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Jean-Lue Nancy
Assistance for this translation
was provided by the French Miniscry

The Expmm -fFtWdtJm

was originally published in r-rmdt in 1988
under the tide 1. ~t tk I4libml,
e 1988 Eciitions Galil.
The Translator's Norc: and endnotcs
and t~ Foreword were prepared
cspecially for this edition.

Stanford University Press

Stanford, California
:I199} by the Board ofT rusts of the
leland Stanford Junior University
Primed in the United StaIn of America
ClP data are at I~ end of the book


"For the issue depends on frccJom; anJ it
is in the power of frccdnm to pass bcrond
any and every s~ificd limit."
- Cririqllt ofPllrt' RMJOn.
T r.J !1s<:endcmal Dialectic.
book I. 5cc[ion 1
Translator's Note

For this translation of l'Explrirnce d~ '" libml, the order of the

first three chapters has been rearranged. In the opinion of the se-
ries editors. Chapter 2. of the French edition raises issues that res-
onate with current Anglo-American philosophical debates on free-
dom. Chapter 2. has therefore been placed at the beginning of this
Nan(.-y's many allu!iions and references to French and German
philosophical texts pose some challenges to systematic rranslarion.
Wherever appropriate. I ha~ kept his terminology consistent with
existing translations of these texts. In other cases. where Nan(.-y at-
tempts to free certain words from their given colllexts. it seemed
be$[ 10 render these terms in a more literal manner.
I wi~h to thank Mr. Albert Liu for his generous advice and hc:lp
in preparing this nanslation.

Bridget McDonald

Foreword: rrom Empiricism to the Experience

of freedom, by Peter Fenv~ XIII

I Are We Free to SpC'.lk of Freedom?

2 Necessity of the Theme of Freedom:

MixC'd Premises and Conclusions 9

3 lmpos.~ibility of the Qucstion of freedum:

Fact and Right Indistinguishable 11

4 The Space Left Free by Heidcggcr

5 Th(' Free Thinking offrcedorn

6 Philosophy: I.ogic of Freedom 60

7 Sharing Freedom: Equality, Fraternity.

JUMi(;e 66

8 F.xpcricm:e of freedom: And Once Again

of Ihe Community. Which It Resists 81

9 Fret.-dom as Thing. ForlC. and Gale

10 Absolute Freedom 106

11 Freedom and Destiny: Surprise. Tragedy.

Generosity 110

l2. Evil: Decision III

13 Decision, Desert, Offering

14 Fragments

Notes 17S
Index of Names 20')
Foreword: From Empiricism
to the Experience of Freedom
Peter FenVt'S

",hnc mad abandon'd limn"

-David Hume

Experience. freedom-these two words are perhaps rhe most po-

rent slogans in the English language, Anglo-American thought has
never ceased to draw on them in order to define its grounds. meth-
ods. and goals_ Empiricism. as a doctrine of experience. and civil
libenies. as the political content of freedom. are united in their ef-
forr to remove unjustified authorities. The championing of em-
piricism and the defense of civillibc:rries against a vast array of me-
ologi,al and political opponents are the chief occupations of much
An~I()-American thought. Theological and political authorities are
nor. however. the only ones against which the words "experience"
and "freedom" have: been marshaled: as long as philosophy is held
to be dogmatic and seen ro insinuate certain obscure: articles of
faith. it too has been countered with appeals to experience and
freedom, The Occidemal mher of Anglo-American thought. which
is often called "the conrinent" and is not infrequently presented as
philosophically incontinent-"scdu,cd by language"-nor only re-
nounces empiricism but is also seen to remove rhe foundations on
which a stalwart defense of civilliberries can be based, The re-
moteness of "continental" thought from the philosophy most of-
ten prauiced in English-speaking countries lies as much in this re-
nunciation as in the perception of this removal.
The champiuning of empiricism and the defense of civilliber-
ties do not simply give a certain consistency to Anglo-American

XIV ForrworJ

thought. nor do they merely give dircctions for its various theoret-
ical and practical pursuits; thC5c two endeavors arc linked in a lih-
erating imperative: accept no authority other than that of experi-
ence. Since experience alone is said to give words their meaning.
this imperative also implies: free yourself from nonsense. from
bunk and humbug. The appeal to cxperience is at bottom a call for
liberation. so much 50 that empiricism can claim to clear away
long-held opinions, dogma, doctrines, and, at its inception. the
very idea of a priori justifications. In place of innate ideas and pure
concepts there are works of experience-essays, inquiries, experi-
menrs, and laboratories. each of which constitute a labor of libera-
tion wherein the given is made to relea'ie itself. If the five centurics
of Anglo-American thought arc succes.'iive elaborations on experi-
ence as liberation, the counterpart to these labors would be libeT1l-
lion as l'Xp"imc-~liberation without labor or elaboration. libera-
tion without empirical suppan, libemrion that docs not respect the
boundaries of civility established by the protocols for civillibcnies.
liberation of experience from its service to the work ofliberation.
Such liberation docs not easily harmonize with Anglo-American
thought. and yet it is no more in harmony with the motifs of la-
bor and the themarics of the Will that have dominated much of its
Occidental, "continental" other. It is possible that the thought of
liberation Jean-Luc Nancy pursues in The Experienu ofF"edom
has as great a potential to break open and expose Anglo-American
tnlditions as the ones explicitly addressed in the text. The distinc-
tive trait of Nancy's thought, like that of certain versions of em-
piricism. is the relentless quesrioning of necessity. From the outset
Nancy removes freedom from its subjection to necessity, determi-
nacy. and incvitability-a removal that does not. however, make
freedom into mere indeterminacy, indifference. or arbitrariness,
each of which is merely a negative mode of determinacy or neces-
sity. The analysis of "existence" Heidegger 6rst undertook in Being
mlt/ 1imt leaves room for such freedom. and NaRl:y makes the di-
mensions of this room more precise, on the one hand by turning
his attention to thc legacy of freedom in Hddegger's subsequent
writings, and on the other by returning to the phrase with which
Foreword xv

Sartre laullched "existentialism": "We arc condemned to he tree."1

Our com.lclllnalion to free\lom expresses une more subjugation of
freedom to necessity, and so this slogan, far from recognizing
Hcide~er'5 break with his philosophical tradition, repeats the for-
mula common It) dassical metaphysics. Hegelianism, and
~hrxism: freedom is the recognition of ncces.'iiity. Against the still
~harply drawn h.l("kground of these formulas-along with the
many a5~iations and repercussions they set off, particularly for a
French readership-Nancy writes Tlu E'l:prr;",u of Fr~edom. To
the degree .hat Nancy's text undoes (he hold that the ideas of ne-
cessity and thoroughgoing determinacy exercise over thinking, it
resonates more readily with certain strains of Anglo-American
thought (han with the versions of essentialism and existentialism
Ihat want nothing more than to secure grounds, goals, and ver-
If the championing of empiricism and the defense of civilliber-
ties layout the points of reference for Anglo-American thought,
dlcn the direction this thought takes cannot escape certain mo-
menu of disorientation and errancy. These two points of reference
are not easily reconciled with one another. The locus of their con-
flict-a contlict with which more than one English-speaking
philosopher has uied to come 10 terms--is the philosophical con-
cept of freedom. a concept to wh ich the call for civillibenies ubi-
",atdy refers .1I1d )'et a concept that resists integradon into the pro-
gr.un of empiricism. for the experic:m;e of freedom, as the sole ex-
perience that would give significance to the word "freedom," is
unrecognizable, or at the very least under ,;ullstam di~pute. At the
outset of hi~ tamous treatise 0" Liberty, John Smart Mill makes
dcar (hat he will have nothing to say of the philosophical concept
of freedom: "The 5ubject of (his es.~y is not the so-called 'liberty
of the will,' 50 unfimunatcly opposed to the mi5named doctrine of
philosophical necessity; but civil, or social liherty. "1 Although
l.ocke tried to show that the phrase "Iiherty of the will" is mean-
inRlcss-onl)' a person is free. never a will'-the phrase nonethe-
less has a very tltterminate meaning; it designates the concept of
freedom with which philosophy ha!; gain and again struggled:
XVI FortU!ord

freedom as exemption from thoroughgoing determinacy. And this

concept remains problematic as long as thinking-the occupation
of the philosopher-means making indissoluble distinctions and
seeking solid grounds. Although the precise experience. of freedom
is in dispute, there is still agreement about the nature of philo-
sophical thought: it is at bonom the search for grounds. To think
freedom in this context is to undermine it; to think freedom
means, if one is permincxl to draw on Hobbes's specious etymolo-
gy, to suspend liberty in "deliberation ... Thinking is "de-liberation"
as long as thinking means above all seeking grounds. From the per-
spective of this search. the thought of frecxlom is self-defeating.
Coming to grips with the self-defeating thought of philosophi-
cal freedom, distinguishing modes of determinacy and necessita-
tion, showing the compatibility of thoroughgoing determinacy
with spontaneous self-determination, seeking shelter for civil lib-
erties in the defeat of systematic philosophy, even making igno-
rance of specific causes into the very guarantor of freedom--each
of these strategies characterizes a particular way of handling the
problematic concept of freedom. and each one tries to prevent free-
dom, which cannot be unambiguously experienced, from disap-
~ring withom a trace. Perhaps the most famous anempt to han-
dle the problematic concept offrcedom under me supposition that
thinking means positing grounds-and one of the touchstones for
Nancy's exposition-is the Third Antinomy of Kant's CritUjue of
Pure RellJon. An antinomy is generated when reason, seeking to
complete.the series of conditioning causes and reach an uncondi-
tioned one, demands an absolutely free beginning and is at once
confronted with the counterclaim that any absolmely free begin-
ning abrogates the rules of succession through which the unity of
experience is established in the first place. \ The doctrine of tran-
scendental idealism. which presents space and time as forms of
specifically human sensibility, has the virtue of rescuing reason
from this conflict, and for Kant it is finite reason's only salvation.
Having discovered the saving power of transcendental idealism a.nd
its idea of world-constitution, continental philosophy sets itself
apart from its British precursors. But-and here is the point at
Fo"wom XVII

which Nancy hroaches the experiem:c of freedom-Kant's "solll-

tion" (.iepends on a self-subsistent subject who. having secured its
own IInity. constitutes a unified world. which can then assure it of
its idemity and locarion in space. But the very unity. identity. and
locarion of this ~ubject deny its uniqueness. its singularity. its be-
ing-in-rhc-world; freedom. as a result. cannot hut appear as extra-
mundanc. "noumenal" causality. That empiricist challenges to the
unity. identity. and efficacy of the subject-most notably. the chal-
lenge , 'ume proposes--avoid the Kantian "solution" of an tl priori
world-constitution makes their efforts into an invaluable
palimpsest against which Nancy's endeavor can be rcad. and upon
which the oudines of its thought of freedom come to light.
When Aristotle speaks of the modes of "responsibility" (aitia).
this word cannot mean "cause" as long as causation is understood
as necessitation. The analysis of causation as necessitation, by con-
trast, dominates modern philosophical synems and is perhaps as
decisive a criterion of the modernity of a philosophical discourse
as reference to the Cartesian statement" cogito. 111m." which is sup-
posed to be "necessarily true" every time it is spoken. 6 Since the
founding gesture of empiricism is the rejection of innate ideas, it
could hardly accept causation as an a priori concept applicable to
experience. In order to retain the analysis of causation as necessi-
tation. it is therefore necessary to point out an experience of ne-
cessitation. But, as Hunte insisted again and again/ there is no
such experience; necessitation itself i5 never experienced. as long as
experience means having an "impression in the sou!." Talk of
causality is from this perspective sheer nonsense. for the attribu-
tinn of a necessary connection among impressions always falls
short of-or oversteps-experience. Transcendental philosophy
makes the justification of this overstep into one of its principal
tasks. and it docs so in order to secure the unity of ex.perience.
Without this overstep. necessity can have no home in experience,
and causality would have to be understood as something other
than necessary connection. Since necessity can never be experi-
enced. all experience is a matter of "probability." which means. a
'imi,,~. it becomes a matter of sheer possibility. Experience at the
xviii F017rl'ord

limit-which designates filliu c:xperiem:e-would then be the ex-

perience offrttdom.
But possibility is as impossihle ro experience as necessity. Such
is the docuine of the modalities of being to which empiricism is
bound. Experience means having an "impression" in the soul. and
each "impression" is actual; indeed. each one defines aClUality.'
And for Hume, the impossibility of experiencing necessity not only
does not entail a new defense of the philosophical concept of free-
dom against the idea of thoroughgoing determinacy; it also gives
him the chance to represent freedom as an inexplicable and thor-
oughly useless theological doctrine: "Liberty, when opposed to ne-
cessity, not cQnmaint. is the same thing with chance; which is uni-
versallyallowed to have no existence. "9 Once freed from theologi-
cal dogmas-this plays no small part in every appeal to experience,
including the appeal to "religious experience" -the concepts of
freedom that philosophy has hitherto developed become mori-
bund; to speak of freedom as opposition (0 necessity is to talk non-
sense. since no experience. and certainly no "vivid" one, can be had
of something that does not exist. As long as philosophicaJ thought
means making indissoluble distin(."tions and seeking solid grounds.
it ~n make nothing of this concept and can therefore count it
among the discarded items of theology. The defense of civilliber-
ties, if they deserve to be defended,' will come from other quar-
Freedom is therefore nO( a property of human subjectivity; it
ccnainly docs not, for Hume, distinguish human beings from oth-
er things. But it does not disappear without a trace. As freedom
withdraws from (he discourse of philosophy, the discourse of in-
dissoluble distinctions and solid grounds. it leaves a trace of its re-
treat. The word "freedom" remains meaningful as long as it is op-
posed to "constraint." and 50 the retreat of philosophical freedom
leaves its trace in a certain unconstrainedness, a certain li~raJity.
the principal characteristic of which is an ability to make every-
thing possible. liberality cannot then be found in the mere given-
ness of impressions. since the givcnness of these "experiences" is
not free but. as Hume makes clear from the ~ginning, "arises in

the soul originally, from unknown causes. "II Liberality expends it-
~If, rather. in the "gentle forl,;e" cillied ".he imagination." and the
imagination. true to i.~ wonl. makes it possible fOr the soul to per-
ceive anything. It is a name for making-possible. being-able: "The
uniting principle among ideas is not to be cOllsider'd as an insepa-
rable connexion; for that has be:en already excluded from the imag-
ination: nor yet are we to conclude. that without it the: mind can-
not join two ideas; for nothing is more free than that faculty."ll
freedom accrues [0 the imagination: a force whose very "gentle-
ness," if not its gentility and urbanity. excuses it from forcing any-
thing to occur; it is thus a force without enforcement, a force with-
um necessitation, a J"t force. "for nothing is more free than that
faculty. "
Imagination is as important for Hume's exposition of "human
nature" as gravitation is for Newton's elucidation of nature in gen-
era\; but gravitation, which is perhaps gentle at times, could hard-
ly be called "free." The word is therefore surprising, and the sur-
prise is that we can speak of the normal, the everyday, and the nal-
ural; the surprise is that we can speak of something. some Dnt
thing, at all. The imagination even lets us speak beyond the con-
fines of our nativity: "We arc only 10 regard it [the imagination] as
a gentle: force, which commonly prevails. and is the causc why.
among other thing.'l. languages so nearly correspond to C'.teh oth-
er. "II Imagination "gently," generously,ji-rt/y lets a world com~ into
heing: it gives us-but we "arc" nothing Olitside our imagina-
tion-the constancy nf objects and it give~ us the idca of causal
connections. [Wo ideas that Ilume shows to be mutually incom-
patible. Only a free force can le[ incompatibilities persist, and their
persistence cunstitutes our exist~nce"i An independent and inler-
connecled worM resides in a gentility, a generusity, a liberality, a
freedom-ness that i~ it~lf emancipated from the traditional philo-
sophical concept of freedom as mert' indt'terminacy, indifference.
or arl>itrarincss. Just as tht' Iiberalit) of the imagination is more
than mere exemprion from determination or cunstraim ("negative
freedom"), 50 too is it less than self-determination or the overcom-
ing of inner compulsions {"positive freedom") .. , Liberality, which
xx Fo"word

always escapes these alrernatives, takes up residence in the imagi-

nation as long as the imagination names a space of sheer p055ibili-
ty, a space from which nothing, including the nonexistence of
chance, can be excluded.
The gentleness of the imagination docs not even exclude a cer-
tain violence, for the thought of the imagination wrenches Hume
from the human. After lamenting the "despair" and "melancholia"
into which his researches have thrown him, he seeks the reason
why, at the very moment he wisha to conclude his inquiry into
human understanding, he has found no mutual understanding at
all and has indeed begun to "fancy [himself] some strange uncouth
monster. who not being able to mingle and unite in society, has
been ex~Il'd all human commerce, and left unerly abandon'd and
disconsolate."I& Hume "fancies" himself an inhuman entity-and
therefore exempt from a treatise of human nature-because of the
fundamental character of his own "fanc;y," that is, because the
imagination gives and takes away the s~cificity of the human in
the same gesture: "The memory, senses, and understanding are.
therefore. all of them founded on the imagination, or the vivacity
of our ideas. "11 The thought of this abyssal foundation leaves one
"abandon'd." without commerce. without relation. monstrous: in
short. free. In the thought of the imagination as abyssal "ground"
there is freedom. But this thought cannot be distinguished from
imagination. for as long as it involves memory. senses, and under-
standing-and how could it not?-it, too. is "founded" on the
imagination and can, without funher violence, be called "experi-
The thought of the imagination is the experience of freedom.
The word "ex~rience." as Nancy reminds us, once had the sense
of a perilous traversing (~iriJ) of the limit (~rai): "An experience is
an attempt executed without reserve, given over to the p~ri/ of its
own lack of foundation and security in the 'object' of which it i5
not the subject but instead the passion, exposed like the pirate
(p~;rRtis) who freely tries his luck on the high seas. "" Such is the
case with Hume. or at least so he thinks: "Methinks I am like a
man, who having struck on many shoals, and having narrowly cs-

cap'd ship-wreck in pa.o;sing a small frith, has yet the temerity to put
out to sea in the same leacky wetther-beaten vessel, and even car-
ries his ambition so far as to think of compassing the globe under
these di5advantageous circumstances. "19 The experience of
thought--or. more prtcisdy, of "merhinks. which is nor the same

as the inquiry into the nature of personal identity-docs not con-

sist in "impressions" or in their "rcflc!;:tions" but, rathcr. in a per-
iluus traversing of the limit to thought. Traversing in this way is
doubdess "imaginary" bur it is, for that reason, all the more fun-
damental. In the experience of this peril, thinking can no longer
be understood as the making of indissoluble distinctions and the
finding of solid grounds. At the limit of rhought-or, in this case,
at the condwion to the inquiry intu the nature of human under-
standing-"uncouth." singular monsters are born. and each of
these singularities denaturalizes nature, as it finds itself so thor-
ou~hly "abandon'd," so absolved of rclations-that it cannot even
find a self-determining "me" that thinks.

'When Hume thinks himself an "uncouth monster," he can con-

ceive of no community to which this uncanny entity could hence-
furth belong. Every section of Tht Expnimct ofFrHdom-IO say
nothing of Nancy's other writingsllD-sets our to expose the com-
munity of the uncouth and to show this uniquely complex com-
munity to be community s;mplicittr. Unlike Hume, he docs nut
rely un nature and its unswerving passions to return the um.'Outh
to the comh and rhe uncanny to the comfortable. Nor does he, as
one awakened by Hume's devastating skepticism, try to discover a
wa}' back to the familiar. 11 Nor, finally. docs Nancy. like Hegel and
his sllccessors. anempr to show why the familiar world is upside-
down and how it. having become known, could be set aright. The
unc.:lluth never returns tu couth; the unfamiliar never gives way to
the tiuniliar: the uncanny always haunts the knuwn. And yet-or
for precisely this rcaOn-thert is community. Such is the strange-
ness and the difficulty of the thought of freedom Nancy pursues:
the abyssal character of freedom. its withdrawal from all grounds.
implies the dissolution of every relation: hut this dissolution-
XXII For~t.lIol'd

which takes place without the labor of experience, without experi-

ments and laboratories--constitutes community in the first and
the last place. It is the free space of "fraternity." the immense site
at which "equality" finds its incommensurable measure. Hume.
who is not alone in this. conceives of his um;outhness as an expul-
sion from community for one simple rea~on: he. like the meta-
physical tradition he inherits. has determined beforehand that
community means partaking of a common substance. taking part
in "common life" or. at the very least. sharing in "human nature."!!
If. by contrast. the experience of community were nor of a com-
mon substance but of the very dissolution of substantiality as well
as subjectivity-and what else does radical empiricism tcach?-
then the "abandonment" of which Hume writes would not mark
the endpoint of inquiry into the narure of human undemanding
but a free beginning of thought. "Thinking" would no longer
mean making indissoluble distinctions and seeking solid grounds;
thinking would be the exposure ro dis.c;olution and groundlessness.
Attacks on the foundations upon which philosophers have pur-
ported to build systems are hardly ncw. Ancient and modern ver-
sions of skepticism as well as comemporary "antifoundationalisms"
have thrived on such polemical srrategies. and the poim of these
attacks. when they do not aim as in the case of Desca"es to dis-
cover firmer foundations. is almost invariably the same: to give
back the given. the namral. or the everyday. One outcome of
Nietzsche's rcIenrless critique of philosophical foundations-a cri-
tique that barred the way back to the everyday. if not always to the
natural-was a certain irrationalism in which the appeal to and
~Iorification of "lived experience" (Erltbnis. Ie vl04) contribmed [0
its widespread reception. Nothing could be more alien [0 Tht
/:'xpuimu of Frudom than this appeal and glorification. Nancy
does nor conclude on the basis of subjectivity's inability to ground
itself that it must seek a ground "beyond" reason and language in
some ineffable "lived experience." Such experience. as Nietzsche
taught better than anyone else. is just another. even more insidious
ground. The experience of which Nancy writes is not "lived," nor
is it. as all experiences of existence are for Hume. "vivid." It is as
Fo",uorri xxiii

little an impressiun as ir is a rt"flecrion; it i~. on rhe contrary. rhe ex-

perience of exposure ro groundlessness. the "experience of experi-
encc. "]) And 110 conclusion is drawn from the inahiliry of subjec-
tivity to give itself a ground and secure its own presence; rather.
(his inability. ur desrirurion. is thc unique fact to which Ti"
;':V'l'l7mu ofF,"dom is dedicated. nle immense dimension of this
Idcr gi\'cs this text its broad scope. its uneven rhythms. and its con-
~lal1l alteration of tones and texmres.
The unique fiu:t is this: subjectivity-which names the substan-
tial self thar is supposed to have the power to support itsdf and to
secure its idelllity-cannnr keep irsclf afloat. The foundering of
subjeclivity docs not mean rhat human beings. as weak and poorly
equipped vcs.~ds. arc not strong enough tu actuali7..e what they de-
sire. With slich a conceptiun of human fragility Same arrived at
the furmula. "Wc arc condemned to be free." For Nancy. by con-
trast, subjectivity is nor simply impotent; if power implies causal i-
Iy. which it surely docs, then the shipwreck of subjecriviry means
it has "O',t. and this marks the end of slIhjecthity altogethcr. But
in this end there is jin;u freedom. a freedom that docs not affiDunt
ro a limited Sp.1l e of action but is. rather. the opening-in
Ihought, in expcricnce--onto rhe limit. onto grollndlcssrle!lS. onto
"exislence" wilhuut essence. As thc uniquc fact to which The
/::~p"i,1ltt o/rmdom is dedicated, the destitution of self-support-
ing suhjectivity constitutcs. according tD the tcrms Hcidcgger de-
I,loys, thc "facticity uf existcnce." When Nancy compares Sartrc's
famous dil:tum "existence prccedes e!lSencc" with the statement of
Heid~r to which if refers-"the 'essence' Df LJllSti" lies in its ex-
istence"!I-hc does nut wish tD castigalc Same filr misunderstand-
ing or distorting the original formulation: the point of this com-
parisDn is to make the Hcidcggcrian exposition of "existence" as
!oharp as pos.~ihle. "Existcncc" here I11C;U1S being unable to give one-
self a ground al1llthercupon to secure the unity, identity, and con-
!Olancy that evcry qucstion of cssence-"What is that~" -presup-
puses. hci~H'nce docs not then "preccdc" essence; essence recedes
from cxiSIl'I1l:c as long as it is cxplil:ated as nature. idea. form, 10 Ii
t'I1 tillll; ("lllat whidl was lU be"), po't'tltia ("power")," or even, ac-
xxiv Fort'Ul()rd

cording to the phenomenological tradition. as Sinn ("meaning").l

Heidegger's replacement of the question of what something, in-
cluding a human being, may ultimately be with the <Juestion after
the "who" of the <Juestioner is the sr3ning point for more than one
of Nancy's writings, because this replacement carries out the reces-
sion of essence from existence. No common name, no general ti-
tle, and thus no concept of any son can reply to the question
"who?" And this failure of common names spells the end of any in-
<Juiry into essence; it marks the very destitution of essence, a des-
titution that Hcidegger at times wished to restitute with appeals to
"march" and to work." The inability of the subject to procure a
ground on which it can support itself does not require further
work or deeper labor; it demands the abandonment of the idea of
subjectivity in favor of the thought of abandonment, of existence.
Of far greater significance to Nancy's endeavor than the con-
frontation between Hcidegger and Same then is the altercation be-
tween Kant and Heidcgger over the fundamental character of the
transcendental imagination. The transcendental synthesis of the
imagination names. according to Heidegger's well-known "de-
structive" reading of Th~ CritiqwofPUTt RellSon, the abyssal foun-
dation of subjectivity; it designates. although it does not fully ac-
knowledge, the abandonment of the idea of self-supponing enti-
ties and the concomitant retrieval of DlISnn "in" the human being.
By opening a free space in which it first becomes possible to en-
counter things-a space called "rime"-the transcendental imagi-
nation shows itself to he not precisely the origin of freedom but.
rather, original freedomY This freedom is as impossible to form
into an image, and thus to "imagine. n as it is to demonstrate on
the basis of an impression or sensation. The unimaginability of
original freedom does not, however. derive from its pure intelligi-
bility or its noumenal character; it arises from the complexity or.
better, the ~/mJgm~jlJ of the transcendental synthesis of the imag-
ination. Far from settling the troubles Hume experienced when he
discovered to his dismay that human understanding rested on the
imagination, the uncovering of the fundamental character of the
Fort'llJOm xxv

trans("t'ndental imagination in Heidegger's reading of Kant exas-

perates these troubles and makes them unavoidable; they become:
rhe ineluctable matter of thought. The discovery of the uanscen-
~kl1tal imagination ,15 the abyssal foundation of self-subsistent sub-
jellivity-as the destitution of essence and the tfesrrucrion of all
rradiliunal ba5es on which answers to the question "What is man?"
h'1\'C rested-frees /";lIg if1~/ffrom its determination and compre-
ht'nsiull in terms of substantiality. subjectivity. narure, or lawful-
ness, and this freedom of being communicates itself, each time
ulli'1ucly. to existence. The community of existence [;Ikes place in
this communication. in this "sharing of voices,")' nowhere else.
The discovery of rhe transcendental imagination as the abyssal
tOllntiation of subjectivity not only undoes the idea of subjectivity
as a self-supporting unity, but it also collapses the distinction be-
twt:en trall~\:endenral condition and empirical evidence. One mark
of this collapse-and rhe one to which Nancy pays the closest at-
tcnrion-is Kant's disclosure of a unique "fact of reason." As a fact.
i! "dongs to the domain of empirical evidence: as a fact of reason
and a fa("t for n:ason. its exposition can only be carried out in non-
empirical terms.)' With the discovery of this fact Kant breaks
through the impasse of the Third Antinomy and rebuilds rradi-
tional metaphysics on the basis of cerrain "postulates. n Rut he also
opens philosophkal thought to anoth~r empiricism. No longer
does the solution ro th~ Third Antinomy 1;",PIy lie in the idea of
wurld-constihlfion: the resolution of this antinomy in favor of free-
dom shows. rather. the very limits of rhe world constituted in sub-
jt"ctivi(y and. f()f rhis reason, sets up an empiricism not of imprcs-
~i()ns or sensations but of (for want of a better word) liberality. The
gift of this unique "fact" has no ascertainable origin: if always re-
mains uncertain whether its "manufacture" is even a !ipecifacally
IJlllndll maner.1O uThe fact of reason" is as incapable of demonstra-
tive slIpport as philosophical thought. which, according (0 Kant.
can neither base itself on anything earthly nor sllspend itself from a
heavenly peg." By resolving rhe Third Antinomy in favor of free-
dum, this fact not only directs philosophy toward a rehabilitation
uf metaphysics but also, pointing in entirely difTerent direuions.

