrilege? Between religious martyrdom and poetic megalomania? These obsessive questions of value criteria tormented Kierkegaard after his quasi-mystical experience during Easter Week of 1848. They compelled him to face the dilemma of whether the very notion of the God-Man—the intersection of the timeless with time—was a supreme fiction of humanity or the greatest scandal of divinity? Might not the poetical imagination's "passion for the possible. Here I examine the way this dilemma took the form of a dramatic conflict. between the three main stages of existence—the aesthetic. I. 2) Training in Christianity (written largely during the same period and originally intended as a companion work to SD. In other words. Kierkegaard's most disturbing existential drama. the ethical. it also implied that the "abyss" separating us from God might now be miraculously surmounted. in particular his preface to the appropriately titled On Authority and Revelation and The Point of View for My Work as an Author. I believe. Kierkegaard's response to this temptation had deep implications for his whole attitude to poetics (the role of authorship/pseudonomy) and religion (the role of divine revelation)." But this revelation of divine pardon also entailed a serious problem. To be published in a single volume entitled The Collected Works of the Consummation. If Christ's death and resurrection now revealed itself as a forgiveness of sins. it eventually appeared separately in 1850—henceforth referred to as TC)." occasioned by his newfound conviction that "all his sins had been forgiven. Kierkegaard experienced a "conversion. and 4) the final. In Holy Week of 1848. Christ's atonement for sin could also be construed as the possibility of an at-one-ment between the divine and the human (a double meaning also operative in the Danish term. Fors<j>ning). lengthy "Preface" to On Authority and . The possibility of an identification between man and God— or more exactly between man and the incarnate God-Man (Christ)—became a terrifying temptation. in Kierkegaard's work." so vividly commented on by Kierkegaard in Repetition? not overreach itself to the point where the human author saw divine authority as one of its own possibilities? This was.2 3) The Point of View (written in 1848 but withheld from publication during Kierkegaard's lifetime—it was published four years after his death—henceforth referred to as PV). T H E PARADOX OF ATONEMENT I take the story from the beginning.

" which he quickly quali- . for example. reflect Kierkegaard's struggle with the pivotal concept of the God-Man." But he quickly became aware of the ambiguity inherent in this Christian mystery of Atonement." Having experienced what he believed to be a direct communication from God concerning the forgiveness of sins. My guiding hermeneutic question is basically this: How did Kierkegaard avoid the temptation to translate the God of scriptural authority into a poetic fiction of human authorship? Kierkegaard expressed his immediate response to the Easter experience in a succinct Journal entry at the time: "I must speak. in Sickness unto Death we find Anti-Climacus remarking upon the deep ambiguity of Atonement as a dialectical "negation of the negation of sin. In one passage in Training in Christianity. Anti-Climacus uses Atonement as a synonym for God-Man—in the sense of an at-one-ment of God and man. composed in the wake of the Easter conversion." This statement suggests that Kierkegaard was resolving to adopt an authorial standpoint of "privileged communication. it could also be taken to mean that in being absolved from sin the human self might somehow transcend its finite nature and become one with its Redeemer in miraculous union. it seemed appropriate at last to abandon his aesthetic practice of pseudonymity—or "indirect communication"—which had largely prevailed up to his Easter conversion. Elsewhere. The term Atonement is used in both these senses in Kierkegaard's two major works on the theme of the God-Man (SD and TC). But Kierkegaard actually revoked his original decision to engage in direct communication in the four works mentioned above (where he attempts to come to terms with the implications of his Easter conversion as a liberation from the melancholy of sin). So the question arises as to why Kierkegaard should have changed his mind so radically and opted instead to return to the ploys of indirect communication. which Christ accomplished by his death on the cross. the author uses atonement in the lower-case to refer quite innocently to the absolution of man's sins. 3 But no sooner has he done so than he checks himself and denounces the perfidious danger of construing this concept as a Hegelian mediation between the Divine and the human that would presume to erase the essential "contradictoriness" of such a synthesis.4 Similarly. My concern is to explore how these works and Journal entries.20 / CONFRONTATIONS WITH TRADITION Revelation (also written in 1848 and also withheld from publication—henceforth referred to as OAR). in the same work. ecstatic realization that "Christ's death had released man from sin. or indeed to no communication at all by withholding publication? Kierkegaard's conversion resulted from a sudden. In SD and TC he resorted to the pseudonym of Anti-Climacus and ultimately chose to withhold publication of both PKand OAR (with its crucial 1848 Preface). While Atonement signified the human self's dependency on God for the remission of sins. and to speak out directly in his own voice and with his own signature.

lops a little bit off at both ends. On the other hand. can safeguard the irreducible "qualitative difference" between the Divine and the human. But Christianity." it actually ends up as . it works directly against itself when it establishes sin so securely as a position that it seems a perfect impossibility to do away with it again—and yet it is precisely Christianity which. . noted above. On the one hand. would do away with it so completely that it is as though drowned in the sea. The problem is that Christianity itself appears. Kierkegaard repudiates it because of its facile attempt to equate God and man in an absolute synthesis that ignores the irresolvable contradiction inherent in the Christian paradox of the God-Man. ." writes Kierkegaard.6 However differently Kierkegaard would like to make them.The Poetics of Authorship I 21 fies with the following caveat: "But Christianity . coalesce into one . that the same Danish term. might in a way (philosophies poetice. Only a keen awareness of our human finitude. Forstyning. . and so it goes easier: it does not make sin so entirely positive—and in spite of this it cannot get it through its head that sin should be entirely forgotten. keeps watch to see that the deep gulf of qualitative distinction between God and man may be firmly fixed. in yet another paradox." He goes on to compare Idealist poetics and Christian Revelation: Speculation. While imagination seeks to become an "experimental God" through a poetical process of "self-duplication. which chatters itself away from the paradoxes. Kierkegaard's attitude is deeply ambivalent. as it is in the paradox and in faith lest God and man. to threaten this very precaution of sin-awareness by introducing the doctrine of the Atonement. "First Christianity goes ahead and establishes sin so securely as a position that the human understanding can never comprehend it. as Kierkegaard reminds us in SD. and then it is the same Christian doctrine which in turn undertakes to do away with this position so completely that the human understanding never can understand it. This conceptual proximity is compounded by the embarrassing fact. . is in this case also as paradoxical as possible. still more dreadfully than ever occurred in paganism. the Hegelian concept of the Absolute and the Christian doctrine of Absolution here seem perilously close. was employed to render both the Christian notion of Atonement and the Hegelian notion of Synthesis! The most common term for this synthesizing power in the German Idealist philosophy familiar to Kierkegaard was imagination (Phantasie). it is precisely the Promethean imagination's attempt to transcend the real divisions and limits of human experience that ultimately leads to despair. in the System. Kierkegaard argues. which is the first discoverer of the paradoxes. who stole fire from the gods and bestowed it upon mortals. by the atonement."5 "The System" is a term of Idealist philosophy and poetics. imagination is recognized as the Promethean faculty of "hope" for it was Prometheus. "The Paradox results from the doctrine of the Atonement. Here again. etc).

" Kierkegaard warns. ."8 Imagination tempts us. to be sure. it acknowledges "no power above itself." Anti-Climacus reminds his readers in Sickness unto Death. "This ruler is a King without a country." it drives the self to be "demoniacally stronger than it is. the romantic poetics of Promethean imagination defies such boundaries. By the help of the doctrine of sin and the individual sinner."7 That is why hope is described as the "dubious gift" of Prometheus. which means our finite separateness as temporal beings who can never assume equality with the eternal being of God. he rules over nothing. the crowd. and differentiation. as in the System of Absolute Idealism."9 It is surely no coincidence that Kierkegaard's critique of the poetical imagination (epitomized by Romantic Idealism) is contained largely in SD and TQ both written in 1848.10 If we do away with our ethical experience of finite limits." every human attempt to do so being no more than "dubious imagination." without thinking of Kierkegaard's own dubious imaginings after his Easter conversion." Consequently." Hence the importance of the Christian notion of fallibility: Christianity begins with the doctrine of sin—that which splits men into individuals and holds every individual fast as a sinner—and therefore with the individual. . etc. By contrast. against the nation. limitation. 11 . the year of his God-Man temptation. to ignore all ethical limits in favor of poetical possibility. like Prometheus and Adam.22 / CONFRONTATIONS WITH TRADITION "no self. One of the most insidious consequences of such an Idealist equation Kierkegaard fears. imagination leads us to the "most shocking of all blasphemies": the coalescing of God and man "in one and the same thing. being a sinner is merely subsumed under the Concept which tells us: think and then thou art the whole of humanity." "In the whole dialectic in which the self acts there is nothing firm. "Speculation preaches the doctrine of the preponderance of the generation over the individual . For imagination all things are possible and permissible. . about the likeness. which has taught us about the God-Man. is the capitulation of the real category of the individual to the abstract category of the species. the poetical imagination never gets beyond the "empty contentless I. God and Christ have been secured once and for all . we run the risk of elevating human imagination to such a height that it becomes indistinguishable from God. Precluding "self-limitation. . "The category of sin is the category of the individual." Kierkegaard reminds us in SD that "only God himself can do this. but Christianity is a great hater of wanton and impertinent forwardness. It is certainly difficult to read Kierkegaard's denunciation of imagination as an "abstraction which claims kinship with God" or a confusion of human with divine "invention. . It is Christianity. . If ethics represents boundaries of law. the people. To preserve the category of the individual is to remain mindful of our sinfulness." In presuming to be divine.

and this individual man is the 'God-Man/" 13 Romantic fiction is not.e. by contrast. Kierkegaard believes." Christendom therefore "represents the annihilation of God by its deification of the established order. however.. says Kierkegaard. which presumes to claim Kinship with Him. "is a false pretext which only makes them insolent. not by identifying ourselves with Christ but by humbly imitating him {Imitatio Christi) in fear and trembling. In Training in Christianity. and allowed the fallen race to become once and for all good again in Christ. . forever mindful of our own fallen finitude." insists Kierkegaard. The God-Man is the unity of God and the individual man. as a moment of belief lived in "subjective inwardness". our own mortality and guilt. . ." perpetually vigilant of the unmediated possibility of the offense. Such terminology exhibits the profundity of optical illusion. Kierkegaard holds that the institutionalized system of objective Christianity— what he calls Christendom—also commits such a grievous indiscretion. lowers the Divine into man (the singular category of one individual) until it becomes the unique event of the Incarnate Christ." Idealism is often no more than a revamped paganism to the extent that it elevates "man"—i. Kinship can only legitimately be understood. Accordingly. That the human race is or should be akin to God is ancient paganism: but that an individual man is God is Christianity.The Poetics of Authorship I 23 One of the most pernicious temptations for Christians is to forget that the incarnation of Christ was a singular event in history and to replace it with the universal fiction of history as a cumulative merging of God and humanity. . contends Kierkegaard." Kierkegaard insists on this point: "The God-Man is not the unity of God and mankind. Such an historicist fantasy. . the only attempt to abolish the offense. is a perversion of the Christian doctrine of kinship. but either to be offended or to believe. "ipso facto a heathen. the universal category of Mankind—until he becomes identical with the Divine. "One's relationship to Christ. . insists Kierkegaard. it is the preserve of the "solitary one. Humankind makes itself into an idol whenever "men have forgotten sin . . the whole weight of this falls upon him in fear and trembling and he must discover the possibility of offense. "is not either to doubt or to believe."12 The authentic doctrine of kinship is travestied by those speculative romantics who seek to mediate doubt into some dialectic of transcendental imagination. Under the ." But this. deifying the historical category of humankind. anyone who attempts to reduce divine value to some illusory identification with human existence is. Only as individuals do we have the right to claim kinship with God. For if the individual is to feel himself akin to God (and that is the doctrine of Christianity). whereas Christianity. The triumphalist self-assurance of modern Christendom results from the fact that "it has done away with Christianity and tried to make us believe that Christendom is Christ (the God-Man). And so in turn they have saddled God with an abstraction .

what remains to prevent us from becoming one with the God-Man in Imitatio ChristP. Against this triumphant church of self-congratulation. Kierkegaard champions the militant church of struggle. Christianity is done away with. "What Christ said about his kingdom being not of this world was not said with special reference to those times when He uttered this saying. saying to itself instead "in a hushed voice that it is itself'divine. become a congregation. The believer is thus prevented from answering his true vocation to become an individual before God. Christianity is abolished. in self-complacent joy at being themselves the inventors. absolving us from sin and calling us to imitate his ways? Once the barrier of sin is removed by the grace of Atonement. but only a distinguished man whose life is homogeneous with the development of the race . . "It is an eternally valid utterance about the relation of Christ's kingdom to this world and so it is valid for every age. vigilance.24 / C O N F R O N T A T I O N S WITH TRADITION pretence of serving and worshipping. men serve and worship their own device. for such a collectivization of believers into the universal category of a "crowd" subsumes the unmediated and "offensive" paradoxes of time into premature constructs of totality. Then Christ is no more the GodMan. T H E PROBLEM OF AUTHORSHIP But. . and should never. what if God himself were to remove the "offense" by revealing that our sins are forgiven? What if God were to reveal himself to us. Christendom abolishes Christianity. Any attempt by human beings to do likewise is illusion. and blashphemy to boot."16 The error of those moderns who endorse an established Christendom is that "they have quite forgotten that Christ's life on earth is sacred history. ."15 By introducing triumph within the temporal-historical order. 18 Only God has the power to unite the eternal and the temporal in the unique event of the Incarnation." Christianity can never. II. As soon as Christ's kingdom comes to terms with the world."17 Thus Kierkegaard dismisses "Peter's Congregation" (by which he means not only the Catholic Church in Rome but also the established Lutheran Church in his native Copenhagen) as an "impatient anticipation of Eternity." That is why "the triumphant church means the homogeneity of the God-Man. They have entirely forgotten that the God-Man is essentially heterogeneous from every other individual man and the race as a whole." writes Kierkegaard."14 The fact that its "sermons end with hurrah rather than Amen" is taken by Kierkegaard to mean that Christendom has dispensed with the offense. not through the mediation of a universal concept or crowd or congregation but in our own singularity as unique individuals. contestation. The day when Christianity and the world become friends. thereby essaying to reduce the paradox of Christ the God-Man to the imaginary contrivance of a universal Man-God. and transcendence. which must not be confounded with the history of the human race.

the Genius is characterized by fantasy."24 However. "I am the Truth" (combining the individual I who is finite and historical with the Truth which is infinite and eternal).23 A logical consequence of this train of thought is that the apostle who resolves to speak out directly may also participate in this paradoxical mystery of synthesis by passing through a purgative process of atonement that qualifies him for a special kind of union with God. but in an intensified consciousness a person must render account for every careless word he has uttered. "According to Christian doctrine man is not to merge in God through a pantheistic fading away or in the divine ocean through the blotting out of all individual characteristics. the union with God still takes place in the personality clarified through this whole process. as it were. This expectation would seem vindicated by Kierkegaard's essay "On the Difference between a Genius and an Apostle. Kierkegaard here proclaims the paradox of Christ as a synthesis of the historical and the eternal (Gott ist Mensch). out of this finitude. subterfuge. Jesus. and even if grace blots out sin. Kierkegaard himself ultimately reneged on this apostolic mode of . doubt. poetical qualities which express themselves in his mode of indirect communication.21 Elsewhere in his Journal. represents a radical shift from the exclusively "indirect address" of the disincarnate God of Judaism— "Christianity alone is direct address. to distinguish this legitimate possibility of union with God from the illegitimate "merging in God" which pantheism promoted. In a Journal entry Kierkegaard argues that apostleship is a means of imitating the paradigm of the God-Man (proclaiming directly Christ's seemingly direct message of God-made-man) not by inflating one's individual humanity until it becomes Divine but by allowing the Divine to somehow reveal itself in one's prophetic witness. but rather that the Divine inhabits and tolerates the finite. henceforth suspending his former pseudonyms of indirect communication. The true life of the apostolic individual "is its apotheosis. Kierkegaard is careful. which does not mean that this empty contentless / steals. in order to become volatilized and diffused in its heavenward emigration. which tend to underscore the intangible and elusive transcendence of God (Gott ist Gott)." also an 1848 work and also included in the main text of the unpublished On Authority and Revelation}** Here Kierkegaard defines the Apostle as an individual who is willing to obey the Divine call to spread the Word by engaging in direct communication. nonetheless. Kierkegaard argues that this direct mode of address employed by the God-Man.The Poetics of Authorship I 25 Kierkegaard's "I must speak" response to his Easter conversion appeared to indicate an option for direct communication. and equivocation."20 As Kierkegaard points out in De Omnibus Dubitandum EsU when the apostle communicates directly he would appear to be emulating Christ's own directness when he declared himself a God-Man with the words."22 In contrast to Judaism. We would expect him consequently to write and speak in his own name. or indeed Arianism and Deism.

but I interpret this. In the modern age on the whole . his sins absolved. the error is a different one and far more dangerous. . like a man standing on top of a tower who holds himself back for fear that some demonic impulse in him might hurl him to destruction. manifested. far more direct in its simplicity than the profound dicta of the professor."27 One moment. that is to say. The Dane doth protest too much! He is constantly putting himself in check." muses Kierkegaard. then. Hence it is that they vainly conceive of Christianity simply as direct communication.26 / C O N F R O N T A T I O N S WITH TRADITION direct address. Gregor Malantschuk interprets Kierkegaard's dramatic vacillations at this time as an indication that his melancholy." But this hopeful horizon soon clouded over and doubts returned. the way seemed at last clear for "direct communication. . My concealment and reserve are broken—I am free to speak. and the veto against "realizing the universal" lifted. with the primary aberration of Christendom: In the first ages of Christendom . not surprisingly. "in the forgiveness of sin. cast Him out and taken possession of His teaching. he actually used these 1848 works to embark on a full-scale repudiation of direct address as a presumptuous mediation of the Divine and the human! This authorial presumption of direct communication Kierkegaard now equates. almost regarding Him at last as one does an anonymous author—the doctrine is the principal thing. By force of lecturing they have transformed the GodMan into that speculative unity of God and man sub specie aeterni. the next. Indeed. the Knight of Faith dons his evangelical armor and prepares for the fray of direct confrontation. I believe. of any gesture to unite the Divine and the human—with the exception of Jesus Christ—would seem to betray a repressed inner fantasy in Kierkegaard to do just that. the error with regard to the God-Man took one or another of two forms: either that of eliminating the qualification God (Ebionitism). which until then stood in the way of his . as before. in the nullpresent medium of pure being.25 Kierkegaard's revision of his Easter decision to adopt the authorial mode of direct communication must. . "I do believe. be understood as an act of self-censorship. he charily retires into the closet of pseudonymity."26 With his melancholy dissipated. in these pseudonymous works. to mean that I must bear my punishment of remaining in this painful prison of reserve all my life. whereas in truth the God-Man is the unity of God and an individual man in an actual historical situation. Great God grant me grace. in a more profound sense of being separated from the company of other men. Kierkegaard's sustained debunking. He not only withheld his own signature from the two major works on the theme of the God-Man {SD and TC). or else they have simply done away with Christ. or that of eliminating the qualification man (Gnosticism). . To recap: Several days after his 1848 Pascal conversion Kierkegaard recorded the following entry in his Journal: "My whole nature is changed. is the whole thing.

Up to this point. succumb to a "prophetic" compulsion in himself to "reform and awaken the whole world.The Poetics of Authorship / 27 accepting the forgiveness of sins. Anti-Climacus. On the one hand. such a decision strikes him as symptomatic of a. forcing myself almost demoniacally to be stronger than I am. Now I shall rest and remain quieter.28 In yet another Journal entry of this time."30 Faced with this dilemma. In another Journal entry."29 The peremptory impulse to "speak out" is. Why? I think the motivation is primarily ethical: a determination to acknowledge a limit to his personal fantasy of the God-Man as a possibility for himself in his own lifetime. "demoniacal" and "pompous desire to exalt myself. instead of one's own self. whether to speak out or remain silent. were less Christian than he adjudged himself to be. Soren Kierkegaard. Now he opts for a pseudonym designed to be more Christian than himself. Now it matters less when the other books appear (and the thing about my authorship shall not appear at all) for there is no longer any question of the power of a single blow. and that this accounts for the enigmatic fact that Kierkegaard. returns in the published writings of this year to the indirect strategy of pseudonyms. but he will do so indirectly under the new pseudonym of Anti-Climacus. TCy and PV simultaneously and in his own name. Kierkegaard expands on the significance of this strategy: Sickness unto Death has appeared under a pseudonym and to that extent there is an end to the unhappy torture of putting too great a strain upon myself by undertaking the task which is too great for me: of wishing to publish the whole thing at once and including the part about my work as an author. as editor of both TC and SD while crediting his new pseudonym. is only partially overcome by the Easter conversion. revoked by a counter-decision to "remain silent. despite his initial determination to speak directly.31 The pseudonym of Anti-Climacus is new not only in name but in conception. . Kierkegaard offers an informative view of his post-Pascal dilemma." On the other hand. so that "with the power of a single blow" he might "cast [himself] into the arms of God. He adopts the ploy of acknowledging himself. thereby. as author of these separately published works. He contends that The Point of View for My Work as an Author (also written in 1848) was withheld from publication because Kierkegaard considered its confessional disclosures too direct. Kierkegaard used pseudonyms who. and at the same time in desperation putting a match to established Christendom. . Anti-Climacus . consequently. by his own admission." In this same entry he goes on to concede that although Training in Christianity is very important to him "personally. Kierkegaard strikes a compromise: He will indeed communicate by making public his works (at least two of them immediately). Kierkegaard resolves to publish SD." it doesn't necessarily follow that he should "make it public" and.




might be seen as a poetical persona who, being higher than Kierkegaard, exemplifies the desire for martyrdom and messianic atonement which Kierkegaard deems too elevated a role for him personally, as a living, historical, ethical being. "I would place myself higher than Johannes Climacus," Kierkegaard admits accordingly, "but lower than Anti-Climacus."32 So, he proceeds to define Anti-Climacus as an "extraordinary Christian such as there has never been,' setting his paradigm of apostleship at the safe distance of an unattainable ideal. The dialectical transition from Climacus to Anti-Climacus means that "there is something lower (the aesthetic) which is pseudonymous and something higher, which is also pseudonymous because my personality does not correspond to it."33 In other words, pseudonymity becomes the preserve not just of the inferior aesthetic stage but also of the superior religious stage, both of which, it is now felt, need to be resisted by the ethical phase of real experience, lest Kierkegaard fall into self-idolatry. This question of the relationship between the pseudonymous personae— aesthetic and religious—and Kierkegaard's ethical personality is crucial here. For example, Kierkegaard expresses an ambiguous attitude to his new pseudonym when he confesses that while TC "is very important to me personally" it does "not correspond to my personality." He concludes this protean deliberation on his authorship as both self and other, identical yet different, by endorsing the publication of TC and SD under the pseudonym of Anti-Climacus (as alternative to the extremes of direct communication and silence) and by reversing his decision to publish The Point of View with the tell-tale caveat: "No, nothing about my personality as an author"34 To ascertain the reasons for this ambivalence, we need only glance at the opening passages of the withheld The Point of View for My Work as an Author: In my career as an author a point has been reached where it is permissible to do what I feel a strong impulse to do and so regard as my duty—namely to explain once and for all as directly and frankly as possible what is what: what I as an author declare myself to be. The moment is now appropriate. . . . There is a time to be silent and a time to speak.35 It is evident that Kierkegaard finally judged this work to be altogether too frank for his own good; that is, too much of a self-glorification of his own personality as an author, to the point where it might risk idolatrous identification with the "I am Truth" revelation of the God-Man. Hence the cautionary sidestep of self-rebuke recorded in his Journal: "Humility is exactly what I need."36 Without humility, the will to power of his own personality risked elevating the real self to the point of fusion with the ideal self. Confusion of personality and persona is a recipe for self-apotheosis. Discretion is thus prescribed as an ethical antidote to the temptations of direct communication. This point merits elaboration. The subtitle for The Point of View was A Direct Communication, and Kierkegaard's original intention in writing this work

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was to bring the story of his indirect pseudonyms to some sort of dialectical mediation, to a point where his true, if hitherto concealed, vocation as an apostolic author might finally be revealed in the Aufhebung of a "new immediacy." He intended this "new immediacy" as a sacred "repetition" achieved by an "ideal Christian," who might miraculously overcome the apparently irreconcilable viewpoints of the pseudonyms and speak out directly on authority received directly from God! 37 If, however, one cannot claim the privilege of such a revealed authority, which alone could vindicate one's attempt to reconcile the divisions in oneself (between finite and infinite, human and divine), then direct communication must be rejected. It must be denounced as indulgent self-promotion of one's own personality qua genius. Kierkegaard's final decision not to publish The Point of Viewy precisely because of its directness, means he experienced a deep uncertainty about the "religious" nature of his Easter revelation. As he makes clear in his Journal: "What is indirect is to place dialectical contrasts together— and then not one word concerning [the author's] personal understanding— what is more indulgent in the direct communication is that there is in the communication a craving to be personally understood." 38 In short, having divided himself from himself through the poetical use of pseudonyms, Kierkegaard seems to have struck upon the equally poetical solution of the category of the "author" in The Point of View as a possibility of attaining a new, higher, and dialectically reconciled self. This ideal synthesis of his divided selves (real and pseudonymous) qua author is clearly expressed in the following Journal passage: If anything should be said about my work as an author, it could be done in such a way that a third person is formed, the author; who would be a synthesis of myself and the pseudonym, and he would speak directly about it. Then only an introduction would be needed in which this author would be introduced, and then he should say everything in the first person. The introduction would point out that the whole authorship was a unity; but I would not be the pseudonym nor the pseudonym I: therefore, this "author" would be a synthesis of the pseudonym and me. 39 However, this ideal of a dialectically reappropriated self seems, in the final analysis, to have represented too much of a temptation to apotheosize the self by presuming to absolve himself from his own divided nature—that is, to deny his fundamental fallenness, registered in ethical and religious experience, by having recourse to yet another poetical persona. The risk was that a poetics of authorship would again undermine the authority of God and the Good. It would, it was feared, elevate the author to the quasi-divine position of synthesis between the finite and the infinite. It would, in short, subsume the real man (Kierkegaard) into an ideal God-Man. Hence Kierkegaard's decision to say nothing about his personality as an author, refusing to publish The Point of View.




What Kierkegaard appears to have most feared at this time was, finally, his own "strong impulse" to portray himself as an extra-ordinar ius—a sacred martyr elected by God as prophet for his age. Kierkegaard describes the extraordinarius as that unique individual who rises above the common ranks {extra-ordinem) of the crowd, striving to become, through imitation of Christ, one with the God-Man. The extraordinarius follows the dialectic of the salvator mundi by identifying with Christ, whom he feels "especially chosen" to "imitate" {efterfolge) in terms of a sacred "likeness" (ligheden). In several passages in The Point of View, Kierkegaard wrote that he himself had been singled out by God as a redemptive martyr who must speak out in order to challenge and ultimately reform the crowd: The thought goes very far back in my recollection that in every generation there are two or three who are sacrificed for the others, are led by frightful sufferings to discover what redounds to the good of others. So it was that. . . I understood myself as singled out for such a fate.40 . . . I have been conscious of being under instruction, and that from the very first. The process is this: a poetic and philosophic nature is put aside in order to become a Christian. . . . It is Governance that has educated me.41 . . . By obliging a man to take notice I achieve the aim of obliging him to judge. . . . Compelling people to take notice and to judge is the characteristic of genuine martyrdom. A genuine martyr never used his might but strove by the aid of impotence. He compelled people to take notice. God knows, they took notice—they put him to death. But with that he was content. 42 Such passages are even more revealing when we recall Kierkegaard's belief, expressed in several Journal entries, that he would die, like Christ before him, in his mid-thirties, and when we remember, furthermore, that 1848, the year in which these passages from PV were written, was the thirty-fifth year of Kierkegaard's life. The following Journal extracts are highly revealing in this regard: As a result of all my inner suffering, my own superiority and the treatment I have suffered, I was brought to the point at which it almost seemed that I myself was a providence to arrange an awakening.43 . . . C h r i s t . . . as GodMan did not outlive his thirty-fourth year. If being a Christian in the strictest sense of the word is to be endured from childhood up and is continued strictly without developing into any kind of deception, such a man can hardly live to more than thirty-four.44 Kierkegaard's desire to cast himself in the role of an extraordinarius who emulates the martyred Christ is also evidenced on several occasions in Training in Christianity (which he did decide to publish). But there is a fundamental difference between the "viewpoints" adopted in this published work and the unpublished Point of View. Here the author reverts to the practice of indirect communication as the only authentic mode of apostolic address. Not only does

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Kierkegaard sign the work with the pseudonym of the "ideal Christian," AntiClimacus, but he reminds us throughout that Christ himself deployed the mode of indirect address for most of his life. Thus, while at one level Kierkegaard's return to the pseudonymous constraints of indirect address can be interpreted as a way of humbly distancing himself from the immediacy of apostolic witness, at another level it can be read in the contrary sense as yet another ingenious poetical ploy to reidentify himself with the vocation of the God-Man (by redeploying Christ's own indirect mode of communication). Unlike his contemporaries in speculative Christendom, who had reduced Christianity to the "inoffensive" formulae of direct communication, Kierkegaard maintains throughout TC that directness is impossible for the true God-Man, who must go "incognito." Even when Christ seemed to speak directly, Kierkegaard now contends (revising his earlier conviction that Christ and the apostles did speak out directly), his listeners perceived it indirectly. How could they have done otherwise, confronted as they were with the living and "offensive" contradiction of God as Man? In addition, this inevitability of "indirection" was nothing less than an authorial strategy employed by the Messiah to allow his contemporaries the ultimate choice of faith or offense.45 That Kierkegaard saw himself using this same method of indirection in his pseudonym of Anti-Climacus as a "reduplication" of himself—or what he termed a "communication by double reflection"—is certainly suggested by the following passage from TC: Whenever it is the case that the teacher [the lower-case "t" indicates that the author is speaking of himself] is essentially involved in the teaching there is a reduplication, the communication is far from being the direct. . . communication of a professor [the author here seems to be alluding to Hegel]; being reduplicated in the teacher by the fact that he exists in what he teaches, it is in manifold ways a discriminating art. And now when the Teacher [the upper case "T" here indicates that the author is speaking of Christ] who is inseparable from and more essential than, the teaching, is also paradox, all direct communication is impossible.46 These reflections touch the core of Kierkegaard's poetics of pseudonymity. In refuting the Idealist path to the God-Man as a blasphemous attempt to mediate paradox in direct communication, Kierkegaard hits upon an opposite way of identifying with the God-Man by actually recreating paradox in and through indirect communication. At certain points in TC one suspects that the identity of Kierkegaard's own pseudonym momentarily converges with that of Christ: Christ would fain have been recognizable directly for the extraordinary figure he was, but that the contemporary age by reason of its blindness and iniquity would not understand him . . . He is love and yet every instant He exists he must crucify as it were all human compassion and solicitude—for He can only be the object of faith. But everything that goes by the name of




human sympathy has to do with direct recognizability so this is what it comes to . . . responsibility.47 It is very probable that Kierkegaard is here comparing Christ's maieutic assumption of an "indirect incognito," vis-a-vis his disciples, with his own similar attitude to Regina, his fiancee. Like Christ's disciples, Regina reacted with too much "spontaneity," "sympathy," and "immediateness" to the extraordinarius before her (Kierkegaard himself). And so, finding himself in an exposed position of "direct recognizableness" vis-a-vis Regina, Kierkegaard felt convinced that a preemptive "divine veto" had been levied on his marriage. He felt it incumbent upon him, accordingly, to communicate to her only indirectly, as Christ had done, thus presenting his beloved with the possibility of the offense. He broke off the engagement and transformed himself from passionate suitor to dispassionate ascetic. If Regina withstood the "trial" of indirection and continued to have "faith" in him, she would prove her love for him (rather than for some aesthetic projection of her own imagination). 48 This tortuous dialectic of the extraordinarius incognito, which epitomizes Kierkegaard's ambiguous attitude to the category of the God-Man, is even more explicit in On Authority and Revelation, a work begun in 1846 and revised after the Easter conversion of 1848, with the author interpolating a third explanatory preface and appending a postscript. It is most revealing that the theme of this work—which focuses on the clash between a self-proclaimed prophet-martyr named Adler, who claims to have direct revelation from God, and the counter-claims of church authority—should have so dramatically commanded Kierkegaard's attention just after his own ostensible "revelation." In the 1848 preface to this work, Kierkegaard speaks in an unprecedented fashion of Christianity's power to solve the problems of the age (to resolve the contradictions of historical time which he had hitherto strenuously denied). He goes so far as to impute to Christianity the ability to explain the indecipherable riddle of our existence as a paradoxical tension between timelessness and time. Not only does Kierkegaard come close here to an Idealist equation of God's logos with human logic—affirming the possibility of a uniquely Christian understanding which could resolve paradoxes—he moves even closer to such blasphemous equation in his talk of the martyrdom of the extraordinarius: "And this sacrifice is the sacrifice of obedience, the obedient man who offers himself as a sacrifice is the martyr; for not everyone who is put to death is a martyr."49 This strange melange of Pelagian presumption and anti-Pelagian obedience characterizes Kierkegaard's treatment of Adler and finds an interesting elaboration in the following passage from this work: When the individual is the true extraordinarius and really has a new starting point, when he understands his life's pressing difficulties in the discrimen between the universal [a term used ambiguously in this work to refer to both the crowd and the authority of the orthodox church] and the individu-

" whose "outcry" flouted the revelation of tradition. believed himself to be the chosen recipient of a revelation. Only after such scrupulous reflection might the extraordinarius ultimately find himself in a position to determine whether he is a "mere confused genius" or a genuine apostle existing on a "qualitatively higher and transcendent level. . like the Kierkegaard of the 1848 conversion. "I must speak. But one cannot dispense with the suspicion that it also refers to more contemporary versions of "filial response" to a divine call— the response of Adler and Kierkegaard himself. however. Kierkegaard finally denounces him as a "confused genius. Adler's own initial reaction was. Kierkegaard's overall assessment of the Adler case is profoundly confused on several key issues: 1) as to his own position in relation to Adler. Kierkegaard has stressed inwardness and indirection: Adler is direct and outer. The suspicion is that this is precisely how Kierkegaard ultimately considered his own position after the 1848 enthusiasm. Kierkegaard adds that Adler should have deliberated more upon the precise significance of his revelation and resisted—as Kierkegaard himself did in suppressing The Point of View—his own "strong impulse" to speak out prematurely in defiance of authority. an external embodiment of many of his own covert desires and fantasies. 2) as to both of their positions in relation to apostolic authority. In what seems like a subtle form of self-chastisement. . .The Poetics of Authorship I 33 ally extraordinem. Concerning the first.51 It is probable that for Kierkegaard Adler serves as alter-ego. just at that time when Soren Kierkegaard seems to be tending in this direction himself"52 Adler. Despite the tone of juridical severity. Kierkegaard concludes that Adler should have "remained silent. Kierkegaard condemns Adler for "actually . suppressing any personal compulsion to communicate it directly. Abraham."54 This Adler did not do. and 3) as to the relation of such authority to the category of the God-Man. so shall or ought the individual be bound by piety towards the universal. and of course the Christian Son of God." Unlike Kierkegaard. Adler did communicate directly. thereby disputing the universal authority of the Church in the name of his individual revelation. openly claiming what Kierkegaard had hitherto said must be kept in secret and all the while Soren Kierkegaard has been gaining momentum toward revealing himself directly. he must be unconditionally recognized for the fact that he is willing to make sacrifices.50 This definition of the individual's obedience and responsibility as filial bond with the father recalls the biblical paradigms of Job. In similar fashion."53 If an "extraordinary" individual does receive a revelation he is obliged to acknowledge in fear and trembling his immense responsibility. Although betraying at times a certain empathy with Adler's "apostolic" resolve to communicate directly. As a son is bound by filial piety. As Frederik Sontag has observed: "Along comes Adler. and Kierkegaard leaves us in no doubt that he considers Adler a misguided man who confounded religious inspiration with aesthetic projection.

saying Adler was a confused genius. could exist on a "qualitatively different" plane to man. while at another he holds that the apostle also exists on a qualitatively different plane to the genius. Kierkegaard restores his threefold priority of life-stages. indirectly. and on the other. 56 In short. Kierkegaard categorically denies that either he or Adler had "any authority" as putative recipients of revelation. concerning the third confusion.34 / C O N F R O N T A T I O N S WITH T R A D I T I O N reaching the point of identifying himself with Christ. CONCLUSION The entire "communication" dilemma which arose in the wake of the Easter conversion (whether to speak directly. beholding the presumption of this selfproclaimed martyr. indeed. ever fully resolved? Such a question. My hypothesis is that Adler served as a corrective to his own urge to become one with the God-Man in sacrificial martyrdom. In some passages we find Kierkegaard saying he must speak out in a direct assault on Christendom. remains a riddle of hermeneutic imagination. and yet he not only proceeds (albeit with disclaimers) to invoke the authority of the orthodox church against Adler. if refracted. incapable of critical reflection. Concerning the second." and yet he is perfectly aware that this is one of the logical conclusions of his own impulses at this time. with the whisper of an ancient prayer upon his lips—"There but for the grace of God go I"?58 Having glimpsed his own ambition in the mirror of Adler. Adler was indubitably one of those extraordinary i who actually rose so far above the ordinariness of the crowd that he perceived himself as identical with the God-Man. Kierkegaard proclaims at one moment that only Christ. His aesthetic ambition to play the role of salvator mundi led to idolatrous conflation with the messianic role of Christ. to silent self-denial before the authority of the "fundamental principles themselves. Perhaps Kierkegaard. in others. we see him revoking this position. He subjects the aesthetic self of Promethean apotheosis to the demands of an ethical and religious self committed to some authority beyond the self. as the one true God-Man. Kierkegaard's confusion about Adler is an accurate. But the question remains: Does Kierkegaard really believe his own belief? Is the struggle between authorship and authority."57 The ultimate significance of Kierkegaard's dialectically shifting attitude to Adler—like most of his attitudes expressed in 1848—remains equivocal. endorsing a return to indirect communication or. I suggest. IV. mirroring of his confusion about himself. or remain silent) is a central point of contention in On Authority and Revelation."^ Finally. vacillated in fear and trembling. but he even contradicts himself in his reasons for such a denunciation of Adler—on the one hand.59 . between poetics and religion. that "he was ensnared in too much reflection.

borrowing the distinction between Heidegger I and II (outlined by W. The existential analytic of Being and Time will serve to represent the position of the first Heidegger. Heidegger's understanding of this notion may be 35 . if largely overlooked. terms of the hermeneutic analysis of Being and Time.1 But what precisely does Heidegger mean by the possible? And to what extent can a reinterpretation of the traditional meaning of this term contribute to the task of going beyond metaphysics in favor of a new poetics of being? More specifically. His understanding of this term alters and develops in tandem with the overall movement of his thought. I would say that the "turning" {Kehre) from the early to the late Heidegger in the thirties is evinced in a parallel "turn" in his thinking of the possible. Thus. From the point of view of a post-metaphysical ontology—of which Being and Time is a primary example— the possible is to be considered "higher" than the actual. Richardson in Heidegger: From Phenomenology to Thought and approved by Heidegger in an introduction to this work). This turning takes the form of a movement from an understanding of the possible as a mode of human Dasein (Heidegger I) to an understanding of the possible as a mode of Being itself (Heidegger II). while the "Letter on Humanism" will represent his later. HEIDEGGER I AND THE POSSIBLE The possible is one of the operative. Martin Heidegger announces his project of "overcoming" metaphysics. One of the aims of this hermeneutic project is to open up a more fundamental relation to being by dismantling the traditional priority of actuality over possibility. more "poetical" thinking. how might such a hermeneutic move help to observe Holderlin's call to "dwell poetically on this earth"? The "possible" is not an unequivocal notion in Heidegger's philosophy.J.3 Heidegger's Poetics of the Possible In the introduction to Being and Time (1927).

Hermeneutically considered. As temporalizing projection (what Kant called productive imagination). Aristotle accorded an absolute privilege to act (entelecheia) vis-a-vis potency (dunamis). But if Dasein is its possibilities. But I am running ahead of myself. It traces the path of a poetics of possibility. Heidegger sees the possible (das Mbgliche) as the transcendental horizon of Dasein. 2) Seinkonnen (potentiality-tobe). 3) Ermoglichen (to render possible). Hermeneutic phenomenology enables us to make this interpretative structure more explicit and invites us to overcome the traditional metaphysical priority of presence over possibility. and medieval thought designated the Divine Being as a pure and eternal Actus over and above all transitory and material potential Hence Aquinas' definition of God in the Summa: Deus est actus purus non habens aliquid de potentialitate. Each expresses a specific aspect of Dasein as a being-in-the-world. I must follow Heidegger's threefold thinking on the possible in the hermeneutic context of a "preparatory analytic of Dasein. understood as a temporalizing-schematizing projection in . Why? Because it discloses our being as a Dasein which exists beyond itself. Heidegger maintains that hermeneutic phenomenology enables us to consider our being as a possibility rather than a simple actuality. I discover myself as being in time: a Dasein continually moving beyond my actual givenness toward my presently absent possibilities. finished by reducing it to mere represented possibilitas in the mind of a God perfectly actualized in his own Being. which the later Heidegger will attempt to refocus in the light of a poetic thinking of Being as Being (Sein als Sein)." following Heidegger's reading in Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics discussed in my opening chapter. argues Heidegger. Authentic existence. and I read Dasein here as a synonym for those temporalizing and synthesizing functions of the "transcendental imagination.36 / CONFRONTATIONS WITH TRADITION seen as threefold: 1) Moglichkeit (possibility)." 1. By contrast. is that which inteprets itself as possibility rather than as presence. Dasein is another word for productive imagination— refigured in the light of hermeneutic ontology.2 This manner of interpretation goes against the mainstream of metaphysics. First. as Heidegger claims. who appeared to vindicate the possible in some measure.4 Even Leibniz. being is no longer reducible to a simple presence—whether this be the Idealist notion of a subject present to itself or the realist notion of an object give to us in substantive presence. forever projecting itself into the temporal horizons of past and future. Its very structure is that of hermeneutic imagination. MOGLICHKEIT (POSSIBILITY) In Being and Time Heidegger argues that human being is neither a wordless subject nor an object among others but a being-in-the-world. this means that it is a being that is always interpreting itself in the light of its possibilities.

it ignored the very Being (Sein) of this being-present. Heidegger can thus conclude that Being-there (Da-Sein) is my existence as possibility. as an absence which possibilizes our being-present. The possible is the horizon of the world. But Heidegger extends Kant's category of temporality beyond individual history {Geschichtlicheit) to include the history of humankind (Geschichte). Gegenstand. like Dasein.8 If Heidegger maintains that an understanding of Moglichkeit is the ground of our existence. In both instances. he describes it as both actuality and possibility.6 By redefining our way of being-in-the-world (in der-Welt-sein) as possibility.Heidegger's Poetics of the Possible I 37 the mold of Kant's transcendental imagination. Heidegger argues that because traditional metaphysics treated the human subject solely in terms of the presence of its being (Seiende). in contrast to classical metaphysics. thereby masking its authentic role as the condition of presence. There is only one world which.5 And so. we are concerned with an openness to time which extends the present toward the possible worlds of past and future." or "ontical" possibilities." "factical". Vorhandenheit. etc. Heidegger proposes a more "fundamental" ontology that will reveal time as a horizon of possibilities which grounds the present.9 In short. are inauthentic insofar as they interpret the possible on the basis of presence. my interpretation of myself as "thrown" (geworfen) into this world is only meaningful on the basis of my understanding of myself as a being who is always "projected" (ent-werfen) toward the world as possibility. Gegenwartigung. is both actual and possible. This Being of being reveals itself as the non-present possibility of Dasein. both present and future. Possibility is that world-horizon toward which (woraufhin) I direct myself in the temporalizing transcendence which alone gives meaning and value to my actual world. The very "meaning" (Bedeutung) of my thrownness (Geworfenheit) and facticity (Faktizitat) as a being who actually exists can only be interpreted from the more fundamental perspective of possibility. and the world is the horizon of Dasein. I am a being-there who has been "thrown" into existence and who can do nothing to alter this fact. stressing the fact that the latter is the site of the former. More exactly. All "logical. This does not mean we inhabit two worlds. 7 Heidegger does not suggest that human existence is only possibility. Possibility is inauthentic when it is interpreted as a state of objectifiable givenness (Seiende als Vorhandenheit) rather than as the "Being" of our beingpresent. he does not deny that such understanding may sometimes be inauthentic. Heidegger intends to "overcome" the standard metaphysical definitions of existence in terms of presence: ousia> existentia> substantial res cogitans. which since Aristotle viewed time as an addition of punctual moments. "existential. as Heidegger reminds us in Being and Time. Time is an "ex-static" horizon of possibilities into which I step when I step outside of (ex-stasis) my actual existence. In other words. possibility is authentic when it is understood .

the possibility of being-no-longer-able-to-be (das Moglichkeit der Nicht-mehr-Dasein-konnens)}1 . This hermeneutic disclosure fills us with anguish (Angst): we realize that our sovereign limiting possibility is the possibility of death. In order to live my "being toward death" authentically I must live it as my own. those possibilities that are acknowledged as ownmost {eigenst) modalities of our being-in-the-world. I am only authentically free.e. Heidegger concludes that the horizon of our world—be it the Umwelt of serviceable and referential objects (Dienlichkeit and Verweisungsganzheii) or the Mitwelt of interrelating subjects (Miteinandersein) — is finite. i. Heidegger defines us. it cannot belong to another. as temporalizing beings always transcending the present toward the possibility of the future.38 / CONFRONTATIONS WITH TRADITION as an expression of the Sein of our existence and inauthentic when it is understood as an expression of our existence as Seiende. Death is the possibility which it is impossible to go beyond. Death represents the finitude of my temporalization.e. I am free to the extent that I experience my life as possibility. I begin to exist authentically. The disclosure of the temporalizing horizon of possibility that grounds our existence makes us respond to the past which shapes us and the future which calls us. The "They" protects its subscribers from the responsibility of having to choose their current manner of existence from a host of possibilities. when I experience my death as my ultimate possibility. This is a task of hermeneutic imagination. This horizon is normally covered over by the anonymous "They" (Das Man). as an individual over and against the collective "They. It is the fundamental project which founds all other projects. i. The "They" hides the possible because it threatens to expose the mediocrity and inertia of daily life. the end of my time. But the openness of the future is not infinite. the end of all our possibilities. The horizon of our existence is a hermeneutic imagining which leads to an open future.10 Heidegger goes further.. it terminates in death. He states that our inauthentic possibilities only have "meaning" to the extent that they are recognized as utlimately "grounded" in our authentic {eigentlich) possibilities. therefore. as soon as I unveil the hermeneutic horizon of possibilities which gives my life-world significance. I experience the possibility of the impossibility (Unmoglichkeit) of my existence. however. the impossibility of further possibility. shatters this myth of anonymous assurance and compels each individual to face up to their responsibility. which compels past and future to conform to the straitjacket of an insular present.. and ultimately toward our most future possibility. as an entity of ontic givenness." In authentically experiencing death as my supreme project. The discovery of the possible. It assures us that all is well and could not be otherwise. Death is our ultimate possibility. death. To acknowledge death as the supreme project of my existence is to discover that the world is always "mine" insofar as it is a horizon of possibilities limited by my death. accordingly. which alone renders our lives authentic. It isolates the immediate from the unsettling dimensions of past and future.

Moglichkeiten can refer to both the "possibilities" of things (cultural. 2. We can only project ourselves because we have the potentiality to do so. outlined above. but. consciously project many possibilities that we simply don't have the potentiality to be—for example. SEINKONNEN In addition to Moglichkeit. may be either authentic or inau then tic. Heidegger employs two other key terms in Being and Time to express his interpretation of the possible—Seinkonnen. This hermeneutic task sketched out by Heidegger. of possibilizing. its potentiality-to-be is constant.12 More exactly. 14 If Moglichkeiten are the temporal projects of Dasein. or the power of rendering possible. linguistic. even though we are invariably potentiality-for-being-toward-death we are not always aware of this as our sovereign project. as Heidegger does. And every projection is a projection of the possible to the extent that it is a surpassing of the present. i. Moglichkeit in Being and Time represents a post-metaphysical understanding of the possible that shatters the notion of being as solid and substantial selfpresence. confronts the self with the limit of its own possibility in death.Heidegger's Poetics of the Possible I 39 Death is the end {Umwillenl Umzu) of all my possibilities. I must first be a being who is able to be. To be able to project what is able to be. It is the sine qua non of every projection of possibility. Seinkonnen is Dasein's prerequisite power of temporalization. at this point of the analysis. it is clear that Moglichkeit cannot be understood as the represented possibilitas or immanent potentia of some being considered as presence. to he our possibilities. for example. that Dasein exists as possibility is to presuppose that Dasein can exist as potentiality-for-being. Thus. Seinkonnen is attributable to human existence alone. while the "possibilities" of Dasein may be said to be variable. Seinkonnen means that we are able to reach out toward the possible. the possibility of being a bird that flies or a god that does not die. for instance. I am a being who is always transcending myself toward my possibility because I am a being who marks time. it appears to slip back into transcendental solipsism rather than opening the self toward an ethics of responsibility to one's fellow humans. our comprehension or realization of possibilities issues from our potentiality-to-be comprehension. We may. or realization. Nevertheless. Metaphysics hid the truth of being in hiding this fundamental liaison between being and time. This is a crucial lacuna.. translated by Macquarrie and Robinson as "potentiality-for-being. It is on the basis of this distinction between two modes of living the possible that Heidegger speaks of a . To say." and Ermoglichen. or perceptual objects) and of human existence. Seinkonnenf like Moglichkeit.13 Whereas.e. Contrariwise. Potentiality-for-being {Seinkonnen) signifies Dasein's ability to project in the first place. exposing it to the temporalizing projects of transcendental imagination. technical.

or feels anguished. guilty. Understood as a refiguration of transcendental imagination. of profound importance for the subsequent development of Heidegger's thought.19 Heidegger concludes: "The certain possibility of death discloses Dasein as a possibility. are ultimately derivative of our ownmost potentiality-for-being-toward-death. . To recognize our Ganzseinkonnen thus is to gainsay the prefabricated opinions of the crowd {Das Man).18 All the other potentialities-for-being."16 To interpret death as sovereign possibility is to recognize Dasein as our potentiaiity-for-Being-in-its-totality (Ganzseinkonnen). which is at once our Ganzseinkonnen and our Selbstseinkonnen. this is the activity by which Dasein deploys itself as possibility. which in turn totalizes and individualizes all other Seinkonnen. such as the potentiality to be someone who works. Seinkonnen. at several junctures during the concluding chapters of BT. and being toward this possibility discloses to Dasein its ownmost potentialityfor-being [Seinkonnen eigenst]. in anticipating this possibility. a Woraufhin which for its part "renders possible" {ermoglicht) all of Dasein's projects. Death is Dasein's ownmost possibility [Moglichkeit]. .15 As Heidegger puts it: "Being-toward-death is the anticipation of a potentiality-for-being of that entity whose kind of Being is anticipation itself. I cite in German. speaks. composed. from among the possibilities of our horizon. as this dual meaning is lost in translation: "Das .40 / CONFRONTATIONS WITH TRADITION conscience (Gewissen) that calls each of us to choose. the verb ermoglichen." is used to designate the most fundamental existential activity of Dasein. nonetheless. Death is the potentiality-to-be one's whole self. Heidegger defines the "meaning" [Sinn) of Dasein as "that onto which" (Woraufhin) Dasein projects itself. . the singular possibility of interpreting ourself as a potentiality-for-being-toward-death. that potentiality-for-being-one's-self denied us by the crowd. Heidegger seems to suggest that the subject of the verb ermoglichen may be other than Dasein itself. or to the illusion of a permanent undying "presence."17 To recognize our Ganzseinkonnen is to simultaneously recognize our Selbstseinkonnen. meaning to "make or render possible. However. and the third key term for the possible in BT—ermoglichen. which focus on only one part of ourselves in reducing us to what we are exclusively now in the present. for example. Dasein possibilizes [ermoglicht] this possibility [Moglichkeiten] for itself as its ownmost potentialityfor-being [Seinkonnen]"7** 3. This interpretation of our being in its totality presupposes that we acknowledge ourselves as temporal exstases stretched between past and future. In this and other passages. but does so only in such a way that. In section 65. ERMOGLICHEN The last quotation underlies the difference between Moglichkeit. This enigmatic switch of subject is scarcely perceptible but is.

Hence the ecstatical projection of Being must be made possible [ermoglicht] by some primordial way in which . solipsistic circle. Macquarrie and Robinson offer the following translation of this crucial passage: "To lay bare the 'upon-which' of a projection."21 This sentence is ambiguous in that das Entworfene (what is projected) may be understood as subject or object of the verb ermoglicht." The translators' ostensible choice of the second of the meanings is in line with my suggestion that the general movement of Heidegger's treatment of the possible in BT is progressively away from a metaphysical interpretation. which would see the possible as an immanent dimension of beings (potentia or possibilitas) toward a post-metaphysical or "poetical" hermeneutics that recognizes possibility as emerging from Being itself (Sein). besagt. amounts to disclosing that which makes possible what has been projected. which "renders possible" both our history and our interpretation of history.25 He identifies this quiet power of the possible with the futural "toward-which" of all our temporal projections. If das Entworfene is object of the verb. . as we know from Heidegger's later writings. The sentences following Heidegger's enigmatic phrase appear to confirm this reading: "What has been projected is the Being of Dasein. das erschliessen. That upon which [Woraufhin] the Being which has been disclosed and is thus constituted has been projected is that which makes possible this constitution of Being as care. the "rendering possible" of Dasein constitutes a self-projecting. Dasein may never be without Being. is rendered possible by the 'Being* of Dasein [die Zeitlichkeit.Heidegger's Poetics of the Possible I 41 Woraufhin eines Entwurfs freilegen. however. was das Entworfene ermoglicht. In this case. Moreover."23 Is there not here the suggestion that the "Being of Dasein" (Being underlined by Heidegger himself) that "renders possible" temporality refers ultimately to "Being in general. in which Heidegger suggests that the fact that "temporality . when he mentions "the quiet power of the possible" (die stille Krafte des Moglichen). it would seem that the Woraufhin which "renders possible" Dasein's projection is something radically other than this projection itself. this circular manner of referring possibility to temporality and temporality to possibility confirms my hypothesis that it is ultimately Being itself that "renders possible" the projections of Dasein: "The existential-ontological constitution of Dasein's totality is grounded in temporality." which. and it is disclosed in what constitutes that Being as an authentic potentiality-for-Being-as-a-whole. If it is subject. is irreducible to Dasein? As Heidegger puts it elsewhere."22 Section 71 contains an equally puzzling passage. which renders beings possible in the first place. das Sein des Daseins ermoglicht] can only be genuinely understood on the basis of an understanding of the meaning of Being in general [Sinn des Seins uberhaupt] . the Woraufhin (that onto which Dasein projects itself) is nothing other than the projection of Dasein itself. . ."24 Heidegger corroborates this suggestion in section 76. "Whereas Being in general may be [west] without Dasein. . in the concluding sentences of Being and Time.

which are given only through a penetrating forward look that belongs to the essence of the will to power. I must refer briefly to Heidegger's allusions to "the possible" in two texts written between Being and Time and "Letter on Humanism". In a similar vein Heidegger interprets the notion of possibility in the third .42 / CONFRONTATIONS WITH TRADITION ecstatical temporality temporalizes. as in Being and Time. toward being as a Dasein whose temporaHzing "renders possible" Being {Sein) and. was understood on the basis of "readinessto-hand" {Zuhandenheit as the totality of the referential valorization. We recognize that just as the "worldhood of the world. the overall perspective of this work appears to be based more on Dasein—on the Being of human existence—than on Being itself (Sein als Sein). so our understanding of Seinkonnen led to ermoglichen. gives birth to itself. To summarize this analysis of the possible in Being and Time: If our understanding of Moglichkeit referred us to Seinkonnen. Heidegger interprets the notion of possibility as a horizontal projection of Dasein. But within the compass of Being and Time this reading remains no more than a suggestion. Heidegger cites the following sentence from Nietzsche's Will to Power (Aphorism 796): "The world. is primarily a value for Nietzsche. it is Being itself which "renders possible" the temporality of Dasein as a potentiality-for-being that projects its own possibilities. so also art as conceived by Nietzsche is a world of unfettered human valorizing. It unfolds as a horizon of valorizing human projection."28 It seems that here. like a work of art. ." in chapter 3 of BT. This movement from a nominal to a verbal notion of the possible reflects the progressive movement in Heidegger's thought. is "rendered possible" by it." Art. more remarkable still. Apropos of this reading. which goes beyond our given nature by appropriating other "possible" experiences. With his original analysis of the possible in Being and Time. Before concluding this part of my analysis."27 Art reveals the essence of all willing to be a perpetual selfcreation. away from being as a being-present (Seiende als Anivesenheit) who lives its possibilities only secondarily and accidentially. on the basis of which the will to power liberates itself for itself for the first time. the willing of more power: "A perspectival direction towards possibilities . The work of art constitutes a world of the possible. Heidegger has already taken a decisive step beyond a metaphysics of presence. How is this mode of the temporaHzing of temporality to be interpreted? Is there a way which leads from primordial time to the meaning of Being} Does time itself manifest itself as the horizon of Being?"26 The final suggestion would seem to be that it is Being which "renders possible" (ermoglicht) time. In art the "meaning" of the will to power is revealed as a valorizing projection of human imagination toward the possible. . Or more exactly. Nietzsches Wort: "Gott ist Tot" (a resume of lectures given between 1936 and 1940) contains a curious passage where Heidegger observes that for Nietzsche "the essence of art is the creation of possibilities for the will. of Dasein's projects). Heidegger comments. Verweisung.

This second disclosure was to be the prerogative of Heidegger II. As Heidegger makes quite clear in his introduction to Richardson's commentary.33 Heidegger I (Heidegger before the "turning") thus leads us to think being less as permanent subsistence and more as transcendental imagination's horizon of possibility. HEIDEGGER II AND THE POSSIBLE During the thirties there occurred the famous turning {Kehre) in Heidegger's thought. in the first edition of The Critique of Pure Reason. that we are dealing here with Heidegger's interpretation of Kant's theory of imagination. When Kant says that the human self is a being who temporalizes by "imaginatively" transcending the present toward the possible (i.e. Heidegger fully acknowledges Kant's insight into the temporalizing nature of the transcendental imagination as precursor to his own understanding of Dasein. the possible is that anticipative-projective structure {Vor-habe. Kant was so perturbed by the implications of this challenge that he suppressed his analysis of imagination as the temporalizing pass-over from presence to possibility in the second edition of the Critique. Heidegger himself is the first to concede this hermeneutic character of retrieval. But even if Heidegger I raises our understanding of Being from presence (Vorhandenheit) to possibility (Mbglichkeii). Now the possible is thought in terms of Being itself rather than of the Being of Dasein or transcendental imagination. The thought of Heidegger II is to . The possible is the temporal horizon of human imagination. 31 Kant's attempt to think being in terms of time. This turning is clearly manifest in his approach to the notion of the possible. for the first time in the history of metaphysics.. however. as noted above. Vor-stellung.Heidegger's Poetics of the Possible I 43 part of Kant und das Problem der Metaphysik (1929). his analysis of the possible emerges from his original disclosure of Dasein as temporalizing imagination rather than from a disclosure of Being as Being (Sein als Sein).32 Not until the publication of Being and Time some hundred and forty years later would this omission be redressed. presence in terms of possibility." With Kant the possible emerges. as we saw in the preceding chapter. was one of the earliest challenges to the traditional metaphysical claim that Being be understood as substance rather than temporality. there is no question here of a philosophical volte-face. which. permits the unity of understanding and sensibility. he is anticipating Heidegger's claim that Dasein gives itself a world by projecting itself temporally toward a transcendental horizon of possibility.30 For Kant. as for Heidegger in Being and Time. nonetheless. We must bear in mind. as the field of temporality. In short. Moreover. 29 Here he defines possibility as the auto-affective horizon of temporality grounded in the "transcendental imagination. Indeed. he does so largely within the perspective of transcendental subjectivity. But as Heidegger goes to great lengths to point out. the non-present horizon of the past and future). Vorbildung) that grounds human temporality.




be understood as a deepening of, rather than a deviation from, Heidegger I. Both say the same thing but from different perspectives. The possible which is thought about in each instance remains the same, the only difference being that in Heidegger II it is approached from the perspective of Being as Being rather than Being as being-there. This point will become clearer when I show how the later Heidegger's reading of Vermogen already exists in germinal form in the early Heidegger's notion of ermoglichen. The turning in Heidegger's thought on the possible is best expressed in the following passage from "Letter on Humanism" (1947): Being as the element is the "quiet power" of the loving potency [Vermogens], i.e. of the possible [des Moglichen]. Our words "possible" and "possibility" are, under the domination of "logic" and "metaphysics," taken only in contrast to "actuality," i.e. they are conceived with reference to a determined— viz. the metaphysical—interpretation of Being as actus and potentia, the distinction of which is identified with that of existentia and essentia. When I speak of the "quiet power of the possible," I do not mean the possible of a merely represented possibilitasy nor the potentia as essentia of an actus of the existentia, but Being itself, which in its loving potency [das Mogend] possibilizes [vermag] thought and thus also the essence of man, which means in turn his relationship to Being. To possibilize [vermogen] something is to sustain it in its essence, to retain it in its element.34 The repetition of the portentous phrase from Being and Time—"the quiet power of the possible"—in highlighted form, signals Heidegger's intention to rehearse and develop its original meaning. As I observed in my analysis of ermoglichen above, the notion of "possibilizing" was frequently used ambiguously to refer to either of two different subjects—Being as human being (Dasein) or Being as Being (Sein als Sein).55 Here in the "Letter on Humanism" Heidegger replaces ermoglichen by Vermogeny thereby unambiguously identifying the fundamental power of possibilizing with Being itself. Whereas ermoglichen could be either authentic or inauthentic, Vermogen is always authentic. To put it in another way: Vermogen (which I translate as "possibilization" or "possibilizing," since Heidegger uses it as both verb and noun) is to be correctly understood as the exclusively authentic essence of ermoglichen (to render possible). It is ermoglichen viewed from the point of view of Being in general {Sein Uberhaupt) rather than of human being in particular. As Heidegger explains, "It is on the strength of this loving potency or possibilization of love [Das Vermogen des Mogens] that something is possibilized [vermag] in its authentic [eigentlich] being. This possibilization [Vermogen] is the authentic 'possible [das eigentlich 'mogliche'], that whose essence rests on loving [Mogen]."36 Vermogen is thus identified with Being itself to the extent that it possibilizes what is most proper (eigenst) and authentic (eigentlich) for human being, that is, thought. Correlatively, thought is that which cares for Being, shows care

Heidegger's Poetics of the Possible



(Sorge) for what is most proper to it. Heidegger exploits here the hidden resources of the term Vermogen, notably its root, mogen, meaning to love. To care for Being is consequently to love it in taking care of its essence as it manifests itself in all things: "Thought is . . . to concern oneself about the essence of a 'thing' or a 'person,' that means to like or to love them."37 Possibilization is, quite simply, the love of Being; and love of Being is to be understood as both a subjective and objective genitive, both as Dasein's love for Being and Being's love for Dasein. Thus we say that thinking is Dasein's most proper and authentic possibility (eigenst und eigentlich Moglich). Thinking is that which is possibilized by the "loving possibilization" of Being itself so that it may, in turn, lovingly possibilize (vermag) the coming to be (wesen) of all beings. Being possibilizes thought, which in turn possibilizes the Being of things. This ontological reciprocity is ingeniously captured by the untranslatable accusative/nominative duplexity of the German das: "Aus diesem Mogen vermag das Sein das Denken." Lohner's translation of this sentence as "Being is capable of thought" is incorrect because onesided, for it is not merely a question of Being being capable of thought, but also of Being making thought capable of Being, that is, of thinking Being. Within a space of ten lines Lohner uses three different terms to translate Vermogen ("potency," "to be capable of," and "to command"), without the slightest indication to the reader that we are in all cases concerned with the same term. My alternative rendition of Vermogen as possibilizing (meaning both "to possibilize" and "possibilization") seeks to capture its complex double role as noun and verb. Accordingly, I render "Aus diesem Mogen vermag das Sein das Denken" as "Being possibilizes thought, which possibilizes Being." This version is confirmed in the sentences which immediately follow: "Jenes ermoglicht dieses. Das Sein als Vermogend-Mogende ist das 'Mog-liche'"—"The one renders the other possible. Being as the loving-possibilizing is the '/wjr-ible.'" There are three crucial points to be made about this telling statement (the entire second sentence of which Lohner omits to translate!). The first is that the juxtaposing of ermoglichen (Heidegger Ys term) with Vermogen (Heidegger II's term) shows how both refer to the same truth of the possible without denying the difference of their respective perspectives (that is, ermoglichen as seen from the perspective of Dasein, Vermogen as seen from the perspective of Being). In this movement from the ermoglichen of Heidegger I to the Vermogen of Heidegger II, the ambiguity remarked above is shown to be—in its essence— the very truth of Being itself as a reciprocity of loving and thinking. The second point concerns the use of Vermogend-Mogende to describe Being. This grammatical usage means that Being is at one and the same time a possibilizing and a loving: it loves because it possibilizes and possibilizes because it loves. Thirdly, the direct equation of Being with das Mog-liche shows that the root




of both loving (Mogend) and possibilizing (Vermogend) is the same, namely, Mog). It is impossible to render this two-in-one meaning of Mog-liche in English. But by translating Mog-liche as "posse-\b\e" I hope at least to communicate one of the fundamental meanings, that is, Being as posse: to be possible, being-possible, possibilizing. Lohner's omission of this pivotal sentence makes Heidegger's revolutionary identification of Being as Vermogen incomprehensible to the English reader. In this cardinal yet much neglected passage from the "Letter on Humanism," Heidegger describes Being as a "loving possibilization," thereby revealing the implicit truth of the three preceding notions of the possible—possibility {Moglichkeit), potentiality-for-being (Seinkonnen), and making possible {ermoglichen)—to be nothing less than the possibilizing (Vermogen) of Being itself. Possibilizing is Being to the extent that is possibilizes (vermag) beings out of love for their essence. But there is another more literal meaning to the term Vermogen which might be immediately obvious to the German reader and which cannot be ignored in this context. Curious as it may seem, the current meaning of Vermogen is "power" or "property." Used as a verb it can signify to have power or influence on persons or things. Though this alternative meaning appears in stark contrast to Heidegger's etymological rendition as a "loving possibilizing," it is by no means accidental. Several critics, notably Emmanuel Levinas and Martin Buber, have criticized Heidegger's notion of Being as an anonymous totality which reduces beings to the measure of its self-identical power.38 Moreover, one of Lohner's three alternative translations for Vermogen was, as noted, "to command." His version runs as follows: "When I speak of the 'quiet power' [Kraft] of the 'possible' [I mean] . . . Being itself, which in its loving potency [Vermogen] commands [vermag] thought and thus also the essence of man, which means in turn his relationship to Being." Heidegger's choice of Kraft, or "force," as virtual synonym of Vermogen, could be seen as further endorsing the "power" signification of this term. It is not my intention, however, to assess the validity of the interpretation of Being as power. Suffice it to say that the identification of Being with Vermogen can mean that Being is either a "loving-possibilizing" or a "power" which appropriates and commands, or even both at once. Indeed, it is just such an identity of being as both possibility and power—which appropriates (ereignen) that which is most appropriate (eignet) and authentically proper {eigentlich eigenst) to beings—that emerges in Heidegger II's ultimate term for Being: Das Er-eignis. Vermogen and Ereignis may both be translated as "appropriation."39 In Zeit und Sein (the projected third part of Sein und Zeit, which was rethought by Heidegger II and withheld from publication until 1969), the author renders the enigmatic esti gar einai of Parmenides as "the possibility of Being."40 The esti here, Heidegger suggests, it to be understood as Es Gibt, the giving of Being. The giving of Being is also, identically and simultaneously, a giving of time, and is not therefore to be confused with the metaphysical notion

Heidegger s Poetics of the Possible



of Being as permanent presence. The reaffirmation of the identity of Being and time in this important late text shows how Heidegger II remains in direct continuity with Heidegger I's initial exhortation in Being and Time to think Being in terms of a temporality which absences (into future and past) even as it presences (in the actual moment), rather than in terms of simple, substantified presence.41 As the giving of Being, esti is to be understood as that which "is capable of Being"—the "power" or "possibility" of Being. The French translation as pouvoir-etre captures this double sense with felicitous ease. Being is thus identified as the "possibility of Being" in the sense of "that which can be." It is this very designation of Being as possibility of Being which leads directly to Heidegger's celebrated definition of Being as Ereignis in the same work. To acknowledge the Ereignis, or event of being, as the possibilizing of being is to poetically dwell on this earth by letting things be what they can be. In a closely related text, The End of Philosophy, Heidegger affirms that "the end of philosophy is the place in which the whole of philosophy's history is gathered in its most ultimate possibility."42 He goes on to suggest that this "ultimate possibility" is also the "first possibility" from which all genuine thought originates. It is, in other words, an eschatological possibility that holds sway beyond Dasein's power of determination, "a possibility whose contour remains obscure, whose coming remains uncertain."43 It would seem that this ultimate possibility is nothing other than the Ereignis of Being itself, the "appropriation" of thought by Being, whose final coming remains beyond our choice or control. Is this not what Heidegger is thinking of in the Der Spiegel interview when he declared that "Only a god can save us now"? Exactly what kind of god Heidegger is speaking of, and how it relates to the question of ethics, is the subject of my next chapter. CONCLUSION Heidegger's complex thinking on the "possible" represents a radical departure from traditional metaphysical theories. Whereas such theories tended to regard the possible as a lack of presence or a mental re-presentation of presence, Heidegger proclaims it to be that which gives—possibilizes—all presence. No longer considered merely as a representational possibilitas of the subjective mind, or a potentia of objective reality, the possible {Das Mbglich) emerges as a "loving power" that possibilizes all presence, represented or real. The possible, in short, is Being itself insofar as it gives and appropriates, provoking human imagination into a making/saying that enables us to poetically dwell on this earth. Where this identification of Being and the possible remained implicit in Heidegger I, it becomes clear in Heidegger II. A crucial aspect of the development of Heidegger's thought on the possible is the degree to which his thinking fulfills the hermeneutic program of "overcoming" metaphysics. This fulfillment is witnessed to a lesser degree in Heidegger I's threefold treatment of the pos-




sible {Moglichkeit, Seinkonnen, and ermoglichen) than in Heidegger IV s identification of the possible with Being itself as Vermogen—and its cognates, Estiy Es Gibt, and Ereignis, But it is fair to say that in both Heideggers the possible is thought of in a post-metaphysical fashion; that is, no longer as an accidental characteristic of the presence of beings but rather as that temporality which is Being itself in its absencing-presencing, giving-withholding, loving-appropriating. May we not logically assume, then, that the hermeneutic task of overcoming metaphysics is the task of thinking Being as possibility rather than as presence? If such be the case, Heidegger's turn {Kehre) to a poetics of dwelling in his later thought is quite appropriate. For poetic dwelling, as Heidegger explains in his meditations on Holderlin and Rilke in Poetry, Language, Thought, is a relinquishing of our metaphysical will to possess being as presence or representation, thereby releasing it into its own proper element as a concealmentunconcealment— a-letheia. This is what Heidegger calls Gelassenheit: a. way of allowing things to be in their being. In the case of Dasein or transcendental imagination, this means letting the human being be in its possibilities as possibilities, as projection and reception of possibilities, as poetic namer and dweller. In "The Origin of the Work of Art," Heidegger puts it thus: "Projective saying is poetry—the saying of. . . the place of all nearness and remoteness of the gods. Poetry is the saying of the unconcealedness of what is."44 Poetics is to be understood accordingly as an imaginative caretaking of being, a guarding over the house of being (which is language understood in the broadest sense) by preserving what has been said and creating what has not yet been said: This "not yet said" is the "possible," the "unfamiliar," the "alien," the "extraordinary." "Genuinely poetic projection, "writes Heidegger," is the opening up or disclosure of that into which human being as historical being is already cast. . . . It is its world, which prevails in virtue of the relation of human being to the unconcealedness of being."45 It is a task, in short, for hermeneutic imagination. This conception of poetics as a hermeneutic guardianship of being is opposed by Heidegger to the modern metaphysics of subjectivity. It acknowledges that language, as the house of being, is the "master of man" who first speaks to man; and that it is only when one has listened that poetry issues in speech: "The responding in which man authentically listens to the appeal of language is that which speaks in the element of poetry."46 In contrast to the romantic cult of subjective genius, such a hermeneutic poetics privileges metaphors of dwelling on earth, building with care, loving the possible, drawing from the well. The last metaphor recurs again and again. "All creation is a drawing, as of water from a spring," says Heidegger. "Modern subjectivism, to be sure, immediately misinterprets creation, taking it as the self-sovereign subject's performance of genius."47 A poetics of the possible lets truth originate by "setting-it-into-work," by

Heidegger's Poetics of the Possible



giving shape, figure, and voice to its possibilities, by giving it words in which to dwell. Poetics in this generous hermeneutic sense far exceeds the specialist profession of poetry, which Heidegger terms "poesy," and embraces—as noted in the Introduction—all those activities from sculpture to building where human beings transfigure their world according to the "power of the loving possible." This is surely what Heidegger means when he speaks of poetics as a "distinctive type of building," inviting us to dwell in "that which has a liking/ loving for man and therefore needs his presence" (was selber den Menschen mag und darum sein Wesen braucht).48 Here again, fittingly, it is the mogen root verb of Vermogen which defines the privileged poetic relationship between Dasein and being. It is here also that a poetics of dwelling becomes one with a freedom of possibility. "To dwell, to be at peace," concludes Heidegger, "means to remain at peace within the free, the preserve, the free preserve that safeguards each thing in its nature." 49 Whether such a poetics of dwelling, guided by hermeneutic imagination, can provide the basis and motivation of an ethics of dwelling remains to be seen. 50

Heidegger's Gods

What did Heidegger mean when he declared in his interview with Der Spiegel (1976) that "only a god can save us now" (nur ein Gott kann uns retten)? What god was he referring to? The God of the Bible? The god of metaphysics? The god of poetry? I contend that the deity invoked by Heidegger is almost certainly of the last kind—the god of the "sacred" initially experienced by Greek mythology and commemorated by such modern poets as Holderlin and Rilke. Heidegger is concerned here with that dimension of the world's "fourfold" (Geviert) occupied by poetical divinities—alongside "mortals," "sky," and "earth"—rather than with the god of the philosophers or the God of Abraham, Isaac, and the prophets. In what follows I offer an account of Heidegger's treatment of each of these gods before concluding with a critique of Heidegger's poetical god and a suggestion that it needs to be supplemented by an ethical one. In this chapter, once again, the relationship between poetics, ethics, and religion (Kierkegaard's trinity of values) is a recurring preoccupation.