abandons its erstwhile foundations and opens a space for the

thought of "existence." The expo~ition of the "existence" opened
in the space of a fol'tl~m ,."t;ol1il demands that this fact be brought
to irs limit.
The "fact of reason" consists. for Kant. in moral consdousness;
in an exposure. more precisely. to altogether necessary. uncondi-
tioned, "categorical" imperatives. Since the necessity of these im
peratives does not lie in a "nessary connexion" among objects.
their mtrr possibility-the sheer possibility that one can act on their
basis alone. the possibility that pure reason can be practical-acti-
vates them and thus makes them actual: attention, n:spect, must
be paid to them. The necessity of these imperatives lies in their
pos."ibility: this is not simply the rehabilitation of the ontological
proof of God's existence but the formula for "existence" without
ground and without rational demonstration. a formula for the de
formation of the distinction between transcendental and empirical
that is already under way in the phra."e foctum ,.,ionis. The em-
piricity of this fact cannot be gainsaid; or rather, to do so-and
there is, according to Kant, an inclination in this direction-
amounts 10 excusing onC5elf from the claims of moralil}' and ther~
fore from "the humanity in one's person. "I! To ground morality on
empirical claims is. however. to undermine the unconditional char
acrer of its imperatives. So the "fact of reason" marks the point
where the separation of transcendental conditions from empirical
evidence no longer suffices. Nancy does not replace these terms
with other ones, but takes the factidty of this faCt to consist in a
certain consciousness and pursues this consciousneSS-lhis famil
iarity with the demand to dissociate oneself from everything fa-
miliar-to its limit. Such a consciollsness is. according 10 a word
Nancy employs in Th~ Cakgor;cllllmp~raliw, a "haunted" one/ J a
consciousness or conscience that denies its familiarity with [he
"fad' of which it is conscious; it is a consciousness so driven to
drive out the "fact" of which it is conscious. so ready to the
experience of being implored to act unconditionally that it makes
freedom into a mere matter of consciousness, something subjec
dye. Aeeting. epiphenomenal. delusive, a necessary deception.
Foreword xxvii

"':lkcn to its limit. moral ,on5Ciousne~ denics itself and realizes this
d"llial in acting for no other rcason than to deny the uncondi-
lionc:Jne5s and uncanniness ofits imperatives.
To deny the uncondirionedness and uncannincss of imperatives
H honom, to disre(tard the moral law nell for the sake of plea-
~lIrc or happincss hut out of a profound contempt for the condi-
(inn of imt, mity and groundlessness it announces. Insecurity and
grnundlt'Ssness manifest themselves in the unascertainabiliry of the
"voice" that implofl's unconditional action a~ well a.~ in the very
wndition of heing ullconditioned that this voice. each time
uniqudy. inaugurates. To act in order to spite-not in spite of-
the condition of being unconditioned reaches deeper than the
"radical evil" of which Kant wrote and in which he could see the
rums of a purel)' ('thical religion. Acting out of profound contempt
tor the unique "fact of rcason." acting in order to wipe away the
condition of being unconditioned. acting on the hasis of ground-
lessness--this is not irrationality. especially if "rea~on" means ren-
dering the grountfs and causes of things; it is not irrationality but
",il'Iuv/nl'JJ. and it can a~~("n itself in appeals to empirical knowl-
edge as readily as in ,alls to transcendence:. "Uncouthness" would
perhaps be another name for this action, if it Were no longer con-
lcived as isolilrion frnm everything hum.. n nature compels us to do
hili were, insread. seen as the furious denial of the uncouthness,
uncanniness. and ulK~l'tainty of freedom; for wickedness wants
nothing more than for freedom to disappt'ar inro nern necessity.
and for wmmonaliry ro mean nothing but partaking of a common
suhstance, a ~pecifk nature, one plale of nativit),. nne nation. a
p;utkular race. The experience of freedom cannot he dissociated
from an exposure to wickedness, to a non-Humcan-if neverthe-
less all-too-human-"uncouthness," which i~ nOI just ,he nans-
ti,rmation nf freedum inlll somethin~ subjective but. above all. rhe
('rct:lion of "fraternities" on the ever tirl11t"r foundations that this
uansformation, this d('Scenr into c\il, promises.
The experience of freedom cannot therefore be dis..~ociated frolll
an exposure to what Kant had called-although he denied it could
ever lake place and. a.o; a result. made it into the limit of ethical

philosophy-"ahsolute evil."~ Wickedness, which is not simply

moral depravity, defies the distinaion between the transcendental
condition and empirical evidence even more forcefully than d~
the "faa of reason. The positivity of wickedness drives the thought

offrcedom Nancy pursues; it is its singular necessity, its unKjue ur-

gency. So little does Th~ Exp~ri~n{'~ of Frmlom rest content with
the free play of a harmless freedom that the very opposite of this
assertion-that it feverishly tracks down the harm freedom does to
itself-hits doser to the mark. With the acknowledgment of the
positivity of wickedness not only is every possible theodicy con-
demned to failure but so, too, is every other mode of giving
grounds for and thereby "justifying" the world. Friedrich Schelling,
raking his lead from Kant's last writings. made the positivity of evil
into the very starting point of thought. and the strangeness of this
thought-which excites ever more insistent appeals to homes and
homdands-plays no small part in setting continemal philosophy
adrift from its Anglo-American counterpart. Of even greater sig-
nificance to Nancy's endeavor than Heidcgger's altercation with
Kant over the character of the transcendental imagination is mere-
fore Heidegger's reading of Schelling's still too often neglected
Philosophkallnvmigationl ;nttJ th~ Ellm{'~ of Human FrwJom. In
his reading of Schdling Heidcggcr confronts a positivism" of free-
dom developed from the distinction between "existence" and
Hground." In the groundlessness of existence evil posits itself as its
own ground. Such is, for Schelling, the positivity of evil. Since
Heidegger, by contrast, never fuDy acknowledged this positivity. he
can never arrive at the abyssal foundation of Schelling's ueatise,
and this failure, which finds its echo in Heidegger's assertion that
Schelling's idealism prevented him from coming up with the idea
of Dm~;1I, cannot but appear as the rwnblings of a justification, the
implicit expounding, to use Nancy's words, of a "secret, impercep-
tible on tod icy. "n

The positivity of wickedness-nothing has exercised so mu,h

fascination in [he last two centuries than this. "the Rower.; of evil."
And nothing has elicited more strenuous attempts to reconstruct
ForrworJ XXIX

[he libc:rties and communities torn apart in wickedness. German

Idealism <:ould see in evil the very labor of spirit; its insight into
,he negativity of evil and of death expressed itself in the affirma-
tion that infinite spirit had to dwell in its own n('gation in order
flU it to recognize its freedom, to posit itself in destruction and to
seLUre its self-presence in recollection. So persistent is this schema
of rcrognirion, reconstruction. and tccollcction that it dominates
projects and discourses that have never heard of dialectics and want
to know nothing of its operations; but every project and every dis-
course of reconstruction gives new life to theadicy, even those that
set out to defend libc:nies and show how the defense of liberties ac-
c:ords with the plan of God, of natul't, or even of human freedom
When Nancy writes that the experience of freedom is not the C'X-
perience of "'classical empiricism, nor even that of an 'empiricism
without positivity,' ",. it is because (ahhough this "bccawe" antici-
pates Nancy's own discussion) the experience of freedom finds its
urgency in the positivity of wickedness, a positivity that classical
versions of empiricism are unable (0 handle. In Nancy's hands em-
piricism does not shirk positivity. bur the positivity it touches no
longer consists of impressions, sensations, or "brute facts." It con-
sists of another species of brutality altogether: the insistence on a
foundation at all costs, a furiow insistence on a ground in the face
of groundlessness, an insistence that expresses itself in acting so as
to spite the condition of groundlessness. an insistence that. to put
it bluntly. cannot stand cx-istence. And this positivity so alters em-
piricism that it could never again ra'ert to its classical vel'!iions, nor
tn a new, romantic revision. J7 Nancy may at times call this alter-
ation of empiricism "materialism," but the materialism he pursues
docs not propose to reduce psychic phenomena to their physiolog-
ical hases; the very schema of phenomenon-foundation that mate-
ri:1lism has traditionally shared with idealism has no place in his
ptc:semations of irreducibility, passivity, simplicity. elementariness.
No longer a doctrine of how words secure their meaning. no
longer sure even of its own semantics, ,. empiricism in Nallcy's

hands becomes an exposition of groundleSlineS!i: an exposition of

freedom. which removes every ground from existence. and an ex-
posicion of wickedness. which insists on a ground for-and there-
fore wipes away--cxistence. Nancy's empiricism does not set out
to build a world om of fragmented and disconcerting experiences.
It is the posirivity of wickedness, not the given ness of sensations or
impressions. that has torn the world apart. and every efTon at re-
building convert5 wickcdneSli into a mode of a negativity that fur-
ther work. especially the labor of recognition and recollection,
promises (0 overcome. Nancy's empiricism exposes the event that
takes place in the space of existence. groundlessness. liberality, gen-
erosity: it is the coming up. without ground, and the taking over.
withom posse.~ion, which is named in the word sur-prist. And this
empiricism can only show the experience of "surprise" that every
insistence on grounds, every demand for "necessary connexions."
every application of the category ground-consequence, every claim
to necessity and to be necessitated. miSSC5. Surprise. however, is ex-
perience. and any empiricism without surprise. any empiricism de-
voted entirely to the cuslOmary and the everyday, fails to do justice
to empiriciry.
That something-it has been called "the positivity of wicked-
ness"-drives Nancy's empiricism shows how little it, in a vain at-
tempt to maintain its innocence. can excuse itself from an insis-
tence on necessity. This insistence expresses irself with ever greater
urgency in the final sections of this great book: decision, Nancy
makes dear. cannUl be avoided. The unavoidability of decision
doe.c; nor, however. amounr to a "condemnation" to frcOOom; on
thc contrary. it is the condition of frcedom. the condition that is
mistaken for a ground whenever one wants to secure freedom--or
even when one wants merely to defend civillihenies. For frudom
cannot bt rrt'Umi and this "cannot" expres..~es rhe unavoidabiliry of
decision. Freedom cannot be safeguarded. and so a decision for or
against freedom-for or against existence without essence, for or
against community with om common substance-is always neces-
sary and is always already taken. Freedom cannot be secured, and
so every labor of liberation implies that this labor must at every
Forrll'ord xxxi

11I00llent he willing to abandon it5e1f in favor ufliheraliry. generos-

" ,md abandunmellt--to give lip irs sacrificial designs and des-
lillie:. MiMakin~ the mnliirion oHreooom for its ground may have
il~ ronr~ in a desire to guard freedom against ib enemies. bill it can-
/Jilt rio so. Evcn under the guilie of defending dvilliherries. this mis-

1.lke takl's away the "surprise" offreooom-its overtaking. without

possession. and its coming up, without ground. And it is precisely
Ihi~ mistake that Nancy. like every guod empiricist. relentlessly
tr.u.:ks down.
Fur Nancy i~ precisd~' that: a gooc.i empiricist, so good in fact
that he knows how thoroughly the "brute facn" -or the fact of
brutality-undermine the exercise in semantic control that first
(!.OIVC rise to the doctrine of empiricism ;111(1 that finds expression in

its liberating imperative: trust no doctrinal words. give credence to

'''pcril'nce alone. But the relinquishing of semantic control docs
nnl mean that words somehow lose their meaning in Nancy's writ-
ing. nor do dIe)' somehow regain their meaning in the "vivid" pres-
elll:c of the things thcm!IClves. On the contrary, language wirh- into precisely the same position as fn'edom itself: it cannot
he SCClU'ed. Icast of all by impressions. sen~rions. or "Jived" expe-
rience. The insecurity of language makes its apcrience-not that
of imprt'Ssions or semations-into the "expericnce of experience":
into the experience of tbought. when thought no longer means at
hlluom ~eeking grounds. and into freedom. when freedom no
longer !lames a spel:il" of cau~lir). Nancy ha~ a name for the ex-
perience of language: he calls it "communication, Nothing is
mml1lunicatoo in this ,,-ummunicalion but the "ery ability to com-
munk:nc. and (his ability. which has nothing on which to operate
,111\1 dues nO( therefore name a ~pecific power. is, once again. frce-
llnlll. anc.1 it freely gives. yet again. cmTIlllunilY.
I he We Free to Speak
of Freedom?

If nothing is more common today than demanding or defending

freedum in the s~lheres of morality, law, or politics--to sut:h an ex-
rent rhat "equality." "fraternity," and "t:ommunity" have demon-
strably and firmly been pushed. if at times regrenably. into the
kKkground of preoccupations and imperatives, or have finally ~n
heen considered as antonyms of freedom-then nothing i5 less ar-
ticulated or problematized, in turn, than the namre and stakes of
what we call "frcedom." What hilS in fact occurred is a divorce be-
tw<:cn the ethico-juridico-political and the philosophical. Such a
separation is nothing new in history. when: it i5 for the most part
constant. but in the modern world this separation has reached the
point of rupture between what is in principle universally recog-
ni/xli llIuler the name of "freedom. and what elsewhere remains
'Iuestioned, under this ~ame name. by a thinking 5till cummitted in
a thousand ways 10 reinitiating it5 emire tradition.
We can repeat after H~eI. as a hanal evidence of our world:
No illca is so generally recognized as indc=finitc. ambiguous. and open
10 Ihe grealr51 mi5conceptions (to which IhcrdtJrc it a<;luo1l1y falls a
\'H':lilll) a5 the idra of Freedom: none in common curren,)' with 5U
liule appredalion of its mraning,l

This is why a divorce has taken place between, on the one hand.
a \cl of determinations [hat are relarivel)" Iltccisc in their pragmat-
Art' ~ Fr to Speak ofFreedom?

ic definitions and that are j7mJoms-a collection of rights and ex-

emprions--the suppression or even suspension of which we know
opc'ns directly onto the intolerable itself. which is not intolerable sole-
ly from the point of view of moral values. but which is the intoler-
able. down to the very flesh and course of existences; and on the oth-
er hand. an "Idra" of freedom. called for or promised by freedoms-
yet we hardly know what this idea represents or presents of the
"essence" of"human beings." and we request that it not be examined.
specified. questioned. or above all implemented. so certain are we
that this would result in Chaos or "i'error. In this way. nlil-to the
point of wickedness. whida we shall have to speak of further-has for
us come to be incarnated in alilhat threatens or destroys the free-
doms most frequently described by the epithet "democratic."
Meanwhile. the essential "good" of a freedom in which the human
existence of human beings would be affirmed. that is. exposed and
transcended. has become totally indeterminate. stripped of all divine.
heroic. Promethean. or communitarian splendor. and is now bare:-
ly defined. except negatively. and in relation to evil.
Neverrheless we know-by mrans of another knowledge no less
incontestable but kept in some way discreet. if not ashamed-that
"freedoms" do not grasp the stakes of "freedom: They delimit nec-
essary conditions of contemporary human life without consider-
ing existence as such. They sketch the contours of their common
concept-"freedom"-as if these were the borders of an empty. va-
cant space whose vacancy could definitively be taken to he its only
pertinent trait. But if fret.odom is to be verified as the CS5entiai fact of
existence. and consequently as the fact of the very meaning of ex-
istence. then this vacancy would be nothing other than the vacan-
cy of meaning: not only the vacancy of the meanings of existence.
whose entire metaphysical program our history has exhausted. but
the vacancy of this jrwdom ofmeaning in whose absence existence is
only survival. history is only the course of things. and thinking. if
there is still room 10 pronounce this word. remains only intellectual
Under these conditions. the philosopher wonders if he can do any-
thing other than "speak of freedom. in all the ambiguity of this ex-
pression: in one sense. he cannot but demand of thinking a think-
Art' WI' Frtt' to Spt'd/t ofFytNiorn? 3

in~ (and therefore a discourse) of freedom. for reasons es.o;ential to

philosophy's constitution and destination (as we have already evoked
III the preceding pages, and as we will specify later); but in another
scme. he can unly "5pcak about freedom." that is. not speak of frtt-
dam as such-he can associate a motif. bur not assemhle a concept
or an Idea (or he can renounce freedom by taking refuge in the in-
cO"ahle ).
"To 5pcak of freedom" is accordingly lO suspend philusophy's
work. And this is in fact me very pos.c;ibiliry of a "philosophi7jng" on
freedom that finds itself. today, subjected to two kinds of obsta-
The first kind of obstacle consists in the self-evidence of the
common notion offreedom-which is always more or less that uf
a free will-couplcd with the moral self-evidence of the nessi[), of
preserving the rights of this freedom. Because self-evidence is in-
volved, it is not necessary to question foundations; undertaking
this type of questioning. however. risks weakening the self-eviden\;;c.
Still. with some diffi\;;ulty it is possible [0 avoid doing this. once
cenain rights are no longer simply defined as the free disposal of
something (which presupposes its ownership, or its acquired use), but
when they imply instead that the thing be pla\;;ed at the disposal of
the freedom to use it (for example, the work for a free right to
work) and that it necessarily be placed at this disposal hy an appa-
ram ... usually that of the State. whose logic cannot be libertarian. In
other words, once the right of all to the usc of common goods-air,
I~lr example-requires regulation to enable this usc (i.e . in the ca.c;e
I)f "ollmion). it is no longer merely a question of positing fre~
(Ioms. It has to ba:ornc possible to think the freedom that un posit
an\1 defin~ these freedoms, regulating the conditions of their actu-
;d de~llo)'menr. In all the ways that we orient ourselves toward the ex-
ploitation of the resources of the "Third World" or toward the
rnana~em~11t of automatic files and information banks. the rights of
fre~.'\I'JIII today do not ccase to complicate indefinitely their I't'lations
with the duti~ of the same freedom. In many respects, nothing
ha~ hecn displaced of what authorizcU ami demanded the Marxian
I ritiquc of the formal freedoms auributed to human beings who were

"illla~inary members of an imaginary sovercignry."~ Still, the "self

evidence" remains. stubborn and inert. though what remains with
this "sclf-evidence" is often. beyond the supposedly transparent im-
perative of a strict independence of individuals (but what is sdf-cv-
ident about the very concept of "individual"?). only a feeble and pale
idea. obscured partly by its own realization. How could we nor
identify with these lines of Adorno:
Ever since me ~nt<.'Cnth ccnrury. fm:dom had been dc:6ncd as all great
philosoph)"s mOon private concern. Philosophy had an unexpressed
mandate from the bourgeoisie to find transparent grounds for free-
dom. But mat concern i~ antagonistic in itself. It goes against the old
oppression and promotes tM new one. the one that hides in the prin-
(;iple of rationality iuclf. One sc:eb a common furmula fur freedom and
oppression, ceding freedom 10 Ihe rationality that restricts it. and re-
moving it from empiricism in which one does not even wam to see it
realized. The alliance of libertarian docrrine and reprasivc practice
removes philosophy farther and farther from genuine insight into the
freedom and un freedom of the living. But that frrcdom grows ob-
solete withom having been realized-thi.~ is not a fatality to be ac-
cepted; it is a falality whkh resistance must clarify.]

The second kind of obstacle is found in philosophy itself and in

felt[(as Adorno's text makes clear) constitutes the theoretical sub-
sumption of rhe first obstacle. Bur what appeared there as self-evi-
dence appears here as aporia. The philosophical thought of fn:cdom
has been thoroughly subordinated to the determination of an on-
tology of subjectivity. In the ontology of subjectivity. being is posit-
ed as the lllbjtllm of represcntation. in which. by this fact. the:
appearing of all things is converted. The esscnce of being is to "ap-
pear (0 itself' (sapparaitrtl in such a way that nothing is. unless
supported in its phenomenality by the sobject, and in such a way
that the sobjc:ct itself successfully passes the trial of phenomcnality:
"phenumenology of spirit." Freedom has not been considered as
anything othcr than the fundamental modality of the act of ap-
pearing to oneself-this act in which the subject is always simulta-
neously ill Ilchl and ill po'mlill. its act the potential for representa-
tion. its potential the act of phenomcnality. This actualiZiltion ofpo-
tt'nti4t-which is fundamentally the insraurarional gesture of
Art' W? J-i-rt' f(} Speak ofFn't'dom?

.. uhjcctivity-thinks itsclf as freedom. which means as the power of

.lpl'l:aring to on~...df, or as the power of determining oneself ac-
Lording [() repreSt'llIiltion and as (the subjet."f 00 representation.
The corollary of this is a potmtia/iwtio" O/I/)t' act-which is noth-
ing ocher than freedom determining itself as free u~i11. if will is de-
filleu ",cording [U Kam (ami not as we cried to understand it above)
"the power to be by m~ns of one's rcp~ntations the cause of the
',llil)' of these sam(" representations." For the ontology of 5ubjec-
li\'iIY, freedom is the "c:t (which also means the being) of (re)pre-
sl'lIling oneself as the pmclllial ti.u (re)presentalion (of oneself and
';"I'rj,," of Ihe world). It is free rcprescmation (where I accede 50V-
erci~"ly to m)sclf) of f~ represemation (which depends only on my
From this point of view. the great classical philosophical notion5
uf freroom all turn out to he. at a c:enain level of analysis. in pro-
filUnd soli,laricy. Although LJescartes distinguishes bt'rwet'n the
freedom of indifference and tht' perfection of a free will instructed
in rhe good or u~i~ted by ~race. and although Hegel steers between
Ihe bad infinity of the r,,~c will given over [0 its comingem satis-
f." lions and the "aC:lua! and free will" that has "universal detenni-
IMlioll" for its ob;ect.~ the es.~nCt' of llllhjectivity is at work in each
ca~e. It is the self-tietcrmination of the will that i5 dialeuically su-
perseded in the grasp of nccc5Sity~r else it is lhe representation of
Ihe n~"(;es.~ity that wills ilSeU: In one OISC it is a qUl'Scion of releasing.
I;)r ilself ami in its punc:mality. the "self" ofuapllearing to 01lt'St'/f."
and this is what comprises the: singular blend of comingent.)' and ne-
n:ssily in lhe Cartesian dedsiun en douht. In the other case. it is a
lJlII.."Slion of showing that this "self" appears to it5c1f as Being. with
its prcliicates of universality. necessity. truth. and 'i4l on.
Whl'l1 a contra,lil"liun is presented between the infiniteness and
;Ihsullllcness given in the act nf being. and rill' faer that the act of its
f rttdnll1 consigns it to a history that must not alread}' be given.
Ill'gdian Ilistory supersedes the contJ"Jdictioll. insof.u as becoming
i\ there the subjeuivil}' lIf selt~;\ppearing heing: but nothing ap-
p(\m In icself exccvr this suhjec:tivity prcortiaineti to itself. in which
historicity as such is annulled. Ultimately. the completely dcvel-
6 Art' ~ F1W to Sp~ak ofFrmJom?

oped (and nO( refilred. as Gennan Idealism wished) metaphysical free

will will have been the free will of indifferent being, which decides
itself in dividing itself. and which in dividing itself appears to itself
in the freedom of its necessity. The so-called Buridan's ass will have
existed as the animal-subject thar resolves irs problem by cutting it-
Jt'/f in two (KI '" I") and by reconstituting itself, in the same in-
stant and without history. in the representation of it~e1f eating and
drinking .. '
Kantian freedom. to the extent that it is a "keystone." likewise is
nothing other than that in which reason can and must appear to it-
self. confirming the delimitation of theoretical phenomenality, and
opening-as [he lineaments of a history. or at any rate of a desti-
nation-thc having-ta-be of a moral "second nature" that would be
the prtical phenomenalizalion of reason: its namred essence, its
(re)prcsented subjectivity. The "keystone" is the point of equilibri-
um on which the forces of a construction founded in reason's (crit-
ical) self-(re)prcsentation are buttressed and secured.
The ontology of subjectivity is also the ontology in which being-
as subject-is foundarion. At me limit of the thoughts of foundation.
where existence must be thought of as its own essence, which means
as in-essential and un-founded, foedom as conceived by the ph ilos-
ophy of subjectivity is no longer praakabk (but was there ever a
different thought of freedom?). This is why the philosopher finds
himself. dare we say. caught between the principial self-evidence of
a "freedom" and the final aporia of this same freedom as foundation.

Accordingly, it could be: that we no longer have the task of think-

ing what was presented or transmitted to us under the name of
frt'edom. Perhaps we mwt free ourselves from this freedom and
consequently draw freedom back to itself. or withdraw it from itself.
or even withdraw it in itself-not in order to recommit ourselves
through a dapcrate about-face to the invention of some new dis-
cretionary authority (we would not be changing terrain, for despo-
tism and freedom form a couple: the former figures. in a particular
subjectivity, the ontology of the latter, whose benefits it simultane-
owly withdraws from other pankular subjectivitics), but in order to
relate both the necessary thought of existence as such and an ethic
ATt' We Fret' to SI"ak ofF"~dom? 7

of freedoms that would no longer he merely negative or defensive.

to another concept or anmher motif whose name or idt'a we do
not yet have. This should at least mean that we would have the
t.l~k of delivering ourselves from the thought of "frc:cdom" as a
I,rnperty of the subjective constitution of being. and as the property
of an individual "subject."
But in fact it is not we who decide whether this will be the task of
philosophy. even if it is necessary for us to make a decision. h is not
all option otTered to our free will any more than philosophizing
fll:l.uom as such or any of its "orientations" was ever a matter of fTeely
choosing a "freedom of thought."
If philosophy has rcal.:hed the limit of the ontology of subjectiv-
it)', this is bcGlu.c;e it has hem led to this limit. It was led to that point
hy Iht' initial decision of philosophy itself. This decision was the de-
cision of freedom-perhaps of the freedom preceding every conl.:Cpt
Ill' fieedom (if it is possible to speak thu.~ ... ) which belonged. for
['lam, to the "philosophical natural": thc generous availability and
freedom of demeanor rather than self-representation-and it WClli in
any case, and is still, the del.:ision of a freedom necessarily prior to
every philosophy of freedom. This was not and is not-in [he his-
tory in which it never ceases to precede and surprise: us-the deci-
sion of philosophy, but rather the decision foT philosophy, the de-
cision that delivers and will ddiver philosophy to its destiny (and we
will have HI ~peak further of "destiny"). Philosophy too, as soon as
it touches wit hin itself the limit of the thought of foundation. or as
soon as it is carried by way of itself to the unfoundable border of this
thought, can no longer represcm its own beginning as the origi-
nar)' unity of a Subject-of-philosophy appearing to itsdf in its free-
dom. or of a Subjcct-of-freedom appearing to itself as philosophy. (As
Ilcgd represented it: "A higher and freer science [philosophical sci- our art in its free beaut), like our tastc and love of these,
h;l'. we know, its roots in the Greek life from which it drew spirit. ")6
()n the contrary, the diffirmu in the origin and the: difference of
thl' origin (as Derrida brings to light in his examination of the
pllliosophical concept of origin and simultaneously of the philo-
\lIphical thinking of the origin of philosoph)r requires us [0 think
dw philosophy ilIld its fi'udom do 11of ftJillCid~ ill II SIIbjl'ctil't' pmmr~.
8 Ar~ W? me to Speak ofFrw"om~

and that every philosophial tk,ision (and consequently the originary

decision of philosophy and the origin of this decision)~ery time
that a "subject . takes the decision to philosophize:' as Hegel
daims,M or every time that philosophy "tries to change the procedure
followed until now in metaphysics and to effect a revolution in it."
as Kant daim5-is delivered ro itsclfby something that. unknown
to it. has already been raised into thinking (and that might well
be nothing other than thinki"g iuclf). At the same ti me, it must also
be thought that this decision renders beyond itself something that
arises, each time. from a freedom still to come from thinking (here
again. perhaps: thinking iuclf). In other words, there is decision for
philosophy and philosophical decision to the extent that thinking
does not appear to itself in a subject, but receives (itself) from a
freedom that is not present to it. Thus one could say that "free-
dom," in philosophy, was brought to us at the hean of an aporia that
overcame itself as soon a~ it was formed (in Kant. Schelling. or
Hegel). but that the theme of freedom brings us to a liberation
with regard to its (rc}presentation. in such a WolY that the resources
of this liberation arc not yet available to us. The thinking of fm:dom
can only be seized. surprised, and taken from elsewhere by the very
thing it think.o;.
If there were not something like "freedom." we would not speak
of it. For even when it is deprived of a referent or empty of all as-
signable signification. this word still carries. even to the point of in-
decision. or rather in the impasse of its meanings. the very mmning
of logos in which philosophy recogni; itself: the opening of a free
space of meaning. Thus philosophy has always already given itself
over to the thinking of what it can neither master nor examine:
and this is also what we understand. simply. by "being-free." We are
therefore not free to think freedom or not to think it, but thinking
(that is. the human being) is free for freedom: it is given over [0 and
delivered for what from the beginning exceeded it. outran it. and
overflowed it. But it is in this way that thinking definitively keeps irs
place in the world of our most concrete and living relations. of our
most urgent and serious decisions.
2 Necessity of the Theme
of Freedom: Mixed Premises
and Conclusions

Once existem:e is no lon~r produced or deduced, but simply

posited (thi~ simpliciry arrests all our thought), and once existence
is ;lhandnncd to this positing at the same time that it is abandoned
hy ir, we must rhink the freedom of thi~ ahandonment. In other
words. once cxilitence, instead of "preceding," "following." or even
"following from" essrnce (symmetrical 'mnubs of exis rcntial isms and
cssenrialisms. captives-che one as much as the othcr-of a differ-
1"IlrC of essence: between essence and existence). once existence itsdf
cnnsritutcs CSlicnc.:e ("Vas 'W~sm' tin lMs~;,1S Ij~ ill u;lIrr Exisl~"
"The: 'essence' of Dascin lies in irs cxistem;e, &i1lK anti 1im~. 9),
,lIld consequently once these two concepts and their opposition
Me no longer relevant to anything hllt the history of metaphysics.
(Iiell we must think. at rhe limit of this history, the st~ of dtis oth-
er C(lI1(cpr: "freedom." Freedom can no lonl!tOr be eithcr "cssential"
or Kcsi~tcntial," but is implicatetf in the chiasmus of these con-
~e:pu: we have: to consider what makes existence, whkh is in its
eS~cr1<.:e: abandoned to a freedom, free for this abandonment. of-
terctllo it and available in it. Pcrhaps it will not he possible to pre-
'nw the \'cry name ami c.:OlllCr' of freedom. We will return to
tillS. But if the Cliscnc.:e that is otlrred to existence docs not in some
wa~' "rr~" existence in its most proper essence. then thought has
IIllrhing Ide to "think" anll existence: has nothing lett to "live": the
1I1l\: antI rhe other arc strippetf of all experience.

10 Nnsity ofthe Theme ofFreedom

In still other words: once existence clearly offers itself (this c1ar-
iry dazzles us) no longer as an empiri!;ity that would need to be
related to its !;onditions of possibility, or sublated [re~ri in a tran-
s!;endence beyond itself, but instead offers itself as a factualiry that
contains in itself and as such. hk et ,,"nt", the reason for its presen!;C
and the presence: of its reason, we must-whatever (he modes of this
"presence" and of this "reason"-think its "'fact" as a "freedom."
This means that we must think what gives existence back to itself
and only to itself, or what makes it available as an txisttnC"e that is nei-
ther an essence: nor a sheer given. (The quesion is no longer exactly
"Why is there something?" nor is it any more exactly this other
question to which freedom seems to be linked in a more visible
manner, namely, "Why is there evil?," but it becomes "Why these
very questions by which existence affirms itself and abandons itsclf
in a single gesture?")
Indeed, if the factuality of being-exinence as such-or even if
its haeccity, the being-the-there, the being-that-is-this-there, the
da-srin in the local intensity and temporal extension of its singu1arity,
cannot in itself and as such be freed from (or be: the freeing 00
the steady, ahistorial, unlocalizable, self-positioning immobility
of Being signified as principle, substance, and subject of what is
(in shon: ifin fact being. or if the fact of being, cannot be the free-
ing of being itself. in all of the senses of this genitive). then thought
is condemned (Wt'are condemned) to the pressing thickness of [he
nigtu in which not only are all cows black. bur their very rumination.
down to their death. vanishes--and we with them-into a fold-
less immanence. which is not even unthinkable, sino: it is (l priDri Ollt
of reach of all thought. even a thought of the unthinkable.
If we do not think being itself. the being of abandoned exis-
tence. or even the being of being-in-me-world. as a "freedom" {or
perhaps as a liberality or generosity more original than any free-
dom}. we are condemned to think of freedom as a pure "Idea" or
"right," and being-in-the-world, in return. as a forever blind and ob-
twe necessity. Since Kant. philosophy and our world have heen re-
lentlessly placed before this tear. This is why jdeology today de-
mands freedom, but does not think it.
N~msity oftht T"t1n~ oIF~~", II

Freedom is everything except an "Idea" (in a ~ense. Kant himself

kncw ,his). Freedom is a fact: in this essay. we will not cease dis-
(us-,ing lhis fact. Out it is the fact of existence as the essence of itself.
The factuality of this fact docs not belong to a transhistorically
pcrct'pri\'e self-evidence: it maka itself. and makes itself known to
experience. through a history. Not through the History of Freedom.
Ihe: teleological and eschatological age of the revelation and re-oll-
ilarinn of an Idea (by which a Freedom :wured of its ~e1f-repre
scnrarion can necessarily only aim at being reabsorbed into
Ne:ssity), but by the freedom of history. which means by the ef-
tectivity of a becoming in which something happens. where "time
is out of joint." as Hamler says. and by the generativity or gen-
erosiry of the new. which gives and gives itself to thinking: for all ex-
i5lC:nce is new. in its birth and in its death to the world.

Existence as its own esscm;e-the singularity ofbeing-present-

cd iuelf when history set a limit to thoughts concerning being as
foundation. In such thoughts, freedom could not be given unles,.',
founded; yet as freedom. it had to be founded in freedom itself;
this exigency determined the incarnation, or at least the figuration.
of freedom in a supreme being. a (1I1Utl sui whose existence and
fren\ol1l were meanwhile. in the name of being in general. to be
fllunded in necessity .... Once God is no longer the gratuitous-
ncs~ of his own existence and the love of his creation (to which a
taith, nor a thought. could respond). and once he becoma ac-
countahle to all existences for their foundation. "God" becomes
Ihc name of a necessary freedom whose sdf-nccrssiration actually de-
rl'rminc::s the metaphysical concept of tfeedom (as the freedom of ne-
cessity. no less). In this way, being's free ncccssity appears to itself as
the supreme being [Itllllt). the Idea of which performs what we
could call being's metaphysical mrning away: broken off from irs own
'alt. from i15 da-~in, it nevertheless ~stttbliJIm this fa~t. but it eli-
tilhlidlcs it on a foundation and as its own foundation-b~ing.
hn'dum of necessity is the dialectical predicate of being's subject-
hcill~. Along with all existences. being therefore finds itself sub-
12 N~msity oftlJ~ T"~m~ ofFIT~dom

But freedom. if it is something. is the very thing that prevents it-

self from being founded. The existence of God was to be free in the
sense that the freedom that sustained his existence could not become
one of its prcditates or properties. Theology and philosophy had cer-
tainly recogni7.ed this limit. or this dilemma. Conceived of as free-
dom's necessary being, God risked (if one did not elaborate subtle
lUI hoc arguments) ruining both himself and freedom. ("Is not free-
dom the power God lacks. or which he only has verbally. since he
cannot disobey the command that In is. the command of which
he is the guarantor?" Georges Bataille. Litm,tu" lind Evil) The
freedom of the gods (if one must speak of gods ... ). like every
freedom. makes them susceptible to existence or nonexistence (they
can die): it is not their attribute. but their destiny. In return. a be-
ing taken for btingas such. founding the freedom on which it is it-
self founded. designates the internal border of the limit of onto-theo-
logy: ahsolute subjectivity as the eS5ence of essence. and of exis-
This limit is reached as soon a.~ the logic and signification of
fo"nJAtio" in general. that is to say. philosophy, is achieved. The end
of philosophy deprives w of a foundation offreedom as much as it
deprives us offrc:edom as foundation: bur this "deprivation" was al-
ready inscribed in the philosophical aporia consubstantial with the
thought of a foundation of freedom andlor with the thought of
freedom as foundation. In philosophy itself. this aporia was per-
haps already announced and denounced at the same time that
Spin01.a attributed freedom exclusively to a God who was not a
foundation, but pure existence. and of whom Hegelian Spirit and
then Marxian Man were perhaps also the inheritors, raising the
question-still unperceived a!l such--of an existing and unfound-
ed freedom. or of a freeing of existence down 10 its fclUndation (or
down to its essence). Thus. [he end of philosophy would be tkliv-
~rllnc~ from foundation in that it would withdraw existence from
the necessity of foundation, but also in that it would be sct free
from foundation, and given over to unfounded "freedom."
At the limit of philosophy. there where we arc, nor having made
our way. but having happened and still happening, there is only-
Nrmjity oftilt rlltmt ofFrudom 13

,"<:1 ,b","" ;$ (whidl is no longer an affidavit. but a sci~ure)-rhe free

~Ii~~e'rnination of existence. 'Ibis free disscmination (whosc formu-
101 l11i~htwell he only a tautology) is not rhe diffmctilln of a principle,
nur dIe' multiple effcct of a cause, but is the an-archy-thc: origin rc-
JIlO"cd from every logic of origin. from every an:haeology-of a
singular and rlllI~ in essence plural arising whose being lIS bnng is nci-
(h~'r ~rolln(i. nor dement. nor reason. but truth, which would
'1I11O~nt to saying. under rhe circumstances. freedom. The qucs-
tiun of hcing. the quesrion of the meaning ()f being-as a qucs-
tion conccrning the meaning of what arises inro existence when
flO entity can found rhat existence-perhaps has no other definitive
meaning than the following. which, properly SI"'4:'1king. is no longer
the meaning of a "question": the recognition of rhe freedom of be-
ing in its singularity.
ThLis it is no longer a qUf'Stinrl of winning or defending the free-
dom uf man, or human frt'Cdoms. as if these were goods tha[ one
could secure a~ possession or property, and whose essential virtue
w(mld he to allow human beings to be what they are (as if human
bci ngs and freedom drcularly returned to each other in the hean of
J simple immanence). rrutcad, it is a question of offering human be--
illgs ro a freedom of being, it is a quesrion of presenting the hu-
manity of the human being (his "essence") ro a freedom lIS b~ing by
which existent.'C ahmlmcly and resolutely "'IIIUcrlUIs. that is, DC-isrs.
In all movements ofliberation. as in all vested insri rutions of free-
dom. it i~ precisely this transcendence which still has ro he freed, In
atHl through ethical. juridical, material. and civil libertics.' one
mll~t rree that through which alone these liberties are, on the one
hanJ. ultimately possible and thinkable. and on the other, capa-
hie of receiving a dadnatiun mher rhan that of their immanent
~df-(omul11pti()n: a rranscendencc of existence slich that existence.
a~ exislcncc-in-the-world. which has nothing [n do with any other
World. transcends (i.e . cOIuinues 1lI 3ccompli~h) the "es.~encc" that
if i, in the finitude in which it in-sis[s. Only a finite being can be free
(alld it finite being is an existent), for the infinite being encloses
lilt' nC~l~sity of its freedom. which it 5Cals [() its being. Ir is rherefOre
'Miml of nothing other than lihcrating human ~om from the
Nnsity ofthe Theme ofFrtedom

immanence of an infinite foundation or finality, and liberating it

therefore from iu own infinite projection to infinity, where tran-
scendence (existence) itself is transcended and thereby annulled. It
is a question of letting freedom exist for itself. Freedom perhaps
designates nothing more and nothing less than existence itself. And
ex-istmct does not 50 much signify what can at least be connoted by
a vocabulary of the "ccsusy" of being. tom from ioelf. it signifies sim-
ply the freedom of being. that is. tilt infinite inenmtia/ity ofits king-
finite. whi~h Jel;vrrs
illO the singularity whert;n it is "itself."
That existence presents itself in this way. and that it offers itself for
this type of thought and task. is attested by the event and experience
of our time: the closure of the order of significations, the dosure
of the very regime of signification as the assignation of meaning
into the beyond (translinguistic or metalinguistic. trans- or meta-
worldly, trans- or meta-existential) of a presence that consequently
would be devoted to its own representation. According 10 this
regime. freedom ends--or begins-by being understood as the un-
representable (invisible) "in vi~" of which one would have to
arrange rcpresemation, whether political (ddcgation of freedom ... )
or aesthetic (frcc giving of form). This presence-beyond. or this es-
scntial presence beyond all (re)presentable presence-with regard to
which it is important that Freedom should have furnished its
supreme Idea. or radter the Idea of the Idea itself (isn't the intdligible
form of every Idea in the freedom with which it torms and pre-
sents itsclf?)Z-is henceforth. undoubtedly since Hegel bur with
an exemplary insistence sin!';e Heidegger, !,;onfrontc:d with the exi-
gency of what could be called. for symmetry's sake, the hither-side
[1m Jrra] of a difference: a difference ofheing i" itstlf. which would
not simply convert being into difTerence and difference into being
(since precisely this type of conversion between pure substances
would become impossible). but which would be the difference of iu
existmce, and in mis existence, inasmuch as it is its own essence, the
difference and the division of its singularity. With the existence of
the singular being. an entirely other possibility of Mmeaning" would
be offered-frero-before us, on the edges of an epoch which has
barely begun to hatch.
NueSfity oft/~ Thm,e olFrmJom

There is in fact a hatching IlciosionJ correlative ro closure. even

liJ(lllgh we perceive nothing of it and find ourselves delivered to
tkrdiction. and even though ~ lack the words and thought for
I};!t(hing (an image too organk and "natural" for what is also an ir-
ruptiun): there is a hatching bn:ause the event of closure itself
lJl;.lkc~ history. and becausc what it brings to an end on the internal
border of the limit it touches corresponds equally 011 its external bor-
der to an inauguration. "To inscribe the epoch ill ilS essential out-
line." Granel writes of Derrida. and uf Heidegger behind him, is to
inscribe it "such that it is visible from the monster of the future.
which gathers itself in that epoch and which no one can see.'" This
rClro-spec.;tion anticipated without fore-sight is not a divinatory
magic: it has its possibility insofar as history precedes itself as much
as it succeeds itselfin the present time, which thuught experiences
<lml in which thought inscribes an outline. If something like a "pres-
or an "epot:h" can be presented. this is because it is not simply,
immediately present (neither to us nor to itself: on the contrary. it
has always. always alr~dy. drawn at one and the same time the
two sides of its limit. and thus allowed itself invisibly to profile the
umlour without figure of that to which the present itsclfhappens
(and from which, at the same rime. it withdraws).
History in its effectivity is certainly always that which auvances
without seeing ahead and without seeing itself, without even seeing
it~df adv-.mcing. This does not mean that it would be the inverse of
a 11IS(()ry conscious ofitselt: a blind and obscure force: for it is this
wry opposition that mwt be complcrdy swpendc:d here. in order to
think a uiff"erem historicity of history. And this task itself doubtless
depends on a different thought of freedom. History is perhaps not
~1I Illllch that which unwinds and link5 itself. like the time of a
\.all~;llit). as that whkh surprises itself "Surprising itself." we will
Sl't" i~ a mark proper to ti'eedom. History in this sense is the flcc:dom
of hcillg---or hcing in its freedom. Thought is placed toUay-by his-
'and by its own history-befOre the: necessity of thinking this un-
f"rl'~C'eability. this im-providcnce and surprise that give rise ro flee-
do m. We have to think freedom and think in freedom (it is defin-
itively a/so our most ancient and profound tr.lditiun), simply lxuuse
16 Nrussity Of,hr Thmlr ofFreedom

there is nothing else to think (to preserve, not foresee; to test. not
guide) besides the fact that being ha5 a hi~tory or that being is his-
tory (or hi.~tories in the plural), which means at least the coming and
the surprise of a renewed hatching of existence. This is the point we
have reached: being. in its history. has delivered the historicity or the
hislOriality of being. This means the end of a relacion of founda-
tion-whichever one--be[ween being and history. and the opening
of existence to its own essenliality as well as to this scansion. or
singular rhythm. according to which the existent precedes and suc-
ceeds itself in a time (0 which it is nor "prcsenr." bur in which its
freedom surprises it-like the spacing (which is also a rhythm. per-
haps at the he-cut of the former rhythm) in which the existenl is
singulari7.ed. that is to say. exists. according to the free and mmmon
space of its inessentiality.

What one could call. in some sense. the axiomatic of the spatia-
temporal effectivity of existence-that which requires existence to
exist hie n mine and at every moment to put at stake its very pos-
sibility of existing. at every moment delivering itself as its own
essence (which is by this very fact "in-"essential)-does nO( signify
the axiological equivalence of what is produced according to the
places and moments of history. Evil and good are correlative possi-
bilities here. not in the sense that one or the other would first be of-
fered to the choice of freedom-dlere is not first evil and good.
and thm freedom with its choice-bur in the sense that the possi-
bility of evil (which proves to be. in the last instance. the devastation
of freedom) is correlative (0 {he illlroduction of freedom. This
means that freedom cannot present itself without presenting the
possibility. inscribed in its essence. of a fWe rtmmcilltion offtdom.
This very renunciation directly mak~ itsclfknown as wlckrdnru. in
a moment in some way precrhical in which ethics irself would nev-
ertheless already surprise itself. Inscrihing freedom in being does
not amount to conferring on being. as a singular existent, an in-
difference of will (resurreclaJ from classical thought) whose onto-
logical tenor would strike indifferently the moral tenor of dt..'Ci.~ions
(as some have occasionally gratified themselves to think. in a pmterity
N~utt;ty of,J)~ TIJ~m~ ofFrrrdom 17

,kl'plic,ll of Niet7.sche). On the conrrary. inscribing freedom in be-

i(\~ alllO unlS to raising to the level of ontology the positive possi-
hilit\.-and not through defidency-of evil as much as of good. not
(/; lI~diU(relll. but i1lSofor as (11iI th~re ",,,Im iN~/fknor"n liS stich.
lktorc hcing able tn establish what is anticipated here. it is im-
pon,lIlt to posit the fOllowing: in a '"~tain way. nothing is more con-
st;trnly auoleO by the history of (he modern world, and as one of its
I1lU~t properly historical marks. than rhe free and resolute renunci-
ation of freedom. We know that this can go as far as the absolute
horror of a "humanity~ (willing itself"superhuman") exemplarily ex
ecuting a whole other pan of humanity (dedared to ~ subhu-
man") in order to de6ne ito;clf as the ~~mplfll1l ofhumaniIY." This
is ALischwitz. But fH.-edom is also renoum:cd everywhere that exis-
telKe. as existence (which does nm alwa}'s mean lift. pure and sim-
ple. Inn which implies it). is subjected anti ruined by a form of
C~~CI\CC. :m Idea. a ~rrll(:ture. the erection of an (ir)rationality: in
Marx's Manchester. in our "Third" and "fourth" worlds, in all the
(,;alllJ. all the apartheids. and all the fanaticism!. Bur also and very
simply. if we dare liay if. it is renollnced where the esscnce. con-
cenmltcd in itself. of a process. of an institution (technical. social. ad-
1L1 ..... t. political) prevents existence from existing. thar is to say from
a(,;l.l-ding to its proper essence. Freedom is renounced in the ex-
dlilllgC of this eS'il'nce for the identification with rhe other (with the
Ill!.'".. ). and renounced freedom combats the frcc:dulll of the same and
the frce,lom of the other. (Which does not mean that existing
would take place without identification. but that identification is
sUII\(;'ching other than a substitution of essence.)
That thi~ happens. and even that this seems to oudine itsdfin a
l1lanner indicted more and more often as evidencing the general
harrcnlless of tOt1:iy'5 wmld. is what demands of thinking the great-
"~I tirnllmption and an extreme vigit.H1ce. especially if it nies
10 111.1kc frceJom its rheme. But that this. instead of forbidding us
10 think. llemands prrc i~c1y to be thought, which is to say finally to
Ill' rdatl'll to and measured against the: ullapproadlahle freedom
It. 'Ill which thought it.~clf proceeds. also telllinti'i us that with the en-
tlllr;mce of thinking (if we mtL"r also understand b) this the strength
18 Nnsity 0/tht Thtmt 0/Frudom

[0 hold its ground, in the face of the evil that defies thought, from
the deepest point of its freedom), there must also be iu hope:: this is
not the hope that things "finally turn out well." and even less that
they "turn into good." but it is that which, in thinking and of
thinking. must, limply in orrin to think, tend in spite of everything
toward a liberation as well as toward the very reality of the exis-
tenu: that is to be thought of. WithoUl this, thinking would have no
meaning. All thought. even when skeptical, negative. dark. and
disabused. if it is thought, frees the o:isting of o:istencc-because in
fact thought proceeds from it. But hope, as the virtus of thought, ab-
solutely docs not deny that today more than ever, at the hean of a
world overwhelmed by harshness and violence, thought is con-
fronted with its own powerlessness. Thought cannot think ofitsclf
as an "acting" (as Heidegger asks it to be and as we cannot not re-
quire it to be. unless we give up thinking) unless it undcl'5tands
this "acting" as at the same time a "suffering." Free thought think-
ing freedom must know iuclf to be astray, lost, and. from the point
of view of "action." undone by the obstinacy of intolerable evil. It
must know irself to be pushed in this way onto its limit, which is that
of the unsparing material powerlessness of all discourse, but which
is also the limit at which thinking. in order [0 be itself. divorces it-
self from all disrou~ and exposes itself as passion. In this passion and
through it. already before all "actionn-but also ready for any en-
gagement-freedom acts.

It is always too soon to say what hatches. but it is always time to

say that it hatches. Being's difference-in-itself, or existence's (at least
as soon as we give back to this word a weight that no foundation
could suppon). does not make meaning available a~ lignification. but
is the opening of a new space for meaning. of a spacing, or. we
could say, of a "spaciosity": of the spacious dement that alone can re-
ceive meaning. This means the spacing of a time. (he time that
opens at this moment, in (he passage from one epoch ro another or
from one instant to .he next. that is, in the passage or transfer [pm-
sat;o"l of existence, which succeeds itself and differs in its essence.
opening and reopening the spacious temporality in accordance with

whid. it exi!Ots: the opening of time. tbr first scbmlll, rhe first draw-
in~ wilhoUl figure of rhe: very rhyrhm of elCisting.~ tk tWl1l!('mrim-
I"I./i.f,t'matism ;~If no longer as a "!Ourprise artack" [" (Ollp-de-ma;,(]
on rhe secret dissimulated in a "nature." bill tIS II}e freedom with
whid. the exisrent surprises the world and irself prior to every de-
tl'fluin:uion of cxistcm:e. And this means thar rime in tum is opene:d
unto a m.'w spariality. onto a foe Spit" ar the heart of whkh freedom
~Jn exist. at rhe heart of which freedom can be freed or renounced.
(he: free space of the dearing of meaning in general (bur rhere is no
"meaning in general." its generality is its singularity). as well as the
free space of communication. or that of the public place. or that in
which embracing bodies play. or thaI of war and peace.
'Illal whi\:h aim. insofar as it exists. in itself, cannot be except for
Ihis ~pace-time of freedom, and the freedom of its space-time. This
is why the question of freedom (the question we a.~k in regard to
frcedom-Whar is it?-and the qucstion thaI freedom asks-What
is (0 be dond) henceforth begins neither with man. nor with God.
at the hC<l11 of a torality of which Being would Ix: the substantive pre-
suppmition. and as such foreign to the freedom of existing. It begins
with Ihe being of a world whose existence is itself the thing-ill-itself
We must therefore think freedom, because it can no longer be a
qualilY or property rhar one would atuibute. promise. or refuse to
the existcnt, as a resulr of some consideralion of essence or reason.
Bur it must be the clement in which and according to which only cx-
ist("nce ttllin place (and lime). that is, cxists and "accounts" [" ""d Illi-
SOl'" 1 for itsel f.

Freedom must be the element or fundamental modality of being.

as soon as being does not precede existence. or succeed it. but is at
stake in it. "The essen~f offteMom is "01 properly "ie",eJ ulIIi/ WI' in-
"fl/gaft' J"Nlom (IS the grtJ,,,,J ofthe possibility o/beilJg-tIJere. as what
;f """'1 ht'.fo" bt'illg alld lime. "/\
'111.11 there is no existence. that nothing exillts, or at least that
110 one exisls. excepr in freedom. i~ the very simple proposition philosophy not only will always have indicated or fnretold.
hilt will always have more or less dearly recognilcd as its own most
Ill. It if and motivation. Ihe prinmm mol't'1I1 of its enterprise. That on-

tology must become an "deutherology" does not constitute, in this

sen5C. a discovery. But what reveals itself-what hatches for us in the
history of thought-is that the e1eutherology always presupposed by
philn~ophy. both as the theme of its logic and as ~t"OJ or hnds of its
practice. must itself be elaborated. less as a themc than as the "thing
itself" of thinking. In this sense. the "treatise on freedom" that phi-
losophy has nO[ ceased to articulate will perhaps have to be aban-
doned, since it has never really elevated its object to the status of ,he
"thing itself" of thought. Finally, the theme, thc concept or concepts,
and the name of freedom will perhaps have to give way-let us
say, for the momen' and provisionally-to another ontological
Regardless of what happens in this regard, it will be a question of
hringing an n..p"im of "freedom" to light as a ,heme and puuing
it at stake as a prllXiJ of thought. An experience is first of all the
encounter with an actual given. or rather. in a less simply positive v0-
cabulary, it is the testing of something real (in any case, it is the act
of a thought which does not conceive, or interrogate, or conSlCua
what it thinks except by being already takcn up and cast as thought,
by its thought). Also, according to the origin of the word "experi-
ence" in peirii and in ex-periri. an experience is an attempt execut-
ed withom reserve, given over to the I"ri/ of its own lack of foun-
dation and sccurity in this "object" of which it is nor the subject but
im;tead the passion. exposcd like the pirate (peir"us) who freely
tries his luck on the high seas. In a sense, which here might be the
first and la~t sense, frcl'tiom. [(J rhl' cxtcm that it i~ the thing itself of
thinking, cannot be appropriated, but only "pirated": its "seizure" will
always be illegitimate.
3 Impossibility of the Question
ofFreedonl: Fact and Right

When freedol11 w.ts prescntl.'C.i in philosophy as the: "keystone: of

tht' whole architecture of the system of pure: rcaon" (thereby lead-
ing to a mmpletion-a Pf(x:c:dure: undoubtedly en~ in all of phi-
losupl1y). dc:spill' ,the ,beOlrt;cal detenninatinn of this presentation.
whidl set aside a positive exhibition of frttdom. or rather. in other
term~. which set a~ide the possibility of af"blisl,i''Kfrccdom as a prin-
rip'~, what was in question was in fact. and at first. an osrension of
Ihe existc.-n("c of freedom. or more exactly an osten.~ion of its prc:scnc::e
at the heart of existence (and rhus maybe the first definilive: oslen-
sinn of existence ali such. ,,,,"1It III lett" wc might say-unless
Spilln7a is to be countcd here). For Kant. freedom docs not arise as
a (I"miml bu t instC'ad ali a Iralit) or as a j;'(I.
Ff'I.'cdul11 is not a pRlpcrty of which we must demonstrate our pus-
~rlisiun. nor is it a faculty whose legilimacy we must. in the Kamian
sen~c. lhluce. 1 It is a foCI of rea~on. mlly the only one of irs kind,
whil"h alsu amollnts to s:l}'ing that it is rea~n's own factuality. or rea-
lion .1li f:10U31 rea~on. ThC' "ke~tonC''' is rca~n in ilS fact, reason fx-
111.llI y IJrincipial and prindpially factual. The factuality of phe-
IlO1l1enai cxpericm:l' ncaied to be justified, since the authorization
of knllwleJge was at stake (we will nor ask up to what point this
kUllwkdge. as the knowlctige of pure: reason, plants in turn the
~"11I of its legitimacy into the fau offrecdom . ). Bur here what
I~ il1\'olvCtI is lhe experien~e that reao;on prodlu'es V;'i~ (another va-