1. GOD OF REVELATION I begin with Heidegger's account of the God of biblical Revelation. In one of his earliest publications on this subject, "Phenomenology and Theology," delivered as a lecture in Tubingen in March 1927 (the year Being and Time was published), Heidegger makes the point that theology presupposes the givens of biblical Revelation: the positive of the Old and new Testaments. To this extent theology may be termed a "positive science," unlike phenomenology, which presupposes nothing but its own questions. Thus, for example, while phenomenology approaches the experience of angst as an existential mood of nothingness, vacillation, unhomeliness, or questioning, theology approaches it as an expression of Original Sin and the Fall. Or again, where phenomenology asks 50

Heidegger's Gods



the fundamental philosophical question, "Why is there something rather than nothing?" theology already has the answer: "Because God created the world." This is why in a later text, An Introduction to Metaphysics (1953), Heidegger will actually claim that the idea of a "Christian philosophy" is a "round square and a misunderstanding."1 This is not because he rejects Christianity or biblical Revelation per se; indeed, he sees them as entirely legitimate and appropriate subjects for inquiry by a different discipline—theology. It is only for the philosophical, or more specifically phenomenological, attitude that the "God of Revelation" is unthinkable and consequently an irrelevance. The biblical God is a matter of faith not philosophy.' St. Paul was right to call the mystery of the Judeo-Christian message a "folly for philosophers." For the philosopher, the question of being cannot be answered by faith's claim that God created the world. On this point, Heidegger and Kierkegaard find themselves in agreement (albeit from different sides). Heidegger could hardly be less ambiguous on the matter: "Theology is a positive science and as such is absolutely different from philosophy. . . . The occurrence of revelation, which is passed down to faith and which accordingly occurs through faithfulness itself, discloses itself only to faith. . . . Theology has a meaning and a value only if it functions as an ingredient of faith, of this particular kind of historical occurrence."2 Heidegger returns to this crucial point long after the famous Turn, though the reference to theology as a "positive science" is more or less abandoned. Speaking to students at the University of Zurich in November 1951, Heidegger makes the following autobiographical allusion, as reported by Jean Beaufret: "Some of you will know that I come from theology and still have for it an old affection and even a certain understanding. If, however, I was to undertake a work of theology, which I have often been inclined to do, the word Being would not occur once. Faith has no need for the thinking of Being." Why? "Because Being and God are not the same thing." Which means, for Heidegger, one should not try to "think of God by means of Being." Heidegger commends Luther's awareness of this, although he is prepared to concede that "the experience of God and his manifestation—insofar as it is part of a meeting with man—occurs in a dimension of Being. However, this must not be taken to mean that Being could serve as a possible predicate of God." Here, he insists, "we are in need of radically new distinctions."3 Heidegger did not expand in that particular discussion on what such distinctions might be, but in several later exchanges he returned to the subject with candor. In an interview with H. Noack in 1953, for instance, Heidegger stated that "nothing can occur in [philosophical] thinking which could serve to prepare or confirm that which occurs by way of faith or grace."4 In another informal exchange, this time at the Protestant Academy of Hofgeismar in December 1953, Heidegger made a further confession: "If I was summoned by faith, I'd close down my workshop. . . . Philosophy deals only with that thought




which man can procure from his own means: as soon as it is summoned by Revelation, philosophy ceases." He concluded with this advice: "Theologians generally have too little confidence in their own terrain and quarrel too much with philosophy. . . . Theologians should remain in the exclusive domain of Revelation. . . . The Christian experience is something so different that there is no need for it to enter into competition with philosophy. When theology claims that philosophy is Tolly' the mysterious nature of Revelation is much better preserved.. . . Philosophical thinking always remains exposed to the questionability of Being; whereas faith, on the contrary, remains a matter of trust." Trust, furthermore, implies an attitude of expectancy with regard to the coming—or second coming—of the Savior. Such an attitude, as Heidegger notes in his 1921 lectures on Augustine and neo-Platonism, is radically different from the mythological attitude to time. Where Christianity sees history as a commitment to preparing for the coming of the Kingdom, ontological and mythological thinking prefer to allow things to be as they are, Gelassenheit. Or, as Heidegger observes in the "Letter on Humanism," the Christian is not primarily a being of this world but a "child of God," who hears the call of the Father in Christ— a call beyond this transitory world toward a Kingdom yet to come. 5 Heidegger, it would appear, had no axe to grind with the God of Revelation. Indeed, as we shall see below, he goes to pains on occasion to defend this God from the God of metaphysics, which takes the mystery out of Revelation by trying to reduce the God of Abraham to logical categories of objectifying presence—what he would call representational thinking. Heidegger's main concern in making these "radical new distinctions" is not with biblical considerations per se but with establishing the line of demarcation between: 1) biblical considerations of God as proper subject of theology; 2) metaphysical concepts of God as first cause or entity; and 3) poetical versions of "god" as postmetaphysical advent. This last kind of god—the god of the poets, the god of a phenomenology of the sacred, the god of the fourfold—is clearly the one that interests Heidegger. This is the only god Heidegger believes "can save us."

2. GOD OF METAPHYSICS In his essay "The Onto-theological Constitution of Metaphysics," published in Identity and Difference (1957), Heidegger elaborates on his critique of the metaphysical concept of God as theos, or the highest being which grounds. Instead of attending to the "sacred" manifestation of the gods as part of the event of Being, as the poets and pre-Socratics had done, metaphysical thinking even from its earliest days with Plato and Aristotle contrived to reduce the ontological play of Sein to a single divine "being" (Seiend)—albeit the most supreme and self-sufficient of all beings. The metaphysical versions of this objectifying of Sein s sacred happening ranged from Plato's Agathon and Aris-

because a God whose existence must first of all be proved is. It is evident where Heidegger's own sympathies lie. These versions shared a common impulse to reify the enigmatic play of the sacred. independently of the religious experience of the Word of God. according to Heidegger. . This is the right name for the god of philosophy. . though they are by no means necessarily the same gods. and Heidegger echoes this conviction: "A proof for the existence of God—notwithstanding its construction with all the means of a rigorous formal logic—proves nothing. Here this means only: god-less thinking is more open to Him than onto-theologic would like to admit. where he draws a sharp distinction between the Aristotelian and Lutheran approaches to the divine."6 In a later text." Heidegger adds this challenging remark: "The god-less thinking which must abandon the god of philosophy."8 The error of metaphysics. is thus perhaps closer to the divine God. But the question of whether God exists or not is not a matter for metaphysics at all. On the contrary. "cannot itself affirm whether such a god is really a god. . Heidegger is unyielding on this point in his meeting with R. as is commonly thought. he says. . in spite of his scholastic formation in a Catholic seminary. I conclude this summary of Heidegger's critique of the God of metaphysics with a declaration from his Winter Semester Lectures of 1950-51. god as causa sui. has been to reduce the mystery of the divine—as experienced in different but powerful ways by both poets of the sacred and Prophets of the Bible—to the idea of an absolute."7 The great barrier to such an advent of the gods is not. Scherer in 1947. Heidegger reserves strong words for this God of the philosophers: "The cause as causa sui. Metaphysics. the first volume of Nietzsche (1962). Kierkegaard once argued that anyone who tries to prove God's existence by means of a logical syllogism is ipso facto a heathen. God is a given of religious experience not of philosophy. a God with very little divinity and whose proof results ultimately in blasphemy. atheism but the metaphysical obsession with providing proofs for God's existence."9 The gods revealed to us by the Prophets of the Bible or by the poets of Greece are irreducible to the logical categories of metaphysics. Heidegger is adamant that Nietzsche's destruction of the god of metaphysics does not necessitate a repudiation of all gods. in the final analysis. Man can neither pray nor sacrifice to this god. Since 1 will say more about the difference between these gods in later sections. supreme entity.Heidegger's Gods I 53 totle's Telos to the scholastic concept of God as ens perfectissimum or ens causa sui. which served as the founding principle of a speculative system logically explaining how things come to be and pass away. it may be read as an effort to undo the onto-theo-logical blindfolds of Western metaphysics. Before the causa suiy man can neither fall to his knees in awe nor can he play music and dance before this god. in which gods and mortals conferred and interacted. Poetic play was reduced to a first or final cause. so that "the gods may come towards mankind.

If ontotheology is bad for theology it is also bad for ontology." he says. It is even a degradation of the authentically religious content of theology. then. we first need to know what our existential experience of God actually is. It is this originary poetics of the sacred which Heidegger advocates in his "Letter on Humanism" as the indispensable groundwork of all experience of God. i.e. ontology. for the poets. Heidegger suggests. which ." But whatever the response to this rhetorical "perhaps. Only in the light of the essence of divinity can it be thought and said what the word 'God* is to signify. and we must also be very wary of interpreting Greek philosophy in scholastic (Christian) terms. is to be safeguarded from such reductions by attending to the originary words of the preSocratics and poets. Only from the essence of the holy can the essence of divinity be thought. If theology is to be safeguarded from metaphysical reductions by returning to the prophets of Revelation. . . Revelation has no need of Aristotle." Heidegger is clear that the suspension of metaphysical concerns about the existence or nonexistence of God in no way implies a declaration for or against theism. also points beyond both.54 / CONFRONTATIONS WITH TRADITION "Christian theology. the dimension of the holy. it often refers to Aristotle. Perhaps this is its unique disgrace."11 It is not a matter of proving the existence of a First Cause but of naming the holy—a role. "How. "as opposed to onto-theology. perhaps. Hence the logic behind the following controversial statement: "Only from the truth of Being can the essence of the holy be thought. is the man of the present epoch ever to be able to ask seriously and firmly whether God approaches or withdraws when man omits the primary step of thinking deeply in the one dimension where this question can be asked: that is. . The Catholic theory of creation has tended to go against this by rationalizing Revelation. Before we talk about proving or disproving the existence of God. Or must we not first be able to understand and hear these words carefully if we as men. speaks on the basis of a faith in Revelation. are to have the privilege of experiencing a relation of God to man?" At which point Heidegger proceeds to ask the leading question. he insists. as existing beings. above all. remains closed unless the openness of Being is cleared and in its clearing is close to man?" He hazards this quasi-religious guess: "Perhaps the distinction of this age consists in the fact that the dimension of grace has been closed. It constitutes a "fundamental ontology" of the sacred that is presupposed by metaphysics and theology and that.. A phenomenology of the sacred. And so doing. with its genuinely phenomenological experience of the sacred."10 What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. be it understood theologically or metaphysically. "can no more be theistic than it can be atheistic. This not only leads to falsehoods but is quite unnecessary.

In An Introduction to Metaphysics. stands as something distinct. where it is identified with Christ. is the god of Greek mythos. It is a god of phenomenological experience manifest in different ways in different religions—as Mircea Eliade has shown in his richly comparative phenomenologies of religion—but which never claims to provide proofs concerning the "true" existence of one particular god rather than another. in all its pagan resplendence. Dignity and splendor are not properties beside and behind which the god. in the sense that in setting up the work the holy is opened up as holy and the god is invoked into the openness of the presence. John in mind. nor God as creator. there lightens itself. GOD OF THE POETS I 55 I come now to the third category of god in Heidegger's thinking. what we called the word."13 Or what lies behind Paul Ricoeur's observation that "Heidegger systematically eluded a confrontation with Hebrew thought. at least regarding the existence of God. He pours scorn on the widespread interpretation of the Greeks as "not yet full-grown Christian theologians.Heidegger's Gods 3."12 The sense of the sacred registered in a Greek temple or Celtic burial mound is just as real as that registered in a Jewish synagogue. tragedy."15 It is also certain that when he declares that "the sacred is the being of nature. Commenting on three examples of such naming in "The Origin of the Work of Art" (1935-36)—the creation of a statue. he boldly states that Christianity was responsible for the misinterpretation of Heraclitus by viewing his doctrine of the Logos as a mere forerunner of the prologue to John's gospel. 16 The "word" that names the holy dimension of Being is that of Greek poetics. and art he has in mind."17 Here. This is neither God as cause. In the reflected glory of this splendor there glows. the god of poetics. but it is rather in the dignity. after all. but God as sacred. in the splendor that the god is present. that is. Here "Christ and Apollo are brothers. which Heidegger claims is the first . God is "without why."l4 It is quite certain that when Heidegger thinks of the Logos that governs the world he has Heraclitus rather than St. a temple. Muslim mosque. Praise belongs to dedication as doing honor to the dignity and splendor of the god. . which remains the absolute stranger to Greek discourse." Theological dogmas and metaphysical syllogisms are equally irrelevant. All faiths are fair game here. too. I suspect this is what Gabriel Marcel had in mind when he declared that "Heidegger is a Greek. This is the god "who surprises us" in the very midst of the visible. The respective claims of metaphysics and Revelation to isolate one exclusive concept of the divine are passed over in favor of a poetic openness to the phenomenological play of gods and mortals. To be more exact. or Christian cathedral. all faiths are suspended qua faith in order to allow for a non-confessional experience of the sacred qua sacred. who invented the practice of phenomenological bracketing. the god of originary aesthetic experience. and a tragic drama— Heidegger says: "To dedicate means to consecrate. For the poets. ." it is the gods of Greek mythology. Perhaps it was the poets.

that the gods have fled." as Heidegger asks in a remarkable essay on Rilke. accordingly. .e. This occlusion of the holy darkens any radiance of the divine. And this darkening seals and conceals the missingness of God. Here poetry is indeed a "naming of the holy"—an integral part of a larger cosmic poiesis. "what are poets for?" In the same essay he offers one of his most dramatic accounts of the role poets can play in preparing for the advent/return of the gods by answering the nihilistic challenge of technology. and not in accidental perils. of course. In other words. were phenomenologically present. the poets. technology). "consists in the threat that assaults man's nature in his relation to Being itself. that can only come when we fully experience the modern condition of homelessness. To see this danger and point it out. It conceals itself in the abyss that underlies all beings. that is. appeared. surrounded by . The unhomliness of what is as such (or beings) brings to light the homelessness of historical man within the totality of beings. This danger is the danger. about the past tense of this essentially Greek experience. With the disappearance of the salutary the open space of the holy is occluded. that the names are lacking. there must be mortals who reach sooner into the abyss. Heidegger has no illusions. . of lacking the place in which to poetically dwell. the systematic and relentless self-assertion of the modern will-to-power. therefore. The dark absence leaves all beings stranded. it is precisely as memory. While he does see the great poets of modernity—Holderlin in particular—as guarding over the Greek memory. The only way the poets can hope to make the holy present again is. where the gods showed themselves. The danger. while that which is.18 Heidegger gives this account of homelessness in the section "European Nihilism" of his second Nietzsche volume: When the unconcealment of Being as such stays away [bleibt aus] everything salutary disappears among beings. appears to be in certain possession and familar everywhere and in every respect.56 / C O N F R O N T A T I O N S WITH TRADITION kind of phenomenology. not at home. but with this crucial difference: it now recognizes that the holy is absent. of course. its vocation of naming the holy. 19 A key question for our modern technological society is." it is an advent that signals a presence in and through absence. Poetry still retains. . however."21 These mortals are. by first recognizing its absence. If Heidegger can still claim in his essay on Holderlin that "the word is the advent of the sacred. he says. of loss. as the objective in the limitless act of objectification (i. whether an openness can be created which would allow the gods to return? Can the earth be made hale and whole again. Modernity experiences the gods as absence or missingness (Fehl Gottes). made "salutary" and "saving" by being made fit for poetic dwelling once more? Can the poets resume their vocation of naming the holy so that "Being may be once again capable of god"?20 In such "destitute times. the holy can only be named again by acknowledging that it has become nameless.

Heidegger's Gods I 57 danger. in the time of the world's night the poet names the holy. it is given to us as part of the destiny of Being. a deep and incorrigible sense of impending apocalypse. Such preparation is not something that can be willed or produced by mortals. The answer. And it is why. Probably the closest he comes to addressing the issue is in rehearsing Holderlin's view that the names of Dionysius and Herakles. Heidegger is characteristically vague. That is why it is the poet meditating on the abyss rather than the person of action who best prepares for the advent of . That is not what poetics means here. does not reside in the attempt to revive the departed gods or invent new ones. there grows also what saves. Ever since the disparition of these "three fraternal gods. When Holderlin and Heidegger conclude that our modern age is epitomized by the "missingness of god" they do not mean that Christians or other religious denominations have ceased to believe in their god. no less than the name of Christ who historically displaced them in the Christian West." the world's twilight has been declining into night. a vigilance toward the god that is not yet here. far surpass the "daring" of technological man's will-to-power and self-assertion by facing into the abyss and outfacing the destitution of modernity. This is what Holderlin means by his enigmatic formula. Where or how do we find the poetical god that will save us? Who is this god? What is its name? On this matter of the god's identity. as the most mortal of all mortals. are lacking today. when he departed from this world so too did his "brother gods. have not created a space for this god beforehand? Here Heidegger's poetics seem incapable of allowing the possibility that humans might undertake some political or ethical action in order to prepare the space for God's advent. This is why. They mean there no longer exists any god who "visibly" or "phenomenologically" presents itself to us. bringing together human beings and things and gathering them into a historical world where mortals may poetically dwell." To be a poet in destitute times is to be attentive." Dionysius and Herakles. In this scnsty the daring of the poet who names the holy in the midst of the unholy might be described as postmodern. again in Holderlin's words. But what is to be done? as Lenin might have asked Heidegger on reading the above account. mortals. If the arrival of Christ ushered in the end of the daylight of the gods. But how can the god speak its name to us or show itself if we. With the flight of the gods the "light and splendor" of the sacred has disappeared from the world. Heidegger's quietism on this matter is inseparable from his pessimism. It means rather an openness to the fourfold play of Being. in one's song. to listen to names for the nameless god. It represents a readiness to open ourselves to the clearing of the sacred. the world's night is a "holy night. "Where there is danger. if there is any." The poets. It is this receptivity toward the gap of being that signals the possibility of the light of the divine shining again in what is. to the traces of the flown gods. apparently.

But this poetical role is purely passive in Heidegger's scenario. Heidegger's favorite mystic. it seems. is for Heidegger a matter of sitting it out in a waiting room. Such being. a matter of bearing patient witness to the traces of the fugitive gods. To paraphrase Angelus Silesius. as expressed in this Der Spiegel statement—a statement that also serves as an apologia pro sua vita."23 But is this enough? I hold that it is not." Ours not to reason why. the . Heidegger says as much: "I do not deny God. For Heidegger. and that Heidegger's poetics of disponibilite needs to be supplemented with an ethic of justice.58 / C O N F R O N T A T I O N S WITH TRADITION God. or act accordingly to improve our world. the Augustinian concept of divine being as self-loving love (amor quo deus se ipsum amat). this time in its full context: "Philosophy cannot produce an immediate effect which would change the present state of the world. after all. The list of ontotheological formulations of being as substantified presence include: the Platonic concept of eidos as timeless and immutable oneness. Only a God can save us now. in other words." and why the greatest danger harbors the greatest salvation. as already noted. It is. Here is the problem of our world. Modernity. then." What. Let me restate the phrase in question. Postscript: Eschatology and Poetic Dwelling Here I will explore the critical rapport between Heideggerean poetics and an eschatology of justice. of enduring an in-between time "too late for the gods and too early for Being. But Heidegger's ontological poetics lack the ethical commitment that a genuine eschatological understanding of "the possible" requires. the history of Western metaphysics is the history of ontotheology. This is not only true for philosophy but for all specifically human endeavors. the Aristotelian concept of telos as self-thinking thought. an epoch where being manifests itself as the highest divine entity (theos) and the most general grounding entity {on). does it mean to poetically dwell? It means to let things be in their being. technological era of will-to-power. I state his absence. Whatever the implications of such an apocalyptic poetics for a pliable attitude to political evils like fascism and war—and in Heidegger's case they are serious—its implications for the question of God are those of noncommittal quietism. can get better only if it first gets worse. That is why to "think deeply is to err dangerously."22 At this point we find ourselves at the core of Heidegger's fatalistic attitude. The only possibility remaining to us in thought and in poetry is to remain available for the manifestation of this God or for the absence of this God in our decline. Both approaches demand a reversal of the metaphysical priority of actuality over possibility. "The god is without why: it blooms because it blooms. to the omnipresent lack of sacred names in our present. My philosophy is a waiting for God. an endless waiting for Godot.

post-metaphysical—understanding of God is radical. enabling posse." he insists in "Letter on Humanism. as noted.Heidegger's Gods I 59 Thomistic/scholastic concept of permanent subsistence {ipsum esse subsistens)\ the Cartesian and Spinozist concept of the res cogitans as a self-sufficient substance echoing the divine self-causing cause {ens causa sui). If divine love is that which grants the promise of a kingdom." between the German terms vermogen (to possibilize) and mogen (to love). Thomas Aquinas was quite explicit on this point. or not to realize. His primary concern was always with Being. it could be argued that the eschatological notion of posse better enables us to understand God according to the original scriptural notion of kenosis. ultima ratio. Heidegger's chosen preoccupation is with ontology rather than theology.' nor about the possibility or impossibility of God. "With the existential determination of the essence of man (in relation to the truth of Being) nothing. and the rationalist concepts of objectivity (Gegenwdrtigung). representation (Reprdsentanz). the kingdom possibilized by God. First. Heidegger's project of overcoming metaphysics poses a challenge (as we saw in Chapter 3) to the traditional ontotheological priority of actuality over possibility. 3-4) that "Deus est actus purus non habens aliquid de potentialitate. not God."25 And so it remains. 24 Heidegger was reluctant to explore the ultimate consequences of overcoming the metaphysics of presence (esse) for a different thinking about God. Here I sketch out some implications of an eschatological thinking about God as posse in critical analogy with Heidegger's post-metaphysical concept of Vermbgen. Recalling Heidegger's own suggestive etymological linkage. static esse but rather as a temporalizing. and presence (Vorhandenheit)." is to appreciate that we are entirely free to realize. writing in the Summa (I pars. At its most basic." Heidegger's impassioned claim that before such a God of ontotheology one cannot pray or dance is especially relevant in this context. The God of ontotheology was devoid of possibility. in "Letter on Humanism. it would appear at least conceivable that the eschatological notion of God as possibilization approximates more accurately to the biblical notion of divine kenosis (self-emptying love) than to the metaphysical concept of a selfsufficient love. is it not more appropriate to interpret this as possibilizing a kingdom to come on earth—giving itself to human beings as a possibility to be freely and creatively realized—rather than something already realized independently of human poiesisi Is the eschatological kingdom not more true to its word as dialogical call than as monological given? Indeed. God's love is kenosis precisely because it is the gift of that which is most proper and precious to Christ—his life with the . Q. is not such a view of things the only way to surmount the age-old ontotheological antinomy between divine omnipotence and human freedom? To understand God as posse. or prima causa essendi God was precisely that being which needed no other being to fulfill it. it implies that God is no longer to be thought of as some atemporal." "has been decided about the 'existence' or 'non-existence. which I render as "May-Be. As summum ens. The implication of this for an alternative—that is.

60 / CONFRONTATIONS WITH TRADITION Father—in order to liberate his creatures by possibilizing a divine kingdom in "a new heaven and a new earth. to Nicholas of Cusa's claim that the conception of God as Posse Ipsum or Possest is prior to all standard metaphysical notions of God as esse. This meant that the Divine as pure actuality could motivate others to desire but could not itself desire others. Aquinas is working from a similar metaphysical framework when he concedes that "Necesse est quod deus primo et principaliter suam bonitatem et seipsum amet. To understand God as kenotic posse is to see his love as a vulnerable and generous desire to be made fully incarnate in the eschatological kingdom—a kingdom possibilized by God but only realizable if and when we. Isaac. The evil in our world is." a voice that cannot be spoken until we hear it and speak for it. whom Pascal contrasts with the God of the philosophers? Is this not a God before whom we could dance and pray like David in the Bible? Is this not the God who reveals himself. orphan. Anselm reiterates this ontotheological view when he defines God as aseitas—a se esse. from our closure to the gift of other possibilities of being from beyond ourselves. as Levinas claims. not due to God but to humans. choose to respond to the divine call in word and action. even though he was one with the Father and the Spirit. God is pure selfsufficient act. that arose the substantialist notion of the Trinity as a commercium or nexis amoris. the eschatological concept of posse enables us to surmount another antinomy in the metaphysical understanding of God. evil can be understood as a consequence of the absence of such dialogue (in a revised form of the privatio boni argument). still felt the need to love and be loved by . and a human praxis that strives to realize this possibilizing love." This might also be related. to the extent that we refuse to realize the divine posse in our everyday existence. and the Prophets. a being unto himself. in this view. in the naked and vulnerable face of the widow. Evil would be seen to result from our unchecked expression of the will to dominate and possess {libido dominandi). The historical scandal of theodicies and theocracies may be overcome if we acknowledge the posse as an ongoing dialogue between a divine love that possibilizes itself out of itself. Son. in which Father. The Divine qua self-thinking-thought is utterly without potentiality {dunamis) and so has no motivation in itself to seek actualization outside itself. human creatures. Third. the eschatological interpretation of God as posse offers us a way out of the traditional antinomy concerning the incompatibility of God's goodness with the existence of evil. The eschatological God of the Bible would be redescribed not as an Emperor of the World but as a "voice crying in the wilderness. incidentally. moreover.26 Second. Is this not the God of Abraham." It was from just such a definition of God as self-loving love. In this context. and Spirit exult in their self-regarding "common possession" of each other. namely. Aristotle had no illusions about the ontotheological implications of the definition of God as Unmoved Mover. A far cry from the voice crying in the wilderness! The polar opposite of kenosis. that he exists for himself and for others {per se et per alio) as a love of self and of others. or famine victim—a God who created man because "on est mieux a deux't Or whom Kierkegaard signalled when he wrote that "Jesus Christ.

And so we come to the fourth point raised by an eschatology of the possible—the relation of divine revelation to history. Man can do what he must do. in short. the other applied to God. Traditional metaphysics could not convincingly account for the fact that God was at once timeless and temporal. So that what we are exploring here is not—if we take Heidegger seriously—an identification of God and Being as Vermogen/Posse but rather a properly proportionate analogy between two post-metaphysical concept of the possible: one applied to Being. In contradistinction to ontotheology. its otherness takes the form of a radical transcendence which depends for its actualization on the historical actions of prophecy. The analogy of proper proportionality recommended by Heidegger reads as follows: Dasein is to Sein what the religious questioner is to God." As Emmanuel Levinas observes: Man is indispensable to God's plan or. he does make it clear that any theological interpretation of his own deconstructions of metaphysics must observe an analogy of proper proportionality. Here is a God. This means that instead of grafting God directly onto being. "If one denies this. on the one hand. and as the end of history. It is here that the ethical question comes to the fore. one can spiritualize God to the abstract point where he becomes cruelty itself. he can master the hostile forces of history by helping to bring about a messianic reign.28 .Heidegger s Gods I 61 man"? He added. The divine posse is not an "other being" but an "otherwise than being. we must observe the hermeneutic difference between the presuppositions of religious faith. transcendent of history and manifest in the world. the post-metaphysical concept of posse suggests how God (as transcendent possibility) can give himself to human beings (as enacters of this possibility) through the adventure of history." The eschatological God announced in the Old and New Testaments can now be recognized as a deus adventurus rather than a deus absconditus—as a God who is not but may be. or rather a deconstructive rethinking of being. While Heidegger does not explore these options. on the other. This God is a posse whose kingdom may yet come and whose will may yet be done. Such an analogy inevitably carries differences as well as similarities. It opens a way to understanding God not as a topos of being but as a utopos other than being. The waiting for the Messiah marks the very duration of time. which tended to define God as a nunc aeternum outside of historical time. covenant. and the philosophical questioning of Being. to be more exact. and commitment. man is nothing other than the divine plans within being. who transcends all metaphysical conceptualization of a self-accomplished and self-adequate esse. To rethink God in critical analogy with the Heideggerean concept of Vermogen is therefore to recognize new options for appreciating the religious belief in a God who may be at the end. The divine posse remains other not because it possesses an esse over and above the phenomenological-poetical being of our world. a reign of justice foretold by the prophets. 27 The God of transcendence revealed in the Bible is not the God of ontology but the God of eschatology.

I have been suggesting. Christ and Apollo are brothers." Indeed. holy ground—we are.62 / CONFRONTATIONS WITH TRADITION If Being as Vermogen discloses itself to Dasein as a wonder that things exist (thaumazein). and earth) and not with the revelation of divine kenosis. It carries an ethical summons. It is this ethical exigency of the divine posse which Dostoyevsky alludes to when he declares that if God is dead. the eschatological posse is also that which should be. It is only if we adopt a hermeneutic of faith that we privilege one of these (e. remains radically transcendent. the God of Christian faith is not identical with a poetics of the sacred. and symbols. from an ontological point of view. the eschatological posse reveals itself to believers as a call to faith and to ethical action. This significant disparity between the infinite otherness of eschatological divinity and the finite being-there of the phenomenological sacred is keenly preserved by the analogy of proper proportionality. holy scripture. The eschatological posse. the privileging of Christ in the Christian hermeneutic) as a unique incarnation of the eschatological posse. The difference is ultimately a matter of belief. sky. of course. The latter implies an act of faith which reads the sacred in terms of eschatological revelation. by contrast. finally. For a phenomenology of the sacred. while revealing itself phenomenologically through sacred places. all is .g. shrine." "Etwas vermogen bedeutet hier: es in seinem wesen wahren. cathedral.. So it would seem fair to say that Heidegger's poetical/phenomenological disclosure of the sacred serves as necessary but not sufficient condition for the eschatological revelation of God. and a questioning of Being (Seinsfrage). Heidegger's notion of Vermogen as a "possibilizing love" that cares for (sorgen) and watches over {wahren) the topos of Being is. A phenomenology of sacred rituals or symbols—as developed by Mircea Eliade for example—can teach us about the ways in which the divine manifests itself through the poetical horizons of our being-in-the-world. which enables us to compare and contrast these two orders of possibilization. closely analogous to the eschatological notion of possibilizing love as kenotic caritas. However. From the point of view of a poetics of Vermogen." As Heidegger explains in the "Letter on Humanism. the Heideggerrean love of Being is very much a guarding over beings in their topological/poetical being-there as things of the world. dealing with one of the fourfold divisions of Being (gods. In this example. a care for Being (Sorge). some ethical consequences of this difference. the eschatological posse reveals itself as a Seinsollen (or duty to be). and other images of religious art—it does so in a way that bears witness to a radical distance between the divine Other as vertical possibilization and Being as a finite horizontal possibilization (Vermogen). as we saw. To put it another way. whereas the eschatological love of God is strictly (or at least scripturally) speaking not "of this world. reveal itself through icons of incarnation—ranging from the Prophets and Christ to the saints. As that which may be. even when we are dealing with the guarding over of what Heidegger calls a sacred place—a temple. while the ontological posse expresses itself as a Seinkonnen (or capacity to be). which is by definition polytheistic. all is permitted. Let me tease out. rituals. mortals. Although the Christian God does.

" But the eschaton of God. Heidegger affirms that the questioning of Being is a strictly phenomenological activity that describes beings as they appear.Heidegger s Gods I 63 permitted. This is in keeping with Heidegger's admission to Herman Noack that the divine which he invokes in the "Letter on Humanism" is the divine of poetic experience (e. It simply means recognizing the gap separating a poetical phenomenology of finite Being from an ethico-religious concern with that which transcends the phenomenological horizon of Dasein's historicity. a "decree of Being itself. theocentric or anthropocentric. The most important of these may be expressed thus: The eschatological view of the possible departs from the poetical in viewing mortals as beings who transcend Being toward what is other than Being. by Heidegger's own admission. The ontological Vermogen. Heidegger is not concerned with God's existence or inexistence but with his phenomenological absence or presence. poetic imagination knows no censorship. non-moral. not ethical prescription. or Thomism. of Holderlin and Rilke) rather than of the God of biblical revelation..29 Where Heidegger and the poets speak of the contemporary "lack" of gods as a phenomenological event in the history of Being. is phenomenological description. identified Being and the Good. a will-less waiting rather than an urgent expectancy for the coming of a kingdom that impells us to action. Left to itself. the promised return of God is not only something which may happen but something believers have an ethical duty to bring about in this world through their historical actions. as a failure to realize the divine posse of social justice. It is a warten rather than an erwarten. In such a kingdom . if one prefers. He does not deny the possibility of a transcendent deity. The Ereignis of Being can be independently of human action because it is. making no claims about which manifestations of the holy are true or false. does not depend on human intervention for its advent or return. that is. he merely acknowledges that such questions of eschatological value surpass the finite limits of phenomenological ontology. He is equally reticent with respect to theology. One is tempted to conclude nonetheless that whatever kingdom comes (if it comes) should be one in which we can poetically dwell. unlike the eschatological posse.g. Unlike Platonism. Poetical ontology. But this does not mean that the poetics of Being is immoral. revealed or invented. which declared that ens et bonum convertuntur. It simply means that it is a-moral. This does not mean that Heidegger is either anti-ethical or anti-religious. Heidegger insists. by contrast. Heidegger's poetical ontology attempts to surpass the metaphysical framework that. since Plato. as phainomena—without judging whether they should or should not appear. there are crucial differences to be observed. which defined the highest idea as agathon. may be realized in history only if humans respond to the ethical call of the posse. toward the eschatological possibility of a kingdom yet to come. or. Eschatologically viewed. an eschatology of the possible might read this absence as a lack of human fidelity to the ethical exigencies of the New and Old Testaments. Whereas Being and God can both be analogously described in terms of Heidegger's poetics of the "loving possible" (vermogend-mogende). Heidegger's ontological approach to the return of the divine bears no connotations of ethical exigency.

a task for which. demands that ethics and poetics be reconciled? Such a demand is the proper task of hermeneutic imagination.64 I CONFRONTATIONS WITH TRADITION the values of God and Being would no longer be viewed as incompatible. Surely an eschatology of divine justice (if it exists).30 . Heidegger himself was not adequately prepared. by all accounts.


religious—from what might be described as a fundamental hermeneutic. images. The first recorded use of the term ideologic was by Destutt 66 . The standard equation of ideology with false consciousness was not always the case. For humanity to return to itself and rediscover its own powers of making (poiesis) it must first debunk the pseudo-world of fetish images. But often overlooked in such a fundamental inquiry is what might be loosely called the social perspective. A vexed question for interpreters of the social imaginary is the question of ideology. to produce collective narratives— stories we tell ourselves in order to explain ourselves to ourselves and to others. however. often anonymously. and Heidegger on the relation between imagination and value generally arose within an ontological or eschatological perspective. The questions raised by Kant. In order to disclose our social reality it is first deemed necessary to expose the fantasies of our ideological imagination. and Utopias informing our cultural and political unconscious.5 Ideology and Utopia: The Social Imaginary (Ricoeur I) My first four chapters analyzed the contemporary crisis of value—poetical. Here we are concerned with ways in which a poetics of imagination operates in our everyday lives. Kierkegaard. One of the first steps in such disclosure is to demystify the ways in which ideology alienates human consciousness by attributing the origin of value to some imaginary absolute outside of the human. I am thinking particularly here of Ricoeur's concept of the social imaginary. ideologies. which comprises the interplay of ideals. Much of critical theory—from Marx and Engels to Althusser and Barthes—identifies ideology as false consciousness. ethical. These narratives exceed the individual limits of transcendental imagination extending into the realm of a social imaginary with both ideological and Utopian dimensions.

Ideology and Utopia I 67 de Tracy at the end of the eighteenth century—and then he defined it as the "science of the genesis of ideas. ideals. promised to convert false consciousness into true consciousness. I will examine: 1) the way in which the critique of the social imaginary evolves as a critique of ideology in the wake of the Enlightenment and 2) the way in which a new movement in contemporary hermeneutics. In fact. But it is no longer considered a science of social truth in the sense originally proposed by de Tracy. and Ricoeur—tend to take it for granted that scientific truth is alien to ideology. used it in the more positive sense of a propaganda weapon. so defined. but. in short. Hegel invoked it summarily in his Philosophy of History \ Marx went on to analyze its workings and implications in a now famous passage of The German Ideology. In this chapter. It may then be analyzed as illustrating the social imaginary of a culture. Aron. where he speaks of a camera obscura that reverses the proper rapport between the real and the imaginary. the role of the social imaginary was frequently dismissed as ideological mystification. following Feuerbach. I shall return to this analysis below. Napoleon set his seal on this derogatory connotation when he denounced as ideologues all who opposed his ambitions by letting idealist principles take priority over the exigencies of la politique reelle} It was this negative sense of ideology as abstract unreality or illusion which was later taken up by philosophers. it is true. believed that the image of human perfection was projected into a transcendental realm called the Divine. to transform the imaginary into the real and the rational. What mattered was its efficacity as an instrument of class warfare. Geertz. thus alienating humanity from itself. Of course. the question of truth was considered irrelevant. The task of science was to unmask this ideological imaginary and return humanity to itself. has challenged the reduction of the social imaginary to ideological distortion and argued for an affirmation of its Utopian potentials. Ideologue became a word of abuse for those engaged in lofty abstractions rather than facing up to the truths of reality. Where scientific reason dealt with truth. Lenin. Althusser.2 . ideology has come to mean the very opposite of science." But the initial claim of ideology to provide a scientific foundation for social law was soon dismissed. Science. it is possible to conceive of ideology as serving a symbolic function in society. once the epistemological question is bracketed. or at least epistemologically neutral. To describe something as ideological is generally to describe it as false. Most other modern critics of ideology—Mannheim. this opposition has often been superimposed—especially since Marx— on the Enlightenment opposition between reason and imagination. Many rationalists. and rhetorics. most cogently represented by Paul Ricoeur in his Lectures on Ideology and Utopia (1985). its myths. And. not surprisingly. The main point to be made at this stage is that it was the negative definition of ideology as false consciousness that dominated most subsequent theories.

considered by Marx and others as the most extreme example of human subservience and the most primordial expression of ideology. and (later) Freud. where the myth of a supernatural paradise becomes the opium of the people. Marx's denunciation of the religious character of the great money fetish in the first book of Capital constitutes one of the central planks of his critique of ideology (to which I shall return)."3 I readily acknowledge the legitimacy of such a hermeneutics of suspicion. this suspicion was directed to the specifically religious imaginary. in particular. which discerned the hidden connection between ideology and the historical phenomenon of class domination. Nietzsche. It is a "myth" in the sense that it inverts the real and the imaginary. in Moses and Monotheism and Totem and Taboo. As Ricoeur accurately observes in "The Critique of Religion" (1973): The reading of ideology as a symptom of the phenomenon of domination . according to Marx. Freud championed a genetic hermeneutics of desire. compensating for historical injustice with some ahistorical and otherworldly justice—which. he held. Ricoeur labeled this approach a hermeneutics of suspicion: a practice of interpreting (hermeneuein) discourse as "masked. expresses "the categorical refusal of all relations where man finds himself degraded. Dismissing religion as "Platonism for the people. It represents an "obsessional neurosis" whereby human desire is repressed through a complex of unconscious. and Freud share the suspicion that religious ideology remains ignorant of itself as a production of false values. Nietzsche advanced a genealogical hermeneutics of the will. Marx. Nietzsche. as a coded imaginary of submission. Freud explained the origin of the religious imaginary as a symbolic compensation for prohibited pleasures. self-concealing mechanisms. In this respect. is an imaginary substitute for lost primitive or infantile objects. resentment.68 / HERMENEUTIC DEVELOPMENTS I. this critique is an indispensable component of modern culture in general and of modern theology in particular. is no more than a fantasy projection. "The critique of religion. imprisoned or abandoned. Marx interpreted religion. Indeed." Above all. Thus." Marx replied accordingly. There is always a need to unmask the ideological content of the religious imaginary. The hermeneutic strategy of removing the mask to uncover repressed meanings was developed in the nineteenth century by the "three masters of suspicion"—Marx. Religion. and self-abnegation. which interpreted the religious imaginary as a distortion whose intention is to replace a strong will-to-power with passivity. THE HERMENEUTICS OF SUSPICION Most critiques of the ideological imaginary have focused on its negative role as a purveyor of falsehood. totally concealing its own socioeconomic motivation. He developed a hermeneutics of false consciousness." Nietzsche endeavored to expose religious cults of otherworldly transcendence as no more than disguised negations of life.

II. Moreover. He casts a suspicious glance at all efforts to reduce the genuine scandal of Cross and Resurrection to an ideological system wherein the newness of the Christian message is ignored or betrayed. THE CRITIQUE OF IDEOLOGY There are three principal functions of the ideological imaginary: integration. Before exploring such a hermeneutics of affirmation. is to debunk ideological inversions of the original relationship between the real and the imaginary. The hermeneutics of suspicion may in this way be preserved and also supplemented by a hermeneutics of affirmation. Marxism. dissimulation. Rudolf Bultmann (in the Theology of the New Testament* and elsewhere). the possibility of another. Bultmann levels his demythologizing against the mystification of Christian spirituality. of Western theology. Gnostic. From this point of view Marx does not belong solely to the Communists. for Bultmann. This extension of the hermeneutic critique makes it possible to recognize.Ideology and Utopia I 69 will be the durable contribution of Marxism beyond its political applications. Bultmann systematically exposes how the Living Word of the Gospels frequently degenerated into cultic images—for example. more positive function obscured by the negative. falsifying function. I propose to examine in more detail how the ideological imaginary actually works. 7 . appeared in Germany in the middle of the last century at the heart of the departments of Protestant theology. Bultmann held that Christianity must be emancipated from those "mythic" accretions whereby Christ became idolized as the sacrificial Kyrios of a savior cult—a cult modeled on fantastical heroes of Hellenic. Such a critique is clearly necessary. an event of Western culture. or Babylonian mystery-rites. to dissolve these false scandals so as to let the true scandal of the Word made flesh speak to us anew. atheistic or theistic. It is.6 The common task of such critical hermeneutics. the attempt to express the eschatological kingdom as a cosmological cult of heaven and hell. or the attempt to reduce the historical working of the spirit through the church to an idol of triumphalist power. it is also appropriate to recall that one of the most influential attempts to "demythologize" the religious imaginary was in fact sponsored by a Protestant theologian. in the symbolizing activity of myth and ideology.4 In this connection. therefore. and domination. To demythologize Christianity is. let it not be forgotten. But I would go further than the masters of suspicion in arguing that this critique must itself be subject to critique. it aims to unmask the true meaning behind the mythologized meaning. and I would even say.

A founding act can be revived and reactualized only in an interpretation which models it retroactively. explains Ricoeur. for domestication by memory is accompanied not only by consensus. which enables any particular society to identify itself. its role is also to perpetuate the initial energy beyond the period of effervescence. At this point.. a more recent past will suffice—the Declaration of Independence for the United States. characteristic of all situations apres coup. of both integrating and justifying a social order.. and repeatable order of meanings. the October Revolution for the former Soviet Union.. who sees it as the political vacuum of conservative nation-states turned in upon their own fetishized images (or what Lacanian psychoanalysis. moreover. "The ideological phenomenon thus begins very early."10 The ideological recollection of foundational images has the purpose. The process of ideological self-imagination frequently assumes the form of a mythic reiteration of the founding act of the community. It is an essential aspect of the social imaginary."12 a notion pursued by Althusser.70 / HERMENEUTIC DEVELOPMENTS INTEGRATION Ideology expresses a social group's need for a communal set of images whereby it can represent itself to itself and to others. some sacred beginning. every Alexander wants to Hellenise an Oriental despot. While this can accompany a cultural or national revival. every Caesar wants to be Alexander. or. It is into this gap."9 It is arguable.. The role of ideology.." a situation where each power rehearses an anterior power: "Every prince wants to be Caesar. continues to be mobilizing only insofar as it is justificatory.13 . so as to make it the creed of the entire group. ideology entails a process of schematization and ritualization that stereotypes social action and permits a social group to recollect itself through rhetorical maxims and idealized self-images. but also by convention and rationalization (in the Freudian sense)."11 Either way. predictable. Ideology serves to relate the social imaginary of a historical community to some inaugural act that founded it and can be repeated over time in order to preserve a sense of social integration. It seeks to redeem society from the crises of the present by justifying actions in terms of some sanctified past. therefore. and so on. Where an ancient past is lacking. 8 We could cite here the role played by the Aeneas myth in Roman society or the cosmogony myths in Greek society. it can also give rise to a "stagnation of politics. "is not only to diffuse the conviction beyond the circle of founding fathers. through a representation of itself. In this sense. indeed. Each society invokes a tradition of mythic idealizations through which it may be aligned with a stable. the Celtic myths of Cuchulain and the Fianna in Irish society. would call the narcissistic imaginary of the "mirror-phase"). ideology. Durkheim identifies ideology as the inner mechanism of the "national spirit. that no social group could exist without this indirect relation to its own inaugural event. from which Althusser drew. that the images and interpretations intervene.

Pluralism and permissiveness are the betes noires of social orthodoxy. they do so paradoxically.15 By masking the gulf that separates contemporary historical experience from mythic memory. All too frequently. by extension."14 Consequently. "It signifies that what is new can only be accommodated in terms of the typical. As Max Weber and later Jiirgen Habermas observed. . DOMINATION This function of the ideological imaginary raises the vexed question of the hierarchical organization of society—the question of authority. it is precisely because the codes of the ideological imaginary function in this oblique manner that the practice of distortion and dissimulation can occur. While it is virtually impossible for a social consciousness to endure otherwise than through some kind of interpretive detour via ideological codes. social systems tend to legitimize themselves through an ideology that justifies their right to secure and retain power. different.) But it can also function in a dissimulating capacity to the extent that it conceals the gap between what is and what ought to be—that is. or alien." Ideology is by its nature an "uncritical instance" and thus easily susceptible to deceit. and.Ideology and Utopia DISSIMULATION I 71 If the schematic "rationalizations of ideology" bring about social integration. the future—as opening up that which is unassimilable and unprecedented vis-a-vis the pre-existing imaginary—is often translated back into the established "types" of the past. The phenomenon of the intolerable arises when the experience of radical novelty threatens the possibility of the social group's recognizing itself in a retrospective reference to its hallowed traditions. rather than appearing as a transparent theme. I proceed to analyze how the ideological functions of integration and dissimulation may become joint allies of domination. ideology often justifies the status quo by presuming that nothing has changed. They represent the intolerable. This accounts for the fact that many social groups display traits of ideological orthodoxy that render them intolerant toward what is marginal. intolerance. between our currently lived reality and the ideal world of our traditional self-images. as it were. at a "pre-rational" level. (I shall return to this question of tradition in my next chapter. alienation. Self-dissimulation expresses itself as a resistance to change—as a closure to new possibilities of self-imagination. Moreover. itself stemming from the sedimentation of social experience. With this in mind. The ideology of foundational myths operates behind our backs. We think from ideology rather than about it. This is the epistemological reason for Marx's denouncing ideology as the falsifying projection of "an inverted image of our own position in society. ideology functions in a reactionary or at least socially conservative fashion. there is always the danger of reducing the challenge of the new to the acceptable limits of an established heritage of meaning.

Ideology operates. of power over freedom. This analysis of domination is comparable to Marx's celebrated critique of ideology. for Marx. and even Hegel. Put in another way. to superstructural theory over infrastructural praxis. to appropriate to itself the . In this respect it is an "archeological" interpretation that relocates the origin (arche) of meaning in the material forces and relations of production. Ideology attempts to compensate for the modern "disenchantment" of society. therefore. however. By projecting a heavenly other-world beyond the historical world. religion inverts the true relation between the imaginary and the real—superstructure and infrastructure—and makes man stand on his head. there would be no urgent need for the persuasive/coercive strategies of ideology. if a system's claim to authority were fully consented to by those whom it governs. It unmasks illusory representations that serve the interests of the dominant class by keeping the dominated class servile. It is a direct consequence of modernity."17 A genuine theistic hermeneutic would do well. on the one hand. ranging from the ancient mythological cosmogonies to the metaphysical idealisms of Plato. This inversion represents. accordingly. 16 Marx. Marxist critique serves the useful purpose of negating the negative function of ideology. on the other. Marx's critique of ideology is a hermeneutic of suspicion that proposes to invert the inversion—to liberate us from our false idealizations so that we may repossess ourselves as we are in reality." Marx developed Feuerbach's suggestion that religion is ideology par excellence. insofar as there exists a disparity between the nation-state's ideological claim to authority and the answering belief of the public. In The German Ideology he wrote that "if in all ideology men and their circumstances appear upside down as in a camera obscura. Ideology is thus considered the agency of false consciousness insofar as it gives priority to the imaginary over the material. Marx. Descartes. It is because there is no transparent coincidence between the claim to authority and the response to this claim that ideology is deemed necessary to preserve the semblance of a united social consensus. this phenomenon arises just as much from their historical life-process as the inversion of objects on the retina does from their physical life-process. as mentioned above. as a "surplus-value" symptomatic of a discrepancy between the legitimizing "ought" of normative codes. identified the ideological function of domination as a distorting inversion of the true relation of things. Any genuine commitment to religion must be prepared to expose itself to the risk of this purgative hermeneutic. and the "is" of lived social existence. the fundamental form and content of all ideological systems. A critique of religion nourished by Feuerbach.72 / HERMENEUTIC DEVELOPMENTS The process of legitimation is inherently problematic. and the masters of suspicion "pertains to the mature faith of modern man. for it seeks to fill the gap left by the diminution of tradition. Ideology assures what Weber termed the "charismatic" function of the social imaginary. Ideology thus entails a surplus-value of claim over response.

With the demise of religion as the dominant superstructure of society. The positivist claim to non-ideological rationality is both naive and deceptive. and from judgments of orthodoxy. science that claimed to overcome ideology. it can also serve other interests—for example. for exposing a specifically religious version of ideological inversion."19 This can occur only when Marxism extends its . . While indebted to Marx. ironically. a mask of hate. often lay claim to a scientific materialism that becomes an ideology of domination in its own right. Even Marxist societies." A Marxist critique of ideology could thus be endorsed as "a view through which any kind of mediation of faith must pass. To the extent. it performs the role of ideological domination denounced by Marx himself. and his equation of the latter with the sole function of inversion and domination. lead to a reductive understanding of the religious imaginary. that Marxism after Marx dogmatically invokes the model of scientific materialism to legitimize the official doctrine of the party and. one could argue. of the ruling group within the party. a mask of domination. therefore. The critique of ideology must itself be exposed to critique otherwise the rule of positivist reason can degenerate into an uncritical dogmatism that conceals its own ideological legitimation. (I shall return to this point in my discussion of the hermeneutics of affirmation. Marx's equation of the form of ideology with a specifically religious content.) Even within the critical perspective of a hermeneutics of suspicion. Ideology is a broader and more extensive phenomenon than Marx realized. however. In short. science frequently fulfills the role of ideological legitimation even though it was. by extension. Whence it follows that the critical potential of Marxism can be realized only if the use of Marx's work is "completely disassociated from the exercise of power and authority."18 The Marxist critique of the religious imaginary has serious shortcomings. taking a cue from the Frankfurt School. we should supplement this critique with a further critique of the claim of scientific reason itself to have discovered some postideological vantage point of total knowledge. Marx's exclusive equation of ideology with the distorting practice of religious inversion is too limited. In fact. the unchallenged cult of science can also become an opium of the people in the modern technological era (insofar as it justifies the dominant interests of a particular social system). that such a claim itself constitutes a new form of ideology. . for it justifies a new social order dominated by principles of disinterested objectivism that mask a system of technological manipulation. In the modern era. the interest in emancipation. founded largely on the critique of ideology. . To smash the idols is also to let [authentic] symbols speak. While it is true that a religious imaginary can serve the interests of class domination. therefore.Ideology and Utopia I 73 demystification of religion as a "mask of fear. other discourses come to serve as the ideological means of justifying and integrating new orders of domination.

TOWARD A HERMENEUTICS OF AFFIRMATION Ideology is indeed a creation of false consciousness. In this way. Symbolizations of Utopia pertain to the futurai dimension of our social imaginary. understood in the broad sense of social self-representation. on the horizon of aspiration opened up by symbols. while refusing any absolute standpoint of knowledge (Hegelian or positivist). Then it is nothing more than the (narrow) ideology denounced by Marx. therefore. . signifies that it is no longer religion. Social reality. to discover some ideologically free zone from which to speak in any absolute scientific manner about ideology. as LeviStrauss and Castoriadis have shown.74 / HERMENEUTIC DEVELOPMENTS critique of the religious ideology of domination to its own tendency to replace this with an scientific ideology of domination. Even the most scientific critique works within the limits of hermeneutic imagination. III. the system practiced by both advanced capitalism and bureaucratic socialism. that is. This critical hermeneutic would be able to operate "within" the social imaginary. always presupposes some sort of symbolic constitution. Having smashed the idols of false consciousness. This supplementary practice of interpretation is what Ricoeur terms a "hermeneutics of affirmation. 22 The best response to ideological imagination is not pure negation but a hermeneutic imagination capable of critical discrimination. . reverses the relation of heaven and earth. the insertion of the Word in the world. to science and technology. and it frequently includes an "interpretation in images and representations of the social bond itself. is an unsurpassable phenomenon of socio-historical existence. Hence. it is possible to rescue social symbolizations from the distorting strategies of reactionary domination. and undoubtedly does happen. once the archeological unveiling of the concealed meaning behind the apparent meaning has removed the masks of falsehood."21 It is impossible. Ricoeur sums up his critique of Marx's critique: "That religion . Ideology. as soon as their claim to scientificity masks their justificatory function with regard to the military-industrial system"20—that is. Ideology is an indispensable dimension of the hermeneutic circle in which our historically situated imagination is obliged to operate. Once the work of suspicion has taken place. But the same thing can happen. The hermeneutics of affirmation focuses not on the origin (arcbe) behind such symbols but on the end {utopos) in front of them—that is. it labors to identify genuine symbols of liberation. we must reject the assumption that we can totally abolish ideology (understood in the general sense of a symbolic constitution and interpretation of the social bond)." Such a hermeneutics seeks to discriminate between falsifying and emancipating modes of symbolization. while reaffirming the need for a perpetual critique of the deforming function of ideology. . but rather the inverted image of life. But it is not only that. there remains another task. This is the second function of the hermeneutic imagination.

they free us from the narrow security of reactionary conservativism. class oppression. of course. racist nationalism. class. 24 But the Utopian interpretation discerns in symbols a reference that is not exhaustively determined by anterior causes. their respective programs of critique aimed to demystify symbolic representations in order to uncover the cause (arche) of the representation.Ideology and Utopia I 75 The social imaginary can thus be divested of its mystifying function and reinterpreted in terms of a genuine symbolic anticipation of liberty. Here value is in front of the symbol. or individual. Nietzsche denounced metaphysical metaphors of the suprasensible as resentful deformations of an anterior will to power. between the regressive movement toward an archaic past and the progressive movement toward the production of new meanings. The archeological tends to treat symbolic expressions as illusory representations of some reality that pre-exists representation. symbolization operates as an effacement of some original reality. According to these three masters of suspicion.23 It is true. has important epistemological implications. that most cultural myths of a social imaginary entail both possibilities of interpretation (utopian and archeological)—a point I shall take up again in my next chapter. The distinction between archeological and Utopian interpretations of symbols. This Utopian reference is a "second order" signification. not behind it. This is what Ricoeur means when he refers to the "symbol giving rise to thought. community. it is disclosed as a posterior horizon of possibilities. archeological hermeneutics interprets the symbol in terms of a causal reference to some predetermining reality hidden behind the symbol. truth. Utopian symbols differ from most archeological symbols in that they tend to be inclusive rather than exclusive modes of representation. Marx criticized the religious phenomena of ideology and fetishism as strategic inversions of the anteriority of the material conditions of production over the superstructural interpretation of these conditions. In short. Freud argued that dream symbols should be deciphered in order to disclose the anterior reality of infantile desire or trauma. he elaborates on the Utopian projection of symbols: . wherein a symbol can refer not just to some reality before the representation but some future horizon of value: some "surplus" meaning that transcends the limits of ideology. as noted above. or totalitarian domination. To extend an archeological hermeneutics of suspicion into such Utopian hermeneutics of hope is to offer the possibility of redeeming symbols from the ideological abuses of doctrinal prejudice. Consequently. and to do so in the name of a Utopian project of freedom that excludes no creed." In a dialogue entitled "Myth as Bearer of Possible Worlds" (1978). or justice. Utopian hermeneutics also recognizes that symbols operate according to a double intentionality—that the ostensible reference of the symbol contains within itself a hidden reference to some meaning or value that is not immediately given.

Here we witness ideology at its worst—ideology that misrepresents an imaginary project as literal possession. hermeneutic imagination exposes the perversion of symbols in order to recover their genuine value. To the extent. It occurs when a church declares that it is the kingdom.76 / HERMENEUTIC DEVELOPMENTS Hermeneutics is concerned with the permanent spirit of language . Here again the question of ethical critique is all-important for a poetics of the social imaginary. Not all Utopian imaginings are. They constitute a disclosure of unprecedented worlds. This leads to sectarian triumphalism. We could cite here the eschatological image of the Last Days or the creation of a City on the Hill in which we may poetically dwell. and beauty—images that. But abuses do not make for good law. . Poetic and mythic symbols (for example) do not just express nostalgia for some forgotten world. and [function as] a recreation of language. TOWARD A CRITICAL HERMENEUTICS The critical moment of demythologization is not to be confused with desymbolization. if congealed. an opening onto other possible meanings which transcend the established limits of our actual world . as Herbert Marcuse and Ernst Bloch have pointed out. IV. not as some decorative excess or effusion of subjectivity. endorse the categorical imperative of hermeneutic imagination: things as they are must change. One could even say that the abuse of the social imaginary usually occurs when such symbols are interpreted as literal facts rather than figurative intentions—for example. The critical function of hermeneutic imagination is not to suggest that we can. or when a state declares that it is Utopia (the sole possessor of freedom or equality). But this disparity need not always entail an alienating inversion of the true relations of things. that the Utopian imaginary is authentic when it serves to explode ideologies that dissimulate present injustice. . All too often they have served the millennial ambitions of megalomaniacs. Instead of reducing symbols to some putatively "literal" content. . dispense with the social imaginary. that certain social symbols play the role of ideological domination. but rather that we can and should debunk the alienations of the social imaginary in order to restore its genuinely Utopian projects of liberty.25 I will say more on this question of myth interpretation in the next chapter. aspiration toward Utopian images of universal justice. It may also express a fundamental. for example. of course. when a particular nation argues that it and it alone possesses absolute truth. the social im- . .26 I have already observed how ideology expresses a disparity between symbolic representations and reality. peace. Differently stated. they have already abandoned their "exploratory" role as disclosures of possible worlds. This is the language of religious wars and cold wars: the language of ideological closure. or should. Such critique would enable us to show. but as the creative capacity of language to open up new worlds. therefore. liberating.

into a mystificatory discourse which serves to uncritically vindicate or justify the established political powers. without a distance from itself.27 Here it is a question of the social imaginary taking the form of a projection whereby a community expresses aspirations for a better world. a discourse of "Utopia" which remains critical of the powers that be out of fidelity to an "elsewhere. The gap is an indispensable and unsurpassable horizon of our finite hermeneutic imagination.28 But this Utopian discourse is not always positive either. . cultures create themselves by telling stories of their past. The danger is. Insofar as we remain aware of this gap.30 . hermeneutic imagination functions as creative interplay between the claims of ideology and Utopia. As reaffirmation. Ricoeur spells out the implications of this interplay: Every society possesses . the symbols of a community become fixed and fetishized. for a social group without ideology and Utopia would be without a plan. In such instances. In short. . an ensemble of symbolic discourses that can function as a rupture or a reaffirmation." to a society that is not-yet. usually by monopolistic elites. without a self-representation. 29 V. without the forward look it is deprived of its dreams. It would be a society without a global project. they serve as lies. Over against this. For besides the authentic Utopia in critical rupture there can also exist a dangerously schizophrenic Utopian discourse which projects a static future cut off from the present and the past. and Utopia as a symbolic opening towards the future. To deny its existence would be absurd. that this reaffirmation can be perverted. it can remind us that society's selfrepresentation is an open-ended process. the imaginaire operates as an "ideology" which can positively repeat and represent the founding discourse of a society. are complementary. . After all. that without the backward look a culture is deprived of its memory. what I call its "foundational symbols. C O N C L U S I O N The social imaginary vacillates in the gap between memory and projection. there exists the imaginaire of rupture. At best. consigned to a history fragmented into events which are all equal and insignificant. . they can lead to forms of political pathology. a socio-political imaginaire—that is. therefore. even ethically dangerous: Ideologies are gaps or discordances in relation to the real course of things." thus preserving its sense of identity. in such a way that history itself may be creatively transformed. of course. a mere alibi for the consolidation of the repressive powers that be. ideology as a symbolic confirmation of the past. but the death of ideologies would be the most sterile of lucidities. if cut off from each other. If one can say.Ideology and Utopia I 11 aginary is liberating to the degree that its Utopian forward look critically reappropriates its archeological backward look. .

In both instances. and the future or past. the ideological function of the social imaginary regresses to sterile conservatism or an escapism that denies reality altogether. "Before any critical distance. to a culture. therefore. we accept the very first role of ideology—the mediating function of the image or self representation"*1 Of course. a distancing of the subject from itself. historical epoch. which precedes and supports us. In accepting this belonging. which allows for a critical reinterpretation of self-imagining. to a class. the gap between the historical and the ideal becomes too rigid. Hence the need for the second hermeneutic function. it rules out the possibility of reaching some non-ideological vantage point where scientific reason could assume absolute knowledge beyond the limits of historical imagination. only when it knows itself to be ideology—a figurative-symbolic representation rather than a literal fact— and only when it ensures that the ideal is kept in close and creative relationship with the real. ideology functions as alienation and precludes the possibility of authentic historical action. Ideology can be considered retrievable. All objective knowledge about our position in a social class. which are often ideal. thereby motivating social action. The historical phenomenon of critical self-imagining may be compared with the textual model of interpretation. or cultural tradition presupposes a relation of prior belonging. and Ricoeur) can be extended to include both our belonging to the traditional representations of history and our critical distance from them. To understand a saying is first to confront it as something said." Critical distance. provides the possibility of historical distantiation. to one or several traditions. to a nation. it is precisely because of this belonging that we are also subject to the alienating possibilities of the ideological imaginary—dissimulation and domination. however. The phenomenon of belonging involves the recognition that our understanding always presupposes a historically situated pre-understanding. The claim to total knowledge is no more than an illusion—another example of inauthentic ideology. which is real. Action is impossible when the disparity between the real and the ideal precludes the adaptation of our hermeneutic imagination to a historical reality constantly in flux. This is so because the gap between the present. to receive it in its textual form detached from its author. This . is itself integral to the hermeneutic circle. Gadamer. as Ricoeur ingeniously shows. critical hermeneutics provides a satisfactory basis for a dialectical rapport between imagination and reason. from which we can never totally extricate ourselves. this distancing is intimately part of any reading whereby the matter of the text is rendered near only in and through a distance.78 / HERMENEUTIC DEVELOPMENTS If. In the final analysis. The model of the hermeneutic circle (outlined by the phenomenological hermeneutics of Heidegger. Historical distancing implies self-distancing. we belong to a history. critical "distantiation. Both concern a mediation of the subject through the distancing detour of signs and images: The mediation by texts has an exemplary value.