2.2. Impossibility oftk Qtmrio" ofFrwdom

len{;C of fact: not only its positivity. but its active and/or pas.'iive
effectivity) from itself. and which consists in the experience of the
obligation of free will or free action (which. under the circum-
stances. and as [ will show. amount to the same thing). or even in the
obligation of will or action ttJ be free. Ir is the rational experience of
reason IIJ "practical reason."
Commentators have: often hexn 5urpriscd by the tcxt of 91 of the
Third Criliqur. which posits the Idea of freedom as "presentable
in experience." This surprise has been underlined and prohlematizcd
by Hddegger, whose analysis we will recall later. It would have
been less aC{;Cntuated if Kant's permanent insi5tence on this motif
had been remembered. "The Canon of Pure Reason" already states:
"Practical freedom can be demonstrated by experience," which also
has as a correlate that "pure reason, then. contains ... in rhat prac-
tical employment which is also moral. principles of the po!!ibillty ~
txpn'irna. namely. of such actions as mightbe met with in the
history of mankind."2 [n fact. the Second Critiqur opens ORlO this
alone: it is indeed, writes Kant, a critique "of practical reason" and
not "of pure pral:tical reason" because it is concemed solely with es-
rablishing .. that tlmr h II PU" p,"~ti~11 "tlSO"," and that. once es-
tablished, pure practical rcason has no need of any critique that
would come to limit its contingent/eventual presumption: practical
reason would not be able to surpass irself," as theoretical reason can
and irresistibly tends to do. If th", is a practical reason, "its reality"
is proven "by the fact itself." We are not dealing with the pre-
sumptions of a power but with the given fact of an actual exis-
tence. And this given fact is irs own legitimation. hecause it is not a
given object (in which case one would have to ask whether or not it
is correctly produced), but rather the given fact of the ellistence of
a Iegi.'ilation as the legislation of existence: reason aim as--or un-
der-this law offreedom. That which exists (for example. reason as
the given fact of existence. and not as the power ofknowk-dge) is this
self-legislation, and that which legislates is this existence. (One
could say that with Kant begins the sdf-legitimation of existence, and
existence as the abyss of this self-legitimation.)
Thus freedom is a "keystone" "to the extent that reality is proven
Imponibi!ity oft~ Question ofFtwdom lJ

lw ;U1 apodictic law of praaical rcason."111c logi~ modality of apo-

J'idicilY corresponds to the calegorial modality of n~essity. The rc-
;llilY of freedom is a necessity. and necessarily gives itself as such. And
if i, ircl:dom itself. as the praxis of reason that is lim of all praxis of
i!~ own legislating tacrualiry. which states this net:essity.
We will not depart from this apodictidty. No matter how con-
~iJc:rahle the displaccmcms of concepts and contexts to whic.:h a
hiMoriL:al elaboration of the motif of freedom (its effective destiny
in Ihoughl) will lead. up until us, we will not depart from an apo-
dictidry according to which freedom would be ill qllnlio". (Here
again. let us note in pa....~ing. Spinoza no doubt already preceded this
apmliLlicity; but did it not always precede itselfin all of philosophy?)
The proof of frttdom-which will reveal itsc:lf to be more on
rhe order of the rcst (or of aJ'"imt'~) than of dcmonstration-is in
its c:xistence. More exactly, for this is assuredly not "freedom" as
sudl. or 35 its concept. which docs exist, this proof is found in ex-
istence as the existence of free being. and this proof or this experi-
ence finally proposes norhing other than the following; ExiSTENCE
BEING. On the subjca offrccdom. one can propose no other task of
Ihuught than to attempt to bring to light that which has already
brought itself. in reason. before fealion.
Accordingly. in other terms: fi'f~tlom canllOI be tJ~ objt oftt fJ"~S
lioll. Ilm is "only" the p"II;'Ig inlo queslion ofttr, 4firmttt;o1l; and it
cannot he the object of a question posed "ahout something," but
()nl~ the putting into question of an affirmation of itselj(of the
"self" of free being. and likewise of the "self" of the thought on
whidl the reaffirmation of this affirmation rests). (Reciproca1ly. is not
allirmation itself eS5emially free. and questioning essentially con-
strained?) In its most devdopcd Kantian form. this affirmation is mat
of 91 of the Thirtf Criliq"e.
"I1U, what i~ very remarkable. there is one rational idea (which is sus-
H'P1ible in itself of no presentation in intuition. and conorqllenrly of no
Ih(,llrctk.lI proof ofits pos.ubiliIY) which abo wmes under things of fact.
I hi ~ is Ihe idea of fiwdom, whose reality. regarded as that of a partie-
III.U kind of causality (of which the concept. IheoreliClily comidcml to
24 Impossibility oft"~ Qltmion ofFrr~om

be uanscendenr). may be exhibited by means of pracricallaws of pure

relM)n. and conformably to this, in actual aclions. ami consequendy. in
experience. This is me only one of aIIlhc ideas of pwc reason wh~ ob-
jcct is a thing of fa~t and to be reckoned under the scibi/ill. ~

It is thus perfectly dear that the presentation of freedom. in ex-

perient:e. is not that of an object of knowing. Indeed the contrary is
[rue-and it would appear to be ncas..w-y [0 alter the formula in or-
der to speak of the presenration of a "subject of action." In proper-
ly JUmian logic (but that also means in the general logic of the
metaphysics of subjectivity) i[ would still be necessary to specify, if
one wanted to sustain this new formula, that iffrecdom is not "in it-
self" presentable. its particular causality does not present it5df any
[he Ies.~ to empirical perception as a "real action" in the course of the
causality of phenomena. It is indeed possible that, in the passage
quoted from the Third CTit;qu~. Kant is underhandedly alluding to
the famous example of the thesis of the Third Antinomy: "If I at this
moment arise from my chair. in complete freedom ... " One would
then have to say that the presented reality is the reality of the act of
a subject. and not that of a signification of an object. But one would
immediately have to add that this "subjective" (and "sovereign") re-
ality only allows itself to he presentoo because it is objecrivizcd-and
that Kant thus gives himself room for a double violation of the
most rigid uitical principles: on the one hand the action of "arising."
as a "completely free" action. would be liubreptively withdrawn
from the dialectical ~tatus that. from the interior of the "thesis" to
which it belongs. it ~ never escape; and. on the other hand (this ex-
plaining thad, the "pankular G1.u.~ity" of freedom (whose lla[Ure can
in no war be deducM from that of phenomenal causality) would also
find itself subreptivcly slipping into the place of the ~neral category
of causal iry. thereby making possible. through its conjunction with
the intuition of the gCSnlre of arising. the quasi constirution of an ob-
ject of experience: the free subject Now, in all thi~, it can only be
a matter of precisely a quasi I:onstitulioll; in other words. this entire
operation would corne back to the SchlUiirmerei. It would definitively
suppose this schmit' of freedom (permitring frcc causality to be
united with an empirical acr), all possibility of which is rigorously ex-
Impo~sillililJ oft," q"mio" ofn"tlom 1S

(hIJ~'\! h)' the Second Critiqlle. This is. however. the only possible re-
"lll~tilUtion. in Kantian tenn.~. of the enigmatic logic of this passage
,.lIul we have been ahle to see how this reconstitution. in spite of
('\'l."r~1hing. is & ..crectly namoo in Kant's text by the words "in itsclf."
whidl ~m to indicate that if the Idea is not "in itself" susceptible
to allY pr~t'l1Iation, it would however be SIL'iceptible to presentation
where it is 1101 simply an "Idea in itself," where it overflows itself as
Ilk.l in an experience).
We have adhered to this analysis without conclusion in order to
~hllw that the Kantian /(IC'/of freedom cannot receive, in a rigorous
Kandan logic. it~ status as fact. (And. in a more general way, it
1,;21lllot receive thi< litatus in a meraph)'!iicallogic if the means of the
JCl1lol1Stration un never he supplied except through a union of
rhe intelligihle anti rhe sensible where these: are in principle posired
as irreconcilable.)
Strictly speaking. another analysis would be pos... ihle. one that
would no longer place on the side of intuition empirical action.
hili rather the sentiment of respect for the law-which. inddenrally,
prnpcrly constitutes the "intuitive," or at least receptive. clement of
r('a,~n in its bc:ing-praClial. Later on we will perhaps encounter the
~ignif1cance of [his respect. 8m here it is not helpful, because Kam
i~ H:fc.rring to fredom's "particular type of c;msality," and respect does
nut rrlatc to freedom's causality but to il5 lawfulness. (Or rather, in-
\ufar a~ it i~ itself the sensible effect of the law. respect can only
~lImmon an aporia comparable lel the preceding one.) Thus the
r(,'~ours(' to causality, "particular" or not. hinders the elaboration
of the' ~pccif1c factuality of the faCl of the experience of freedom; or
rarlwr. and thi!> .IIIlOUIlt to rhe sa~ thing. the "particularity" offrcc
l3u\.llity conceals the' following: freedom is not a type of causality.
'1 his last proposition was the essential result of rhe course given
hI' Hcir.lcgger in 1930, "On the Essence of Human Freedom." The
'Illgorial subordination of frc('(lnm to causality in the Kantian
1'llIblcmatic appeared to him as the limit of his e\cmherological
~nr~rl)risc. and he was able to say:

(.illl,r"lity. in lhe sense of the traditional comprchen.~ion (If the hdng of

hl"n~s, in ordinary undemanding as well as in trJoirional mc:raphysics.
16 ImpossibiLity oflh, {)flmion ofFrudom

is precisely tht fimela",tntlll (llugory of ,"ing liS prntnrt-at-httntl. If

causality is a problnn offrtNIJJm. and not the inverse. then tht problmt
ofbting. tIIltm absoiMItiy. is in itself II probkm offrndtJm. 4

Accordingly, by the same movement, the relation of freedom to

causaliry had to be reversed. and the problem of freedom found
itself promoted to the rank of the problem of ontology par excel-
lence. In order to invcrt the relation betwecn freedom and causali-
ty. it was necessary to engage in a determination of the foct of free-
dom other than the determination to which Kant seemed to deliv-
er us. Heidegger had from the outset situated his inquiry into the
reality of freedom-as such entirely taking up and reaffirming
Kant's position-in the perspective of a specific "mode of reality" of
prllXis. Insofar as it is practical. reason is nothing other than will.
Accordingly, pUrt practical reason is pure will. Pure will is the will
that wills absolutely. which means the will that determines itself
from nothing other than itsdf (or rather, if it is possible to paraphrase
in this way. the will that simply wiUs and that thus does not will lUI]'"
thing except will, or except willing). Now "the law of pure will is
the law determined for the existence of the will, which is to say
that the will is willing itself." Therefore: "The fonJamtntal law of
P"" wil4 of pUrt praelklll rtason, is nothing other than the form of
kgisl4tion." Pure will is rhus the will of obligation that sprin~ from
the law (or that the law encloscs by essence in its being-&Om-the-law.
or in its bcing-the-Iaw, which is identical to making-the-Iaw), and
from this form of the law that is thc law of pure will. "The essence
of willing _. requires being willed." just as .. ht who wills rtaU,
wiUs nothing ot~r than tJx duty ofhis be;ng-t~ [Jas Solkn snnes Da-
st';'u] ...

(Thus, the "will to will," in which Hcidcgger will later lin fact only
slightly later) recognize the essence of metaphysic:al subjectivity,
was first prfsented here in a very different manner: in accordance
with the formally subjective structure of a "willing [for] oneself," cer-
tainly, but brought at once to an extremity where the "sclf" of "will-
ing onN/f" is immediately and only a "duty of being-there," which
i~ to say immediately the abandonment of existcnce to an obligation.
Imp(JlJibility oftJ~ Q"estion ofPIWdom 27

,til ,I.he assignation of the injunction of this obligation into the

h.l\illg-to-exist. We will not attempt here to analyze the evolution
'lntl implications of Heidegger's thought on the wililbut funher un
,hall see that it is implied by the analysis of the swpension of the
llIorif of freedom in Heidegger]. We must I.:omem ourselves with
noting how often. in this seminar of 1930, what is exposed in the
name of "'illillg teods mure to represem the "sclf" or the identity of
an irreducible !lKtr,tllity [we could also say: the "selr of a fact rather
than the "fad' of a self], which is the factuality of the existence of
the existent as being-given-over-to-thc-law-of-being-free, and not the
self-pn.-sence of a will whil.:h wills rhis very presence. Such a will, as
sdf-prc.-sell<:e. would instead lose the grr"md. and (he grrJlI1lds, of
its suhjective consistency and propriety, whereas the "selr of being-
free in its fact would offer itself as the un-grounding IJt-fontk-
IIIml) of a self founded in itsdfby its desire-for-self [the will pre-
senting itself here according to the element of a decision rather
than according to the movement of a desire], This also means that
the text of this seminar could be annotated by saying that factuali-
ty uneltpectedly happens to the "seW' of the existent. and does not
"f(mnd" it any more than factuality is fur its part founded by the self
or in the sd( And this is why, as we will later come to see, this fac-
tuality is a specific factuality.)
In this way we reach the proper factuality of praxis:. this factual-
ity ~annot he exterior to the will's relation of obligation toward it-
self. which is equally the obligation's relation of will toward itsel(
This factuality cannol be that of an action (understood as empirical
behavior). nor of anything consequent on willing (understood as rep-
resemation and desire preliminary to action)-and this mean5 that
in the last ill.~ta.m;e nmhing less than the essences of (free) action and
of (Iree) willing arc at stake in this factuality. which would no longer
permil these essences to communicate with the determinations that
~lll'taplaysics has given them, Neither can this factuality be that of an
Intuitive presentation of willing.~ It is a factuality that does nOI de-
(lend on any insertion into a referential order of fa~t5. nor on any
lOI1\titlltinn of an object, On the cuntrary. it is a self-referential
dlld ,df-l'Onstitutive factuality (whi,h does not necessarily mean a
Impossibility oftk Q,mtimf ofFIWdom

subjective factuality or the factuality of a suhjectivity). Heidegger

says. "Th~ "aliI] ofwil/illg is on(y in tlu willing ofthat ~al;ty...
This reality itself does not depend on a positive decision being
made in favor of obligation. We can "decide for pure obligated
willing. that is. effectively willing, or against it. that is, not will-
ing. or we can mix willing and nonwilling in turmoil and indeci-
sion": we are nonetheless always drawn into the fundamentalstruc-
rure according to which willing wills its reality of willing-cven as
indecision. Willing wills its own effectivity. and this. as we know.
does not mean that it desires or decides it. but that it molws [st" dl-
db], or even-at least in keeping with our queSlioning of
Heidegger here-that the will of will presents noming other than -
fiaillity insofar as it "so/lIt"J to k tjfoctiv~. More precisely, it is the ef-
fectivity of existence that here ~lves to be effective. or to exist, and
this decision does not amount to effecting in ac/U what should
have been there in pottntia. any more than it refers to a preexisting
power of representation or to the energy of a power of realization.
bur it is the ex- istenee of the effectivity that existenee is of itself. It
is the existence of the existent, its "essence" therefore, or: that me ex-
istent exists as the existent that it is.
This is the sense in which we must understand that the will is a
will to obligate itself to irs own eftectivity. Obligation is the fact pro-
ceeding from the nonavailability. for the existent. of an essence
(and/or power) of self that oould be represented and intended. Bur
if the essence of existence is existence itself. it is not available for rep-
resentation or intentionality (nor. consequently, for the "will" in
the sense of a voluntaristic will). and it obligtft~s its~1f. in its nm-
tmre, only to mst. that is, to ~ apos~d /0 thr rffoctivity that it is. be-
cause it "is" not in any mode of a property of existen(."C. Here. "[0 will
willing" therefore means to be effectively cxpmed to existing effec-
tivity (which, moreover. is nothing other than exposing effectivity).
This willing-this willing of willing that is the willing of its own
duty-thus constitutes the very fim ofaprrinz~ of practical reason,
or its practidty as the fact of experience. It ill the fact of freedom .
.. Pr~edom is, only insofar 1lS;1 is tlJ~ dftiw willing Ofp,," obligation
[tit'. ~in Gnol/tm. of the pure ought]."
Impossibility o[tIN Qrtmim, ofFrdom

II i~ the practical fact of ",von. bur Ihis docs not mean that it
""HIIlI he a "fact of reason" in the same sense that one says "a rational
h~'illg": thlL'i. it is nor a theoretical "fa~t." ideal or unreal, ineffective
anJ incxistent. b On the contrary. if one were to make explicit what
Hc:idcggcr's text contains a~ indices. thi .. fact is not only an existent
t:Kt-il is (35 we have already se<.'n) the fa~t of existence as such. It
is the facr by which the existent hill' Dt,gj,,) relatl'S (to) itself as that
which wants to he I obligate itself to he what it is. The existent is
thl' hcing that in its being obligates itself I wants to be. and that 00-
li~ate~ itself to I wants being. Or further: it is the ~ing that is d~
(id(((/ol' ,";ng. In this way it transcentls. that is, it ex-ists. The fact
offrccdom is the "right" of existence, or rather. the "fact" of existence
is [he rig'" of freedom. This freedom ili not ,he freedom ofthis or
that componment i" existence: it is the freedom of existence to
cl(ist, to be "decided for being." that is. to come to itself according
to in own transcendence (since. having no essence "to itsclf." it
(.m only b~ "esscnrially" Ihis transccndem:e "toward its being").
This freedom is. according 10 the formula employed in &i"g lind
7imf (40) ... tI,~ b~ing-fi"e~ for the freedom of choosing-oneself-
an(i-gmping-onc!iCl( ..
The freedom of existence to exist is cxisrel1l.:e itselfin its "essence,"
insofar as existence is itself essence_ This "essence" consists in being
hmugln direcd)' to this limit where the existent is only what it is in
i!~ lr.lnsccndence. "Transcendence" itselfis nothing other than the
pot~~a~c LO the limit. not its attainmc:nt: it is the bcing~posed at. on,
and as the limit. Here. the limit does not signify the arrested cir-
ullmcription of a domain or figure. but signifies rather that th~
t'Srt'l/ff of f'Xillm("~ ('om;lls in l/;is b~illg-ttrke1l-to-th~-~dg~ rrmiJing

frO/II /Ilrat 1,.lS "0 "~sstm'~" Ihttl is ~ndo.!N' a"d "s~'rrd ill lilly im-
""IIIt'''''~ prrsml 10 t"~ i"mi", oflltt' bOJrln Th;ll cxi~tenc;e is its
own l"iSCIKe mean~ that it ha, no "interiority," without, however. be-
"cl1lircly in exterioricy" (for example. in the way thai Hegel's in-
or~.lI1il" thing is). "ist~"'? kl'~ps it1~1f. through;ts fSSt'll('~." on t'lt un-
rl.wl.,/JI(' lim;t ofil$ ou", tkrisio" to o:;sl. In this way. frmlom belongs
1" l')d~ICI\C:t' nor as a property. but as its filLl. its fitrmm ration;s
\\ hidl l311 al~Cl be understoud as "the fan of its reamn for exist-
Impossibility oft," Qunlion ofFrrtJom

ing," which is similarly "the rcason for the fact of its existence.
Freedom is the transcendence of the self toward the self, or from the
sdf to thc self-whi~h in no way cxcludcs, but on the contrary re-
quires, as we can henceforth dearly see, that the "self" not be un-
derstood as subjectivity, if subjectivity designates the relation oftI mb-
slanct to itself; and which requires at the same time, as we wiU
show later, that this "self" only takes place ac(."Ording [0 a being-in-
common of singularities.
The fa(t of the existent's freedom consists in that, as soon as the
existent exists. the very fact of this existence is indistinguishable
from irs transcendence, which means from the finite being's non-
presence to itself or from its exposure on its limit-this infinite
limit on which it must receivc itself as II lAw of existing, that is, of
willing its existence or resolving for it, a law it givn to itst/f aNl
whi(h it is not. In giving itself law, it gives itself over to the will to
obey the law, but since it is not this law-yet, if we like, it cx-ists in
it-it is to mc same cxtent what can disobey, as well as obey, the law.
(We could also say: "cxistcnce is law," but iflaw, in general, essen-
tially traces a limit, the law of existence does not impose a limit
on existcm:c: it traces existence as the limit that it is and on which
it resolves. Thus existence as "essence" withdraws into the law, but
the law itself withdraws into the fact of existing. It is no longer a law
that could be respected or transgressed: in a sense, it is impossible to
transgrcss; in another seme, it is nothing other than the inscrip-
tion of the transgressive/uanscendem possibility of existence.
Existence can only rransgress itself.)
The existent's ex-istence giws it 0"" (/imo] to the possibility of gi~
ing i~/fovtr lU' LivrtrJ to its law. precisely because the law has nei-
ther essence nor law. but it its own essence and own law. When
there is an existent. there is neither essence nor law. and it is in
this an-archy that cxisten~c resolves. It renders itself [St Ih'n) to it-
self, it de-livers lJl-liv"l itself for itself or delivers itself from it-
self. Th~ fan offrudom i1 thil tk-Liwrttn~~ of~is~nu from every IIlw
lind ftom itst/fliS lAw: freedom there delivers itself as will. which is
itself only thc existent's being-ddivered-and-decided.
Impossihility oftJJ~ Q"m;o" ofFrmlom 31

Thu\ Ihe fact of freedom is indistinguishable from Ihe reality of

'si~r('nu: inasmu~h as this reality, tin Kam, "signifies the sctting
illlll rc,~ilion of the thing in itself. "7 Existence in its rt"a1icy is the thing
in ilsdf Int" being), Freedom is thc prope:r fa,twlity of the "setting
inlll po~ilion," of the: S~tZll1lg uf existence. (Thus, a.~ we will bettcr
undcr~[;lIld from what fullows, fTeedom is thc factuality of its birth
.llltl of its death,) Existence's thing in itself is not simply positeel-al-
I'l'.ldy ro~ed. pmitioned, gntlZl. as arc all thinp that are nonexisting
Jnt! ~'I'Ilc:d t"lt/~r laW5, It is, its reality is. in the Set~tmg, in the aer.
in the gc:smre or movemem thar puts it in the position of existence.
Ih;\[ r(,lItlers its heing-or that, in il, rc:nc.le:rs being itself-to the dll
IIf jJ,t-sr;n. in such a way that this "rendering" or "deliverance" de-
li\'ers it for possibilities that are not posited. The fact of frc:c:dom is
mainr.tincd in this movement, in this d)'namic proper to the ~tzlmg.
whidt posits and is never positrtJ...-and m:iprocally. the ~lZlmgof ex-
iste"t:C: as the "thing in it5e1f:' whose Min itsdr is only a bringing-
inw-thc:-world. produces [!dill the reality offrc:c:dom. R
Cnnsequently. the very factuality offrc:c:dom is the: very faclual-
il)' of Fl""t is rIot dont [filitl. but which will be done-not in the
sense of a projeCi or ~'Ian thaI remains to be executed. hut in the:
sense Clf thaI which in its very reality does not ret have the presence
of it\ rrality. and which must-but infinitcly-ddiver itsclffor re-
ali,,', In ,his way cxistence is aoually in the world. What remain!> "to
he tlllnc" is not sitwtcd ()It the register of poiNir, like a work whose
~l"hcma would be given. but on the register of praxis. which "pro-
lluces" 11111)' irs own agent or aoor and whidt would therefore more
dll'i('ly resemble: the action of a schelllatiz<uion mmidered rc'r itsclf'
The fact of freellom. or the practical fact. thus absolutely and
radkally "estahlished" without any establishing procedure being
ahk- In l)foducc this fa't as a theoretical ohject. is Ihe taa of what is
til Ill.' dnne in this sense. or rather. it is the faa tlMt tlNt't iJ something
Ie, I", done. or ill even the fact th;tt therc is the: to Ix dmlt (Ii fit;"!. or
Ihal dll're is the afItir (4"';"' of exinence,lCl Freedom is fat:tual in
Ih.\I it i~ the "ffirirof existenc.:c:. It is a t;\u. in that it is not an al:quin.'o
1.11.1 ally murc Ihan it is a "natural" right. lIince it is the law withom
Imp0J$ibiJiry oflh~ Qlt~Jtion ofF"~dom

law of an inesscnlialiry. Human beings are not born free in the

same way that they arc born with a brain; yet they are born, infi-
nitely, to freedom.
Thus Heidegger could say:

The qu~tion: How is freedom possible? is absurd. From this, howev-

er, it does nOI follow that 10 a ,enain exu:m a problem of the irra-
tional fc:mains here. Ralher, because freedom is nOI an objel:t of theo-
retical apprehending bul i~ instead an object of philowphiling, lhi.~ can
mean nothing other than the faa that freedom only is and can only ~
in the setting-free. The wle, adequate relation to freedom in man is the
self-freeing of freedom in man. 11
4 The Space Left Free by Heidcgger

Since licidegger. philosophy ha.~ no longer viewed freedom the-

mafically-at least not as irs guiding theme. acept in historkal
stlICJic~.1 8ut in fact it was with Hcideger that an imerruption oc-
curml. Freedom was no longer thematized by him. att~r having
been thematizc:d on a par or with a rank 1~4!' comparable to that
which Spintl7.a. Kant. Schdling. or Hegel conferred upon it-
IMmdy, a~ "t"' fimtlammtal qll~Jt;o" ofp"ilosophy. ill u,"ich nltn
Ibr 1ursl;o" ofbri11g iJllJ its mot."! W~ a~ the inherirnrs of this in-
terruptillll. It oners [IivI?] us something. and it delivers [Jllivrr)
u~ lilr something else, or to something clse.
I" onlcr for thC'se: assc:nions not to be gratuitous or merely fonnal.
d I~ngthy work woul"l obviou!oly have (0 be undertaken here. devtKed

exdusivcly to the question of freedom and it~ interruption or with-

drawal in the ('Illme of Heideggcr's thought.' In a sense. this is [he
talk that should now be pc:rk)rmed. I will not undertake this ca.. for
\e\c ....11 reasons. In the /lr.;t place. for rc.'3.50ns of competence: I am far
frolll bdng what (lne would call a HcidCf,Fr "specialist" (but. as can
lll' '1..'I.n, I do not refuse Ihe fn:cdoms tllat are given. nm by a lack of
llllnpl'tl'11CC as sLlch. bm h\' a certain distance. with irs inevitablr
ri'k~). Sewnd. for reason; of misrrmt: it i~ nnr certain that the
\ork IIf recnnstituring Hcidcgger's course: could do anything more
lh.lll ~ll1lply lead us back 10 the suspension or illlcrruJltion from
w),idl, nn lhe contrary. wc nCt-'l1 to be ahle IC1 deJlarr. Finally. for rea-

TIM SpllU ~fi F"~ by Heidegg"

sons of decision: the decision to attempt, at least for the space of a

brief programmatic essay, to take up the word "freedom" today,
despite the Hcideggerian interruption-in fact, because of it, and in
the space of thought it opens.
There are some motivations for this decision. If the sense of the
word "freedom" remains indeterminate, and if its philosophical
concept is caught in the closure of the ontology of subjectivity, the
word nonethdcss preserves a burden of history, and a tradition-the
transmission of an impulse: that has never stopped throwing itself
recklessly against necessity, or the transmission of a voke that has
never stopped saying that it is neces.ury to assist Ilnanlu or even
that destiny confronts nothing other than freedom-the tradition,
therefore, of a force of appeal and joy that is difficult to ignore.
even though it has been incessantly misused or abused. This has
nothing (0 do with facile appeals to the self-sufficiency and self-
satisfaction of a liberal. or even libertarian, individualism. It in-
volves an appeal to existence, and consequently also an appeal to the
finitude in which existence transcends-and by virtue of which
existence also comports in itself, in its being, the structure and
tonality of a call: the free call to freedom. If metaphysical free-
dom, reduced to its simplest expression, has designated the infi-
nite transcendence of the Subject's absolute self-presence, then the
hismry of [his freedom, and its tradition, which is also that of the
problems forever PUt at stake by its thought, as well as of the strug-
gles waged in its name, are e'lulllly the history and tradition of the
transcendence that is henceforth as the exposure to
its own limit, that is, as the finite exposure to the infinite separation
of essence as existence. us recall brieRy some testimonies (which
speak for themselves) of what could be called the tradition of fr~
dom's liberation with mpeet to its subjective appropriation:

Ycr this extemalizalion lof the concept) is still incomplete; ir exprcs5-

es the connecuon of its sclf-<:crtolinty with the object which. just bcclusc
it is lhus connccled. has not ycr won its complete freedom. The sdf-
knowing Spirit knows nor only itself but also the neg;uive of ilself. or
its limit: [0 know one's limit is to know how to !OIcrilicc oneself. The
TlJe Space Left Free by Heidegger

s,Krilil."c i~ the ~temalir.ation in which Spirit di!IJIla)'$ the pnx:css of its

t.l"\.ull1ing Spirit in the form of fire comi"Krlll ""Pl'milll.

Thl' uuly frC'e spirit will also think freely reg.1rding spirit itself, and
will 1101 dim:mble over cenain dreadful elements in its origin and ten-

rntu!;c an? No. Out go with the art in your own most narrowness.
And !OCt yuurself frC'c. ~

I kide~r so liull' attended to the proper force of the word "f'rcc-

dum" -whidl is, in sum, the: force of a resistance to the Com:ept or
Idea Frl!edom-that he used it until the end withom retaining any
of .hi .. tiucl', or at least without any longer articulating any real
notion of it. But if-on the other hand and in spite of everything,
a.~ it is legitimate to 5UpIJ05C sim.:e it is abo true, as Adorno said, that
freedom has "aged"-ifit is a question ofleaving a place for some-
thing nther than "freedom" (let's say, once again, for a "generosity"
that would be more "originary"), doesn't this transition have to be
madc: \'isible as sucM Isn't it therefore necessary [0 engage "free-
dom" it!tClf. thematically, in order to be able finally to f"t the place
of freedom?
Without treating the question offrecdom in Heidegger in a sys-
tcmatic manner, one can fix in outline the stages of its history, in or-
der to try to discern the space left free by his thought.
Aller the freedom of DIIS~i" "for its proper po5..'iibililY" had fur-
nished a repeated motif. though hardly developed for its own sake.
IIf the an~ll)'ses of B~i"g (JIltl Ti",~ (917), the course of 1918,
Mttt1I'I~.'siSC"he AIIJilllflgnlllde rk, Logik {volume 16 of the complete
edition l. propused a circumstantial examination of the proposition
;1ll"nrJing to which "the transcendence of Das~;11 and freedom are
lurlllKal," and beginning in 1919, The Essn,,:e ofRrllJolIJ themalically
ar(OlllH" for freedom as the "freedom to found." Freedom is then
lJ.u.1IifilJ ;\S "[oltlldat;on olfo,md(llio,," and thus "because it is pre-
Cl\d~ this GI'IIIU/, freedom is the Abgr,md of human reality."" In
1930. the course dlal we have alrc:ady cited above systematically an-
alyzes the Kandan determination of freedom. bolh to atablish the
question of freedom in the positing of [he foundation of the onto-
logical question itself, by means of a conversion of the ontological
dignity of calL'ialilY, and (0 indicate in conclusion the necessity of
freeing freedom from its Kantian (but in fcu:t more generally mCla-
physical) subordination to the category of causality.
From this point on, a program of work seemed to be s~ OUt:
on the one hand in the direction of freedom as "archi-foundation,"
and on the other, through a repetition of the philosophy of freedom
destined (0 displace freedom's relation to causality, in the direction
of a freeing of the resources of "foundation" at the core of the philo-
sophical tradition itselF The course of 1936, which was devoted
to Schelling's treatise "On the Essence of Human Freedom," was to
constitute the completion of the intended raearch.
In a sense. this course offered nothing other than a kind of con-
tinuous harmonic composition, where Heidegger's own discourse
would create an incessant counterpoint to Schelling's, without mak-
ing the matter explicit on its own, and without the lauer's discourse
being given a clear interpretation by that of the former (as was the
case with Kant or Leibniz), There would be here a singular inter-
lacing of the concerns of metaphysics and those of the thinking of
being (up to the point, of course, where they end up separating)
analogous to what took place dsewhere with regan! to Hegel and "ex-
perience." There would have been a period in which it seemed pos-
sible to Heidegger to rethink freedom at thc surface of its philo-
sophical tradition, or to replay its concept-since it seemed to him
impossible to proceed otherwise. In direct line with the course of
1930, Heidegger finds in Schelling a grasp of the proper factuality of
the fact of freedom. and this factuality refcrs to the theme. central
for Schelling. of freedom as the necessity of the essence of man.
In "seeking to formulatc in a morc originary way" this view of free-
dom. Heidegger ends up at [his: "The: neccssity by which or as
which freedom is determined is that of its own essc:m:c" (p. ISS'). This
essence will be more precisely determined as "the overcoming of
self as grasping of self" in the oCdc:,idedness" and in the "rcsolureness"

"dIe nrenn('~~ of the rnuh of history" by which man can feel the
.' 's~ity (II' "his own being" (p, 15~). However. having accompanied
1"IlC:;I(cd Schelling up to this very advanced if not ulrimate point
(a rerelition completed by the subsequent analysis of the conjoined
pll~'ihility of good and evil), and having at the same time brought
him (0 a "more originary" thought. J-Icid~er ahandons him. This
.I(,;tndUllll1ent is esscntially due to the f.'1ct that Schelling docs not
III,Huge 10 mdically think the originary t1l1ity from which proceed
1m..Jllm a~ n~ity a~ well a~ the correlative possibilities of ~ and
C'il. lIe docs not think this origin as "nothing." and he thus fdils to
think fhat "the l'Ssence of all Being is finitude" (p. (62). Schelling thus
doc5 not ovcrcome Kant and the "incomprehensible" character of
frec\\olll (p. 161). It must be: understood that freedom remains in-
CCJIllprehemible as long a., it expoSCli its necessity to the core of a
thnu~llt (Iiat order.; it to an infinite neccssity of being. and not as a
finitude tor which being is not the fOundation. (It is not so much
that frccJom would become "comprehensible" in the "more origi-
rw)" thinking," but the questioll of freedom would cenainly no
lunger be posed in these rerms--unless it were necessary, in order to
gain distancc froll, a problematic of "comprehcnsibility," also to
gain distance from "freedom" itself.}
Ii" we interpret corrt~cdy the last pagl."S of this course, two things
;arc ~ignified at oncc:
Thc c:oiscntial character of freedom has becn attained in the
nl'CC~sity for man to assume his proper essence as that of a dedsion
rdative to "essence and deformation of es.'iencc" (p. 156). which
means [0 good and evil a.~ the realization of this couple of esscnces
a "hiMory" (ibid.) that involvcs "encountcring a destiny" (p. 161).
1I1\of:lr as ,IClitiny COll5islS precisely in man's CXllOSUI'C to his own ne-
ll'~~il ~'.
Bur this thought has not yet penetrared to the "nothin~" of the
'gin of this necC55ity; it has therefore nm thought the: c:sscntial fini-
llldl' of essence itself (of eKistence) in the essence of freedom-
'\'hkh t:unse'l"l'lltly. in irs decision and in iu pcrdurance, docs nor
In,"~h III' with the necenity of an essentiality (that of "'Itn, whence
rhl' di~r.ltlcc Hci\leggcr takes i" ji"r from Schelling's "anthropo-
The Space Lift me by H~itkgg"

morphism"), but matches up with what we would call. condensing

the terms and tone of these pages, th~ pain oft~ histori,,/iry of~
nothing, in which flnite freedom heroically maintains itself.
Up to this point, but just shon of it. and abo in the seminars be-
tween 1941 and 1943. Schelling will have taken the relay from Kant
as Heidegger's essential reference on freedom, and he will have
played, on this register, a role parallel to the Kant of the KAntbuC'h:
a "repetition of the foundation of metaphysics" will have almost
been performed on his doctrine of freedom. But the parallel stops
there-for jf the Kantian resource offered itself expressly for a rep-
etition. and if it was destined to come back. in other ways. to
Heidegger (and even later. for example with Kant's U"sis on Being
in (963), evcn ifit had nothing to do with the same repetition (and
one could say the same. mutatis mutandis. of the Hegdian resource),
the mtirt'entcrprisc of accompanying and reproducing Schellingian
freedom according ro a more authenric origin will, for its part. ar a
cenain moment be abandoned without return. And this abandon-
ment will give way to very little explanation. A note from the sem-
inar of 1943. in the context of which the reference {o Schelling is pre-
scnt, declares the following:

Freedom: metaphysically as the name for capacity by itself (spontane--

ity. cause). As soon as it mov~s metaphysically into the eenter (into true
metaphysics) it intrinsically unifies the determinations of cause [U,..
sndlti and sclfhood (of the ground as what underlies and of the a>-
ward-itself, for-itself). that is. of mbjmillity. Thus ultimately we have
fredom as ,he resolve: to the inevitable (affirmation of "time"!). as es-
sential self-deception. Frrtdom forftiud its roft uriginnlly ill th~ history
&ing. for Brillg i5 more original than beingneSli and 5ubjet:tivity.1

In this note (which we will eventually have (0 comment on again

in several ways. directly or indirectly), ,he principal argument is
clear: metaphysical freedom designares ,he capacity to be a cause by
and of onesd Now causality belongs to bcingness [Iranhtll, not w
existence, as does subjectivity insofar as it is the for-itself of the
foundation. The rwo concepts are reunited in the ide-a of a foun-
dation-being lfondation-Itttntl, which causes. Bm being [hre] has

1I(,thil1~ to do with hcings [1I"1IIs]. Ifbcing is foundation. it cannor

bl! ~(l in the mode: of this freooom. Yet no other kind of freedom is
prClpo~l.d. The concept and the wor~ arc ahando~ed to ~meta
p!wsiLS 10 rhe proper sense of the word (though Heldcgger 5 read-
ing WilS nllt oblivious to the role played by 5uhjtivity in Schelling's
rext. cWIl while it appearl.od to constitute itself as a "repetition"). We
n1l1~( rherdore conclude that what could have been. in 1936, "a
",ore originary thinking" of freedom becomes six years later the
!elting go of this motif. If Hc:idcgge:r firmly demotes freedom to
nOIl-"originary" thought. this is because at every point metaphysics
prc:scnt5 him definitively (hut this is nothing new since !king ""d
Tilll,.) with the closure of a beingness of being (corollary to the
suhjrui\'c closure of the will that he recognized at that time, after
having used up, as we've indicated, a motif of free will). In this
closure. freedom can only appear as the ClllIsa SII; et Mundi of a
suprc:me heing (or of a subject being. which amounts to the same
(hing) who then binds up the totality of beings into the "inevitable,"
and frcedom into self-deception. n
Would not Hcidegger then have recognized both his own cour5C
of J930 and his own reading of Schelling in 27 of Hegel's Philosophy

The allsolute goal, or, ifyoulikc. the absolute imput.c, offrec Spirit is
In make its freedom its object. i.e. to make freedom ohjccti~ as much
in the ~cnsc that fredom shall be the rational s)'Stem of Spirit. as in the
54:n~e that this system shall be the world of immediate actuality. In
m~king freedum its object. Spirit's purpose is to be explicitly, as Idea,
what Ihe will is implicitly. The definition of the concept of'the will in
ab~lr;tcrion from Ihe Idea of the will is -the frc:c will which wills the free
will. -1

Thus in Hegel roo, or in relation to Hegd. Heideggcr would

h;t\c illll:ndcd to separate him5Clf from the metaphysics of free-
dom. But if the gcsture of repetition in which he had prc:vioulily
cng"l!ed no doubt remained insufficiently arriculated for him. was
~()I Ihi~ gl'Mure of separation in turn too easily cxecuted~ This qUC5-
IlIll1. O( (his suspicion, forms at least the first motivation for an cs-
T"e Space Left Fr~e by Heid~er

say of repetition, after Heidcgger. of the theme of freedom. For the

moment. we will simply add the following remark: the note of 1943
abo shows very dearly that the abandonment of this "frccdom,"
which Heidegger himself takes care to name between quotation
marks, is here made in the name of an other and more authenric
"freedom." We could say that the freedom of man, and of the sub-
ject, is ahandoned in favor of a &ec:dom ofbcing. Doubde$S this will
perhaps have to be no longer named "frccdom," but it still retains me
possibility. if not the necessity, of "caring this name differently.
from this momenr until the end of his work, Hcidegger will
have stopped seeking thematically an essence of frccdom, and he will
make no more than an episodic use of this worn, which can now ap-
pear as accidental (at tellSt in view of the immediate contexts in
which it most often appears) and stripped of any specific problem-
atic. IO Succeeding it, however (if one can call it a succession-and
in what sense? Here the analysis would have to be C'Xtrcmdy long and
delicate), is the use of the theme of the "frce" (d4s Frtie) and of
"free space. of which we will again have to speak.

The situation is thus quite strange: a concept is rejected, a word

loses the privileges of questioning that it seemed until then to enjoy,
and yet a semantic root is kept, it is even, dare we say, concentrat-
ed, and it is used for ends that, as we will sec, arc essential ends of
thought. In a ccrtain sense, something of "freedom" will never haw
ceased to be found at the heart of the thinking of being: bur in
this heart. this "something. exempted in principle from identifi-
cation, has been submitted to transformations that have not been
posited or made explicit as such.
Conremporaneous with the note of 1943 (but its first version al-
ready dates from J9JO), the text 0" liN Essenct DfTrut" presents at
least the principle of this transformation. There Heidegger relates
truth-understood as the conformity of the utterance-to free-
dom as to its essence. Freedom then designates the "resistance"
thanks to which beings are allowed to be what they are. Acconlingly,
freedom is neither the "C1price of free will nor the mere readiness for
what is required and necessary (and so somehow a bC'ing)." The
step taken by Schelling (and by idealism in general. including tran-
scendental idealism) out of free will and loward a necessity of
c~~t'nc(" i~ thus given a merely ontic cast. even if this is not the in-
Icntillil of the text. On the contrary. freedom henceforth affirms its
ontological character or stake in what is c-.&Ile~i "the exposure to lhe
di~d().~{'d Iles.~ of beings." It is this exposure. Ihis possibility of open-
ncs.~ rothe open in which beings are offered as such. which makes the
cnulll:iarion of rrmh possible.
Rill the hicrarl'hy thus posited is in turn inverted. For freedom lOre-
(l,j\cs its own csscm.:e from the more original essence of uniquely es-
~enti'll Inllh."'1 Ontological primacy then amollnts. in the final
analysis. to mlth. This is so because truth carries in its essence and
as its essence concealment and errancy. In effect. the concealment of
bdn~s-"myslery"-precedes every exposure [0 disclosedness: let-
ting heings t1i5c1ose themselves indicates and preserves a more orig-
inall:oncealment or mystery of hcings as such. The errancy that is
correlative of this mystery is lhe -free space" to which cx-isrencc is
ron~tinllively exposed. and which founds the po.~sibility of error.
Thu5 the question of the essence of truth is itself revealed to be
the (lllcstion "of the truth of essence." If essence must in fact des-
ignatc being, then the "meaning" ofl>eing can be discerned as the er-
rani exposure of existence [0 the mystery of the concealment of
Ihe ht'ing ofhcings. In this way. history takes place. beginning with
its "conceolled uniqueness."
The reversal of ontological preceuel\(;C: between freedom and
truth amlllllllS. at the same time. to burying freeuom more deeply
in ht-ing, whkh. as being. is revealed to be abstracted from every ne-
cessity ('ndowed with presence and signification. Being is the "free-
dom" of the withdrawal of presence and meaning that accompanies
~\'('ry di~t Insure, or more exactly. that permits disclosure as such. in
I~~ principi;ll relation to con~:ealment and erram:y. This interpreta-
lion wOllld allow us to understand thaI Heideggc:rian ontology re-
main~ hll<llly and titndamentally an uelcurhcrology: Bur Heidegger
~(J('~ nOI wanr to be understood in this way. We hear instead that
Jr('rdmll i,l I"r wilbllmlt'"lofbrillg. but that fiJr this very reason bri"g
If tl./, /i'lllrdml(.(d of.I"~dom; in Olher words, heing withdraws free-

~()'n ~hort lIf freedom itself. in its qualitieli of decision and opening.
III ord cr to gi\'e it back to truth. that is, to the I:ondition of being's
(non, -11l:lIlIJCMatlOn.
T," Spll'~ ufo Frn by H~jJ~"

In sum. it is only a question of a difference of ~mphasis. But up

to what point can-or must-this difference of emphasis be un-
derstood as a sort of recoil of the "practic::al" into the "thcoretical"~
More precisely. how can it be undemood as the 111IlintroAna of a d.
tinction (if not of a certain opposition) between freedom and truth,
which the text tends to undo, but which would invincibly recon-
stitute itself, as if it reconstituted with it at least one part of the
traditional philosophical preval~nc~ of the "theoretical" over the
"practical"? (This prevalence. however, would not be simply ree-
ognizabl~ at all points of the philosophical tradition: not with
Aristotle. for exampl~, or Spino7.a, or Kant, or even Hegel.) Up [0
what point does the specific factuality offreedom not risk dropping
out of sight (which does not mean suppressed)? Such is the question
that ~ are h~re led to ask. Or further: alit of a more profound 6-
ddity to at least one of the directions of Heidegger's though t, would
it not be necessary to try [0 preserve and expos~. trJg~r and in tIN
stt",t originarity. the withdrawal of freedom's being and its singular
factuality? Obviously this is not a simple question. and. as we can sec,
it is one that can only be posed on th~ basis of Heidegger himself.
But the important thing for us is that it seems necessary to pose it,
and this question, under these conditions. ought to provide the
regulative indication of the relation with Heidegger's thought that
we are here undertaking.
This question is much less simple than the one posed in Tht
Prin'ip/~ of RtllJon (1956)-one of Hcidegger's most important
works at the time-which in spite of everything opened a new
space of play for freedom. The examination of the "principle of
reason" in effect leads thought to a "leap." This lrap allows one to
pass from the interrogation of being as ground or as reason (Grund)
to the thinking of being as "without reason" in the "groundless-
ness" of its play. Heidegger writes:
The leap remains a free: and open po5sibiliry of thinking: [his so deQ-
sively so that in fact the essential province of freedom and opennCS5 firsr
opens up with [he realm of the leap.l~
TIN Spact Ltft Frtt by Htid"Kl:" 43

It I~ douhtless necessary to have the leap. which is the leap of think-

in~ in its "thcoretical" consideration of being. in ordtr for thinking
It) pilI itself in the state of perceiving the region of freedom. Yet the
k.lp is nothing other than the leap of thcoretical consideration out-
sidr of or heyond itself; the leap is transcendence and transgres-
sioll of theoretical rcason in its examination of "reason" as Grmrd
Therefore. the leap may /lot accede to a "visinn" of freedom except
III ,ht: extent that it has "leapt" outside of or away from theoretical
"\'i~illn" in general. Yet this is precisely what is not made explicit.
In ~lIIy case. the "region" in question designates nothing Olher
than what the "Lener on Humanism" (1946) already designated.
with no other real explication. as "the free: dimension in which free-
dom conserves its essem:c. "lIOn the subject of the "frcc dimension"
or Mthe free." other texts will provide us with funher examples. For
the moment. let lIS simply remark that it is no longer a question hcre
of/Trf'dom as a propc:rty or as a power in whatever sensc, but of a spc-
ciii, demcnt. "thc frec," which appears as a quality auributed to a
slIbmalUm, "the dimension," only through a banal constrainr oHm-
gil age. hut which in reality is indistinguishable from this "dimen-
sion." What will also be. in &ing and Timr. the: "frcc space of time"
is dctt'rmined through this proper spatiality that holds in reserve the
eS!iCIl~C of a freedom henceforth only The quality proper ro
this space. irs li~,.tAJ, will not otherwise be determined. and above:
ali not through a new analysis of thc notion of freedom. Therefore.
it must also be concluded that Hcidegger intended to set aside a
~pa(e Ii)r frt.'Cdom-by keeping the semantic ke:rnel, or index. of the
\\(Jrt\ "free"-but a space in which "freedom." in ca~h of its philo-
mphical determinations. appeared to him as an obstruction or oh-
\Iadr.:. rather than as an opening a.nd release into the open air.
I\cl'ping a 5pace free for freedom: docs this frec (and if so, how?)
\\ kif trut" see:med to withhold from us? Does it let [his call (0 frce-
Ullin h.lp pell with its proper '(Jrce. this call that-in one way or
.1111l1IH:r-the thinking of being (or the thoughts that follow it)
~k.nly cannot refuse?
5 The Free Thinking of Freedom

Keeping a space free for freedom might amount to keeping one-

self from wanting to understand freedom. in order to kccp oneself
from destroying it by grasping it in the unavoidable determina-
tions of an understanding. Thus the thought of freedom's incom-
prehensibiliry. or its unpresentability. might seem to heed not only
(he constraint of a limitation of the power of thought but also,
positively. a respect for and a prcservarion of the frcc domain of
freedom. This consideration is doubtless imposed from the very
interior of the metaphysics of freedom. to the extent that this meta-
physi;s often 6nds itself exposed to the danger of having 5urrepd-
riously "comprehended" freedom-somehow even before it has
"'t~hNi it-by having assigned freedom a residence in knowledge
and. above all, in the self-knowledge of a subjectively determined
Rousseau's Socill/ COlllractoffers unquestionably [he dearest ma-
trix of the schema according to whi!;h freedom, as it becomes con-
scious of itself (and becomes in fact sdf-consdousness) in the con-
tract. simuhaneou51y produces objective self-knowledge in the sov-
ereign, thereby constituting the sovereignty of the sovereign both in
absolute comprehension of his own freedom and in absolute con-
suaint over himself and over every member of the 50vereign body
("We will force him to be free "). The transcendental treauncDt
of this matrix produces. in Kant. the identity offrcedom and law. or
71't F,.u Thil,/rillg ofFmdom 45

11111 rc ex.lcd)'. the identity of freedom and rationallcgislation. This

k!!i~I.Hilln is as.mred~y nothing other lha~ a legislation of frccdo~:
hut (hi~ mcans that ti-eeJom ha.~ (0 be ProICC[l,'tI and proposed to It-
.df as the lawttllm,'S.~ of a moral nafllre. neces.~ary in it~f in the same
'J\' Ih.1t (he lawfulness of a physical nature is necessary in itself.

j:I't'edoll1 is thus undcrstood not only as a particular type of

(.\lI~'lliIY in dle proJunion of its cfleet!;: it i~ also understond. on the
mudd of rh~'sicill causality. a~ lawn.1 sLJcc~sion. The specific mode
of freedom's causality remains incomprehensible. or rather. it is Ihe
iIlIYJIfI,>rr/1t'mib/f (\vhich is why there can be no "schema" of moral
law. but nnl~" "type." that is. an analogical schema. and this "type"
is provided by nattJrt' in the lawfulness of its phenomena). In con-
na.,I, howC'\'er. the id~"1 of the legislation of a "nature" or "second na-
turc" regulated by treedom is perfccrly comprehensible by means of
the I)'/Ir. which provides. in the mode of the physical world. the model of a lawful necessity or necessitation. Now if chis
idl'a is {juitc easily understood (despite the idcnl character of a world
ruled by morality), that is ilausc it can be analY7.ed definitively in
the tilllowing term~ (which Kam certainly would not have accept-
rd, d"~ritc the conformity of their logic to his own. particularly
in the ~OIHex[ of (he idea of a creating God): ultimately. fo'rdom m-
.-Iosrs ,I,t' Jmrl o[cmlJd/ity br('atlj~ it;l in ;tl~If(tmkomprrhmdHi tIS th~
,"'/ POll"/' o/liIU1afion. Freedom is a particular kind of lJusaiity
in thoU it holds and l>rescnts (at It".lst in Ideal the pO/i)~r o/4J~clUa
tllm , Iheurcti~al causality lacks. The principle of theoretical
laLJ~;llil\, srare~ in eflect thnt stich is the law of the succession of
ph\:lwll~ena f(,r our unJerstanding. hut it cannot present what en-
ahk-s Ihe pruduction. one after another. of th(' sllccessi\'e linka~ of
t~Il'S(' phenomena. Freedom holcl~ the secret of c;ll\sality since it is de-
filled ,l~ Ihe power 0I,"i"g by itsr/fIt CItItJ~. or 35 the power of caus-
II\~ d',nlutdy. hmdamelllally. freedom is causality that has
achil'\'l'll ~clf.knowledge. In this respect. the "incomprehensible"
l'ndll":~ ill it~c1f the sdf-mmprehcnsion of being as Suhiect.
, A "'"rld in freedom \Yould be a world of clIIsality transparent to
Ilwlf. 'Ih" secret is contained in the formula of the will: "the pow-
l:t III Ill' I~I' II/MIlS a/ollls Irp'Y'st'llftltioIU the callsc of the reality of
these same representations." This is the power of the (pre)formativ.:
Idea of reality. Philosophical undemanding of freedom culminates
in the "intomprchemible" 5df-tomprehension of me sdf-produaive
self-knowledge of the Idea. Henceforth. law is the representation of
the necessity of the Idea. Now, the Idea is through itself a (re)pre-
sentation of netessity; the law of freedom represents the necessity of
netcss I ty.
From Kant to Hegel. certainly to Nictzsche, and probably even to
the Hcideggcr of "the will to will as the will of its own duty," the
thouglu of freedom is fulfilled as if irresistibly. at least through one
of its aspeas, in a comprehension of thc necessity of necessity. The
point of incomprehensibility is the ultimate point of the compre-
hemion that gra.5pS that netessity netc5Sitates itself. Beawc of this.
human freedom is always susceptible to being understood as the
repetition and appropriation of this subjeaive structure. To be &cc
is to assume necessity. The "assumption of necessity." or the "lib-
eration through law," or ~n the "inner freedom" that "takes ~
of' external constraint~ become from this point on the formulas of
a world that perceives itself to be overburdened with irreversible
and ~ighty processes, with coercions of all kinds (naturally, this me..
dom of 5ubjeaive assumption has as its symmetrK:al counterpart the
acceptance of pure libenarian anarchy, of freedom reduced to ar-
bitrariness). These formulas represent what we could call the major
philosophical ideology of freedom that has developed from the phi-
l050phy of the Idea and of subjectivity. I Yet it is entirely dear that
they constinne just so many admissions of a theoretical and practical
~r1essncss, and that this comprehension offrccdom is equivalent
to the resignation that Hcidegger designated as the iIIu50ry "re-
solve" toward the "inevitable." (In this sense, Heidegger's aban-
donment of the theme of freedom signifies primarily the refusal of
this resignation.)
lhus it would be possible to say: if me Idea offic:edom-and con-
sequently a determination of its necessity. since the idea of Idea
contains in principle necessity and self-necessitation-precedes
freedom and in sum envelops it beforehand in its intellection, its in-
tdletuon will remain negative with respea to the "nature" of free ne-
TI" Fru 71,i"killg ofFrr:edom 47

...,~it .v. so rhar freedom is notiCC'ably absent. Ir is absenr here because


it i, ill principle ~lIbiccted to a thinking 1Ita( fund.'lmenrally thinks

b,il1~ as nc~cssity and as the causality of self-ncces.~itation. This
rhou~hr dues not even think of itself as free; it considers itself [0 be
the ~df-(lIn)comprehension of this being. Freedom is absent be-
came in Ihis thinking it is IIss"n' in advance (founded. gl.laran-
teee!' ,111\.1 M:lf-a.~surcd): "the Idea fiwly itself in irs absolute self-
a~surance and inner poise."~
If rhe !actuality of f'rttdom is the factuality of "what is not yet done
If;,;r]. or made into a fact." as we have claimed, ir must also and per-
hap~ abuve all be understood as the factuality of what has no Ideo.
nor C\,l.'n an idea determined to be "incomprehensible" or "unpre-
sCl1uhlc," This must mean, in one way or another, that this factu-
ality escapes philosophy and even thought if, in whatever way we
take the word "thought," it is oriented toward a "thought of free-
dom. ilnd not primarily (or e~n exdusively) toward a freedom
or lihcrarion of thinking. We gain a sharper perception of the way
Hcillcgger, at Da\'us, was driven to withdraw freedom from the ju-
risJiuinn of "theory" in order to restore it to the practice of "phi-
losoph iling." a practice designated a "liberation." or a[ least as cor-
responding to the Iiber.ltion offrecdom. But this in no way allows
us to fclrgo interrogating the exact narure and stakes of this "phi-
Insophiling" (which Heidegger, at a later date, would replace with
Su~h "philosophizing" can auually be presentetl as the deeon-
strulIiv(' penetration that reaches the hea" of metaphysical idealism
al thr poil\[ where the Idea binds rt'1IC'bll;m'] freedom, in order to
shO\\ that at this same point something different "unleashes itself"
Ifr"dld1,tilli'li for example (and this underlies Hcidcggcr's tcxt), a
pr;lxil"al ra~tualilY irreducible to the theoretical. Another example
\:uuld be the structure that obliges the jurisdiction of rcason to
lall. lilerally. over its own ClSC. the case of the instauration or enun-
~i;llillll as over Ihat which, contrary to the logic of the "case"
III, gl'l1l'ral. ~anllot bm escape lawantt thereb) rc"\'c:-.d that the: c:ssc:nu:

(~f illri~dillinn is to pronounCC' "the right of what is by rigbt without

rl~lm, ~ \\ 't' Cln also state that. in tbe imperative. "law is separated
T," Free Thinking ofFrndom

from itself as faCl."l This links lip in a nllmber of ways with a mode
that would no longer be that of the "necessity of nec~ity," but
which would be precisely the mode of its liberation. Here we rejoin
[he Kantian inconceivability of freedom and its commentary by

The only thing that we comprehend is irs incomprehensibility. And

fTccdom'5 incomprehensibility consists in the bct that it rc:sists com-pre-
hension since it i~ freedom that transpos~ us into the realization of
Being, not in the mere rcprC5entation of ir.~

Bur what does "comprehending incomprehensibiliry" mean, and,

consequently, what is meant by the "philosophizing" ~r whatever
it will be ~-that manages to reach the funhest border of its own
possibility in order there to designate and free, through this very des-
ignation. precisely what it does not comprehend? Or, ~rhaps more
exactly, what does this gesture or activity which is neither ..theo-
retical" nor "practical" represent. a gcsmre that brings to light the di-
vision of these (wo concepts limiting metaphysics. and that would
accordingly reserve for freedom a space that is truly free?
Comprehending that something is incomprehensible cannot sig-
nify simply that comprehension would come to a hah with the dis-
covery of one of its limits. For the limit, once it is recognized as such,
is not only "comprehended" as an obstnaction or screen: the PU"Cfl-
countering of an obstacle is impossible if we undemand by this
that we would therefore have no knowledge mher man knowledge
of the ob~tacle (or this is death-perhaps). Yet the ob~tacle-by
virtue of this law of presentation to which Heidegger was so at
tentive-necessarily presents with itself. as if through itself, the free
passage to which it is an oh~tacle. Such is the logic of the limit in
general: the limit has (wo borders, whose duality can neither be
dissociated nor reabsorbed. such that touching the internal border
amounts dlso to touching the external border ("from the interior,"
one could add-which would render the description of the opera-
tion infinite and vertiginous). Comprehending that something is in-
comprehensible is certainly not comprehending the incomprchen
sible as such, bur ndther is it, if one can say this. purely and simply
Thr FIYr TIJi"ki1lg ofI-i-rrdom 49