. What we need is a hermeneutic imagination of nontotalization. When reason pretends to surmount all ideological mediation it simply becomes a new ideological function in its own right. of course. In this dialectical passage. but within hermeneutics. for it is always hermeneutically founded in the unsurpassable condition of historical pre-understanding. Philosophical examples of this would be Habermas's reinterpretation of the socialist tradition as motivated by a Utopian goal of unrestricted communication.32 The dialectic of belonging and distancing allows for the possibility of hermeneutic imagination's passing from prejudice to critical self-reappraisal."33 . the refusal of totalitarian knowledge. or Ricoeur's reinterpretation of the Judeo-Christian promise as eschatological project of universal liberty. . A positive feature of this limitation is. from ideology to Utopia. which disabuses us of the twin extremes of dogmatic detachment and dogmatic attachment. The critique of ideology is a task that "must always be begun. Distantiation. to which critique often aspires. Distantiation never dissolves belonging. The notion of a disinterested. is the condition of possibility of the critique of ideology. . . This requires a proper balance between ideology and Utopia. dialectically opposed to belonging. There is no shortcut out of ideology that does not lead back into ideology. free-floating consciousness is a fallacy. contains crucial indications for a just reception of the critique of ideology. not outside or against hermeneutics. . Scientific reason.Ideology and Utopia I 79 hermeneutics of the text. Both readings involve a critique of ideology that distances us from historical prejudice while acknowledging our continued belonging to a specific historical interest—the interest in liberation. To completely renounce our hermeneutic bond to historical traditions is to relapse into the illusion of absolute knowledge. but it cannot do so in any absolute sense. but which in principle can never be completed. is obliged to remain incomplete. hermeneutic imagination can detach itself partially from its anchorage in historical pre-understanding (representations of tradition).

the reception of the past. and the living experience of the present—but without the Aufhebung into a totality where the reason of history and its effectiveness would coincide.6 Hermeneutics of Myth and Tradition (Ricoeur II) One of the most pressing tasks facing our culture.1 I will now examine 1) what precisely Ricoeur means by tradition and 2) how tradition may be positively related to history through a critical hermeneutics of myth. made up of a network of perspectives split between the expectancy of the future. is to ensure a creative relationship between tradition and the historical future. The open play of perspectives. entitled Narrated Time. The analysis is concentrated in the seventh chapter. Ricoeur proposes this alternative: An open-ended mediation. rehearsing the dialectic of the social imaginary in terms of a more specific application—to tradition and myth. HERMENEUTICS OF TRADITION In the third volume of Time and Narrative. extending between past and future. I investigate its often neglected resources for a "poetics of the possible. incomplete and imperfect. Taking myth as the primordial expression of the collective social imaginary. Tradition is now to be understood as an ongoing dialectic between our being-affected by the past and our imaginative projection of history yet to-be-made {la visee de Vhistoire a faire).2 Only by acknowledging this split character of history may we surmise the possibility of a "plural unity" emerging from these divergent perspectives. Ricoeur offers a comprehensive account of key concepts of tradition. says Ricoeur." Once again we confront the poetics/ethics relationship. requires us to revise the accepted view of tradition as a fait accompli. In many respects. "Toward a Hermeneutics of Historical Consciousness. 80 . this chapter may be read as a sequel to Chapter 5." Having renounced the Hegelian claim to a "totalizing mediation" of history in the form of Absolute Knowledge.

Otherwise they forfeit their capacity to solicit responsible political commitment. that our dreams must remain determinate (and therefore finite) if they are to become historically realizable. Invoking what he terms a "post-Hegelian Kantian" model. for it thereby finds itself incapable of formulating a path toward its ideals. "If it is true. Ricoeur resists the tendency to dismiss tradition as something complete in itself. thereby reanimating its still unaccomplished potentialities. runs the risk of schismatic negation. "we must make our expectancies more determinate and our experience more indeterminate.3 Ricoeur recommends that we resist this slide toward schism. History loses direction when cut adrift from all that preceded it. At this decisive point in his argument Ricoeur calls for a "step back from the future toward . humanity must be the subject of history in the sense of a "collective singular" (un singulier collectif). even to the point of banishing the past to the shades of oblivion—the obscurantism of the Middle Ages!—whereas our horizon of expectancy tended to withdraw into a future ever more vague and indistinct."5 Only when future imaginings are rendered determinate in this way can we retroactively reveal the past as a "living tradition. Ricoeur counsels that we bring it closer to the present by means of intermediary projects within the scope of social action.4 Warning against the contemporary diminution of the experiential space of tradition. Ricoeur counsels. "Libre aux nouveaux d'execrer les ancetres. and 3) in order to possess a history." But such a view. in his Lettre du Voyant." writes Ricoeur. applied literally to the realm of history and pushed to extremes. we may ask ourselves if the tension between expectancy and experience was not already beginning to be threatened the very day that it was acknowledged. What form should such resistance take? First.Hermeneutics of Myth and Tradition I 81 The futural project of history runs into trouble as soon as it slips its mooring in past experience. impervious to change. that the belief in des temps nouveaux contributed to the shrinking of our experiential space. Arthur Rimbaud was no doubt announcing the modernist manifesto when he proclaimed. 2) this humanity is only worthy of the name to the extent that it possesses a history. he urges us to rediscover tradition as an ongoing history. we should realize that the project of the future cancels itself out as soon as it loses its foothold in the "field of experience" (past and present). written in the revolutionary year of the Paris Commune 1871. Ricoeur advances three conditions which the Utopian imagination of expectancy must observe: 1) it must project a hope for all of humanity and not just one privileged community or nation. On the contrary. "Against the adage which claims that the future is in all respects open and contingent and the past univocally closed and necessary." writes Ricoeur. accordingly." Critical reflection on the project of "making history" thus calls for an interrogation of our relation to tradition—broadly understood as our "being affected by history" {Wirkungsgeschichtlichkeit in Gadamer's phrase). In order to prevent the future from dissolving into fantasy.

almost invariably produce certain non-intended consequences." The countless victims of history who are acted upon by forces beyond their control epitomize this condition of suffering—in both senses of the term. to avoid the pitfall of fatalism. He argues that traditionality is to be understood in the general sense of a formal style which transmits the heritages of the past." In keeping with Marx's dictum that man makes history according to circumstances which he has inherited. Ricoeur points to the necessity of always interpreting our "being-affected-by-the-past" in positive dialectical tension with our horizon of expectancy. e. traditionality is defined as a temporaiizing of history by means of a dialectic between the effects of history upon us (which we passively suffer) and our response to history (which we actively operate). To exist in history means that "to act is to suffer and to suffer is to act. Ricoeur describes traditionality in the first and second volumes of Time and Narrative as a dialectic between "sedimentation and innovation. To respect the demands of historical continuity and discontinuity. Here Ricoeur distinguishes among three different categories of historical memory: 1) traditionality. is the precondition for transmitting actual historical meaning. This means extending the discussion from mimesis 2 to mimesis 3. Ricoeur declares that we are only the agents of history to the degree that we are also its patients. is the idea of tradition itself.. Traditionality. But this is only the extreme case. 2) traditions.) However. however calculated." Here he relates the category to the realm of fictional narrative (what he calls mimesis 2).g. or of mountain deforestation on the Chinese harvests. beyond this either/or. to the rapport between narrative and the historical time of action and suffering that we. . Once this tension is lost sight of we easily succumb to a sterile antithesis between a reactionary apologism of the past and a naive affirmation of progress. and 3) Tradition (with a capital "T"). inhabit. that is. however. we must preserve the idea of a consciousness perduring through history while at the same time heeding the "decentering of the thinking subject" carried out by the hermeneutics of suspicion. The ethical demand to remember the past does not oblige us to rehabilitate the idealist model of a sovereign mind commanding a total recapitulation of historical meaning. Even those we consider the active initiators of history also suffer history to the extent that their actions. (This was admirably demonstrated by Sartre in his descriptions of "inverted praxis" in the first book of the Critique of Practical Reason. the counterproductive effects of imported gold from the American colonies on the Spanish economy in the seventeenth century. but in the third volume of Time and Narrative Ricoeur amplifies the range of reference. What does need to be retained. Ricoeur posits a third way. in other words. In this enlarged context.82 / HERMENEUTIC DEVELOPMENTS the past. readers and receivers of tradition. But retention is only permissible on the basis of a critical reinterpretation of this idea.

Hermeneutics of Myth and Tradition / 83 Ricoeur claims that this dialectical category enables us to obviate certain erroneous attitudes to the past.) but in the sense of things already said by those who existed in history before we arrived on the scene. The first relation of narrative to action. reveals how imitated action functions in terms of a text. But the dialectic of traditionality equally resists the idealist temptation to synchronize past and present. that "the temporal distance which separates us from the past is not a dead interval but a generative transmission of meaning. Avoiding both extremes. Greek. Moreover. is that of traditions. mimesis 7. depends largely on texts that give to the past ." notes Ricoeur. English. It suggests how we may have access to history without imposing our present imagination onto the past. thereby reducing the diversity of history to the identity of contemporaneous understanding (the error of Hegel and romanticism). as it were. This effect [efficience] of history on us is something which. the identification of traditions with language is to be understood not just in the sense of natural languages (French."7 The second category outlined by Ricoeur. Whereas traditionality is a formal concept. "that we experience. "It is in projecting an historical horizon. The third mode of mimesis—the effects that historical meaning has on our present acting and suffering—is shown to coincide in large part with the transmission of meaning via the textual mediations of the past. And here the labor of history and the labor of the historian come to each other's aid. this parallel between a hermeneutics of history and a hermeneutics of texts is corroborated by Ricoeur's demonstration that historiography. . takes effect without us. This takes into account the complex set of social and cultural circumstances which each one of us presupposes as a speaking and listening being. The past is thus opened up as an historical horizon which is at once detached from our present horizon and included in it. the second category functions as a material concept of the contents of tradition. Ricoeur insists that the linguistic character of historical meaning is central to the entire argument of Time and Narrative."6 Traditionality means. as a knowledge by means of traces. operating in the structural emplotment of fiction and historiography. it refuses to accept that the past can be abolished in the manner of a schismatic utopianism or Nietzschean "active forgetting" (an attitude which dissolves history into an arbitrary multiplicity of incommensurable perspectives). First. . etc. mimesis 2. in short. It gives voice to hermeneutic imagination. The fusion of horizons is that which we labor toward. discloses the primordial capacity of human action to be symbolically mediated. Moreover. the effect of the past on us . The transition from form to content is necessitated by the activity of interpretation itself. in its tension with the horizon of the present. the model of traditionality proposes a fusion of horizons (a la Gadamer). The second. Interpretation reveals that tradition is essentially linguistic (langagiere) and so cannot be divorced from the transmission of acquired meanings which precede us.

The Gadamerian defense of Tradition-Authority-Prejudgment presupposes that we are carried by the meanings of the past before we find ourselves in a position to judge them. Gadamer's famous defense of Tradition. we must add a material dialectic of contents to the formal dialectic of temporal distance [i. The hermeneutic of tradition. It refuses the idea that we understand the past by reproducing in the present some original production of meaning. we are spoken to before we speak. Ricoeur relates the essence of traditions to the fact that the past interrogates and responds to us to the degree that we interrogate and respond to it. Put in other terms. as if the temporal distantiation of meaning could be magically wished away. On this issue critical hermeneutics differs radically from romantic hermeneutics. residing above all prejudice. we are posited in tradition before we posit tradition. exposed to the effectiveness of history.8 Drawing thus from the Gadamer/Collingwood model of question-response. Ricoeur suggests that the opposition between Gadamerian Tradition and Habermasian critique is not insurmountable. Gadamer argued that this claim to historical truth does not come from us alone but is a voice from the past that we seek to reappropriate. he points out. A critical hermeneutics of tradi- . is not purely arbitrary or subjective). the past puts us into question before we put it into question.e. as soon as we acknowledge this... revisions. internal crises. Hermeneutic imagination is auditory imagination: it listens to the truth-claims of memory. Traditions are proposals of meaning that call for our interpretative response. As soon as we acknowledge that tradition is not some monolith of homogeneous dogma but an ongoing dialectic made up of different rival traditions. Our consciousness of being. we discover that there exists an essential dimension of distance at the very heart of tradition which actually invites critical interpretation. All comprehension of historical tradition entails historical traditions of comprehension.84 / HERMENEUTIC DEVELOPMENTS the status of documentary witness. we are situated before we are free to criticize this situation. This last move from traditions to Tradition is motivated by the observation that every proposal of meaning is also a claim to truth. In this struggle for the recognition of meaning. interruptions. stemmed largely from the conviction that our historical consciousness of the past refers to some truth (i. finds its complement in our interpretative response to the texts which communicate the past to us. ahistorical judgment. already contains within itself the possibility of a critique of the historical imaginary. Ricoeur defines the third category of the historical past as Tradition with a capital "T" (La Tradition). Ricoeur sums up: As soon as one takes traditions to refer to those things said in the past and transmitted to us through a chain of interpretations and reinterpretations. the text and the reader are each in their turn familiarized and defamiliarized.e. Whence Gadamer's conclusion that the Enlightenment claim to neutral. and schisms. traditionality]. as Ricoeur reminds us. is itself a prejudice.

To resolve this problem. This raises the crucial question of legitimation. Ricoeur's argument runs as follows: It is on this return journey of the question of foundation to the question of historical effectiveness that the hermeneutics of tradition makes itself heard again. accordingly. is that this criterion of legitimacy may be deferred to an indefinite future without any grounds in history. to the "interest in emancipation. which is a dialogical idea from the outset. One could. of course. the validation of universal norms must itself be rooted in a historical dialectic between a determinate horizon of expectancy and a specific space of experience. short of being divorced from the effectiveness of history. we must try to discern signs of this truth in the anticipations of agreement operative in every successful communication. the dialogical idea is compelled to rejoin the buried anticipations of tradition itself." exemplified by the hermeneutic sciences.9 Ricoeur recommends. Thus reinstated in our horizon of expectancy. in every communication where we actually experience a certain reciprocity of intention and recognition." exemplified by the critical social sciences. the critical moment of transcendental self-reflection cannot provide adequate grounds for the ideal of undistorted communication. In other words. Habermas had declared it necessary to move beyond the "interest in communication. This means that we respect truth-claims of tradition until such time as a better argument prevails. To avoid the endless flight of a perfectly a-historical truth. the pure transcendental standpoint may legitimately assume the negative status of a limit-idea with regard to both our determinate expectancies and our hypostasized traditions. appeal to a transcendental reflection in order to provide universal norms of validation. Since the social imaginary of tradition is by its nature subject to ideological distortion. that we interpret tradition's pretension to truth in the non-absolutist sense of a presumption of truth. So understood. must be perceived as already at work in the practice of communication. this limit-idea must also become a regulative idea which directs the concrete dialectic between the horizon of expectancy and the space of experience. But this move runs the risk of enclosing us in a monological transcendental deduction a la Kant. In short. Without a dialogical dimension rooted in history. The "presumption of truth" refers to our basic attitude of credit or trust in the propositions of meaning legacied by the past—a primary response which precedes the critical moment of distantiation and reminds us that we are not the originators of truth but already belong to a context of "presumed truth. Habermas appealed to an ahistorical ideal of undistorted communication." Ricoeur believes that this model bridges the gap between the finitude . the transcendence of the idea of truth. The danger here. But. however.Hermeneutics of Myth and Tradition I 85 tion insists on the necessity to discriminate between true and false interpretations of history.

In this way. . Perhaps there would be no more interest in emancipation. eschatology is nothing without the recitation of acts of deliverance from the . that of liberating acts. understood as a project of emancipation. As if it were necessary to choose between reminiscence and hope! In theological terms. I would even say that it plunges into the most impressive tradition. if not the creative renewal of cultural heritage?10 Here we are compelled to acknowledge an intimate link between the reawakening of political responsibility and the reactivation of traditional sources of communicative action. a future project completely divorced from the historical heritage of the past. . . thereby opening the latter to a novel project. . . Ricoeur's conclusion to his assessment of the GadamerHabermas debate in "Hermeneutics and the Critique of Ideology" (1973) is most instructive: How can [Habermas's] interest in emancipation remain anything other than a pious vow. If this is so then nothing is more deceptive than the alleged antinomy between a [hermeneutic] ontology of prior understanding and a [critical] eschatology of freedom. . if the Exodus and the Resurrection were effaced from the memory of mankind. no more anticipation of freedom. save by embodying it in the reawakening of communicative action itself? And upon what will you concretely support the reawakening of communicative action. For critical theory a historical memory would not be that of romanticism (as it was for Gadamer) but rather of the Enlightenment (and its prefigurations). critique as a project of freedom nourishes itself from a historical heritage that finds its modern impetus in the Aufkldrung but that actually dates back much further to include some of the oldest mythic narratives of liberty. As Ricoeur puts it: Critique is also a tradition. and so must presuppose some kind of historical memory. In like manner. Ricoeur inserts Habermas's critique of ideology into the heart of the hermeneutics of tradition. but he insists that such a project requires a fundamental respect for tradition if it is to safeguard itself against the danger of arbitrary or ahistorical voluntarism—that is. of the Exodus and the Resurrection. the critical consciousness reinterprets it in terms of a regulative idea—the ideal of unrestricted and unconstrained communication. Ricoeur proposes to mediate between Gadamer's "backward look" of inherited pre-understanding and Habermas's "forward look" of communicative action. Where the hermeneutic consciousness (in Gadamer's sense) invokes a common understanding that precedes us. But this antithesis disappears if one espouses a critical hermeneutics that realizes that critical theory cannot "speak from" the basis of a transcendental subject (which it has denounced).86 / HERMENEUTIC DEVELOPMENTS of hermeneutic imagination (stressed by Heidegger and Gadamer) and the validity of the ideal undistorted communication (championed by Habermas). The apparently insurmountable opposition between a hermeneutic and a critical consciousness is thus overcome.

however. The growing discrepancy between expectation and tradition lies at the root of our crisis of modernity. "when expectancy takes refuge in Utopia and tradition congeals into a dead residue. Ricoeur concludes. to Ricoeur's perceptive analysis. insofar as the gap between past and future that it opens up serves to heighten our consciousness of the problem of historical meaning? Would Ricoeur himself have devoted so much attention to the question of narrative continuity and transmission if the crucial link between tradition and historical expectation was unproblematically assured? Just as the cultural crisis of modernity has given rise to a proliferation of new literary forms. In this larger dialectic between tradition and expectation we rediscover suppressed potentialities of past meaning which give flesh to the ideal of undistorted communication." On the other." Ricoeur concludes."13 Our contemporary task is to confront this crisis and prevent the tension between expectation and tradition from further degenerating into schism." notes Ricoeur. from Virginia Woolf and Joyce to Beckett and Borges. which in turn is related to our historical horizon of expectancy. . This task—which Ricoeur does not hesitate to describe as an "ethical duty"14— is twofold."15 Such transaction is a role for hermeneutic imagination. Is there not a sense in which the crisis of modernity also has a positive value. our inherited space of experience becomes more restricted. we must bring the expectancies for the future closer to the present by a strategic praxis sensitive to the concrete steps that need to be taken toward realizing what is "desirable and reasonable.12 But Ricoeur rounds off his analysis with a warning signal. It is the task of philosophical reflection to eliminate deceptive antinomies which would oppose the interest in the reinterpretation of cultural heritages received from the past. As our horizon of expectation becomes ever more distant. "All initiative on the historical plane. must be understood in the dynamic perspective of our being-affected-by-the-past. . Indeed. we must try to halt the shrinking of our experiential space by liberating the still untapped potentialities of inherited meaning.Hermeneutics of Myth and Tradition I 87 past.11 Tradition. "consists in the perpetual transaction between these two tasks. This indispensable interplay between past and future is becoming increasingly threatened in our time. I would add this critical comment. and the interest in the futuristic projections of a liberated humanity. it is only in terms of such an interplay between memory and anticipation that the ideal image of a reconciled humanity can be invested with an effective history. has this same crisis not given rise to a new urgency of philosophical questioning about the nature of historical truth—of which Time and Narrative is itself an exemplary witness? I am reminded here of Hannah Arendt's observation in her preface to Between Past and Future: The call to thought makes itself heard in that strange in-between period which sometimes inserts itself into historical time when not only the later . On the one hand. "The entire present is in crisis. .

By taking myth as a specific instance of the dialectic I hope to make the argument more concrete." These. Hermeneutic imagination discriminates between positive and negative functions of myth. transmission.g. The Symbolism of Evil (1960). The need to continually reevaluate one's cultural imaginary raises the central question of myth as narrative. as a positive activity of social poiesis. are usually supplemented by "anthropological myths" (e. Myth can thus be salvaged as a constructive mediation between tradition and history. Such is the function of "mythopoetic imagination. Thus salvaged. has frequently been predicated upon a rupture with the past. The critical demand to demystify and debunk is. on occasion. myth can function as a salutary indictment of the status quo. and reinterpretation of past values. In contemporary movements of science. been pushed to extremes. and is defined in the general sense of a foundational narrative whereby a community relates itself to itself and to others. and theology. philosophy. HERMENEUTICS OF MYTH I will now examine how the dialectic between tradition and history has often found expression in the mediational role of myth. By means of a reference to the origins of its history. The project of modernity. myths of Adam and Prometheus). II. as Ricoeur points out in The Symbolism of Evil. maintaining both elements in a relationship of creative tension. an indispensable corrective to the conservative apotheosis of Tradition as monolith of Truth. albeit on an imaginary plane. By projecting other modes of understanding. we find repeated calls for a demythologization of tradition. myth may legitimately fulfill its dual potential of creation and critique: the hermeneutic disclosure of possible worlds which are suppressed in our present reality and whose very otherness provides alternatives to the established order. History has often shown that it is such intervals which may contain the moment of truth. become conscious of an interval in time which is entirely determined by things which are no longer and are not yet. The function of myth was analyzed by Ricoeur in his first hermeneutical work.16 Ricoeur's hermeneutic analysis of tradition and expectation is written from just such an interval. Most civilizations have their own cosmogenies or "creation myths." But myth also contains another crucial dimension: a poetical anticipation of the future.. It is here that a critical hermeneutics of myth can help to relate tradition to the ongoing project of history understood as history-making. which tell the story of the genesis of human value. of course.88 / HERMENEUTIC DEVELOPMENTS historians but actors and witnesses. Narrative imagination. that is. understood as the . the mythic narrative seeks to account for how a particular culture or community came to be. But it has. the living themselves. as we saw above. In this respect myth is closely bound up with tradition as a recollection.

of emancipation or domination. A hermeneutic evaluation of myth involves not just epistemological considerations but ethical ones. These interests. to resist the facile opposition between the "eternal values" of tradition." Suffice it to recall here that critical hermeneutics interprets myth as a masked discourse concealing hidden meaning behind apparent meaning. . broadly. as Habermas recognized in Knowledge and Human Interests. relates to tradition in two ways. and the task it sets itself is to remove the mask. Most critics of myth have focused on its function of mystification. . It is a narrative construct requiring ongoing interpretation. Hence religious myths of a kingdom may be interpreted either as an opiate of the oppressed or an antidote to such oppression. Likewise. Every narrative interpretation. acting. is also to examine one's conscience—in the sense of critically discriminating between value-interpretations.19 In the remainder of this chapter I mention some consequences of this approach for a contemporary understanding of myth. on the one hand.Hermeneutics of Myth and Tradition I 89 human endeavor to make sense of history by telling a story. myths are not innocent. . The founding myths of most nation-states call for critical discrimination between authentic and inauthentic uses (see Chapters 10 and 13 below). and the free inventiveness of critical imagination. To examine one's culture. can be those.17 To properly attend to this dual capacity of narrative is. narrative can release new and hitherto concealed possibilities of understanding one's history. Here hermeneutics can be complemented by the critique of concealed interests advanced by Habermas and the Frankfurt School. as romantic ethnology would have us believe. national myths can be used to liberate a community or to incarcerate that community in tribal bigotry. it can. in splendid isolation from social and historical value-contexts. transcending through criticism and invention the limitations of what had hitherto been reasoned in that tradition. on the other. "takes place within the context of some traditional mode of thought. No text exists in a vacuum."18 This implies that the contemporary act of rereading and retelling tradition can actually disclose uncompleted and disrupted narratives which open up unprecedented possibilities of imagining—and by extension. as Alasdair Maclntyre reminds us. whether it involves a literary or a political reading of history. therefore. Traditions when vital embody continuities of conflict. in Walter Benjamin's words. 20 This does not require us to crudely deconstruct figurative myths into literal . They become authentic or inauthentic according to the "interests" they serve. wrest tradition from the conformism that always threatens to overpower it. And by critically scrutinizing the past. According to a hermeneutics of suspicion. consequently. Tradition itself is not some seamless monument existing beyond time and space. By creatively reinterpreting the myths of the past. This approach has been examined in some detail in my preceding chapter under the heading "hermeneutics of suspicion.

we find a concern for the universal emancipation of man. Whence it follows that even though myths originate in particular cultures. . . .21 The movement from the poetical to the ethical critique of myth signals a convergence of imagination and reason. as both a personal and collective phenomenon.. . . We should perhaps sharpen this critical criterion to include only those myths which have as their horizon the liberation of mankind as a whole. and a genuinely exploratory function. (One need only consider. CONCLUSION The critical task of hermeneutics is not to reduce great myths of tradition to one-dimensional tracts. Without the constant vigilance of logos mythos remains susceptible to all kinds of perversion.90 / HERMENEUTIC DEVELOPMENTS facts. to possible worlds of justice. but we must always approach it critically. they are also capable of emigrating and developing in cultural parameters. The mythos of a community is the bearer of a meaning which extends beyond its own particular frontiers. Modern man can neither get rid of myth nor take it at its face value.) The hermeneutic critique of mythos is indispensable because ideological representations are neither good nor bad in themselves but become so by virtue of their ongoing reinterpretation by each generation. . We are no longer justified in speaking of "myth in general." We must critically assess the content of each myth and the basic intentions which animate it. Whenever a particular myth is considered the founding act of one community to the exclusion of all others. In genuine reason {logos) as well as in genuine myth {mythos). Ricoeur argues accordingly: The potential of any authentic myth goes beyond the limits of any single community. What is required is a hermeneutic dialectic between the claims of logos and mythos. . the possibility of corruption inevitably arises. Nothing travels or circulates as widely and effectively as myth. Liberation cannot be exclusive. It calls rather for a critical distinction between what Ricoeur refers to as the explicatory function of doctrinaire myths. It is only when mythos and logos conjoin in a common project of universal liberation that we can properly speak of authentic symbols. . e. for instance. Myth for us is always mediated and opaque and . several of its recurrent forms have become deviant and dangerous. Only those myths are genuine which can be reinterpreted in terms of liberation.g. which justifies the status quo in a dogmatic or irrational manner. That is why the hermeneutic imagination cannot afford to approach myths in a naive or uncritical manner: We are no longer primitive beings living at the immediate level of myth. 22 III. . the way fascist movements unscrupulously exploited Germanic or Roman myths. It entails the scrupulous disentangling of enabling in- . the myth of absolute power (fascism). . which puts the status quo into question and opens us to an ethical poetics. Myth will always be with us. . it is the bearer of other possible worlds.

it must be inclusive. Ethical logos shares with poetic mythos the desire for freedom—our freedom to imagine others and others' freedom to imagine us. To save myth is to safeguard it as a poetics of the possible. Without fidelity we become disinterested spectators of a cultural void. To belong authentically to the myths of tradition is also to be elsewhere. Indeed.25 Every mythology implies a conflict of interpretations. For hermeneutic imagination to be inside tradition is to be simultaneously outside.23 The crisis of modernity is characterized. This offers a certain critical distance. We are far less prone today to believe that myth provides a true account of history.26 . I submit. We begin to recognize that the value of myth resides in its ability to contain more meaning than a narrow history of facts. Ricoeur calls this "saving myth" by demythologizing it. Without the vigilance of hermeneutic imagination. In maintaining a poetical fidelity to the great (and small) myths of tradition.24 What is needed. is a hermeneutic dialectic between a critical logos and a creative mythos." which leads to a positivistic impoverishment of our culture. we are free to appreciate its role as exploration of how things might be. Or to put it another way: having eliminated the abuse of myth as explanation of how things are. It means that we are no longer subject to the illusion that myth "explains" reality. For tradition to be ethical. by the separation of myth and history: a divorce exemplified in what Weber called the desacralization (Entzauberung) of tradition.Hermeneutics of Myth and Tradition I 91 terests from disabling ones operative within mythologies. To imagine ourselves as we truly are is to imagine ourselves otherwise. in part at least. emancipatory function. It is our ethical responsibility to ensure that mythos is always conjoined with logos to prevent narratives of tradition from glorifying one specific community to the exclusion of all others. myth remains susceptible to all kinds of misuse. If myth is to remain true to its promise it must pass through the detour of critical enlightenment. without questioning we become slaves to prejudice. we retain a questioning attitude. it is arguable that it is the very demythologization of myth that permits us to rediscover its genuine. This necessary act of demythologizing should not be confused with "demythizing. which raises important ethical stakes.

it is worth noting that narrative imagination is no stranger to controversy in contemporary philosophical debate. and tales from generation to genera92 . The shared experience of traditional communities. This challenge finds one of its most cogent. if ambivalent. expressions in an essay by Walter Benjamin entitled "The Storyteller: Reflections on the Work of Nicolai Leskov" (1936). legends. And I will argue that they receive this in the framework of a critical hermeneutics predicated on the view that narrative discourse involves someone narrating something to someone about something. which enabling and which disabling? Moreover. can we sustain the notion of an imagination that is both creative and responsible? Can we continue to determine which images are genuine and which fake. I will examine here what I hold to be three central tasks of narrative imagination: 1) to realize our debt to the historical past.7 The Narrative Imagination: Between Poetics and Ethics (Ricoeur III) Does narrative imagination still have a role to play in contemporary culture? At a time when practices of storytelling are increasingly challenged by technologies of information and simulation. and 3) to persuade and evaluate our actions. Here Benjamin observes the imminent threat to narrative in our age of mass media and mechanical reproduction. if any. All three. based on the oral transmission of stories.1 Before exploring these issues. does it make any sense to go on talking about a poetics of narrative imagination? Or to ask what rapport. such a poetics might have with ethics? These questions merit serious philosophical consideration. lead ultimately to the decisive hermeneutic threshold where a poetics of narrative converses with an ethics of responsibility. myths. More specifically. 2) to cultivate a notion of self-identity. The function of narrative imagination has been put in question by several current theories. I submit.

who devotes an extensive study to the Structural Analysis of Narratives^ concludes by denying narrative any relation to a human person who speaks or to any reality outside of the text itself. and denouement.. and wisdom. says Barthes."7 Structuralist and post-structuralist critiques often carry the suspicion that narrative is a totalizing function that suppresses difference.3 The structuralists. This mutation of narrative signals the end of inherited culture. "is from the referential (reality) point of view literally nothing* 'what happens' is language alone. is being replaced. While bemoaning its consumerist aspects.5 Foucault goes further. Thus Foucault seeks to validate his .2 Other accounts of narrative imagination have been less equivocal. denouncing narrativist approaches to history as so many ideological strategies of power and knowledge: strategies that need to be demystified by a structural archeology capable of exposing the binary classifications dividing society into convenient oppositions—sane and insane. normal and eccentric. desire. These negative verdicts on narrative imagination are neither unconditional nor uncontestable. are informed by a basic contradiction. character. Levi-Strauss. authenticity." The text becomes. Most of them. What takes place in a text. and otherness.8 Stories. for their part. by the anonymous and instantaneous transmission of information. are considered myths with mystificatory beginnings and illusory endings. he concedes not only its inevitability but even its potential for a new universalism transcending traditional localisms. Benjamin argues. or reality and ends up relating only to itself. and the emergence of an electronically interconnected communications network. In short. Barthes approves the structuralist motto "in narrative no one speaks. healthy and sick.6 Even Roland Barthes. Benjamin's account of the demise of storytelling is double-edged. in short. with its aura of continuity. I believe.g. the adventure of language. reads the Oedipus story as a structural iteration of recurring mythemes (e. the unceasing celebration of its coming. depth. monologue (posterior to dialogue).The Narrative Imagination I 93 tion. 4 Lacan reads the narratives of the analysand as a structural rebus that discloses unconscious desires that the narrator herself knows nothing of in the telling of her story. He reveals a deep structure beneath the narrative functions of plot. an asylum of signifiers where language dispenses with reference to author. overrating and underrating of blood relations) that are fundamentally counter-narrative. Positivist historians like Carl Hempel resist the idea of narrative imagination having any role in the retelling of history—the argument being that such narrative interference jeopardizes the historiographer's scientific claim to generalizable objective laws. in other words. Structuralist and positivistic repudiations of narrative almost invariably presuppose the function they repudiate. . permissible and perverse. addressee. for example. are no less critical of the hermeneutic claims of narrative. Benjamin has mixed feelings about this mutation. .

Nussbaum. the parricidal Pierre Riviere whose killing of his parents explodes received taboos. Said.. Copernicus. Lacan's performative extravaganzas on television.94 / HERMENEUTIC DEVELOPMENTS archeology of power/knowledge by providing us with genealogies bristling with narrative examples—the hermaphrodite Herculine Barbin who defies the male/ female divide.g. Once again. and ethical evaluation. One might also cite here Ahhusser's narrative reconstruction of the relationship of Marxist history to prehistory (on a par with the epistemological revolutions of Thales. White. and Benhabib. These Parisian Cassandras of the end of narrative have been among the most adept practitioners of its art. These range from continental philosophers like Ricoeur and Arendt to North American thinkers such as Taylor. Moreover. mother of Ion. are the arguments for the narrative function of imagination offered by several contemporary thinkers. I confine most of my comments below to the hermeneutic analysis of these three narrative functions outlined by Paul Ricoeur. I believe. Artaud and Nietzsche. the strongest argument against critics of narrative imagination. Performative contradiction is not. Carr. the fact that most of these structuralist maitres have been the subject of controversial autobiographies (Barthes and Althusser) or biographies (Foucault. we encounter the paradox of narrative being invoked to reject narrative. and Freud) to exemplify his anti-narrative model of coupures epistemologiques.10 Here we find acknowledgment of the indispensable role played by narrative in history. Barthes' media-friendly musings on the demise of the authorial narrator. Foucault offers dramatic narratives (historical and fictional) to enforce his anti-narrative methodology. One could make a similar point about Levi-Strauss's deployment of myths (e. whose complaint before her rapist. subverts the accredited norms of right and wrong. the central importance of their own narrative case-histories. Oedipus Rex in "The Structural Analysis of Myth" or the shamanistic tale of the blocked cave in "The Effectiveness of Symbols") to prioritize the timeless structures of pensee sauvage over the diachronic functions of narrative emplotment. the "parrhesiast" (truth-telling) Creusa. however. . the regicidal Damiens whose tale of torture confounds the distinction between criminal and hero. whose madness flouts the categories of sane/insane. self-identity. they have been conspicuous by their authorial presence: Foucault's bald head gazing from the cover of Le Nouvel Observateur under the caption "L'Homme est mort!". Maclntyre. Apollo. Proponents of the absence of the author.9 French structuralists have been notoriously preoccupied by the place they occupy in intellectual history. More convincing still. I contend. Lacan) betrays. In all these instances.

however. The hermeneutic act of transfer by analogy seeks to address this paradox." So doing. these things as events that actually happened. by standing-for. we are dealing here with the capacity to liberate ourselves from the blind amnesia of the "now" by projecting futures and retrieving pasts. refiguring them as similar to our present experience (failing which we would not be able to recognize them)."13 We would not be able to respond to the summons of historical memory were it not for the mediating/schematizing function of imagination. which provides us with "figures" for events that happened but are suppressed from memory. as it once was. For "it is always through some transfer from Same to Other. suffered.11 Translated into the idiom of historical time. Projection is an emancipatory function of narrative imagination. is by no means obvious. in empathy and imagination. must include a sense of ethical responsibility to "the debt we owe the dead.The Narrative Imagination I. In addition to narrative reenactment—which reappropriates the past as present under the category of the Same—historical imagination has a duty to the otherness of the past by way of expressing the past precisely as past. Here we encounter the right of the past."14 This process of transfer. the narrative reappropriation of the past operates according to a double responsibility: to the past as present."12 In the third volume of Time and Narrative. We remind ourselves. A poetics of narrative. that Nagasaki and Cambodia were bombed. In short. It enables us to transport ourselves into alien or eclipsed moments. it stands-in-for." It is poetics that comes to the service of ethics as a means of recalling our debt to those who suffered and died (and are often forgotten). that political crimes and injustices have been inflicted on innocent people over the centuries. These were not simulations. narrative imagination provides us with figural reconstructions of the past that enable us to see and hear things long since gone. he maintains. that gas ovens and gulags did exist. that is. to incite and rectify our narrative retellings of history. . Narrative imagination serves in this way to recall the neglected "others" of history. for example. and died. The responsibility here is twofold. The ostensible paradox here isy of course. We recall our debt to those who have lived. They actually happened. Both resist the contemporary tendency to reduce history to a "depthless present" of "Preference. that the Other that is foreign is brought closer. that it should be imagination that responds to the ethical summons to respect the "reality of the past. On the one hand. while simultaneously acknowledging their dissimilarity as distinct and distant. Ricoeur analyses the "testimonial" role of imagination in historical retrieval. as something that is no more. retrieval a testimonial function. we can make present what is absent. NARRATIVE AND HISTORY I 95 A key power of narrative imagination is to "provide ourselves with a figure of something. We are dealing here with a dual fidelity to the past as sameness and difference. On the other.

feel. are almost comparable to Tolstoy's War and Peace. of Michelet's version of the French Revolution. rather than diminish. makes hauntingly evident in his resolve to tell the story as it happened in the most vivid fashion imaginable.) To the extent that it remains ethically responsible to historical memory. and this service entails ethical as well as poetical dimensions. The danger is. "Remember!" is more ethically fitting in such circumstances.15 So when we talk of narrative imagination providing us with "analogies" of the past as-itactually was. the task of standing-for. and so on. we do well to appreciate that the analogous "as" is a two-way trope of absence/presence. of course. Equally important is the responsibility to refigure certain events of deep ethical intensity that conventional historiography might be tempted to overlook in favor of a so-called objective explanation of things. This point merits development. Or as Levi himself put it . This is something Primo Levi. this double obligation. it resists absorbing difference into sameness. that the figural "as if" might collapse into a literal belief. a historical narrative whose literary qualities. But freedom from illusion is not the only ethical responsibility of narrative. this "fiction-effect" of history can often enhance. The recourse to narrative tropes and devices to achieve this impact is motivated throughout by an ethical imperative: People must never be allowed to forget lest it happen again. a survivor of the camps. we can admit that the telling of history involves the deployment of certain literary practices—plot. Once we recognize that historical narrative entails a refiguring of the past. it would seem that the practice of "neutralization" is quite inappropriate. composition. under the title of lexis or "locution"—a way of making things visible as if they were present. so that we would no longer merely "see-as" but make the mistake of believing we are actually seeing. Otherwise put. The biblical watchword Zakhor. It can tell us about the way things actually happened in the past at the same time that it makes us see. In a case like the Holocaust. (It would be interesting here to see how retellings of the Holocaust such as Schindlers List or Shoah fulfill. point-of-view. fiction can serve history. One thinks. Moreover. Narratives of the past comprise an interweaving of fiction and history. for example. or fail to fulfill. The deployment of novelistic techniques by historians to place some past event or personage vividly before the reader's mind was already recognized by Aristotle in the Rhetoric. in certain respects.96 / HERMENEUTIC DEVELOPMENTS and to the past as past. This is why the same text can be at once a great work of history and a great work of fiction. This "hallucination of presence" (easily conducive to dogmatism and fundamentalism) calls for ethical vigilance by historians in order to sustain a proper dialectical balance between empathetic belief and critical disbelief. character. and live the past as if we were there. imagination refuses to allow reconstruction to become a reduction of the other to the self.

The distinction is important."17 In such instances. Tienehmien Square: such historical horrors of our century cannot be explained away as cogs in some dialectical wheel. And this ethical task of preserving the specificity of past suffering from sanitizing homogenization applies not only to positivist historians but also to the ontodicies of certain philosophers—I am thinking particularly here of Hegel's Ruse of Reason or Heidegger's musings on the Destiny of techne (which put gas chambers and combine-harvesters into the same category). Dachau."19 But other commentators. Bloody Sunday. Mai Lai. Hiroshima. . the Killing Fields.18 The ethical role of imagination in remembering the horrible is tied to a specific function of individuation: namely. from explaining things away. seem at times to celebrate this liquidation of reference.' to make the 'others' participate.The Narrative Imagination I 97 in his conclusion to Si c'est un homme: "The need to recount to 'others. the representatives in our memory of all history's victims. the former moves in the opposite direction. . Baudrillard and Lyotard among them." writes Ricoeur. quite simply. as epiphenomena of the Zeitgeist. Frederic Jameson decries this tendency to eclipse the historically unique as a "postmodern cult of the depthless present. "rememoration" takes on an ethical character quite distinct from the triumphalist commemoration of history's great and powerful. "Horror attaches to events that must never be forgotten."16 In such cases. The cause of the tremendum horrendum needs narrative imagination to plead its case lest it slip irrevocably into oblivion. Sabra and Chatilla. between what is real and unreal in the representation of things. instead. Where the latter tends to legitimate ideologies of conquest. "It constitutes the ultimate ethical motivation for the history of victims. the need to respect the uniquely unique character of certain historical events. toward a felt reliving of past suffering or horror as if we (readers/listeners/spectators) had actually been there. reveals the scandal of every theodicy of history. The victims of Auschwitz are. Victimization is the other side of history that no cunning of reason can ever justify and that. Yet it is just this relativizing tendency that our current culture of simulation evinces when it reduces narrative imagination to a play of imitation devoid of historical reference. The horrible must strike us as horrible. some postmodernists hold. Lyotard claims narrative forms of imagination betray the "irrepresentable" nature of the postmodern sublime. namely. 20 We can no longer distinguish. the refigurative powers of narrative imagination prevent historiography from neutralizing injustice or. and it was in response to such a need that I wrote my book. while Baudrillard hails the postmodern condition of "irreference" where even the reality of war is reduced to a TV game of spectacle and simulation. And one is tempted to conclude that it is a short step from Baudrillard's kind of thinking here to the claims of revisionist . the Gulag. acquired in us before and after our liberation the vehemence of an immediate impulse. par excellence.

accordingly. The ethical rapport of narrative to history may be summarized. "Eyes to see and to weep. "There are crimes that must not be forgotten. just as imagination without hope of explanation runs the risk of blind irrationalism. In any case. It is not a question of opposing "subjective" imagination to "objective" explanation. victims whose suffering cries less for vengeance than for narration. under the following aspects: 1) a testimonial capacity to bear witness to the reality of the past (with its often untold suffering).98 / HERMENEUTIC DEVELOPMENTS historians like Faurisson or David Irving that the gas chambers never existed (or Nolte's claim that the Holocaust is not a unique event but merely one of a variety of similar events)." Ricoeur reminds us."21 If history-telling. And we recall that the two modes of narrative—fiction and history—share a common origin in epic." The best answer to this crisis of identity is not. this poetic power permits us to live up to the ethical task of collective anamnesis. one counts the cadavers or one tells the story of the victims. how- . it seems. to both feel and reflect upon. and the more we understand them the better able we should be. Neither option is acceptable. . Here. 2) an analogizing capacity to make present those who are absent and "other" than ourselves. and 3) a Utopian capacity to project future possibilities where justice might at last prevail. The refigurative act of standing-for the past provides us with a "figure" to experience and think about. to explain them (rather than simply suffer them as emotional trauma). therefore. It is a question of appreciating that explanation without imagination is ultimately inhuman. what the postmodern cult of irrepresentability and irreference appears to put in question is the power of narrative imagination to retrieve historically real events for our ethical consideration in the here and now. I would reply: The more narrative singularizes historical memories. ^ This ethical task of memory is not simply an individual responsibility. the more we strive to understand them. . in the long run. Placed in the service of the not-to-be-forgotten. The present state of literature on the Holocaust provides ample proof of this ." as Ricoeur puts it. forfeits this testimonial vocation. "The will not to forget alone can prevent these crimes from ever occurring again.23 II. It is also a collective one. it risks becoming a spectacle of exotica or a repository of dead fact. which has the characteristic of preserving memories on the communal scale of societies. Against such a position. NARRATIVE AND SELF-IDENTITY The very notion of selfhood (individual and social) is challenged by discourses where human subjects are increasingly defined as "desiring machines" or "effects of signifiers. "Fiction gives eyes to the horrified narrator. the ethical debt to social memory joins forces with the poetical power to narrate.

both reader and writer of its own life. Why? Because the enduring identity of a person.26 Moreover. present. This means.27 This critical application of a self's cultural figures to itself is a necessary moment in the hermeneutics of identity. The story told tells about the action of the "who": and the identity of this "who" is a narrative identity. The most fitting response to the question "Who is the author or agent?" is to tell the story of a life.The Narrative Imagination I 99 ever. Narrative concordance can mask discordance. The subject of self-knowledge is. It is what Ricoeur terms an "ipse-self" The narrative self involves an ongoing process of self-constancy and selfrectification that requires imagination to synthesize the different horizons of past.24) The narrative concept of self thus offers a dynamic notion of identity (ipse) that includes mutability and change within the cohesion of one lifetime (what Dilthey referred to as the Zusammenhang des Lebens). in other words. its drive for order and unity displacing difference. distortions. to borrow a Proustian formula. (This was something already recognized by Heidegger in his hermeneutic reading of Kant's transcendental imagination in the Kantbuch of 1929. first promoted by Socrates and Seneca. The question of power interests cannot. In configuring heterogeneous elements of our experience. and future. involves not some self-enclosed ego but a hermeneutically examined life freed from naive archaisms and dogmatisms. therefore. cogito. to revive some substantialist notion of the person as essence. These advance the rudimentary argument that Enlightenment models of the disembodied cogitoy no less than the traditional models of a substance-like self {idem). from Ricoeur and Maclntyre to Taylor and Benhabib. presupposed by the designation of a proper name. even emancipatory narratives can degenerate into oppressive grand narratives. Why? Because storytelling can also be a breeding ground of illusions. or ego. one clarified by the cathartic effect of narratives conveyed by culture. be divorced from . is provided by the narrative conviction that it is the same subject who perdures through its diverse acts and words between birth and death. the narrative model of identity suggests that the age-old virtue of selfknowledge. The subject becomes. Selfhood is a "cloth woven of stories told. as Lyotard among others reminds us."25 The narrative model of self-identity has been developed by a number of contemporary thinkers. We must look here again. for instance. narrative emplotment can serve as a cover-up. that the identity of human subjects is deemed a constant task of reinterpretation in the light of new and old stories we tell about ourselves. fail to appreciate the fundamental processes of socialization— processes through which a person acquires a self-identity capable of projecting a narrative into the world in which it is both an author and an actor. and ideological falsehoods. to the resources of narrative. Indeed. I suggest. Self-constancy is the property of a subject instructed by the "figures" of a culture it has critically applied to itself.

and Nietzsche) to be applied to the deceptive proclivities of narrative. Said recognizes. narrative imagination remains open to the possibility of its own self-deconstruction. Hence. Israel draws its self-image from the reinterpretation of those texts it has itself created. are themselves forms of narrative—alternative stories to the official story. indirect stories of irony and subversion. Exodus. ideally. Sometimes it is when narrative splits itself into "little narratives" (petits recits). no less than for personal identity. emergent stories of marginal or truncated histories. the history of a society proceeds from the critical corrections new historians bring to their predecessors' accounts (mythical and historiographical). how narratives frequently operate as representations of power: representations that must be challenged by "counter-narratives" in order that their abusive tendencies be exposed and. stories proceed from stories. a society that willingly reconstitutes itself through a corrective process of ongoing narrative is as impervious to selfrighteousness as it is to fundamentalism. Any temptation to collective solipsism is resisted by the imaginative tendency of narrative to freely vary worlds foreign to itself. A similar argument obtains at the level of individual identity. But these so-called counter-narratives. Take the classic case of biblical Israel: It is in the perpetual recounting of its own foundational narratives (Genesis. even anti- .100 / HERMENEUTIC DEVELOPMENTS the hermeneutic analysis of narrative. Exemplifying the hermeneutic circle of narrative identity. Thus do communities come to know themselves in the stories they tell about themselves. etc. reversed. when a person commits herself to working the bits and pieces of unintelligible or suppressed experience into a narrative that acknowledges a certain self-constancy through change. To sum up this second stage of our argument. sundered narratives.) that the historical community bearing its name is formed. At its best. Here the process of narrative self-critique takes the form of a cathartic clarification whereby the self comes to "know itself" by retelling itself. For communal identity. Kings. We are constantly in need of a "hermeneutics of suspicion" (inspired by Freud. A critical fluidity and openness pertains to narrative identity as long as we recognize that it is always something made and remade. This model of analytic working-through (Durckarbeitung) applies to both individual case-histories and to collective stories of communities. for example. I would say that for narrative identity to be ethically responsible it must ensure that self-constancy is always informed by self-questioning. and again in Culture and Imperialism (1993). Marx. just as psychoanalysis shows how the story of a life comes to be composed through a series of rectifications applied to preceding narratives. They put the dominant power in question. This may occur. For. Here I concur with Edward Said. This requires that narrative identity never forgets its origins in narrative imagination.28 Such unofficial narratives brush history against the grain. who observes in "Permission to Narrate" (1984).

and the orphaned. to care for "the famished. the Palestinians) who oppose them. the widowed.. so that even where it knows no censure (within the text). Levinas describes this as an ethical obligation to the face of the other. NARRATIVE AND PERSUASION The idea that narrative is ethically vacuous is further belied by its evaluative dimension of persuasion. who.g. I am not talking of a morality of rule. although heard and witnessed via narratives. But there are limits to this selfinterpretation that prevent it from degenerating into a vicious circle. Most narratives convey something of the Rilkean summons: Change your life! This phenomenon of persuasion has wide-ranging implications for our understanding of the rapport between ethics and poetics (e. this same propulsion of narrative beyond itself toward otherness that entails the corollary movement toward ethical commitment." to welcome the stranger as the other-than-self. while Lyotard and Adorno speak of this limit-marking alterity in terms of a willingness to surpass narrative in deference to the "sublime. ultimately cuts across the narrative circuit and stakes a claim for action as we move from text to life-world. to return to our example of biblical Israel. it knows responsibility (to the other beyond the text). that it remains most faithful to otherness. rhetoric. there is a recognition that narrative imagination may indeed have full poetic license within the imaginary. First. Narrative persuasion involves some element of ethical solicitation. I support Ricoeur's maxim that "the imaginary knows no censorship" ..g.The Narrative Imaginatiott I 101 narratives attesting the impossibility of grand narrative. textual exegesis. is nonetheless irreducible to these narratives in the final analysis. Second. we might say that it is the Jewish community's ability to reimagine itself through its own narratives that provides it with both the coherent identity of a historical people and the ethical resource to imagine the narratives of others (e. Citing the well-known example of a subject's capacity to keep its promises over time. moreover. tropology. Narrative imagination is ethical because it is answerable to something beyond itself. there is the "decision" mentioned above. reader reception). There is a hermeneutic circle here. The ethical moment of decision might be seen accordingly as an expression of the Hebraic constancy of narrative memory—the memory of the age-old demand to liberate the imprisoned. III. It is. which would be antipathetic to poetic liberty." Either way. which. though profoundly informed and galvanized by narrative. there is a moment of responsibility to the other. however tacit or tangential. but that it encounters limits to its own free play when confronted with the irreducible otherness of the other."29 Thus. Ricoeur affirms that narrative identity is only equivalent to "true self-constancy" in the moment of decision: a moment that makes "ethical responsibility the highest factor in self-constancy.

an intitiator of action. The very project of ethical neutrality presupposes the original ethical quality of action. often the case—it is still engaged. And so we may ask what would remain of the cathartic pity and fear that Aristotle taught us to link to unmerited misfortune.102 / HERMENEUTIC DEVELOPMENTS and repudiate the intrusion of moralizing dogmatism into the free space of creativity. The fictional narrator presents us with a variety of ethical possibilities that the reader is then free to choose from. embracing others. they also teach us something about happiness and unhappiness—that is. the desire for the good life guided by practical wisdom (phronesiss). "The strategy of persuasion undertaken by the narrator." writes Ricoeur. now an agent. is aimed at giving the reader a vision of the world that is never ethically neutral. What I am talking about here is not a moralism of abstract rules but an ethics of experience (concerned with cultural paradigms of suffering and action. the reader disposes. discarding some. As Aristotle first acknowledged. then. which is confined to facts). Rushdie had full poetic license to imagine whatever he wanted in The Satanic Verses. "if aesthetic pleasure were to be totally dissociated from any sympathy or antipathy for the character's ethical quality. There is no "imitation of an action" that does not give rise to approbation or reprobation relative to a scale of goodness. even when it advocates the suspension of all ethical judgement or its ironic inversion. that poetic narratives not only excite emotions of pity and fear. In my view. as did Kazantzakis in The Last Temptation of Christ or the Marquis de Sade in L'economie du boudoir. happily."32 We may say. In this sense. "Poetics does not stop borrowing from ethics. poetics teaches us essential truths about human experience (unlike history. What we learn in the narrative "imitation of action" we may incorporate in our return journey from text to action. happiness and dignity). narrative already belongs to the ethical field in virtue of its claim—inseparable from its narration—to ethical justice. to choose among the multiple proposals of ethical justice brought forth by the reading. but that rather implicitly or explicitly induces a new evaluation of the world and of the reader as well. in a process of evaluation. Still it belongs to the reader." he writes: . The narrator proposes.30 A further word on this: It is because ethical phronesis implies just thinking and a desire for the good that Aristotle considers it has a significant role in poetic mimesis. But the pact of trust and exchange struck by narrator and reader always carries some evaluative charge. In a study entitled "Life in Quest of Narrative. This combination of emotion and learning in fiction is what prompts Ricoeur to identify narrative understanding with phronetic understanding."31 Even when narrative fiction subverts the established system of virtue—as is. and these essential truths are intimately related to the pursuit of possibilities of happiness or unhappiness—that is. the good life. however implicitly.

narrative invites ethical judgment to submit itself to the imaginative variations proper to fiction. to the theoretical use of reason. poetry was more philosophical than history. To put it another way. it is certain that tragedy. which is too dependent on the anecdotal aspect of life. IV. in this respect. 1. moreover. in the sense Aristotle gave to phronesis. or rather forms of excellence. to understand what wisdom means. It is due to the familiarity we have with the types of plot received from our culture that we learn to relate virtues.33 The validity of this observation can be seen in the simple fact that while ethics often speaks generally of the relation between virtue and the pursuit of happiness.36 This expansion of ethical vision exceeds the conventional moralities of rule and duty. or more generally. we tell the story of St. with particular stories. then. To understand what courage means. We may speak of narrative understanding. we tell the story of Socrates. it is opened to increasingly extended horizons of vision. to propose to the imagination and to its mediation various figures that constitute so many thought experiments by which we learn to link together the ethical aspects of human conduct and happiness and misfortune. Francis of Assisi. Narrative imagination plays a pivotal role in providing us with ethical vision in that it enables us to see essential connections between our actions and their ends qua good and evil. to cite only those genres known to Aristotle. CONCLUSION I summarize the relation between poetic narrative and ethical phronesis sketched above under three basic headings: 1) vision. If it is true. Whatever may be said about this relation between poetry and history. and 3) empathy. fiction fleshes it out with experiential images and examples—that is. epic and comedy. as Ricoeur emphasizes in his chapters on "narrative identity" in Oneself as Another.34 These "lessons" of narrative imagination constitute the "universals" of which Aristotle spoke. develop a sort of understanding that can be termed narrative understanding and which is much closer to the practical wisdom of moral judgment than to science. with happiness or unhappiness. but they are universals of a more approximate (and context-sensitive) kind than those of theoretical thought. to understand what cantos means. . 2) initiative.The Narrative Imagination / 103 Aristotle did not hesitate to say that every well-told story teaches us something. by contrast with the abstract logic of pure theoria." then these experiments are also "explorations in the realm of good and evil. By means of poetry we learn how reversals of fortune result from this or that conduct."35 Ethical judgment is not abolished in fiction. as this is constructed by the plot in the narrative. that fiction serves as an "irnmense laboratory" for experimenting with an "endless number of imaginative variations. we tell the story of Achilles. he said that the story reveals universal aspects of the human condition and that. It is the function of poetry in its narrative and dramatic form.

Such an assumption can issue in an aesthetic of "deliberate irresponsibility. we can say that this projective function of imagination actually generates action by furnishing us with a clearing in which "motives may be compared and measured. . that is. tradition and expectation.e. we stabilize the real beginnings formed by the initiatives we take. In addition to its capacity to envision a new project. can be a feckless game. or in one of undecidable "indifference. suspended and interrupted and when the dream of history yet to be made is transposed into a responsible decision. . how to combine and configure the heterogeneous elements of our temporality and identity). narrative enables us to identify with others. . even if they are as heterogeneous as desires and ethical commands." as has been suggested of Derrida." as has been said of Foucault. . and initiate a viable course of action.42 But whether these charges are fair or not. care nor concern. then. ultimately in narrative imagination that I am most at liberty to test my ethical capabilities. action. There is neither love nor hate. left to itself. to better identify our goals and motives and so inaugurate a new beginning. but we may now spell out its specifically ethical implications. Ethical intervention in history occurs in that moment of initiative "when the weight of history that has already been made is deposited. not only to individual life but to history in the larger sense. evaluate its motivations. the power of initiative proposed by narrative imagination synthesizes our dual fidelities to past and future. . once more. Because fiction enables us to better perceive the connection between agent.104 / HERMENEUTIC DEVELOPMENTS 2. narrative imagination serves ethical phronesis in its power to empathize. they do betray a loitering anxiety that postmodern poetics. Narrative imagination also serves ethical initiative. without an "imaginary transfer of my 'here' into your 'there."40 In this way.'"41 I believe this last point challenges a certain postmodern assumption that poetics has no truck with ethics. We noted this at the outset of our discussion. To see our being-inthe-world in terms of larger possibilities of vision often empowers us to undertake action. Finally. 3. Literature helps us in a sense to fix the outline of these provisional ends. "With the help of narrative beginnings which our reading has made familiar to us . Moreover.39 This emancipation of ethical initiative applies. and goal in concentrated form." It is. What I am claiming here is that narrative imagination provides us with both a poetics and an ethics of responsibility in that it propels us beyond self- ."37 In other words. it prepares us to become better readers and authors of our own lives. the more we learn about narrative emplotment in fiction the more we learn how to plot our own lives (i. Imagination provides us with an "intersubjectivity of freedom" without which we would not be inclined to commit ourselves to other persons.38 This involves a certain schematization of the network of goals and means whereby we are free to try out various courses of action and play with practical possibilities.. ideology and Utopia.

but finds itself always . It is a claim reiterated by Martha Nussbaum in Love's Knowledge when she argues for an ethic of imaginative perception inspired by art: When we examine our own lives. places us in a moral position that is favourable for perception and it shows us what it would be like to take up that position in life. . and the better I can imagine how I would think and feel if I were in their place. entails a basic act of sympathy whereby the self flows from itself toward the other in a free variation of imagination. The "vulgar heat" of jealousy and personal interest comes between us and the living perception of each particular. and without whom it never has the opportunity to operate at all. I am not arguing that poetics and ethics are exactly the same.44 The point. From this potential agreement judgment derives its specific validity. but to see how. a dialogue between me and myself. the stronger will be my capacity for representative thinking. "The power of judgment rests on a potential agreement with others. and I believe she is right. guarding their distinctive character. Hannah Arendt considers this mentality to be essential to genuine ethical judgment. The "representative" mode of imagination—where I represent myself as another—may serve to liberate us from narcissistic interests without liquidating our identity. involvement without panic. we have so many obstacles to correct vision. Ethical action has the power to solicit imaginative empathy with others. whose perspectives it must take into consideration. in an anticipated communication with others with whom I know I must finally come to some agreement." she writes. . "The more people's standpoints I have present in my mind while I am pondering a given issue. . attention without bias. This extension of the circle of selfhood involves an "enlarged mentality" capable of imagining the self in the place of the other. is the form of human relation nearest to genuine altruism.43 This argument finds support in Proust's claim that narrative imagination. they can interweave and complement each other. is not to conflate art and life. A novel."45 Ethical judgment. . Poetic imagining has the capacity to make us better human beings. only that they can. . once again. just because it is not our life. and the thinking process which is active in judging something is not. Qua dialogue which opens us to foreign worlds—enabling us to tell and listen to other stories—narrative imagination functions as precondi- . most conspicuously at work in literature and art. We find here love without possessiveness. text and action. it appears. It needs the special presence of others "in whose place" it must think. like the thought process of pure reasoning. imagination and reality. be mutually supplementary. so many motives to blindness and stupidity. at propitious moments.The Narrative Imagination I 105 reference to a relation with others (via analogy/empathy/apperception).

Were we devoid of such narrative imagining. we would be devoid not only of poetic freedom but also. in the moment of decision. it does possess a singular capacity to commit us to a dimension of otherness beyond ourselves—a commitment that. Without it. but as I hope to have shown. I conclude. we would be deprived of the power to refigure historical memory and to transform selfidentity into an ethical mode of selfhood. That is why I ultimately hold that the good life is a life recounted. always on the side of the angels. Narrative imagination is not. the moi into a soi. therefore. invites the self to imagine itself as another and to imagine the other as other. It transfigures the self-regarding self into a self-for-another. in the long run.106 / HERMENEUTIC DEVELOPMENTS tion for the "representative" subject.46 . I grant. that—current pronouncements on the end of narrative notwithstanding—our postmodern society of spectacle and simulation has more need than ever of narrative imagination. of ethical judgment.


The image ceases to refer to some original event—in the world or consciousness—and becomes instead a simulacrum: an image of an image of an image. are becoming "copyists" rather than "creators" of images! In all this. apparaissant dans une lumiere que ne renvoie aucun marbre. or reproduced. by mass-media technologies operating outside their ken or control. more than a century later. the ethical philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas. More specifically. . the dominant role of imaging becomes parody. We live in a "Civilization of Images" where human subjects are deemed less and less responsible for the working of their own imaginations. Even artists. where each 108 . would seem to be of paramount relevance. The citizens of contemporary society increasingly find themselves surrounded by simulated images produced. mais le visage de 1'homme . In this respect. as Roland Barthes argues. deriving from the same phenomenological background as Heidegger and Ricoeur. I ask here how an ethics of poetics may contribute to understanding the task of hermeneutic imagination as it addresses our postmodern crisis of the image. Le nomadisme n'est-il pas la source d'un sens. l'authenticite de l'art doit annoncer un ordre de justice. ideological. . —Emmanuel Levinas. mythological. In our societe de spectacle the imaginary circulates in an endless play of imitation. . La litterature rappeiie l'essence humaine du nomadisme. . I Kierkegaard attributed the crisis of the "present age" to the fact that human subjects were lacking passionate commitment to thinking. aesthetic) with an ethics of responsibility. Today.8 Levinas and the Ethics of Imagining La litterature est l'aventure unique d'une transcendance enjambant tous les horizons du monde. . one is tempted to add that we are also lacking passionate commitment to imagining. Sur Maurice Blanchot Several of my chapters have disclosed a need to supplement forms of poetics (ontological.

we cannot let down. Vanity of vanities: the echo of our own voices. one of the foremost ethical thinkers in continental philosophy. and thanks to technology possible. and stakes a claim for otherness. The unknown immediately becomes familiar. but because everything is the same. notably "La realite et son ombre. In his 1972 essay "Ideologic et idealisme. has anything to teach us about the ethical implications of this dilemma in contemporary poetics. . if at all." written largely in response to Heidegger's ontological poetics of dwelling. Except for the other whom. 2 Levinas suggests that the best response to the collective solipsism of Western culture is the assumption of ethical responsibility for the other. technology." Sur Maurice Blanchot. the new normal. everywhere fallen back onto our own feet as after the exstacies of drugs. Nothing is new under the sun." "Paul Celan/De l'etre a 1'autre. leisure—sees itself as trapped ."6 And he commends the practice .1 Here I inquire whether the work of Emmanuel Levinas. He is calling for a mode of critical interpretation capable of retrieving art as "a relation with the other. not because everything is now permitted. . in all this boredom. everywhere the machinations of melodrama. I have analyzed this so-called postmodern dilemma of the image as parody/ pastiche/simulation in some detail elsewhere. "Agnon/Poesie et resurrection. But how can such ethical responsibility resist the ideology of the simulacrum pervading our social imaginary? How. Levinas warns us against becoming engulfed in a "spellbinding world of images and shadows"—where enigma and equivocation rule and realities are evaded. .Levinas and the Ethics of Imagining I 109 image becomes a replay of another which precedes it. rhetoric and play accuse and denounce." Levinas offers an apocalyptic account of our society of simulation. Everything becomes immersed and immured in the Same . The crisis written of in Ecclesiastesy is not one of sin but of boredom. which perpetrates the reign of sameness through blank parody.4 He reminds us of the ethical motivation behind monotheism's proscription of idolatrous images of death. ." and "L'autre dans Proust. where Sameness reigns supreme: The contemporary world—of science. . Responsibility breaks through the circular game of mirrors. "La transcendance des mots" (on the writing of Michel Leiris).5 But he does not go so far as to suggest that the artistic imagination should be censored for ethical or religious reasons."3 In "La realite et son ombre. The idea of an "authentic" or "unique" imagination becomes redundant. taken as response to the few prayers which remain to us. can we retrieve some ethical dimension of poiesis from the faceless Civilization of Images that informs our experience? II There are a number of texts where Levinas analyzes the aesthetic imagination.

Is Levinas not therefore privileging conversation over imagination as the proper mode of openness to the other? Is he not. It is irreducible to a series of qualities that might be formed into some noematic representation."11 But what. "the artist refuses to be an artist only. . as Levinas puts it. in a manner that cannot be measured or represented in terms of my own interior fantasms. based on the simple observation that the writing of these two authors clears a path "toward the other." he writes. the time of the other. as nomad. we find Levinas deeply suspicious of the enchanting power of images once they cease to answer to the other. we may ask. So Levinas describes it as that which I receive from the other rather than that which I project upon him. "The face of the other destroys and surpasses at every moment the plastic image that it leaves behind." "By means of such intellectualism.n Here again." which goes beyond the idolatrous tendency of images and opens us to the "irrepresentable as an endless fission of all that has dared to tie itself into a substrate. I suggest. for it is here that the other comes to me in all his/her irreducible exteriority. whose ring enabled him to see but never be seen by others? While this is partly the case. the exercise of a poetic imagination . correlative to a noetic intention."7 Levinas repeatedly endorses such critical self-interpretation. It expresses rather than represents."10 This entails. it is not the whole story. is a poet who "concedes to the other . he claims. Face-to-face conversation becomes the ethical model of relation par excellence. epitomized by the figure of Gyges. condemning imagination out of hand as a subjective intentionality that reduces alterity to its own remembered or anticipated fantasies? Or. worse. that is. is the motivation of Levinas's critique of poetic imagination? Some answer."13 The face transcends every intentional consciousness. as that perverse agency of oneway voyeurism. In Noms propres he praises Agnon for his invocation of a certain "Hebraic saying" which "unravels the ultimate solidity beneath the plasticity of forms that western ontology teaches. a body of poetry which opens up an alterity exceeding the imagination of the author himself. In other words."8 He contrasts the captivating power of "imaginary presence" to Agnon's poetry of "ressurrection.110 / CURRENT DEBATES of such reflective hermeneutics in avant-garde writing as a critical defense against "artistic idolatry. The face is the way in which the other. in his texts on Celan and Proust. Levinas's suspicion of images is not directed against the poetic power of imagination per se but against the use of such power to incarcerate the self in a blind alley of self-reflecting mirrors. in Celan's case. surpasses every image I have of him/her."9 So also. Celan. Levinas endeavors to develop a similar ethics of writing and reading. . indeed. . . may be found in his contrast between the "face" and the "image" in Totalite et infini. . not because he wishes to defend a thesis or a cause but because he needs to interpret his own myths. Or.

who—like Beckett—was devoted to the failure of complete communication. Jabes. In this respect." a poetics of responsibility remains committed to human conversation. and Blanchot. to an existence already obligated to the other. . completed. It never presumes to fashion an image adequate to the other's irrecuperable transcendence. the ethical ear of hermeneutic imagination refuses to be taken in. "What?" (reducing alterity to an impersonal system of substances. It is this infinity which testifies to "my responsibility. not surprisingly. is already a demand for justice. and the orphan—a cry which. closed off. the face is that transcendence of the other which "breaks through its own plastic image. That is why. Celan remains for Levinas the "nomadic" poet.Levinas and the Ethics of Imagining I 111 open to conversation with the other (as Levinas claims is the case with Leiris. Ethics is there to remind poetics that the other can never be captured in the lures of the imaginary.19 It insists that language always expresses more than any plastic representation can suggest. would permit "the eye to see through the mask. among others) is already one that allows the face to exceed the plastic form of the image representing it. consequently. structures. or signs). to the refusal to bring saying to a full stop. beyond the play of mirrors. An ethical imagination. ethical language bears witness to the infinity of the other. A poetics answerable to the other. "Who?" (disclosing the alterity of the other person) rather than the question. in demanding that I speak to the unseen other (le tiers). therefore. No matter how pervasive the persuasion that there is nothing beyond the image but other images. sublimely "irreferent" to the other. poetic responsibility to the other refuses the consumerist status of imaging as imitation without depth or reference. who gave voice to those who have no voice."'7 Over and against all the fashionable talk about the "end of man. Celan. It challenges the claim by certain postmodern commentators. the widow. A poetry which is always an "interrupted breath" (une souffle coupie. in Levinas's words.18 For Levinas. Like Celan's."14 It would safeguard the saying of the face against the subterfuges of the said. Moreover. to the impossibility of ending.16 Faced with the postmodern crisis of endless self-mirroring. Such poetic imagination responds to the surprises and demands of the other. the best poetry is unfinished poetry. to the possibility of imagination's recovering its hermeneutic power to speak one-for-the-other and to listen to the powerless cry of the stranger. resists the temptation to mask the face behind an anonymous game of vertiginous repetition. like Baudrillard. an eye which does not shine but speaks. whose exposure of nothingness within is in fact a recognition of otherness without. as in Atemwende) because haunted by the recognition that its own saying can never be said. wherein the face of the other is dissolved into a mask of fantasies."15 It is also why an ethical poetics responds to the face with the question. that we are condemned to a culture of "simulation" without origin or end.

observes: To represent "Auschwitz" in images. Lanzmann's via negativa combines ethical and poetical moves. Shoah provokes what it cannot evoke. We do not see the victims—for that. in words. but that we cannot stop trying. Lanzmann seeks to present the irrepresentable in and through the audiovisual medium of film. I would like to take an example not mentioned by Levinas himself but relevant to this problematic. there are suggestive hints in certain texts. to demonstrate the impossibility of reproducing the event of the Holocaust in some kind of linear narrative while reminding us of the unforgettable—though usually forgotten—character of the event. He resists the temptation to imitate the inimitable in terms of dramatic reproduction or documentary newsreel. What we do see are the faces of survivors. He is trying to recount what cannot be recounted. however. to portray the Holocaust in cinematic images. As a former disciple of Levinas. a reconsideration of this argument. In that sense we may describe it as a poetics committed to an ethic of responsibility. In this practical endeavor to combine an ethics of responsibility with a poetics of imagination. Blanchot. in Shoah. Although Levinas never addresses this task directly. in the light of Levinas's texts on Celan. whether poetry can be written after Auschwitz. it answers that it cannot. Even such efforts represent what should remain unrepresentable in order not to be forgot- . It is the use of cinema to express the unimaginableness of the Holocaust that succeeds in reminding us we have forgotten how unimaginable it was. Lanzmann refuses to portray Auschwitz in terms of spectacle or sensation. I'm also thinking of those representations which can and could best make us not forget by virtue of their exactness or severity. It uses images against themselves to suggest what they fail to capture (by virtue of their failure to do so). only its power to fetishize or idolize images in self-referential play. to my original question of how to form an alliance between an ethics of responsibility and a poetics of imagination. I'm not just thinking here of B movies and soap opera series and pulp novels or testimonies. and that we must not be allowed to forget this forgetfulness. is a way of forgetting it. Proust. bearing witness to the impossibility of representing in images that which they witnessed at first hand. I refer to the attempt by Claude Lanzmann. Here it becomes clear that it is not the speaking power of imagination that Levinas objects to. I return. would reduce them to "objects" of genocide. He shows no images of burnt bodies or SS kommondants. therefore. To Adorno's question. Jean-Francois Lyotard.112 / CURRENT DEBATES III If a certain reading of Levinas's opposition of face to image in Totalite et infini leads us to believe that ethics is opposed to any poetic functioning of imagination. Before examining these. Lanzmann believes. it seems that Levinas does suggest the possibility of an ethical reading of the contemporary crisis of poetics. redresses the balance. and others. Bearing this distinction in mind.