~tli11prd1t"ndillg n01hing aOOm ir. We comprehend that there is the

il1("nmpn:hcn~ihlc bc-came we comprehend. in the presem exam-
rll', rha[ "[he rdil.ation" escape~.its "re!,resent~~on" (don't
rhc~c lorl11ulas r('(all somedllng of the .heona/praxls couplc?).
\~'c [hereforc comprehend the ;,r-comprehen5ibility of the incom-
prchcmihlc. With this privative "in." we comprehend thai the in-
(1"llprchcnsible-.frecdom-is not, properly s~aking, "beyond"
our clparity of comprehension. hilt it do('5 nO[ simply arise from this
capacity. 1:(('('(lom is nor exactly out of comprehension's reach; tOr ex-
ilnlpk. it is not located higher up on a ladder ofimelligihility. on a
rung accl~sihle. for instance. only to an inrelligence other than our
own. Even Ic"5 is freedom opposed to comprehending: it makes it-
!>elf unJcrstood, at the limit of comprehension. as what does not
originate in comprehension. The "reali1.ation of heing" (or pYdX-
i.i?) hit~ no f1bjrct, or diemI'. except itselt: in irs independence with rc-
~(t to oh;ectality and thcmaticity. Thus, incomprehensible freedom
milkc~ itself understood tit tile limit [a Itl limite]. in a very precise
scme uf this expression. as a self-comprehension indl'prndent of
the wmprthemion of understanding [to1lrr"di'mmtV What we
comrrdl(nd. at rhe limit. is that there is this autonomous com-
prrhemion, which is the realizing [accomplissolllti cumprehension of
rl';lliz.uiol1. We cumprehend that realization (omprt'hmtb itll'/f [Sl'
(Oil/p'ma] (e"en ifir d<X's not rmdt'Ntanditsdf[stntl'1ld] and even
if \\e do not understand it), in its ~cci6c mode. Yet we sec that this
~pc(itic mode strangely resembles that of the- self-com prehension-
and of the sel f-rcalizatiun-()f "reason." "thinking," or "theory" as
~lJ[h .
Our comprehl'n~ion. then. is not meaningless. and it even forms
Olle IIf the summits of philosophical comprehension: for it has also
(Olll(' to Ill' Ii.mnulated. not accidentally. as the comprehension of the

pitilo\opltical ncces~ity of superseding philosophy in the realiza-

tl('1l of philosophy (in the realization of being). Hegel oOers a for-
1!l1I!.1 t;lr this. and its displaced or transformed meaning could hold
tor .leide~er as well:

hhi,." lite is the Idea of frt'edom in ,hiu on ,he one hand it is ,he
~""d h("cume al;'lt'-rhe good ",dot/wl in ~If-consciollsnt'~s with
so TIN Fr~~ ThinlringofFrmlom

knowing and willing and artuttliud self-conscious action-while on

the other hand self-consciousness has in the ethical realm its absolute
foundation and the: end which actuates its effort. Thus ethical lite is the
concept of frc:edom dllltillptd into tiN fXisting world mullht 1IIltuIT ofs4f-
~o1lKioumns. 6

Thus, at the self-realizing end of this ethical life:

The: state: is the actuality of the ethic:llldc:a. It is ethical spirit ljll4 the
substantial will manifest and revealed to itself, knowing and thinking
itself, accomplishing what it knows and in so far as it knows it. 7

What above all must not be underestimated is the power of thi,

philosophical comprehension of me overstepping of the theoretical
limit and. on the reverse side of this limit. of the expansion of
praxical self-comprehension. We must not even stop at Hegel's ex-
terior and banal comprehension that would have us admit that
philosophy here perf~t1y comprehends a concept of practice which
philosophy itself elaborated, and from which it does not escape.
For the demand of Hegelian Spirit i.~ precisely the demand to be ac-
tualized in an accualit}' that ftm it from its simple being-in-itself. and
for Hegel it is indeed only practically and outside of itself that
Spirit can comprehend itself in its freedom and as freedom. What
discourse (un)comprehends-such is the entire theme of the di-
alectical sublation of predicative judgment in speculative think-
ing-is that practit:al at:tuality constitutes the ITal (material. his-
torical. etc.) self-realization and self-comprehension of what dis-
cursive comprehension comprehends without. however. being able
to penetrate the sphere of authentic self-comprehension. This is
also why philosophy. with Hegel, having reached the limit where it
i~ actualized, no longer "comprehends," hut "contemplates"-it
t:ontemplates, for example. the majesty of the monarch in whose in-
dividuali[), of body and spirit the actuality of the State is t:ont:en-
(fated. This contemplation is the comprehension that surmounu.
surpasses. and sublatcs itself in the act of its finally ckployed freedom.
Clearly. we must conclude nothing less than that (un)compre-
hension is in rca1i[)' me supreme stage of the wmprehension mat at-
tains knowledge of self-comprehension as self-realizarion. Not only

is fllmrrthension gras~, at its limit. outside of itK'lf as in its in-

llerl1l11 l>t truth, but more profoundly. it grasps itself in this appre-
hension cnlirdy srrcu:hed out of itself. a... it!! own ptuldg~ into ad;on:
it "lll11prehcnds itself as it... own becoming-practical. It it/lOWS that
sLU.h is it.. truth, and moreover, it ptlts its~lfto,I" ttsf. at il5limit. as
'llready actualizing. before it is al.:tual. this free act ,hat it would
nnt he ,Ihle rigorously to comprehend. There is thus a sclf-com-
prl'hension ofthe comprehension of incomprehensibility. In this
)t'lf.mmprehension, "theory" comprehends "praxis" as il5 truth.
It/If( it comprehends itself as practical, which also means that in it
pr.1([iu~ is theoretically comprehended as the reali7..ation of the free-
dom (1I11)comprehendcd by theory. Freedom is therefore, despite
cverylhing, comprehended. Yet once again necessity is com pre-
hend".J as freedom. and freedom has been earmarked as necessity.
This may take many forms. from Rousseau's or Kant's enthusiasm
In M,lrx'S reversal of the dialectic's reversals, to the weight con-
ferred by Heidegger on the word "thinking" (thinking heing itself
thought uf as an "acting"): it should he said, always. that fimJom will
Illkr w,(f"p in ,ht nnsity oliN practiettl "/j;comp"lJmsio,,.
()f course. ,his is not all. This is not ,he totality of what there is
to dC'Cipher in this K'ries of gestures made by philosophical [octs. Yet
we canllot avoid going by way of the preceding analysis if we are un-
Willing to reserve for freedom a space that risks being revealed as al-
really cnclost'd hy nccessity-cven if this should be by ,he neccssi-
ry I)f this very reserving. Must an)'rhing he m~rwd for frdom?
Must its space be It~PI free? We should ask instead if this is even pos-
sihle. h not freedom the only thing that can "reserve" its own space?
Would not what is at stake in freedom he the fact that, according
to ,I logil.: resolutely separate from every dialectic of (in)compre-
hcn~ihility, freedom in any caK' precedes the thinking that can or
~annllt mmprchcnd il? Freedum precedes thinking. becauK' think-
In~ prnl'ceds frol11 freedom and because it is freedom that gives

TIll' thinking whose thollghr~ not only do nut l;alculatc but arc ab-
,.. I\IIdy determined by what i~ "other" than beings might be called
52 J"Iw Pm Thinking ofrniom

e:sscntialthinking. Instead of calculating beings by means of beings, it

npcnds itsdfin Being for the truth of Being. This thinking answers to
the demands of Being in that man surrenders his historical essence to
the simple reality of the loole necessity whose: constraints do not SO
much neceSl;itale as create the: ne:ed (No/] which is realized in the fra:-
dam of sacrifice: .... Frcc:d from all comtraint. because born of the
abyss of frc:c:dom, Ihis sacrifice is the C'Xpenditure of the essence of the
human being for the pmt"rvation of the truth of Being in respect ofbe-

In a sense, this declaration is perhaps less novel than it seems. It

gathers something that undoubtedly traverses, more or less visibly.
the entire tradition in which philmophy has always considered free-
dom to be the source. clement, and even ultimate c;ontent of think-
ing. "Philosophy is an immanent, contemporary. and presenr
thought and contains in its subjects the presence of&eedom. Whar
is thought and rccogni7.ed comes from human freedom. ".0
But how is the co-belonging of freedom and thinking deter-
mined when, in Heidcgger's tcrms, thinking is "born of the abyss of
fTrcdom" and thus engages "sac;rifice" or engages itself as "the sacrifice
of the essence of the human being"? Let us leave aside the implica-
tion of sacrifice. which is certainly not insignificant from the point
of view of a consideration of the whole of Hcideggerian philosophy
(thi~ sacrifice at the altar of (ruth, in which one could easily de-
tect, as Bataille might have, the comedy of the simulacrum where
nothing essential is 10lit, or the model of dialectical tragedy that
would destroy human beings only in order to find them again ele-
vated to the posrure of the contemplators and celebrators of truth.
of philosophers as theoreticians). In spite of all this, there is an
other tacet of sacrifice (one through which. after all, there is perhaps
no longer "sacrifice" in any sense): prodigality. Thinking expends
what it thinks, free of "calculation," in such a way that in spite of aU
the benefits that cannot help bur rerurn, whether to the thinking
subject or to the economy of ilS discourse, what is truly thought
can only be what is expended (which also means: that of which
"thinking" is or ha... "cxperience," and not that of whic;h it elaborates
a conception or theory). Thinking ex~nds, since it comes from
Thr F"f Thillking ofr;'t'fdom

"the: .lh~~s of frcCt.tom. Above all. free<iom is what expends: freedom

is prllll;lrilr prod.iga~ end~essl~ expends .an~ di~pen~
'$ rhlllking. AnJ It dISpCIlsc.~ t1l11lking prunartly as prodigality. In thIS

';1\'. fn:cdolll gives without counting (or the measurc of iu account

\\(;uld he none other than it,~ very self as gift; I must speak further
(If (hi,): it gives thinking, it gives something to he thought about, yet
it ,llso simultaneously gives itself to be thought about in every
TIllS simply means that there mi~ht nm be thinking. This also
OlC'.lm lhat there might not be human beings. Which means in
tUln Ih.1( there might not be t'Xlstmrt'-anJ it is in this that existence
can he recn~ni7ed: in that its singularity migln or might not be
given. in that its thing-in-itself might or might not be posited.
PhenClmena arc nccessary. the very existence of the thing is frcc.
That theft' is existence (human beings, thought). that there is that
whkh is its own e!i.~ence, cannot derive frnm a necessity for essence,
and C\ll only be given, freely given (which is a tautology).
Reciprolally: if there were no existence (but this hypothe~is is ab-
surJ-~illl:e we are speaking here of"cxi~tcIKe" and since this very
fact, "speaking of something," implies existence-and yet never
entirely deniable, if existence. existents, speech, and thought are
also always susceptible to renouncing themselves, to becoming
euen\;es .) .. jf [here were no existcnce. then there would not
~ nothing and ret there would not be "sUlntthing": for the "thing,"
anJ the indetermination of the "some" that ilSSCmbles each of irs pos-
,ibl r singularities as presences in or of the wlHld, already completes
lhe pr0l-!ram. so to speak. of a thuught. If [here is "something."
this i~ hecame it is possible to keep "the thing" and its "heing some
(thill~~ in sight. If this were lJ~usStlry. there would be no "there is,"
"some, and no "thing." There wuuiJ be only-and this would
nOt 11(, "there is"-.. rhe repletion. always already re-alizeU and drawn
hJ~'k to "'cit: of the general and immanent being of what, even on
It I~ till. Clnnot be som~/f,i"g, We would only have: "it is" and no
~ , If'"It IS POSSl'11 e tI
) C t h at t h" lerc'15 sometIling
' . .arises
as slie h
:;)~ thinking. ;IS <"Xisrence). this is because this arising is the gift of a
tcrdl llll or a freedom that is given.
Every thinking is therefore a thinking about freedom at the same
time that it thinks by freedom and thinks in freedom. It L~ no longer
exacdy a question here of the limit between the comprehensible
and the incomprehensible. Or rather, what happens here. in the
free arising of thought, happens precisely on this limit, as the play
or very operation of this limit. Thinking is always thinking on the
limit. The limit of comprehending defines thinking. Thus thinking
is always thinking aoout the incomprehensible-about this in-
comprehensible that "belongs" to every comprehending. a~ its own
limit.1I Yet this does not mean that thought is a kind of usupra_
comprehension" (regardless of how we would like to see it, the
mystics' impasse-including what remains of the mystical in Hci-
degger-is always presented in this way) and this also docs not
mean that it is a SchwiJrmere; (the entirely rationalist definition of
this notion produces in Kant an impasse symmetrical to that of
the mystics). Thinking docs not push comprehension beyond what
it comprehends. and neither does it prophesy. Thinking thinks the
limit. which means there is no thought unless it is carried to the lim-
it of thought. I nsofar as it "comprehends." it docs not comprehend
its own limit. and it comprehends nothing insofar as it does nor
comprehend; neither is it mediated in a "comprehension of in-
comprehensibility." Yet it is no longer a question of comprehensi-
bility and incomprehensibility. Both emerge from necessity. and
thinking is delivered to freedom. It is not subjected to comprehen-
sion and its opposite. If we must say that thinking is subjected to a
necessity. this will be in such a way that the necessity of freedom
would not br the freedom of necessity. The freedom of necessity is re-
alized in the Hegelian concept to the extent that the Hegelian con-
cept is itself realized. The necessity of freedom is "necessary" only in
the sense ,hat it unleashes itself in its abyss and from its abyss.
Now. lhe uabyss" (whatever Heideggcr. for his part. means by
this) docs nor "open" under the pressure of some necessity in order
to give or deliver something. The abyss is not th(' essential reserve
from which would be produced-by some necessity of trial. ex
traction. or engendering-what comC5 into thought. The "abyss" (of
freedom) ;$ that there is something. and it is nothing clse. It "is"
TI~ F"t TlJilikillg ofFrttdom

lh..-rdi.Jrc. a.~ abyss. only the unleashing that emerges "OUt of it.
of more exactly and because there is no substantiality or interiority
(0 lhl' ab)'ss. the "ab)'5S" itsclf-a term still too evocative of depths--

i~ (I.,ly the unleashing. prodigality. or generosity of the being-in-the-

\\'(lrlJ of ~omething. It is what gives thinking. in the sense that
thinking is nothing other than the being-delivered to this generos-
itv. Freedom is not the vertiginous ground of the abyss. opened
al~J rt""ealed ro comprehension. Freedom arises.from nothing. with
thinking and like thinking. which is W'itence delivered to the "there
is" (If a world. It is from the outset rhe limit of thinking-thinking
as limir. which is not the limit of comprehension, but which, ac-
(;orliillg to the logic of the limit. is the iI-limitation of the prodigality
of being. Thinking is ollht sur/act o[this ii-limitation of the "there
i~. it is in itself the unleashed freedom in accordance with which

thin~s in general are given and happen. This is why thinking does
not have freedom as :50mething to be comprehended or to be re-
nounceo from comprehension: yet freedom ofTers itself in thinking
as what is more intimate and originary to it than every object of
rhought and every faculty of thinking.
li, be sure. here there is no longer even "freedom," as a deflned
subMance. There is, so to speak, only the "freely" or the "gener-
ously" with which thing.'! in general arc given and give themselves to
be thought ahout. No doubt "freedom itself" unleashes "itself"
both in the sense that it would be the subject of this act and in the
M'n~e that it wOldd expend its own substance. Ycr what unleashes -it-
5C1" wa!> not previoudy attached to a substantial unity; 011 the con-
twy. the subject follows only from freeoom. or is born in her.
What is expended was not previously reserved in a pregnant en-
d()~urc. nor even contained in itself like an abyss. Generosity pre-
((xit"li the possibility of any kind of possession. The secret of this gen-
rru~ir~ i~ that it docs not have to do with giving what one has (one
h'h Ilothing. freedom has nothing of its own), but with giving one-
\clf-and that the 1~1fof this reflected form is nothing other than
gl"crusity. or the generousnc.'iS of generosity. The generousness of
!:Lnlrnsity is neither its subject nor its essence. Rather, it remains its
\llIgularil),. whidt is at the same time its evenlY gellermity hal'llC'm.
;6 Tk Fm UJinking 0/FrruJom

it gives and is given in giving. always singular and never held back
in the generality of its own quality-and its unKjue manner of not
"taking place" in the sense of a simple positing. but of always p~_
ceding itself by always succeeding itself. II unleashes itself. with-
out "being unleashed," before being. but also well after it-already
hurled, sent, expended, without having had the time to know that
it i.~ "generous," without having been subjected to the time of such
a qualification. What i:s generow abandons irself to generosity,
which is not its "own," without having or mastering what it does. It
is like hitting one's head (thinking as hining one's head. ), it is
having heen delivered or abandoned not only withom calculation
and without having been able to calculate. but even withour an
idea of generosity. This is not an unconscious. but on the con-
trary-if these terms can be used-the most pure and simple con-
sciousness: that of expended existence. Thought that is given in
this way is the most simple thought: the thought of the freedom of
being, the thought of the possibility of the "there is," that is. thought
i~1f, or the thought of thought. It does not have to "comprehend-
or "comprehend itsdf"-or is expended to itself.
in existence and as the ex-istcnce of the existent. as its own inessen-
tial essence, well before the conditions and operalioll5 of all intel-
lection and (re)presentation: it is expended as the very freedom of
eventually being able to comprehend or not comprehend some-
thing. This freedom is not a question or problem for thinking: in
thinking. freedom remains its own opening.
. -.....
"Freedom" cannot avoid combining, in a unity that ha.'1 only its
own generosity as an index, the values of impulse, chance, luck.
the unfOreseen. the m,'\:ided, the: game, the discovery, conclusion. daz-
uemellt. syncope, courage. reRection, rupture. terror, suture. aban-
donment. hope. caprice, rigor. rhe arbirrary.L' Also: laughter. tears,
scream. word. rapture, chill. shock. energy. sweemess ... Freedom
is also wild freedom. the freedom of indifference. the freedom of
dloice, availability. the free game. freedom of comportment. of air,
of love. or of a free time where time begins again. It frcc:s each of
Th~ Fru n,;,tlting ofFmdom S7

lhl"se p(ls~ihilities. l'3ch of thelir notions of freedom, like so many

freedoms of freedom-and it is freed from thelir.
In dlcet. it i~ not a dialectical montage-and even less an eclec-
rit; I'l'capilulation; it is a heterogenl'Ous dis.r;emination of states, con-
(l"pu. motivations. or affects. which could compose. so to speak, an
inlinil)' of figures or modes of a unique freedom. but which in reality
arc ntlcrcd as a prodigality of burslS whose "freedom" is not their
lOmmon SlIhsttlllft but rather . their bursting. Nor is freedom
lheir transcendent condition. and they are not its transcendentals.
In sum. these bursts arc all the possible determinants of freedom to
lhe cXlem that freedom expends itself in the withdrawal from every
delermination. Each of them, or the figures that can be composed
from them, would no doubt call its own elaboration phenumeno-
logkal. but above all, their long list-unfinished and unfinish-
ahll"--signifies its own proliferation (and we do not want to be
misunderstood as secin~ an anthropological bricol. here), which
iudf definitively means that freedom ~sselltinU, bunts. Nonetheless.
it is not necessarily "(he Bacchanalia in which every member is
drunk." hut there is no freedom without some drunkenness or
dizziness. however slight,
Therefore it is dle "abyss" of freedom in the sense that ftmJom does
not br/ong to ;IS~1f. In this way. the frenlom of being is not a fun-
dal11elllal pn'I,,'rry rhat would be above aU else posited a~ an essence,
but is immediately being in frdom. or the b~;"g-f"~ ofb~;ng,
where its being is expended. It is its very life. iflife is undcntood as
originary aUlo-affection. lJut being is nor a living being and is not
.1fTcx(cd" hy its freedom: being is only what il i~ insofar as it is in
freedom anJ as freedom. the being of a bursting of being that de-
li\'er~ being to existence.
" 'X' IS in (his way is never at first on the order of action, nor is
II on the order of volition or representation. It is a bursting or a sin-
gu!." ily of cxistene~. whieh means existence as deprived of essence
~Ild ddivcrcd to this in~ssentiality. to its own surpris~ as well as to
11\ 11\\"11 dcdsinn, ro irs own indecision as well u to its own gen-

"", Bur this "own" of frcc:dom is nothing subjective: it is the in-

Tk Fret Thinking ofFreedom

appropriable burst from which the very existence of the subject

comes to the subject, with no support in existence, and even with-
out a relation to it, being "itself" more singularly than any ipseity,
"itself" in the burst of a "there exists" that nothing founds or ne-
cessitates, that happens unexpectedly and only surprises, vcnigi_
nous [0 the poim chat it is no longer even a question of assigning an
"abyss" to its vertigo: this vc.-ry vertigo. its existence and irs thought
are the vertigo of the prodigality that makes it exist without a""tting
it any nsmu and that is therefore not an essence, but rather the
free burst of being.

Freedom. in me existent. thw also immediately forms its imma-

nence (we could say. in terms raken from a regisrer that is no longer
applicable: the necessity of its chance, of its contingency, the legit-
imacy of its caprice) as well as its transcendence. That the existent
transcends means: it has no immanence in the freedom with which
it exists. But its freedom, with which it is more intimate than any
property of essence. is in this very intimacy only the "strikeW or
"cut" of its existence: the archi-originary bursting of pure being.
This transcendence therefore should nOl be understood as an "open-
ing to" or as a "passage out of "-in a sense. it is not ek-static. and
existent freedom is not ek-sistent, but it is the insistence of a bum;
transcendence takes place on the spot. here and now, as a prcsen~
that would be the singular presence of a strike, of a spring. of a
free leap in existence and of existence.
Thus it is freedom mat definitively "leaps." or rather it is fttedom
that is the "leap," whereas Heidegger would have the leap provide ~
cess to freedom. The leap is therefore not a free decision of thinking.
It is freedom and freedom gives thinking. because thinking is what
"holds itself" in the leap. Freedom is the leap into existence in
which ocistence is discovered as stich. and this discovery is thinking.
Well before being or seeking to be "the thought of freedom," think~
ing is thus in freedom. Thinking is in this leap, from Pascal's "chance
which gives thoughts and tak~ them away" to this other extremity
where thinking can no longer even have "[houghts" (ideas, con~
cepts. representations). not because it would be limited with re-
l1J~ F"~ Tbinkil1g ofF"~dom 59

SpCd to a Illl!;hti~r power of (rc)presentation. but because it touch-

es. in ;tnd of itself. tbis limit Illal is ilsIftry fr~~dom. On this limit.
thinking neither comprehends nor uncomprehends. It is supported
hr mulling, and it is not thrown into the Kantian dove's empty
SllJtl'- it leaps into and over nothing. It is but the leap of a nan. a
hurst of \,\istcm;e. an unleashing that ulll~.lShes Ilolhing more Ihan
rhe ucmhlin~ of the existent at the border of ils existence. Thinking
trt'rnbles with freedom: fear and impatience. luck. the experience that
(hcrt' is no thinking that would not always be given in freedom
an\lto freedom. A~ soon as it thinks. thinking knows ilSdf to be free
as thinking. and not onlY-<lr even necessarily-as the possihility of
,homing or inventing its ideas or representalions. h knows itself 10
be frc.c hecausc it knows thaI it already is. as Ihinking. the experience
of frl'Cdom: simply from th~ fact that "thinking" means 1I0t wing n~
(N5/~Y ~y II'II) ofall ~"c~. jiJIIlltMl;01l. or callw. or alleasl not being
50 without immediately having to relate itself to this necessity as ne-
ccs~ity (which amounts to saying: as a thollght necessity). Thinking
cannot think without knowing itself as thought. and knowing itself
as SIKh. ir ,annOl not know itself as freedom-if only as this feeblot
infinite lrcmbling tit th~ limit of every necessity. or even as this ree-
hl~t infinite surprise of the existent in the face of the "there is-<lf
But this experienl'c of freedom (which is not experience "in
th()u~lu." hUl which is thought. or thinking. as experience) is only
tht: knowledge that in every thought there is tI" oth~r thought. a
"th()lI~ht which is no longer thought by thought. but which thinks
tholl~11l itself (which gives it. expends it. and 'wigbs it-which is
what "rhinking" means): a thought other than understanding. rea-
51111. knowledge. contemplation. philosophy. other finally than

th'lllght itself: The ot,," Ihuught of allthought-whi,h is not the

lhhl' r (If thought. nor the thought of the Other. bur that by which
Ihou~hr thinks-is the burst of freedom.
6 Philosophy: Logic of Freedom

Who is in charge of this other thinking? No one is its operator.

official, or "specialist." This orner rninking thinks in all thought-
and it thinks this thought, which means that it weigh5 it, trics it, and
puts it to the: tcst of freedom. It thinks "in all thought": it might be
at stake in a thinking of mathematics, of politics, of technology.
of everyday life, and so on. This might be when one is thinking
about somebody, when one "isn't thinking about anything," when
one is concerned about making a decision, or is under the pro-
surcs of suffering, or even under the hardship or insipidity of ne-
cessities, as well as when one forms concepts. meditatcs, or organius
a discourse. We have said before that this other thinking, which
frees all thought as such, is not restricted to any definite form of
thought-it is perhaps the form-Iessness of all thought-and is ac-
cordingly not restricted by that which goes by the name of "phi
losophy." Moreover. it should be said that we are done wirn "phi.
losophy" because it has encloscd freedom in the empire of its ne-
cessity and thus stripped itself of this orner thinking. of the freedom
in thinking. In this way, philosophy has constituted freedom as a
probkm. whereas frecdom is, of course, anything but a "problem:
In thought, that which addresses itself to thought and addresses
thought to itself cannot constirute a "problem": it ili a "fact," or a
gift," or a "task."
Why then philosophy, or whatcvcr one chooses to call it?

Philosophy: Logic oj'Fl'udom 61

II ki,lq~gcr trial to substitute "thinking" for this word-for excel-

kill rC;I~(HlS lhat hen' guide even my own discourse-nevertheless,
h,'(1." he remains a plJilosopIJtr who determines ,he necessity and
sl.lkl." lIf [his suhstitlllion on the b35is of philosophy. and "philoso-
phy" .\IW;l~'S makcs rderence. at least technically or praClkaUy. and.
ti.)r c ample. institutionally, to the possibility of putting at stake
,hI." mllst unapproachable freedom uf thinking. and freedom as
,hill king.) Should there be a philosoph)' of frt'edom? It has already
rakl'lI place: it has raken place in all of philosophy and liS all of
philosorh)" One could say that "freedom" apreareti in philoso-
phy-and rc:mail1al a pri50ner of it:ri closure-as philosophy's very
!lira t~,IJL:ll back onto its own id~lity, even where philosophy want-
ed til g() IX')'Ond itself or rt'alize itself. This is why. whenever there has
not heen the ahandonment of philosophy. there has been. in phi-
losophy. the ahandonmenr of frCftlom-to the point that today
the unti('rtaking (If a philo<;llphical diKOurse on freedom ha'i some-
thin~ (If rhe ridiculous or indecent abom it. Indeed. "philosophY-
"'alters liule if it has nOlhing to do with frrcdom. or rather "phi-
losophy" mauers little ifit is not rhe inscriprion ofthejirctoffree-
JOIll. instead the (in)comprehension ofi" Idea. Frcroom-
~he" m.l (tC'fS to us. Not because she would be a good that we desire
an,1 have the right to enjoy. but because we ha\'e always been defined
and dcstinl-d in her. Alwavs: since the fc>undatinn of the Occident.
whilh also ",,-,an5 sinc~ the foundation of philosophy. Our
Occidental-philosophical foundation is also our fOundation in free-
~(lIl'--e\'Cn if (and perhaps pred~e1y because) the foundation of
Ireetiulll anti freedom .u foundation ~Iip away from philosophical
~ra~p. Nnw philo50ph~' ha~ always meant-Of at lea~t always indi-
~atl'\l- -l1\nre ami somerhing mher than "philosophy." other than. as
It \\:l'rC:" rhe I'llre discipline of concepts that is by itself the discipline
of Ie 'II IIdatiol1 in general. (Even the privileged "thinking of hc.-ing"
Jl'~i~nat{'~ fi/'sl the study of a cnnct'pt and th(' s)'Sfcmatic intcrro-
~alilln of it~ rdation In foundation). Indeed. there is an idea of
,nll.lllhing 01\ .1 pur(' ,tiscipline of concepts ollb' bc:cilUse there is--by
;J kllld IIf <lhsnlllie preliminary of philosoph), wh('re philosophy

.uil~ l.,rel:l-UC5 i[self and exceeds itself--the pre-understanding

61 Philosophy; Logic ofFrmlom

that the order of the concept itself pcnains, in origin and csscnce, to
the dement of freedom. The com;ept it5df all ea5ily appear as a rep-
resentational abstraction: bm the concept of the concept, if we can
say this. annot be anything other than the freedom through which
the access to representation occurs-and me access to the repre-
sentation of foundation, as well 35 to the foundation of repm;cn.
tation: that is, the mode of being according to exiJtmu, or even
thinking as the free pos.~ibiliry of having a world, or as the avail-
ability to a world (even if this is. as it comes into philosophy, only a
world of representation). The faclUaliry of freedom is also the fact of
thinking. It is thus also prescnt in the fact-which opens philoso-
phy, and hence also precedes it-m.ll we define "man" by thought:
we do not define him 35 a pat[ of a universal order. or as a creature
of God, or as the inheritor and transmitter of his own lineage, but
as zOo" logon elthon. Thought is specified as logtls, and logos. before
designating any arrangement of concepts and any foundalion of
represeRlalion. ~cnlially designates-within this order of the "mn-
cept of concept" and "foundation of foundation" to which its dia-
logic and dialectic are devoted-tht- jTreJom oflhe access 10 its OWII
essence. Logos is not first the production, reception. or assignation J
a -reason," but is before all the freedom in which is presented or by
which is offered the "reason" of every "reason": for this freedom
only depends on the logos. which irsdf depends not on any "order 01
reasons" but on an "order of matters" whose first maner is nothina
other than freedom, or the liberation of thought fur a world. The r.-
gOl would never, for lack of this freedom. pose any question of the
concept as concept, of the foundation as foundation, or of repre-
sentation 35 representation (or any question of the Iog01 as /o~.
Thus the Iogo/, before any "logic," but in the very inauguration of its
own logic. freely accedes to its own cssencc-cven if this is in the
mode of not properly acceding to any essence. This access, which
also produces its source, never stops being pur at stake. as much
when the logol attempts to master "freedom" in a "logic" as when it
renounces assigning any "reason" to this frc:alom. BUI whether it
masters (itsdO or renounces (itself), the logos is already seiud by free-
dom, which undoes on tk surfoce oflhe logol its ma5tcry or its a(,.
Philosophy: lAgir ofFrmJo",

dll.1I11l1l . This amounts [0 saying that freedom offers or casu

r!1l'ugl ll in philosophy. always beyond "philosophy" ro"u;wd tiS
rhe: (:om:ept or Foundation of the logos. That is why there is no
philus(,phical co",:~usi(}n or do~.ur~ that do~ not unce again .re-
quire: .lIld provoke, If not exactly philosophy, then at least a phtlo-
slIphilal freedom always more ancient and always more recent than
every philo~{)phy. We arc therefore not saying that philosophy ;s
thinking in its freedom; we are, however. saying that for the en-
rire Iradition of the Occident, to which the idea of fr~dom in-
evil'lhl,. belongs, since it founds this tradition (or since it is
[unJ(omprehended as its foundation), it is only on 111, surfou of
philo~()phy (if not in it as a doctrine, a body of thought, or a con-
strlluion of concepts) that the logk of freedom passes, for it an-
swer~ 10 nothing other than the existing opening of thought.
Tholl~ht and freedom are correlatively determined and destined
in philosophy. Even if we have to free ourselves from this derermi-
n.llillll, we cannot do so, by de6nition. in any simplc "outsidc" of
philosophy (which does not mean that outside of philosophy there
is neither thought nor freedom, but that there is in effect neither me
one nor the other in the sense of their reciprocal determination in
th(' If/go.<).
There is thus no pure discipline of concepts in the sense that
there would be a discipline of unverifiable ideas. of great ideas freely
pmducl'd outside the constraints of objecrivity and practice, or of vi-
siems elf the world whose free market would occupy the poverty
Wne of our knowledge-this is how we [00 often undcr5tand phi-
lo"uphy anti philosophical freedom (the ic.ica of freedom itself being
Olle: of the: very fitst products put into circulation in this philo-
~lphkal free-exchange. But "truth," "obicuivity:' and "knowlcdgc"
111 I',t l1\:rill. being (un)fllundloU in the logos. are (un)foundcd in free-
dlli ll. Philosophy is tbe thought that guides [he discipline of roncel't.'i

ba\.k III Ihe cxpct'ic:nce of this fOundation, or rather, it is only the filr-
g'llil1~ or ubliteration of its 01L'1I constitution.
I'hiioltlJl'hy is not a[ all a founding discipline (there precisely lan
h~. flll 'urh thing), hut is the vcry folding. in discourse, of the frec-
\10111 11t.1I deflnesthc logos in its acces.~ to its own essence. Philosophy
Philosophy: Logic ofFrtteJom

:0 the: fact that thinking. in its eS5cncc. should be thc liberation of ex-
istence for a world, and that lht'.frudom ofthis li~ration cannot '"
appropriaud tV dn "objt'ct of thought. .. btlt that this jrudom marlt,
with an indJ'auablt' fold tIJt' t'xt'rciu of thi"king. This is the fold
along which thought touches itself, tests itself, or accedes to its
own essence following the experience of freedom. without which it
would not be "thought" and even les~ logos as free access to its own
Thus philosophy does not produce or construct any "freedom:
it does nO[ guarantee any freedom, and it would not as such be
able to defend any freedom (regardless of the mediating role it can
play, like every other discipline, in actual struggles). But it ~'PS
opm tiN dems to fbi' mmCt' oftiN 10g01 through its history and all its
avatars. In this way it must henceforth keep the access open--frce..
dom-beyond the philosophical or metaphysical closure of free-
dom. Philo~ophy is inccssanrly beyond itself-it now has a the-
matic knowledge of this from the interrogarion of the very con-
cept of philosophy-not because it is the Phoenix of knowledgc:s, but
ha"ause "philosophi7jng" consists in keeping open the vertiginous at-
cess to the essence of the iJJgos, without which we would not have any
idea of even the slightC"St "logic" (discursive. narrative. mathemati-
cal, metaphysical, etc.). But this maintcnance is not an operation of
force or even one of preservation: it consists in testing in thought
(which means: inscribing in language) this fold of freedom that ar-
ticulates thought itself (which me-ans: inscribing in language the
freedom chat arriculates it and that never appropriates it).
Accordingly. when it is said that true philosophy is where -in
such knowledge the whole of existence is seized by the root after
which philosophy searches-in and by fimJq",." I or even that phi-
losophy is "rigorous conceptual knowledge of heing. It is this. hoW-
ever. only if this conceptual grasp (&g"iftll) is in itself the philo-
sophical apprehension (J:.rgrrifm) of iJast'in in freedom," it is not said
that the philosophical concept wOllld comprehend existence in irs
freedom. but rather that it is freedom which grasps the concept it-
selfin its "conceiving." This is not a "conception of existence" and
stillles.~. if that is possible, a '\;onception of freedom." but it is ex-
Plli/osop"y: Logic ofFl'udom 65

.I.~tl'n\.1: in the c'"xerci!;t' of the freedom of the concept, it is existence

~ thinking, which is not a thinking Ilbollt anything lInles.o; il is a
rhinkingjPrlhe freedom ofbc:ing-in-the-world. In short, it is the
rm.\;uof the I~:.(or "practi~ reasc.~n"). which is ~u~h a "Ihe:-
orclil;ll pracnce as that which hrangs the logos to Its Iamn, on the
vcrY limit of ("xi",'nce. which the logos "grasps" not by absorbing or
sul~stlming. but instc:ad by assuming tlte foct that the freedom of ex-
istcnce is whal gives it-and strips il of-irs own essence of logos.
I'hilo~oph)' is nor Ihe fTee sphere of thinking in general, nor is il
rhl' theoretical relay between moral. political. or aesthetic pracliccs
of fnoool1l. ami it does not supplement Ihe material deprivations of
freedom by way of an independence of spirit. In philosophy the
logic of freedom merely rejoins incessantly the practical axiom rhat
inaugurates it: thinking receives it.~elf from Ihe freedom of exis-
7 Sharing Freedom:
Equality, Fraternity, Justice

Freedom cannot be presented as the autonomy of a subjectivity in

charge of itself and of irs decisions. evolving freely and in per-ft in-
dependence from every obstacle. What would such an indepen-
dence mcan. if not the impossibility in principle of entering into me
slightest relation-and thcrefore of exerdsing the slightest free-
dom? The linking or interlacing of relations doubdcss does noc
precede freedom, but is contemporaneous and coextensive with it..
in the same way that being-in-common is contemporaneous wid!
singular existence and coextensive with its own spatiality. The.
gulllr being is in relation. or according to rclation. to the same exccat
that its singularity can consist (and in a sense always consists) in ex-
empting irself or in cutting it5df off from every relation. Singularil}'
consists in the "just once, this time" [unl!' sl!'Uk foist ,~lIe-,i), whose
merc enunciation-similar to the infant's cry at birth, and it is nec-
essarily ~a,h tim~ a qucstion of birth---<stablishes a relation at the
same time that it infinitely hollows out the lime and spa.:;c that arc
supposed to be "common" around the point of enunciation. At
this point. it is each time freedom that is singularly born. (And it is
birth that ftm.)
Ontology has only two formal possibilidcs (but these are equal-
ly material possibilities: it is always a question of the body . ,.
Eimer Being is singular (there is only Being, it is unique and absorbs
all the common substance of the beingness lllant;I/) ofbc:ings-but

SIJllrillg F,.mlo",

ti'llll1 ,Iur mornent it is clear that it is not singuhu: if there is i'llt o"~
till1 l ', there is never "once"); or. t~ is ItO being "/N'rt ftom singu-
I.nil)": cadl time just this oncc. and thcre would be nothing gener-
,11 or ((}mnHln exccpl the "each limc just this once" [chaqrlr fois
tt'tu s{'tllt' foil). This is how we must undcrstand Heidegger's
J(II1IIII~t,ktjt. DIINi,,'s "each time as my own," which docs not define
the ~ubj~tivity of a substantial p~sc:nce of the t'go to ;tsr/f(and
",hkh is therefore nO[ comparable to the "empty form" of the
K.U11ian "I" that accompanies representations}, hut which on the
contrary defines "mineness" on the basis of the "each time." Each
timl" there is the singularity of a "time." in this German jr- which so
str.tIlgdy mimes the French jr, at t!Very srrike of existence. leap of
fll'CJmll. or leap into freedom. at every birth-into-the-world. there
is "minellcss," which does not imply the substantial permanence.
iderHily, or autonomy of the "ego." but rather implies the with-
drawal of all substance. in which is hollowed out the infinity of
the: rd;uion 3,coroing to which "mineness" ;tImt;,,"/" mell'lS tiN
nomdmtilJ' of "yourness" and "hislher/its-ness." The "each time" is
an intt'rval structure and defines a spacing of space and rime. There
is nothing ,"tw" each timc: thcre being withdraws. Moreover.
being is 1I0t a continuum-being of beings. This is why. in all rigor.
it i; I/ot, and has no being except in the discreteness of singularities.
The continuum would be the absence of relation. or rather it
would he the relation dis....olved in the continuity of suhstance. The
~inglliarity. on the other hand, is immediately in rdation. that is. in
the dis,rc:tencss of the "each time just this once": each timc. it cuts
itself uff from everything. hur each ti",r [foilJ as a ti",r [fois] (the
strike and CUt [co"p tt "OIt~J of existencc) opens itsdf as a relation
10 nther limes, to the extent that continuous relation is withdrawn
from them. Thus Mitfri". heing-with. is rigorously contempora-
neou~ with D.ur;" and inscribed in it. because rhe esscncc of Dtun"
is til exi~t "each time just this oncc" as "minc." One could say: the of "minc" is by itsc:lf a plural. Each limr is. as such. 111IOt"-
~,. time, lit mret' other than the other occurrences of "mincness"
(whidl l11ake~ the relation also a di~rete relation of"mc" to "me."
. time and "my" spacc). and other than the occurrences of
68 Sbaring Frmiom

"minencssa" other than "mine." Singularity-for this reason distinct

from individuality-takes place according to this double alterity
of the "one time,'" which installs relation as the withdrawal of iden-
tity, and communication as the withdrawal of communion.
Singularities have no common bdng. but they com-pear [com-parais-
Jt'n~ each time in common in the face of the withdrawal of thdr
common being. spaced apart hy the infinity of this withdrawal-in
this sense. without any relation. and therefore thrown into rela-
tion. 1
The existence of the existent only takes place singularly. in this
sharing of singularity, and freedom is ead) time at stake. for freedom
is what is at stake in the "each dme," There would be no "each
time" if there were not birth each rime. unpredictably arising and as
such unassignable. the surprise of the freedom of an existence. On
the one hand, in effect. the originary setting into rela.tion is con-
temporancous and coextensive with fTecdom insofar as freedom is the
discrete play of the interval. offering the space of play wherein the
"each time" takes place: the possibility of an irreducible singularity
occurring. one that is nor free in the sense of being endowed with a
power of auronomy (it is immediately at once in the heteronomy of
the rdatio~r rather. it happens on this side of autonomy and het-
eronomy). but that is already free in the sense that it occurs in the
free space and spacing of time where only the singular one time is
possible. Bur on the other hand. and consequendy. freedom pm;cdcs
singularity. though it does not found or contain it (singularity is un-
foundable. unholdablel. Freedom is that which spaces and singu-
I~r which singularizes itself- because: it is the freedom ofbe-
ing in its withdrawal. Freedom precedes" in the sense that being
cetks before every birth to existence: it withdraws. Freedom is the
withdrawal of being. but the withdrawal of being is the nothingness
of this being, which is the being of freedom. This is why freedom is
nOI. but ;t frm ~ing and frm from b~i"g. all of which can be rewrit-
ten here as: freedom withdraws bring lind gi/IN ,-rldtion.
This does not mean that my freedom is measured in relation to
others in the sense of rwo courses of action or legitimacy whose
circles must remain tangential in order not to encroach upon one an-
olher (.\.~ wc haY(' said, the ~pacing of singtllarities is infinite: and can-
Ill" int! ude tangcncr-which dues not prevent it from being at
rh( ~;\I11l' time infinitely intimate). Insle-.ul. this means that free-
,hUll i~ relation. or at lea~t in the relation. or like the rdation: it is,
or dtcct~. the singular step [pas] of my existence in the free space of
cxi~tl'nle:. the step of my com-pe-.nance which is o",wm-pearance.
Freedom iU"!!operJy the mode of the discrete and insistenr exis-
ttl'I~(C of mhers in my existence. as originary for my existence. z But
at Ihe wne time, it i~ ;11~o the mode of the other existence inSisting]
in Illy identity and constilU(ing (or dt:constituting) it as this idemity:
I~lr relation is also. as I have said. relation to "me," and it is also in
rdation to "me" that "(" am free, or that I "is" fitt. Furthermore. this
OlI:".UlS. s}:mmetrically. that rdation is freedom: relalion happens
only in [he withdrawal of what would unite or necessarily com-
municate me to others and [0 myself: in the withdrawal of the con-
tinuity of rhe being of existence, without which dlere would be no
singul.lrity but unly LlCing's immanence lO itself. (In Ihis case, we
could /lor even say that "there is" immanence, and there would not
cven he anyone to say that we could not say it .... Being would im-
mediately be its own thought, language, and frccdum. It would be
its own other. a pure essence that would indeed be the essence o/ex-
istencc:. blll whiLh for [his very reason would exist in no other way.)
Being-in-common means that being is nothing that we would
have as common property. even though we Ilrt, or evcn though be-
ing is not common to us except in the mode of b~i.!.'g'rrd Not
thar a COllllllon and general substance wuuld be distriburcd to lIS, but
rarh~r. being is 0,,1, shared brtu~m existents and ill existents (or
hctwcen heings in general and in beings-wmparc note 2. above-
hili it is always according to existence as such thai being is at stake
a\ heing). C:ullsequ('nrly, on the one hand. there is no being be-
IWetll exi5tentSo-the spal'e uf existcnces is their spacing and is not
a li,sul' or .1 support bdunging to everyone and no one amI which
w~.uld liJl:ldore belung to itself--and on the other hand. the being
01 l';llh cxiMl'llce. that which it shares of being and hy which it is. is

l10dlillg mher-which is not "a thing"-(han this very sharing.

1"1 111 , what di\idc:s llS is ~hafl.J out to us: the withdrawal of being.
70 Sharing Frwdom

which is the withdrawal of the properness of self and the opening of

existence as existence. This is why. if it is true in some sense that soli-
rude is total. as our entire tradition keeps claiming. and if it is also
true in some sense that freedom is the capricious. unapproachable
independence of a singular being unbound to anything. it is also
true, in an equally reducible fashion. that in solitude and even in
solipsism-at least understood as a sola ipsil of singularity-ipseity
is constituted by and as sharing. This means that t/w ;PS~;IJ ofsill.
gularity hds as itt fflm~~ tIN withdmWdl oftIN aJfity oflHing. Also. the
being of its "self' is what remains of "self' when nothing comes bade
to itselP
If existence transcends, if it is the bcing-outsidc-of-itself of the he-
ing-shared. it is therefore wlJllt it is by being outside of itself: which
amounts to saying that it has its essence in the mSlmc~ it is. c:s-
sentially in-essential. This fundamental srructure (or: this opening
with no return. .) docs not answer to a dialectic ofimmcdiatizing
mediation (which m:uperatC5 the: essence beyond its negation), nor
to an "ec-stasy" sublimated in reappropriation. Outside: of itself. it
is freedom. not property: neither the freedom of representation.
nor of will. nor of the possessed object. Fmdom as tk .~lf' oftIN ,.
;ng-(Jutside-of;ts~1f diNs nOI "turn to or IHlong to its,/f Generally
speaking. frdom can in no way take the form of a property. since
it is only from freedom that there can be appropriation of any-
thing-even of "oneself," if this has any meaning.
Freedom is here precisely what must be substituted for every di-
alectic (and for every "ecstatic," understood in the sense suggested
above). since it is not the struggle for recognition and self-mastery

l of a subjectivity. It is. from birth until dcath-the last birth of sin-

gularity-what throws the subject into the spaa of the sharing ofbe-
ing. Freedom is the speci6c logic of th~ access to the self outside of
imlfin a spacing. each time singular. ofbcing. It is in !ogoJ: "reason:
"speech." and "sharing." Freedom is logos. not alogical, but open at
the hean of logos itself. of shared being. Ontological sharing. or
r the singularity ofbcing, opens the space thar only freedom is abJe,
\ not to "fill," but properly to space. "Spacing space" would mean
Sharing Fr~~dom 71

keeping it as space and as the sharing of being. in onln ;ndeftnit~

/y (II '''I,r~ tIN shari"g of singularities .
. This is also why, as this logos of sharing, freedom is immediately )
linked to equality, or. beucr still. it is immediately ~qua' to ~q"al;ty.
flJtI.1Iil) does nm consist in a commensurability of subjects in re-
I.Hillll to some unit of measure. It is rhe equality of singularirics in
Iht' illl.mnmensurable offreedom (which docs not impede the ne-
,es~itr of having a technical measure of equality. and consequently
al>o of jus rice. which actually makes possil>le. under given conditions.
aCH"SS to the incommensurahle). For its pan. rhis incommen.~urability

doe~ not mean that each individual possesses an unlimited right

[0 exercise his will (moreovcr, if "each" designates the individual. how

could such a right be constructed in relation to the singularities

thill divide the individual himself and in accordance with which
he exim? One would first need to Ie-Mn how to think the "cac;h" on
the ha..~is of the series or networks of singular "each times"). Nor does
thi~ ilH.:ommel15urability mean that freedom is measured only
against itself. as if"it" could provide a measure. a standard of free-,
dorn. Rather. it means that freedom m~asum its~/ftlgaimlllothi1lg:
it "measures" itself against existence's transcending in nothing and
"for nothing." Freedom: to measure oneself against the nothing.
Me,lsuring oneself against the nothing docs nOl mean heroically
aO"rtJIuing or ecstatically confronting an abyss which is conceived of
as the /,Jm;tlld~ of the nothingness and which would seal itself
around the sinking of the subject of heroism or of ecstasy.
MCJ.suring oneself against the nothing is I1lfasllri1lg ollt'St'/fabsolutdy.
or measuring oneself against the very "mea~llren of "measuring one-
I\~I.f": placing the "sclf" in the position of taking the mea.~llre of its
\ CXlstCIKe. This is perhaps. and even cenainly, an excess [dimmlrrJ.
In 110 way and on no register of analysis will one avoid the excess of
frl'lJnm-for whkh heroism and ecstasy are in fact also figures
anJ nJlIles. hut these must not obscure other examples, such as
~t'll'IIily, grace, forgiveness. or the surprises of hlllguage, and others
" ill.
!',\s('1Hiall}" this excess of freedom, as the vel)' measure of existence.
72 Sharing F~uJnm

is common. h is of the e;..o;ence of a measure-and therefore of an ct-

cess-to be common. The community shares freedom's exc.ess._
Because: this excess consists in nothing other than the faa or gesture
of measuring itself against nothing, against the nothing. the corn-
munity's sharing is itself the common excessive mc:ouure Ji)mt'suPr]
offrc:cdom. Thus. it has a common measure. but not in the sense of
a given measure to which everything is referred: it is common in the
sense that it is the ~cess of the sharin~f existence. It is the~
of equality and relati()!'\... It is also f~ternilY. if (raternity, it must
be said. asTcfc: from every sentimental connotation (bur not aside
trom the possibilities of passion it conceals. from hatred to glory by
way of honor, love. competition for excellence. erc.). is not the ~
lalion of those who unify a common family, but the relation of
those whose Pamu. or common subsrance, has distt,,~ dd~rins
them to their freedom and equality. Such are. in Freud. the sons of
the inhuman Father of the horde: becoming brothers in the sharing
of his dism~mb~nJ body. Fraternity is equality in the sharing of
the incommensurable.
\VItat we have as our own, each one of "us" (but there is only a sin-
gular "us," there again. in the "each time, only this rime" [.a chtIIfIII
foist UN s~ fois) of a singular voice. unique/mulriple. which can say
"us"). is what we have in common: we share hein.!. It gives itself.
such in the very possihility of saying c~s:" th~1 is. ~f pronouncing the
plural of singularity, and the singularity of plurals, themselves mul-
,. tiple. 'Ibe "us" is anterior to the "I." not as a first suhject, but as the
sharing or partition that permits one 10 inscribe "I." It is because
Descancs CU1 say ~ know, each and every one of us. thar wt'cxist-
as each on~ of us-chat he can pronounce tgo sum. (This does nor,
however, imply that the "we, at this level. fum;tions simply as the
"shifte:r" r~b~TI ofrhe enunciation over its enunciating subject.
"We" makes a blocked shifter, distanced from itself, function. One
cannot say who enunciates "we:." What would have to be said is
this: "one" evidently knows one exists. 4 and it is thus that Wl'eDst,
sharing the possibility that I say it at every moment.)
If being is sharing. our sharing. thc:n "to be" (to exist) is to share.
This is relation: nO( a t("ndenrial relation, need. or drive of por-
SI1ttring FrmltJm 73

!ions of being that are oriented toward their own re-union (this
w"uld not he relation. bur a sdf-presence mediated by desire or
",j\Il. but existence delivered to the incommensurability ofbeing-in-
(oI11I1WII. What measurcs itself against the incommensurable is
fn:edom . We could even say that to be in relation is to measure
tlnc:~c1f with being as sharing, that is. with the birth or de-liver-
am.c uf existence as such (as what lhroll~h essence de-livers itself),
and it is here that we have already recognized freedom.

If it is indcc(t true that freedom bdongs in this way to the

~5cnce" of hum.1Il beings. it dlles so to the extent that this essence
"fhuman heings itselfhelongs to being-in-common. Now, being-in-
common arises from sllaring. which is the sharing of being. On
the archi-originary re~ister of sharing. which is also that of singu-
larity's "at every moment." there arc no "human beings." This
mcam that the relation is 1I0t one between human beings, as we
might ~peak of a relation established between two subjects consti-
tuted as subject~ and as "securing," secondarily. this relation. In
thi~ relation. "human beings" are not given-bur it is relation alone
that (an give them "humanity." It is frccdom that gives relation by
withdrawing being. It is then freedom that gives humanity, and
nm Ihe: inverse. But the gift mat freedom gives is never. a41 it
i~ the gift of fir~dom. a quality. property. or essence on the order of
"'1I",III1/;",S." Even though freedom gives its gift under the form

of;1 ""''''''''';1111,''as it has done in modern times. in f.Kt it gives a

trano;ccndmce: a gift which. :1~ gift. transcentl~ the giving. which docs
not e~t;lbli~h itself as a giving. but which hefore all gives ;1S~1fas
~ift. Jlld a~ a gift of freedom which ~ives essentially and gives itself.
In the withdr.lwal of being. This is why "man" is ,1150. as we know,
a r.~lIrc th.\( is s1l5ct'rriblc to being effaced. F,.utltJ", givn-fi~t
'/'1111. It only (l('rtains to the "cssence of mall" ill50far as it with-
Jfi\\\S thi, 4.:~~cl\(,:e away from itselt: illlo ()(istence. And in exis-
tCI1~l. freedom gives itself as the possibililY for the existent of a
d"ir,,( ur "ttllilll.dittlJ." ali much :I~ of a "",mulIl;tt's" or ",~j/(u."
1\111 ,lho\'c all. hd<lfe every deterlllill.Hiun of essence: (which be-
lling, IHI I('~~ to the decision in which freedom is at stake and which
74 Sharing F"~om

we will discuss further). freedom shares OUt existence in accordan~

with relation. and is shared therein: it is freedom (and therefore. in
this sense, nothing other than a "'ibmal') 0,,1y in the singular/com_
mon occurrence of singularities.
Freedom is therefore singular/common before being in any way
individual or collective. Existence in accordance with relation would
then be the ontological determination of what Hannah Arendt
tried to represent as the Olnteriority of public freedom to private or
interior freedom. an antcriority which. fur her, allowed one to think
the true origin and nature of the very idea of freedom. ~

Before it became an attribute of thought or a qualiry of the wiD, free-

dom was understood to be the free man's status. which enabled him to
move: .. and meet orner people in dud and word.

It matters little that the historical accuracy of the representation

of an ancient city with a spontaneous sense of free public spacz
would have been degraded or lost in later history. We simply want
to note that it is possible, perhaps even necessary, from the interior
of our tradition, to represent the originary form of freedom as I
free space of movements and meetings: freedom as the external
composition of trajectories and outwanl aspects. before being an in-
ternal disposition. No doubt something like an individual aurono-
my seems to be implied in an identical way in both cases. However.
the "automobility" of the first case docs not precisely designate the
autolegislation of the second. The first "autonomy" depends on
the opening of a space in which only the closing of the second can
take place. Now. by definition. free space cannot be opened through
any subjective freedom. Free space is opened. freed. by the very
fact that it is consrirured or insritured as space by the trajectories and
outward aspects of singularities that are thrown into existence.
There is no space previOlWY provided for displacement (whkh is why
the images of the agortt or forum could be misleading), but there is
a sharing and partitioning of origin in which singularities space
apart and space their being-in-common (points and vectors of the
"at every moment," shocks and encounters. an entire link without
link. an entire link of unlinking. a fabric without weave or weaver,
Sharing Frrrdom 75

elllllrar), 10 rtl;no's conception). Freedom docs not appear here as an

illll:rnal rule of community. nor as an external condilion imposed on
fh~' LlU11Inuni[)'. bUI it appears as precisely the internal exteriority of
[he LlImmunir}': exisrence as the sharing of being.
Pnwided the assets or rcanicularions of these notions outweigh
thdr liabililies. we will call this space the public or polilical space,
;IS Jncs Hannah Arendl. though ours may nor be exacrly in aeeor-

d.lIl(C wilh her perspecrive. Thai the political space is rhe origi-
n,lry 'pace offrcedom docs not lhercfore mean that the political is
dcsrined primarily to guarantee "fr~dom" or "freedoms" (in lhis re-
g.UlI it is nor space rhar must be spoken of, bur only me apparatus)
bUI [har the political is the "spaciosity" (itsclf spatiotemporal) of
freedom. It gives place and time to what we have called "measuring
onesrlf wilh sharing." It gives space and rime ro rhe raking m~sure
of Ihi~ "mea~uring oneself' in its various fonns. an archi-politics from
whi~h it i~ possible to consider polilics as well as to distinguish po-
liti,al orders from other orders of existence.
The jllSt;ce necessarily in question here-becausc ir is a quesrion
of sharing and of measure-is not that of a just mean, which pre-
supposes a given measure, but concerns a just measure of the in-
commemurable. (:or this reason-regardless of the negotiadolls
that ott lhe same time must he conducted with the expecrations
and rea~onahle hopc for a just mean-jlls,;~t' can only reside in
lhe rt'ncwed decision to challenge the validity of an established or
prev:liling "just measure" i" tilt Illlmr oftilt i"commrnsllmbk. The po-
lilical ~pa,e. or ,he politkal as s(Yclcing. is given from the outset in the
form--always paradoxical and crucial for what is neither the polit-
kal nor the community, but the management of society--of the
1. 0 11111\011 (absence of) measure of an incommensurable. Such is.

\\it' l-lluid sa v, the 6m rhrust of freedom.

It i~ in this sense that propositions such as this one from LaCOllC-

Llh,trrhC'_all diflcrences and disputn aside-should be taken:

I h(' nlntours of [he pditkal arc uau.d or rClraced emly on aile measure
..I till" withdrawal. in the poliliCll and from the politil;a1. uf iu eSKIKc."

l)r from Lyotard:

Shan'ng medom

Politics ... bears witness to the nothingness which opens lip wiili each
occurring phase and on the occasion of which the differcnd be~n
genres of discourse is born.