We confront a series of cinematic signifiers which refuse to be tied to a "transcendental signified. Such language of proximity. in the lapsus. is he going to distinguish between the "painful rupture of modern discourse" as ethical irrepresentability. . Not only because he resists the use of representation in images and music. certainty approximates to an ethical form of deconstruction—a proposition that becomes even more compelling in light of Levinas's account of deconstructive thinking in "Ideologic et Idealisme" as "signifiers playing in a game of signs without signifieds . an upset in the tone of the narrative. . even momentarily."21 Although Levinas does not mention any post-structuralist thinkers by name. completeness.' a denunciation of the rigor of logical forms as repressive. But the important issue here is not who's who in Levinas's allusions but how Levinas himself is to retrieve an ethical poetics from a deconstructive discourse on imagination. Claude Lanzmann's film." Intentions without fulfillment. So that we know that the witnesses are surely lying. " Are these not the very conditions of Lanzmann's Shoah? Or at least of Lyotard's reading of it? One is tempted to respond in the affirmative." writes Levinas. Shoah. but also because he hardly offers a single testimony where the unrepresentable character of the extermination is not indicated. . as phenomenology would put it. the disparition of a witness out of frame. and Barthes. For at issue is a functioning of images which debunks its own claim to representational presence."22 This is a language which explodes the "neutral mediations of the image" and imposes itself on us in a manner irreducible to the form of its manifestation. The poetic refusal of intuitive closure. "Such. with Husserl's 'doxic thesis.20 We are concerned here with self-negating imagination—one might even be tempted to add. Foucault. But then we read Levinas's own concluding remark on such deconstructive discourse and take pause. in other words. and as mere fashionable cant. on the other? Some hint of a solution appears in a passage in Totalite et infini. exemplified by its most sincere representatives. "is the painful rupture of modern discourse. is perhaps a singular exception. but already trading on the false coin of primary truths and fashionable cant.Levinas and the Ethics of Imagining I 113 ten precisely as forgotten. which precedes linguistic signs. a sob. is actually an ethical language of the face as "original expression. self-deconstructing imagination. a conceptual disillusionment with the possibility of positing sense." as the "first word—you shall not kill. the un-said sought after in the mis-said. on the one hand. it is difficult not to associate such as description with philosophers like Lyotard. the ineffable. which speaks of a primary mode of expression where the signifier as face transcends all signifying systems and allows the other to express itself. . a tear.23 But to admit as much is surely to admit that the face has nothing really to . a tightening of throat. an obsession with the inexpressible. however impassive they may appear. . by an alteration of voice. How. some uncontrolled gesture. or "playing a role" or hiding something. visees a vide.

below. in which. The deconstruction of such subjectivist claims might indeed serve an ethics of alterity. to the extent that it acknowledges that "responsibility as response is the primary saying. a 'gift. images as long as we who respond to such images respond to the underlying language of the face that speaks through them? The face is only threatened."27 What fascinates Levinas here is Blanchot's use of images as ciphers of infinity. a certain gesture of deconstruction. by images that would have us believe that the language of poetics can definitively divorce itself from the language of ethics? If this be the case. Blanchot. and that transcendence is communication which implies." The following admission from "Un Dieu homme?" is a case in point: "The contemporary anti-humanism which denies the primacy of being enjoyed by the person taken as an end in itself has perhaps opened a space for the [ethical] notion of subjectivity as substitution . construed as self-identical sameness [idem]. gestures of interminable .114 / CURRENT DEBATES fear from mediating.' an 'open house/" 2 6 IV This would certainly seem to be Levinas's thinking in his readings of Proust. I refer here to the dismantling of modern claims (idealist or existentialist) that the transcendental ego or imagination remains the origin of all value."25 The deconstruction of the humanist self in the name of eschatological poetics is only ethical." What he means is a cold neutrality in Blanchot's language which expresses the inexpressible—that experience of desastre which he identifies with our contemporary culture of absence and death. "The Servant and the Master" (published in 1966). however. . Celan. a being that strains toward obliteration in an inaccessible nonlanguage. and complementary to. passivity and passion of the self [soi] whereby being empties itself of its own being. an aristocracy of thought. It is time to have a closer look at some of these. or mediated. "everyone has a part to play.) Levinas appears to suggest as much in certain passages which acknowledge an ethical motivation behind anti-humanist critiques of the "self. Levinas insists. (I return to this hypothesis in my discussion of Derrida. for Levinas. . and Agnon. announced in Genesis 2:3. Levinas's ultimate position would appear to be that poetic imagining is fine as long as it remains answerable to an ethics of alterity. remains alert to the eschatological order of creation still to come. Levinas insists. can be seen as releasing a different kind of self. Levinas praises Blanchot's writing for its "moral elevation. In one essay in Sur Maurice Blanchot. Answerability could itself be seen as compatible with. beyond the simple exchange of signs. from any fixed reference to a star (dis-aster). "Objectivizing consciousness is replaced by a sense of being that is detached from cosmological existence. Such an ethical subject. the infinite patience. an ethical subject which like Ricoeur's ipse is open to alterity and transcendence."24 Viewed in this way the debunking of the humanist subject. is it not.

words are uttered which "surpass what is given. Here again the linguistic imagination is never allowed to slip away into empty imitations but is constantly recalled to critical vigilance. writing which resists the idolatry of total meaning. in spite of or over and above the peace and harmony derived from the successful creation of beauty. Leiris's writing is praised accordingly as a textuality of verbal sound that privileges "the living word." The ethical imagination of a writer like Leiris is acoustic rather than representational.Levinas and the Ethics of Imagining I 115 waiting that can never be fulfilled." The fact that Marcel never fulfills his desire for Albertine does not mean he does not love her. "to the extent that Marcel struggles with her presence as absence in the narrative. is what we call the necessity of critique."34 Leiris invents a literature of bifurcations {bifurs) and erasures (biffures). in contrast to the word that is an image and already a picturesque sign. They become genuine speech. On the contrary. this struggle is love. out of concern for something other. It is about an ethical relation with the other that remains forever other. Here a rent is produced in our imaginary mold. not by Dasein."28 Indeed. which for Levinas means a "moment of critique" that shatters the imaginaire of self-sufficiency and opens us to a relation with someone."33 The necessity of critique is met by the latter kind. the imaged or the imaginable—what Levinas describes as a "first concern for justice. destined to be heard.'"29 The Proustian drama of solitude and incommunicability is not about the retrieval of some ideal state of self-presence."32 At this point Levinas contrasts writing that approximates to vision—where form is wedded to content in a way that appeases it—and writing that approximates to sound. in that it is directed not by being-toward-death but by the death of the Other. something beyond the said or the sayable. Blanchot's words operate as intentional signifiers of a self which undoes its own self-centeredness. epitomized by Leiris's own texts. He interprets the Proustian author's endless quest for the lost self as an encounter with the "enigma of the other. generating a movement of nomadic transcendence toward the other. 31 As Levinas puts it. one is tempted to add that what distinguishes deconstructive writing as "moral elevation" from "fashionable cant" {bavardage a la mode) is just that: concern for justice."30 "Moral elevation" of a parallel kind is to be found in the writing of the avant-garde author Michel Leiris. exceeds its own ontological ipseity. Levinas explains: "Bifurcations—since sensations. Levinas makes a similar case for ethical poetics in his readings of Proust and Leiris. where "the perceptible quality overflows so that form can no longer contain its content. Levinas reads the Proustian imagination less as a quest for lost being than "as the relational space in which I am hostage to the other. but by the responsibility for the Other's death which creates his infinitely answerable 'I. Images ceaselessly undermine their own mesmerizing power. words and memories continually turn a train of thought from the path it seemed to be . "this need to enter into a relation with someone.

a crucial step toward a hermeneutics of postmodern imagination. Agnon. It is regrettable that Levinas himself never explicitly pursued this path. Even the decision to be sadistic in viewing such suffering—a decision to refuse to respond to the ethical cry—is itself a response to the other. Levinas spells out what he means by such an ethical ascesis of words: The use of the word wrenches experience out of its aesthetic self-sufficiency. Blanchot. 38 Viewers can respond to such an image in a purely sensational or voyeuristic fashion. in which artistic language plays an integral part. albeit negative. is the first event of existence. word-images which disclose how being for the other. and respond to. The choice of response is ours. in and through language. . Invoking experience turns it into a creature. erasures—since the univocal meaning of each element is continually altered. which is the word of a living being speaking to a living being. one way or another. The language of criticism takes us out of our dreams. It is in this sense that I have been able to say elsewhere that criticism. and Celan— as a poet who responds to the fetishizing power of images by producing counterimages. The critique of our Civilization of Images does not. But these words of transcendence can only assume a presence among us as trace of the other. the "here" where it has quietly been lying.37 Levinas also acknowledges the possibility of media images bearing ethical testimony in his remarks on the TV news coverage of a dying Colombian girl buried up to her neck in mud after a avalanche in 1986. precisely because they refuse to become flesh.36 V Leiris thus serves for Levinas—along with Proust. the words of the other. and that. but it is never ethically neutral. ."35 Leiris reminds us that responsible art is in the first instance an act of speech. require a retreat from the glare of popular culture to the inaccessible reaches of high art. It is a response. . he adopts an elitist attitude to poetics in his almost exclusive attention to avant-garde writ- . Before we are condemned to be free. But they can equally respond to it as a naked face crying out in destitution. to the ethical cry of another. Recognizing the ethical charge of media images is. we are condemned to be responsible. One is compelled to infer that it is just such a poetics of the "living word" that Levinas would recommend as antidote to the proliferation of mirror-images and mirror-texts that characterizes contemporary culture. I submit. The best answer to the parodic imagination is an auditory imagination critical of its own images and attuned to what exceeds them. where we hear. brings the image in which art revels back to the fully real being.116 / CURRENT DEBATES taking toward some unexpected direction. But avant-garde literature is not the only poetical medium to testify to the ethical. Books call up books—but this proliferation of writings halts or culminates at the moment when the living word is installed. furthermore. as thinkers from Adorno and Marcuse to Steiner and Henri imply.

"Rather it is an ethical responsibility and obligation toward the other. in Ricoeur's phrase." "Culture is not a surpassing or neutralization of transcendence. is the right of art as art to explore a realm of imagination that. while it explores and experiments in a free play of imagination. the rest belongs to poetics. Culture is obliged to the face of the human other. which is not a given of experience and does not come from this world. "knows no censorship. or allowed to dictate to poetics at every turn. liberty. an experience of the other-than-self. One could call it love. and pleasure are never self-sufficient but originate in. would cease to imagine how the impossible might become possible. Levinas does not fully appreciate that if the ultimate origin and end of art is ethics."40 Even if one is prepared to admit that aesthetic images are derived from the primary expression of the face and remain. however. in a curious sense. That is where ethics and poetics meet—in those words which the self receives from the other and returns to the other: the hermeneutic act of being-for-one-another. such slogans are the death of art. This Levinas failed to see. however provisionally." he goes on. liberty. we are ultimately left with Lenin's maxim that "art is the hammer of the benevolent propagandist" or Sartre's that "words are loaded pistols. If ethics is left entirely to itself."39 What Levinas manifestly fails to address. perhaps. is when he acknowledges in "L'idee de la culture" (1983) that contemporary culture in the broad sense can serve the "irruption of the human in the barbarism of being. Without this alibi. just as poetics needs ethics to be reminded that play."41 Polemics notwithstanding. it risks degenerating into cheerless moralism. Ethics needs poetics to be reminded that its responsibility to the other includes the possibility of play. for ethics itself. . and aim toward. and pleasure.Levinas and the Ethics of Imagining I 117 ing. in the end of the day. a relationship to transcendence as transcendence. however temporary. poetics would cease to play freely. answerable to the face. how things might be if all was permissible. Free play of imagining is indispensable not only for poetics but also. The closest he comes. one still reserves the right of art to suspend judgment. Deprived of such leeway.

leading ultimately to his death in Prague at the hands of the secret police in March 1977. use philosophy to make sense of the struggle for human rights in a totalitarian regime? I begin with two of the later manifestoes for Charta 77. Jan Patocka was a witness to an "ethics of transcendence." By this. I will show how such an ethical attitude marks Patocka's writings. from his early works on hermeneutic phenomenology to his later texts on politics. Critical resistance to all forms of reductionism expressed itself in the author's adoption of a dissident stance in his native Czechoslovakia. founder of the Charta 77 movement and guiding inspiration for Havel's "velvet revolution" in 1989. totalitarianism in politics. An ethics of transcendence meant resisting every attempt. In fact. Patocka was of an agnostic disposition. I do not mean he was a theologian or apologist. when it came to confessional allegience. For this reason.9 Ethics and the Right to Resist: Patockas Testimony Think of Jan Patocka: Is it not symptomatic that the best known victim of the "struggle for human rights" in our country was also our most important philosopher? —Vaclav Havel in "Six Asides about Culture" Throughout his philosophical life. to reduce meaning to a closed system. By this Patocka understood every experience of rupture or surpassing which opened up a horizon of freedom. which Patocka saw 118 . his thinking often took the form of a hermeneutics of suspicion with regard to the systematization of sense—be it in the guise of positivism in philosophy. My investigation is guided by a particular question: How did Jan Patocka. in ideas as well as in practice. or technocracy in science (what he referred to as "the folly of autonomous technical rationality").

. growing out of an equally extreme objective stance toward human affairs. For Patocka. more at peace. "The Obligation to Resist Injustice. Patocka describes the modern reign of die Technik in the following passage. ideal orientation into our lives ." He proceeds to explain that "what we expect from Charta 77 is that it will introduce a new. He speaks of a moral freedom that can survive in the face of a regime which deprives one of basic liberties as well as basic illusions." which prevents people from acknowledging deeper or alternative truths. who became the voice of conscience for his people during the Thirty Years' War. This ontological exposure is at the same time on ethical freedom. the experience of destitution under a totalitarian system disestablishes the normal life-world." He is writing here primarily for his own Czech community. And the only resistance to such an omnipresent metaphysics is found . ostensibly indebted to his philosophical mentors. his predecessor and compatriot from the seventeenth century. instead of becoming merely the means of a stronger life. In a sort of apocalyptic purgation.3 Capitalist and communist ideologies are. The rival world systems share a common subordination of all ethical preoccupations to techno-scientific ones. a new orientation to basic human rights. Husserl and Heidegger: It is a paradoxical fact that the metaphysics of mechanism is closely linked with an unsuspected growth of human power but that this growth. to the moral dimension of political and private life. a "metaphysics of science and technology." State power operates at the level of "techno-science"—or more exactly. that citizens deprived of comforts and illusions may learn to act as "free persons. for Patocka (as for Heidegger). and this very disestablishment sometimes provokes a breakthrough to the possibility of a new ethical community—"the community of the shaken"—beyond the reign of Das Man. detached from our habitual consolations. writes Patocka. claims Patocka in his text "What We Can and Cannot Expect from Charta 77 "] It is the hope of the movement. There are even passages where Patocka seems to echo the apocalyptic tone of Comenius. on that innermost part of being where we stand irrevocably free and responsible. .Ethics and the Right to Resist I 119 as testimonies to a "solidarity of the shaken."2 Patocka elaborates on this position. expressions of the same metaphysics of mechanism. instead of making man more content. arguing that the motivation of the human rights movement presupposes the recognition of a difference between "the socio-political sphere of state power" and what he calls "the moral sphere. we thus find ourselves dispossessed. self-motivated and responsible. has led to most extensive historical and social cataclysms. We are thrown back on ourselves. subjecting human conditions to an equally law-like calculus and working directly with a mechanical model of human relations. specifically modern capitalism. Only a metaphysics of mechanism made possible the typical social phenomena of modern times. victim of successive occupations in a single generation." In a second text.

That is why a morality is needed that is neither instrumental nor technological in essence. But what is this higher authority? And how does it square with Patocka's debt to Kant and Heidegger? What is the source of the "interior moral conviction" Patocka invokes with such passion? How do we have access to it. The point of morality is to assure not the functioning of a society but the humanity of humans. And this conviction."11 There is. it is morality that defines what being human means. how is it founded. claims Patocka. was to cite in support of his plea for an "existential revolution of the human subject"?12 If so. On the other hand. binding on individuals in virtue of their conscience. . inclinations and aspirations.9 Both agree that there is no reason of state. a respect present in every individual. he is speaking the language of universal human rights as advanced by the European Enlightenment. but in the moral experience of an "interior human conviction. if at all? Is it the same "metaphysical assurance" his disciple. or the technologies of science. that is not subject to certain universal moral principles. in turn. is an ethics that is not merely "tactical and situational but absolute. a conflict in Patocka's thinking here. Quite the contrary. can function without a moral foundation.120 / CURRENT DEBATES not in the ideologies of parties. "no matter how well-equipped it may be technologically." he writes. sacred."6 But what does Patocka mean by this appeal to an absolute? He means. first and foremost. he is signalling the existence of some "higher authority" from which our everyday moral judgments originate."4 The most crucial consideration for Patocka is that ethical principles be above manipulation by the calculative interests of strategy or circumstance. He is adamant on this point. justified or assessed? . . The entire Charta 77 movement depends for its validity on this conviction. or of society as a whole." But if such conviction is to be anything more than private conscience or subjective sentiment."10 This entails a commitment—by governments as well as citizens— always to subordinate "politics to justice" (not vice versa) and to do so out of "a respect for humans and for the common good that makes us human.5 What Charta 77 requires. Vaclav Havel. wishes. and more particularly Kantian moral absolutism." Hence the basic maxim of Charta 77: "Humans do not invent morality arbitrarily. I believe. we need to be convinced of the "unconditional validity of principles which are. . "No society. upon which all fundamental human rights are based. depends on the "awareness that there is a higher authority. that an ethics of resistance cannot be sustained by a relativist theory of values. to suit their needs. On the one hand. in that sense. and capable of setting out humanity's goals."7 Patocka's uncompromising insistence on a moral definition of humanity amid totalitarian abuse recalls a similar plea by Hannah Arendt in her assessment of Nazism in Eichmann in Jerusalem} Both authors are determined to affirm the priority of "the sovereignty of moral sentiment" over the sovereignty of the state. valid for all humans and at all times.

HERMENEUTICS OF IMAGINATION In several key passages of his philosophical texts and journals. dated 8 June 1947. I believe.Ethics and the Right to Resist I 121 A number of corollary problems flow from this line of questioning. The ethical life is our first practical contact with the negativity inherent in our very essence. in the first and last analysis. First. of distancing ourselves. . Is the other simply a moral limit on my projection of a good life? Or the one who demands I struggle for justice (as Levinas would claim)? Or one who enters more substantially into the very constitution of my own good? Patocka alludes to all three versions of alterity. he implies. This position is evinced in both his hermeneutic phenomenology of imagination and what he calls "negative Platonism". Patocka identifies the primary ethical impulse with the human power to distance itself from reality. enables us to transcend the given order of things toward a higher order of values. We understand this transcendence through the experience of separation. It is this power of distancing and negating which. say. taking our distance. is a case in point: The problem of ethics. one might ask. I want to claim that Patocka's reflections on ethics are more than ad hoc reactions. if largely implicit. Why. is this project necessarily more ultimate than. the problem of essential meaning of human being is to be sought in the ultimate kernel of human life. where questions of moral responsibility take centre stage. It implies a transcendence beyond all reality. affirmed rather than argued for. problems which. were written as immediate responses to immediate circumstances. His Charta 77 texts. there is the supposition. but does not appear to make the requisite hermeneutic discriminations to clarify his position. I shall examine each of these in turn with a view to showing how Patocka's dialectic of transcendence subverts the pretense of ideology and solicits an ethics of rights. In addition. But are we perhaps asking too much of Patocka? Are we looking for answers in the wrong place? It must be admitted that Patocka never attempted a systematic work on ethics. I want to argue that they stem from a consistent. determinated by ethical criteria—as Patocka appears to do—is to beg the question and fall back into circular reasoning. the epistemological project of Truth or the purely phenomenological project of Being? To say that the ultimacy of the ethical is. I. The following entry from his postwar journal. Patocka does not seem adequately to demonstrate how the transcendence of the Good connects with the "other" as the one to whom ethical responsibility is oriented. And yet. position in Patocka's philosophical thinking on the "negative" experience of transcendence. that the ethical Idea of the Good is the ultimate project of all human action. Patocka himself never fully addressed. This kernel concerns the donation of intentional meaning which unfolds into the world without actually being reducible to it.

possesses a transcendental imagination which serves as precondition of both freedom and creativity. Although this primary scruple was transformed by the metaphysics of Plato and Aristotle into speculative systems. .15 . Moreover. for imagination. if imagination appears to refer to a realm of non-being. With the help of pure imagination we seek to analyze what experience presents as fused and to put together and synthesize what it presents as separate—thus with its help we. above all else. human imagining is informed by ethical impulses. taking a cue from Kant and Heidegger. that is. The Idea of the Good could not make itself manifest within our finite experience without the testimony of such imaginary traces. Though they cannot be identified with the "Ideas" themselves."14 In other words. for some ideal beyond the actual order of things. that a creative imagination.13 Patoc ka goes on to invoke the Kantian concept of entia imaginaria. Patocka offers the following account of productive imagination (produktive Einbildungskrafi): Imagination does not simply recombine sense contents but out of its own resources creates something like a synthetic scene which makes it possible to unify them and place them in perspective. The poetic impulse to recreate oneself in creating a world is to be found not only in artistic and literary works (which Patocka analyzes in numerous studies) but in the most everyday expressions of imagination. they nonetheless serve as "traces of the working of the Ideas. this imagination. as the source of all our efforts to detach ourselves from the fallenness to which we are condemned as prisoners of the given". as Patocka's phenomenological analysis will show. Oedipus. are always "beyond the limits" of objective and sensory syntheses. Freedom presupposes the everyday activity of imagination. Patocka holds that the human desire to give meaning and value to the world by transfiguring it into narrative (mythos) remains a constant of human existence. ." the transcending of all given content. Without this transcending power of imagination there would be no such thing as moral freedom. insists Patocka. In a passage reminiscent of Heidegger's hermeneutic analysis in Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics. imagination is the tracing of transcendence. can have no positive content not derived from experience. . which Patocka defines as "the human creation of newness. too. considered from the standpoint of empirical experience. Patocka notes how they each manifest a basic experience of rupture with the given world: a rupture motivated by a concern for the good. Commenting on the foundational myths of Genesis. but it does contain a certain "negative plus. emancipates us from the determinist cycle of needs and opens a path of transcendence. We do believe. From its historical inception. and Gilgamesh (formative narratives of Western poetics). just as pure intuition. it succeeds in breaking through the closed horizon of objective entities and pointing to the Idea of the good. Consequently. Every human being.122 / CURRENT DEBATES This kernel of negativity is another name. The very first form of imaginative expression—mythology—stages a dramatic struggle between good and evil.

" and "derealization" (borrowing perhaps from Sartre's analysis of neantisation in LHmaginaire?). It is the nihilating power of transcendence. however. what Patocka. outside of us. projected by hermeneutic imagination. the power of making present what is not directly given and what does not present itself. of a synthesis of what.Ethics and the Right to Resist I 123 Elaborating on the hermeneutic interpretation of imagination offered by Heidegger in the Kantbuch. This is the source of power of memory and recollection as a relation to what is no more. It is precisely such a teleological horizon of possibilities. calls our Lebenswelt. the power of fantasy. he has this to say about it: [It is] the power from which we derive all our ability to struggle against "sheer reality. Ricoeur acknowledges a deep debt to Patocka as a fellow phenomenologist concerned with ethical questions of this nature. is in attributing a moral characteristic to this "derealizing" power of imagination. Heidegger. or combination. in other words." "dissociation. to desecrate what considers itself sacrosanct. the goal (ou heneka) of our comportments. as Heidegger made clear in Being and Time. from a mere acknowledgment of what is not and what contradicts itself to the thrust to break up what exists. inevitable. In other words. which permits us to understand ourselves and our world. had never been joined together. says Patocka. The otherness of Platonic ideas would be condemned to a kind of non-existence. the Idea of the good would remain absent and abstract were it not for the imagination's hermeneutic capacity to make it figuratively present in the mode of "as if. It is. Patocka identifies the creative power to negate the given world of objects as the sine qua non of all human liberty. and Sartre.18 . The given world is transformed into a "lived world" by virtue of the fact that we interpret our actions (pragmata) according to our orientation toward the Ideal—that in view of which we act. to condemn the actual in the name of that for which we long and which is not?6 Where Patocka departs radically from Kant. if the productive imagination did not make them somehow accessible to our experience. And it is precisely because we possess this basic interpretive power of projection that we can go beyond our given situation in the direction of a non-thetic goal which links together our actions in terms of their realizable or unrealizable character. It operates on a daily basis in our ordinary lived experience. Here the capacity of negation breaks forth in all its forms. Patocka calls it variously "deobjectification. It is the precondition of Verstehen." the reality that would impose itself on us as an absolute. and invincible law. To negate the real is to affirm the ideal—and that includes above all the Platonic Idea of the Good. a negation with positive ontological implications. following Husserl.17 Indeed. Patocka anticipates several of the points made by Ricoeur on hermeneutic imagination's power of making ethical principles alive for human agents. But this ethical role of imagining is not confined to aesthetics." At this point in his analysis.

surely no basis for a foundational ethics or metaphysics.e.19 It is because existence is imagination and imagination is transcendence that we inhabit a world for-us." Given the fact that for Patocka the ethical Idea of the Good is the sovereign horizon of all our hermeneutic horizons. death). because the good is nothing other than this way of naming the 'why." It is because our existence is poiesis that we are responsible for it.' the ou heneka which ultimately guides all our structures. that is. the good and evil of an essentially finite being who can only live on the basis of his non-thematic projections—knowing all the while that our projections are always shadowed by the extreme possibility of never more being able to project (i. Our being-in-the-world is above all an ethical mode of being. I. according to Patocka. But. it can only become apparent to us in the paradoxical guise of imaginative intuition. It is by means of such projections that the objects around us become charged with value. become tools (Zeuge) for human labor. the actual in the nonactual. "The life-world is the world of good and evil. a world where we can "poetically dwell. strangeness. which replaces a purely instinctual relation to things with a cultural relationship of mediated interests. or separation is. Poetics implies ethics. that the life-world is first and foremost "a world of good and evil. "and its subjectivity is that of the drama between good and evil." concludes Patocka. where Patocka parts company with Heidegger is in identifying the ultimate hermeneutic project of human action with the ethical Idea of the Good. The lynchpin connecting the two is imagination." Patocka pushes the phenomenological reduction back to what he considers the most primordial layer of human experience—good and evil. But perhaps that is just how Patocka intends it. It exists as a Bild or schema of interpretation. the familiar in the alien. The contrast with Heidegger on this point is crucial and striking."24 The so-called absolute invoked by Patocka seems. Here we come in contact with a primordial poetics. NEGATIVE ONTOLOGY The most basic human experience of absence. death. which offers "what is absent at the level of our sensible perception in the form of a quasi-presence. artifacts of creativity. as "presence in non-presence."22 The ethical horizon of our existence does not therefore present itself to us in specific perceptions—as one object among others..124 / CURRENT DEBATES Without such imaginative projections we would not have a livable world. on this account. by anticipation or by . There are many similarities between this analysis and Heidegger's equation of Dasein and transcendental imagination in the Kantbuch." says Patocka. "We can clearly see. The experience of death. Human existence reproduces itself by reinterpreting itself in terms of a world ready-athand {zuhanden) for its projects and plans. as we shall now see. to be evanescent and elusive indeed.

" The greatest task of Europe today. The greatest danger for Europe today is that one of its own progeny — technology—should reduce this movement of transcendence to a purely horizontal and mechanical system. This position Patocka calls "negative Platonism. Only the ethical care of the soul can resist this pervasive subordination of the other to the same. is the origin and end of all transcendence. Patocka follows the Platonic idiom of transcendence toward the Idea. and. "natural" orientation of life. he claims. is not the ontological thought of Being but the ethical "care of the eternal. 27 . and other versions of systematic metaphysics. In his pivotal essay "Negative Platonism. On this issue Patocka seems to part company with the mainstream movement of phenomenology and to approach the more ethical position of thinkers like Socrates—or his own Czech predecessors. not least. to the initiates of the arts. "It is a gap that does not separate two realms coordinated or linked by something third that would embrace them both and so serve as the foundation of both their coordination and their separation. 25 Where Aristotle speaks of being as a horizontal movement of potency becoming act. Chorisrnos is a separateness. of a second birth. intrinsic to all spiritual life." Patocka explicates the Socratic origins of the idea of transcendence. Comenius and Masaryk. Patocka speaks of the "soul" criss-crossing between the infinite and the finite. for itself. The decisive overture. German Idealism. familiar to the religious. eternity and time. of the different to the one-dimensional. an experience of a distance with respect to real things. It is out of concern to preserve transcendence as a surpassing of the natural world toward the Idea of the Good that Patocka privileges a certain reading of Plato over the speculative abstractions of Hegel." Where Heidegger speaks of Dasein preoccupying itself with the question of finite Being. we are told. of a meaning independent of the objective and the sensory which we reach by inverting the original. and absolute one. for Platonism. Europe. His unorthodox reading runs thus: The mystery of the chorisrnos is like the experience of freedom. is to be traced back to the Greek experience of chorisrnos. an experience of a rebirth.Ethics and the Right to Resist I 125 analogy. Chorisrnos designates a rupture without reparation or reconciliation. to philosophers. first emerged as a vision of the ideal—the mathematical ideal for nature and the ideal of justice for human life. Patocka argues."26 Patocka's reading of Platonic chorisrnos replaces the traditional notion of transcendence ("another continent somewhere beyond a separating ocean") with an ethical notion of freedom. a distinctness an sich. prises us free from the quotidien chain of events and enables us to surpass the given world of objects. The Good. or separation. But one has reason to suspect that this act of surpassing is less an edict of the destiny of Being (Heidegger) than a movement of transcendence toward the Ideas of the Good (Socrates).

Idea. to reach beyond it. but it is not without comparison with certain ideas of his phenomenological colleagues. Patofcka's iconoclastic resolve is evident throughout his analysis of negative Platonism: "In a strict sense of the word. objective." negative Platonism holds that "more basic than the seen. the absolute object."29 Patocka defines this negative reading of the power of the Idea as a process of "dissociation from mere givenness and presence". in what is presented as such. rather. iconic character. it is what makes us beings who transform themselves and their surroundings. hence the perverse reduction of the Idea to an "object" among objects. while PatoCka differs from the project of Destruktion by virtue of his emphasis on the social and ethical dimensions of the Good. of course. cannot be put on the same level with freedom."28 In other words. is what enables us to see. Indeed. we need to transcend the Idea itself." or Levinas's engimatic description of the "Idea of the infinite. I am thinking particularly of the Heideggerean and Derridean critiques of the "metaphysics of presence. to strip it of its presentational. objective. the experience of freedom is what saves it from becoming dispersed among finite knowledge. both testifying to that basic experience of transcendence which Platonism identified as the surpassing of entities in the name of the Idea." where the content surpasses any idea we can have of it. his insistence on "negative" hermeneutics may itself be seen as a scruple to avoid any possi- . by contrast. "For philosophy. It is precisely what brings it about that in the same observed we see ever the new. we can say that "philosophy stands and falls with the conception of the Idea." Patocka's "negative" ontology. If the Idea is shorthand for the chorismos. To put it in scholastic terms. the quo cognoscitur is reduced to the quod cognoscitur. where positive Platonism sees the Idea as an absolute object. But. a reduction which precludes liberty.126 / CURRENT DEBATES Patocka is fighting not only for the soul of freedom but for the soul of philosophy—the two being intrinsically linked together. Thus transcendence becomes equated with the thing toward which we transcend rather than the act of transcending itself. he differs from Levinas in declining to appeal to the biblical tradition of revelation and faith." The great temptation of Western metaphysics has. recommends that the Idea itself be gone beyond (qua "positive" metaphysical object) so as to prevent it becoming a fetish which compromises liberty. and chorismos is the symbol of freedom." It is "what makes it possible for us to see more than we observe. particular. This is the error of "positive Platonism." writes Patocka. "Form as such." The latter reinterprets the Idea as an act of transcendence (separation/ liberation) enabling us to see "something more than what is contained in the given. than the Form. or again. as the "power of liberation from the purely objective and given. been to conceive of the Idea as a speculative abstraction."30 Patocka's analysis here is original in several respects. Freedom and the very idea of philosophy are beholden to each other. that which makes us historical.

" 32 Platonism can be interpreted accordingly as birthplace of two opposing movements in Western philosophy: 1) a "positive" Platonism which construes the Idea as speculative possession and foundation of all subsequent objectification of experience. In this context we begin to appreciate just how much is at stake for Patocka in the choice between positive and negative Platonism. to be sure. "Human freedom is but the obverse of the transcendence of the Idea." writes Patocka in a telling passage. Understood in this sense. on the other. The Idea serves as a sort of limit idea—almost a Kantian regulative idea—negating all attempts to reduce it to immanence: "The Idea pronounces its No as it asserts its transcendence. as long as we take finite and objective existents as the criterion and sole possible mode of being". its primary impetus of transcendence bears witness to the freedom of existence." 33 In other words. and 2) a "negative" Platonism which "de-realizes" and "de-objectifizes" our given grasp of things and converts our immersion in the world into an act of free transcendence. On the one hand. including that of technology. an external mystery. an ethical absolute is that which prevents the possibility of absolutism. but it does give singular urgency to the author's mention of the experience of loss. and struggle as a via negativa leading beyond the totality of objects to a higher horizon of value. It is difficult not to interpret Patocka's allusion here to the prospect of imposed rule as informed by his own experience of totalitarianism—Nazi and Stalinist. none resembles it. . that which cannot be made present as an object before us. He manages to obviate the trap of what Heidegger called "ontotheology" and its attendant forgetfulness of existential Transzcendenz." 31 The role of negation here serves as both a hermeneutics of suspicion and affirmation. there. "The Idea is incapable of being seized and ineffable. the latter sees the Idea as a call to serve fellow humans rather than to master them. While the former leads to the excesses of naturalism. separation. and ethical absolute that absolves and absents itself from possession (qua foundation/presence/representation) challenges the doctrine of a foundational absolute (positive Platonism) that imposes a necessary rule of things. "the Idea appears to us at first as non-being. precisely because no reality expresses it. This is the ability—shared by poetical imagination an ethical separation—to "struggle against the 'sheer reality' that would impose itself on us as an absolute. Patocka understands "negative Platonism" as a way of seeing that which is never contained in what is seen." explains Patocka in a typically enigmatic avowal.Ethics and the Right to Resist I 127 bility of confounding a philosophy of the Good with a positive theology. "It shows that man's calling is not to rule but to serve. technologism. every one being less than adequate to it. This remains a subtext. literally. inevitable and invincible law. "It shows that there is something higher than man. In summary. that which is never. and even totalitarianism. nothingness.

CONCLUDING REMARKS In replacing Heidegger's ontological "care for being" with an ethical "care of eternity. It shows how much truth there is in man's perennial metaphysical struggle for something elevated above the natural and the traditional. . but it is clear from the tenor of his argument that it is not a pretext for facile anti-humanism but a meaning that safeguards basic universal standards of ethical struggle. it opens a path of thought leading toward a higher order of value that in no way denies the existential contigency of human life."34 He does not specify what that "something higher" might be. In preserving the promise of a philosophy purified of standard metaphysical (and by implication techno-scientific) pretensions. for instance. The force of negative Platonism is above all ethical. of his science and practice. I feel obliged to conclude that Patocka's bold attempts to graft a distinctly modern morality of rights (the universal attribution of moral personality) onto an ahistorical or essential moment of existence (Platonic separation/chorismos) appear at best conflictual. at worst contradictory. the struggle for the eternal and the supratemporal. Negative Platonism is disclosed accordingly as both a very poor and a very rich philosophy. in the struggle. is on the side of the good. I believe. it abandons the pretence of scientific or metaphysical systems to explain all things to all peoples. his images of life and the world. ." Patocka does not. Camus. taken up ever again." Why not. This something higher. and Merleau-Ponty argued? Similarly. Patocka sums up this philosophy of open-ended struggle and vigilance as follows: It cannot lean on anything on earth or in heaven . even though it cannot be formulated positively. [but] it preserves for humans the possibility of trusting in a truth that is not relative and mundane. whatever it is. against a relativism of values and norms—even while agreeing with the idea of a basic historicity of man and of the relativity of his orientation in his context. .128 / CURRENT DEBATES something to which human existence is indissolubly bound and without which the most basic wellsprings of our historical life dry up. sufficiently persuade us why the ethical character of the soul must necessarily be construed in terms of the "timeless.35 II. in terms of the preciousness of time. in terms of contents. But negative Platonism is rich in that it aims at an experience of freedom irreducible to the objective empirical order (while recognizing the legitimacy of the latter within its limits). It is poor insofar as it renounces the traditional claim to be the key to all doors of knowledge. we might ask why the ethical notion of self-transcendence must be explained in relation to "something higher" rather than by appeal to other humans as such? Was Patocka's view of human history so vitiated by his own experience of Nazi and Soviet totalitarianism that any surviving notion of the Good necessitated an appeal to something beyond history? Whatever the reasons. as Sartre.

Patocka concludes. operates according to a logic that refuses to conform to the common measure of calculating reason. a one-dimensional technological system.Ethics and the Right to Resist I 129 His recourse to a confection of Kantian and Platonic universalism seems ultimately more a matter of (understandable) urgency than of argument. The final end of ethical transcendence. His blend of Socratic transcendence and hermeneutic imagination seeks to obviate the twin dangers of metaphysical dogmatism and scientific positivism. What the technological attitude sought to conceal is brought back into view by the sacrifice of the dissident martyr or victim (the Czech word for sacrifice also means victim). but he does know that the endless struggle against the injustices of history would have no basis without it. the quest for the Good springs from an act of perpetual transcendence charged with uncertainty. and makes an appeal to a dimension of verticality. be it secular or sacred. The hermeneutic imagination. Neither traditional metaphysics nor Enlightenment rationalism provides a solution. which refuses the tyranny of things as they are out of commitment to the Idea that things can be other than they are. The life and death of Patocka serve as testimony to this unerring ethical conviction. It does not require a return to some antique Platonism. Patocka offers powerful witness to the intellectual struggle for justice in our time. For sacrifice. Toward what does transcendence transcend? Patocka replies—the Idea. and conflict (polemos). Husserl and the Essence of Technology as Danger according to M. This means going beyond the quotidien cycle of needs and satisfactions governed by the technological . It reduces the life of being to an undifferentiated time-space. Heidegger. which for Patocka motivates our being-toward-the-good." as Patocka puts it. suffering. is a timeless alterity that remains as unattainable as it is inalienable. The sacrificial subject is one who turns his/her back on the calculus of means and ends in order "to care for the soul. Sacrifice opens up a path to transcendence— a path at once ethical and poetical in character. There is no adequate speculative answer to the question of the Good. is a matter of spiritual struggle. These reservations notwithstanding." Patocka speaks of the experience of sacrifice as a means of breaking through the anonymity of technical life. understood in terms of a linear scientific causality. And to the corollary question. By contrast the sacrifice of someone for a value higher than him/herself reverses the purely horizontal movement of history. The positivistic attitude masks moral freedom and responsibility behind a veneer of impersonal mechanistic functioning. What is the Idea? he replies that he does not know what it is in itself. Escaping the limits of foundational and technological reason. To the fundamental yet unresolved question. Postscript: Ethics of Sacrifice In his 1973 Varna Lecture entitled "The Dangers of Technicization in Science according to E.

an ontological power but an ethical one. For Patocka sacrifice means resistance rather than resignation. And while such sentiments appear again to echo Heidegger. would seem clear. he identifies this higher meaning with the moral transcendence of the other. On the subject of sacrificial self-surrender. Human existence. but I believe it marks a significant departure from Heidegger insofar as it subordinates the ontological concern for being to an ethical concern for the soul. Here Patocka marks a telling distinction between ethics and theology proper. If there is a certain Heideggerean pathos in some of Patocka's pronouncements on the matter. The sacrificial subject is the rebel par excellence."37 It is rather a challenge to overcome our finitude by owning it. for instance. protest rather than a "piety of thinking" (a la Heidegger) or a "social consensus through scapegoating (a la Rene Girard). our beingtoward-death. The experience of sacrifice introduces conflict into the Gelassenheit of Seinsdenken. primordial meaning. to a hidden experience of Being. in Levinas) that these two concerns are incompatible. This critical note is evident. it signals the ongoing struggle for the good. but of transforming itself in self-surrender. While there is no suggestion here (as. dedicate . Sacrifice points past the mere totality of beings. Patocka is unambiguous on this score. as Patocka writes. Marcel. no doubt informed by his own experience of moral resistance to fascism and Stalinism. recalling his German mentor's phrase in the Der Spiegel interview about a divine saving power (see Chapter 4). however. bringing us face-to-face with our mortality. our finitude. as might first appear. Patocka has this to say: "An existing being can only surrender itself. What interests him primarily is the way sacrifice can lead to a moral caring for the soul. it is worth remarking that Patocka speaks not of the "care of being" but of the "care of eternity. To "acclaim finitude is not the same as to proclaim nothingness. go so far as to identify this divine event of saving with a personal savior god.130 / CURRENT DEBATES attitude to things." But he does not. to my knowledge. life succeeds in "proclaiming itself to be the highest power but as a powerlessness which yields itself to the power of the higher. so defined. This is what Patocka means when he states that "to be means to be in absolute uniqueness. marking himself off from Nietzschean vitalism. The transition from a Heideggerean version of fundamental ontology to a more ethically sensitive position close to Ricoeur. or even Levinas. Patocka names this vertical dimension of grace "the divine." Here the ostensibly negative power of self-surrender takes on the more affirmative connotations of self-transcendence for the sake of something higher. As Patocka insists. there is a deeply agnostic skepticism which tempers it. and in one particular passage. is not only capable of "preserving itself in abandoning itself. in Patocka's reference to a demythologized experience of sacrifice appropriate to our modern condition. exposed to a total threat. someone forever committed to the retrieval and renewal of the good in the midst of danger. identical with nihilism." This difference of terminology may appear to be of slight importance."38 This primordial meaning is not. say. In sacrificing history it rediscovers the "grace" of history—that which may save history."36 The threat of no-longer-being is not. the difference of emphasis does have far-reaching implications.

this kind of sacrificial love is far more than empathy between two isolated egos. as life universal. wholly giving it to the other who returns to me his being. In finding myself in and through the other I also find the other in and through myself." claims Patocka. It is. But Patocka insists that this willed act of gain through loss has nothing to do with the contemporary submission of human beings to an anonymous technological power. as a condition of the ultimate. our neighbor.Ethics and the Right to Resist / 131 itself. in the final analysis. finding itself by first losing itself for the sake of the other. Patocka touches here on the radical ethical implications of the experience of "infinity" as that alterity which surpasses me in height and depth. "movements through which we encounter the other. Through the sacrificial experience of "giving and devoting myself" to otherness I gain an awareness of infinity: "I demonstrate my not-being-finite by giving up my finite being. identifying it as an act of self-abnegation in the name of some higher power whose favor one seeks. it goes beyond the egoisme a deux of romantic intimacy. "At the center of the world. open. "the point is to reach from a merely given life to the emergence of a true life . universal. in which mine is contained."40 This basically amounts to a temporal relation of transcendence whereby the self rediscovers itself as another. but of the same glory. It reveals that the "basic relations to the world" are. it would seem. Technology submits qualitative ." "True and final love" is not "love as sympathy. The strength of the transubstantiation of life is the strength of a new love."39 Moreover. . in Patocka's words. a love yielding itself unconditionally to another. evoking life in the other. as fellow feeling for a destiny of the same suffering. Without any mention of Levinas. a self-transcendence toward the other and with him again to infinity. self-transcending movement of acclaiming our finitude. Whereas mythico-religious sacrifice acknowledges an essential difference between the human and the divine. ."41 The world is not for us as a theatrical scene is for a spectator or an objective scenario for a speculative consciousness. giving birth to all in all. Again we see him struggling with the tension between a commitment to reciprocal neighborly love (as outlined in the golden rule of the Gospels or Kant's Categorical Imperative) and an equally compelling commitment to the apparent asymmetry of sacrificial love."42 Patocka's analysis of sacrifice approximates here to the dialectical condition of what I have been calling "hermeneutic imagination."44 The axial point of ethics is this act of transcendence from self to other. resides this more fundamental ethical vocation of sacrificial struggle. called upon—and yet free to respond morally or otherwise."43 Deeper than fundamental ontology. "free. Patocka traces the sacrificial experience back to mythico-religious origins. in winning oneself the winning of the other in oneself and of oneself in the other takes place as well. Patocka phrases this dialectical paradox of moral saving-through-sacrifice as follows: "Thus ultimately. beholden. of the same victory—the victory over self-destructive self-centeredness. where the other is given priority over the self. technological submission denies such a dimension of alterity and reduces all things to the system of the Same." Patocka returns to this crucial paradox later in the same essay. to another. The world is a place of lived ethical relationships in which I find myself already committed. In his Varna Lecture of 1973.

fatherland. A sacrifice for something or for someone presupposes the idea of a difference of order between human being and the being of things. . but this presupposes that people are willing to sacrifice their lives in war for a higher good. non-objectifiable. Hence the paradox of modernity—that technology needs sacrifice but must ignore its moral existence. Often these victims were manipulated by politicians and generals.) Sacrificial victims challenge a technological or totalitarian system by testifying to the existence of transcendent values which are. But this does not diminish the intrinsic difference between the logic of Technik and that of sacrifice. that is why Patocka refuses to attribute any genuine sacrificial status to it. . something that does not concern him: a genuine sacrifice is always a sacrifice either in an absolute sense or in the sense of sacrificing that which intensifies our being. A person does not sacrifice something that is indifferent to him. ironically. The two world wars of our century are for Patocka symptoms of such technological domination. content-full. of universal rather than exclusively national import. he surely has compatriot Czech martyrs. energy." he writes. The very people who die for a moral end are used as means toward a non-moral end. fulfilled. Technology can only attain global domination by means of military and industrial conflict. non-utilizable. by definition. and technology knows that.45 Our technological age contrives by various means to suppress the ethical/ poetical experience of sacrifice. The conclusion of the Varna Lecture on the dangers of Technik is exemplary in this regard: . That is why even the most technically minded militarists will insist that their wars are being fought in the name of God. It seeks domination by reducing human beings to utilizable resources. The fact that sacrifice continues to play a role in our technological age is a sign that change and transformation are not impossible. relate to us as beings who essentially care about the mode of their being. god. as Patocka explains: "Speaking of sacrifice points to an entirely different understanding of being than the one exclusively attested by the technological age. or Freedom rather than gold. sacrificial victims. "In a sacrifice. and in these and other passages. many of the victims of these wars were themselves motivated by the highest sacrificial intentions—the will to give one's life for the sake of a higher cause—call it freedom. Mythico-religious motivations are exploited for purely technical ends and deprived of their original moral character. No one wants to die for technology."46 Such care is above all ethical. . or oil. . and non-calculable. whose aims were those of technical domination of the planet. (Though the meaning of sacrifice is. where Patocka invokes the higher meaning attested to by sacrificial victims. . A religious sacrifice presupposes a difference of order between divine and nondivine being. though. wherever they appear. Jan Hus and Jan Palach in mind." Why? Because "sacrifices represent a persistent presence of something that does not appear in the calculations of the technological world . This brings us to one of the most insidious contradictions of the modern age. or the motherland under threat. rendering it rich. Or. the idea of a difference of order is contained in the true sense of the word.132 / CURRENT DEBATES differences to purely quantitative calculations. for Patocka.

should appear to privilege a Christian model in his conclusion. he becomes. perhaps most obviously. Transcendence no longer hangs over man. presiding over our collective misery in a distant otherworld. the suprahuman in the sense of turning away from ordinary everydayness. . rests precisely in the radicalness of the sacrifice. nonetheless. He does insist. . and of a sacrifice as the activity which places this power under an obligation." he adds with full awareness of the paradox involved. The sacrifice becomes meaningful as the making explicit of the authentic relation between the essential core of man and the ground of understanding which makes him human. "it is a sacrifice for nothing. The divine in the sense of the suprahuman." "In a certain essential sense. . it is clear that such a version is fundamentally critical and ethical in character. One is reminded. strangely. . . they have another focus. thereby.48 A demythologized notion of Christian sacrifice is hailed by Patocka as an effective means of overcoming the reign of Technik> both in the form of a technological "ego" that reduces the world to its own will-to-power and in the form of a technological ethos which reduces the movement of history to a reservoir of disposable production and consumption. that he is concerned only with a radically "demythologized" Christianity: Christianity differs from those religions which conceived of the divine always as a power and a force. Christianity . It is not altogether unprecedented. Out of just this situation stems the need for man to take the part of this ground and to commit himself for it. ignore certain concrete historical social goals. first winning his humanity in the true sense of the word . or of Ricoeur when he speaks of breaking the "idols" of Christianity so that its authentic "symbols" can speak. . ."49 Here "nothing" is used not in the sense of nihilism but in the sense advanced by negative theology and the great mystics. placed at the center a radical sacrifice and rested its cause on the maturity of the human being. even though in a sense it is a sacrifice for everything and for all. that Patocka identifies a genuinely Christian understanding of sacrifice as "not a sacrifice for something or for someone. of Merleau-Ponty when he claims in Signs that "there is a sort of impotence of God without us. they dedicate themselves to that of which it cannot be said that it is something. even. and Christ attests that God would not be fully God without becoming fully man."47 It is perhaps curious that Patocka. But while Patocka himself neglects to explain or expand on the theological implications of demythologized Christian sacrifice. and also by modern authors like . or something objective. becoming a force [which] might be transformed into a saving one through sacrifice. . . of Bultmann and Girard with their anti-mythological reading of Christian sacrifice (see Chapter 10). Perhaps it is in this sense that we need to seek the fully ripened form of demythologized Christianity. . if thereby we mean that which is no existing particular. having refrained from explicit theological analogies throughout his analysis of sacrifice. or. its privileged bearer.Ethics and the Right to Resist I 133 Those who sacrifice themselves do not. In giving themselves for something. ." It is in this last sense of refusing to identify the divine with some metaphysical entity. however. .

for instance. It is only on the basis of such a possibility of being that philosophy can intercede as a path. rather it is a constant co-founding moment of the "in view of which" of Dasein. Masaryk and Husserl. justice. True to his critical principles. to the anonymous apocalypse of Being.134 / CURRENT DEBATES Samuel Beckett. he differs from his fellow phenomenologist in stating that authentic Dasein remains at all times responsible before the ethical needs of the other— whether this take the form of health care.51 This scrupulous concern for the social justice of fellow humans is a distinguishing feature of Patocka's thought. While he endorsed their attack on the positivist character of modern . Privation. he acknowledges. Patocka's ethics of sacrifice is shadowed throughout by the lived experience of historical tragedy. another word for transcendence—the key theme of Patocka's ethical attitude. Sociality is not introduced here in terms of a polarity between the fallenness of being-with (Mitsein) and the creative Volk of authentic history. who love to rehearse the persuasion that "nothing is more real than nothing. As the Czech commentator of Patocka. civic rights." Nothing is. as in the wars for technological domination. the failure of the Prague Spring. In the experience of breakthrough—which Patocka names as the third and ultimate movement of existence—the human subject finds itself in an intersubjective encounter with another who transcends it. It is in emphasizing the irreducible role of ethical responsibility that Patocka most clearly demarcates his philosophy from Heidegger's. While Patocka frequently confirms Heidegger's idea of existential transcendence as a surpassing of the inauthentic fallenness of everyday life. as a practical mode of lighting up Being. in short. but also always of the being of the other. from the blood-letting rites of paganism and "mythologized" Christianity. The leap into the void must be made with an eye to justice. Authenticity of self cannot be bought at the expense of the other. official censure (only eight years in his entire philosophical career were spent free of censorship): these conditions combined to provoke a certain apocalyptic tone in Patocka's thinking. imprisonment.50 Heroic sacrifice is answerable to the moral needs of the other. The movement of transcendence towards must always be a transcendence toward the other. I have mentioned on several occasions how his personal suffering at the hands of a totalitarian security force informed his remarks on the need for resistance. Patocka resists all attempts to romanticize the phenomenon of sacrifice. or well-being. for his critique of the rationalist humanism of two of his most formative mentors. and not only as the question of Being but as the question of being with others. has stated: It is in understanding the fundamental role which sociality plays in the fulfillment of existence that Patocka distinguishes himself from Heidegger. to the subordination of individuals to amoral forces of violence. which draws not only from the tradition of Christian sacrifice but also from the teaching of Socrates. Ilja Srubar. This might account. Patocka's insistence on critical discrimination between moral and immoral uses of sacrifice is also evident in his scarcely disguised critique of the Heideggerean notion of heroic sacrifice. The abuses of sacrifice are legion.

52 If Patocka supported Husserl's view that the European crisis resulted from the domination of existence by ungrounded technical reason (he defines Nazism as an unholy alliance between a rationalism of means and an irrationalism of ends). Where he takes his leave of Kierkegaard. In what might be described as an ethically inflected anti-Titanism. nor within the "reign of the earth. it is on the understanding of these as "sacred" dimensions of difference rather than as continuous ingredients of the given world. To renounce all hope in an ethics of transcendence leads not only to existential subjectivism but.54 . and 3) a certain Nietzschean existentialism which deifies the individual. Patocka's sense of the sacred is closer to the sacrificial victim than to a triumphant God. however. it is surely the subordination of the ethical to the irrationality of the absurd. 53 Subjectivism and objectivism are for Patocka two extreme versions of the modern reduction of transcendence to a secular order of things—a reduction which he identifies with what Masaryk denounced as Titanism and which Patocka attributes respectively to 1) vitalism as the deification of nature. If it is true that in some late texts Patocka does acknowledge a certain moral meaning in the sky and the earth. to fascism. "Any attempt to find a clue to human meaning in the objective order of either history or nature was equally suspect" for Patocka. suggesting that it reduces the meaning of human being to the objective order of nature. Patocka rejects his faith in scientific reason and orthodox theology. he displayed a marked suspicion of their faith in rational progress. worse. the rebels of imagination. Patocka believes there is no going beyond good and evil. Unlike Kierkegaard and Nietzsche. Patocka insists on a basic tension between the moral order of transcendence and the natural order of immanence. Patocka dismissed such optimism as a naive legacy of the Enlightenment. In contrast to both Husserl and Masaryk. Patocka promotes an alliance between the victims of history." The philosophy of the good instigates a radical rupture with the everyday order of giveness. This allegiance is particularly evident in a series of passages where he speaks of the necessity to break through the closed cycles of history in the direction of a higher act of transcendence. As Erazim Kohak observes.Ethics and the Right to Resist I 135 science. he reproaches Masaryk for an uncritical belief in the inherent rationality of history." Here his existential approach appears to replace Nietzsche with Kierkegaard. But while sharing Masaryk's critique of modern Titanism. he renounces the Husserlian project of a scientific philosophy guided by teleological reasoning. is in refusing the notion of a leap of faith beyond ethics. If there is an error in existentialism. It is more in sympathy with the struggle of the "shaken ones" than with some messianic kingdom. and the thinkers of transcendence in the form of an ethical "community of shaken ones. 2) Marxism as the deification of history. he claims that the good is not to be found within the order of objective knowledge. In an early essay "Titanism" (1936). Advancing a quasi-Kantian position on this issue.

Girard is another of those contemporary continental thinkers who seeks to make the functioning of mythopoetics (in this instance the social imaginary of sacrifice) answerable to ethics. guilt. The sacrificial victimization of the scapegoat serves to engender a sense of solidarity within the tribe. now reunited in a common act of persecution. ranging from Violence and the Sacred (1972). politics. and aggression that sets one neighbor against another. disclosing concealed meaning behind apparent meaning. This sacrificial mechanism provides communities with their sense of collective identity—with the basic sense of who is included and who excluded. Most communities are based on the ritual sacrifice of a scapegoat. and the anthropology of myth. law. Once the sacrifice is completed and harmony is restored to the social imaginary. The initial consensus required for harmonious social coexistence between otherwise competitive humans is made possible by a collective act of projection whereby some victimized outsider becomes the carrier of all the violence. religion. Girard's analysis develops as follows. The overriding aim of these works is to provide a critique of sacrificial scapegoating as it functions in such diverse areas as literature. and The Scapegoat (1982).10 Myth and Sacrificial Scapegoats: On Rene Girard Human societies are founded upon myths of sacrifice. His way of doing this is by subjecting it to a hermeneutics of suspicion. to Things Hidden since the Foundation of the World (1978)." So argues Rene Girard in a number of controversial publications. The myths comprise a social imaginary which operates according to a mechanism of scapegoating generally concealed from human consciousness. communities often forget their hatred for the scapegoat and even come 136 . But the price to be paid is the destruction of an innocent outsider: the immolation of the "other" on the altar of the "same.

Osiris. the continued role of sacrificial scapegoating in strategies of "terrorism. constitutes an ideological act of demonizing some common "threat" through a collective act of projection onto the social imaginary (often with the help of the popular media). however. And thus also may be understood. It would free itself from the social imaginary of "mimetic rivalry. witch-hunting. through the founding myths of collective imagination. The scapegoat thus becomes. antisemitism. until we renounce our desire to always desire what the other has and transcend the rivalry which gives rise to scapegoating in the first place. become hallowed over time until they are eventually remembered. Romulus. in retrospect. Such mythic figures. Hence the paradox that "the people's shudder of admiration before the great criminal is addressed to the individual who takes upon himself the stigma of the lawmaker or the prophet." Thus may be explained the recurring phenomena of racism. and the ostracization of non-conformist minorities. apartheid. They continue. Christ. after all. without myths. committing itself to a transcendence beyond time. says Girard. is the intolerable truth that the sacrificial saviors were originally victims of collective acts of blood-letting. Sacrificial myths are not confined to primitive times. Girard goes so far as to claim that no modern society is entirely free from this scapegoating tendency—shot through as every society is with a mimetic rivalry and strife for scarce resources.Myth and Sacrificial Scapegoats I 137 to revere the initial victim—for it was. that is. as savior gods who restored society from chaos to order: miraculous heroes who transmuted conflict into law. from their internecine rivalry. that victim's ritual oblation that saved them from themselves in the first place. But that is precisely the problem of scapegoating myths. and so on. without illusions. Girard recommends that myths of the social imaginary be . Like Ricoeur. undermining security. The need for the scapegoat never ends. to operate today. though often reviled by their original contempories. A genuinely peaceful society would expose the sacrificial mechanism and enter the light of "true fraternity"—without scapegoats. What the readers of such myths conveniently forget. contaminating our moral fabric. at least in part. Cuchulain." from the Baader-Meinhof Gang to the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Irish Republican Army." fed by cycles of bloodletting. Orpheus. says Girard. even though the mechanisms for scapegoating have become more sophisticated and subterranean. Each. We can only pretend to believe in the lie because it is we who are lying to ourselves! Hence the ultimately self-defeating character of all such myths and the resulting necessity for their renewal and reenactment."1 Hence also the deification of sacrificial victims like Prometheus. in short.2 Each involves a belief in the myth of the evil enemy who is poisoning the wells. destroying the economy. corrupting the body politic. periodically resolved by making common cause against an identifiable "enemy. a founding symbol for the community.

3 The basic aim of persecution texts is to attribute responsibility for the social crisis to a culprit (victim) and then to restore social order (differentiation) by expelling the alleged culprit from the body politic. Girard treats as myth any narrative which contains these sacrificial characteristics. We are not dealing here with symbolic or imaginary feats of violence but with narratives rooted in historical facts: "All myths are rooted in real acts of violence.a chapter of The Scapegoat entitled "What Is Myth?" Girard enumerates four essential characteristics of written and oral narratives of collective persecution: 1) a social or cultural crisis ("generalized indifferentiation"). which "contains all of the persecution stereotypes. in actual persecutions of actual scapegoats. In . Girard begins his analysis by focusing on the "exemplary myth" of Oedipus. subsequently disguising the fact that we are doing so.138 / CURRENT DEBATES subjected to a critical hermeneutics of suspicion."6 Moving from this explicit myth of persecution to other less evident—but no less effective—examples."4 He strongly repudiates any suggestion that sacrificial myths are reducible to some "intertextual" play of linguistic relations. But does Girard go too far in his denunciation of myth? I. Like Levinas. Every text which tells of sacrificial violence against a victim while seeking to cover up its own persecution mechanism qualifies as such. he recommends that the critique be guided by an ethics of transcendence. might we not accuse Girard's blanket condemnation of all myth as scapegoating as itself an exercise in scapegoating—an attempt to project hidden sacrificial motives onto the unconscious poetics of myth? Such is my critical hypothesis. Girard goes so far as to declare that sacrificial myths refer not just to unconscious desires to persecute but to real events. might some myths not serve a Utopian function of symbolic innovation rather than an ideological function of dissimulation and domination? And if this be so. 3) a culprit accused not because of direct involvement in the crime but because of some association with it (des signes victimaires)> and finally 4) a violence frequently assigned a sacred character. in the first and last analysis. creative impulse to imagine other possibilities of existence which challenge the status quo? Or to put it in terms of Ricoeur's hermeneutic discussed above. Moreover. but express a contrary. He offers the following paradigmatic reading of Sophocles' Oedipus Rex: .5 They are less matters of fantasy than of flesh and blood. 2) a crime considered to be the cause of this crisis. Myths do not relate to structures of mind—as Levi-Strauss and the structuralists claim— they relate to events of historical victimization. Are all myths of the social imaginary necessarily sacrificial? Are there not some myths (foundational or otherwise) which are not based on the need to project false accusations onto scapegoats. Girard proposes to show that all myths are rooted. How SCAPEGOAT MYTHS WORK The question I put to Girard here is.

They should not be treated as quaint antiquities.Myth and Sacrificial Scapegoats I 139 Thebes is ravaged by plague: the first stereotype of persecution. The hero moreover has arrived in Thebes unknown to all. one notes that the undifferentiated (i. an outsider in fact if not in essence.7 Comparing the Oedipus myth to the medieval documents of Guillaume de Machaut on the persecution of the Jews. incest and the physical or moral corruption of the community. In the text by Sophocles. The persecutionary intent is evident. explains Girard.e. sometimes an omnipotent monarch . Girard notes that both texts bear traces of "persecutions drawn up from the perspective of naive persecutors. he is the king's son and the king himself—the legitimate heir of Laios. as privileged expressions of some exotic pensee sauvage.10 Girard makes no apologies and no exceptions. or by some gratuitous act of poetic imagination or fantasy. Girard argues that myths are not neutral. He throws down the gauntlet to the romantic nostalgia of modern ethnologists. ancient or modern. of king. these crimes are so undifferentiated that their influence contaminates the entire society. In order to put an end to the epidemic. Oedipus limps. as structuralist or neo-positivist schools would have us believe. as in Guillaume de Machaut or the witch trials of the Inquisition. Every social imaginary. make him a veritable conglomerate of victim-signs. he is sometimes a mendicant stranger. . the disordered) is equatable with the contamined. The "mythicality" of myth."8 In the Oedipus myth. utterly removed from the mentality and reality of persecution? And yet that is precisely what our research experts are asking us to believe. retorts Girard. Parricide and incest serve openly as intermediaries between the individual and the collective. Oedipus is responsible because he has killed his father and married his mother: the second stereotype of persecution. "is not some kind of vaporous literary . That is Girard's uncompromising claim. Like all other mythic characters. . his wounded childhood."9 Likewise. he finds in the historical narratives of persecution that the annihilation of the "guilty one" arises in circumstances of acute social crisis and is carried out by a paranoid mob. the Oracle announces. the stereotypes are more complete and conspicuous than in the Guillaume text. and they consider my arguments extravagant when I claim the contrary. First there is infirmity. In primitive myths. Similar to Ulysses at the end of the Odyssey. The infirmity of Oedipus. the guilty criminal must be found and hunted out. . Oedipus manages to accumulate both the marginality of the outside and the inside. is founded on an actual cult of sacrifice. who think of myths as imaginary tales referring to nothing outside of their own linguistic structures. Girard finds "mythological accusations of parricide. of stranger. And the only difference between "ancient" and "advanced" cultures is that the operation of the sacrificial mythology is more explicit in the former. How is one to pretend that they are somehow thrown together by accident. his status of outsider. or worse. Finally. This brings in the third stereotype: the signs or stigmata of victimization.

. seeks to deny this causal reference to reality. One only has to think of Robert Musil's reflections on the homicidal Moosbrugger in Man without Qualities.140 / CURRENT DEBATES perfume but a persecutor's interpretation of persecution. away . is to see mythological monsters as creations ex nihilo. It is in order to expose the victimizing motivation behind myth that Girard proposed his own hermeneutic of suspicion—the theory of the scapegoat. The monstrous character of the "criminal. it seems to call for it. which Girard vehemently opposes. is a mixture of man and bull. for example. Dostoyevsky. Identifying the monstrous as an expression of ^differentiation and chaos. it is in their formal capacity to camouflage the genesis of sacrificial signs in historical acts of persecution. One of the signal effects of romantic poetics."14 This is why Girard is so vigorous in his repudiation of those who persist in construing mythological monsters as fabulous poetic creations. By portraying the Minotaur as a criminal product of bestiality. . . It is worth noting that society's fascination with the "monstrous criminal" is observed by many modern writers. we want to raise ourselves above it. Girard demonstrates how monsters bear signs of persecution stereotypes—especially those of physical and moral deformity (equated in myth) and of the "stranger" responsible for the crisis in the community. where all the evil is now seen to reside. or Dostoyevsky's portrait of Stavrogin in The Possessed. indeed. The most effective and definitive alibi remains that abstract disbelief which denies the reality of violence reflected by the myth. "But a true investigation of mythological monsters tells a different story. . certainly anticipates Girard's reading of the monstrous criminal as scapegoat: Loathing and self-loathing. For Girard the symbolic aspects of myth are no more than representations of sacrificial events. The Minotaur. inspired by the very real evils of the world. to focus on just one example."11 If myths are indeed fictional in some respect. It is not only Homer or Sophocles who register the human obsession with monstrosity." and the direct causal connection between his monstrosity and the collective crisis itself. writes Girard. The romantic approach to myth. the persecutors contrived to project the moral culpability for a particular crisis onto some outsider whose physical infirmity suggested an affinity with the monstrous. We don't want to see ourselves as part of the evil. . "We assume that we are secure in mythic illusion because we only see it as so much fancy. Thus we find imagination being hailed as an absolute power to conceive forms that have no existence in nature. 13 The imaginary character of myth makes the "guilty one" consubstantial with the crime. fuel a projection of evil outward. violence and destruction against the world. to appreciate how perduring this curious feature of the human psyche is. ."12 Girard argues that mythological monsters are always combinations of elements borrowed from real forms. pure inventions. This justifies terror. appears so immediate at the level of fantasy that one scarcely notices the accusatory process behind it. a polarization between self and world.

" writes Girard. and other authors of persecution narratives. to seek recourse in the unconscious as alibi is to lapse into something "even more mythical than myth itself. "and I might well have spoken of unconscious ones. and the proof of its existence is that even those . quite adept in detecting such unconscious motivation in Sophocles. ." Girard is. along with those of Ricoeur that I cite in Chapters 5 and 6. in the other religion. "As with any society. if polemical. But this cannot serve as excuse by Girard's own standards. On such a reading. in capital alone. Girard is treating myth as a textual monster to be expurgated by his own demythologizing critique. If Girard rebukes ethnology for masking myth's scapegoating function. . Julia Kristeva stcs the contemporary movements of utopianism and terrorism as opposite sides of the same scapegoating process. remind us that the central functions of mythopoetics—good and bad—are not confined to antiquity." writes Kristeva. What is occurring is a division of the social imaginary into an impure society and a pure counter-society by means of sacrificial purgation. locating the guilty one—in order to fend off criticism—in the foreign. The outward projection of the terrorist is the most violent manifestation of this common motive. Girard's work represents a significant. a scapegoat charged with the evil of which the community duly constituted can then purge itself. Being imprisoned in a system permits us to speak of a persecutionary unconscious. By describing his own theory of the scapegoat as the "Ariadne's thread" guiding us through the labyrinth of myth. capable of showing how poetics is answerable to ethics. Girard appears to imply that mythic monsters are themselves some kind of monstrosity. might Girard not be accused of scapegoating the mythic function itself? If such be the case. but it is not without its problems. as we have seen. Myth comes to function. Modern (protest) movements have often reiterated this logic. it would no doubt be an unconscious motivation in Girard's hermeneutic. As he clearly states. 15 Commenting on the sacrificial strategy of separation. . The frequent slippage from the nominal form {mythical monster) to the adjectival (monstrous myth) betrays a tendency in Girard to scapegoat myth itself. Guillaume de Machaut. Indeed. a purge which will finally exonerate that community from any future criticism. at one point he even suggests that those most practiced in the art of denouncing others' motives are often practitioners of a similar strategy. Particular difficulties arise in his analysis of the monstrous. carrying the moral charge of culpability for our cultural and social crises. contribution to such a hermeneutics. They live on and need to be addressed by a critical hermeneutics. menacing Minotaurs of the mind that need to be expelled. "the counter-society is based on the expulsion of an excluded element. as a new scapegoat.Myth and Sacrificial Scapegoats I 141 from the blame for it. thus. in the other sex. "I have spoken of naive persecutors."16 These observations.

Is it really reasonable to conclude that the imaginary character of myth plays no function other than that of ideological masking? Is it really tenable. There would seem to be no way out. Exceptions also prove the rule! . Each myth. .e. on the one hand. . no matter how ostensibly innocuous. But to go from this to claiming that the fictional and formal components of myth are reducible to a one-to-one correspondence with real historical persecutions is surely debatable."19 Girard is caught in a vicious circle here. as a literarypoetical disguise for sacrificial violence). I think. Oedipus Rex is to be interpreted as a text of persecution. Even those myths which do not openly display "signs of victimization" are assigned sacrificial motivations. on the other?18 It is surely the case that perverse uses of imagination contributed to the myths of antisemitism (or antipaganism in the age of witch-hunting): distortions which resulted in sacrificial pogroms and executions. is susceptible to this reading. namely collective violence. that since it is "certainly a text of persecution. and that which fabricated antisemitic myths of persecution. Because of this premise even the Oedipus myth must be read as an act of persecution by other means (i. those myths that are entirely lacking in the stereotypes of victimization are those which provide its most emphatic confirmation."17 Might this not apply to Girard? Might the expert inquisitor of the scapegoating imaginary not also be prisoner of such a system.. "When the imagination of persecutors is operative. quite legitimate for Girard to criticize the neo-romantic character of ethnology for its "innocent" reading of mythopoetics." He adds. and it is a text of persecution because it is to be interpreted as such.142 / CURRENT DEBATES most able to discover others' scapegoats in our day—and God knows we've all become past masters in the art—are the last to discover their own. on the basis of such a global proposition. But can one infer from that that every mythic use of imagination is necessarily persecutive? Girard seems obliged to respond in the affirmative."20 Non-guilty myths are also guilty." affirms Girard. captive of a new and more sophisticated labyrinth of suspicion? Or to repeat our formula from Chapter 5. It is. with particular reference to the Oedipus myth. taking no hostages in the field of myths or monsters. to assert that there is no way of discriminating between the imaginative power which invented the Oedipus myth. given his premise that every myth is a narrative of real victimization. Is not the critique of the ideological imaginary itself subject to critique? II. 2) the characteristic traits of their habitual victims. it is as a text of persecution that it should be treated. DISCRIMINATING MYTHS? Let me tease out some implications of this line of argument. It also seems legitimate to call for a more ethical mode of critique. "one should only heed those words which correspond to: 1) the real circumstances of their genesis. As Girard formulates his no-lose logic: "Far from contradicting our thesis . and 3) the consequences which normally flow from them.

21 Of the "biblical myth" of Joseph. What Girard deems especially positive about biblical myths is their character of ethical judgment: the fact that they condemn human culture for sacrificing victims for the sake of Caesarian consensus. Girard approves. why not also for some non-biblical myths? Is it not possible to read the myths of Oedipus. accounts of the sacrifice of innocent scapegoats? (Is Prometheus not specifically referred to as pharmakos. the Oedipus myth. argues Girard. Philoctetes. Abel is one example. Here Girard seems to be acknowledging a distinction between the majority of myths. such as Things Hidden since the Foundation of the World. is to be understood accordingly as a "prolongation of the Jewish Bible. African. which collude with the sacrificial imaginary. I submit. of course. constituting the most perfect expression of a process which the Old Testament had not yet brought to completion. at a more exemplary level. again open to the charge of purificatory exclusion: the very function of sacrificial scapegoating . Girard does not shirk the role of Christian apologist on this issue. Girard explains that instead of "colluding with the accusation as most myths do. readers of such myths are unable to decipher the sacrificial mechanism at work. serve nonetheless to undo the sacrificial mechanism by demonstrating the innocence of the scapegoated victims. or Asian—as no more than devious strategies of persecution? Is it possible to sustain such a radical discontinuity between biblical and non-biblical cultures? In adamantly observing such a discontinuity. But is this sufficient reason for denying any recognition of innocence whatsoever in the Greek myths? Is Girard seriously prepared to condemn all non-biblical myths—Greek. and the Prophets. The Crucifixion is. Celtic. Indian. which stands in polar opposition to the pagan mythology of persecution. The New Testament. and certain biblical myths which subvert this imaginary.Myth and Sacrificial Scapegoats / 143 In other writings. or Iphigenia—to cite notable Greek narratives of victimization—as. in part at least. for Girard. and above all. for instance. Joseph and the servant of Yahweh in 2 Isaiah are others. Prometheus. the Christ story. that certain "biblical myths" (the phrase is his). The supposed "neutrality" of ethnological myths stands rebuked. He considers the Scriptures to be the ultimate antidote to the sacrificial mythology of culture. or for that matter modern. there are passages where Girard transgresses his own proposition that all myths derive from acts of violence and hide their own sacrificial content. the most decisive exposure of the innocence of the scapegoat." 22 as does. like those of Cain. though founded on acts of persecution. meaning scapegoat?) Or is it that the Greek. the story of Joseph exposes its falsehood. Girard allows. without the ethical guidance of Revelation? It may well be that the innocence of persecuted victims is more explicit and more ethically observed in the biblical texts. Girard is. Biblical myths are thus assessed from the viewpoint of a specifically Christian hermeneutic." 23 But if Girard is prepared to make an exception for biblical myths. Joseph.

indeed. . that "we are only permitted to postulate the genesis of texts in a real persecution when the nature and configuration of persecution stereotypes suggests it". for it does not explain how Girard knows whereas the rest of us don't (until we read him and are enlightened). and walk the road to the Kingdom. No doubt aware of the danger of militant zeal. The secular and the sacred. all the motifs become perfectly clear and there is no longer any serious objection to be posed. Girard's appeal to some uncontaminated Judeo-Christian ethos. . purged of sacrificial motivation and mimetic conflict. "My critics. human culture and God's kingdom. Girard asserts. "as soon as one postulates this genesis . naturally. the fervor of which is almost unrivalled in modern continental thought since Kierkegaard. the darkness vanishes. Most of the objections leveled against me are based on this error. appear to be set in terminal combat for the soul of civilization." he writes in tones reminiscent of the embattled Kierkegaard in The Point of View."25 But if this "structural" hermeneutic is. ethnology and Christology. Such minds include." At times he almost seems to be claiming the objective authority of an empirical science. the author declares his hypothesis to be purely "structural. I myself have actually encouraged this misunderstanding in only slowly distancing myself from the impasses into which the contemporary understanding has fallen. for instance. the faithful followers of non-violent imitation rise up ." This is patently unsatisfactory. is itself. it is true. but not Girard. one might ask why he is the only one to have seen the sacrificial truth of myth? Girard himself offers a partial reply when he states that "we know. The implication seems to be that most minds remain captive to a social imaginary based on non-biblical myths. the method observed by Girard. Girard appears to imply. III. Girard's many critics. The conclusion to Things Hidden since the Foundation of the Wo rid would seem to give grounds for this suspicion of sacrificial exclusion. a search for a new consensus—the consensus of mystical Christian union against its demonized "other" (the non-Christian community)."26 Is Girard not presenting himself here as a new scapegoat—a wronged victim . arguably. Girard goes some way to dispell this impression of Christian apologetics. beset by persecuting critics bent on punishing the brazen prophet for his exposure of our sacrificial unconscious."24 Only those who follow Christ. . . But here again the charge of circular thinking resurfaces. which have managed to hide their own sacrificial origins. CONCLUDING—BEYOND SCAPEGOATING In The Scapegoat. but we don't know that we know. several sentences later he adds. Girard claims the role of victim for himself. fully succeed in overcoming the mechanisms of mimetic desire and scapegoating.144 / CURRENT DEBATES he seeks to expose. "consider [my thesis] as the ultimate monster bred by the contemporary mind. "To the prisoners of violent imitation who move always toward closure.

accused) to bring the hidden motivations of myth to self-evidence. Just as a tree is to be known by its fruit. in spite of itself? Girard's final justification of his thesis is a straightforward appeal to common sense. Second." that is. The most effective way to disclose the origin of myths is to go beyond their purely formal and linguistic imaginary to the real social crisis from which they first emerged. blind man. there is the realist criterion. we must ask what exactly are Girard's criteria for the "efficacity of explanation" that legitimizes his own interpretation and illegitimizes those of his opponents. there is the fideist criterion. the four main criteria cited by Girard to justify his sacrificial thesis." Girard resolves to unmask the "cultural schizophrenia" at work in modernity's attempt to celebrate myths as primitive fabulations divorced from reality. anthropologists. In that respect his own hermeneutic . First. once again. they confine such resolutions to purely logical or rhetorical systems with no causal relation to actual happenings. which states that it is sufficient to suppose a real event of victimization behind each mythic monster (outsider. and linguists persist in interpreting mythologies in terms of their "external envelope. to refer the crisisresolution of myth to "real social conditions. and Christian martyrs played for theirs? Girard would no doubt deny this. outcast. there is the formal criterion. plague-carrier. so too his theory should be judged by its explanatory effectiveness. Third. Once again. And it is almost certain that he has no conscious intention of such role playing. Let me rehearse. might it not be a case of an unconscious "mythopoetic" interest betraying itself. by way of summary. however.Myth and Sacrificial Scapegoats I 145 whose self-exposure might lay bare the unconscious mechanism of persecution at work in the anti-Girardian bias of his critics? Is he not playing the same role of "saving martyr" for our intellectual generation which Kierkegaard was tempted to play for his. to its historical "reference to reality."28 Because of this refusal to countenance the fact that myth has "dirty hands" (by virtue of its intrinsic scapegoating mechanism). there is the pragmatic criterion—the scapegoat hypothesis "works" in that it offers the most effective explanation of our social imaginary. the ethnological account remains ineffective. objects Girard. cripple. And fourth. We find ourselves back in the circle of petitio principii. While Levi-Strauss and his neo-primitivist colleagues acknowledge the power of myth to resolve problems of chaos and conflict (indifferentiation) in terms of a new order (differentiation). They absolutely refuse. which argues that the recurring configuration of persecution stereotypes points to the necessary existence of a real sacrifice of innocent victims. albeit understated in much of Girard's writing. exile.27 While classicists. But here. Girard uses these four criteria more or less at random and never essays to place them in an order of priority. which claims that it is the Judeo-Christian Revelation of things "hidden since the foundation of the world" which definitively exposes the sacrificial motives of our founding mythologies.

The reader. If he is justified in rebuking the structuralist claim that myths are autonomous linguistic texts.146 / CURRENT DEBATES presuppositions remain largely unexamined and unjustified. the reality of persecution. This central problem of criteria is accompanied by others. . self-masking representation of persecution? Might it not be possible for an alternative critical hermeneutic (along the lines proposed in Chapters 5 and 6) to distinguish between different functions of myth— those that liberate and those that incarcerate. to a second order of meaning that does not yet exist. Or. Girard would no doubt protest that he is not in the business of methodological hermeneutics. devoid of reference to anything beyond themselves. we might say that a hermeneutics of Utopian affirmation refers not just to "things hidden since the foundation of the world" but to things which call for the transformation of the world. no less than the author. he is not justified. in short. Such Utopian reference deploys the symbolizing power of myth to innovate and augment meaning. It would take demythologizing as precondition for a remythologizing of the symbolic power of myth to project new possibilities of being. as Patocka argues in Chapter 9. Which of the four criteria—or which combination of these—is ultimately invoked depends on the decision of each reader. to juggle with Girard's own terms. In reducing myth to an ideological function of falsification. This second order reference opens up an "eschatological" perspective on myth. in short. It epitomizes a poetics that escapes the causal chain of fact and directs us toward new and as yet unexperienced horizons of sense. is obliged to make a hermeneutic wager about the validity of the scapegoat thesis. in claiming that the only reference is one which re-presents a causally anterior reality. myths can also carry a Utopian reference. But that is not to resolve the problem of criteria. those that reflect sacrificial persecution and those that project quite opposite ways of being-in-the-world (including ways in which "sacrifice" itself might serve to emancipate. Girard reads only half the story. I believe. it simply displaces it onto the reader. that he uses these criteria in an intuitive fashion which readers will recognize for themselves. as Girard and the "masters of suspicion" have done. Must myth always be treated as something ethically and epistemologically suspect? Is it really nothing more than a mendacious. that is. Such a hermeneutics would not deny the necessity for critical unmasking of the abuses of myth. take the ethical step of acknowledging that all poetics—including mythopoetics—contains possibilities for good as well as evil. It would. to supplement a hermeneutics of suspicion—of which the Girardian critique is a cogent example—with a hermeneutics of affirmation? This brings us back to the question of ideology and Utopia. which discloses a "surplus" of being: a surplus that exists not behind myth but in front of it. rather than simply immolate and destroy)? Is it not necessary. a specifically mythopoetic order that is figurative rather than literal. As I argue elsewhere (Chapters 5 and 6 above and 13 below).

only legitimate enmities. The lie of persecution is even more rife and duplicitous today (albeit less tragic) than in the days of Guillaume de Machaut. 30 . Personally I seem unable to recognize it in myself. by proving capable of imagining that even his ethical critique is not above the law. and I am sure. dear reader. And yet the world is brimming with scapegoats. Is the following admission from The Scapegoat not evidence of its author's readiness to turn his critique against himself? In order to fathom the enormity of the mystery. We have. There are times. you and I.Myth and Sacrificial Scapegoats I 147 And so we find ourselves back with our claim that Girard turns myth into the scapegoat of his own system of explanation by demonizing its very essence. one must interrogate oneself. as noted above. that ethics too is answerable to ethics. you will respond likewise. Each one of us is obliged to ask where he stands in relation to scapegoats. 29 Is this not where poetics answers ethics? Is this not the necessary moment of doubt where ethical critique is reminded of its own dubiousness if pushed to doctrinaire extremes? The moment when poetics serves ethics by recalling the limits of human judgment and the unavoidable play of interpretations which attends every application of justice? Girard the inquisitor redeems himself by turning the mirror back on himself. when Girard himself comes close to conceding as much.

I should also make clear from the outset that I am not claiming that Derrida underwent a Pauline conversion to a particular moral system of rights and wrongs. Dissemination (1972). This originally took the form of an epistemological contrast between a metaphysics of presence and all that escapes or subverts it—what Derrida calls alterity. It would appear. particularly in his later writings. law or politics." I. Patocka). Derrida's two early deconstructive commentaries on Husserl—Introduction to the Origin of Geometry (1962) and Speech and Phenomena (1967)—and subsequent collections such as Writing and Difference (1967). But a certain shift seems to occur in Derrida's writing after 1972. I offer here an exegesis of Derrida's thinking on the ethical. some sought a dialogue between the two (Ricoeur. another gave primacy to poetics over ethics (Heidegger). It is not my intention here to locate this shift in terms of some event in Derrida's personal biography (such as the important break with the Tel Quel group in 1972) but to follow its implications in Derrida's own thinking. Girard. But appearances are deceptive and I will argue that Derrida's work does manifest concern with ethical issues. Some privileged the ethical over the poetical (Levinas. at first blush. "Derrida's Ethics of Dialogue. all represent this epistemological version of deconstruction.11 Derrida's Ethical Return I have analyzed a number of continental thinkers whose work marks a dialectic between ethics and poetics. Of Grammatology (1967). developing Heidegger's Destruktion into a thoroughgoing poetics of deconstruction. Kierkegaard). that Derrida belongs to the third category. and Margins of Philosophy (1972). marked by a more pronounced emphasis on the question of ethical responsibility. and hinted at by Derrida himself when he talks about the "singular responsibility without which there would be no morality. When I speak of ethics I do so not in this sense of morality but in the general sense outlined in my introduction. reserving most of my critical comments for the following chapter."1 148 . ETHICS AND DECONSTRUCTION A recurring obsession with otherness has been a central feature of Derrida's work since the early sixties.

however. Es gibt Sein." he writes." as Derrida puts it. is the other who gives." "The thinking of the gift opens the space where being and time give themselves and give rise to thinking. and it is surely significant that Derrida's Jerusalem lecture is published in a collection of essays bearing the subtitle Inventions de Vautre. ultimately. to put it in the terms of the present work. is that another dimension—the ethical—is added to the ontological and epistemological concerns dominating his early writings. he does seem to offer some hint of response in a note to his 1986 lecture at Hebrew University of Jerusalem entitled "Comment ne pas Parler. I would say that his later writing supplements a Heideggerean resolve to deconstruct metaphysics with a Levinasian attention to the ethical demands of the other. "is it the absolute initiative for which the other is responsible and accountable? Or is it rather the other that I imagine as a retention of my psyche. What Derrida sees after his "turn" on the sinuous path of thought is. He adds that questions relating to this matter are those which "expressly orient all the texts which I have published since 1972 or thereabouts. it would seem. Or. But. and in other texts after 1972. unconcealment in concealment. different from what Heidegger saw—or at least represents a different way of seeing.Derrida s Ethical Return / 149 If I were to phrase this shift in terms of Derrida's relation to two influential contemporaries."2 The key question. Derrida's later writings could be seen as a chiasmus of exchange between Heidegger's poetics and Levinas's ethics. Derrida reads it as (among other things) une trace de Vautre. It is all a question. my mirror image?"3 It is not that Derrida wishes to break with a Heideggerean poetics of questioning. Where Heidegger reads the Es Gibt of Being as poetical presence in absence. such a turn should be construed less as a rupture than a re-turn: a hermeneutic reworking of the same in other terms. The dimension of alterity is now seen as a trace of the irreducible other as well as an undecidable surplus of Sein over Seiendes." What is different about Derrida's thinking here. While Derrida himself would no doubt reject the pre-critical manner in which this question is posed. and how we inquire into the manner of such giving: ethically or epistemologically. if it can be shown that Derrida supplements Heidegger with Levinas in this way. Derrida is aware of a crucial ethical dilemma underlying this whole question: Is it the other who gives who invents me or is it I who invent the other who gives? "Invention of the other. of who or what—in the Es Gibt—does the giving. my soul. This ethical inflection is witnessed in numerous later essays dealing with a variety of themes: . Derrida's note on "the thinking of the gift" is part of a commentary on Heidegger's famous maxim from Zeit und Sein: "Es gibt Zeit. Here Derrida remains faithful to the key Heideggerean trope of the Kehre—the winding twist on a mountain path—which brings what was tacitly there to closer attention. On the contrary.

. . And this—as Derrida argues—will take us into the domain of ethics. These range from Robert Bernasconfs "Deconstruction and the Possibility of Ethics" and Simon Critchley's The Ethics of Deconstruction: Derrida and Levinas. 1990). etc. 1984. Derrida cannot be understood as simply going along with this anti-enlightenment drift in the discourse of post-structuralism. to Christopher Norris's "On the Ethics of Deconstruction. . metaphysics. 4. education (the texts on GREPH and the College International de Philosophic in Du droit a la philosophic. there is an ethical injunction to challenge philosophy on terms which offer the maximum resistance to its powers of recuperative grasp. as for Levinas. or "Art against Apartheid" in Critical Inquiry. There is an ethical dimension to Derrida's writings which has yet to be made good by most of his commentators. . where he claims that deconstruction can take the form of "active interventions that transform contexts"). . . . . . religion {Schibboleth. structuralism. Other commentators have already made claims for the compatibility of deconstruction and ethics. 1984).6 When I put the charge of moral nihilism. the analysis of the American Declaration of Independence in Otobiographies."4 The following passage from Norris offers a concise sample of the argument: Deconstruction has been wrongly understood by those who regard it as a species of out-and-out hermeneutic licence. 1986. "No Apocalypse.5 II. ."8 He went on to insist that deconstruction . . For Derrida. 3. Circonfession. While Derrida never abandons Heideggerean poetics—and especially the project of deconstructing metaphysics—these later texts testify to a determination to reread the deconstructive turn in the light of an ethical re-turn. he answered that "deconstruction is not an enclosure in nothingness but an openness toward the other.150 / CURRENT DEBATES 1.) to the limits of conceptual explanation can philosophy begin to perceive what lies beyond. Of an Apocalyptic Tone. if you prefer. to reread Heidegger in the light of Levinas. Only by pressing the aporias (of textual readings of phenomenology. ETHICS AND ONTOLOGY I discussed the ethics of deconstruction with Derrida in a dialogue in 1981 (published as "Deconstruction and the Other")." Derrida strenuously rejected my caricature of deconstruction as a "gratuitous chess game with a combination of signs closed up in language as in a cave. 1991). 2."7 In response to my related accusation that "deconstruction is so obsessed with the play of difference that it ultimately ends up indifferent to everything. 1986. . rather than epistemology. And this challenge can only be sustained through a close and reasoned engagement with the texts where philosophy stakes its claims to truth. a justification for indulging all manner of interpretative games. law ("Force of Law: 'The Mystical Foundation of Authority/" 1990. or. 1981. politics (Le dernier mot du racism] Admiration de Nelson Mandela-. Not Now" in Psyche.

Derrida is asserting that "peace is made only in a certain silence which is determined and protected by the violence of speech. in itself. so doing. cannot be removed. But they were there nonetheless and were especially evident in his early studies on Jewish authors like Levinas and Jabes in Writing and Difference (1967). then ethics is always already implicated in violence. This appears quite obvious in our 1981 dialogue. a positive response to an alterity which necessarily calls. be "detected with .Derrida s Ethical Return I 151 seeks not to abandon ethics but to resituate and reinscribe its key concepts of self and other. or transcendental analysis. like pure violence. representation. They were there from the outset. if the ethical relation presupposes language. it seems. as Derrida puts it."9 The ethical implications of deconstruction are not."11 Levinas cannot shake off the Heideggerean ghost. is on epistemological rather than ethical grounds. any more than there is an original violence. Derrida makes plain. Deconstruction is therefore vocation—a response to a call. Derrida's deconstructive logic of both/and/neither/nor would here seem to be undermining Levinas's statement. albeit somewhat masked by Derrida's initial emphasis on questions of epistemology and metaphysics. in Totality and Infinity (1961). Derrida is of the view that the language of ethics is intrinsically compromised by the language of ontology (or what the later Heidegger called poetics). only that it cannot lay claim to some immaculately conceived "origin" entirely free from violence."10 This is not to say that non-violence must always be preceded by violence. and recuperable in terms of memory. from an ontology of totality and violence. There is always a "double origin."12 In short. 13 Whence Derrida's controversial conclusion: "One never escapes the economy of war." hostile to the transcendence of the face). "pure non-violence. the ethical relation precedes the language of ontology."15 This call is pre-philosophical in that it cannot. it does not mean that he is any less sympathetic to Levinas's ethics of alterity. summons or motivates it. however. as promoted by someone like Levinas." as Derrida terms it in his essay on Jabes. as Derrida puts it. when he acknowledges that "deconstruction is. for peace (like war) cannot be located in a specific spatio-temporal moment. he believes. "can be opened without the thought of Being."14 While this line of argument displays Derrida's deconstructive approach to the logocentric structure of moral dualism. that just as peace precedes war. Over and against Levinas. something injected into his writing after a sudden conversion in the early seventies. In these writings. There is no such thing as an original peace. is a contradictory concept. prior or posterior to another. "No ethics in Levinas's sense." writes Derrida. and if language is the ontological/poetical medium of comprehension (which for Levinas belongs to the violent "play of the same. An ethics of alterity and infinity. to "reevaluate the indispensable notion of responsibility. and. The language of ethics and the language of ontology pre-condition each other. Or. His disagreement with Levinas. though never of course pure violence.

But for Derrida. the following statement by Derrida in our dialogue might well have been penned by Levinas himself: "The other precedes philosophy and necessarily invokes and provokes the subject before any genuine questioning can begin. It is in this rapport with the other that affirmation expresses itself. especially with respect to liberation movements (including the women's movement). Such poetic attentiveness to disclosures of alterity is surely an ethical form of vigilance. it affirms. Citing a number of examples from psychoanalysis." a principle which informs many of our institutions. writing/language/text is also used in a "generalized" sense to become virtually synonymous with ontology— Sein als Text. It is here that we may usefully examine some of Derrida's statements on the role of responsibility to the other in education. he is prepared to recognize the "enormous deconstructive import of the feminine as an uprooting of our phallogocentric culture. How else are we to understand the admission that "deconstruction is always deeply concerned with the 'other' ."19 It is hard to deny some element of ethical evaluation behind such a recognition. and recommends instead a "crossing over of each into the other giving rise to something else. as for Heidegger." where otherness can break through the "normative precedents" of logocentrism."17 But if we are to believe Derrida's claim that deconstruction is not a matter of amoral indifference and negation.152 / CURRENT DEBATES the aid of a philosophical lamp. possession." Indeed."20 He cites the apocalyptic impact of catachresis as a deconstructive form of rhetoric that signals "another kind of writing"—a writing which stakes out the faults and deviations of language and may even mark a "monstrous mutation. III. Derrida launches a campaign against the traditional dualism separating philosophy and literature. if anything. The deconstruction of logocentric metaphysics takes on less academic proportions when it is applied to the more engage critiques of what Derrida terms "phallogocentrism. politics. if we are to take Levinas's understanding of ethics as a "preconceptual experience of provocation by the other. even if Derrida would be loathe in this context to apply the traditional moral dualism of good and evil. totalization or certitude may soon be unthinkable. surely we are entitled to ask what. We find ourselves here confronted with "poetics" in the stricter sense of literary language."18 Though he remains skeptical of the fashionable liberal notion of progress. feminism and the literary avant-garde. and religion. some other site. ETHICS AND LITERATURE A similar resolve to undermine logocentric sameness in the name of the "other" informs Derrida's writing about writing."16 But it is not pre-ethical. Derrida speaks of a "mutation" which cannot be thematically objectified but which is "bringing about such a radical change in our understanding of the world that a return to the former logocentric philosophies of mastery.

Writing is ethical for Derrida to the extent that a literary text remains structurally open to the other. as something beyond the mere whim or fancy of interpretation. literary poetics puts the dominant language of moral and political institutions into question.26 In this sense. it is a response to a voice that calls to be heard and answered. and this basic question of literary answerability (of reader to author and vice versa) entails the corollary question of ethical responsibility. The signature of the author always requires the countersignature of the reader. inherits responsibility for the life/death of the other." which Derrida identifies with the poetical responsibility of the reader?29 Derrida holds fast to the ethical "effects" of textual deconstruction. a yes. The traces of otherness in the text—which Derrida's analyses of "translation. an "ethics of reading" results from the fact that deconstruction exposes the text as site of aporetic conflict between incommensurable readings. or a prophet in the desert. Tu dois.25 In soliciting an ethical response to otherness. it is always informed by an element of humility and humor. thereby placing the reader in the situation of having to respond with an interpretation even though he/she can no longer know in advance what a "true" interpretation is. But. It reminds us that all moral principles are impure in some fundamental sense. a summons. or that "the critique of logocentrism is above all else the search for the 'other' and the 'other of language' "?21 It is in the discussion of writing (poetics in the specific sense) that Derrida's concern for an ethics of alterity first appears. law."22 But the text also calls for ethical vigilance in determining for us the specific singularity of each reading: a singularity which respects the alterity of the text as law.24 Whether the yes be that of Zarathustra.27 This in turn raises the question of judgment. and religion. even though. every ethic of good and evil remains inherently undecidable?28 Can an ethics of action sustain the ambiguity of this "non-ethical ethical opening of the ethical." "signature. Molly Bloom. as an ethics of reading teaches us." . never totally adequate or absolute. author and reader. for example. whereby each of the correspondents. this concern becomes more explicit in his later writings on education. never wholly certain about what is absolute good or absolute evil.Derrida's Ethical Return / 153 of language". The author always inscribes himself in relation to the other. The relay of signatures discloses how authorial subjects of text are already beholden to each other. Or. bearing the mourning of the other. to follow the argument of Derrida's disciple in literary deconstruction. Can we set ourselves up as final arbiters if. because this law of answerability belongs to writing.23 The literary text. and thus necessitates a response. "in memory of the other. as we shall see. raises a fundamental "ethical and political" question insofar as it inscribes a law which says. the literary text enables us to question the prevailing dogmas about what is ethical. Hillis-Miller. Derrida puts this in the quasi-biblical terms of "mutual indebtment" or "covenant" {alliance). Derrida admits. The reader. can live on after the death of the author.

and to the legitimating power of constitutions (in O to biographies and Admiration de Nelson . promised. There is no pure origin of language—or by extension of law or society. It is just such an ethic that Derrida explores in his controversial text. the problem of legitimation is the same. It arises from a coup de force (which is also a poetical act of inscription or writing). or constitution. To support his contention he cites a number of his own texts. The incompatibility of deconstruction and justice. demanded. The act of writing or reading is a reminder that language is always already given. he does say that god is one of the names for this poetical event. What. to the origin of law in Kafka's Vor dem Gesetz (Devant la loi)." and "promise" disclose—signal an operation of differance with inherently ethical implications. an ethic which refuses all purist claims to some founding unitary absolute. and while he states there is no necessity to equate this gift of language with a god. just as language was first received by the first mortal before it was ever spoken or written. The claim that the first inscription of law is intermingled with illegitimacy can itself be seen as a certain ethic of impurity—that is. which he argues have been informed by an ethical concern for justice. "Force of Law: The 'Mystical Foundation of Authority. called. he pursues it in his later commentaries on law and religion. Differance is another word for that otherness of the text which we respond to when we say yes—yes to a gift which precedes our choice of meanings. state." "debt. The principle of foundation cannot found itself. As Derrida puts it in his analysis of the foundation of the U. The foundation of any and every law is marked by an originary contamination. he asks. 30 The reader or recipient of language is never a unique originator of language. to Hegel and the philosophy of right (in Glas). It can be stated as follows: The foundation of a law is always outside the law thus founded. Language is a web of traces where the subject (writer or reader) is always beholden to another who has given. Derrida comes to the question of law via the question of foundation. shot through with the trace of another who has already been there or promises to come. Derrida employs a quasi-religious terminology.S. ETHICS AND LAW If Derrida first discloses the ethics of alterity in his deconstructive poetics of writing. he retorts. Constitution in Otobiographies. is only apparent. the origin of every state is in some sense illegitimate.'"31 Here Derrida offers a strenuous response to the charge that deconstruction is unethical. IV. any more than the author is.154 / CURRENT DEBATES "gift. is the legitimating origin (or original legitimation) of our laws? Whether one is inquiring about the founding principle of a university. Once again. Poetics is ethical because it is a site of intertextual alliance which foregrounds the disclosure of alterity. These include the texts devoted to Levinas and the relation of violence and metaphysics.

Justice is deconstruction and deconstruction is justice. To accept such a claim is to acknowledge that "deconstruction calls for an increase in responsibility.35 Why? Because justice is the experience of aporia. can be accounted for in terms of a good rule applied to a particular case (what Kant calls determinant judgment)."32 Derrida states that his purpose in "Force of Law" is to problematize the whole question of legitimation and. conventions. rules. rights. for example.33 His main claim is that while deconstruction appears not to address the problem of justice. But how is one to speak of an ethical authority of law? If the search for an original grounding of law is groundless. through and through. namely. by extension. on the other hand. while he is prepared to concede that law is deconstructable—to the extent that it claims to be founded on something. irreducible to principles of duty. because it is impossible to speak directly about justice. or nature itself—this is not so of justice. to thematize and objectivize it without betraying it. beyond the . difference and heterogeneity are also. Justice is beyond such considerations. a desire for justice whose structure would not be such an experience of aporia would have no chance to be what it is. norms. in contrast to justice. Derrida refers to it as an impossible responsibility to the extent that it is never fulfilled or fulfillable. evaluation." But."37 Derrida returns to this Levinasian connection later in the essay. of the impossible. the gift beyond exchange and distribution. "In the end.36 Justice involves singularity. or on singularity. or objective law. what Derrida calls justice is very close to what Levinas calls ethics. if. it seems. at least obliquely discourses on justice. In fact.Derrida's Ethical Return I 155 Mandela). indeed. then. as appears evident from his claim that "to address oneself to the other in the language of the other is. says Derrida. He adds that most of his other writings also testify to an underlying concern for justice: "It goes without saying that the discourses on double affirmation. Indeed. it has in fact been doing just that all along—albeit indirectly. if not in this always unsatisfied appeal." he writes. a "call for justice. is incalculable by definition for it entails moments in which the decision between just and unjust cannot be insured by a rule. its movement or its motivation. It concerns the "other as other" in a unique situation. the very opposition between foundation and anti-foundation is to be set aside as an unhelpful metaphysical dualism." How are we to distinguish concretely. Justice. Moreover. of the undecidable. for Derrida. the incommensurable or the incalculable. between law and justice? Law. how does one avoid the conclusion that the origin of law is in fact "mystical"?34 Derrida uses the term mystical to name the "aporia or abyss opened up by the deconstructability of law. "where will deconstruction find its force. the condition of all possible justice. or even transgression."38 Increased responsibility may well involve a momentary suspension. the undecidable. of the traditional definitions of responsibility according to the criteria of human law.

case of the "other" is to be applied to the universalizable code of the "same. justice. whose infinity I cannot thematize and whose hostage I remain. as they must be in constitutions and institutions. it would not be just. Nor is there ever an absolutely just decision. at some point. 44 But. that which deconstructs from within any presumption of certainty when it comes to the criteriology of legal decision. Such a definition is particularly relevant because of the "heterogeneous relation to others. if only as memory or anticipation." He writes: The undecidable is not merely the oscillation or tension between two decisions. The difficulty about this position is. wholly present to itself. into the legal system of anonymous exchange. This Derrida identifies with the "undecidable. is still obliged ." which is a "practically infinite right" whose asymmetry transcends the "concept of man" with its rules of calculated proportions.42 As soon as rules are operative. foreign to the order of the calculable and the rule. No decision is unconditionally decidable.43 Incalculable justice requires us to calculate." there remains a crucial trace of justice. it . to give itself up to the impossible decision.45 The fact is that no decision is ever totally pure. incalculable. . There is never an absolute legal decision since an element of incalculable singularity always enters in.46 The undecidable character of justice is. it would only be the programmable application or unfolding of a calculable process. even in those legal instances where the singular. The undecidable and decidable are inextricably linked to each other. that is to say."41 Commenting on a section of Levinas's Totality and Infinity entitled "Truth and Justice. The infinite demand of the other is almost invariably translated. A decision that didn't go through the ordeal of the undecidable would not be a free decision. that ethical demands of justice often require us to have recourse to law. Derrida admits as much. though heterogeneous. that of law is statutory and stabilizable.156 / CURRENT DEBATES given determination of what we call. Derrida explicitly invokes Levinas's ethical definition of justice in support of his own deconstructive approach. to the faces of otherness that govern me. of course. It might be legal. They make up what Lyotard calls a diffe'rend. inimical to rules and symmetry. and equal symmetry. justice." Derrida approvingly cites the equation of justice and ethics: "the relation to others. impartial distribution. a matter of legality and right calculable within a system of regulated codes. consequently. it is the experience of that which. while taking account of law and rules. since some element of rule determination is always operative." He identifies the proximity of such ethics to the Hebrew definition of sanctity as "the demand of the other. justice becomes law. in determined contexts. . This is not to claim that legal judgments cannot be made. the possibility of justice?"39 Where the responsibility demanded by justice is infinite. 40 At this point. All decisions are to some degree impure.

owed to the other." insists Derrida with aphoristic aptness. are multiple. The "type" ranges from the messianic demand for a kingdom in the Jewish-ChristianIslamic tradition to the Kantian regulative idea and the eschato-teleology of the Hegelian-Marxist revolution. he remains cautious. where Kierkegaard saw the ultimate decision leading beyond ethics to religion. is the very movement of deconstruction at work in law and the history of law. gratitude. irreducible because owed to the other. where decisions are made in the name of justice. "The instant of decision is a madness. the other's coming as the singularity that is always other."48 Precedents for this idea of justice. in political history and history itself." writes Derrida in a phrase borrowed from Kierkegaard's reflections in Either/Or."49 Justice rends time and defies dialectics. he insists that "a just decision is always required immediately. Against those who charge deconstruction with indifference and inaction. It is "mad about the desire for justice. But such a level must be understood as prior to the emergence of academic. "Deconstruction is mad about this kind of justice. Derrida locates this ethical relation (or non-relation) of deconstruction at a pre-reflective level. Derrida appreciates the urgency of ethics. or "sanctity. It acts "in the night of non-knowledge and non-rule." There is no beyond ethics.' infinite because it is irreducible. Derrida states his position in the following post-Kantian definition of the "idea of justice" as primordial indebtedness to the other: "The deconstruction of all presumption of all determinant certitude of a present justice. right away." He adds. theoretical disciplines like law or morality. While Derrida acknowledges these instances."50 All cognitive systems of truth are thus considered secondary to the demands of decision. before it even presents itself as the discourse that the academy or modern culture labels 'deconstructionism'. Such allowance is a matter of justice—an acknowledgment of otherness in sameness. Noting the ethical motivation of such ideals of justice (that which "keeps us moving"). "This kind of justice which isn't law. But. perhaps misnomers. of a relation to the other that is utterly irreducible to the normal rules of circulation. for deconstruction. or symmetry. of the extralegal in the legal. because it has come. Derrida remains closer to Levinas's notion that the ethical rapport with otherness is itself an act of holy madness. before any contract. he notes a conflict between the fact that such ideals involve a period of waiting and the fact that justice itself—no matter how unpresentable and undecidable—is something that cannot wait. .Derrida's Ethical Return I 157 simply allows for that moment of suspense whenever a rule is being applied to a singular event. itself operates on the basis of an infinite 'idea of justice. Derrida concedes."47 What Derrida is suggesting in this cryptic passage is that justice is the idea of a gift without exchange. recognition. That is why it appears to imply a certain kind of "madness" or "mystique"—other names. It is a finite moment of precipitous urgency interrupting all cognitive deliberations that precede it.

Political dogmatism. 56 When Derrida reproaches Benjamin and Heidegger in this manner. calling and recalling the name."54 It is this very demand for justice which. V. he does not reject the interest of religion in justice. is a task which always remains to be done. 52 This is the God of Judaic scripture. however. Derrida fully endorses the political struggle for concrete historical freedoms ("nothing seems less outdated than the classical emancipatory ideal")57. in Derrida's view. y a que 9a de vrai."51 If Derrida does not subscribe to Kierkegaard's subordination of ethics to religion. in the apocalyptic gestures of a thinker like Heidegger."53 The demand for justice is a "mission to name. Politicization is interminable. resides at the very heart of the deconstructive idea of justice. Taking the example of the declaration of the Rights of Man. at the crucial moment of decision. But there is a temptation also for messianic Marxists (like Benjamin)." received by Jews from God. as a sort of link between Kierkegaard and Levinas he rehearses Walter Benjamin's view that justice without law—justice which respects the singularity of each situation over and above the requirements of universal reason—is another word for God. the Final Solution tried to eliminate. whose determination to deconstruct traditional Western metaphysics at all costs runs the risk of neglecting the ethical responsibility to the singular demands for justice made in each historical moment. to decide the undecidable." that "what is sacred in his life is not his life (as vitalism or biologism hold) but the justice of his life. Indeed. As Derrida puts it—rephrasing Levinas's famous claim in Totality and Infinity that "truth presupposes justice": "La justice. It is the "possibility of giving. Nowhere is it more manifest than in the fact that justice demands to be done immediately and yet is never reducible to a fully present moment. is the result of worshipping the law for its own sake. to a moment of full presence. who are so eager to make the "mystical" idea of justice immediately present that they often ignore the finite historical conditions in which justice. it must be said. but he equally appreciates that such struggles in the here and now of history are never fully realized. or ideology.158 / CURRENT DEBATES It is just here. who "forbids all murder" and reveals that the worth of man is the "yet to come [avenir] of justice. as ethical responsibility. even if it can- . ETHICS AND POLITICS I might summarize Derrida's argument by saying that the demand to name the unnamable. revering it as adequate to each singular decision. one cannot help feeling he is also issuing a discreet warning to himself: There but for the grace of God go I! Justice is something which is always politically demanded but never accomplished. 55 A similar danger lurks. That is why the demand that justice be done now. and the recognition that justice is always still to be done (a-venir) are two sides of the same undecidable coin. inscribing. concludes Derrida. that ethical justice parts company with legal truth.

"63 This involves a defense of the homeless or nomadic subject against the absolutist ideologies which victimize and scapegoat the "alien. But he is saying something." It is. in Levinas's ethical terms. he concedes that "all genuine questioning is summoned by a certain type of eschatology. that there is good and bad eschatology. As a wound. by all accounts. embracing a theological affirmation of revealed biblical truths."64 VI. obliquely or openly. can be related to a "politics of the emigre or exile. and there is no justice except to the degree that some event is possible which. and given once circumcised. and eschatology. ETHICS AND RELIGION Such an ethics of exodus is historically allied with the Jewish tradition. answerable to the other. hypothetical even skeptical. He is not. the host or whoever. by "several other contemporary thinkers" (Levinas? De Man? Bloom? Hartman? Lyotard?). and should not. exceeds calculation. Perhaps he is taking about a "rhetoric" of prophetic discourse that is shared. Yes and no. spurred by the irremissible demand that justice remains to be done. though it is impossible to define this eschatology in philosophical terms. rules. more cryptically but no less cogently—"Nazism was not born in the desert. "There is an avenir for justice. Derrida's allegience to this tradition is also manifest in his recurring treatment of the theme of circumcision—a wound-word always open to. Doubtless to someone in the shape of an absolute . Commenting on the line from the Jewish poet Paul Celan—Diesem/ beschneide das Wort—Derrida writes: "This word to be circumcised. Each specific advance in politicization obliges me to reconsider. anticipations. All are present. Moreover. to be understood as an open word.. as a rhetoric of quasi-prophetic exodus. addressed to. a defense of "infinity" against "totality. open to the stranger. but it is the chance of the event and the condition of history. on someone. in Derrida's deconstructive approach. you say. programs. as Derrida puts it. this word which must therefore be given. Open first as a door. as event. In our 1981 dialogue. and reinterpret "the very foundations of law such as they had previously been calculated or delimited. to be circumcised for someone. Perhaps he is referring to a "search for hope without hope" which might be considered by some to assume a "prophetic allure. however.. be total.Derrida s Ethical Return I 159 not."61 Derrida's rather surprising allusion here to prophetic eschatology is tentative. as he puts it. Justice as the experience of absolute alterity is unpresentable. the neighbor."59 Derrida is prepared to accept."62 What follows from this rather portentous observation is that deconstruction."58 The endless refounding and reforming of our legal/political institutions is an indispensable process. and so forth. the other. with its fascination for writing." Or. exegesis.6° He is even prepared to admit that "the style of [deconstructive] questioning as an exodus and dissemination in the desert might produce certain prophetic resonances.

. Devant la loi (1984)." Derrida writes. to texts such as Feu la cendre (1987). Before the Law. as before the law. Circonfession. and in a series of texts published since 1972 this interest in the scriptural ethics of otherness becomes more and more explicit. and especially the Gospel of John. or more precisely who would come because this avenir. "Comment ne pas parler" (1986) and Circonfession (1991). "What of negative theology and its ghosts in a tradition of thought which would be neither Greek nor Christian? In other words. what of Jewish and Arab thinking on this issue?" . or Elijah. he acknowledged that the "Jew-as-other" serves as a figure of alterity in his deconstruction of Greek metaphysics. So that if there is a Judaic dimension to my thinking which may from time to time have spoken in or through me. of Kafka. Though I was born a Jew. . of course."65 Not surprisingly. In "Comment ne pas parler.160 / CURRENT DEBATES future who will come. I do not live or think within a living Jewish tradition. Even when. Eschatology is terratology—a double-edged coming of pain and parousia. that Derrida goes on to discuss the Judaic themes of prophecy. He explores how a summons by and on behalf of the other can take the apocalyptic guise of a monstrous mutation in history. it was only in terms of the following proviso: "The paradox is that I have never actually invoked the Jewish tradition in any 'rooted' or direct manner. Think of Vor dem Gesetz. from The "Force of Law. He also acknowledges the influence of this theme in the Christian scriptures. This anticipates Derrida's reading of the shibboleth as a threshold watched by two guardians of the Jewish Law—Elijah and Kafka—a threshold at once separating us from the other and summoning us to the other." Schibboleth. and alterity in quite a telling fashion. the quasi-religious texts.eG But Derrida's fascination with the ethico-eschatological implications of revelation are not confined to his Jewish heritage. but also of all those in Judaism who associate the door with the law. this has never assumed the form of an explicit fidelity or debt to that culture. . "Just here. which he analyses in detail in his conclusion to Dun ton apocalyptique adopte naguere en philosophic67 Derrida devotes much attention here to the key terms of prophetic eschatology—viens and a-venir. ethics."68 In most of the texts published prior to the eighties. . this theme of circumcision as Jewish mark of dedication to the irreducible other reappears as a central motif in Derrida's autobiographical sketch. and perhaps most significantly."69 The fact is. already cited. Des tours de Babel: Sur Walter Benjamin (1985). which is a-venir. is a coming which must not be certified or calculated." Derrida raises the following leading questions about the Jewish-Arab otherness which ghosts his writing. . of monstrosity and messianism. the host or other stands before the door . "the monster. of otherness as host and as hostage. in our 1981 dialogue. Derrida remained highly reserved about his attitude to the Jewish ethos of exodus. De Vesprit and Dun ton apocalyptique. at once amputation and advent.

for that would give it the role of a transcendental signifier: It would reduce the irrepressible play of otherness to a metaphysical presence. the viens of alterity—by fixing the play of signification to a First or Last Word. . Speaking as both Jew and avant-garde author.Derrida s Ethical Return I 161 He goes on: "In everything I will say a certain absence. . the last avantgarde which counts. . The eschatological connotations of circumcision emerge in a discussion of the term escare. but I will confine my remarks to one or two passages.73 VII. he insists. the most advanced. statement: In spite of this silence. how not to speak of oneself? But also: How to do so without becoming an invention of the other? Or inventing the other?71 The text where this theme of Vinvention de Vautre assumes most candid form is Circonfession—a confessional text which explores the biographical overlaps between the author's early life in North Africa and that of St. I may perhaps be permitted to reread this lecture as the most "autobiographical" discourse I have yet risked . . Augustine. a place of resonance about which there will be nothing said. to speak of that which my birth should have given me most intimately: Jew and Arab. nothing in the narrative could even begin to speak of what really matters if it did not begin with this fact: I have never yet been able. . . a rite wherein the biblical alliance is each time renewed and repeated. and one might say confessional. the last of the Prophets and Derrida's own guide and guardian through the rite of circumcision. Derrida acknowledges the possibility of displacing . In short. Derrida pursues the "eschatology of circumcision" as follows: "[It is] the violence of breaking open carried out by the avant-garde. If one day I should tell my story. He moves from this allegience of the unspoken to a more articulate. It also plays on the Jewish initiatory rite of circumcision. Derrida refers to both its Anglo-Saxon etymology of "scar" and its more contemporary allusion to the explosive eclat of avant-garde writing. or in truth because of it. This important reservation about negative theology notwithstanding. a betrayal of the interminable dissemination of words— responding to the call of the other."72 Derrida notes the ancient alliance between the religious role of eschatology and Elijah. which beyond all the old usages of this password they've never forgiven me. or almost nothing. a desert space will perhaps enable this question to resonate . As might be expected. he is careful to resist the suggestion that deconstruction is another form for "negative theology. ETHICS AND ESCHATOLOGY If Derrida does betray a predilection for a certain eschatological tradition. . . such an exercise in avowal has much to say about the role of the other in both religious and ethical experience. is not another proper name of God (nor indeed an improper or "negative" one). . due to lack of competence and self-authority."74 Differance. . being an eschatologist." 70 But Derrida is not content to let the matter rest there.

total presence or parousia. is the degree to which there are instances of such unorthodox godhead within the Christian and Islamic traditions." Derrida generally links the Christian conception of the divine to a metaphysics of presence. when he hints at an indirect approach to the question of the divine through a "language that precedes my presence to myself. What Derrida appears to ignore. the metaphysical conceptions of the highest Being as full presence. ethics observes how the otherness of the other both pre-exists and post-exists me. 75 This acknowledgment is laconically stated but never explored. The otherness of the other. in response to his mother's question whether he believes in God: . As Derrida puts it in Circonfession. seeming to endorse Moses Mendelson's claim that the "God of Judaism does not manifest himself. Otherness cannot be philosophically defined or named. in Derrida's view. eludes the limits of memory and anticipation. that Derrida does not recognize a more explicit lineage of continuity between his own deconstructive approach and such protodeconstruction thinkers as Maimonides and Al-Ghazali in Jewish/Arabian tradition or Eriugena. It provokes the contamination of the same by the non-same. he is not truth for the Jews. That is why an ethics of alterity is impelled by the recognition that the other exceeds both primary narcissism and the project of immortality (which seek to capture differance in a fetish of arrested fulfillment). It is regrettable. however. Thus we find him in Glas. in contrast with his positive assessment of its Judaic counterpart.80 Derrida might well reply. a space of what might be described."78 These latter are writings which. Derrida renounces all metaphysical efforts to reduce the otherness of the other to a First Cause {arche) or Supreme Goal (telos). Cusanus. Derrida's response to early and medieval movements of "negative" monotheistic thinking is one of virtual silence. moreover. Whenever Derrida does make passing reference to the Judeo-Christian tradition.162 / C U R R E N T DEBATES the onto-theological fetish of God in favor of a God beyond God. Put differently. with Torah. that his main concern is not theology but philosophy—and that means. mark out the empty space of the god who is not."77 One finds further. Kabbalah and rabbinical exegesis. it can only be confessed. and Eckhart (and even Kierkegaard) in Christian tradition. in relation to the god question. paradoxically. With the exception of some generous remarks on Eckhart in "Comment ne pas Parler. in fairness. of identity by difference. he tends to draw a sharp distinction between the Judeo and the Christian. as a sort of atheistic theism (what he refers to in Of Grammatology as a "hint at the glimmer of beyond closure"79). discreet references to this in Dissemination. Derrida's atheism might thus be described as strategic. theologically or psychologically conceived. 76 With few exceptions. for instance. The target of his deconstruction is the god of pure presence—the god of orthodox ontotheology—rather than the god who escapes such presence. of presence by nonpresence.

being none of these things but rather the secret from which I am excluded." "You who are not graspable under this name or that. . to save you from your own immortality. But one thing which does come across is the realization that the God he is addressing is not the God of metaphysics but the ethical other of dispossession. you are a mortal god. being neither an eyewitness nor a voice that does other than make me talk in order to say nothing. you know everything before me. for the labor of inscription and reinscription to be carried out by mortals. . why I write to you my god . and that is why they ask who it is that I still address from the depths of my solitude. that is why I write. their attraction repulsion. salus in sanguine.D errIda's Ethical Return I 163 My religion about which no one understands anything . who set aside the Seventh Day of Creation as a space—gap. more tempting still. nor a transcendental law. for a new prophecy substituting itself for the last (true) prophet. nor an immanent schechina: that feminine figure of a Yahweh who remains so strange yet so familiar. void—for endless invention."82 But one of the things an ethics of eschatology must guard against is mistaking deconstruction for a new religion or. "it is you the hidden god more than one. In one of his most overtly confessional statements. elliptical."86 Derrida identifies this violence with a form of writing whose estrangement respects the alien precisely by alienating us from it and refuses the facility of . desert. like the truest of false prophets."83 This is Derrida at his most paradoxical—tantalizingly obscure. "whom the One God never ceases to de-circumcise. . "I am some One. . Derrida takes up again the analogy with his Carthaginian predecessor and addresses his "hidden god."85 Or when he speaks of "the violence of the void by means of which God earths himself to death in me. engagingly noncommittal. an other who calls and receives. Elijah." writes Derrida. who pretend to be waiting for me there where I have already come. those who want to deport their obsession with Elijah. This would seem to be what Derrida has in mind when he cites Augustine's phrase in Confessions about the "Seventh Day which has no evening and no sunset. ."84 Derrida's lower-case god differs from the upper-case God of metaphysics in being the destination of direct address. in other words. . she [my mother] should know that the endurance of God in my life goes under other names— so much so that I'm taken quite understandably for an atheist—the omnipresence in me of what I call God in my absolved language. . absolutely private." he exclaims. capable each time of receiving my prayer. someone who resolutely bleeds into dispersal. disparition. drawn and projected into the periphery of a phase.81 Such a God is what Derrida calls "the other in me"—or "atheist God"— who is "infinitely smaller and larger than me. all those who can no longer sleep from it. discretion. you are the destination of my prayer. It is also the god of Talmudic repute. into the periphrases of my signature. you are the unconscious god—we never seem to miss each other—you are the measure they cannot take.

already dead like the son beside the widow. who am I if I don't live what I inhabit and where I take place. at the dawn of the day without evening." he says. one evening of rest which never arrives.'"93 The fact that responsibility is used here in inverted commas is a token of Derrida's resolve to reevaluate the operative concepts of ethics. a memoire a venir88 Derrida refuses to take occupancy in the land of Hebrew yet continues to express fidelity to the "remains of Judaism": the hope of the last of the Prophets. the name of God."90 VIII. that is to say today in what remains of Judaism in the world. you know." the fact that I am here living what remains of Judaism. around a Nothing where God recalls himself to me. the remaindered resurrection symbolized by that sabbath without evening."87 The author thus declares himself an alien of all languages (like Kafka and Benjamin?) because beholden to a language (Hebrew?) he neither speaks nor understands. This is surely why Derrida is so adamant in his claim that deconstruction is "no centralizing power of mastery and domination" but "an openness toward the other. of course. I await the resurrection of Elijah. it might even be said that it serves as some kind of philosophical condition of it. I am still waiting before I make the next step and add another word."91 a claim reinforced by the key statement that "the critique of logocentrism is above all the search for the other'. This lingering commitment to Judaism is informed by Derrida's ethic of reserve and vigilance. its my only memory. CONCLUSION This reading of Derrida's texts suggests that deconstruction's obsession with alterity is compatible with an ethics of "increased responsibility. Whence his special obsession with words. the name from which I hope resurrection. the condition of all my fidelities. amidst the ashes of Elijah." he writes." Indeed. the Jews and others. and to have addressed the interminably preliminary question of knowing how they. "One has to get up early. the certainty of decidability. letters.89 To this autobiographical avowal Derrida appends the following note of hesitation and humility: "We are so few and so divided. writings. a language recalled as still to come. Ich bleibe also Jude.164 / CURRENT DEBATES immediate possession. "turns around nothing. because finally but finally who else am I in truth. a reevaluation of the players who summon and respond—the . Presupposed by this is. "All of this. Europe and the other. that eschatology without end. Elijah. poetics—with a kind of scripture which can be awaited because it has not yet come. and in this remains I am only someone to whom so little remains that deep down. For to safeguard the other from all logocentric strategies to objectify and reify is to guard the other as an irreducible locus of address and response—arguably the sine qua non of all ethical discourse."92 an attempt to "reevaluate the indispensable notion of'responsibility. can interpret the "circonfession.

It even asks. as might first appear. that while Derrida tends to lean toward a more Heideggerean position in the texts up to 1972 (as in the famous critique of Levinas in "Violence and Meta- . moreover. This is why Derrida challenges all metaphysical attempts to reduce subject and other to categories of "mastery. That is to say. that deconstruction is confined to a prison house of language with no reference to anything outside it." he seeks only to "resituate" it in terms more vigilant and responsive to the other. far from seeking to "destroy the subject. Derrida replies that. an abandonment of responsibility to the otherness of the other. Heideggerean destruction and Levinasian ethics remain dual aspects of Derrida's thinking."94 It is also why he discerns in the poetics of writing—and especially avant-garde writing—the possibility of suspending our natural attitude to self and other and reinserting them in other ways. "The other. possession. which mutually contaminate and "supplement" each other. a way of rendering the traditional question of reference more problematic. thereby complicating our logocentric assumptions about it."97 Since."95 He insists. might be seen as a more interrogative mode of writing. but an openness toward the other.98 Whether it be a question of the "other" who summons or the "subject" who responds. The very question of inside and outside is put in question by deconstruction. as Derrida admits. I began this discussion by situating Derrida in relation to two of his contemporaries. however. Here we are concerned with an almost impossible responsibility. whether our term "reference" is entirely adequate for designating the other. But this need not entail. "which is beyond language and summons language. as many suggest. This should not be taken to mean. Heidegger and Levinas. it demands it. This influence is clearly not a question of either/or but rather—as one would expect from deconstruction—both/and/neither/ nor."96 The ethics of responsibility to the other demands that there is. The fact that subject and other are reevaluated in the name of an ethics of eschatology means that the responsibility they bear to one another is limitless. "does not amount to saying that there is nothing beyond language. is perhaps not a 'referent* in the normal sense which linguists have attached to this term. Hence the head-on retort to those who charge him with nihilism—"Deconstruction is not an enclosure in nothingness." Here I return to a recurring theme of my investigations. it takes two to play the ethical game of responsibility.Derrida s Ethical Return I 165 ethical subject and the ethical other. totalization and certitude. the quotation marks signal an ethical reservation that neither be mistaken for referential objects (or transcendental signifieds). Deconstruction. in this respect. that to distance ourselves thus from the habitual structures of reference. Over and against all suspicions that deconstruction obliterates the human subject. On the contrary. without the slightest hint of closure or reprieve. The working hypothesis of my reading has been. however. deconstruction is committed to a reinscription not only of the "other" but also of the "subject." writes Derrida.

"Already the translation of Greek concepts into other languages—Latin." evident in their divergent "understanding of language. Derrida's claim that the remainder of Judaism perdures as a heterogeneous element. only that in the later texts the mutual contamination of both seems to approximate more to the language of ethics than of ontology (however "destructive")." argues Derrida. In the 1981 dialogue. Whereas Heidegger hailed Greek and German as the exclusive languages of Being. It even takes the form of a critical confrontation with Heidegger in De Vesprit (1987). In short. English. Moreover. the "ethical" or "Judaic" element of Levinas's thought remained for his early texts "a discreet rather than decisive reference. lends further credence to the suspicion that Heidegger wanted no outside influences to infect what he saw as the authentic language of Being. The deconstruction of Western logocentrism is thus propelled from within by the fact that "Europe has always registered the impact of heterogeneous. as he concedes in the 1981 dialogue. Arabic."101 Derrida is here manifestly at odds with Heidegger's poetics and in tune with a Levinasian ethics of alterity.—or indeed the translation of Hebraic or Arabic ideas and structures into metaphysical terms."99 The contrast here is clear. etc. produces 'fissures' in the presumed 'solidity' of Greek philosophy by introducing alien and conflicting elements. non-European influences. Derrida was already marking a distance when he stated that his rapport with Heidegger was also a "non-rapport. "threatening and unsettling the assured 'identities' of Western philosophy. it is undeniable that it comes more and more to the fore after the "ethical re-turn" of such thinking in the seventies and eighties. Derrida's suggestion is that Heidegger's philosophical "forgetting" of ruah cannot be totally . the impulse of Western metaphysics to deconstruct itself is ultimately a gesture of responsibility to its other. the conspicuous omission of any reference to the Hebrew word for spirit. to interrogate its own Eurocentric claim to master and possess the universe of meaning. Indeed. Derrida insists that the language of Western culture—as indeed of all cultures—is inhabited by its other. "The surreptitious deconstruction of the Greek Logos is at work from the very origin of our Western culture. and answerable to its other. German.166 / CURRENT DEBATES physics") he appears to favor a more Levinasian position in the post-1972 texts. But such a statement is not the kind of thing to be found in Derrida's writings up to the eighties. That is why the contamination of the Greek Logos by its other is something reviled by Heidegger but championed by Derrida. it is constantly compelled to put itself into question. French." is another way of acknowledging this responsibility. I repeat that I am not claiming that he chooses between Heidegger and Levinas. where Derrida points out that Heidegger's recourse to the Graeco-Germanic concept of Geist during the fatal 1933-35 period—and most ominously in the 1933 Rektoratsrede celebrating Hitler—bespeaks an ethical blindness. ruah."100 Because it is ghosted by."102 That said.

to combine a poetics of language with an ethics of otherness. He is aware that it was this same Jewish poet who visited Heidegger in his mountain retreat in Todtnauberg after the war to hear a word of apology for the great error. or. not only in Judaism.Derrida s Ethical Return I 167 divorced from the historical repression of the Jews during the Third Reich. successful or otherwise. apartheid. or non-rapport. But if Celan did not go as far as Adorno in declaring a moratorium on poetry after Auschwitz. The simple fact is that the language of poetics is always about a rapport. As soon as we speak. the inalienable task of naming is to convoke the other. and to the other. bespoken to the other. I believe. Derrida is adverting to the intimate implication of ethics in questions of textual discourse. In my next chapter. On the basis of these passages—though Derrida never makes a clear statement on the matter—it would appear reasonable to conclude that Celan's persuasion is not far removed from Derrida's. as he puts it in Schibbolethy another contemporaneous text much concerned with matters of the ruah. simply. One might even claim that deconstruction is one particular effort. Heidegger did not utter the "hoped for" word. but also in such everyday practices as educational reform. Or. And it is not lost on Derrida. and avant-garde writing. analyzed in Schibboleth. law. Not ethics as a system of moral directives or dogmas. but as an obsession with the irreducible other. quite simply. And here. answerable to the other. or listen. Todtnauberg. summoned by the other. "to speak of the other. I consider the hermeneutic reasons for this quarrel. to speak. How else are we to make sense of Derrida's increasing concern with the ethical effects of language. to be sure. it seems. we are indebted to the other. nuclear threat. with the other. the act of human conversation? No matter how oblique and obscure Derrida becomes. This is surely what he means when he claims that "deconstruction is justice."103 This is one of the central motifs of Paul Celan's poetry. one of the morals of the story of deconstruction—language is ethics. one is never allowed to forget that he has never forgotten the other. and Celan registered his disappointment in a poem entitled." There are those who would quarrel with Derrida's claim. This is. . he did leave his meeting with Heidegger more persuaded than ever that no poetics of dwelling can be divorced from an ethics of responsibility.

on what grounds can he claim his "own" rights have been infringed or his "own" thought misrepresented? Some cynically minded 168 . if one dispenses in this fashion with any "proper" of man—subjective or objective—it is difficult to see how anti-totalitarian appeals to human rights can be validated: a difficulty experienced by Derrida himself after his wrongful arrest in Czechoslovakia on drug-possession charges. Having radicalized Heidegger's attack on the conscious. For example. and reference? I take each of these in turn before looking at Derrida's own defense. communication. willing. context.12 Derrida's Ethics of Dialogue If ethics is a dilemma for Derrida. are there not arguments in some of his "master texts" which contradict his later ethical claims? How is an ethics of dialogue possible if one has already questioned such basic hermeneutic notions as the subject. there is the critical hermeneutic issue of dismantling the subject. as we shall see below. is not the name of Derrida synonymous with a deconstruction of the phenomenological and hermeneutic claims for dialogue. If there is no "proper" Jacques Derrida. reversing the traditional priority of speech over writing? And if it is possible to speak of Derrida's ethical return—as I have done on the basis of an extrapolation from latent concerns within his major writings on deconstruction there is still the issue of logical consistency. Derrida concludes that "what holds for consciousness holds here for subjective existence in general. after his experience of violent misinterpretation by Searle in the Limited Inc. and. surely an ethics of dialogue is a double dilemma. After all. exchange. I First. Is it possible to sustain the hermeneutic notion of an ethically responsible subject (in dialogue with others) given the scorched-earth policy of the early Derrida? It must be recalled that deconstruction—at least in its initial formulations— criticizes not only the epistemological subject but all other conceivable figures of subjectivity. representing subject."1 But.

it is worth observing that when Derrida."4 one has difficulty squaring this with certain statements in his early work. discussed below. one must ask how deconstruction can make the critical purchase necessary to transform it. his denial in Positions (1972) . This too is central to the hermeneutic possibility of an ethics of dialogue.Derrida s Ethics of Dialogue / 169 critics might extend this performative contradiction to Derrida's practice of authorial copyright. during the 1980's. however. how one could transform a context or lift a text from its field. A reading of the early Derrida would suggest it means the field of intertextuality that "grounds" a text—a field that produces specific "stratifications" in the text. by implication. and naming—in particular. I do not see how Derrida can speak of an ethics of dialogue. On the other hand. in view of this and similar claims." have laid great stress on the question of personal identity. begins to make more explicit statements of social and cultural criticism.6 or again. historical context of utterance and.5 or his claim in Dissemination (1972) that "there is nothing outside of the text. For dialogue requires not only subjects who speak to each other but also a context in which (or about which) they speak. Such a claim calls for a "prudent. differentiated" reading that characterizes deconstruction. claims. Second. And. although he had formerly undermined the possibility of an appeal to the experience of being. with its play on confession and circumcision discussed above. as they did to Roland Barthes after his famous declaration of the "death of the author. is always grafted onto a prior writing". which appear to dispossess a priori the subject of its specific. if one is to grant an extra-textual possibility of context. slow." since "generalized graphics has always already begun. after these alleged misunderstandings of his position on the "subject. marking. based on particular genealogies and logics of sense and non-sense." Either way. cannot simply be reduced to the logical aporias upon which deconstruction focuses. 2 It is hard to say. he tends to revert to a conventionally Heideggerean account of technology and bureaucracy. This is particularly so in the case of deconstructive genealogies. as Peter Dews remarks in Logics of Disintegration. upon which Heidegger himself relies. One might cite here his bald claim in Speech and Phenomena (1967) that there is no such thing as perception. Political antagonisms. "In this context. it is surely no accident that several of Derrida's publications. Circonfission. for example. and responds in its own right. there is the hermeneutic problem of textual solipsism. and the 1988 Afterword to Limited Inc."3 Third. The later Derrida does claim that deconstruction can transform contexts (with ethical/political consequences). but here again we are compelled to ask what exactly context means. Although the later Derrida protests that deconstruction is not sealed off from the outer world of action and does not close us up in "language as in a cave.. The bottom line remains: Without a hermeneutic subject who hears. of ethical responsibility for such utterance. there is the problem of context.

Fourth. one is still left with his description of writing in Of Grammatology (1967) as "all that gives rise to inscription in general":8 a description which. it could not be even be said to exist. with all its vastness of scope. there is the hermeneutic dilemma posed by Derrida's apocalyptic stance. or when he grants. To put it another way. Fifth." But are we not then obliged to deem equally ethical such different manifestations of the monstrous as physical torture. for example. One must seek to say what one means to the other and to understand what the other means to say. or aesthetic sublimity? Insofar as they are all instances of alterity that disrupt our experience of sameness/presence/identity/homology. If the monstrosity of otherness is characterized by its polysemic and heterological nature—which transgresses the laws of logocentric identity—then it can mean several things: in fact. given his equation of inscription with all that is. it could not summon us to an ethical response if it did not make any sense to us at all. or rendering useless. This would seem to require at least a minimal commitment to a logic of mutual understanding. Even apocalyptic visions of the monstrous have hermeneutic limits. never . there is the charge of obscurantism. in his treatment of both Nietzsche and Searle.9 The attendant implication that grammatology can serve as a principle of general textual explanation.7 But. that each writer bears responsibility for subsequent interpretations of his own writings. in "Violence and Metaphysics. runs the risk of exhausting. Even though Derrida does not address this issue directly. he does go some way to acknowledging the implications of this line of reasoning when he paraphrases Edmund Burke's phrase about "eternal vigilance". almost anything regarded as radically "abnormal. seems to elevate writing to the status of an allenglobing absolute and the very precondition of history. biography. political barbarism. Derrida would appear to be conceding a somewhat analogous point when he reminds Levinas. even granting Derrida the benefit of the doubt in relation to textual solipsism. if otherness were to remain absolutely external to the finite conditions of context. For an ethics of dialogue to work it cannot be a matter of anything goes. mystical insanity. It also appears to reduce the viability of an ethics of dialogue. personal identity. and language. and accepting his claims concerning the problematics of any inside/outside opposition." that if otherness were to remain absolutely other it would never be able to manifest itself to any human subject in the phenomenological order of experience. An ethics of dialogue entails a hermeneutics of communication. writing as an overworked hermeneutic model. are they all equally valid as ethical challenges to logocentrism? Surely not. If it is true that the otherness of the other sometimes takes the form of a monstrous mutation (or catachresis) in the order of discourse.170 / CURRENT DEBATES of any material reference exceeding metaphysical discourse. His linking of the irruption of alterity. with "monstrous mutations" provoking "another kind of writing"10 raises serious questions for ethics.

Derrida's "double readings" are all very well. perhaps indispensably. and unequivocal action. like all judgment. And while some seek to defend Derrida here on the grounds that he is offering a quasi-transcendental analysis of the "undeconstructible condition of deconstruction"—an "ultraethics" or "protoethics" or "ethics of ethics"—one is still faced with the commonsense objection that some ethical issues do command consensus (genocide is wrong. it is hard to see how ethical judgment could be possible. to the occurrence of a decision without rules and without will in the course of a new test of the undecidable."13 Such a demand for endless undecidability would appear to undermine the hermeneutic possibility of agreement or consensus. II In the absence of basic hermeneutic conditions of communication. Derrida's "own" admission. an ethical other must first have addressed the subject in a language the subject can hear and (at least minimally) understand. of the need for logocentric language due to "changed circumstances" (his experience of wrongful arrest in Prague or wrongful reading by Searle) would appear to accept that the context of the author's own/proper biography does count." ethical judgment. rests upon "an anticipated communication with others with whom I know I must finally come to some agreement. without a response other than that which is linked specifically each time.Derridas Ethics of Dialogue I 171 mind be able to summon us in ethical dialogue."12 He renounces the temptation to submit deconstruction to the moral pressures of "good conscience" and "consensual euphoria. it is difficult to make sense of Derrida's claims: 1) to be personally responsible for the particular context of each address he makes to particular audiences. verbal agreement. as a . but sometimes ethical decisions require straight talking."11 Surely this possibility of agreement presupposes a specifically hermeneutic understanding of language— "someone saying something to someone about something" (in Ricoeur's phrase)? It is just such agreement that Derrida appears to rule out when he warns against the "remoralization of deconstruction" as promoting the "consensus of a new dogmatic slumber." preferring instead to leave unanswered such questions as What is the ethicity of ethics? The morality of morality? Why? Because deconstruction demands that such questions must remain "without a general and rule-governed response. Agreement on certain ethical values does not necessarily lead to dogmatic slumber or consensual euphoria. or 2) to adopt a "straightforward" language so as to avoid unnecessary misunderstandings. As Hannah Arendt observes in "The Crisis of Culture. discussed below. Invoking ethical otherness from a no-place of mystical undecidability would appear to obliterate the possibility of personal and historical particularity as required by any meaningful ethics of responsibility. torturing children is evil). Indeed. For an ethical subject to respond. Without such a basic hermeneutic model of intersubjective communication.

172 / CURRENT DEBATES basis for ethical responsibility. self-understanding as a "constant being-other"). for all Derrida's insistence on the inevitable presence of "misunderstanding" in all discourse. this was a non-dialogue. This. "only one textual interpretation among others"14—and one that needs to be supplemented by a more straightforward and decidable hermeneutic of dialogue. The most obvious reason for this. and the highly elusive character of his response demonstrates that he has no desire to interact with Gadamer's point of view. Derrida and Gadamer included. This Derrida equates with the Kantian idea of "good will" and. let it be noted. however. in which judgment and decision-making are essential. This point is surely confirmed by Derrida's decision to publish his own biographical text. he too wants to be heard and understood. and distance within thought—or as Gadamer puts it. The reasons for this are telling. Derrida makes it clear that he himself does not presuppose such good will. Such a concession appears. by implication. with intimate journal entries and family photographs of a most unmonstrous and confessional author. 2) to acknowledge the internal connection between speaking and writing. and 3) to affirm the independence of textual meaning from authorial intention and the penetration of self-understanding by otherness (the existence of difference. . Derrida's deconstruction and Gadamer's hermeneutics were incapable of finding either common ground or common understanding (in spite of Gadamer's boldest efforts). in his controversial exchange with Gadamer in the Goethe Institute of Paris in 1981.16 In his review essay "Hermeneutics and Deconstruction: Gadamer and Derrida in Dialogue. And it is arguably on the last count—of protesting against others' misunderstanding of his thought—that he is most vulnerable. despite Gadamer's conciliatory claims that hermeneutics and deconstruction share three basic concerns: 1) to overcome the metaphysical ideal of exact determinability and repeatability of meaning. it could be said. identified by Derrida himself in his reply to Gadamer—"Three Questions to Hans-Georg Gadamer"—was that the latter presuppose the willingness of each partner in conversation to be open to what the other had to say.17 Dallmayr might have gone further and charged Derrida with a will to overpower Gadamer through deliberate misunderstanding." All these objections to Derrida's claim to an ethics of dialogue come together. Maybe deconstruction is.18 But. with an outmoded metaphysical model of understanding. incompatible with Derrida's rejection of the hermeneutic model of discourse— "someone saying something to someone about something. deferral. does he not? Why would he write otherwise? Or put his signature to his writings? Or protest when others misunderstand him? Derrida does all of these. 15 By the general agreement of all present." He cites Derrida's refusal of the risk of dialogue and his "neglect" of the hermeneutic dimension of human activity. after all." Fred Dallmayr goes so far as to accuse Derrida of "indifference to ethics. Circonfessions.

Responsibility. And we see it coming from the Other. implying some knowledge of what 'person* and 'responsibility* mean."21 The tone and tenor of Derrida's argumentation here are decidely Levinasian. if one could put it that way. I have already responded to an invitation. I argue that Derrida is either contradicting his 1981 position (that a philosophy of "dialogue" is impossible) or. understood as hostage or substitution. at very least.DerrIda's Ethics of Dialogue I 173 The exchange with John Searle published in Limited Inc. We are invested with an undeniable responsibility at the moment we begin to signify something. is substantially revising it with a view to making it compatible with an "ethic of discussion. This responsibility assigns us our freedom without leaving it with us. in short to respond to me. Derrida returns to this point with telling insistence. . surprised in a certain responsibility. the other. . . And by holding me personally responsible you are. 19 In these texts (in addition to those cited earlier)." also published in 1988. . First delivered in the form of a presentation to the APA Symposium on Law and Society in 1988. Derrida is extrapolating an ethic of responsibility from the discursive structure of address and response. the most ineluctable of responsibilities—as if it were possible to conceive of a responsibility without freedom."20 Here. more explicitly than hitherto. and politeness. Derrida admits to his audience that "to speak to you when you are assembled to listen to me. . then to discuss with me. . I am in the process of addressing myself to you who are beginning to respond to me. One of Derrida's opening claims in the address is that "You [the audience he is addressing] hold me personally responsible for the simple fact that I am speaking. contains within itself the condition of a response to. (1988) is the clearest case in point." writes Derrida. and he appears to implicitly acknowledge as much in his Afterword to the text ("Toward an Ethic of Discussion") and in a subsequent text. It is assigned to us by the Other. Ill In "The Politics of Friendship. pragmatic level. Even though he never adverts directly to a revision of his stance in the Gadamer exchange." I take each of these texts in turn. and from. in a rigorous sense. . The hermeneutic situation of conversation raises the vexed issue of friendship. and consequently. "We are already caught. this paper ponders the ethical and political implications of responding to a specific audience of specific persons in a specific context. from the Other. "The Politics of Friendship. it is impossible not to read between the lines. This is what Levinas calls the difficile liberte of the subject. before any hope of reappropriation permits us to assume this responsibility in the space of what could be called autonomy. he argues." Derrida takes up the issue of direct address. nowhere more so than when he adverts to an ethic of responsibility prior to the autonomy of subjective freedom because beholden to the summons of the other. polity. Even at a basic.




The experience, Derrida adds, "is even the one in which the Other appears as such, that is, appears without appearing."22 But that which comes before autonomy is also that which surpasses it. It is not just before the present moment of self-identity or self-founding, it is also after it, ahead of it, beyond it. The paradoxical phenomenon of the trace of the Other that precedes and exceeds me is what Levinas refers to as "posterior anteriority." Derrida acknowledges as much when he says that the responsibility that is friendship is never given in the present: "It belongs to the experience of waiting, of promise, or of commitment." 23 He goes further, claiming that "its discourse is that of prayer and at issue there is that which responsibility opens to the future."24 Taking his distance from the Kantian morality of the autonomous, self-legislating subject, Derrida delineates three distinct modes of ethical answerability: 1) to "answer for" {repondre de) oneself, for someone, for an action, for one's words, etc.; 2) to "answer before" {repondre devani) another, a community of others, a tribunal, etc; and 3), most originally and unconditionally, to "answer to" {repondre a) an other who has always already summoned me. The three modes of answerability imply each other, comprising that play of request, prayer, question, appeal, greeting, and vigilance that makes up the ethics of friendship, without which, according to Derrida, all law and obligation is ultimately meaningless. They mark the condition of possibility of all ethics. "Responsibility always supposes the Other in the relation to oneself; it preserves the sense of this asymmetrical 'anteriority' even within the seemingly most inward and solitary autonomy of reserve . . . of the moral conscience jealous of its independence—another word for freedom. This asymmetrical anteriority also marks temporalization as a structure of responsibility."23 Still in conformity with Levinas's thinking on the complex role of the "third" {le tiers) in the operation of law, universal rights, and morality, Derrida goes on to affirm that answerability to the singular transcendent other is often accompanied by an attendant answerability to the third person—the third whose arrival institutes principles of generality, equality, and common measure before the law. Nor does Derrida deny the complexity involved in this coexistence of singularity and universality—of what he terms the Judeo-Christian model of transcendence/heterology/infinity, on the one hand, and the Graeco-Roman model of reciprocity/homology/concord, on the other. Both are present in the ethical exercise of friendship. This co-implication, writes Derrida, "far from dissolving the antagonism and breaking through the aporia, aggravates them instead—at the very heart of friendship."26 Instead of seeing the aporia as a way of deconstructing an ethics/politics of friendship, Derrida appears to invoke it as its very precondition.

Derrida s Ethics of Dialogue IV



Derrida develops this ethics of response/responsibility in the Afterword to Limited Inc., where he reviews some of the ethical consequences of his exchange with Searle on questions of speech, context, and proper names. What is most striking about the Afterword is Derrida's ongoing concern to extend an ethic of responsibility from writing, which his early texts concentrated on, to the more direct mode of address involved in dialogue and discussion—speech. (On the face of it, this return to speech would appear to contradict the critique of phonocentrism in his earlier texts.) By drafting his response to Searle in the form of a letter to a concerned critic, Derrida acknowledges that he is attenuating one of the essential predicaments of all writing and speech—that of context and destination. Thus delimiting both context (a letter about the Searle exchange in response to specific questions) and destination (a specific address to a critic called Gerald Graff), Derrida is hoping to reduce the level of violence, equivocation, and misunderstanding intrinsic to language; he hopes to "make legible the (philosophical, ethical, political) axiomatics hidden beneath the code of academic discussion."27 Derrida is quite clear here about his option for a direct—dialogical—mode of address. "In addressing my answers to you, in the first place and as directly as possible," he confesses to his addressee, "in entrusting myself to the contextual limits determined by your questions, I shall reduce just a little the violence and ambiguity. For that is what we want, isn't it, to reduce them if possible."28 Derrida's change of heart and address in this letter is, by his own admission, a result of the unacceptable aggression and misunderstanding encountered in his exchange with Searle. He concedes that his own practice of "dual writing" in the initial exchange with Searle entailed levels of violence and difficulty he now wishes to "avoid" as much as possible. How? By resolving to adopt a very "straightforward" form of discussion—that is, the direct (non-dual) address of dialogue. In the Afterword Derrida registers what must be his most unequivocal answer to date to those who charge that his notion of textual undecidability is incompatible with ethical decision. Vehemently denying that he ever spoke of a "complete play of undecidability"—an idea, he says, that has been "greatly overestimated . . . in the United States"—he goes so far as to claim that his deconstructive notion ofjeu Is in fact a denial of either complete undecidability or complete decidability in language. "In accordance with what is only ostensibly a paradox," he insists, "this particular undecidable (which is irreducible to the laws of dialects or calculation) opens the field of decision or of decidability. It calls for decision in the order of ethical-political responsibility."29 In fact, Derrida goes further still in stating that it is the "necessary condition" of ethical responsibility. For, he explains, a decision can only come into being in a space that exceeds the calculable




program that would destroy all responsibility by transforming it into a programmable effect of determinate causes. There can be no moral or political responsibility without this trial and this passage by way of the undecidable. For even if a decision seems to take only a second and not to be preceded by any deliberation, it is structured by this experience and experiment of the undecidable.30 Furthermore, the underlying ethical motivation for this claim is acknowledged by Derrida himself in no uncertain terms: "If I insist on this point from now on, it is, I repeat, because this discussion is, will be, and ought to be at bottom an ethical-political one."31 I am not aware of any passage where Derrida makes such a direct appeal to a moral "ought," and it is surely significant that he does so in a letter of direct address made in response to his own surprise at the level of violent misreading inflicted by Searle upon his (Derrida's) initial reading of Searle. As Derrida openly concedes, "the context having changed" (since his violent reception by Searle), he is now prepared to confront the problem of an ethic of discussion head-on, even if this means resorting to "a very classical, 'straightforward' form of discussion."32 This is not to say that Derrida renounces the basic strategies of deconstruction and grammatology as applied, particularly, to the whole question of ecriture. He is simply redressing the balance of his previous claims by adding that if the context of speech is never pure (i.e., is always open to some degree of "contamination" by undecidability and iterability), the play of undecidability and iterability is never pure either (but is always open to some degree of "contamination" by context and singularity). "Let us not forget that 'iterability' does not signify simply, as Searle seems to think, repeatability of the same, but rather alterability of this same idealized in the singularity of the event, for instance, in this or that speech act. It entails the necessity of thinking at once both the rule and the event, concept and singularity."33 It is this motto of "at once" that marks the specificity of Derrida's insistence on an ethic of responsibility. If it is wrong, on the one hand, to "complicate things for the pleasure of complicating," it is equally wrong to insist on a pure simplicity where there is none. To do so, says Derrida, is to ignore the mixed and problematic character of all relations—written or spoken—between human beings; and this means, by extension, to refuse to respond to that dimension of otherness which invariably characterizes any dialogue between self and other. The Enlightenment cult of a single idea is, Derrida argues, a danger which an ethics of discussion must be especially alert to. While one "ought" at times, for the sake of clarity of communication, seek to reduce the level of violence and ambiguity in language, this does not mean abandoning due recognition for the complexity of certain notions, philosophical or political. "Those who wish to simplify at all costs and who raise a hue and cry about obscurity," cautions Derrida, "because they do not recognize the unclarity of

Derrida s Ethics of Dialogue



their good old Aufklarung, are in my eyes dangerous dogmatists and tedious obscurantists. No less dangerous (for instance, in politics) are those who wish to purify at all costs."34 V It is in response to this particular danger that Derrida defends a scrupulous use of deconstruction against certain tendencies toward purist, doctrinaire, or reductionist modes of thinking. But he is careful to insist that if such deconstruction "troubles all exclusion or simple opposition," it should not capitulate to confusion, vague approximations, or indistinction. On the contrary, it should lead to an extreme complication, multiplication, explication of "precise and rigorous distinctions."35 Derrida's quarrel with Searle and other speechact theorists is that, in acknowledging only one particular morality of discourse, they "relegate to the margins other conditions no less essential to ethics in general, or of a law that would not answer to Western concepts of ethics, right, or politics. Such conditions, which may be ^-ethical with respect to any given ethics, are not therefore anti-ethical in general. They can even open or recall the opening of another ethics, another right, another 'declaration of rights,' transformation of constitutions, etc."36 It is arguable that this line of reasoning has pertinent implications for any contemporary debate on values. Such debate is rightly obliged to observe the need for some general ethic of rights, on the one hand, and the need to respond to the specificity of singular events (or non-Western value systems), on the other. Can debates on international law, universal rights, or a New World Order, for instance, afford to dispense with such ethical scruples of differentiation? Derrida does not, alas, develop the hermeneutic implications of this question. His task in the Limited Inc. Afterword is, by his own admission, not to set a new agenda or advance a blueprint for a model of ethics. It is, unusually for Derrida, a far more modest one: "Not to close the discussion, but to give it a fresh start."37 Derrida might have saved himself, and his readers, some valuable time, however, if he had begun by listening more attentively to some of his hermeneutic partners in dialogue—starting with Gadamer. While supremely gifted in deconstructive intelligence, Derrida has shown himself, in this instance, to be singularly lacking in hermeneutic imagination.38


Utopia is by definition oppositional—it is that surplus of symbolic desire which propels us to imagine otherwise. The nature of this role differs considerably from literature to literature. Protestant and Catholic. Joyce and other Irish modernists."2 Yeats and the advocates of the Celtic Revival looked to mythology for stories of continuity that history refused them. refusing the rhetoric of orthodoxy. and Cathleen ni Houlihan. where Yeats and the Literary Revivalists tended to emphasize the ideological function of myth. Simply stated.its Utopian function. Where ideology leads to collective consensus or closure. The meaning of the terms ideology and Utopia in what follows conforms to the usage established by Mannheim in Ideology and Utopia and Ricoeur in Lectures on Ideology and Utopia} Since I have discussed this usage in Chapter 5. Utopia often serves to subvert it. I will suggest that Yeats and Joyce offer two opposing hermeneutics of myth. but only Utopian expressions that constantly shatter the present achievements and compromises of society and point to that which is not yet experienced in the human project of fulfillment and creation. 180 . They invoked the heroic figures of Fionn. while ideology serves to integrate and legitimize a given sense of identity. That is why "there can be no Utopia. Cuchulain. colonizer and colonized. suffice it to say that. were more concerned with . They often used Celtic myth as an ideological thesaurus capable of repatriating a divided Ireland to its pristine integrity. and from author to author within each literature. on the assumption that their timeless ancestry might heal the scars of temporal division—the bloody quarrels between Planter and Gael. Confining my remarks here to the particular context of modern Irish writing.13 Myths of Utopia and Ideology: From Yeats to Joyce Myth has played a crucial and often controversial role in modern writing. such as Beckett and Stephens.

Replaying the myths of Mother Ireland in the personae of the Shan Van Vocht milkwoman. Joyce took a different view. Joyce demythologizes in order to remythologize. Joyce's Utopian use of myth retells the familiar in the ears of the foreign. of subversion rather than restoration. Joyce had little patience with the revivalist dream of a unitary mythology. . The author of Ulysses (hereafter U) and Finnegans Wake (hereafter FW) treats myth as an agency for iconoclasm rather than conformism. had sent out "certain men the English shot. the sow that eats her farrow. Cathleen ni Houlihan—recast as figures of license and laughter. He scorned the idea of a native literary tradition (Anglo-Irish or Gaelic) and was particularly dismissive of the Celtic Twilight's attempt to sanctify some sort of pure Irish mythology. converge. a no-place. possibilities. He reinscribes ideological myths as Utopian ones. Joyce transmuted myth into a Utopian playground of possibilities. Utopian myths open it to a multiplicity of futures. And from this reconstructive interplay. new heroes to challenge old tyrants." he meant it. a new place. In short. the Old Gummy Granny. or the Grandmere des Grammaires. . biblical. of the fading out of inspiration" (JJH 102). In these works we find some of the pivotal characters of Celtic mythology—Finn. or cohabit with Greek. and Babylonian myths. In Joyce's writing Celtic myths collide. It is in this precise sense that Joyce's rewriting of traditional mythologies may be said to be Utopian. These things were (for Joyce) all the sign of the cooling of the iron. which I will now briefly examine.02). Unlike the ideological deployment of myth to repossess what is most familiar to the national psyche. with folklore . hitherto impossible. As Yeats records in his account of their meeting in Dublin in 1902: "He began to explain all his objections to everything I had ever done. The Countess Cathleen. they become instead "Bringerfs] of Plurabilities" (FW 104. at the very spot where Pearse and other 1916 signatories proclaimed the Republic "in the name of Mother Ireland summoning her children to her flag. a means of emancipating historical consciousness from the domination of an ideological past. is opened up: the u-topos of alternative. Joyce was even less charitable when he characterized Yeats and Gogarty as the "black-legs of literature" {Letters II." When Yeats asked if his mythological play. and so on? . . . Anna.Myths of Utopia and Ideology / 181 The founders of the new Irish state placed a bronze statue of Cuchulain in the Dublin General Post Office. Resisting the revivalist tendency to reinstate the Irish race in its supposedly predestined place. of difference rather than integration. Ulysses and Finnegans Wake. Why had I concerned myself with politics. or old heroes to challenge new tyrants. But if the Irish revivalists believed that an integral national mythology could provide the ideological basis of cultural and political unity. Joyce injects a shot of strangeness into his country's most sacrosanct self-images. . No longer the bearers of a single sacred identity. where ideological myths congeal history. There is ample evidence of this in his two major works.

he maintained. I shall try to fly by those nets" (P 203). to the "fallen" character of myth.28. Joyce's language might be described accordingly as lapsarian. Berkeley. . in the "Cyclops" episode of Ulysses* of the Fenian myths of Owen Roe. It is. and it is not sufficient to say 'I believe' unless one can say also 'I serve/" 3 Joyce's refusal of this kind of revivalist patriotism is also evident in his devastating parodies. Dark Rosaleen. For Joyce. In short. and of course Adam and Eve who fell out of paradise. built on lapses of pen and tongue. But the transgression of the first parents was a felix culpa. Lalor. He disclosed the linguistic poetics of myth as mythos. Pearse created a heroic revolutionary tradition out of Tone. Proud Spain. or church: "You talk to me of nationality. and Earl Gerard's Steed. As Seamus Deane has observed: "Yeats created an Anglo-Irish tradition out of Swift.182 / AESTHETIC APPLICATIONS 187). language. He preferred to deconstruct rather than reconstruct the myth of a Unity of Culture.1164-65). both literary and political. Joyce probably agreed with the young artist in Stephen Hero who remarked indignantly to his nationalist classmate. in the author's words."4 Instead of ideological revival. religion. Joyce did not champion the cause of revivalist mythology. or "concordance of discordance" as Ricoeur defines it in Time and Narrative? In Finnegans Wake myth takes the form of a chronicle of human babbling. Joyce chose Utopian revolt. was but a pale afterthought of Europe. as he made plain in refusing to carry an Irish passport. Burke. to reread history in terms of a continuous tradition. a "collideorscape" of "camparative accoustomology" (JFW 143. Unlike most of his literary compatriots. And the revivalism of Douglas Hyde and the Gaelic League he found equally unattractive. Joyce created a tradition of repudiation. by a play on language.23-24) which attests. almost an exact paraphrase of those advanced by Padraig Pearse when he wrote: "Patriotism is at once a faith and a service . What was a principle of continuity to others was a principle of betrayal to Stephen Dedalus. Emmet. Old Tim Finnegan who fell off the ladder. . The Irish nationalist ideology. Even the 1916 Rising and subsequent establishment of the Irish Free State failed to impress Joyce. whether it call itself home. not only because it ulti- . as lapsus. a configuration of endless differences. He would no doubt have sympathized with Stephen. who in conversation with Bloom in "Eumaeus" says that Ireland "must be important because it belongs to me" (U 16. these mythic figures had degenerated into ideological cliches and dogmas at the hands of the revivalists. Madden: "It seems to me you do not care what banality a man expresses so long as he expresses it in Irish" (SH 54). Goldsmith. curiously. Joyce resisted the various efforts of the Irish Revival. Mitchel. embodied in the mythic figures of falling: Humpty Dumpty who fell off the wall. The terms are. Stephen Dedalus seems to have been rehearsing Joyce's own sentiments when he declared in A Portrait that he would no longer serve that in which he no longer believed. 598. fatherland.

and young girl (Anna Livia's daughter. his mischievous definition of the Wake as a "crumb of trektalk" {FW 172. The mythic fall into multiple meaning gave rise to what Joyce calls the "law of the jungerl" {FW 268. .30) and "quashed quotatoes. Indeed. promises to reveal the formula of the creation myth in the night lessons episode). Issy. the Joycean text shows. to enter into histoire (in the dual sense of history and story). he does not want to think that "his grandson's grandson's grandson's grandson will stammer up in Peruvian" {FW 252.Myths of Utopia and Ideology I 183 mately enabled the Word to become flesh in the Incarnation but also because it enabled the Word to disseminate.01) or that "his grandmother's grandmother coughed Russky with suchky husky accent [which] . that is. As the Wake makes plain. messes of mottage" {FW 183-22-23) should not be read as a biographical allusion to Nora Joyce's cuisine but as a comment on the pluralizing structures of language itself.n3)—a verbal play on the triple connotation of jungle (the aboriginal contingency modernity seeks to suppress)." Behind the myths of national consensus (English or Irish) Joyce exposed a cultural conflict expressive of the underlying polyvalence of language itself.36-253. Jung (an explorer of the unconscious through symbol and myth).07). antagonisms.25)—where /becomes other—Joyce defied the classic realist view of narrative as a one-dimensional communication of fixed predetermined meaning." Joyce dismantles the conventional notion of meaning as transparent representation of some mental intention. some fifty years before Lacan and the poststructuralists. in contrast to the daytime consciousness of formal logic based on laws of identity and non-contradiction. . By composing a language that discloses this unconscious "law of the jungerl. In the Wake he proposes to "psoakoonaloose" {FW 522. the instigator of the fall of language. . The Wake reminds us that Adam was the one who invented naming and that Eve.34) the multi-voiced unconscious of myth.20). Joyce gave no quarter to ethnocentric imperialism. Joyce thought of this as the logic of night-time consciousness. to trace the original sin of the Word back to its fall from univocal meaning into a medley of different languages (Bakhtin's "heteroglossia"). how myth is: 1) structured like the unconscious and 2) operates according to a complex logic that allows for at least "two thinks at a time" {FW 583. Joyce's text provides an excellent illustration of Bakhtin's notion of the dialogic imagination . puffed up by his own sense of cultural purity or racial superiority.03-05). But modern European man. is the "Grandmere des Grammaires" {FW 256. Against this representational model. He abhorred its smug illusion of cultural homogeneity and its refusal to accept that each mythology is composed of "diversed tonguesed . prefers to ignore the multilinguistic genesis of our Western mythologies. Consequently. means I once was otherwise" {FW 253. By exposing the unconscious structure of myth as an interplay of "intermisunderstanding minds" {FW 118. Writing thus became for Joyce a sort of linguistic psychoanalysis of the repressed poetics of mythology. .

Rejecting the traditional approach to myth as an ideological meta-narrative that totalizes meanings into a single unifying story (the Official Story of Official History). "Bringer[s] of Plurabilities. Cathleen ni Houlihan. Joyce is disclosing a non-foundational role for myth as emancipatory play of endless metamorphosis. For Yeats myth offers the promise of cultural identity based on the retrieval of tradition.6 Joyce differs principally from Yeats and the revivalists in his belief that the dualistic opposition between myth and history can be overcome. Joyce seems to be saying that it is only by attending to this other Utopian language— which sabotages "wideawake language. restoring the dream of a lost Unity of Culture." As Joyce admitted in a revealing note to his Paris friend Valery Larbaud. it is because the First Word of patriarchal myth has come to grief on the dry rocks of "mathematical catechism" {SL 27&—Joyce's description of the "Ithaca" breakdown of all-male communication)." Ideology is supplanted by Utopia. "Ithaque est tres etrange. a Great Tradition of timeless archetypes. For Joyce it opens a poetics of cultural difference. Joyce redefines myth as something to be interrogated and creatively explored so as to open up new possibilities of historical meaning. Perhaps this is approximating what Derrida calls the non-lieu of alterity opened up by the deconstruction of language—a u-topos which knows that no-place is enough. cutanddry grammar and goahead plot" {Letters III. Finnegans Wake thus testifies to the fall of the patriarchal Logos into the babel of history. Yeats conceived of myth as a sacramental refuge from history. 146)—that we become aware of the polyphonic legacy of "woman's reason. Joyce celebrates the Utopian potential of myth as innovation of meanings. Penelope le dernier cri" {Letters I. the matriarch of national unity.7 . 169). It is a "mamafesta" which retells how Anna (the Celtic mother goddess who reconciles the father Manaanan and the son Aengus) and Eve (the mythic temptress who challenged patriarchal self-sufficiency) inaugurated the history of human creation and procreation. By playing the Greek foundation myth of Ulysses and the biblical foundation myth of Genesis off against each other.184 / AESTHETIC APPLICATIONS as carnivalesque rupturing and dispersal of the official norms of discourse. If Molly has the last word. is supplanted by Molly Bloom and Anna Livia. Anna and Eve become identified in Joyce's remythologizing with the suppressed poetics of language. of being always otherwise.

and Milan Kundera—show particular concern with our growing inability to discriminate between what is real and what is fictional. that their writing became the subject of widespread media debate." The novel form provides arresting perspectives on this situation. but also in recent statistics showing that large numbers of American college students reschedule their lectures in order to keep up with the latest TV soaps (the sophistication of the pleasure being inversely proportional to the simplification of the image). moreover. is also a revealing feature of the postmodern syndrome. The fact. as observed in Chapter 8.1 Symptomatic of this postmodern crisis of the image is the rise of kitsch—a curious phenomenon witnessed not only in the extraordinary attraction of Disneyland fakes or Warholesque advertising fads. 185 . "The Kitsch-man's need for kitsch. Here parody appears to lose its critical edge and indulge in self-regarding artifice. "is the need to gaze into the mirror of the beautifying lie and be moved to tears of gratification at one's own reflection.14 Postmodern Mirrors of Fiction: Rushdie. Wolfe." as Kundera explains. Recent writings by three contemporary novelists—Salman Rusdhie. on an international scale. and Kundera We inhabit a culture where it is increasingly difficult to distinguish between image and reality. Tom Wolfe. Which comes first—the fictional or the real? the copy or the original? the imitation or the world imitated? Can we be sure any longer? Is our society of media communications incarcerating us in a labyrinth of wallto-wall mirrors where reality dissolves into an endless play of images? If it is true. that images are being registered less as productions of creative minds than as ephemeral reproductions of mass media. then the notion of an inventive human imagination may well become redundant.

the act of terrorism (a plane bombing) with which the novel opens is precisely the kind of . John Junterman of the National Writers' Union joined Norman Mailer. Riots erupted in Muslim communities in Pakistan. and others in describing the threat to Rushdie as an "attack on our freedom of imagination. Rushdie himself seems to have anticipated this very danger in his own novel." But underlying this was. as news spread rapidly through the global communications channels. an even more basic and equally inalienable right: the poetic right to imagine. the Indian-born novelist Salman Rushdie made a simple statement. The deeply disturbing implications of Rushdie's forced "disappearance" were first recognized." What lay behind this tumultuous saga? What caused such impassioned exchanges between leaders of the Islamic and non-Islamic worlds? How was it that The Satanic Verses—this "most talked about least-read novel. not surprisingly. as well as numerous deaths (thirteen died in one Bombay riot alone). threats of terrorist revenge. Susan Sontag. President Mitterand of France— ostensible host nation of Western liberties—issued a statement in Cabinet. Bangladesh. with broad support from the European community. The events which followed the publication of The Satanic Verses often read as grotesque imitations of events narrated in the fiction itself. denouncing the death threat against Rushdie as "absolute evil. His statement was provoked by the Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran. with the executive of one major American bookchain declaring the 1st Amendment of the Constitution to be "held in hostage. who had just condemned his novel. demanding immediate action in Rushdie's defense. And in a strange. For example. There were book burnings.186 / AESTHETIC APPLICATIONS On February 15. 1989. arguably. between a narrative parody of the Prophet of Islam and the Prophet himself? The right to freedom of expression was the often cited cause. in this specific instance. urging Muslims to execute the novelist for his blasphemous account of Mohammed. and Britain. between the imaginary account of something and that something itself—or." At stake was the liberty of human story-telling to resist fundamentalist attempts (of whatever persuasion) to reduce fiction to fact. almost uncanny way. the severing of diplomatic relations between several Western nations and Iran. Saudi Arabia. India. Kashmir. Is this not what the novelist Nadine Gordimer implied when she asked: "Has ever a book been the pretext for such frenzy? Surely Islam cannot be threatened by the fantasy of a novel?" One of the main alerts sounded by the Rushdie Affair—as it was soon christened in the international media—is the danger of mistaking the figurative for the factual. by writers: Harold Pinter led a march to Downing Street in London. reaffirming the distinction between fiction and reality. and in the United States. The Satanic Verses. of taking fiction literally." as one commentator put it—could provoke a virtual cultural war between Western and Middle-Eastern nations? Surely it had something to do with the essential distinction between fiction and reality.

this time in the New Haven Register. ." How unsettling to observe that just several months after the publication of this fictional exchange between scribe and prophet. paradoxically. an Imam of the Islamic clergy would repeat the very words of Rushdie's imaginary character. that imagination is still intact.Postmodern Mirrors of Fiction I 187 revenge killing likely to be contemplated by Khomeini's more fanatical disciples. the way one of the characters in the novel actually mimics the threat of the Ayatollah—before it was even issued: "If I was God. There is. punishable by death: "Your blasphemy cannot be forgiven. Fiction repeating itself. however. . and place a $5 million bounty on the author's head. Mahound. Perhaps the most uncanny instance of reality imitating Rushdie's fiction is. as Mahound makes brutually plain. If Roland Barthes' prognostication of the "disappearance of the author" in our postmodern mass-media culture has been bizarrely realized in a literal sense (through Rushdie's going into hiding). simulacra being substituted for lived experiences—not itself increasingly susceptible to a kind of confusion between fiction and fact? And is this incapacity to distinguish hermeneutically between image and reality not. . and authors like him. Another revealingly frenetic review. we read of a fictional scribe called Salman mis-transcribing the words spoken to him by the Prophet Mahound— a crime. Wolfe's conflagration sweeps away New York in a great tragicomic circus. the American novelist Tom Wolfe made the cover of Time magazine—still alive and with no bounty on his head. Bonfire of the Vanities. where pseudo-events are replacing actual events. Newsweek had hailed it. hyped Wolfe as "our best meteorologist of hip. amid all our justifiable indignation about fundamentalist threats to the freedom of imagination. one question we in the West might ask ourselves." . where a postmodernist West and fundamentalist East may eventually meet? Joint gravediggers of the hermeneutic imagination? O n February 13. it has been disproved in another sense—the imagination of the novelist lives on in spite of everything. had topped the bestseller lists in North America and Britain. as "human comedy on a skyscraper scale and at a taxi-metre price"—an idiom of mediaspeak ironically parroting the very language Wolfe himself parodies in his own writing. (Former bestsellers of his had headline titles such as From Bauhaus to our House and Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers). however. Is our own postmodern Civilization of the Image—where imitations are becoming more important than the realities they supposedly represent. For well over a year. his novel. indeed—but this time not as farce but as tragedy." We may be thankful to Salman Rushdie. on its publication. In another phantasmagoric sequence in the novel." going on to celebrate the aesthetic buzz to be had from Wolfe's mirror-imaging of America's contemporary self-destruction: "It is a monstrous pleasure to watch this world burn. 1989. I'd cut the imagination out of people.

could resist peering into Wolfe's mirror play of parody. the article suggests—the author himself. therefore. especially when the fiction was so indistinguishable from fact—exemplifying a new genre called "faction" or "new journalism. "Master of the Universe" hailed Wolfe with the very term he had coined for his own Wall Street bondselling caricature. it announces his quasi-prophetic role as someone who "looks back at a decade of greed and foresees a cooling of the national lust for money and license. Most of the new breed of Hollywood directors know it. Who needs to read the novel. Introducing Wolfe as both journalist and novelist. millions of Americans—and particularly those of the Yuppie generation—had been rushing out to read this story of their own potential destruction. high art and media artifice.188 / AESTHETIC APPLICATIONS If we are to go by the media response. was our common postmodern lot: to inhabit the same cultural labyrinth of wall-towall looking glasses. Sherman McCoy. Such." Wolfe himself was among the first to promote the conflation of novel-writing and journalism. however. Few. young Master of the Universe in Wall Street with a perfect wife and child in Park Avenue and a dazzling mistress—with high couture and even higher cheekbones—in a downtown apartment. has virtually disappeared? Andy Warhol knew it. mirroring the mirror. one presumes. it seems. The hip headline. Most of these readers were compulsively consuming a highly unflattering narrative of their own "gross fat country. Why deny that the gap between real and imaginary. when we now have the . Time had managed to go one better than its Newsweek rival in actually interviewing Wolfe. the image has been doubly inverted—and so reverts to its "original" meaning. This is it. you were mistaken. The Time feature on Wolfe is. By parodying the parody. and all those book reviews which told us what to think of it. whether it applies to the Second Fall of Wall Street or the Apocalypse Now of racial conflict in America's inner cities. reclining vainly and self-regardingly in white designer suit on a luxury settee in his Park Avenue apartment. news reporting and fiction-writing. was intended in the novel as parody (attributed to McCoy) is now repeated in the Time lead as eulogy." Moreover. revealing in more than its title. But who is the real McCoy: a fictional character? a living person? the author himself? Such hermeneutic questions deconstruct into undecidability. If you thought the Sherman McCoy of the original novel was the real thing. Why should the poets try to stem the invincible floodtide of postmodernity—the collapse of the modernist opposition between mass culture and art? The Time feature said it all. after all. with obscene heaps of wealth and its even more obscene obsession with creature comforts" (as Wolfe describes it in the novel). A phrase which. "Master of the Universe" is what the "real" McCoy might have whispered to himself about himself as he set out to conquer the bond industry. They were plainly enthralled with this tale of the rise and fall of one Sherman McCoy. in person.

' My typewriter had hardly stopped moving before I picked up the New York Times. I felt like Alice in Wonderland. about the same age as my character. it seems. But instead of a plea that things must change. author of Bonfire of the Vanities. the "real" McCoy's. the racial antagonism of America's inner cities subside. the privileged readers of the inner thoughts of Tom Wolfe. in flesh and blood (as the full color photo testifies). Who came first.Postmodern Mirrors of Fiction I 189 narrator himself. is key to the conundrum of postmodern poetics: How do we change a Civilization of Images by means of images? How do we hold a mirror up to a circular wall of mirrors and expect to reveal something new? How. And it's true! No one can dream up the things that pop up in the papers every day. Those sacrosanct dreams of the modern "social imaginary"—called alternatively ideology and Utopia—are now dead and gone. itself betraying the need for an alternative poetics. and there on page one was an account of a young investment banker. Perhaps the puzzlement—be it Alice's. poised in wait for a flash of moral revelation. might we use our imaginations to recollect or project other ways of existing in this world? Citing a fellow American novelist of our time. who lost 250 million for his firm in a week. the other side of this prosperity is. I'll go ahead and do it." One aspect of this dream-become-reality syndrome is the tremendous affluence America has known since the sixties. Wolfe simply observes: "I for one would not want to change this country. 38. Wolfe concedes. this is fiction. to reveal all. him or me? A postmodern Alice puzzling at the relationship between image and reality as she beholds the reflection in the looking glass. 'Well. Wolfe confesses: "Philip Roth said that we live in an age in which the imagination of the novelist is helpless before what he knows he will read in tomorrow's newspapers. What does he have to say? Some curious things. felt as he read—if he did—Wolfe's account of McCoy's misfortune. reported in the New York Times. I thought." The author offers no reason for this quietistic attitude." One wonders how the real investment banker. Sherman McCoy. running as hard as I can to stay in the same place. But later in the interview one encounters an extraordinary admission. money fever—"the vanity that is the undoing of all the characters in Bonfire" So here we are. which. a stirring of unease about the conflation of imagination and reality. in short. late capitalism clean up its act. The English translation of Milan Kundera's reflections on contemporary writing . Wolfe begins by rehearsing the "end of modernity" thesis. he must have pondered. or Wolfe's—is at least a beginning. losing 6 million for his firm in about 15 minutes." Wolfe proffers the following example from his own experience: "At one point I was a little worried about having my main character. Wolfe states: "In many ways we have fulfilled the dream of the old Utopian societies of the mid-19th century.

epitomized by an absence of hermeneutic imagination. The following is Kundera's version of the "end of modernity" thesis: The irresistible flood of received ideas. There could be little doubt that Kundera's writings were responding to a malaise in contemporary American culture—as they had earlier done in European culture. which had been made into a film the same year)." affirms Kundera. many of whom were familiar with his popular philosophical novels (in particular The Unbearable Lightness of Being. . is the "spirit of our time. the media amplify and channel the reduction process. threaten soon to become a force that will crush all original and individual thought and thus will smother the very essence of . . reducing the poetic imagination of individual beings to the collectivist imaginary of pre-programmed mass communications. . they distribute throughout the world the same amplifications and stereotypes easily acceptable by the greatest number. as Kundera argues. experience as sentimentality. He opposes this to "the spirit of the novel. entitled The Art of the Novel. one of the most pervasive and perverse symptoms of the death of modernity—exemplifying some of its most uncanny "terminal paradoxes." Kundera fears for what he sees as the global dominion of a fake mass-media culture. universal culture as the lowest-common-denominator of sameness. where Husserl's 'world of life' is fatally obscured and being is forgottten. Like all of culture. If fiction is. Several of the essays had already appeared in translation in The New York Review of Books. the novel is more and more in the hands of the mass media. Modernity in its present terminal condition is a modernity which has betrayed its own best images. that echo of Gods' laughter which attended the birth of the modern "wisdom of uncertainty. by all mankind. causing a stir. has been accompanied by a process of dizzying reduction. truth as mass-media opinion. . The following extracts are typical of his mordant irony: "The unification of the planet's history.190 / AESTHETIC APPLICATIONS and culture. for Kundera." It represents." which he defines as the "spirit of complexity" reminding readers that things are not as simple as they seem. Kitsch is defined as the "translation of the stupidity of received ideas [idees regues] into the language of beauty and feeling. Man is caught in a veritable whirlpool of reduction. Invoking Hermann Broch's apocalyptic vision of a forthcoming "tide of kitsch." Kitsch re-presents beauty as what looks good. as agents of the unification of the planet's history. ." camouflaged by political diversity." This common "spirit of the mass media. They struck a chord of controversy with a new generation of North American readers. programmed into computers. propagated by the mass media. ." the threat to fiction spells the demise of this wisdom. was published in the winter of 1988. Kundera's verdict on the fate of poetic imagination in our postmodern world of communications is not optimistic. that humanist dream which God has spitefully allowed to come true. Another term that Kundera assigns to the postmodern imaginary of media culture is—as mentioned— kitsch.

its current terminal phase represents an alarming reverse of its initial project. ." surmises Kundera ruefully. and therefore a commitment to the ongoing recreation of imagining. Above all. Postscript: Beckett's Word Made Image One of the first signatories of the International Writers' Petition in defense of Rushdie. issued on March 1. From early novels. Kundera observes. will remain strong enough to unite us all in a "fraternity that stretches far beyond the little European continent. those cheerless masters of sameness who take their own kitsch imaginary so seriously they have forgotten that the art of fiction is a legacy of God's laughter. au courant with everything just as it happens. . To please. is "the art that created the fascinating imaginative realm where no one owns the truth and everyone has the right to be understood. "modernity is fused with the enormous vitality of the mass media"—to such a degree that to be modern means a relentless struggle to be up-to-date. it ends up being overwhelmed by it. the threat to imagination manifests itself in a threat to the spirit of laughter and poiesis. He knows—as do Rushdie and Wolfe—that the imaginative world of the novel is both fragile and perishable. But the very acknowledgment of this terminal threat to fiction is surely. and as the mass media come to embrace and to infiltrate more and more our life. . that while modernism originally meant a revolt against confirmist images. warns Kundera. 2 Kundera notes. to conform to the very imperatives of conformity itself. accordingly. "Modernity has put on kitsch's clothing. Increasingly threatened with oblivion. . and ultimately. at any cost. the aesthetic of the mass media is inevitably that of kitsch. which fictionalized the . was Samuel Beckett. The terminal phase of modernity—now turned against its own best intentions—is typified by the reign of a new breed of persons."3 There is an ethical cri de coeur in Kundera's plea for the survival of poetical imagination. such as Watt and the Trilogy. The consequences of this fashion-ware of images are considerable. kitsch becomes our everyday aesthetic and moral code." Kundera affirms that this "imaginative realm of tolerance" was born with modern Europe and is the "very image of Europe. . What both authors shared was a tireless concern about the life and death of imagination. The word "Kitsch" describes the attitude of those who want to please the greatest number." He stubbornly wagers that this "dream of a Europe. Today. put oneself at the service of received ideas. 1989. . Given the imperative necessity to please and thereby to gain the attention of the greatest number. however heroically the modern novel may struggle against the tide of kitsch. one must confirm what everyone wants to hear." so many times betrayed.Postmodern Mirrors of Fiction I 191 the European culture of the Modern Era. whom Kundera (borrowing a phrase from Rabelais) calls the age'lastes. a refusal to allow the story to end.

to his apocalyptic Endgame* where hope in the survival of poetical imagining is represented by a child-figure glimpsed through a window as it idles playfully in the distance. Poiesis." "Imagination Dead Imagine. it is the something itself. . releasing a flurry of intertextual allusions it refuses to name. . shaping his golem from clay mixed with spittle? Is it Christ making blind eyes see with mud moistened by his own tongue? Is it Pygmalion or Dedalus—from Greek legend—fashioning human figures from stone that would later enthrall them? Or. I'll go on. is "L'image" some sort of postscript to Beckett's own writings about the end of fiction? It could be read as a tantalizing. to imagine imagination dead is still to imagine! Beckett himself gives nothing away. Molloys and Malones who wouldn't let me stop writing. Beckett mused upon the implications of the "end of fiction. rejoinder to the central paradox of his earlier text." as Beckett liked to call them)." "Enough."). Phantasia. which self-consciously alludes to its own condition of writing with cross-references to characters in other texts ("All those Murphys. The collections of short fictions ("Residua. A reminder that in the beginning was the image. published mainly since the sixties. To imagine"—the final word of the text.000 words) in which the author imagines the formation of an image. "Company" (1980)— "A voice reaches someone in the dark. As we read "L'image" we can almost overhear the Beckettian imagination whispering to itself the words of his unnamable narrator—"I can't go on." "Stirrings Still." . The reader is invited to imagine what this act of image-making is about. "L'image" is a short piece of prose (scarcely 1." Even at the wake of imagination. if belated." appeared to extinguish again the hoped-for communication through images. It is in this context of cultural termination that the decision by Beckett in the spring of 1988 (one year before his death) to publish a piece of fiction in French entitled "L'image" assumes special significance. ." The ever-diminishing prose fragments were further testimony to this author's obsessional worry that we may soon be assisting at the wake of imagination." "Pas. kissing life into a handful of dust. "alone. A tongue breathing into earth. "L'image" is unashamedly itself. earth becoming imagination. The text is not about something. It is a narrative about flesh becoming word. here was the obituarist of fiction par excellence offering his public a prose text on the act of imagining. Unlike his early fiction. No symbols where none intended." While a spark of renewed faith in the power of fiction seemed to ignite in the opening line of his short text.192 / AESTHETIC APPLICATIONS seeming impossibility of writing fiction. there are "stirrings still. Is it Yahweh forming Adam from dust? Is it Enosh. uttering an image. It tells the story of how all stories began— a tongue turning dust into mud and then turning mud into music. Imagination Dead Imagine—namely. shaping. Amid all the postmodern talk about the end of the novel. It is just what it says: an image provoking the reader to imagine the act of imagining itself. Forming. Yetsirah. speak for themselves—"No's Knife. without self-erasure or self-recrimination. moistening the matter of words. the first idolator.

. In our societe du spectacle—as other fiction-writers like Salinger.") But Beckett's shunning of explicit media images—in both his work and life—cannot escape the paradox that this Nobel Prize-winning author was repeatedly. There is no escape from the labyrinth of reproducible images. Pynchon. a subject of media speculation. the world media were to have the last word when he died. and most tragically Rushdie. (The nearest we get is non-specific references to electronic variations of light and noise. almost obsessively. as in "Imagination Dead Imagination" or "Breath. One had to turn inside to read his final words. Hence the irony that Beckett himself would surely have appreciated: if the camera-shy Dubliner stubbornly refused to say a word to the world media when he lived. Days after his demise.Postmodern Mirrors of Fiction I 193 Beckett's writings describe the wounded condition of imagination in a civilization of media images without ever identifying the media themselves. even to the point where the disappearing act itself attracts the greatest attention. have also discovered—no imagination is safe. his image fronted major newspapers in the Western world.

Le Brocquy's comments on his own paintings refuse such reduction. But that is to ignore the hermeneutic impact of his paintings. The notion of creation ex nihilo does not belong in any human art. or Bacon? One could argue. Beckett. And yet something is being said in painting too. Beginning with a phenomenological description of his head series. Shakespeare. Cezanne's Mont St. In that event. and influences. And so. pressures. meaning. too. Victoire is a case in point. context. To reduce le Brocquy's paintings to paint is to refuse to read them. In what follows I record something of my own reading of le Brocquy's paintings and his comments on them. It is the prerogative of theology. I look at some of the broader implications of his work as 194 . Strindberg. How is the head series by le Brocquy to be "read"? In terms of what cultural ideology. or movement are we to interpret his multiple tracings of Yeats.15 Painting and Postmodernity Painting is elusive. Its u-topias emerge from some topology they then transform. or poetry. tradition. Lorca. Joyce. fiction. one sees but one does not see as. It merits its own poetics of the visible. drama. say. He grants the hermeneutic invitation to dialogue. Each painted work—like every artifact—arises within a time and place. of course. Human poiesis always occurs within a context of particular experiences and expectations. It does not lend itself as easily to hermeneutic reading as. both as interaction between work and viewer and as a reworking of various traditions. within a specific historical tradition of memory and projection. The work is reduced to a bundle of empirical impressions— devoid of structure. that it is a mistake to read le Brocquy's work in anything other than formal and aesthetic terms. in more contemporary context. He does not fear to relate his work to the wider circumstances of cultural history. is the head series of Louis le Brocquy. While he always speaks tentatively—as befits an artist who has chosen the language of paint rather than of words—he nonetheless speaks.

" Foucault's concept of "similitude. Insomniac. Courtesy of Louis le Brocquy. Upsetting the composure of self-identity. Source: Six Studies Toward an Image of Samuel Beckett.Painting and Postmodernity / 195 cipher of contemporary culture. finally. ." Derrida's concept of "parergon. Vigilant. Warhol's motif of "pop icon. Undecided. Dividing into multiple selves." and. Against the conventional interpretations of le Brocquy as either a revivalist in search of some antique Celtic spirit or a modernist obsessed with notions of subjective genius and originality. I will be suggesting his work may be more accurately assessed within a postmodernist hermeneutic of "undecidability. 1980. Only given cohesion by the look of the other—by each one of us who stands before these faces." I will be comparing le Brocquy's head series with various postmodern concepts of painting—Lyotard's concept of the "figural." I Le Brocquy's heads are faces that cannot escape themselves.

In my own small world of painting. The self that knows that self is not enough. The self that admits: Je est un autre.196 / AESTHETIC APPLICATIONS Who is looking and who is looked at? Is not our own sense of selfhood put into question by these painted faces? Suspending our disbelief—our secure knowledge that these are only fictional tracings—do we not enter into a mirror play? Do we not discover our own vulnerability staring back at us from the canvas? The wounded eyes at once an accusation and a plea. beginning and end. the artist has as much reason as another to speak about his work. Coming forward from their mask in entreaty. The idea of the avant-garde as artistic equivalent to the onward march of history has had its day. Withdrawing again in ambiguity. its rejection of past paradigms in the name of something absolutely original. Paintings of ambivalence. looking in two directions at once. Self in hermeneutic dialogue. This is what le Brocquy has written of his paintings of ambivalence: Such a concept of a disseminated consciousness surpassing personality would. is being challenged. The modern cult of inevitable progress is being replaced by the postmodern notion of history as collage: different styles and images drawn from both past and present. The artist has disappeared so that these faces can appear. and causally related epochs is modernist par excellence. sequential. But once he has created. Inwards toward the self. Exposure of depth on surface. Hesitancy. Such periodization of history in terms of distinct. I imagine. by contrast. Another kind of generosity this: postnatal. perhaps even posthumous. Might we not see here the seeds of a postmodern imagination capable of sustaining hermeneutic dialogue with its other in the face of the anonymous Civilization of Images? II Jean-Francois Lyotard argues in The Postmodern Condition that postmodernity is not something which comes after modernity. The postmodern. Kenosis. producing a characteristic stillness? This dismantling of historical time is a central feature of postmodern art. Generosity of creation. The modernist belief in each art work as a leap into the new. is not a period that breaks with . outwards toward the other. Janus disclosed. The self that knows that it is obsessed by others. The paintings speak for themselves. Emergence and immergence. are normally regarded) and transforming this "normal" view by the addition of a contrary sense of simultaneity or timelessness. I have learned that emergence and immergence are ambivalent: that one implies the other and that the state or matrix in which they co-exist apparently dissolves the sense of time. produce an ambiguity involving a dislocation of our conception of time (within which comings and goings. Emptying oneself so that the creatures can come into being. with a life of their own.

therefore. always contains the possibility of radical mutation within modernism itself. and end. At one level. The postmodern functions in three main ways in painting. Postmodern works defy mimetic representation. where the horror of the Holocaust is shown to be irrepresentable. The postmodern bears witness to traces of temporal difference and otherness incommensurable with our normal concepts or representations of time. as I noted earlier (Chapter 8). it appears to depict some of the most enigmatic minds of twentieth-century culture—Yeats.Painting and Postmodernity / 197 modernism but an alien time and space that precedes and constitutes modernism and. It makes for a curious blending of old and new. it discovers that it can conceive of something like the infinite. ." The sublime. It evokes an alternative—anachronistic—temporality where that which is unrepresentable in normal memory will not be forgotten. Picasso." and. The "sublime" and the "horrible" are two examples of postmodern incommensurability. it is looking back (as le Brocquy himself informs us) to the antique sculpted heads of Celto-Ligurian Entremont and Romanesque Clonfert."2 Second. Yet. Dissensus or "differend" is a permanent refusal of "closure"—understood as an easy (consensual) fit between representation and represented. These include a cinematic work like Lanzmann's Shoah. Lyotard calls this interruption of our normal temporality of representation "postmodern anachronism. as that which allows the heterogeneous to erupt into a present plane of vision. the immemorial and the unimaginable. the postmodern function testifies to the "immemorial. middle. First. ancient and avant-garde. Such mutation is the task of the avant-garde. Lorca. It is when the mind "cannot synthesize and intuitively present the form because it is too big to be comprehended in one instant." This is another term for the avant-garde's task of anamnesis—the task of not forgetting what is irrepresentable in determine images. the unpresentable. borrowing from Kant's Third Critique* he defines its impact on us as the "sublime effect. Joyce.4 The end of Western art is thus superimposed on its beginnings. even as it does so. testifying to a strange time and space at the heart of the here and now. it allows the "figural" to appear as that which visually marks the invisible. in short. the postmodern function safeguards the indeterminateness of all judgment against the historicist temptation to construe time in linear terms of grand narratives with a determinable beginning. Anachronistic temporality is crucial to the paradox of postmodernity as outlined by Lyotard.3 Ill Le Brocquy's head series is postmodern in all these senses. Third. Lyotard calls this incompatibility of viewpoints "dissensus"—and sees it as cogently expressed in the "figures" of painting and visual art. is a mixture of pleasure and pain resulting from the failure of the will to synthesize or objectivize its subject in recognizable intuition. Beckett.

furthermore. exiles. kinetic. These faces are interrogation marks. . seems to me futile as well as impertinent. the indivisibility of birth and funeral. there is another contemporary allusion at work: to the mass-produced icons of photography. They are searchingly insecure. are unashamedly undecidable. restive. has nothing to do with revivalism. inconclusive."5 Le Brocquy's invocation of a timeless past. repetitive yet simultaneous and." Le Brocquy suggests. They are not sure of themselves. that this multiplication of the image into an indefinite series without beginning or end is essentially counter-Renaissance. This multiple vision is not something invented by le Brocquy. In Beckett's work he discovers that "going is confounded with coming. spanning the apparent chasm between past and present. which haunts many of his compatriot artists. Beckett return to us as aliens. . Their faces. Long conditioned by photography.198 / AESTHETIC APPLICATIONS Linear chronology is deconstructed into an ambiguous coexistence of different time-frames. It is discovered within the poetical consciousness of those he portrays. Yeats. endless. Joyce. initiating a derive of images that are. it is as a fallout of traces—a diaspora that cannot be retraced to a homeland. . Le Brocquy himself stated that his multiple studies toward an image remain an unending task.. nomads. It introduces a vision that is "cyclic rather than linear. above all. While these faces ostensibly recall the sacramental status of ancient Byzantine icons." as Joyce put it in Finnegans Wake. On the contrary. These faces are not self-possessed. any claim of triumphalistic nationalism is subverted." In Joyce he finds the convergence of dayconsciousness and night-consciousness. The excavated heads surface as portraits of the artist as anachronistic man. the cinema and psychology . of the modern-day Finnegan and the mythological Fionn Macool—"the continual presence of the historic past. shifting. But this superimposition of present on past (and vice versa) takes the form of an endless archaeology. like their works and their culture. a single static image of a great artist like Joyce. If the origin of cultural identity is being explored. in principle. "climbed and descended repeatedly. Le Brocquy's postmodern balancing of old and new is also manifest in the iconic nature of his paintings." In Yeats he perceives a system of reincarnation where the present implies the past: a motif captured in the image of the winding stair at Thoor Ballylee. They represent that unsettling blend of the familiar and foreign which Joyce declared to be the mark of the Irish writer in English. They resist the reductive frame of a single image."6 Once again the painted head as trace or mark of undecidability. multiple "rememorees. refugees. we now perceive the human individual as faceted. The very notion of identity deconstructs itself before our eyes. For this reason: "To attempt today a portrait. Disseminating faces that cannot be pinned down. that explode representation. backwards with forwards.

on several counts. Here Derrida remarks on a number of blindness-related motifs. la science n'a rien a dire. Eisenstein called this process of doubling montage. Jacob. Memoires d'aveugle. In Truth in Painting (1979). . Jung "synchronicity. gallery. frame. Oedipus. Tiresias). art market. all doubling. sans passer. in short. ." Le Brocquy's series of the bespectacled. whatever marks it out as an identifiable work: signature. For the work to rely on what is beside the point (les a bords or a cotes) to make the point is to allow what is dehors to determine what is dedans. Thus applying Derrida's analysis of the parergon to le Brocquy's head series. is as central to the identification of the work as what is included within it. This is not surprising when we consider that both disciplines represent a technique of multiple meaning that subverts the established notion of the subject as a sovereign excluding all parisitage. Jung for le Brocquy). Isaac. Invisibility or loss of sight as condition of vision is a recurring obsession. he explores the practice of demarking and demarcating the inside from the outside by using a frame or "parergon. irreproducible— the more he realizes that it is open to undecidable vacillations and contaminations. The work thus becomes "undecidable. when his right hand was momentarily paralyzed and therefore unable to . museum. which also feature in le Brocquy's "Studies towards an Image of James Joyce": the attentiveness of the blind to polyphonous voices and the ability to see what normal eyes can't see—a characteristic typifying the various artists selected by Derrida but also various prophetic seers of biblical and Greek tradition (Toby. whose admission of the influence of photographic and cinematic methods of reproduction challenges the modernist cult of painting as something formally abstract. St. autonomous. Paul. sans passe. apropos the blind Joyce series. that they were painted in a moment of loss and incapacity. Freud the Unheimliche. authentic. But the more Derrida reflects on what "enframes" a work as unique. original. in his 1990 exposition of selected paintings in the Louvre. all impurities of derivation."7 Le Brocquy seems to be making a similar point when he confesses. That which is excluded by the frame." Another curious analogy between Derrida's and le Brocquy's reflections on painting is the central role attributed to "blindness. self-contained. all dependencies on something other than the self-image given in privileged instancy. Derrida's reflections on the rapport between vision and absence of vision. art commentary. As Derrida puts it in this virtually untranslatable phrase: "Ce qui passe et se passe. semi-blind Joyce recalls. we find a common fascination with cinematography and psychoanalysis (Freud for Derrida." as in le Brocquy's head series.Painting and Postmodernity I 199 IV The idiom of "marks" and "marking" recurs throughout Derrida's analysis of painting. sur ce 'sans' qui n'est pas une manque. its entours." The parergon refers to all that surrounds a painting (les entours ou les abords de loeuvre). uncontaminated by traces of alterity. etc. de I'une a l'autre .

Similitude."10 One is reminded of Derrida's fascination with the phrase scribbled by Antonin Artaud on one of his drawings—"Dessein a regarder de traviole!" V Le Brocquy's head series may thus be viewed in accordance with the general postmodern tendency to deconstruct the Renaissance legacy of representation. To borrow a distinction from Michel Foucault. not because of them". subverts the idea of representational reference. curiously dislocated. reproducing itself in a series of lateral repetitions." re-marked rather than fabricated. The Joyce heads "emerged under his hands. along with the name it bears."12 Clearly there is no direct analogy between Warhol's serigraphs of commodity images like Campbell Soup cans or Marilyn Monroe faces and le Brocquy's multiple series of artists' heads.8 The identity of the subject—be it the maimed artist-painter or the blind artistpainted—was disclosed accordingly as a "disseminated consciousness surpassing individual personality. Similitude "circulates the simulacrum as the indefinite and reversible relation of the similar to the similar. whereas Warhol is playing with the idea that technologically reproducible images can be pressured into significance by simultaneous repetition and surface imitation. capable of listening to a language not audible to the normal ear. is its tracing and retracing of otherness. they were. Campbell. It is surely this abnormal hermeneutic that le Brocquy has in mind when he says that "in the context of our everyday lives. "discovered" rather than "invented. for le Brocquy as for Derrida. a legacy which deeply informs the conventions of modern poetics. by contrast. we could say that le Brocquy's multiseries replaces the Renaissance notion of resemblance with the more contemporary model of similitude. loses its identity. But comparison is not entirely impertinent at the level of form. exploring the unpresentable surplus of traces.200 / AESTHETIC APPLICATIONS control what surfaced onto the visible canvas before him. Le Brocquy is concerned with a hermeneutic of the sublime. . . For an essential quality of art is its alienation. Campbell." Applying this postmodern hermeneutic of similitude to the Andy Warhol serigraphs of media images. painting must be regarded as an entirely different form of awareness." an invisible world where the very distinction between "inside" and "outside" disappeared.11 Resemblance presupposes a "primary reference" of image to reality: the image as "copy" which faithfully imitates its original. its otherness .9 A recurring feature of painting. with its hierarchy of origin and imitation: here the image is set loose from any privileged model. in the painter's words. of seeing traces not visible to the normal eye. Campbell. the image itself. Campbell. Michel Foucault observes how we witness a dissolution of the idea of a unique model or original: "By means of similitude relayed indefinitely along the length of a series. This is why it calls for a special kind of hermeneutic imagination. Both le Brocquy and Warhol are responding to the postmodern discovery (in structuralist and .

le Brocquy and Warhol are undermining our inherited assumptions about representation. They appeal to us to keep our eyes open. Sleepless. explained. Using familiar images. close ourselves off. They cannot close. They cannot be fixed. to keep on looking. Each of le Brocquy's faces echoes the poetical vow of Beckett's unnameable narrator: "I can't go on." 13 . such as Marilyn Monroe or Joyce. And they will not let us alone. Neither religious icons nor photographic reproductions. copy and model. I'll go on. these artists decompose the Renaissance and indeed Romantic cult of an authentic original. shut down for the night. Their looking cannot end. Condemned to silence. defined. We are exposed to otherness. too. in such a way that the viewer is compelled to question the rapport between the images and their originals. we viewers of such serial images no longer look in the same way.Painting and Postmodernity I 201 post-structuralist theories of language) that signs do not refer to objects in any fixed or determinate manner. is rendered undecidable. We see otherwise. To put it another way. Disinherited of our certainties and dispossessed of our convenient assumptions about perception. le Brocquy's multifaceted faces keep vigil. Look at those eyes. the relationship between image and reality. We espouse another kind of hermeneutic imagination. to keep watch. By reproducing an almost random series of copies.


and duties. and. Several of the trajectories that hermeneutic imagination steers in the poetics of modernity have been charted in these studies. In explicitly dealing with the affective realm of happiness and pain. will have helped to consolidate the initial understanding. from Kierkegaard and Heidegger to Derrida and Ricoeur. guided throughout by an attentiveness to particular historical contexts and examples. This is nowhere more evident than in the capacity of narrative to furnish us with goals for behavior. individual versus history. The second question received a partial response in studies 7 to 12. form versus content. ethics opens onto the more experimental path of phronesis. combining right desire with just thinking in the common pursuit of "virtue" {arete). law versus inclination. where I sought to show how hermeneutic imagination negotiates a passage from morality to ethics. The basic point is that whereas morality takes the formal route of imperatives.Postscript: Whose Poetics? Which Ethics? I began my introduction by outlining an answer to the first of these questions—and I hope that the hermeneutic detours through various modern formulations of the poetical. In study 7 I noted how Ricoeur (interpreting Aristotle) defined the narrative power of hermeneutic imagination in terms of a "phronetic understanding. maxim versus motivation. though it remains for the reader to assess the cartography and evaluate its directions. The latter model enjoys the advantage of overcoming the main dualisms of traditional morality—duty versus desire. Ethical imagination thus serves an essential ethical function in 203 ." Ethical imagination deploys narrative to make sense of our lived experience and provide motives and models for our actions. But more needs to be said. reason versus imagination. rules. ethical imagination deliberates on the historical question of human suffering and action. not least. It mobilizes us to actualize the good to the extent that it engages our desires. It issues in a form of deliberative desire capable of reconciling the "legal" demand for rights with the more eudaemonistic aim of realizing the good life in our concrete lives.

thereby enlarging my point of view to embrace as many others as possible. But precisely be- . But the legacy of modern rationalism goes further than standard Kantianism. the effect of the formalist character of the contract is to neutralize the diversity of goods to the benefit of the rule of distribution: a move that involves the bracketing of inclinations and interests as in the Kantian principle of universalization. "Rational nature exists as an end in itself. It brings universals down to the earth of singularity. It embraces the secular optimism of the French philosophes. as far as Habermas's ongoing commitment to the "project of Enlightenment"—particularly in the sense of an "ideal speech situation" of free and equal participants.204 / POSTSCRIPT translating law into the felt language of flesh and blood. one could argue. It makes the absent Other present to me through the emphatic and testimonial powers of narrative. or creed. In short. agape. According to this view. (A view criticized by.)1 But this legacy also extends. as Kant makes plain in the Critique of Practical Reason. trial-and-error mode of judgment. One of the ways in which ethical/phronetic imagination opens us to otherness is by putting our certitudes into parentheses in favor of a more provisional. for example. Theoretical dogma gives way to experimental openness. in which contractualism and individualism conjoin to free justice from teleological models of the good." states Kant in the second section of the Groundwork. logos/ ratio/reason is a universal property of human beings at all times and in all places. It even informs John Rawls's procedural conception of justice. class. and the prevalent belief of modern liberalism—dating from the nineteenth century and finding canonical expression in the ninth edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica—that humanity is engaged in a rational progress toward ever greater moral enlightenment. For Rawls. regardless of culture. The formalism of a timeless transcendental ego is surpassed in recognition of our debt to the historical past and our promises of a historical future. with the rationalist belief in the inherent rational purposiveness of human nature and history. But where does such an ethics of narrative imagination find the criteria for its judgments? And what kind of judgments can we reasonably expect it to make if it is not to fall into mere relativism or contextualism? It would seem that the discussion of ethical value in the foregoing studies of this volume provides our model of narrative phronesis with three supplementary points of reference: logos. and poiesis. We are dealing here. for the most part. hermeneutic imagination is ethical in that it transmutes the self into a self-for-another. The ultimate purpose of nature. among others. The principle of purposiveness is to bring human experience under the rule of the universal. certain strains of Hegelian-Marxist humanism. a factor that defines autonomous moral personhood. approximate. is the human being who finds its own final purpose in itself. by the Enlightenment. color. Alasdair Maclntyre in Three Rival Versions of Moral Enquiry. The first—logos—furnishes phronetic imagination with guidelines of universal human reason as laid down.

Revelation precedes reason. This is largely derived from the monotheistic legacy of Judaism-Christianity-Islam. procedural. and Levinas. in the final analysis. material. a form of holy foolishness. which has for centuries advanced the principle of sacrificing one's self-interest for the sake of the Other. How is one motivated to act? Why bother responding to the Other? Indeed. The Other summons because it summons. (Two standard scriptural references to agape are 1 John and 1 Corinthians). Or to put it in Levinas's own terms." The social contract can only draw its legitimacy from a fiction. or formal—that human "nature" can comprehend. The influence of this religious legacy of agape/caritas on modern ethical philosophies—outside of church teaching per se—is considerable. Religion has its reasons that reason cannot understand. because it blooms. Here we are confronted with a decision theory operating under uncertainty. is also the case for the regulative fiction of Habermas's "ideal speech situation. For what reason? For no reason—contractual. After the summons. extending from Renaissance humanism to such modern fideists as Kierkegaard. such rationalist theories of justice often have difficulty explaining how human beings came to enter a contract in the first place. Pascal. the rationalist theory of moral justice is ultimately obliged to resort to the devices of narrative imagination to explain both its own origins (the initial foundation of the social contract) and its ends (the final goal of undistorted communication). how are we to recognize the Other as another who summons me to goodness in the first place? Here again we are compelled to reply: One is motivated to act for the Other over and against the self because one has heard/read/seen the parables and lives of Abraham and his . But in the first instance. It \sy as Saint Paul and Tertullian put it. The difficulty here again is. one of the more dramatic instances (le coeur a ses raisons que la raison ne connait pas). But it is perhaps Levinas." To put it another way. closely followed by Kierkegaard's teleological suspension of orthodox moral reasoning in Fear and Trembling. it is a question of credo quia absurdum. more than any other contemporary thinker.2 as. The second main source of ethical value-judgments in the Western tradition is agape. who has placed the demands of the infinite Other most emphatically at the core of ethical debate. for the mystic. and Rawls is compelled to resort to the fictional hypothesis of a "veil of ignorance. What these latter apologists have in common is a basic wager on faith over reason.Postscript / 205 cause of their formalist character. arguably. Through the face of the other person the trace of God reveals itself as an irreducible summons to ethical obligation. the religious moment of caritas may indeed seek to articulate its experience in philosophical terms—the famous principle of fides querens intellectum. obligation is placed upon us by the disarmed and disarming proximity of the Other before we contruct a theoretical system to justify or explain this obligation. just as the rose blooms. Pascal's wager on the God of Abraham over the formal syllogisms of Cartesian rationalism is.

. an inviolable inner sanctum. That at least is the way it is put by Levinas. It is not enough for us to be summoned by a voice in the night. Saint Francis and the marytrs and the saints. Derrida tackles the problem head-on in his essays on justice and law. we also need to interpret what the voice is saying and who is saying it. . and most particularly his model of aesthetic judgment. In obligation we are supposed to twist free of agency and become a patient. But I myself subscribe to the (un)principle of contamination and find the distinction between the sacred and the profane one more grand recit? This brings us to a third major source of our hermeneutic value-judgments— poiesis.4 but also from Kant's Third Critique. is that he is too monotheistic. one true game from On High. Abraham and Peter Suttcliff. the I is supposed to make itself a hostage of the Other. insufficiently pagan—or Dionysio-heteromorphic. declaring that "deconstruction is justice. This is true of Lyotard and Derrida. . we act ethically—inside or outside religion—not only because the infinite Other demands it but also because our hermeneutic imagination provides us with examples and stories of what it is like to be another. As John Caputo puts it in his critique of Levinas: Pure obligation is impossible. . Jesus and Eichmann. . . as we saw in studies 11 and 12. which assimilates all the other games. That is the difference. Many advocates of a "poetics of justice" embrace a postmodern pluralism in their suspicion of both rationalist and revealed value systems. The problem. no less than of Caputo. to exist for the Other. between Jonah and Jim Jones. as Lyotard says. For just as what Ricoeur calls "phronetic understanding" is indispensable for bringing the demands of universal rules into the context of particular examples. and that everything else is a graven image. If the biblical here I am is one part of the ethical response. presumably. Aristotle said that agents act in order to let good things happen. so. even in the context of religious revelation. . . it makes biblical caritas more available to humans. Phronesis needs to supplement agape no less than logos. Jesus and his disciples. This radical pluralism derives most evidently from Nietzsche's aesthetics of perspectivism (embraced by Foucault and the post-structuralists). He talks as though there is a game of all games. And the answer to the latter question is to tell one's story. cannot dispense with the critical and narrative services of hermeneutic imagination. In other words. One acts under the hermeneia that good things happen." Why? Because decisions of responsibility arise in moments of undecidability prior to both the universal formulations of law and the rational maxims of the "good will. . the hermeneutic who do you say that I am?. who is fond of absolute transcendence and invisibility. to give one's life and love for another. ." Such moments involve a . .206 / POSTSCRIPT descendants. too. Otherwise who would ever do i t ? . Ethical judgment. pure and uncontaminated. is the other. The problem with Levinas is that he has made ethics into a holy of holies.

" Lyotard suggests once again how close a poetics of judgment comes to a hermeneutics of imagination: We do not have a rule for justice. and that is . . "without why. of lending oneself to obligation. into a technical application of a rule or a norm. To protect the decision or the responsibility by knowledge. through an enlargement of our awareness via imagination and taste (defined as the sensus communis aestheticus). The basic appeal here is to a postmodern reading of Part I of Kant's Third Critique. or being on the side of science. by some theoretical assurance. Speaking specifically of an ethical "responsibility of listening. like the blossoming rose. * This deconstructive moment of undecidability is "poetical" to the extent that it is. Those that conform the most can be perfectly unjust and those that conform the least. Aesthetic judgments of taste. or into the subsumption of a determined case. reflective judgments provide ethics with a capacity to publicly communicate with others and "compare our judgments with others by putting ourselves in the place of any other man"7—a point also informing the ethical theories of Arendt and Ricoeur. and every responsible decision— if there are such—must run. Both obtain. In this manner. Caught up in a pragmatic situation of obligation. Here the Nietzschean-Heideggerean legacy of poetics is complemented by the aesthetic model of "reflective judgment" in Kant. every engagement. This is particularly the case for a thinker like Lyotard. . a poetics of the sublime comes to serve an ethics of responsibility. But this moment is also poetic to the extent that it exposes the ethical subject to the risk of an open play of possibilities preexisting any determinate judgment. ethical responsibility requires us to deconstruct the "good conscience" of rationalist moralities: good conscience as subjective certainty is incompatible with the absolute risk that every promise. of consciousness or of reason. In short. who seeks to conjoin an ethics of justice with a poetics of radical indeterminacy in works like Just Gaming and The Dijferend. is to transform this experience into the deployment of a program. perfectly just."6 Second. ." It is a moment of poetic play.Postscript I 207 risk surpassing the limits of reason and determinate judgment. They are free from conformity to abstract or universal concepts. we have no rules of conduct. which heightens the response and responsibility of each one of us faced with the irreducible singularity and alterity of each ethical instance—an instance prior to ulterior courts of appeal based on universal-legal reason. "the aesthetical idea may be called an inexponible representation of the imagination in its free play. unlike determinate judgments. And to be just is to venture to formulate a hypothesis on what is to be done. as I showed in study 7. preserve a radical sense of the particularity and situatedness of every point of view. To be just is not a matter of conforming to laws. or by the certainty of being right. As Kant insists.

It is the imagining of the effects of what one will decide that will guide the judgment. the idea of the effect. Refusing to do violence to the past or the future by reducing history to some principle of triumphalist identity. Devoid of the ability to schematize. The key role of narrative imagination in an ethics of action has been acknowledged by several contemporary thinkers. or aesthetic poiesis remain constant and often indispensable references for the orientation of "phronetic understanding. which [we]. in the strong sense of the word. religious caritas. How? By appreciating that narrative is as much a function of the differential as it is of the examplary. as much a function of suspicion and dissidence as of . Narrative imagination establishes us with a living sense of self-identity. resists using narrative in a totalizing or ideoiogizing manner (as noted in study 5). there is the aim of the true life.208 / POSTSCRIPT where one gets back to this idea of (aesthetic) "Idea. as it were. that commands. myths. place at the summit of the hierarchy of the levels of praxis. Without the narrative powers of hermeneutic imagination to furnish us with vision." One regulates oneself upon the imagining of effects. images. navigating a delicate passage between the great legacies of Kant and Aristotle in search of what he calls a little ethics. thus. sufficient in themselves. norms. and a motivation to act historically in pursuit of a good life. for the proper functioning of ethical judgment. singularize. ethical imagination keeps narrative sensitive to local and situational judgment. It obviates the temptation of grand narrative by retrieving and projecting "fragmentary narratives" whose very incompleteness serves as a critical reminder of their own narrative origins. that functions as "cause". echoing Aristotle. But it is undoubtedly Ricoeur who has pushed this argument to its most advanced stage. with competing possibilities. upon a sort of finality. its aim? Beyond the rules." they are not. While appeals to universal logos. from Arendt and Nussbaum to Maclntyre and Taylor. it cannot help but be depicted in the narratives through which we try out different courses of action by playing. an attentiveness to others (present or historical). It is the end. finally. examples. It prevents the indeterminate differences of persons or cultures from being sacrificed to some grand principle of homogeneous identity. is this not because this judgment needs the art of storytelling in order to schematize. This allows us to speak of an "ethical imagination" which feeds off the narrative imagination.8 And so we return to our starting point—the abiding need for hermeneutic imagination to provide narratives. goals. ideas. Now if this aim is to become a vision. obligations and legislating that constitute what can be called morality. initiative. If stories told offer so many bases for moral judgment. singly or collectively. and mobilize the desire for the good life with and for others in just institutions. and empathy—as outlined in study 7—ethical judgment would ultimately remain empty and blind. we would be left with a morality of inoperably abstract rules. 9 This ethical imagination.

The "as" structure of hermeneutic imagination acknowledges both the similarity and the difference involved in every analogizing transfer from self to other. the summons of singularity in and often against the universality of law. therefore. discordance in concordance. open to being other than it is. in short. Hermeneutic imagination is ethical.Postscript I 209 affirmation and synthesis. That is why it observes the ethical task of recognizing plurality in unity. the ethical role of hermeneutic imagination is to promote the enlargement of understanding without succumbing to the speculative illusions of pure reason. As such. when it keeps narrative perpetually mindful that it is narrative—and. .


. 533e. loi pratique contre maxime. See also Veronique Foti. Ethics of Sexual Difference (Ithaca: Cornell University Press. Du text a faction. Between Past and Future (New York: Viking Press. Tidee d'&hique est plus complexe que celle de moralite. and Julia Kristeva. 5. concu comme contrainte de Timperatif. lorsqu'il forgeait la notion de desir deliberatif et joignait desir droit et pensee juste dans son concept de phronesis. The Symposium. Poetry. Ion. Aristotle. . c'est-a-dire commande en tant que raison sans egard pour le desir. 1254a. 1993). Ce premier doute en suscite un second. see Paul Ricoeur. i. Thought (New York: Harper and Row. Language. Thought. 1971). civ. Aristote rendait mieux compte de la structure specifique de 1'order pratique. la notion aristotelicienne d' arete —de "vertu"-—me parait plus riche de signification que la stricte idee de soumission au devoir." in The Kristeva Reader. . Quelque chose de cette amplitude de sens est preserve dans la notion de norme ou de regie. p. Ethics 6. II. The last offers this feminist framework for the discussion: "If a contemporary ethics amounts to not avoiding the embarrassing and inevitable problematics of the law but giving it flesh. "Stabat Mater. for Herodotus on role of poiesis in cosmogony see Book II. imperatif contre bonheur. 53.J. 1961). 7. 2. 74. II me semble que l'idee de conduite soumise a des regies presente bien d'autres facettes que celle du devoir. A cette egard. Poetry. 3. d'une orientation qui donne sens. For a similar feminist rethinking of ethics. devoir contre desir. me parait encore plus deplorable. N.: Humanities Press 211 . c'est d'abord la necessite de moraliser de facon si totale et si univoque le concept de rason pratique. me semble-t-il. 11 (Paris: Editions du Seuil. p. Phaedrus 245 a.v." d'un programme meilleur ou preferable. 6. p. 205e. Ici aussi. 4. De ce point de vue. 2 2 7 . On the distinction between ethics and morality (understood in the Kantian formal sense). jouissance—in that case its reformulation demands the contribution of women" (Kristeva. Forme contre contenu. Plato. 1103a). 1986]. Charles Taylor. Politics. 13261. Heidegger. Toril Moy [Oxford: Blackwell. ed. . si Ton entend par moralite la stricte conformite au devoir sans egard pour le desir. a savoir le fait de l'oblieation morale. Elle engage la morale dans une serie de dichotomies mortelles pour la notion meme d'action. a savoir l'idee d'un "modele-pour-agir. 1986). Meno. . This distinction between ethics and morality has been developed by a number of other contemporary thinkers including Emmanuel Levinas. 185). pp. L'idee que la raison soit par elle-meme pratique. Hannah Arendt. Heidegger and the Poets: Poiesis/Sophia/Techne (Atlantic Highlands.Notes INTRODUCTION 1. Kant. Aristotle was one of the first to establish a link between ethos and ethics (see Nicomachean Ethics. Essais d'hermeneutique.2 8 . Plato. 99d. language. . a hypostasie un seul aspect de notre experience pratique. i. p. Martin Heidegger. 249: Ce que je mets en doute. see Luce Irigaray. Language.

14. "Beweisgrund. 189. 8. Introducing Lyotard (London: Routledge. 23. Edmund Husserl. Heidegger. 1989). . Vol. "The Fate of the Distinction. Palmer (New York: SUNY Press. Time and Narrative." in Dialectic and Difference (Atlantic Highlands. 2.J. Investigation 5. Time and Narrative. 1 ad 2. §122 and pp. Language. 2. 10. Ibid. 1964). Vom Ursprung der sittlicher Erkenntnis (Hamburg: Felix Meiner. 17. trans. p. 1985). the story of a life continues to be refigured by all the truthful or fictive stories a subject tells about himself or herself. Nicomachean Ethics. 5.. 1970). Investigation 6. §23. 2. see also Robert Bernasconi. pp. Franz Brentano. "The Fate of the Distinction between Praxis and Poiesis. Edmund Husserl. 77. "The Origin of the Work of Art. Ideas. Wood (London: Routledge. VI. 13. J. 11. Ibid. CHAPTER 1. Ideas. 3 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Dialogue and Deconstruction: The Gadamer-Derrida Encounter. I. 308. is intimately linked to the recognition that "poetry is a letting dwell"? {Poetry. 1973)." in On Paul Ricoeur: Narrative a?id Interpretation. 2. Ricoeur. Psychology from an Empirical Standpoint. pp. Chap. p. Heidegger." Perhaps this interplay of narrative and life also has something to do with Heidegger's asking if poiesis might not found anew "our vision of that which grants and our trust in it?" (Heidegger. . ii. 7. Logical Investigations. §111. 121. Vol." 80. 6. D. Hans-Georg Gadamer. trans." Kant gesammelte Schriften. This refiguration makes this life itself a cloth woven of stories told. Edmund Husserl." in Heidegger Studies. Findlay (Atlantic Highlands: Humanities Press. p. see Bernasconi. and L. 7 7 3 . 1955). 16. "The Fate of the Distinction. Rancurello. pp. The Human Condition (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. . Vol. see Jacques Taminiaux. 1991). 1988). 10. 1962). p. 1. 1992). N. Chap. 1977]. p. 215).. R. 242. SURPLUS BEING: THE KANTIAN LEGACY 1. Bill Readings. p. 11. §42. Basic Writings [New York: Harper and Row.. Suma Theologiae. Robert Bernasconi. On the role of art and fiction see §70. 123). Logical Investigations. ed. p. 144. W. 43. Language. N." as translation of the Greek ethos. 3: 116. For insightful commentaries on the complex subject of Husserl's phenomenology. 9. 3. 15. p. "Life in Quest of Narrative. Thought. where the author considers the disclosive and aletheic power of poetics (Dicthung) over and against the closure of technicity in calculabiiity and reductive explanation. 12. §70. 9.: Humanities Press International. International. Gibson (New York: Collier. Thomas Aquinas. p. ed. Husserl. 171. Paul Ricoeur. 9 0 . Husserl. McAJaister (London: Routledge and Keegan Paul. pp. Ibid. 1991). 4.212 / NOTES TO PAGES XIV-11 8. Ricoeur. A. 246: "The subject then appears as both the reader and writer of its own life . Ideas. Thought." in Poetry. 6.7 9 . 36. 148." p. Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics (Bloomington: Indiana University Press. 201. Perhaps Heidegger had this in mind when he suggested that "dwelling. Tirrell. trans. p. D. Aristotle. 110. 1139a. II (Berlin.9 3 . Arendt. 1958). 57. Michelfelder and R." p. "Heidegger and Husserl's Logical Investigations. "Der einzig mogliche Beweisgrund zu einer Demonstration des Daseins Gottes. D. 1969).

A. 226.Notes to Pages 11-17 / 213 pp. The Theory of Intuition in Husserl s Philosophy (Evanston: Northwestern University Press. Richard Cobb-Stevens. Heidegger et la phenomenologie (Paris: PUF. 18. p. "For it is only on the basis of the exposition of the basic ontological constitution of the Dasein that we put ourselves in a position to understand adequately the phenomenon correlated with the idea of being. 166. in Kant: Disputed Questions (Chicago: Quadrangle Books. Schrag. 16. p. 1990). 22. Chap. "is not itself extant in this thing but belongs to the Dasein. 12. 1974). pp. pp." explains Heidegger. Heidegger. see Calvin O. and my Poetique du possible (Paris: Beauchesne. in Dialogues avec Heidegger (Paris: Edition de Minuit. Where the major thinkers of modern philosophy from Descartes and Kant to Husserl and Heidegger are in agreement. 1 8 9 . Poetry. the understanding of being which lies at the basis of all comportment to beings and guides it.1 0 0 . 13. The Basic Problems of Phenomenology. Heidegger. "Husserl et Heidegger". "Categorial Intuition. On the controversy surrounding Heidegger's reading of Kant on imagination. 59. pp. 1948). And this makes it possible that the extant should be encountered in its own self." in The Wake of Imagination (London: Hutchinson. is that we can only understand the being of beings by reflecting on the being of our own existence. phenomenology discloses intentionality as the ratio cognoscendi of transcendence. Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics. 1988). pp. Jean-luc Marion. See my "Heidegger's Interpretation of the Kantian Imagination. Only with Husserl.1 1 4 . Basic Problems of Phenomenology. pp. 148-52. Emmanuel Levinas. 1974). 6 8 . "Question de I'etre ou difference ontologique." in Reduction et donation: recherches sur Husserl. Perceivedness belongs to perceptual intentional comportment. 15.9 . To put it in terms of scholastic ontology. 17. Perceiving takes from the extant its coveredness and releases it so that it can show itself in its own self" (Basic Problems of Phenomenology. The modern temptation of subjectivism is thus countered. ." in Husserl and Analytic Philosophy (The Hague: Nijhoff. and transcendence as the ratio essendi of intentionality. . 1959).8 0 . 14. Kants These iiber das Sein (Frankfurt: Klostermann. and more explicitly with existential phenomenologists like Heidegger himself." Kant Studien 58 (1967): 8 7 . p. p. 1 3 1 . would the equation of being-existence-position-perception be interpreted in terms of the dynamism of intentionality (directing oneself toward meaning) and transcendence (the "toward which" of the directedness). 19. 104-108. 1963). 75). 9 1 . 1973). Cassirer's review of Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics. 126-30. "The perceivedness of something extant. See Heidegger. Being and Time was Heidegger's own attempt—perhaps the most influential in this century—to respond to this task. pp. pp. 1 7 8 . "Heidegger and Cassirer on Kant. Language. See Jean-Paul Sartre. Only if we understand the basic ontological constitution of the Dasein can we make clear to ourselves how an understanding of being is possible in the Dasein" (Being and Time. 1967). See my discussion of Schelling's theory of imagination in The Wake of Pagination. 1. pp. p.5 7 . 70). 20. Thought (New York: Harper and Row. 1984).9 6 . however. This analysis is further developed in Heidegger. Martin Heidegger. L'imaginaire. Hofstadter (Bloomington: Indiana University Press. 163-210. and E. trans. . 1988). trans. § § 7 . which does not mean that it belongs to the subject and the subject's immanent sphere. Jean Beaufret.8 1 . as The Psychology of Imagination (New York: Philosophical Library. 21. Sections of this chapter were published in "Between Kant and Heidegger: The .

p.. where the Religiousness A virtues of . p. p. trans. 251. Journals and Papers. 26. May 1848. 94ff.. Ibid. p. 9 2 . Ibid.. pp. W. 427. p. pp. IV. 11. Dru (New York: Oxford University Press 1938). 88. TC. TC. 13. TC. Ibid. 1587.. II A 248. TC. 18. Journal entry. ed. 24. Kierkegaard's Journals. Ibid. 1 0 3 . 8. 1941). Lowrie (Princeton: Princeton University Press. pp. pp. 21. pp. Ibid. 154. 2 5 0 . 248. IX A 390. SD. Ibid.. 936. 1974). On Authority and Revelation (hereafter OAR). toward the end of 1848. Princeton University Press. 2. p. 2 1 8 . Thought. Journals 848.0 7 . 23.5 2 . ed. 10. 27. Soren Kierkegaard. A." It is possible that this work.1 8 . Journal entry. 1966). See Kierkegaard. ed. 15. Hong and Hong (Princeton: Princeton University Press..214 / NOTES TO PAGES 1 8 . 20. Journals and Papers. 28. 6. trans. SD.. Ibid. W. 4.1 9 . Thought. pp. Kierkegaard. 1983).9 3 . VIII. 7 vols. See also my extended analysis of these themes in "The Existential Imagination—Kierkegaard and Nietzsche. and Training in Christianity (hereafter TC). Journals and Papers. 230. where Gregor Malantschuk quotes the following passage from Kierkegaard's De Omnibus Dubitandum Est. Kierkegaard. 94. CHAPTER 2. 25. pp. 9. pp. Ibid.2 2 . 19. See Malantschuk. A 184. 328ff. 2 1 6 . Malantschuk. III A I. SD. Hong and Hong (Princeton. pp. 202. Ibid. 181. p. p.. 12. "Christianity said it had come into the world by a new beginning and that this beginning was at once historical and eternal. I. 1967) p. Sickness unto Death (hereafter SD). 231. p. 22.. Journal entry. 101. Kierkegaard's Thought (hereafter Though!).2 7 Modern Question of Being. 3." in At the Heart of the Real. p. 1 9 6 7 . 14. 1988). Malantschuk also adverts to the significance of the fact that Kierkegaard commenced a new piece of "devotional" writing. 109. 16. 2 0 6 . trans. Journals. 123. Lowrie (New York: Harper Torchbook. Lowrie (Princeton: Princeton University Press. See also p. Fran O'Rourke (Dublin: Irish Academic Press. 207. also written in 1848. 5. p. (Bloomington: Indiana University Press. V. Dru. THE POETICS OF AUTHORSHIP: KIERKEGAARD'S DILEMMA 1. p. The Lilies of the Field." in The Wake of Imagination (London: Hutchinson. 119. 1992). Hong and Hong. I A 640. 84. p. pp. ed.7 8 ) . was withheld from publication because it was too direct. 17. Journals and Papers. 2 0 4 . ed. 251. See Gregor Malantschuk. 123n. trans. W. II. 7.1 1 . Journals and Papers. 109. Repetition.

ed. "The Period of Composition of Kierkegaard's Published Works. his answer is—I prove it by the fact that I am derided. . ed. Papers. written in 1848. the work was so unrelated in both tone and theme to the problematic of the God-Man as to render the whole question of direct or indirect address quite irrelevant. Also Journals. 319. 69. Lowrie (London: Oxford University Press. See Malantschuk's assertion. 86. pp. 3 5 4 . 34.2 3 . 41. This work was written in Kierkegaard's own name. 936. 31.Notes to Pages 27-30 I 215 humility. ed. "The Point of View for My Work as an Author. "in The Point of View (hereafter PV). stillness. 36. 16). betrays a manifestly dangerous approximation to the martyrdom of the God-Man himself. above all. p. and his oblique claim to divine authority (albeit chaperoned by the disclaimer. 35. 936. and. trans. Dru. 30. 40. 1972). X. Dru. 318. 37. he was incognito. 942. 37). See also Kierkegaard's tortured vacillation between the direct and indirect points of view in TC. 17. the Corsair. silence predominated once again. pp. This could be taken to mean that although Kierkegaard's impulse to identify himself with the God-Man is suppressed in the "aesthetic" (poetic) and "ethical" (philosophical) stages. Dru. obedience. That is to say. Journals. 29. X A 300. V. 2 2 1 . Climacus and Anti-Climacus. pp. Here the author justifies the use of "indirection" by adducing the example of Christ himself. III A 624. Thompson (New York: Anchor. 16. 42." {TC. 32. ed. see also. on this difficult phase of the authorship. Thought. Journals. 1936). pp. X A 517. but he also recognizes the need for some kind of directness for both the God-Man and himself: "The whole of Christ's life on earth would have been mere play if he had been incognito to such a degree that he went through life totally unnoticed—and yet in its true sense. 936. Dru. Hong and Hong (Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Journals. PV. where Kierkegaard writes that "The essentially religious author has but one fulcrum for his lever. W. but the point seems to be that it was so signed precisely because it was sufficiently lowkey and modest to take the harm out of the signature. it ultimately found expression—however disguisedly—in the "religious" category of the martyr/extraordinarius. that Climacus' relation to Anti-Climacus in the realm of pseudonymity is analogous to that between actuality and ideality in the dialectic of existence. Alasdair McKinnon and Neils Cappel0rn. PV." Kierkegaardiana 9. V.5 5 . "I write without authority") by virtue of this chosen martyrdom." Nor should we forget that it was at this time (1848) that Kierkegaard's victimization by the Copenhagen newspaper. Kierkegaard's explicit identification in these passages with the chosen martyr. See Kierkegaard. self-abnegation. 39. See PV. 38. trans. p. where Kierkegaard describes Climacus as "not yet a Christian" and Anti-Climacus as a "Christian to an extraordinary degree"—and himself as residing somewhere in the middle: "quite a simple Christian. Ibid. Journals. namely. Sontag's Introduction to OAR. See also. 35. Dru. p. Dru. When one asks him on what he bases the claim that he is right and that it is truth he utters. p. A Dialectical Discovery. Journals and Papers. and again p. and Malantschuk. ed. Thought. Journals. reached its most vitriolic pitch (see F. 42." 33. 936. Journals and Papers. 1969). J. ed. 45—46. 336. p. 5. 59. p. guilt. Journals and Papers. ed. p. a religious syllogism.

TC> pp. pp. 938. 1 4 . 52. p. We touch a central nerve in Kierkegaard—the identification of God with his father. "The anxious dread with which my father filled my soul. p. who saw in him "the extremes to which independent subjectivity could go and so recoiled to bring the inner religious life back under Authority and Revelation" (p. 50. and poetic temperaments.2 5 . . 48. Ibid. For my relation is even more external than that of a p o e t . and dialectically viewed it would incur with one word the guilt of annihilating the pseudonyms. That Kierkegaard's relationship to God the Father was in turn conditioned somewhat by his relationship to his own father is almost certain. See Sontag's Introduction to OAR.. "On the Difference between a Genius and an Apostle. pp. p. Numero special (Paris: Editions Borderie. 45. 51. 1 6 4 . . as a secret stimulus insofar as it may well have been Adler's outspoken example that per- 49. 176. p.1 1 . 46. ed. one single word of mine uttered personally in my own name would be an instance of presumptuous self-forgetfulness. see Lowrie's note to TC. 173). . but only insofar as I put into the mouth of the poetically actual individuality whom I produced . / NOTES TO PAGES 3 0 . did not expect to live past the age of thirty-three (the age of Christ) and did expect his father. 1974]) OAR Third Preface. whose preface in turn is their own production. 23. 2 0 1 . 55. John Updike provides several pertinent quotations from Kierkegaard's oeuvre. the many things which I cannot record—I got such a dread of Christianity. David F. 173). his frightful melancholy.. Updike concludes: "K. pp. Ibid. See Kierkegaard's essay. or am personal in the second person.g. J. 1 2 3 .6 1 . to outlive him (to be immortal).216 43. e. I have no opinion about these works . . 4 9 . p. (Concluding Unscientific Postscript. whom he both loved and hated. . Dru. p.8 3 ) .2 8 . .. 57. 39." written in 1848 and included in the main text of OAR. 9.3 4 Journals. Jean Brun. . 1 0 3 . Thompson. young men. a souffleur who has poetically produced the authors. see my chapter on Kierkegaard and "The Existentialist Imagination.. and alternatively. as are even their own names.. pp." in The Wake of Imagination (London: Hutchinson. . xxxii). 54. 1988). 995. . In "The Fork in Kierkegaard" (in Kierkegaard. though fifty-seven years older. On the dangers of the aesthetic imagination as an agency of premature projections of the God-Man ideal—which Kierkegaard saw as a particular propensity of women. p.. . Note also Kierkegaard's perspective on pseudonymity through the persona of Johannes Climacus: What is written therefore is in fact mine. Ibid. .2 2 . 137." particularly as it pertains to Kierkegaard's relation to Regina. In his Introduction to OAR. no knowledge of their meaning except as a reader . So in the pseudonymous works there is not a single word which is mine. 56. . . ed. 1981) pp. Sontag elucidates this vacillation by showing that Adler served both as a warning to Kierkegaard. 47. For I am impersonal. Ibid.. 24.3 6 . who treated him cruelly and who loved him" (p.3 3 ." in Kierkegaard. and yet I felt myself so strongly drawn to it" (p. Obliques. Ibid. Ibid. 53. 1 2 7 . Ibid. 1 2 9 . and also Sontag's Introduction. p. On the relation of marriage and the premature synthesis of the "Universal. ed. . 112. and my "Kierkegaard et la Dialectique de l'lmagination. 44. Swenson [Princeton: Princeton University Press.. pp. trans.

1927). 58. Thomas d'Aquin (Paris: PUF.3 8 . trans. for them. 3. Thus." i. I. 63. Aristotle." It must be admitted that in points of detail. 3. a. 2. it is a matter of course that after this he cannot very well go about with congratulations—but neither can he be mistaken for another. Heidegger's critique of the metaphysics of presence and substance leaves much to be desired. This chapter is a much revised and extended version of "Kierkegaard's Concept of the God-Man. STh> I. c. 1963). XI. in Confessions.. 42f. 248f. especially 32. 3. 44) In the dreadful responsibility which the true extraordinarius has to face is included also the concern lest his example. For a full development of Heidegger's critique of the scholastic notion of God as metaphysical presence. SZ p.4 5 . . its subsistence in . All of these metaphysical words for Being as presence share the common character of "permanent subsistence" (character des Standige verbleibts) such that the Being of a being is considered to be "that which it always is. Macquarrie and E. a true extraordinarius who was recognizable by the fact that he was. 8. J. 38. see his Identitat und Differenz (1957)." (p. when he assumes a position extra ordinem. even though such metaphysicians acknowledge a role for possibility or potency in their notion of knowledge as conative and transcending. as the Supreme Being. they ultimately subordinate this possibility to the final presence which is achieved when the knower reaches what is known. 4. they still continue to understand man primarily as a substance. But the overall intention of his critique is clear enough. i. 1 0 5 . Aquinas. a temptation . 4. 5. Sein und Zeit (Tubingen: Max Verlag. (p. It is only with Descartes and the German Idealists that man is explicitly defined as a substance which is a "self-presence. Augustine's understanding of time.8. Lonnergan—consider man as a being who transcends himself in quest of an always more absolute knowledge. even as it transcends itself. 6. remains a permanently identical presence. I do not wish to make any claims here for the unconditional validity of Heidegger's interpretation of Aristotle's notion of time in Book Five of the Physics.Notes to Pages 34-37 I 217 suaded Kierkegaard to break his "vow of silence" in the final outburst of the last years. For a comprehensive commentary see Bertrand Rioux. Summa Theologiae. HEIDEGGER'S POETICS OF THE POSSIBLE 1. whose being. the following suggestive passages in OAR: A true extraordinarius stood alone and forsaken. UEtre et la verite chez Heidegger et St. BT sections 2 5 .. executed—well. pointed out in the pillory of the special individual. 1962). Nor is it sure that all subsequent theories of time follow this interpretation." which appeared in Kierkegaardiana XIII (1984): pp. for example. unsteadfast and inquisitive to wish to become like him so that his example may become a snare. Heidegger.e. See. Robinson (Oxford: Basil Blackwell. CHAPTER 3. 7. We should also add that even though Aquinas and the transcendental Thomists of today—Rahner. a. 188. light-minded. 9. Aristotle's Noesis Noeseos or the Thomist notion of absolute knowledge as an absolute identity and transparence of Being to itself. may beguile other men who are weak.1059. God (Summum Ens) becomes an omnipresence (Omnipraesentia) in all beings insofar as he is the cause of their Being (causa essendi). 45) 59. The statement concerning the primacy of possibility is to be found in BT p. Metaphysics. would certainly seem to be an exception. Henceforth the German shall be referred to as SZ and the English as BT. Furthermore. 1 4 3 .2 2 .e. S Z p p . 259. .

II). p. 267. 2 7 3 . factical possibilities. Ibid. 20. 2 6 7 .e. 19. 27If. particularly pp. in particular p. p. p. 264. 23. 268.218 / NOTES TO PAGES 3 7 . 2 3 3 . Ibid. 264: "Die gewisse Moglichkeit des Todes erschlieftt das Dasein aber als Moglichkeit nur so. 1962). SZ p. 14. 1977). 17. For good examples of Heidegger's discussion of the priority of Being as presence vis-a-vis Being as possibility in the history of metaphysics. 15. logical possibilities. 437. 93f. 25. 298. 1 5 0 . p. ontical. 488. 12.8 0 . 263. 324. 4 5 8 . 271. p. ibid. as revelation and openness. 558. 341. I6lf. 312. BT p. 16.. 394. 312. pp. p. pp. On authentic and inauthentic "potentiality-for-Being" see SZ p. 2 6 7 .6 8 . Ibid. if. Ibid. ontical possibilities. must necessarily encounter time as the basic determination of finite transcendence. 29. 85. 260. I4lf. BTp. p.. 251: "Kant's laying of the foundation of metaphysics..3 5 . 423. factical.4 5 . which for the first time subjects the internal possibility of the overtness of the Being of the essent to a decisive examination. This is why in BT truth is no longer defined in terms of Being as "permanent-subsistence" {das Vorhandene) but on the basis of the temporality of Dasein (i.. SZ. Ibid. BT p." 21. SZ p. 9. Erschlosse?iheit). See Was 1st Metaphysik (1943 edition): "Das Sein wohl west ohne das Seiende. indeed. 371. 68a. sections 34. 109. see his Die Physis Bei Aristoteles (1958) and "Entwurf zur Geschichte des Seins als Metaphysik" {Nietzsche. BTp. 10.. 85 in the English translation by William Lovitt.. pp." . niemals aber ein Seiendes ist ohne das Sein. p. 30. Ibid. 22. 260. 8. BT p. On three modes of inauthentic potentiality-for-Being see: SZ existentiell. section 71. daft es vorlaufend zu ihr diese Moglichkeit als eigenstens Seinkonnen fur sich ermoglicht. pp... 28. The only critics to have stressed the importance of this distinction are. 250.. p. 26." in the collection of Heidegger essays The Question Concerning Technology and other Essays (New York: Harper and Row. Macquarrie and Robinson. BTp.9 0 . 1975). Translated by James Churchill as Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics (Bloomington: Indiana University Press. 31. To express this idea Heidegger calls death the ultimate end {UmwillenlUmzu and Wofiir) of all our possibilities. p. Ibid. 18. On rapport between Verstehen and Seinkonnen.. As a good secondary source see Ysabel de Andia's Presence et Eschatologie dans la Pensee de Heidegger (Lille: Editions Universitaires. 120f. 73. 263. p. BTp. see BT sections 58. 3 9 . Vol. SZ pp. SZ p. 143. it is true that the comprehension of Being in Dasein spontaneously projects Being on time.. Ibid.6 9 . 267.. in a note. p. See p.3 0 2 . "The Word of Nietzsche. 24. There is nearly always an ambiguity in this work as to whether Being refers to the Being of Dasein or Being itself (as Sein uberhaupt) or both at once! 27.4 3 permanence. existentiell possibilities. 2 6 7 . p.7 5 . 467. to my knowledge." Identitat und Differenz (1957) develops this notion of the ontological difference between Being and being (or man as the highest form of being) at great length. Ibid. 11. 446. 13. the translators themselves.

Sich einer "Sache" oder einer "Person" in ihrem Wesen annehmen. contrary to Kant's original intention." Das Sein als das Element is die "stille Kraft" des mogenden Vermogens. speaking of the fundamental characteristics of Being.." every interpretation must necessarily resort to violence. Lohner's rendition as "command" as well as "potentiality" and "is capable of"—without an indication that it is the same word. Heidegger himself makes this point in his conclusion to part 3. The interpretation must be animated and guided by the power of an illuminative idea. 1 4 7 . he said: "So long as the definition of possibility. sondern etwas in seiner Her-kunft "wesen. dessen Wesen im Mogen beruht." das heisst sein lassen kann. In the light of this claim we can perhaps understand. ed. Only through the power of this idea can an interpretation risk that which is always audacious. The directive idea itself is confirmed by its own power of illumination.. entrusting itself to the secret elan of a work. To further appreciate the singular nature of this reading we must recall Heidegger's aknowledgment in the preface to this book on Kant. Jenes ermoglicht dieses. 252: I 219 If the essence of transcendence is based on pure imagination. should not be confused with an action that is wholly arbitrary. R. however. if not necessarily agree with. being translated—makes little sense out of the German original. 1/2 (1931): 17.e. Ihde (New York: Capricorn Books. "possibility" (what-being) and "reality" (which Kant termed "existence"). Dieses Vermogen ist das eigentlich "Mogliche. das heifit-sie lieben-sie Mogen. Solches Mogen ist das eigentliche Wesen des Vermogens.." jenes. in order by this elan to get through to the unsaid and attempt to find an expression for it. Aus diesem Mogen vermag das Sein das Denken. they cannot be explained save through an obvious tautology. to be entitled "The Fundamental Characteristics of a Phenomenological Destruction of the History of Ontology under the Guidance of the Problematic of Temporality." 34." Kant-Studien XXXVI. 1973) pp. Unsere Worter " m o g l i c h " und .Notes to Pages 43-44 32. i. p. it is treated as an autonomous and absolute discipline. to be or to make possible. vermogen. come to be identified with "logic" more radically than ever oefore? 33. then the idea of a "transcendental logic" becomes non-sensical. Ernst Cassirer's description of Heidegger's interpretation as "a usurpation of the text rather than a commentary"—"Bemerkungen zu Heideggers Kant-Interpretation. urspriinglicher gedacht: das Wesen schenken. with Hegel. Kant must have had an intimation of this collapse of the primacy of logic in metaphysics when. "kraft" dessen etwas eigentlich zu sein vermag. dans nicht nur dieses oder jenes leisten. This violence. vermogen means to be able or to enable. i. das heiBt des Moglichen. 207: It is true that in order to wrest from the actual words that which these words "intend to say. p." And yet. existence and necessity is sought solely in pure understanding. Das Vermogen des Mogens ist es.8 1 . that the entire study was originally intended as a section of the projected part 2 of BT. Dieses Mogen bedeutet. 150) in rendering vermogen as "possibilizing" rather than "commanding. As this is the most crucial text in my commentary I cite the original passage in its entirety: Das Denken ist—dies sagt: das Sein hat sich je geschicklich seines Wesens Angenommen. especially if. originally on time. namely. Ibid.e. I have made one important alteration in the Lohner translation (p. English translation by Edgar Lohner entitled "Letter on Humanism" and published in Phenomenology and Existentialism. Zaner and D. Das Sein als das Vermogend-Mogende ist das "Mog-iiche." Literally. in the second edition of the Critique did not Kant re-establish the supremacy of the understanding? And as a result did not metaphysics.

A. the gift granted by the giving of time. dessem Wesen im Mogen beruht. in 1950 (printed pp. as above: "Das Vermogen des Mogens ist es 'Kraft' dessen etwas eigentlich zu sein vermag. as above: "Das Denken ist. 19-24. The original reads. and Martin Buber. Vorhandenheit. We must not overlook the significance of the fact that just as vermogen can refer to wealth or power in the sense of "property." (Presence here—"Anwesen"—is not to be confused with "presence" in its metaphysical determinations— ousia. substantial actualitas. See Staumbaugh's translation. London: Fontana. in seinem Element einbehalten (Brief iiber den "Humanismus. The gift of presence is the property of appropriating. 35. 40. sich einer 'Sache' oder einer 'person' in Wesen annehmen. 1961). esti. R. Ereignis). see p. 1974). Totalite et Infini (The Hague: Nijhoff." For Lohner's translation see pp. 57).. meine ich nicht das possibile einer nur vorgestellten possibilitas. appropriating has the peculiar property of bringing man into his own [eigenst] as the being who perceives Being by standing within true [eigentlich] time. is clearly manifest in the following passages from a letter which Heidegger wrote to a young student." As Heidegger goes on to say.8 6 of Poetry. Wenn ich von der "stillen Kraft des Mogiichen" spreche. welche Unterscheidung identifiziert wird mit der von existentia und essentia. pp. and Autrement qu'etre (The Hague: Nijhoff. 1947). In fact. Buchner. das mogend iiber das Denken und so Liber das Wesen des Menschen und das heifit tiber dessen Bezug zum Sein vermag. in his later writings. 5 jenes. discussed earlier!) Or again. The standard English translation of Ereignis is "appropriation"." Ereignis carries this sense of "appropriation" as "possession" or "property" (as its etymological rapport with Eigen-tum suggests). Dieses Vermogen ist das eigentlich 'Mogliche. pp. Etwas vermogen bedeutet hier: es in seinem Wesen wahren. 1971]): . 36. 150. 37. Thus we see how easily Heidegger was able to identify "possibilizing" as the "truth of Being" (and later as es gibt. 39. See Emmanuel Levinas. Language. das heisst: sie lieben: sie mogen. 1 8 3 . Between Man and Man (trans. trans. Thought. man belongs to appropriation. 8. referred to as the "Januscope" (the double-glance). This duplicity in our thinking about Being is what Heidegger. see Joan Stambaugh's translation of Zeit und Sein in On Time and Being (New York: Harper and Row. 151-52. nicht die potentia als essentia eines actus der existentia. to the extent that man is appropriated and assimilated by Being he is to be considered its "belonging" as its property: that which is most proper to it. The identification of vermogen and wahren in this last sentence is very significant. p. i.220 / NOTES TO PAGES 4 4 . The original German reads. the two Beings in question here refer to the same Being but differ in the way we think about this Being. 1954. 1972). Hofstadter [New York: Harper and Row. 199-220." Bern: Francke. See Heidegger's play on this meaning in the following sentences from On Time and Being. 22: "Being proves to be destiny's gift of presence. Here I offer my own translation." For Lohner's inadequate translation. Thus appropriated.e. 23: "Because Being and Time are there only in appropriating [Ereignis].4 7 "Moglichkeit" werden freilich unter der Herrschaft der "Logik" und "Metaphysik" nur gedacht im unterschied zu "Wirklichkeit. for example. sondern das Sein selbst. 38." das heisst aus einer bestimmtender metaphysischen—Interpretation des Seins als actus und potentia. Smith. for Heidegger sees wahren (to guard or care for) as the root meaning of Wahreit (truth). This essential link between "possibility" on the one hand." on the other. as it reveals itself to man or as it is in itself. and "Being-understoodas-time-which-absences-as-it-presences. p. 41.

Heidegger was making this argument as early as 1925. pp. Thought.. Ibid. Mannheim (New York: Anchor. 125-67. Nor is Being in any way opposed to being-no-longer and being-not-yet. trans. A. in its highest form. 176-95. trans. R. R. CHAPTER 4. on the other. 45. 215. pp. but absence is not nothing. ed. Thought. Language. as re-presentation or. . actualitas. p. is necessarily part of thinking the thing. HEIDEGGER'S GODS 1. 47. le Possible et Dieu. This text was originally presented for Jean Beaufret's Kierkegaard vivant (Paris: Gallimard. thus gathered. The presence-possibility contrast expresses this difference very clearly. Thinking. of the hidden fullness and wealth of what has been and what. p. The step back from the representational thinking of metaphysics . has hardly been understood. Language. ". I64f. I stress that this notion of Being as an absence which presences (Anwesen-Abwesende/ Abwesen-Anwesende) is not to be confused with the metaphysical notion of presence as something actual or actualized. Language. . Heidegger. rather it is precisely the coming-into-presence [Anwesen]. 44. 49. An Introduction to Metaphysics. Even metaphysics already had. and in "Heidegger and the Possible. 6." in Poetry. watchfulness Tor the has-been and future destiny of Being . to guard Being is vigilance. and Anwesen. 1971). a thinking that thinks about the possible advent of world. 1964). etc. 1980).e. . to a certain extent. p. in the preaching of Jesus. where two different terms are always used. is presencing [anwesende] of the divine in the world of the Greeks. p. The default of god and the divinitas is absence. . 149. 75). Thought. This "overcoming" of the notion of presence as enduring substance in favor of a notion of "presencing" (Anwesen) as a possibilizing (Vermogen) which presences as it absences.. when he delivered his lectures History of the Concept of Time: Prolegomena. "Building. 48. Heidegger. which must first be appropriated [ereignet]. 216. Vorhandenheit (qusia." in Poetry. . on the one hand. "Origin of the Work of Art. simple. Heidegger. p. 226 (and p." in Heidegger et la question de Dieu. p. 46." in Poetry. . at the University . 5 9 . 43.Notes to Pages 47-51 I 221 "Being is in no way identical with reality or with a precisely determined actuality (i. Poetically Man Dwells .6 0 . Dwelling. . . . On Time and Being. . 50. even in English. It appears as a complementary text to On Time and Being in Staumbaugh's translation. substantia. 42. "The Origin of the Work of Art. 54." p. This no-longer is itself a not-yet or the veiled coming-appropriation [Ereignis] of its inexhaustible nature. . Hofstadter (New York: Harper and Row. in prophetic Judaism. according to which possibility belongs to Being just as much as do actuality and necessity. "Poetically Man Dwells. to be sure. Kearney and J. O'Leary (Paris: Grasset. . Sections of my analysis were published in "Heidegger. 74. as some eternal presence (Ipsum Esse Subsistens or Nunc Aeternum). pp. Since Being is never the merely precisely actual. is what I have tried to highlight." p. Heidegger. I have avoided using the presence-presencing contrast because in English this double use of the same term loses the sharp distinction of the German. . these two belong themselves to the essential nature of Being. an intimation of this fact in its doctrine of the modalities—which. substantified presence). 76. 1961)." Philosophical Studies XXVII (1980).).

17: Ce qui m'a souvent etonne chez Heidegger. pp. Ibid. Heidegger. ed. 172-73. Introduction to Metaphysics. mais toujours en evitant le massif hebraique. II traite la pensee ethique. R. il evite la pensee ethique avec ses dimensions de relation a l'autre et a la justice. p. Heidegger. "Eriauterungen zu Holderlins Dichtung. Heidegger. Zaner and D. Heidegger et la question de Dieu. of Marburg. 1980). 325. The Piety of Thinking. 192-93. Nietzsche I. 4.2 5 . 18. Ricoeur. 332. Maraldo (Bloomington: Indiana University Press. . 193. pp. Heidegger et la question de Dieu. Ibid. 19." 1951. 3 2 3 . p. 16. 333. 3 3 4 . 9. p. 10. 7. 1960). p. 80). Identity and Difference (New York: Harper and Row. p. in Phenomenology and Existentialism. See Heidegger." pp. "Heidegger et Dieu. 13." in Poetry. La tache de repenser la tradition chretienne par un "pas en arriere" n exige-t-elle pas qu'on reconnaisse la dimension radicalement hebraique du christianisme. 331. . trans. 11.3 6 . Thought (New York: Harper and Row. which is why philosophy can allow itself the 'arrogance of thinking'" (History of the Concept of Time. Heidegger. J. 17. 165. See in particular his comment: "As long as phenomenology understands itself it will adhere to this course of research [into the categories] against any sort of prophetism within philosophy and against any inclination to provide guidelines for life. Martin Heidegger. semble-t-il. Kearney and O'Leary. . "Phenomenology and Theology. "The Origin of the Work of Art. pp. pp. pp.C.G.. 5. E. quoted in Kearney and O'Leary. See Francois Fedier. 1962. Heidegger et la question de Dieu. tres sommairement comme pensee de la valeur. Heidegger. p. 72. p. T. p. qui est d'abord enracine dans le judaisme et seulement apres dans la tradition grecque? Pourquoi reflechir seulement sur Holderlin et non pas sur les Psaumes. see also Kearney and O'Leary. See Heidegger. trans." in Kearney and O'Leary. pp. "Letter on Humanism. p. "Letter on Humanism. The Piety of Thinking. II Iui est parfois arrive de penser a partir de l'Evangile et de la theologie chretienne. p.222 / NOTES TO PAGES 5 1 . Heidegger. Heidegger. Heidegger et la question de Dieu. quoted in Kearney and O'Leary. p. . c'est qu'il ait. 6. 334-36. 317. pp. see also the reported citations on this subject translated into French by Beaufret and Jean Greish in Heidegger et la question de Dieu.5 6 2. 44. Philosophical research is and remains atheism. dont a tant parle Levinas. 12. sur Jeremie? 15.4 5 . qui est I'etranger absolu par rapport au discours grec. Kearney and O'Leary (Paris: Grasset. Ihde (New York: Capricorn Books. Heidegger et la question de Dieu. 14.1 1 ." in Kearney and O'Leary. 3 7 . as quoted in Kearney and O'Leary. Heidegger. Heidegger et la question de Dieu. 3. Kisiel [Bloomington: Indiana University Press. p. . ed. "Note Introductive. 1976). Beaufret in la quinzaine litteraire 196 (1974): 3. 1 0 . 1971).. Richard Kearney and O'Leary. 7. et ne reconnait pas sa difference radicale avec la pensee ontologique. 107. Hart and J. p. systematiquement elude la confrontation avec le bloc de la pensee hebraique. . 331. Language. which may be regarded as an early version of Being and Time (1927)." p." trans. 8. Heidegger et la question de Dieu. Lohner. 1973). 147-81.. 34. 1992]. Heidegger et la question de Dieu. "Eriauterungen zu Holderlins Dichtung. See Heidegger. Ibid." in The Piety of Thinking: Essays by Martin Heidegger. Nietzsche II.

the unholy. Martin Heidegger: A Political Life. pp. 117. Heidegger "Letter on Humanism.3 5 ) ." Heidegger had. p. trans. This day is the shortest day. This day is the world's night. See Nicholas of Cusa. 1973). unholy. Quoted in Partisan Review." As Hugo Ott puts it in his commentary on Jaspers' correspondence with Heidegger: "The only ethical category in which Heidegger was able to think or be understood—if indeed we can speak of ethics at all in his case—was that of 'obedience to Being. They would have to discern the danger that is assailing man" (p. Not only does the holy. Heidegger. 31 May. had found the place where the hidden god is present. While Heidegger dismissed Jaspers' philosophy as a "moralising psychology of human existence. 21. It threatens a single endless winter. "The Time of the World Picture. by its very indeterminacy. For details on this and subsequent references in the last section see my earlier version of this argument in "Heidegger. Dermot Moran. even the track to the holy. to the spread of evil? Does not the seemingly grand sweep of such visions lead us to overlook the practical possibilities for action?" By cutting his thought "off from reality. Der Spiegel. 25. See also "Nicholas of Cusa and the Power of the Possible" by P. Against Ethics (Bloomington. 1976. Levinas. unburdened by guilt" (Hugo Ott. p. in American Catholic Philosophical Journal 64. seems to be effaced. thereby remain concealed. 125-68. So he is untainted. One of the first people to remark on the eclipse of the ethical dimension in Heidegger's thinking was Karl Jaspers. 252." Jaspers accused Heidegger of excluding questions of concrete ethical responsibility and action from his grandiose ontology: "Does such a view of things contribute. Interview. where the author explores the striking and suggestive similarities between Cusanus and Heidegger on the notion of the possible as a sacred event of giving and loving—as a poetics of posse. unless there are still some mortals capable of seeing the threat of the unhealable. 1948.. 117). Thought. perhaps helped to "prepare the victory of totalitarianism. and J. Heidegger et la question de Dieu." in The Piety of Thinking. 1 (1990): pp.' The lines are clearly drawn in the Letter on Humanism (1946): anyone who sought like Heidegger. Not only does protection now withhold itself from man but the inteeralness of the whole of what is remains now in darkness. S. Caputo. On the controversy surrounding Heidegger and ethics see also Charles Scott. to thrust forward in thought into the truth of Being. where no care about 'directions for the life of action' ever penetrates.Notes to Pages 56-61 I 223 20. 1989). But that is not the end of the story. 26. Hand (Oxford: Blackwell. Blunden [London: Basic Books 1993]. 1993). 3 4 . .P. Heidegger (Bloomington: Indiana University Press. 27. Steiger (Hamburg: Felix Meiner Verlag. 24. and by the same token such a thinker is untouched by whatever affects the actions of men in a technological age. R. 23." in The Levinas Reader. "Judaism. for bringing this text to my attention. The wholesome and sound withdraws. The world becomes without healing. Heidegger. ed. Indiana U. that is. as the track of the godhead. the hale and whole. J. 172. rearranged into merely technological day. into the 'forest clearing' where Being is illuminated. The Question of Ethics: Nietzsche. le possible et Dieu. Heidegger. A. Poetry. Foucault. Language. Casarella. 22.3 5 . I am grateful to my colleague in University College Dublin. as such." p." and Beaufret and Greish. in Jaspers' view. ed. 7 . The following dense passage contains the core of his account: The essence of technology comes to the light of day only slowly. Trialogus de Possest. for Heidegger adds: "That is. 1994). pp.

"Rene' Girard et le mythe comme bouc emissaire. "Science and Ideology" (1974). See Girard. Dreams. Rudolf Bultmann. An earlier version of this chapter was published in 1993 by the Warwick Centre for Philosophy and Literature. "Heidegger. In contrast to my own critical reservations here." pp. 1978).224 / NOTES TO PAGES 6 1 . 24: "Myth is thought to express the absolute truth because it narrates a sacred . 1955). pp.d. Raymond Boudon. 1985). particularly the chapter "Qu'est-ce qu'un mythe?. Lldiologie (Paris: Fayard. Thompson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 2. society contrives to hide from itself the real cause of its internal crisis. le possible et Dieu. The Question of God in Heidegger's Phenomenology (Evanston: Nortwestern University Press. 7. See my discussion of Heidegger's analogy between ontological and theological thinking in his Introduction to Metaphysics as one of: 1) "as if". p. Ricoeur. Mircia Eliade. 4. The Theology of the New Testament (London: SCM Press. Lectures on Ideology and Utopia (New York: Columbia University Press. "Ideologic. The Piety of Thinking.7 0 28. Kovacs concludes his extensive exposition by arguing that Heidegger's post-metaphysical thinking about Being leads to what he calls a "truly divine notion of God. by revealing the true innocence of the scapegoat Christ—can Christianity serve as a genuinely anti-mythic and anti-sacrificial religion. John B.4 6 . utopie et politique. 8. 30. 50." pp. Some of the arguments in the final part of this chapter were developed in more detail in my "Heidegger. pp. 3 7 9 . p. 125-68). See also George Kovaks. with a reply by Professor Martin Warner. and Section III. My thanks to Professor David Wood. Ricoeur." in Violence et verite (Paris: Grasset. 6.3 7 . editor of the series. and Mysteries (London: Fontana. 215. 3 6 . On Religion (Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House. 1986). Charles Regan and David Stewart (Boston: Beacon. 40£F. and 3) proper proportionality (Kearney. 1986).9 3 . in Hermeneutics and the Human Sciences. p. Myths. for permission to republish. Imaginatively projecting the cause of all disharmony and evil onto some "externalized" innocent victim." CHAPTER 5. Le bouc emissaire (Paris: Grasset. Heidegger. "The Critique of Religion" (1973). See also my article. 295ff. pp." of Du Texte a Taction: essais d'hermeneutique. who holds that the most radical aim of Judeo-Christian revelation is to expose and overcome the mythic foundation of pagan religions in the ritual sacrifice of an innocent scapegoat.). Karl Marx and Frederick Engels. 2 2 2 . and especially "L'IdeoIogie et l'utopie: deux expressions de l'imaginaire social. 1982). 1984). Ricoeur. IDEOLOGY A N D UTOPIA: THE SOCIAL IMAGINARY (RICOEUR I) 1. In recent years demythologization has perhaps been most effectively developed by the French religious thinker Rene Girard. and trans." pp. //(Paris: Editions du Seuil. deployed by societies as an ideological means of securing social consensus. Only by demythologizing this ideological lie of sacrificial victimage—that is. in The Philosophy of Paul Ricoeur: An Anthology of His Worky ed. 1981). le possible et Dieu. 2) critical alternative or visa-vis. 1 9 6 8 ) . 3. 1990). ed. 5." 29. n. True Christianity rejects the cultic mythologizing of the scapegoat.

trans. For a detailed critical commentary on Castoriadis's and Ricoeur's notion of ideology as a "social imaginary. as it is for Heidegger. Brewster (London: New Left Books." in Lenin and Philosophy. Ibid. this is impossible. phenomenological finitude of understanding. 183ff. ." Field Day (Deny) 5 (1984): pp. Studies in the Theory of Ideology (Berkeley: University of California Press. "Science and Ideology.. history." Ricoeur. and Cornelius Castoriadis. This means that our understanding of present reality is mediated by a recollection of the past (wiederholen) and a projection of the future (ehtwerfen). the Sacred Time." p." p. 12. 55-67. pp. the social bond is itself symbolic." see John B. See Claude Levi-Strauss. 229. 1985). 15. the recognition that there can be no access to reality except through the hermeneutic detour of our intentional and symbolizing representation. 14. 236. it can represent meaning only through a temporalizing process of representation.. 1963). it cannot represent meaning in a timeless univocal fashion. 219. "Science and Ideology. p. Raymond Boudon. and other exponents of the new. p. 16. B. 85ff. a form of total and timeless knowledge disengaged from historical interests and limits. 11. a trans-human revelation which took place in the holy time of the beginning. 22. Moreover. 85ff. "Science and Ideology. Ricoeur. 18. . See Louis Althusser. A totally non-ideological science could be only a nonhistorical science—that is. 1985). Ricoeur. Suffice it to cite Ricoeur's outline of the implications of this discovery for the relationship between ideology and our understanding of social reality." The Crane Bag 8. L'ide'ologie. L'ideologie. 1976). of mediated. Structural Anthropology (New York: Basic Books. p. if. Boudon. Perhaps the central discovery of phenomenological hermeneutics has been the priority of the figurative over the literal. "Freud and Lacan. It is also Ricoeur's conclusion. 1 (1984): pp. "The Critique of Religion. And. All understanding of history—no matter how scientific—is itself historically conditioned and therefore incapable of ever escaping from ideology in any absolute manner. 20. 10. Ibid. the historical character of understanding accounts for the primacy of symbolic consciousness. for Ricoeur. 231. Ibid. and Other Essays. that is.Notes to Pages 70-74 I 225 9.8 3 . Boudon makes this point in L'ideologie. 21. then it is absolutely futile to . 6 1 . Sartre. indirect. reprinted in Ireland's Field Day (London: Hutchinson. Ibid. 1971). Thompson." p. The hermeneutics of suspicion runs the danger of assuming that it remains unscathed by the defects that it denounces. 17. To quote a key passage from "Science and Ideology": If it is true that the images which a social group forms of itself are interpretations which belong immediately to the constitution of the social bond. and multilayered consciousness. 19. 225. and "Myth and Motherland. over and above transparent scientific knowledge. that is. 227. I have applied this critique of ideology as it operates in Irish myth and religion in two lengthy studies: "Faith and Fatherland. Merleau-Ponty. in other words. Ibid." p. L'institution imaginaire de la societe (Paris: Editions du Seuil. . By imitating the exemplary acts of mythic deities and heroes man detaches himself from profane time and magically re-enters the Great Time. Because human understanding operates in a hermeneutic circle. I shall return to this question later. Ricoeur. p. 13.

but virtually ignores the meaning created by these codes. at the end of a historical process which is perhaps interminable. the late Wittgenstein and Austin)." in The Conflict of Interpretations.3 9 ) 23. pp. whereby we understand ourselves as projects of possibility." see Paul Ricoeur. Such is the fundamental reason why social theory cannot entirely free itself from the ideological condition: it can neither carry out a total reflection. 2) scientific language. but that the former must be conceived as a specification of a much more fundamental phenomenon which ertains to the representation of the social bond in the after-event of its symolic constitution. What seems to me much more fecund in Marx's work is the idea that the transparence is not behind us. but in front of us. and republished in edited version in Kearney. Introduction and Postscript. directed neither . 1982). nor rise to a point of view capable of expressing the totality. pp. (pp. as identified by much contemporary analytic philosophy (e. Ricoeur concludes that we need a hermeneutic approach to language. On the distinction between "archeological" and "eschatological" (and "ideological") aspects of hermeneutics. short of the idealizing reflection. Travesty is a second episode of symbolization. in interview with Kearney. A phenomenological hermeneutics. "The Symbol as Bearer of Possible Worlds. Dialogues with Contemporary Continental Thinkers (Manchester: Manchester University Press. This difficulty confirms me in the view that the phenomenon of inversion cannot be taken as the starting point for an account of ideology.A non-ideological discourse on ideology here comes up against the impossibility of reaching a social reality prior to symbolization. ed. taking its inspiration from Husserl and Heidegger. The philosophy of ordinary language recognizes the importance of communication. But then we must have the courage to conclude that the separation of science and ideology is itself a limiting idea. at the origin. but often reduces meaning to a one-dimensional realm (as Marcuse recognized) by not taking sufficient account of language as a place of prejudice and dissimulation. and The Symbolism of Evil. see Paul Ricoeur. Kearney and Hederman (Dublin: Blackwater Press. religion. the limit of an internal work of differentiation. 24. by disclosing how human self-understanding occurs in and through the mediating detour of signs. . for its part. Emerson Buchanan (New York: Harper and Row. 2 2 . It acknowledges both the critical and creative functions of language. ." in The Crane Bag Book of Irish Studies. 1974). In this dialogue. On the analysis of symbol as a "double intentionality. 1967). Ricoeur distinguishes three modes of language: 1) ordinary language. 25. addresses this central question of meaning.7 6 seek to derive the images from something prior which would be reality.. 36ff. ed. the failure of any attempt to define a social reality which would be initially transparent and then obscured. "The Hermeneutics of Symbols and Philosophical Reflection.2 4 . Ricoeur argues that the third mode is indispensable. and that we do not currently have at our disposal a non-ideological notion of the genesis of ideology. of which there would be secondary reflections and echoes. Whence.g. 2 3 7 . in my opinion." in The Philosophy of Paul Ricoeur. and which could be grasped in its original transparence. . the process of real life. "Existence and Hermeneutics. and 3) the symbolic language of myth. trans. Ricoeur. and hence cannot abstract itself from ideological mediation into which the other members of the social group are subsumed. real activity. The scientific language of structuralism.226 / NOTES TO PAGES 7 5 .. Don Ihde (Evanston: Northwestern University Press. as practiced by the structuralist model of textual autonomy and codification. 1984). and ideology privileged by phenomenological hermeneutics. exposes the immanent arrangements of texts and textual codes.

1990). 224. and The Irish Theological Quarterly 52. Ricoeur. pp. 109-26. Irish Philosophical Journal 2. or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism." in Dialogues. 26. C. 31. Ibid. [1984]: 53-91). Brewster [London: New Left Books. Jameson developed this argument stating that in our postmodern context a new "map of knowledge" will have to replace the old humanist-inspired critique of ideology. Kearney. 1968])." Curiously. 32. "The luxury of the old-fashioned ideological critique.. opened up by language that we may arrive at a better understanding of ourselves. What these and other "prophets of extremity" often ignore." in New Left Review 145. Ricoeur. 1 (1985): 3 7 . . 126-45. this sense of an ending has been registered by intellectuals of both left and right. There has been much written in recent times about the "end of ideology. 33. The decisive feature of hermeneutics is the capacity of world-disclosure yielded by symbols and texts. 244. Earlier versions and sections of this chapter appeared in Phenomenology of the Truth Proper to Religion. Ibid. becomes unavailable" ("Postmodernism. Insofar as religion is based on a divine revelation that can be transmitted only through history. Hermeneutics is not confined to the objective structural analysis of texts nor to the subjective existential analysis of the authors of texts. p. ed. It is by an understanding of the worlds. 1971]). p." p. 243. truth and falsity.Notes to Pages 76-79 I 111 toward scientific verification nor ordinary communication but toward the disclosure of possible worlds. . neo-Marxists like Althusser and Jameson equate the demise of ideology with the disintegration of bourgeois humanism (see The End of Ideology Debate. 241. Ibid. 1 and 2 (1986): pp. 27. In an era "after value. "Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses. Ricoeur.3 0 . Ibid." 28." in Lenin and Philosophy and Other Essays. Althusser promoted a "science of socialism" as an "epistemological rupture" with the "ideological prehistory" of bourgeois thought (see Althusser. actual and possible." the critique of ideology would become irrelevant. 2 9 . 245. ed." he notes.5 5 . Waxman [New York: Simon and Shuster. however. p. its primary concern is with the worlds which these authors and texts open up.. Because religious traditions involve historical mediation and distantiation. "The Creativity of Language. "Science and Ideology. .. they participate to greater or lesser degrees in the ideological process. Ricoeur calls for a surpassing of the conventional polar opposition between ideology (mythos) and science {logos). justice and injustice would disappear. it too belongs to a cultural and mythologizing heritage that requires critical interpretation. While Daniel Bell and the neoconservatives have hailed the end of ideology as a victory for liberal Western humanism. pp. B. An ethics of hermeneutic imagination cannot accept such a conclusion. by placing the critique of ideology within the framework of an interpretation "which knows itself to be historically situated but which strives to introduce as far as it can a factor of distantiation into the work that we constantly resume in order to re-interpret our cultural heritage. Guerriere (Albany: SUNY Press. 30. ed. is that the end of ideology has as concomitant the end of value. ." p. trans. "the indignant moral denunciation of the other. Questions of better and worse. D. "Science and Ideology. 29.

9. 320. p.3 1 . p. the tension becomes schism. On the other hand. as soon as humanity's hopes lose all reference to acquired experience and are projected into a future completely without precedent. HERMENEUTICS OF MYTH A N D TRADITION (RICOEUR II) 1. 1987. 77V. cited above in note 1. it is important to recall that the Kantian project of a "civil society administering universal rights" has not yet been achieved. 7. One also requires the existence of a constitutional state (un etat de droit). where both individuals and collectivities (?ion-etatiques) remain the ultimate subjects of right. p. by Kearney (Manchester: Manchester University Press. 77?." in Dialogues with Contemporary Continental Thinkers: The Phenomenological Heritage. Ibid. 313. 11. A parallel reference is also provided for the now readily available English translation: Time and Narrative (hereafter 77V). 12. ed. 6. Ibid. p. if the belief in modernity rests on expectancies which become removed from all anterior experiences. 5. 77V. and 77V. trans. 3 7 9 . pp." in Reconciling Memories. In this respect. 77?.8 7 CHAPTER 6. 3. Falconer (Dublin: Columbia Press. My translations refer and correspond to pages in the original French edition of Temps et recit (hereafter 77?). p. in other words. where Ricoeur explains the paradox as follows: If the newness of the Neuzeit is only perceived in the light of the growing difference between (past) experience and (future) expectancy. 77V." Le Monde. 77V. ed. "LTdeologie et l'utopie. 77?. 1981)." the claim of universal history may be monopolized by one particular society or grouping of dominant societies. This project remains for us a fitting guide in our efforts to give practical shape to our Utopian expectancies. 1988). thereby degenerating into hegemonic oppression. p. Thompson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press." Ricoeur grants this as a necessary condition of the historical rapprochement between Utopia and tradition. pp. 3. it "is an activity which can only be comprehended dialectically in the exchange between the past which is interpreted and the present which interprets" (my italics). 10. A. 2 9 . Ibid. McLaughlin and D. 1988) pp. Chap. Vol.2 4 . "Entretien avec Paul Ricoeur. 77V. 329. rendered even closer by the acceleration of history. pp. 228. See also my "Myth and the Critique of Tradition. p. p. p. 77V. 7. 6 3 . Ricoeur observes. 215. With such Utopia. 77?. 2. then the tension between experience and expectancy could only be recognized when its point of rupture was already in view. p. 328. "Hermeneutics and the Critique of Ideology. 7. 322." in Hermeneutics and the Human Sciences. 228.1 0 0 . See Paul Ricoeur. p. 8 . 77?. 300. 216. 4. 1985). Ricoeur stresses that before tradition is allowed to congeal into an inert deposit. pp. See also Ricoeur's discussion in Temps et recit III: Le temps raconte (Paris: Editions du Seuil. . 1986). and "The Creativity of Language: An Interview.228 / NOTES TO PAGES 8 0 . the many examples of torture and tyranny still found in modern society remind us that social rights and the right to difference are not in themselves a sufficient condition for the realization of universal justice. 207.9 3 . The idea of progress which still related a better future to the past. tends to give way to the idea of Utopia. 221. Kant identified this common project with the constitution of "a civil society administering universal rights. 77?. 8. Pellauer (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 226. Feb. Without the "right to difference. 1984)." in Du texte a I action (Paris: Editions du Seuil. K. p. 77?. 222. John B. 311 (my italics). p.

trans. It is deployed between the two poles of servile application and calculated deviation. 20. p. 18. p." in Le bouc emissaire (Paris: Grasset. 77?. I have outlined a critique of Girard's position in "Rene Girard et le mythe come bouc emissaire. 1969). . in counterpoint to sedimentation. Ricoeur makes a similar point in Time and Narrative. ." in my Dialogues with Contemporary Thinkers. The Theology of the New Testament (London: SCM. Walter Benjamin. Emerson Buchanan (Boston: Beacon Press. 1985). K. 77?. . Innovation remains a form of behavior governed by rules. 1978). 57.* Philosophy of Paul Ricoeur: An Anthology of His Work. For further discussion of this relationship between ideology and Utopia see Ricoeur. 17. The labor of imagination is not born from nothing. 21. 1981). Arendt. as well as my Transitions: . 258. however. Myth and Christianity (New York: Noonday Press. On this distinction between the "explanatory" and "exploratory" functions of myth and the critical procedures of demythologization and demythization see Paul Ricoeur. "Qu'est-ce qu'un mythe. Ibid. ed. 215. 339. It is bound in one way or another to tradition's paradigms. See Ricoeur." in Illuminations. 77V. ed. P." in 77." Union Seminary Quarterly Review 28 (1973): 2 1 3 24. 19. it is just the opposite of servile application. p. After Virtue (London: Duckworth Press. 235. Dumouchel (Paris: Grasset. pp." in The Political Unconscious (London: Methuen. Ideology and Utopia (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. 235. 370. deviation becomes the rule. 1981). It remains. 1981). 35-49. . Alasdair Maclntyre. p. 1936). 206. p. p. "Science and Ideology.7 0 : Let us understand by the term tradition not the inert transmission of some already dead deposit of material but the living transmission of an innovation always capable of being reactivated by a return to the most creative moments of poetic activity. A tradition is constituted by the interplay of innovation and sedimentation. pp. 6 8 . 1957). Charles E. . makes a narrative tradition possible. Ricoeur. 1961). I 229 16. But to the extent that we distance ourselves from traditional narrative. Preface to Between Past and Future (London: Faber. Vol.Notes to Pages 87-91 13. 1984). The Symbolism of Evil. 77V. Short of the extreme case of schism. pp. . See also Rudolf Bultmann. Reagan and David Stewart (Boston: Beacon Press. For an application of the demythologizing project to the national myths of Irish culture and politics see my "Myth and Motherland. pp. 339. . McLaughlin and D. trans. p. 295ff. . 1973). and Frederic Jameson. and "The Language of Faith. passing through every degree of "rule-governed deformation." The folklore. . as well as the Ricoeur texts cited in Note 1. But the range of solutions is vast. "The Critique of Religion. 3 6 . pp. p." in Ireland's Field Day (London: Hutchinson. 77?. that the possibility of deviation is inscribed in the relation between sedimented paradigms and actual works. 1985).4 5 . See also Karl Mannheim. the myth and in general the traditional narrative stand closest to the first pole. 22. ed. 222-47. Rulegoverned deformation constitutes the axis around which the various changes of paradigm through application are arranged. I." in Hermeneutics and the Human Sciences (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 23. and Girard. 9. See also Bultmann and Jaspers. p. 77V. It is this variety of applications that confers a history on the productive imagination and that. Arendt (London: Fontana. "Theses on the Philosophy of History. "The Dialectic of Utopia and Ideology. 15. 1982). Pellauer (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 1952). 14. "Myth as the Bearer of Possible Worlds: An Interview." in Violence et verite. p.

1980). My thanks for permission to reprint parts of that paper. see Time and Narrative. and fairy tales to dramas. in Illuminations (New York: Schocken Books. 1975). music. or painting. 25." ibid. See Michel Foucault's analysis in The Order of Things (New York: Pantheon. An earlier and shorter version of this chapter appeared as "Between Tradition and Utopia: The Hermeneutical Problem of Myth. movie and television stories. pp. For the most standard version of Foucault's "structuralist" method. Foucault frequently deploys narrative and fiction in his writings. 1993). in the strict sense.1 0 0 . that tell stories involving a temporal concordance of discordance—ranging from myths. Paul Ricoeur. pp. in particular Part 4. As such. 1972). Discipline and Punish (London: Random House.. pp. 1992). Poetique du Possible (Paris: Beauchesne. 1986)." in On Paul Ricoeur: Narrative and Interpretation. 1987). "Myth as the Bearer of Possible Worlds. and also James Miller on the role of fiction in Foucault's work. "The Storyteller: Reflections on the Work of Nicolai Leskov" (1936). II (Paris: Editions du Seuil. pp. however. 26. 8 3 . 1984). 1970). ed. 1. See Paul Ricoeur's critique of Carl Hempel's positivist approach to historiography in Time and Narrative." pp. see The Archaeology of Knowledge (New York: Pantheon. Benjamin. 1 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Also of interest would be his more recent analyses in Lectures on Ideology and Utopia (New York: Columbia University Press. legends.230 / NOTES TO PAGES 9 1 . 6. . 1990). p. See further discussion of this theme in Richard Kearney. CHAPTER 7. lyric poetry. literary and historical. See also Ricoeur's discussion of the Habermas/Gadamer debate on the rapport between belonging and critical distance in "Hermeneutics and the Critique of Ideology. See Hubert Dreyfus and Paul Rabinow." in Hermeneutics and the Human Sciences (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. See Jacques Lacan's account of the Antigone story in Seminaire VII: L'ethique de la psychanalyse (1959-60) (Paris: Seuil. 6 3 . 5. 190-99. 3. p. fiction. By narrative I understand the act of imitating action which Aristotle called mimesis and Ricoeur redefined as a mode of employment which synthesizes heterogenous elements. and "The Narrative Function.1 0 9 . especially Part III. 1982). Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics (London: Harvester." in Hermeneutics and the Human Sciences. 1969)." in Structural Anthropology (New York: Basic Books. 281-406." 24. Vol. D. and Du texte a Vaction: essais d'hermeneutique." in my Dialogues. See Levi-Strauss's analysis of Oedipus Rex in "The Structural Analysis of Myth. 4. 211. as mentioned below. THE NARRATIVE IMAGINATION: BETWEEN POETICS A N D ETHICS (RICOEUR III) 1. 1981). 3 9 42. 1979).. 245. The Passion of Michel Foucault (New York: Simon and Schuster.9 3 Narratives in Contemporary Irish Culture (Manchester: Manchester University Press. "Ideologic utopie et politique. See also Paul Ricoeur. which creates a tension in his work between narrativist (genealogical) and anti-narrativist (archeological) methods. The Birth of the Clinic (London: Random House. Vol. "Science and Ideology. etc. The History of Sexuality (London: Random House. 1984). 1963). but not including. narrative refers to all accounts. "Ideological Narratives. Wood (London: Routledge. 1986)." and his commentary on the shamanistic story of the battle in the cave between the heroes and the monsters (analogous to the struggle in the blocked birth passage of the pregnant woman) in "The Effectiveness of Symbols. 2.

[Stanford: Stanford University Press. it is difficult to dispel a lingering suspicion that even for Lyotard postmodernity does come after modernity. G. p. rather than in simple opposition to representation. Paul: University of Minnesota Press. while I subscribe to Lyotard's critique of totalizing grand narratives. The guide in this ethical and political use of narrative is no longer Knowledge or Theory but Aristotelian phronesis and Kant's reflective judgment: "After Aristotle and Kant. Likewise. Lyotard stresses their difference: "imaginative nature must be sacrificed in the interests of practical reason" ("After the Sublime. A. "Yes. 1990]. 67). We shall be returning to this role of narrative as phronetic understanding in the third part of our study. rationality or efficiency of discourse" (Bill Readings. Abbelle. Michel and M. [New York: Routledge. p. 1979). Bennington and R. E. trans. insofar as narrative is traced as a figure both constitutive and disruptive of discourse. Suffice it to say at this point that. of the minority as oppositional rather than heterogeneous. by what right can Lyotard oppose Proust to Joyce as modern to postmodern? Despite his claims to the contrary." trans. p. Roland Barthes. . insofar as it is possible to bear witness to the different in a language that does not seek to exchange its figural narrativity for the consolations of the order. 1991]. p. For Lyotard the role of imagination and the subject in narrative reaches its limit in the sublime: "the 'regression' of imagination in sublime feeling strikes a blow at the very foundation of the 'subject'" {Lessons on the Analytics of the Sublime. "The Volk shuts itself up in the Heim and identifies itself through narratives attached to names. insofar as the rigour demanded by Lyotard's The Differend falls back into the conceptualization of the postmodern as the avant-gardism of a moment or a movement. Introducing Lyotard. See here Jean-Francois Lyotard's critique of "grand narrative" in The Postmodern Condition (Manchester: Manchester University Press. and the Enlightenment but also the totalizing narratives of nationalism. narratives that fail before the occurence and before the differends born from the occurrence" {The Differend. The critical distinction between totalizing narratives and deconstructive narratives has a direct bearing on our discussion below. 1977). Bowlby. 1991]. But where we will argue for a continuity between aesthetic imagination and ethical phronesis. No. "A Structural Analysis of Narratives." p." in Image. Augustine as the first modern thinker of subjectivity or to Hegel and Marx as the ultimate modern thinkers. 85). Music. 144). G. Christianity. Rottenberg. This deconstructive narrative takes the form for Lyotard of countless decentering "little narratives" (petits recits). No. Paul: University of Minnesota Press. Bill Readings asks. trans. 1977). Roberts [St. 79). I believe that Lyotard does tend to practice a form of narrative periodization when he refers to St. Para 218). 1994]. trans. See also his analysis of this question in Heidegger et les "Juifs" (Paris: Galilee. "Is there a grand narrative of the failure of metanarratives?" and replies. if every work of modern art is "postmodern" at its inception. 1988]. one believed it to be conceivable that the political requires phronesis more than episteme and that judgement is reflective rather than determinant" (Heidegger and the "Jews. Lyotard challenges not only the grand narratives of Marxism." in The Inhuman. 8. 137).Notes to Page 93 I 231 7. The paradox here would seem to be that the call to end all grand narrative becomes a grand narrative in its own right. [St. Text (London: Fontana. 1988) and Instructions paiennes (Paris: Galilee. I am grateful to Tracy Stark at Boston College for our discussions on this subject. [Stanford: Stanford University Press. Lyotard's critique of metanarratives may be summed up in the maxim "the only narrative which remains to be told is that of the impossibility of narrative" {Heidegger and "the Jews.

there is no denying its reliance on narrative strategies of selection. Time. the autobiographies by Althusser. 1988). See also Jameson's critique in "Postmodernism or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. The Narrative Path: The Later Work of Paul Ricoeur (Cambridge: MIT Press. The Passion of Michel Foucault. 1991). 1990). As Hayden White puts it. 136.g. Narrative. Vanhoozer. the historian "must choose the elements of the story he would tell. 145 (1984): 5 3 . and History (Bloomington: Indiana University Press. heightening. Bowlby (Stanford: Stanford University Press. Primo Levi. 14. and so on. "Ethique et narrativite" in Aquinas 24 (May-August. See J. K. 2 2 0 . 1988) and Chapter 6 and "Afterwords" of my Poetics of Imagining (London: Routledge. 1987). D. For further discussion of this ethical role of narrative memory see my Poetics of Imagining (London: Routledge. G. la representation impossible. February 1994. 11. p. Paul: University of Minnesota Press. In addition to Ricoeur's extensive work on narrative cited elsewhere in this study. Ricoeur. See my critique of this postmodern position of "irreference" in the conclusion to my Wake of Imagination (St. 1986). Hayden White. For Lyotard's account of sublime "irrepresentability. 1990). Rasmussen cds. Jaques Lacan (Paris: Fayard. 1977). 1991).. Si c'est un homme (Paris: Julliard. Between Past and Future (Middlesex: Penguin. 1991). 184-85. He makes his story by including some events and exclud- . 16." in On Paul Ricoeur: Narrative and Interpretation* ed. P.9 7 9. Oliver Stone's retelling of Vietnam in Platoon. see P. Time and Narrative. "The Metaphysics of Narrativity: Time and Symbol in Ricoeur's Philosophy of History. 12.. and Claude Lanzmann's review of Schindlers List. 1992). or historical fiction. In addition to the fictional and cinematic narratives of the Holocaust. After Virtue (Duckworth Press.2 8 . Charles Taylor. For Baudrillard's own account of this sublime "irreference" of simulation. E. arrangement. Ricoeur. The Future Lasts Forever (London: Chatto and Windus. Seyla Benhabib. not to mention its need for coherence and connection. Alasdair Maclntyre. Kemp and D. 1981). Vol. 10. trans. p. 1990). David Carr. 1989). 1983). Barthes by Barthes (New York: Hill and Wang. "Holocauste. pp. Biblical Narrative in the Philosophy of Paul Ricoeur (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Sources of the Self (Cambridge: Harvard University Press. 1977). see also Martha Nussbaum. Roudinesco. Love's Knowledge: Essays on Philosophy and Literature (Oxford: Oxford University Press. Vol. For useful secondary sources on Ricoeur's hermeneutic approach to narrative. in each case we are concerned with an interweaving of fiction and history. Ibid. 170232. Metahistory (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. Situating the Self (New York: Routledge. Hannah Arendt. 3 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 1973) and Homi Bhabba. Costa Gavras's retelling of the Chilean coup in Missing. Be it a question of documentary drama. 15.9 1 . 1993) and Barthes. 3.. Ibid. David Wood ed. p. Nation and Narration (London: Routledge. 1991). Gerry Conlon's and Jim Sheridan's retelling of the Guildford four injustice in In the Name of the Father. fictional history. 1993). 1989). J." in Le Monde. invented speeches. 1986).232 / NOTES TO PAGES 9 4 ." New Left Review no. Wood. pp. Kemp. 185-86. Bennington and R. it would be useful to consider how other narratives of traumatic events in history are retold in contemporary novels or films—e. On Paul Ricoeur: Narrative and Interpretation (London: Routledge. see Simulations (New York: Semiotext(e). Miller's biography of Foucault. No matter how "empirical" and "objective" a historical account claims to be. Time and Narrative. and reconstructed events." see The Inhuman. and Hayden White. 13.

open to new and sometimes mysterious influences. especially the following studies. See also M.. 189-95. For a development of these three functions of narrative imagination see the "Afterwords" to my Poetics of Imagining. ix). is a practice of falling in love. 27. 187. 25. between literary and more abstractly theoretical elements" (p. "Novels can be a school for the moral sentiments. within such a broader ethical inquiry." "Fictions of the Soul. "Flawed Crystals: James's The Golden Bowl and Literature as Moral Philosophy. New York. "allowing oneself to be in some sense passive and malleable. 1985). This function of narrative imagination relates broadly to the three temporal ecstasies of Heideggerean Dasein. stress and subordination is carried out in the interest of constituting a story of a particular kind. p. but also the works of Taylor. For a more detailed commentary on Heidegger's reading of Kant's concept of transcendental imagination. 2 4 7 . 17. Time and Narrative. rather than to abstract rules." "Finely Aware and Richly Responsible: Literature and the Moral Imagination. Foster (London: Pluto Press. And it is in part because novels prepare the reader for love that they make the valuable contribution they do to society and to moral development" (p. 19. 238). See Jameson. ." in Postmodern Culture. by stessing some and subordinating others. that this ethical conception finds its most appropriate expression and statement in certain forms usually considered literary rather than philosophical—and that if we wish to take it seriously we must broaden our conception of moral philosophy in order to include these texts inside it. p. 3. 246. he 'emplots' his story" (Metahistory. 23. not caught up in the vertiginous kaleidoscope of jealousy. 20. pp. That is to say. 3. 237). p. Nussbaum explains. It is worth recalling here that the story of a society. 6). Vol. The Heidegger Controversy (Cambridge: MIT Press. 21. Simulations. They argue. 1992). no less than that of an individual life. 189. Time and Narrative. Vol. Reading novels . H. 3. . They attempt to articulate the relationship. Nussbaum goes on to make the following statements: "the fresh imagination of particularity (provided by fiction) is an essential moral faculty" (p. p. ed. 5f. and also the only one in which. see my Wake of Imagination. argue for a conception of ethical understanding that involves emotional as well as intellectual activity and gives a certain type of priority to the perception of particular people and situations. 18. p. A society's self-image is also a "cloth woven of stories told. Time and Narrative." "Reading for Life. Ricoeur. which Heidegger himself traces back to the schematizing function of transcendental imagination in Kant's First Critique." "Perceptive Equilibrium: Literary Theory and Ethical Theory. Vol. 24. Ibid.Notes to Pages 97-99 I 233 ing others." 26. is a part of the transaction and a part of its value. This process of exclusion. "Postmodernism and Consumer Society." and "Narrative Emotions. 22. See in particular Benhabib. further. Maclntyre." These studies. Proust goes so far as to say that the relation we have with a literary work is the only human relation characterized by genuine altruism. p. Time and Narrative. Ricoeur. 1992). distancing us from blinding personal passions and cultivating those that are more conducive to community. and Nussbaum cited in note 10. Ricoeur. Situating the 5>^f(Routledge. Ricoeur. the reader can truly know the mind of . See Jean Baudrillard.4 9 . See Wolin. is also perpetually refigured by the real and fictive stories it tells about itself. 188. pp. Nussbaum's insightful analysis of the role "literary imagination" plays in the development of ethical self-knowledge and judgment in Loves Knowledge.

Ricoeur. Vol. Ibid. pp. 240)." New York Review of Books. . 2 1 3 . 258). Also on the role of narrative in nationalist movements. Ricoeur.1 0 4 another person. there is a real issue here and I do not think we can fully understand the ethical contribution of the novel without pursuing it" (p. Ibid. p. p. 1986). 4 1 .5 1 . 37. February 29." Another useful parallel may be found in Bergson's analysis of the ethical role of narrative in The Two Sources of Morality and Religion. p. Time and Narrative.. in particular pp. 208ff... ." Frank Lentriccia's concept of "art for life's sake. 3. Ibid. Writers. Vol. 40. A. One might explore links here between Ricoeur's version of a phronetic understanding of experience and Dewey's notion of "emotional thinking. Arthur Danto's idea of "transfigurative literature. Audra and C." or Marshall Gregory's thesis of the "vicarious imagination" inspired by Sir Philip Sidney's "Apology" for ethical literature: "Narratives have the power to move us because they are empirical. 1974).234 / NOTES TO PAGES 1 0 0 . 159. 28. R. p. 34. pp. I am grateful to Mark Muldoon for bringing Bergson's ethical concept of narrative to my attention. Time and Narrative. And what moves us. 164. trans." in Du texte a Vaction: essais d'hermeneutique. Several of Nussbaum's arguments for an ethical imagination find support in other contemporary theories—e. 10. 162. 36. 370. 164. D. of course. no. 35. 59. 1 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 30. 39. "Imagination in Discourse and Action. 1994.g. Edward Said. 3.: Greenwood Press. Ibid. 3.3 6 . 224-27. p. Ibid. 1992). the educational power of both literature and history has nearly been forgotten. 1993). because they provide deep companionship. 2 2 . Oneself as Another (Chicago: University of Chicago Press." Northrop Frye's notion of "educated imagination. 4 4 . Ricoeur. Both these sociopolitical axes presuppose a certain ethical vision of the good life— that is.. Here the narrative imagination takes on the role of a "social imagination" in both its ideological function of legitimation and its Utopian function of subversion. 29. 31. . ed. Ibid. Ricoeur. 258. Culture and Imperialism (New York: Knopf. also forms us. p. which is the grounds of their vividness. Ricoeur. "Permission to Narrate. ." London Review of Books. 32. continue to assert literature's and history's educational power" ("Selfhood Forged and Memory Enriched: Narrative's Empirical Appeal to the Vicarious Imagination" (forthcoming). 159. Vol. the configuration of communal life by narrative imagination. 249. . Brereton (Westport. however. pp. pp. See Kemp's . which means that they are fulfilling. Ricoeur acknowledges an ethical and political task for narrative imagination in insuring that "the tension between the horizon of expectation (future/utopia) and the space of experience be preserved without giving way to schism" (Time and Narrative. 1984. Wood." in On Paul Ricoeur: Narrative and Interpretation. pp. Since modernism's elevation of the notion of aesthetic purity and structuralism's elevation of the notion of linguistic indeterminateness. Conn. Vol. 38. History and literature both possess an immense power to educate. 33. "Life in Quest of Narrative." Irish Murdoch's claim that "art is the most educational thing we have. Time and Narrative. 1984). Vol. May 26. Ricoeur. .2 3 . see Tony Judt's review essay. "The New Old Nationalism. //(Paris: Editions du Seuil. especially by critics and academics.

to listen. Kemp concludes. call "auditory imagination" is also adverted to by Gadamer when he speaks of a "learning through suffering" with the other when we recognize our own life limits and begin to listen to the other: "Anyone who listens is fundamentally open. Western and non-Western. etc." where he argues that the acceptance or rejection of ideologies and Utopias is only possible on the basis of this imaginative vision of the good life in society. I take him to be referring to the abiding ethical stories of resistance. Achilles. Ricoeur. cite any examples of these "guiding" narratives. The narrative configuration of ethics which is invoked to evaluate between stories is. Kemp and Rasmussen. 1992). Camus. have demonstrated their ability to encourage people to stop thinking in terms of fixed ideas. 41." This raises the vexed question of criteria for judging and adjudicating between rival narratives. It would have the same affect as a foreign body in the eye. Eliot.6 5 . Iphigenia. p. Francis. the mythical stories of Antigone.: Yale University Press. admitting that the ethical evaluation of narratives can only be based on other narratives. The stories on which an ethics well rooted in life are founded are those whose guiding power remains throughout history. 4 5 . it consists of intuitive models for action and not of purely abstract maxims. 361). even though no one else forces me to do so" {Truth and Method. Thus ethics must necessarily be the narrative configuration of the good life. because without emplotment there would be no sense in unfolding some models for action. Kemp writes: "This imagination is not possible without narrative. Openness to the other involves recognizing that I myself must accept some things that are against me. By imagining and narrating wise forms of action and communication. Without such openness to one another there is no genuine human bond. ed." in Du texte a faction. contains a series of recurring and paradigmatic narratives that each historical generation hermeneutically retrieves and retells in order to preserve and cultivate its sense of ethical memory. [New York: Crossroad]. 1987). Arendt. "Toward a Narrative Ethics: A Bridge between Ethics and the Narrative Reflection of Ricoeur. 5. If ethics is a vision rather than a rule. and courage that inform the great traditions of ethical humanism and fraternity—the classical stories of Socrates and Seneca. But Kemp refuses to see this as a vicious (rather than a healthy hermeneutic) circle: "This does not necessarily mean that ethical criticism is arbitrary. 167-70. . Each ethical culture. 42. 1991. .S. and to respond.Notes to Pages 104-105 I 235 excellent analysis of this question in "Ethique et narrativite. to be found on a different level than that of the stories themselves. "The Crisis in Culture. and Modern Rebellion (New Haven. p. The Passion of Michel Foucault. . unfortunately. p. See also Jeremy Isaac's discussion of this theme in Arendt." in Between Past and Future. identity." in The Narrative Path: The Later Works of Paul Ricoeur. "Imagination and Discourse in Action. Had this not from the start been configured by stories. in times of crisis. 43. pp. pp. heroism. and which. it expresses the practical truth of human life. and responsibility. St. Conn. This empathic power of what we might. charity. For a development of these ideas see Kemp. See Miller. Jesus. it would not have been capable of being integrated either into the author's works or into those of the historian as that vision which would never affect the reader in an ethically neutral manner. For Gadamer the properly hermeneutic understanding is one that allows the other to really say something to us. and my dialogue with Derrida entitled "Deconstruction and the Other" in my Dialogues with Contemporary Continental Thinkers (Manchester: Manchester University Press." Though Kemp does not. he does not appeal to some "Archimedean point" or meta-narrative. the biblical stories of Moses. 220-21. Nevertheless. 227. pp. . with T.

" But this complementarity of narrative poetics and ethics is not a matter of identity. Ibid. with its emphasis on utopianism and novelty. Ibid. toward a "radical eclecticism" of pseudo-historical forms.. 3. LEVINAS A N D THE ETHICS OF IMAGINING 1. . ed. both "perfection of the life and of the work. Robert Venturi. 1988) and Poetics of Imagining (London: Routledge. 31. 4. Levinas. 162.9 6 . repeatedly run the gantlet of critical deconstruction. 18. so vehement has this dismantling process been that one sometimes wonders if it is still possible to speak legitimately of a postmodern imagination at all. since the sixties. Levinas. ed. in the sense of the word as we have borrowed it from Socrates. See my Wake of Imagination (London: Hutchinson. "Life in Quest of Narrative. See also my note 27 above. 2 2 0 .. 45. The practice of parody is sometimes termed postmodern insofar as it subverts the modern view of imagining as an original invention of a unique human subject. Paul: University of Minnesota Press. Indeed. Levinas. 117. "De l'interdiction a l'ecoute. Hand (Oxford: Blackwell. when it designated a shift away from the late-modernist international style of Corbusier and Mies Van der Rohe." This recounted good life entails both poetics and ethics. Several contemporary critics dismiss the very notion of the imaginary as an ideological ruse of Western bourgeois humanism. P. S. "La realite et son ombre. "La realite et son ombre. Ibid. Kearney and O'Leary (Paris: Grasset.2 1 . p. 6. "La Transcendence des mots" (on the writing of Michel Leiris) in Les Temps Modernes 44 (1949). 1989). trans. is a life recounted. p. and Charles Moore. Loves Knowledge. 1981). Sur Maurice Blanchot (Paris: Fata Morgana. a ludic mirage of signs. 8.236 / NOTES TO PAGES 105-1 10 44." p. Ibid. p. Martha Nussbaum. Arendt. as little more than an illusion or effect of the impersonal play of language. 2. 1991). p. pp." in Les Temps Modernes 38 (1948). Hederman's critique of Levinas' position on art and poetry. pp. But the term was quickly taken up by the philosophers. Noms propres. 9. 5. "Agnon/Poesie et resurrection. 1987. both the free play of fiction and the responsibility of ethics—or to put it in Yeatsian terms.." in Noms propres (Paris: Fata Morgana. p. in The Levinas Reader. 115. CHAPTER 8. then an examined life. it is by guarding over each other's difference and distinctness that poetics and ethics best serve each other's mutual interests and aims. 2 8 5 . trans. p. Ibid. Levinas. Its main proponents were Charles Jencks. See M. The term postmodern first gained common currency in architecture in the mid-seventies. 1975). p. 7." "Paul Celan/De I'etre a 1'autre. "Ideologic et idealisme. 10." p. 117." in De Dieu qui vient a Tidee (Paris: Vrin. 31: "If it is true that fiction is only completed in life and that life can be understood only through the stories that we tell about it.. in The Levinas Reader.. 21. Here it became synonymous with those structuralist and more particularly post-structuralist currents of thought which disputed the modern belief in the primacy of the humanist imagination as a creative source of meaning. 63. The idealist and existentialist arguments for the centrality of the autonomous imagination have. 1986). 1982)." and "L'autre dans Proust. p." in Heidegger et la question de Dieu. St. Between Past and Future. 117. 46. Ricoeur.

"Un Dieu Homme?" in Levinas: Exercises de la patience (Paris: Obsidiane. "Sur la mort de Ernst Bloch. 35. "The Obligation to Resist Injustice" (January 3. 51. 145-46. Ibid. Levinas. no. reprinted in Entre nous (Paris: Grasset. 3 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Michel Henri. 37.4 9 . 63. Erazim Kohak (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 1989). 20. Ibid. Levinas. contribution to Cerisy Colloque on Levinas." in Jan Patocka. Heidegger et "les Juifs" (Paris: Galilee. 21. 160. 13. 1989). 1961.. 3 4 0 ." in The Levinas Reader.. Patocka.. Ibid. I. 38. Levinas. Ibid. 40. pp. Levinas. p. p. p.. See in particular Herbert Marcuse. Duquesne University Press. Ibid. 1977). Totalite et infini (The Hague: Nijhof. CHAPTER 9. 173. 1987). ed.. 345-47. in Jan Patocka: Philosophy and Selected Writings. p. 1977). "The Obligation to Resist Injustice.Notes to Pages 110-120 I 237 11. p." p. 215. 31. 1988). Vol. p. Ibid. "The Transcendence of Words. p. 19. 3 1 .. "The Natural World and Phenomenology. 14. 1990). p. 36. 39.. Patocka. 3.. p. p. 147. 41. . 1972). "Ideologic et idealisme. p.. 23. 1991). 147. Baudrillard. 1969). Levinas. 207-08. Time and Narrative. 1 4 4 . 18. Love's Knowledge (Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 38. 148." in De Dieu qui vient a Tidee. La Barbarie (Paris: Grasset. 28.8 5 .. ETHICS AND THE RIGHT TO RESIST: PATOCKA'S TESTIMONY 1.. under the abbreviated title Jan Patocka. 33. 12. Ibid. 15. Ibid. 174. Jan Patocka. "L'idee de la culture" (1983). The Aesthetic Dimension (Boston: Beacon Press. Simulations (New York: Semiotext(e). 270. 147. Lyotard. p. p. Ibid. 22." p. Ibid. Patocka." p. 25. 245. 1988). p. 32. p. pp. p. p. "Ideologic et idealisme. 74. 24. 1988)... 29. in Jan Patocka.. 30. Real Presences (London: Faber and Faber. 2 6 1 . Ibid. 1980). Ibid. 51. The Levinas Reader. Ricoeur. Ibid. Ibid. For a contrary reading of Proust on this issue see Martha Nussbaum. Ausust 1987. Ibid. 158. pp. 33. p. trans. 16.. 2. Emmanuel Levinas. 34. pp.. pp. 27. p. 150. Existentialism and Literature (New York: Citadel Press.4 3 . George Steiner. 128. p. "What We Can Expect from Charta 77" (March 8. Levinas. 65n. Totalite et infini'. 340. Ibid. 17. 1983). 150. pp. 26. 160. All references to Patocka's works in English are to this work. Levinas. 157. Sartre. 4. Levinas.

p.0 7 . World (1968-1969). Patocka. 23. Jan Patocka. Jan Patocka. in Jan Patocka. ed. 235. p. 9. I do not have in mind 'Man' at the top of an existential pyramid. pp. "Negative Platonism.9 8 ." in Jan Patocka. 252fF." p. Ibid. "The Movement of Human Existence: A Selection from Body. 17. Community.1 3 0 Ibid. 31. When I speak of the re-establishment of the human subject. Ibid. 198. 199. Ibid.. Jan Patocka. 2 9 1 . 205. Ibid. 268. 5. "Edmund Husserl's Philosophy of the Crisis of the Sciences and His Conception of a Phenomenology of the 'Life-World' " (Warsaw Lecture. "The Natural World and Phenomenology. 1987). man who has no master and therefore can do as he pleases. p. 235. of a relation between man and something mysterious which is more than man. Patocka. 38. Ibid. 28. p. 25.. pp.. Studies 6 and 7." 19. 205. Patocka. Ibid. Ibid. Ibid.. pp. 341. the Scope. 32." p. . "Edmund Husserl's Philosophy. 10. 7.8 1 . "Platon et l'Europe. pp. and the following statement from "Plays and Politics. 27." p. 14. some metaphysical assurance. Language. Ibid. p. 15. Eichmann in Jerusalem (New York: Penguin. p. 2 8 0 . Patocka. 36. Ibid. 35. "Patocka.. 1989). 1971)." in Visions of Europe. Ibid." 13. p. 202. in particular. 11. Ricoeur's Soi-meme comme un autre (Paris: Editions du Seuil.. Patocka. 18. 6. 8. 1963). See also Ricoeur's study. 16. 199. 1992). Ibid." p. p. henceforth referred to as "Edmund Husserl's Philosophy. Arendt. Ibid. and the Demise of Metaphysics—and Whether Philosophy can Survive It" (circa 1955)." in Jan Patocka.238 / NOTES TO PAGES 1 2 0 . Ibid. 342. Ibid. 33. 129: "When I speak about the rehabilitation of the subject or about an 'existential revolution. Ibid... 30.' I really mean something more: the renaissance or revival of human responsibilities. Ibid. pp. Ibid.." in Essais heretiques. Erika Abrams (Paris: Editions du Seuil. Philosopher of Resistance. p. Ibid. 267. Kearney (Dublin: Wolfhound Press. in Jan Patocka. 20." in The Crane Bag 7. "Negative Platonism: Reflections concerning the Rise. 204. 24. 2 0 6 . 34. "The Natural World and Phenomenology. Patocka. trans. "The Obligation to Resist Injustice.. 12. p. p. 26. 199-200. 29. 1 (1983): pp. Ibid.." in Letters to Olga (New York: Penguin. Patocka. 276. 22. Ibid. See. 37. See Vaclav Havel's concluding remarks on the "existential revolution. 341. p. 1989). 116-19. 21.

Ibid. An earlier version of this chapter was published as "La pensee ethique chez Patocka." in Cordoza Law Review. New York: St.3 9 . Ibid. 38. 38. 5..Notes to Pages 131-139 I 239 39. p. Girard. 4. numero sur Rene Girard (April 1979). Les choses cachees depuis la fondation du monde (Paris: Grasset. Girard. pp. 8 5 . 40.. Ibid. as Things Hidden since the Foundation of the World (London: Athlone Press. "Phenomenologie asubjective. 45." in Jan Patocka: philosophie. 26. 9.. p. Dupuy (Paris: Grasset. 338. in Jan Patocka. Tassin and M." in Violence et verite. See my previous studies on this theme." in Jan Patocka. 919-1047. 1992). 172. 1 1 4 . 1982). "Cartesianism and Phenomenology" (1976).6 0 . . Patocka.." in Kearney. Ibid. ed. 49. at 1025. 191. See Ilja Srubar. p. 5-6 (1990): pp. Dumouchel and J. "Terrorism et Sacrifice. 50. 2. 43. pp. pp. See also Masso Yamaguchi. All page references are to the French edition. Transitions (Dublin: Wolfhound Press. "The IRA's Strategy of Failure. p. Manchester: Manchester University Press. p. 1982) trans. London: The Athlone Press. 42. Heidegger" (Varna Lecture. monde de la vie et humanisme.4 4 . pp. Stanford: Stanford University Press. 325.P. Patocka. 179. 1973). Ibid. 6. "Force of Law: The 'Mystical Foundation of Authority'. p. Martins Press. phenomenologie. 699-708. 1978). in Jan Patocka. p.. pp. All page references are to the French edition. 1988). p. Girard. 336." in The Crane Bag Book of Irish Studies. P. 2 0 9 . Le bouc e?nissaire (Paris: Grasset. CHAPTER 10. ed. 1985). 7. 1987). p. 52. 339. 8. Ibid. Derrida. 337. The Scapegoat. Scrubar is referring here to an analysis of Patocka in Ketzerische Essays zur Philosophie des Geschichte (Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta. 3 8 . 23." in Jan Patocka: philosophie. p. 1988). 2 6 .. Ibid. Ibid. pp. The Scapegoat (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press.3 9 . 4 0 . 48. ed.. Kearney and Hederman (Dublin: Blackwater Press. pp. phenomenologie. Ibid. Ibid. pp. Ibid. 54. p. Richir (Grenoble: Millon.1 0 4 . politique. 53. Erazim Kohdk. MYTH A N D SACRIFICIAL SCAPEGOATS: O N RENE GIRARD 1. 47. "A Philosophical Biography. Ibid.. as Truth and Violence: On the work of Rene Girard (London: Athlone Press. 40. 46. 51. 263. Ibid. Husserl and the Essence of Technology as Danger according to M. 105.3 7 . p. E. 3. 44. Ibid. "The Dangers of Technicization in Science according to E. 202-19. Ibid. pp. 1986). 41. "Towards a Poetics of the Scapegoat.. trans. trans. 1987). Ibid. p." in Esprit. politique. and "Myth and Martyrdom I and II.

/ NOTES TO PAGES 139-151 Ibid." in Deconstruction and Philosophy. 13. 202. Ibid. ed. 57.. p. 453. 62. 5. . p. p. 89 and 451-52. Ibid. 1987). 1 6 8 . The Scapegoat. 1978). Simon Critchley. 19. 51. Chris Norris "On the Ethics of Deconstruction. ed.. Ibid.8 1 . Kearney (Manchester: Manchester University Press. pp..240 10. 17. 28. Ibid. "Women's Time. The Ethics of Deconstruction: Derrida and Levinas (Oxford: Blackwell. Ibid. 18. Ibid.. p. 52. p." in Derrida (London: Fontana Modern Masters. Ibid. An earlier and shorter version of this chapter was published as "Le mythe comme bouc emissaire chez Girard. p. 1987). 4. 124. 3. p.4 3 .. * Ibid. 42. pp. 587.. Bernasconi. 27.. 1992). Ibid. 62.." in Writing and Difference (London: Routledge. 1985). 121. DERRIDA'S ETHICAL RETURN 1. Girard. 25. 21. p. ed. p. 16. Dupuy (Paris: Grasset. 6. J. 22." in Violence et verite. P. 41. "Deconstruction and the Other. 10. CHAPTER 11. ed.. 50. interview with Francois Ewald in Le Magazine Litteraire 286 (1991): p.. p. 4 2 . in Sources of the S^f (Cambridge: Harvard University Press). 26. 48. Ibid.. 1987). 1986). Ibid. Ibid. p. 20. p. 125. Girard. 194. 12.. Derrida. 24. 175. 8. p. 26. 14. See Taylor on Dostoyevski's The Devils. Ibid. Toril Moi (Oxford: Blackwell. 44.. p. 127." in Dialogues with Contemporary Continental Thinkers. 29. Derrida. p.. 9. pp. 29. "Deconstruction and the Possibility of Ethics. 1984). Girard. Dumouchel and J-P. Ibid. 11. p. p." in Psyche (Paris: Galilee. p. pp.. 46. Ibid. 15. 23. 30. Things Hidden since the Foundation of the World. Ibid. p. Derrida in conversation with Kearney. 2. 12.. Ibid. Ibid. Ibid.. "Comment ne pas Parler. Ibid. Sailis (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 11. Julia Kristeva. "On the Ethics of Deconstruction. 148.. p. 181. Derrida." p. 7. 13. Derrida. 116. p. The Scapegoat." in The Kristeva Reader. Writing and Difference. "Violence and Metaphysics. Chris Norris.

52. p. 16.. . pp. 121. 22. 39. p." in The Ethics of Deconstruction. Ibid. Derrida." pp. 27.. p. "Force of Law. 21. 45. 181-82. 148. 947." p. 54. p. 46. Ibid. 15.. Ibid... 971.. Ibid. 57. 33. 30. 37. Ibid." p. 957. 4 4 . 42. 215. See Bill Readings' discussion of this point in Introducing Lyotard (London: Routledge. p. 20. Derrida. 122.. Ibid. 1029. 1045. 967. 38. 961. 37. Ibid. p. p. p. "Derridabase. 18. Derrida. 963. "Derridabase. 51. pp. Bennington. 969. See G. p.. Ibid...4 9 . Ibid." p. p. p.. 959. 949. p. p. Ibid. 28. Ibid. 48. 23.. 1990). "Derridabase. Ibid. 17. Ibid. p. Bennington. p. Critchley. 931. Ibid. 929. 971. Ibid. "Derridabase. 945. 47.. 36. 154-56. p. 34. 50. Ibid.4 3 . 32. p.. Derrida. p. Lyotard. Bennington. and also S. 31... pp. 181-82. p. 43. 40. p. Bennington. Jacques Derrida.4 5 . 49. Ibid. Ibid. pp. 24. Ibid. Ibid. p. "Force of Law: The 'Mystical Foundation of AuthorityVDeconstruction and the Possibility of Justice/" Cordoza Law Review 2. 29. 189. 41. I am indebted to Drucilla Cornell for first bringing Derrida's thinking on law and ethics to my attention. 1977). 1023.. 965. 25. Ibid. Ibid.. 55. 118. 26.. 123.. 44. p. 35. Ibid. Of Grammatology. Of Grammatology (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. Ibid.. 5-6 (1990): pp. Ibid.. 919-1047.Notes to Pages 151-158 14. "The Ethics of Reading: Hillis Miller's Version. Ibid. p. 965.202. Ibid. / 241 Ibid. 943.. Le Differend (Paris: Minuit. 19. Ibid. Ibid.. 4 4 2 . p. 175. Ibid. 56. 1983). 1 0 4 4 . "Deconstruction and the Other.." p. Ibid." in Derrida (Paris: Editions du Seuil. Ibid. pp. 53. p. 1991).

" in Art. 562-63.. Ibid. 92. 253. "Deconstruction and the Other. Derrida. p. 103. 51. 100. 92." pp. Ibid. p. 66. 116. Ibid. 98. 59. Circonfession. Another es- . Ibid. 101. 61. 81. Ibid. 103. 86. Ibid. 560-61. 279-87.. 201. See Dermot Moran. Ibid. 119.. pp.. 70. p. 63. 146-47. "Destruction of the Destruction. 78." p. also Derrida. 123. p. 82. Ibid. 62. ed.. 89. p... Derrida. 1993). / NOTES TO PAGES 159-167 Ibid. 72. pp. p. See my more detailed discussion of the ethical implications of this need for speech and dialogue in Chapter 12 below. 76. 125. Derrida. 67. Karsten Harries (New York: Crooms and Helm." pp. 83. 96. 110. 208. 244. Glas (Paris: Galilee. Ibid. 77. 65.. Derrida. Politics and Technology: Martin Heidegger. De I'esprit: Heidegger et la question (Paris: Galilee. "Derridabase. Circonfession (Paris: Galilee. 267." p. Derrida. p. pp. 252.242 58. Ibid. 93. 1983). p. Positions. and Positions (Paris: Minuit. p. see also Bennington.. Derrida. 1991). pp. 108.. Ibid. pp.. Schibboleth. Ibid. Derrida.. p. 124. 1974). 179-84. 71." p. 79. 85. Schibboleth: Pour Paul Celan (Paris: Galilee. Ibid. 535-95. 1972). Of Grammatology.. p. 1986). p. Ibid. Derrida. Derrida. p. 121. 73. Galilee. 378. 90. 1987). Derrida. p. p. p. Derrida. p. The Trespass of the Sign (forthcoming). p. p. 91. Ibid. Ibid. "Comment ne pas parler. p. 69. 84.. Ibid. 78-79. 25. Ibid. Circonfession.. Ibid. Derrida. Dissemination (London: Athlone Press. 80. 60. 254. 123. 280. 102. Marges de la philosophic (Paris: Minuit. "Deconstruction and the Other. Dun ton apocalyptique adopte naguere en philosophic (Paris. p. Ibid. 1972). p. Schibboleth. Ibid. Ibid.. 1981). p. 95. 68. Derrida. 64. Derrida. 335-36. 74. 97.. 179. 125. Derrida. pp. Ibid. 22. 88.. 94. Ibid. Ibid. 87. p. 107. De TEsprit. Ibid. 117. Ibid. See Kevin Hart. Derrida. 99. 75. "Deconstruction and the Other.

ed. 639.. Ibid. p. Madison (Evanston: Northwestern University Press. Gadamer et a!. 1992). 1989). 15. 1977). 21. 1981). Derrida.5 1 . pp. 2 8 . Derrida. 192-99. 22. (Evanston: Northwestern University Press.. Wetzel (Paris: Metailie-Transition. 9. 9 3 . CHAPTER 12. Ibid.. Ibid. 1992). Derrida. 18. Palmer (Albany: Suny Press. "Structure. 328. "Afterword: Towards an Ethic of Discussion. 14. 4. Ibid. 113. Margins of Philosophy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Ibid. 14. p. An earlier version of this study appeared in Working Through Derrida. p. p. Of Grammatology (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. "The Crisis of Culture.. p. 17. Ibid. 7. D.. ed. 5. J. DERRIDA'S ETHICS OF DIALOGUE Derrida. Wood (Oxford: Blackwell. Michelfelder and R. p. pp." in Derrida: A Critical Reader. 1978).. Derrida. p. Positions (London: Athlone Press." p. 12. 25. 1988). 28. "Deconstruction and the Other. pp. p. Dialogue and Deconstruction: The Gadamer-Derrida Encounter. 220. p. 7. p. Dissemination. "The Politics of Friendship. 3. Kearney (Manchester: Manchester University Press. 634. 1973). Peter Dews. 1982)." p. 1976). Ibid. 1993). Jacques Derrida et la pensee du don.. p. Derrida. 9. ed. . 124. 641. Dissemination (London: Athlone Press. pp.." in Dialogue and Deconstruction." Journal of Philosophy 11 (1988). 8. 1981). G. p.Notes to Pages 168-175 I 243 sential text for Derrida's reading of ethical responsibility is Derrida. 19.1 0 2 . pp. Ibid. 6. Logics of Disintegration (London: Routledge. D. Derrida. 636. Derrida. Fred Dallmayr. 27. ed. p. pp. 33.. 123. 24.. p. Speech and Phenomena (Evanston: Northwestern University Press. 7 3 . Derrida. 'Donner la mort' in Vethique du don. Ibid. 10."Hermeneutics and Deconstruction: Gadamer and Derrida in Dialogue. "Gadamer/Derrida: The Hermeneutics of Irony and Power. 103-04. Derrida. 14-15. 26. See Gary Madison. Derrida. 2. 27. ed. 35. 13. 16. "Passions: An Oblique Offering. Ibid." in Dialogue and Deconstruction." Between Past and Future (Middlesex: Penguin. p." in Dialogues with Contemporary Continental Thinkers. 23. pp." in Writing and Difference (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. Derrida. 1987). Of particular interest is Derrida's interpretation of Patocka's ethics. Robate and M. p. 11-108. "Deconstruction and the Other. 125. 1984). 633. "Deconstruction and the Other. both Chapter 11 and Chapter 9 on Patocka were already completed before Derrida's text came to my attention. 20. 11. 1. Derrida." in Limited Inc. Ibid. Unfortunately. Sign and Play. Arendt.7 4 . 634.

p. and "Myth and the Critique of Ideology. p. 4 1 .244 29. Ibid. 4. "Anyone who listens is fundamentally open. Ideology a?id Utopia (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul." writes Gadamer. 3. 31. 19. Several of my arguments have been developed in greater depth and detail in the following chapters of my book Transitions (Dublin: Wolfhound. 34. 37. "It is imagination that is the decisive function of the scholar. 5. Tom Moylan. / NOTES TO PAGES 1 7 5 . "Joyce and Derrida. Ricoeur." pp. p. 8 7 3 . This function of hermeneutical imagination as answerability to the other in dialogue (in the sense of both responding to the other's questions and putting our own self into question) is surely a long way from the "consensual euphoria" or "metaphysics of will" repudiated by Derrida. 1979). then. "Imagination naturally has a hermeneutical function and serves the sense for what is questionable. Seamus Deane. 122. I am indebted to Simon Critchly and Tim Mooney for several of the above references. It serves the ability to expose real. I am indebted to Colin MacCabe. 38. 33. 2. 113. Rasmussen.. New York: St Martin's Press. p. 36. 119. Demand the Impossible (London: Methuen. Ibid.. . ed. . "Without such openness to one another there is no genuine human bond." in Philosophical Hermeneutics [Berkeley: University of California Press. p.4 7 . 1988): "Joyce: Questioning Narratives. Celtic Revivals (London: Faber." pp. 1976]. This exposure of productive questions entails an openness to other dimensions of meaning. 1993." pp.. " ("The Universality of the Hermeneutical Problem. productive questions. 1986). Quoted by Seamus Deane." The Crane Bag 3 (1979): 47. Ibid. 1984). Manchester: Manchester University Press. 128. p. Openness to the other. 1991]. 361). and in particular to the other who speaks or writes. Ibid. Lectures on Ideology and Utopia (New York: Columbia University Press. Ibid. . Time and Narrative (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 3 1 ..7 9 .. .. this does not mean that one person 'understands* the other. Ibid. even though no one else forces me to do so" (Truth and Method [New York: Crossroad. 1985). issue 1. involves recognizing that I myself must accept some things that are against me. 154. Mannheim." writes Gadamer. Ricoeur. p. 4 (1991): pp. 7. An earlier version of this study appeared in Philosophy and Social Criticism. vol. MYTHS OF UTOPIA A N D IDEOLOGY: FROM YEATS T O JOYCE 1. for several of the Joyce references and quotations. 1936). 269-84. 35. 94. 30. . James Joyce and the Revolution of the Word (London: Macmillan. "An Example of Tradition. 116. When two people understand each other. and also in "Myths of Utopia and Ideology. . .4 0 . 32." James Joyce Quaterly 28. Ibid. 12). Ibid. 1986). CHAPTER 13. 6. p. Boston College. D.1 8 4 Ibid. p.

Ibid."Jerusalem Address". 1988). See also my chapter "The Art of Otherness: A Study of Louis le Brocquy in Transitions: Narratives in Modern Irish Culture (Dublin: Wolfhound. Paul: University of Minnesota Press. 40. 152. Introducing Lyotard by Reading (London: Routledge. 6 1 .5 4 . 2 . Discours. 10. 1990). le Brocquy." in Lettre International 21 (1989): pp. figures (Paris: Klincksieck. p. 11. Martin's Press. POSTMODERN MIRRORS OF FICTION: RUSHDIE. Alasdair Maclntyre. ed. 1988). Kundera and Wolfe. An earlier version of this Chapter appeared as "Rushdie. 7. 1983)." in special Derrida issue of Le Magazine Litteraire 286 (1991): 60. including "The Crisis of the Post-Modern Image. 12. Art of the Novel. 135. PAINTING A N D POSTMODERNITY 1. "Face aux Arts du Visible.Notes to Pages 196-204 I 245 CHAPTER 14. 1987). 2. New York: St. 1971). and The Wake of Imagination (London: Routledge. CHAPTER 15. Paul: University of Minnesota Press. Michel Foucault.5 3 . St." The Irish Review 3 (1988): pp. p. This work develops the critique of modern liberal theory of value advanced in two of the author's former books. Milan Kundera. La Viriti en peinturelTruth in Painting. 163. Nice University. A. Le Brocquy. "Notes on Painting and Awareness. 4. 9. 8. 3 . le Brocquy. 139. Ibid. Le Brocquy." in Contemporary French Philosophy. 1991.. Derrida. 151-52. 2. The Postmodern Condition (St.6 7 . Some sections of this chapter were published as "Louis le Brocquy and Post-Modernism. pp. POSTSCRIPT: WHOSE POETICS? WHICH ETHICS? 1. 113-23. 5. Ibid. 10. 1982). Manchester: Manchester University Press." p. pp. 5 3 . After Virtue and Whose Justice? Which Rationality? . 1979). ed. 1987). 197-201. Lyotard. 13. Kundera. 6. 32-40. 3. Walker (Dublin: Ward River. in The Art of the Novel (New York: Harper and Row. quoted by Gilbert Lascault. 308. Three Rival Versions of Moral Inquiry (London: Duckworth. "Notes on Painting and Awareness.6 ." p. A N D KUNDERA 1. D. Louis le Brocquy. pp. Lyotard." The Irish Review 7 (1989): pp. I have explored this crisis in more detail in a number of studies. WOLFE." in Painting and Poetry Symposium. 1979. Sections were also published as "L'imagination menaced. This Is not a Pipe (Berkeley: University of California Press. pp. 3. pp. "A Painter's Notes. Peregrinations (New York: Columbia University Press. "A Painter's Notes on Ambivalence. Phillips Griffiths (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press." p. p. 1981). 1988). reprinted in Le Brocquy. "Notes on Painting and Awareness." in The Crane Bag Book of Irish Studies (Dublin: Blackwater Press.

1992). Indeed it is only Caputo's ultimate. . of its love of radiant beauty and its intoxication with beautiful form. The "ethical point of view" developed by Foucault in Civilization and Madness and his later works is one that invokes Nietzschean perspectivism in its determination to go beyond the standard moralities of good and evil. of das Wesen der Wahrheit und die Wahrheit des Wesens.246 / NOTES TO PAGES 2 0 5 . 230-39. scripting of self. The stuff of memory and stories. of exultation or humiliation. To this end. arete. His thought remains captive throughout to the deepest axiomatics of Western thought. Ens et pulcrhum et unum convertunter. or "phainesthetics." . Buber. . I mean persons long ago. . 3. to its valorizing of aristos. is also critical of Heidegger's "originary ethics" founded upon an elitist Graeco-Germanic ontology of privileged poetic dwelling: Heidegger's critique of metaphysical ethics is undertaken in the name of a still more originary ethics which turns not to human choices but on Being's own nomos. 124-25. . barely remembered now. Dostoyevsky. 160-61) Caputo himself promotes another kind of poetics (of distaster) as the basis of another kind of ethics (of obligation). their names barely legible on weather-beaten stones. . or excommunicated. a. (pp. it is not without its own anaesthesia.2 0 6 2. these are the operative terms of Foucauit's final attempts in his ." of Being's shining glow. Auto-sty lization. Caputo. nomadic. Rosenzweig. who understand that they are themselves the stuff of true stories. a 'national aesthetics" linking Hellas and Germania in a myth of Being's First and Other Beginnings. But if it is a certain higher aesthetics. . The thought of aletheia does not represent a step back out of metaphysics but a great plunge forward into metaphysics' deepest longing for emergent beauty and gathering unity. . . John Caputo. expelled. poetics not of suffering but of Being's own shining splendour. the orphaned. but Caputo is largely silent on these. pp. the memories attached to proper names. "obligations happen because they happen" (p. a move inspired by the postmodern gestures of Derridean deconstruction and Lyotardian petits recits. . 1933). caring of self. (p. pp. Repudiating Kantian moralism and Habermasian discourse ethics as forms of Enlightenment blackmail. there are other modern thinkers who invoke the JudeoChristian notion of agape. See Ricoeur's critical commentary on Rawls in Oneself as Another (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. if equivocal. . The happening of Being is the subject matter (die Sache) of its own poetics (denkendes Dichten). of pleasure or pain. arche and its systematic exclusion of les juifs. . The thought of Being erases the victim in the name of Wesen. By someone I mean the several possibilities of joy or sorrow. debunking grand narratives in the name of little ones. who anticipate what they themselves will have become. Besides Levinas. its own insensitivity to everyone who is ugly. it should be mentioned. 245). 245) 4. homeless. the forgotten. and the later Scheler (who spoke of an ethics of the "heart"). Against Ethics (Bloomington: Indiana University Press. on the affirmation of "someone. Caputo comes close to endorsing an ethics of narrative imagination. recourse to a radical hermeneutics of narrative that saves him from his own espousal of mystical tautology—for example. among them Marcel. The thought of aletheia gives rise to an aesthetics of Being that turns not on the subjective play of faculties but on Being's own radiant glow. to all those contingent particulars excluded by the rule of the Same: The discourse on obligation is a treatise on proper names. Foucault proposes a counterethics of aesthetic self-experimentation. attached to proper names. a still higher hyperaesthetics. A narrative ethics of obligation would be one attentive to the discarded. I also mean the ones who tell the old stories.

without the ability of every citizen to demonstrate what the third Critique called "reflective judgment. of course.2 4 . . But how could a colegislation be possible at all. which will not be governed and which explores without inhibition. That is why it affords a special . Taminiaux identifies the emancipatory potential of Kant's aesthetic judgment as follows: It is because humans are all different that they have to be allowed. But in the final analysis. ibid. p. "L'ethique du souci de soi"). And finally it is because they are all both different and alike that they must talk. It is because such differentiation would result in a chaotic dissemination. the world of "bodies and pleasures" ("On the Genealogy of Ethics" in The Foucault Reader. Kant.. against despotism. ed. Although Kant proposes judgment in contradistinction to both theoretical and moral reason. The difficulty with Foucault's aesthetic-ethics is that it ultimately amounts to what James Miller has termed an "ethos of deliberate irresponsibility"—a nonethics where everything is permitted and "man needs what is most evil in him for what is best. In many respects. Foucault identifies the "substance" of his aesthetic-ethics as neither phronesis. In his illuminating book Poetics. Calif. freedom in their search for happiness. 1951). 348). p. .: Stanford University Press. mixed with a dose of apocalyptic mysticism and a revised notion of Socratic parrhesia (truthtelling). prepersonai flux of life. 1984]. 3 2 2 . para 57. agape or poeisis but as bios—the chaotic. Judgment: The Shadow of the Work of Art from Kant to Phenomenology (Albany: State University of New York Press. Taminiaux contrasts "speculation. 1993). express their views. and communicability (in the tradition of Kant). that everyone be subject to the same law. vii). 1993). if it were not accompanied by a sense of likeness. Jacques Derrida.4 1 . 3 5 7 . pp. It is not. The Passion of Michel Foucault (New York: Simon and Schuster. 346. 1993). 19. freedom. and be colegislators as a result of such expression. The aesthetical reflective judgment of the Third Critique privileges art's concern with "the finite condition of human beings. the phenomenal world that they inhabit together. 7. 14-15) Taminiaux endorses the view—shared with Arendt and Adorno—that Kant's aesthetic judgment is antitotalitarian in its refusal to subsume particulars under universal categories. p. and will. 5." that is. 345-48. Aporias (Stanford. Ibid. it is possible to extrapolate the basis of a broader "poetical ethics" from his notion of sensus communis aestheticus as an acknowledgment that human beings are at the same time all alike and all different. but that it sees it as something to be sought after. rather than as something given beforehand. Critique of Judgment (New York: Hafner Press.5 9 . their plurality. with "judgment. 3 3 5 . 1988). para 40. which includes Foucault's 1983 text. plurality. (pp. sheding l i g h t . Another contemporary thinker to explore the ethical/political implications of Kant's Third Critique is Jacques Taminiaux." which celebrates poetics as an appreciation of appearances. logos. Paul Rabinow [New York: Pantheon. Speculation. that it requires. at the limits of experience. and The Final Foucault. the ability to think from the standpoint of everyone else.Notes to Page 207 I 247 College de France lectures in the early 1980s to forge a new equation between ethics and aesthetics. as a counterpart.." which subordinates art to metaphysical knowledge (in the tradition of Plato). on the blind spots inherent in (metaphysical) pretensions to a totality" (p. Foucault is proposing here a variation on the Nietzschean-Heideggerean poetics of decision. 6. For further critical commentary on Foucault's "ethics of self-care" see Miller. that aesthetic reflective judgment abandons the idea of universal value altogether. ed. James Bernauer and David Rasmussen (Cambridge: MIT Press." See Miller. 377.

165. 160-61) Universality thus becomes a horizon of "possible" judgments we may share with others. Just Gaming (Manchester: Manchester University Press. in reflecting takes account. as a horizon of "possible" judgment that is always ahead of us. and not for theory. . Thebaud. 9. That is why. and reflects on his own judgment from a universal standpoint (transferring himself to the standpoint of others). This is the import of Kant's remarks about the sensus communis as a power to judge. Aesthetic judgment sees through individual eyes yet lays claim to a certain "possible" universality (neither factual nor necessary) derived from one's ability to enlarge one's mind so as to share others' points of view. J -P. We are talking here not about the power of cognition. insists Taminiaux. but about an enlarged way of thinking (in which the one who judges) overrides the private subjective conditions of his judgment. and Edi Puci). to put it in more explicitly ethical terms: aesthetic judgment would have to conceive of the "idea" of justice as a task that is never finally accomplished. P. pp. . in our own thought. that. it is also that which deconstructs itself when faced with the sublime and elevates itself beyond all limits. Kant's aesthetic judgment (in contrast to determinate judgment) allows only for critique. of everyone else's way of representing something. it presupposes the freedom of productive imagination to open up new forms of possible and unpredictable vision. a task still to be accomplished rather than a predetermined formula.248 / NOTES TO PAGE 208 place to the free play of imagination with understanding in order to arrive at a universality without constraining concepts. Tracy Stark. to play with understanding until it brings it to the edge of establishing a new form or rule. Justice conceived of poetically (judgment) rather than cognitively (speculation) is forever a matter of democratic debate and interpretation. 6 5 . Lyotard and J -L. pp. . . 8. As such. 1985). {Critique of Judgment. . But if imagination is what brings us to the limit of a new rule. (In addition to Jacques Taminiaux. p. Note to "The Self and Narrative Identity. Ricoeur." Oneself as Another. in particular David Rasmussen.6 6 . . I am indebted to several other colleagues at Boston College for their reflections on the Third Critique.

162 Dallmayr. P. 143 Camus. 200 Augustine. 183 Barthes. 66. Jacques. 87. 208 Aristotle. 150 Cuchulain. 93. 125. 8. Francis. Seamus. 84 Comenius. 3. 111. 122. 150 Blanchot.. 162 Althusser. Walter. Antoinin. xv. 60 Arendt.3 5 Adorno. R. 112.. 114. Edmund. A. 134. 110. Samuel. 104. 111. Robert. 116. xiv.Index Abel. George. Rene. 67 Artaud. 167 Agnon. xvi. Wilhelm. 51 Beckett. 36. F. 72 Dews. Harold. David. 52. 92. Guillaume. 137. 89. Roland. 94. 108. 50. 102. M. 180 Cusanus. Theodore. 180. 70. Jean. xv. Paul. 15. 97. 182 Bernasconi. Simon. Paul. 36. Seyla. Raymond. 184 Bonaventure. 52. 159. 159 de Machaut. 139. 101. 201 Benhabib.. 99 Benjamin. 164 Berkeley. 60. 206 Descartes. 99 Dionysius. 59. 3. 76 Bloom. 208 Aron. 203. Thomas. 94 Castonadis. 161. xii. 103 Adam. 172 de Man. Jorge Luis. 33. 1 4 8 . 60 Aquinas. 3 2 . 94. 169 Diithey. 46 Bultmann. 159 Bloom. xi. 195. 70. 94. 182. xiv. 182 Dedalus. 87. 140 Durkheim. 111. Martin. Maurice. 171. 87 Brentano. 70 249 . 57 Dostoyevsky. Stephen. 37. 192 Adler. G. 158. 2 0 3 . 2. 194 Bakhtin. 3 Borges. 143 Abraham. 114. 103. 88. 3. 190 Buber.. 109. 163 Bacon. 187 Baudrillard. Jean. Molly. 13 Broch. 194 Coleridge. Franz. Samuel. 147 de Tracy. Emile. 94 Critchley. 96. Destutt. Ernst. 170. 114. 160. 51. 111 Beaufret. 200.7 7 . Cornelius. 128 Caputo. M. 133 Burke. 197. Hannah. 66y 67. 116. 62. Hermann. Peter. 18 Collingwood. 184. 114-16 Bloch. 182 Cain. 54. 125 Copernicus. 22. 94 Anselm. 167 Cezanne. Fred. 69. 205. 60.9 4 . 206 Achilles. 93. 206 Carr. 141. John. 109-12. Louis. Albert. 182 Derrida. 5. 199. 4. Rudolf. 113. 105. 7. xi. xi. 1 9 1 . 66y 67 Deane. 198. 74 Celan. 94. 169. 116 Al-Ghazaii.

194. David.5 2 . 37. 66. 145. 186 Kafka. 98 Isaac. 166. 119. 175 Gyges. 159. 3. 5 3 . 93. Hans-Georg. 100. 153 Holderlin. 206. 154. 89. 151. 1 4 8 . 63 Homer. 116 Lenin. 197 le Brocquy. 2 0 3 . A. 101. Emmanuel. Martin.1 4 8 Goldsmith.. 162 Eve. James Fintan. 62 Elijah. Jan. 85. John Scotus. 83. 159 Lyotard. Carl. 3. 9 4 . 99. 120 Hegel. 199 Gadamer. 134. 71. Louis. 1 2 7 . 1 9 7 . 1 1 . 113. 78. 93. 96. xvi. 131. 97. 120 Eliade. 205 Kohak. 89. 113. 14 Jameson. 48. 205 Livia. 157. 199 Junterman. 122-25. 4. 177 Geertz. 162. Immanuel. 159 Havel. xv-xvii. Robert.6 4 . 119. 203 Kundera. 12. 87. 133. 158. Michel. 145 Levinas. 78. 51. 108. 99. 174. 67 Levi.. xii. Anna. 115. Claude. 118. Martin. 183 Jung. 140 Hus. 158. Erazim. xvi. 148. Franz. 123. 98 Feuerbach. 8. 148 Hyde. 135. Mircea. 111. 157. 72. 1 3 6 . 84. 55. 182 Graff. 75. 57. xi. 4. 155.. xv. Gottfried. Douglas. J. 67. Robert. Rene. xv Hempel. 134. 116 Heraclitus. 194-201 Leibniz. Oliver. 204. 112. 160. 148. Soren. 130. 172. Friedrich. 67 Girard. xvii. 167. 165. 199 Jacobi. 2.9 9 .250 / INDEX Iphigenia. 141. 97 Job. 1 8 . 2 0 4 . 43. 165. 120. 138. 111. Milan. Vaclav. 101. 198 Eckhart. 204. Michel. 36. 197 Luther. Gerald. Claude. Nora. Friedrich. 11. Alasdair. G. 112. 156.9 7 . 182 Lanzmann. Ludwig. 9. 183. 46. 199 Jabes. 154. 66. 208 Kazantzakis. and Kant. 68. 57 Herodotus. Carl. 93. 99. 3 5 . 50. 86. xvii. 201 Joyce.. 6. 18. Frederic. 143 Irving. 200. 195. 194. xi. 152. James. 94. 2-17. 50. xii Hillis-Miller. 86. 125.3 4 . 61. Julia. 131. 97. 113. Nikos. 205 Hartman. 135 Kristeva. 130. 182 Faurisson. Federico Garcia. 135. xiv. 110 Habermas. 50. 74. 1 9 5 . 156. 122. Jean-Francois. 60. Friedrich.. 2 0 7 Maclntyre. 6 0 . Jiirgen. 182 . 85. 104. 186. Sigmund. 151 Jacob. 66. Johann. 109. Edmund. 57. John. 168. 101 Khomeini. Jacques. 66 Eriugena. xvi. Primo. 182 Engels. 2. 87. 108-17. 197. 189-91 Lacan. 132 Husserl. Fionn. 184 Lorca. 144. 206 Freud. 183. 83. 94. N. 81. 55 Herakles. 86. 94. 163 Emmet. 187 Kierkegaard. Clifford. 109. 60. 56. 67. 33 Joyce.8 4 . 99. xiii. F. 120. 36 Leiris. 5. Maurice. 93 Henri. 206. 208 Macool. Geoffrey. 79. W. 164 Kant. 180. xi. 113. 18. xii. 158. 1 8 0 . 129. 170. Edmund. xii Hesiod. 72 Fichte. Ayatollah. 154 Heidegger. 14 Foucault. 160. 162 Eichmann.1 7 . 161.3 0 . 207 Heisenberg. 51. 185. W. 35. 97 Levi-Strauss. 173. 207. 121. 183 Lalor.

117. Jonathan. 16. 81 Riviere. 204 Masaryk. Paul. 141 St. 143 Proust. 148. 138. 137 Palach. Jan. Ilja. 188. J. 14. Nickoloi. James. 101. 88. H. 180. Norman. W. Tom. 187 Mailer. 150 Nussbaum. 182. 35. Jan. Frederick. 154 Mannheim. 168. R. 101 Marx. Cathleen.8 9 . 171. Pierre. Regina. 67 ni Houlihan. Moses. 18 Scherer. John. 140. Karl. 56. 194 Silesius. 184 Nicholas of Cusa.8 7 . 141. Sherman. 197. Virginia. xi. 87 Yeats. Paul. Friedrich. 6Sy 75. 44 I 251 Ricoeur. de Sade. xii. 199 Steiner. 125. 181. 63. J. 200 Weber. Marilyn. F. 82. 105. 99 Sartre. xiv. 182 Taylor. 50. 21. 206 Rilke. Hayden.1 6 Rabelais. 203. 130 Marcuse. 51. 60 Nietzsche. Robert. 42.6 9 . 200 Musil. 199 Tolstoy. 128. 94 Romulus. Padraig. 140 Napolean. 94. 181.. Andy. 181. 180. 122. 194 Srubar. 55. M. xiii.1 1 . 170. 114. 99 Thales. Francis of Assisi. 96 Mitchel. W. 180 Strindberg. John.. xiv-xvi. 99 Shakespeare. 51... 16. 180. 186 Sophocles. 189 Mendelson. 1 8 7 . 32 Orpheus. John. 76. Harold. 148 Pearse. 26. 138. 56. 197 Pinter. 55. 175-77 Seneca. 7 1 .. 33 Sontag.3 5 . 130. 58 Socrates. 82. 72. 186 Maimonides. 198 . 143 Picasso. Moses. Jean-Paul. 160 St. 100. 55. 60.. 137. 132 Parmenides. 46 Pascal. 125 Prometheus. 53 Searle. 94 Wolfe. Susan. xii. 116 Marquis. 100. 184. 170. 96 Tone. 116 Stephens. 182 Ulysses. Charles. 6 6 . Wolfe. 205 Patocka. 1 8 5 . 26 Mandela. 199 Toby. Auguste. 103 St. 63 Nolte. 135 McCoy. 94. 133 Michelet. 94 Tiresias. 205 Richardson. 186 Plato. 1 0 9 . 191 Said. 91 White. Philip. 123.Index Mahound. Jan. 182 Philoctetes. 134 Swift. 123. 134. 162 Merleau-Ponty. Herbert. Pablo. 206. 185. 67 Marcel.9 2 . Blaise. 103. 53. Christopher. 128 Schelling. 162 Malantschuk. J. William. 137. 191 Wolfe. 1 1 4 . 171. Angelus. 135. Gregor. 125. Martha. R. 72. Maurice. Gabriel. 137 Roth. 98 Norris. 105. 134 Sontag. 1 1 8 . 6 6 .. Karl. 94. 204. Salman. 182 Monroe.7 5 . 3. 71. John. 99. 48. 108. 191 Rawls. George. 139 Warhol. 208 Olsen. 189 Rushdie. 22. 94. 194. William B. Ernst. 63 Rimbaud. Max. 137 Osiris. 207 Noack. Edward. Marcel. 52. Arthur. Nelson.

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