Or from Badiou:

The event , through its porenda! for inrcrnlprion. amounts to sup-

posing that what is admissible ceases to have value. The inadmissible is
the major referent of any politio; worthy of it~ name. 8

I Jowever, while these propositions-like: the: formula of a "just

mea.~ure of the incommensurable." which I am freely taking t:bc
right to impose on them as a kind of common factor-rightfuUy
open. so it seems, dir~tly onto another proposition that could be
reprcsenred. at least for the moment, by this one from Badiou--

Jkvoiurionary politics, if we want to keep this adjecti~, is essentially in-


-they still do nm indicate. or at least not explicitly enough. wI1tII

is properly Kimcrminable" in a "revolutionary politics" (whose ap-
pellation would accordingly refer [0 the relation of the political to
its own spacing, the opening and reopening of its own space as
such). This is not the infinite readjustment of the aim of a correct-
ness [iwtt'JIr] or justice which, posited as regulative Idea. is inter-
minable. This aim would be that of a "bad infinity" in the Hegelian
sense (and whatever the 3(;tual services it has rendered since itS
Kantian im:cprion, it can equally accompany the resignations familiar
to us today in the: thinking of the left, up to the point of resignation
where one no longer knows what "left" and "right" mean). What is
bad in this regulating infinity is that freedom in iu fact-the real-
ity constituting the space of sharing. which we are designating here
as the politic:al--and. consequently, along with this freedom. equal-
ity. not to mention fraternity. are guaranteed beforehand in the
Idea and at the same rime delivered to the infinite distance of a
representation (or of the representation of an impossibility of rep-
resentation) in whose dement [he right to these Ideas is by definition
contained. By interminably invalidating history's re:cords in the
Sb",.i"g n"t~tloll1 77

,I<lI1 IC tlf thi~ right, we hlcnc.! in equal part5 the will and the despair

lit Ihc will -which thrC'atcns to define subjectivity's will. and free-
J(llll. as "sclf..dccel'tion," with 3n unavoidahle counterpart of dis-
[lut iffrcedol1l i!! on the order oHact. not tight. or ifit is on lIle
Ilnkr in which fact and right art' indistinguishable, tim is. if it is tnt-
h' ,-,i;(cl1l.:<: as its own essence. it must be understood differently. It
,;II,o;t be understood Ihat what is intt'rminahle is not the end. but the
be~inning. In mht'r wonk the political act offrcedol11 is frdom
(cljllalirr. fraternity. justice) in action. and not the aim of a regula-
dw ideal of frc:cdom. That such an aim could or should belong to
(hi~ or that pragmatic of political discourse (it remains less and less
.ertain that this would he a pr;'gmati,ally desirahle and efficient
mediation or ncgntiation with the ,iiscourses of Ideas) docs not
impl'lle the political act-a~ wdl as the act that would decide to have
a discourse of this ~rt-from being tllllw Oll"tt fn:edom's singular
ari~ing or re-arising. or its unleashing.
Perhaps the political should be mea.'Iuted against the fact that
freedom dlles not wair for it (if ever rrcnfom waits, anywhere . ).
It is initial and must be so in order to be freedom. Kant wrotc:
I ~ral1t that I cannot really recom;ile mysdf (0 ,he fullowing cxprrssions
m.lde U'it' ofhy de~r men: "A cerlain people (engaged in a muggl!! for
li"il freedom) i~ not yet ripe for frttdom": "The bondmen of a landed
pruprietor are nm yel ready for freedom." and hrnce. likewise:\d in general is nOI yet riJX for freedom ofbdief," For ac-
cording 10 slKh a pr~upposilion. freedom will nl'ver arise. siner we can-
IIlI! Il/'mlO Ihi~ frC'c:dom if we art' not fir.;1 of all placed rhe~in (we must
I.\: fret' in order 10 be able 10 make purposive use of our powers in

hc:cJnm cannot be awarded, granted. or conceded according to

a. lkgr('(' nf malurit), or some prior aptitude that would receive it.
hl"cdom can only be Ink"r. this is what the ml(}/utio"tlry tradition
~('prl\eIltS. Yet raking freMom means that freedom f,,('('S it!iClf, that
'~ ha~ .Ilrt;1t1 r received it~df. from itself. No one begins 101M free, but
Irl'l'dulll ;.f the beginning ami endlosly remains [he beginning.
Sharing F,utlom

(The beginning;u the beginning of history is found only where there

is freedom. that is, whe~ a human group comports iuelf resolutely
toward beings and thdr truth.)lfI

lfit is not possible here to attempt to go fu"her in this determi_

nation of the political, we will at least posit that the political docs IlOf
primarily con!Oist in the compo5ition and dynamic of powers (with
which it ha5 been identified in the modern age to the poilll of slip-
ping to a pure mechanics of forces that would be alien even to
power as such, or to the point of a political technology," atc'ording
to Foucauh's expression).11 but in the opening of a space. This \
space is opened by freedom-inirial. inaugural. arising-and fn:e..
dom there presents itself in action. Freedom docs not come to pr0-
duce anything. but only comes to produce itself there (it is DOt
poinis. bur praxis). in the sense that an actor. in order to be the ac-
tor he is, produces himself on stage. U Freedom (equality, fraternhy,
justice) thus produces it5e1f as existence in accordance with rela-
tion. The opening of this 5Cene (and the di5-tension of this .dation)
supposes a breaking open. a strike. a decision: it is also as the political
that fTecdom is the leap. It supposes the strike. the cur, the decision,
and the leap onto the scene (but the leap itself is what opens the
scene) of thal which cannot be received from elsewhere or repro-
duced from any model. since it is always beginning. "each rime.
Or more exactly. if this is the reproduction of a model-which is
at any rate not a model of producrion-it is simply the model of the
beginning or of initiality. The beginning is not the origin.
C..orrecting the general use of this term that we have made up until
now, we will say that the origin is the origin of a production. or al
any rate. in the PlalOnic scme of poi~sis. it is the principle of a com-
ing into being. Power has an origin. freedom is a beginning.
Freedom does not cause coming-to-being, it is an ;nitiality ofbtiRf
freedom is what is initially. Dr (singularly) se!finitiating being.
Freedom is the existence of the existent as such. which means that
it is the initialiry of irs "serring inro position."" It "postures" exis-
tence. according to sharing, in the space of rdarion. Freedom: event
( and advent of existence a5 the being-in-common of singularity. It is
, the simultaneous breaking into the interior of the individual and of
Slldring Frwdom 79

Ih~ (ommunity. which opens the specific space-rime of initialiry.

l \'fh;lt is lacking today, and lacking up until now in the philoso-

ph~' of democracy, is the thought of this initiality, before or be-
"(Jnt! the safeguarding of freedoms considned to be established
ir~d()rns (frum nature or by righr). h is possible that fi)r this reason
it 111.1)' no longer even ~ possihle, in the furore. to think in terms of
\kl1lo~ra,y." and it is possible that this also signi6es a general dis-
pl.lll'mCI1l of "the political." a word we have provisionally mobilized
here:: perhaps a liberation of the political ic;elf. All thing.o; con'iidered,
wh;1t i~ lacking is a thinking of the freedom that is not estahlished.
hili that lakes iffe/fin the act of its beginning and its recommence-
m('nt. "I his remaino; fi,r us to consider, perhaps heyund our entire po-
litical Iradition-and yet in some ways the direction of this im-
perative has already been thought by at least one part of the re\'o-
hllionary tradition. In at least one of its aspects, revolutionary
thinking hao; always acceded-and not without risks that cannot ~
m'crlnokcd-not so much to the overturning of power relations as
10 the arising of a freedom untainted by any power. though all
pmwrs cOllceal it, What lIlust also be understood along these lines
is thl' radical demand in Marx for a freedom that would not gl.lar-
anrl'C political, religious, and other freedoms. but an i"tfllgumllib-
",,,ioll with respeu to these freedoms. insofar as they would
nothing other than the f~oms of <:hoi<:e at the interior of a dosed
an~1 precomrrained space.
It is nor a question of substituting for the framework of these
cmhlishel1 rights the coercion of a "liberation" whose principle
and t'IIU would themselves be eSlablished (whkh is not necessarily
the laSl' in Marx). We know what this means: the malerial de-
Strllnion of all freedom. Rather. it is a question of permitting the re-
opening of the framework and the liberation from every atablish-
IllCIlI, lIr irs overflowing. by freedom in its ~tfC" rim~ irredUdblc(
fn:)i.lginning: Ihi~ is the task of politics as the liberation offree<fom,
a~ tilL' (rc)opcning of the space of its inaugural sharing.
'Ii, readl even fimher back into the revolulionary tradition, tow.ud
a IW~illlling whose nai\'cte and danger we are well aware of. and of
\\hid\ ~()mcthing dmlhtles..~ still remains to be thought, if the political

itself still remains to bc thought. let us citc Saint-Just: "Although

France has established judges and armies. it must see to it that the
public is just and courageous. "1~ This meant that France was to
free itself for its own being-free and not merely to prcscrve its in-
stitmed freedoms.
But "seeing to it" should not he an operation. nor should the
"public" be a work, its "justice" and "couragc" a production. A pol-
itia-if it slill is one-of initial freedom would be: a politics putting
freedom at thc surface of beginning. of allowing to arise. in the
sense of allowing to be realizcd-since it is realized in arising and in
its breaking open-what cannot be finis,"eI. Like sharing. freedom
cannor be finished.
8 Experience of Freedom:
And Once Again of the
Community, Which It Resists

In its highest form of explication nothingness would be: jiwJo",. But this
highest form is negativity insofar a~ it inwardly deepens itself to its
highc:~t intensity; and in this way it is itself afflrmarion-iruked absolute
aJlirmation. '

Thus, in Hegel himself, at least at the literal level of this text. free-
dom is not primilivel)' Ihe dialectical reversal of negativity and its
sublation into the positivity of a being. It is, rather. in a kind of pre-
dialcrtical hurst, the deepening and intensih..:ation of negativity up
to the point of affirmation. Freedom = [he self-deepening noth-
In thi~ way. there may be a beginning. arising. and breaking open
of an opening. Not only i~ there nothing btfo1"r. hut there is noth-
in~ III tht tIIOl11mt of freedom. There is nothing on which it de-
pends, nothing Ihal conditions it or renders it possihlc-or neces-
~ry. nut neither is there "frmlom itself." Freedom is even frc:c:from
frct:{iorn: thu.~ it is free for freedom (through its wlU.litional---com-
p,lrr note I-Hegel's text in some sense presents the freedom that
ll)flln before freedom. or the very hirth of frcroom). With free-

JOIn, the dialectical linkages are interrupted or have not yet taken
pl,lq:~'en if their possibility has already been oflered in its emiret)'.
NlI I,kntity preserves itself in negadon in order [0 reappear affirmed
(IIndl'r~t;lI1dahly. since [h(' n()[hingnes~ is here none other than the
lIothilJgn~ ofheing as such in its initial abmaction). This is so be-

Ex/Nrimc~ ofFreuJom

cause freedom is not itself negated during the course of its own
trial (as would be the case on the funher register of a dialectic of
slavery): freedom is itself nothingness. which docs not "'Kat~ ilJ~1f
properly speaking, but which. in a pre- or paradialectical figure of
the negation of negation, affirms itself by making iL'ielf int~nJ~.
The inrensification of the nothingness docs not negate its notb-
ing-,mi' ["Iantitl]: it concentrates it, accumulates the tension of
the nothingness as nothingness (hollowing out the abyss, we could
say. if we were to keep the image of the abyss). and carries it to the
point of incandescence where it rakes on the burst of an affirmation.
With the burst-lightning and bursting. the burst of Iightning-it
is the strike of one lim~, the existing irnJption of existence. In this
black fulguration. freedom ;s not and does not Imow ;Is~lfto be
fr ftom anything; nor is it or docs it know itself to be free for
anything determined. It is only free from all freedom (determined
in this or that relation. for example. the relation with a necessiry),
and it is only free for t:Vt:ry freedom. In this way, freedom is neither
in independence nor in necessity. neither spontaneous nor com-
manded. It does not apprehend itself [silpprend], but takes itself [.
prmdJ. and this means that it always surprises itself [Sl!' surpmrJJ.
Freedom = the nothingness surprised by its fulguration. Despite
its having been foreseen. the free act surprises itself. beyond fore-
seeability. Foreseeability could only concern its ronrents. not ita
modality. This is also why the will foresees-in fact it does only
rhis-but it docs not fon:sce itself (it is by confusing the two that we
make the will into its own subject). Freedom defies intention. as wei
as representation. It does not answer to any concept of itself IlI1
more than it presents itself in an intuition (and it doubtless thm-
fore bdongs neither under the term "freedom" nor in any image or
semiment that could be associated with freedom). because it is the
beginning of itself at the same time that it is itself the heginning-
which is to say. the maximum intensity of the nothingness and no
origin. "No "otion ()!btgi"nings." writes a poct. l
Heidegger imerpreted freedom's nothingness (even ifhe was not
formally interpreting Hegel's text) in the following way:
E-.:p"itnct ofFruJom

,.-,.(t'dolll is lIN fimWI;tm offomuWI;(m . ... The breaking-fonh of Ihe

.11l\'~~ in founding transa:ndence is lhe primoroial movement which free-
ll(~m makes with U5.'

The Iranscendcnce [hat makes freedom is the transcendence of

finimde. since the essence of finilUde is to not contain in itself its
own essence. and consequently to he, "in its essence" or in its in-
essence, the existing of existence. It is a fill itt flrtdom which is the
"foundation of foundation." This absolutely does not mean that
thi~ freedom would be a limited freedom having no space of play ex-
cept between certain borders or fronticf5 (which is how freedom is
almost always understood in every elilial. political. and even aes-
thetic conception of freedom). Finitt freedom. on the contrary,
designates freedom itrt/f, or the ((blo/llu freedom of bcing whose
essence essentially withdraws; from existence. Thus, freedom here
COIlle'S to characterize tht finmdatirm u,J,irh by ;Ut/[dOts not Jmm ;t-
st/f,u jotmdation (call~. !'rason, principle. origin. or authority),
bur which refers through its essence (or through its withdrawal of
cs.~ncc) to a foundation of itself. This lauer foundation w()uld be the
securing of every foundation-but it cannot be precisely this on
Ihe modd of any other foundation. since no other foundation fim-
d.llllt'l1tdlly secures itself as such. The foundation of foundation
cono;equently founds in a mode which is also that of a nonsecuring.
hilt whidl this lime refers dearly to the withdrawal of its own
e5.~II\.:C anu to what we could call the definitive in-dcpendence of its
own independence. The foundation of foundation therefore founds.
in Hci<icggerian terms. in the mode of "the abyss": Abgnmd, which
is the Grtmdof every other Grund, and which is of course its own
Grii IldlirMu;t as Abl';i"Jlichk~it.
The ah)'SS is no-t hingnCS5" (ne-dlll, U"-wtSm), whidl it is perhaps

nCll iIIegilimate (but up to what point and in what sense must we It-
gitillllUt' here? Up to what point, without insolence or arrogance, arc
We nO! ~i\'en O\'er to the freedom of recommencing the thinking of
freedom. of rtptaling. which means aliking again. a certain fimda-
m"I/f,,, ii-legitimacy which is norhing other than the ohject of these
Jl~l!!t~?) In think of in irs tum as the Hegelian "intcnsificatiun" of the
hlllhil1gn~~. The word "ahyss" says too much or too little for this in-
Exp~rimc~ ofFrudam

tensificauon: roo much jigurt'. in spite of everything (the COntours

of the abyss). and too little inumity. But the truth of the abyss and
of intensification, as the truth of the Ilo-tbillgllm. can be named
as txp"imu. (This does not mean thar we would be naming it
properly. We will play the game of impropriety with every other
term. But we will attempt to experiment here with precisely tills im-
propriety as the very foundation of freedom. and to experiment
with what it teSlS in thought and language: the finimde of their
infinite freedom. the infinitude of their finite freedom.)
The foundation of foundation that is freedom is rhe very expe-
rience of founding. and the experience of founding is nothing oth-
er than rhe essence of experience in general. The act of founding is
indeed the act par excellence of aptriTi, of the attempt [0 reach
the limit. to keep to the limit. Is nO( the model of all foundation the
founding of the ancient city-the marking of the outline of the
city limits? (By the same token. this is also the model of polirlgl
foundation. even if. as we have seen. the outline of me model of p0-
litical foundation should be understood as a nerwork of paths and
direcrions rather than as a circumference already in place.) It is not
a foundation in the architectonic sense of the excavation ~d prepa-
ration of a ground that will support a building. In order [0 construCt
an architectonic foundation. one must first have founded in the
sense of having topographically surveyed (or having founded W sur-
vey itself. ), which means having delimited the space of the foun-
dation. This delimitation. in itself. is not anything; it is the noth-
ingness of productive conslruction. In this sense. it maIm nomina
(and is not poiesis). and th~" is nothing. nothing given or preesrab-
lished (not even the idea of a plan of the city or building). There is
nothing but the indeterminable chora (not an undetermined place.
but the possibility of places. or rather pure matter-for-places) whnt
the foundation takes place. This foundation is more or less [he
Ilolhi"g itself, this ungraspablc ,hora. carried to the incandCKCnt in-
tensity of a decision. Here. now. where there is nothing. here and
now which are anywhere and anytime. existence is decided for-for
example. the existence of a city. This is not the production of the city.
but that without which there would be neither plan nor operation
III pnxlll(c it, The dt.'Cision oUllines a limit by bringing itself to
Ihe lil11il that owe~ irs exisrence only to this founding gesture,
It ir is therefore, despire everything. a poirsi!. this time in the
~t'n~c of whit( "brings into being." it is a poirJi! that brings neither to
;hc bcing of essence (the plan. one could say), nor to the being of
511h~rance (stone', morrar), bur only to the being of existence, One
mll sr r"'llk here of a poirJis which is in irsclf a pmx;j, Whar is found-
ed exi'irs insofar as it has emerged. by a free decision, from the in-
ir~dl: from the abstract night and depth of immanenu:. but it has not
cmer~l'J therefrom in rhe sense of something having been extract-
~J: iI has nO[ yet emerged except in the sense of a frcc: decision,
which at the same time makes the inaugural incision into the surface
of Ihe: in-itself-and the in-itself withdraws. This is experience itself,
beClllse it ncither gathers nor produces anything: it decides a lim-
it, an,1 rhus at the same time--at one timt'--it decides its l1w and its
transgres~i()n, having in sum already transgressed the law before
setting it. making it exist without essence, transcendent without a
tramt.cllded immanence,
(\X:'e ha"l' related. through com:epts and languages. "experience"
til "piracy." RU[ foundation always has something of piracy in it. it
pir'1r<'~ the im-propriety and formlessness of a .!lord-and piracy al-
ways has sumething of foundation. unrightfully disposing rights
<lnJ u,l(king unlocatablc limits 011 the chord of the sea, In order
to think the experience of freedom. one would have to be able
ccaselessl), to contaminate each notion hy the other. and let each free
rhe:- other. pirating foundation and founding piracy, This game
woulJ have nothing til do with amusement; its possibility. or rather
i~ l1ece~sity. i~ given with thought itself and hy thought\ fr~om,)
The exp~riencc of founding takes rlace on the limit, What is
fcnJndcd exist! (it is not only projccted. but is first thrown. as found-
rd, inln existence) and it exists according to tht: limit's mode of
eX1 \Il"lce. that is. according to the mode of the u/frurp'l5Jing (over-
(orning and emancipation, gaturcs of liberAtion), which is the very
\(fll([lIre of the limit. foundation is rhe expcriem.e of finite tran-

\l"nJl'nce: linitude. as such and without escaping its nOIl-cssem:c.

J('Lr\!(''i or ,k"Cidcs itself on existl'ncc-and this decision is already illl
86 Experience ofFrmiom

existence, at the same time that it is the foundation of its existen~

What makes experience: here is the carrying (0 this extremity where
there is nothing except through the decision of foundarion, and lIS
this decision. It is decision that produces, one could say, the founder
(freedom) as much as the thing founded (existence). But the found-
ing gesture. the experience of the limit. does not belong to a found-
ing subject, nor does it support a toundcd object. And the founding
gestll re cllrrin itself-Ill once anterior and posterior to the tracing of
the limit it tracc:s-ro the contour. path, and outward aspect of a sin-
gularity whose freedom and existence it makes arise simultaneous-
ly, the freedom of existence and the existence of freedom: the . . .
r;enu of having nothing given. nothing founded. the experienc:c
of owning no capital of experience, the inaugural experience of ex-
perience itself.
The "foundation of foundation" supporu itself alone. having
nothing to support it. not even "itself," since "itself" comes to
light, or to the world. in a founding gesrure, sustaining itlielf only on
iu existence. which is swtained only by its own freedom. And this
freedom is only swtained by the free decision of being-free, whic;b
is in turn only sustained by an infinite withdrawal of being and a
non-being intensification of the nothingness, pushed all me way
to an affirmation of existence as existence, that is. as its own
csscncc-<>[ in-essence. Here (and now). existence tries itself ("...
penn) before and beyond itself. it traces and crosses the limit oria
being-thrown-into-the-world, it tCSts its every chance of existCJKC:
it founds itself and pirates itself at the same time, which amounlS,
furthermore. (0 saying that exislmce makes itself its own chanct If}
Ulhirh, at tht samt timt, it ,,,ts itstlf ht glum owr. This is why the
"foundation offoundation" is experience itself. experience does noC
experien<::e anything. but it experiences the nOI"ingas the real that
it tests and as the stroke of luck it offers. There is no freedom and
there cannot be the slightest act of freedom without this cxperi-
en<::e. despite whatever calculations we could or would want to
make of the possibilities of choice. of the powers of [he wiu, and of
the physical and social laws that constrain or emancipate.
The experience of freedom is therefOre the experience that freedom
xperi("nce. It is the experience of rxpcrience. Rut the experience
of txpcric.nce is nothing other than experience itself: trying the self
at the ~drs border, the immcOiate testing of the limit whkh consists
t'4\1'1I1y in the te-aring apan of immediacy by the limit, the pa~o;age
of the limit. which passes nothing and which does not surpass itself.
hili w!Ji, h II,,/'PfflS (st' Jld.trci. in the sense that";1 /;llp~'U" Ifa an-iwj
anJ in the: sense that "mall ;,rfillile/ymrptusn ",an." Experience is the
c:xrl'ri~n~c of experience's difference in iLo;elf. Or rather: t'."qNrimct;s
~'I"'rii'll('ri diDnr"ct, it is the ptril of the crossed limit that is noth-
ing other than the limit of essence (;and therefore existence). the
I singular outline of shared being. Experience is thus also its own
Jill"cr,mce: experience does not helong to itself, nor docs it consti-
lUte." an appropriation of"cxpcrienccs" (in the: sense of knowledge ob-
tained through experimentation). but it is returned to what it is
not-nnd this widening of the gap of difference is its very move-
ment" Thill gap into which being withdraws is a gap or withdrawal
of a self-presence. a gap or withdrawal of a self-knowledge.
hl'\.'dom is not "inconceivable": f~om is nor com:ei~. and this
is why it is freedom. Irs self-evidence beyond all evidence. its fac-
tuality more undeniahle than that of any fact. depends on this non-
knuwledge of self. more buried and exposed than any consdousncss
or unconscious. For l)cscancs. all lhal can be said of freedom is
"tlw each individual should encounter it and experiment with it for
him~df."" Like the tgo mm anti the IlIttlm '1"id of the union of the
s01l1 .md bod)"-antlno doubt in direct conncction. which should
he: dmlOmmated. with these two instances-freedom proves irselfby
,~ it~elt: This docs not refer to any intrmpcction. nor to any in-
t1l113h: sentiment. klr frc:cdom is anterior to every empirical certitude.
without being. properly speaking. on the order of the transcen-
lIl"llIa!. Or rather-and this is what consrirutcs the difficulrv. bur also
rhl' II r~ncr and the liberating force of this Ibougbt for philosophi-
l,1I discoursc:-fn:cdum is II trtlllSc"mdml,rI r....pai~"u or tile Imll-
"",(,.,,'111 /J/t'Xp~ri~1/{~. the transcendentallhal is expericm:c. What
"Il."xplrirnenr with tin my~lr' is in no way a pow("r I could with-
hold. or a capacity I could get in touch with in myself. Instead. I e)l-
Pl"lIl11ctU Illtlll a", in the cxpcriclII.:e of mYlodf-lhis intensity of
88 Expmmu of furdom

(un)founded no-thingness-I experiment that the withdrawal of

C5sence is an affirmation of my existence and that it is only on the
"foundation" of this affirmation that I can know myself ro be the
subject of my I'Cpresentation.~, and give flesh to my singular being in
the world.
All there is to think of freedom is this affirmation of its experience.
But affirmation in general cannot be thought of simply as the nep-
tion of negation. Affirmation can only be thought through the in-
tensity of affirmation. A thought affirmative of this affirmation. a
thought that would be neither the product of a dialectic nor the ar-
bitrary prophecy of a suhjectivity is what a logic of the experience of
freedom must propose.
In a sense, Hegel's "science of the experience of consciousness" pro-
poses nothing else: it guides the concept of experience to the ne-
cessity for experience to be its own subject. At every instant of this
trial, the constitution-iota-subject, given over to its own experi-
ence, is carried (0 its limit. But the Heideggerian DIlS~in's "dtcown-
ncss" also says nothing else: it guides this neccssity for experience EO
be its own subject to the necessity for the subject to be, in its
{un)foundation, abandoned to experience. which means abandoned
(0 the freedom (0 exist. This freedom [0 exist is not a choice that

could be made by a suhject, but is that existence decides itself as ex-

istence, that is, as being which is shared outside of itself and which
has in this sharing not its "n~"'t(' nsmu (dialccticallogic), but",.
ciseiy ;IS n:istrncf IlS ilS OWII (;n)eSSellt"f.
Heidegger did nor keep the word "experience" here. Yet he did
judge that Hegd had "retreated" from what was fundamentally im-
plied by [he usc of [his word in the (ide of the Phmommo/orf
Indeed, Hcidegger had already indicated rhe nature of (his impli-
cation or "resonance": more profoundly than "the appearing in its
own present being to itsclf,"~ which for him tran51ates "experience:
of;s," experience should open onto the exact reverse (not
the opposire-and hence more "profound." without depth, the
foundation of foundation ) of this self-presentation. which
means onto the other side of this same: limit on which the "sclf' is
lucated: "Undergoing an experience in the sense ofletting the mac-
rer im:lf demonstrate: its~1J and so be verified as it is in lruth."C,
fxp"ricm:e: letting the thing ~ anti the thing's letting-bc. and the
thin~-in-itself, as we have said, is cxistcnce (the existence of Das~;n
;and the cxistencc ofheings in gencral in their common reciprocal
IIp'lllle!.~). The experienc.:e we have is existence-rather than the
c:xpcril'IKc ofexistence. Experience of the thing itst/fand experi-
ell\,e as rhc thing ir!iL'lf. samene!lS of the thing and thingness of the
\;unc:. I.cuing the thing of existence give itself over into truth. to its
rruth-\\ hich is abo\'c all the freedom with whic:h. each tim~. it
,,ins. We have this experience which makes lfiti~ the fot'toffree-
dom, ret we do not "have" or "make" it (in the sense of poiesis).
NcidlC:r would we say that it "makes liS." 1..('t LIS say. rather: experi-
ence's sdfwithOlu-subjectivity-which experience singularizes-
is attained in full force by its freedom.
This is not empiricism's experience. though ir i~ lIot an experience
that a subject could teach. h is not the experience of classical em-
I,iridlilll. nor even that of an "empiricism without positivity" as
Livinao;s is reputed to ~.7 It is not these because it is tile experience
of e"peril-nce. in the sense that has been mentioned. and because it
i.; thl'l,tl)f( always the experience of thinking. BlIt if, by this very fact,
it i~ aI,,, a question of a thought of experience. it is ncvc:rthcless in
no WOI)' a (ll1e~ti()n of an "experience in thought." which would
de~ignatc nothing but an imaginary cxperience. h is a question of
th()lI~ht as expericnce: this is as much empirical as transcendental.
Morcover, [he transcendental is here the empirical. It is this em-
pirkity of thought itself that is attached to "conditions of produc- \
tiOIl. for example. history, soc.:iety, institutions, hut also language.
the hod}" and always chance, risk. the "stri~" of a "thought." /" tix
""'('tligtlliOl' Ibnt brblfJ to Ngbt its Oll'n condition ofpossibility asfort-
dIJIII. t"hlking mmlot "Ibi"k"(whc:ther in the sense of the construc-
tinll of thc COIKept. or in the sense of self-reflexi\'ity) u,;thott, lit
the' .',iIIlt' 11II1t' mdurial(Vlolichillg on tbis I~ry c(",dir;oll ofpossibility.
II :~ nJ.lIcrialiry i~ 11 .. 1 that of a simple physical extcriority (it is
11 .. [ ;t pincal gland . ). and yet it is no less the body or flesh of
~h~I~I~IIf-tl1.,ught not "incarnated" b)' some afterdTccr. but more
111I1I.dly delivcred to itself in the fold and refoMing of what ()csartC'i
Expmence ofFree/10m

had fO resort to calling a "substantial union.'" If freedom gives

thought to thought-even more than it simply gives it something
to think about-this happens in the materially transcendental ex.
perience of a mouth at whose opening-neither substance nor fig.
ure, a nonplacc at the limit of which thought passes into thought_
thought tempts chance and takes the risk (expt'riri) of thinkins.
with the inaugural intensity of a cry.
One will perhaps argue that this logic does not strive to escape
from self-presence except in order continually to rerum to it and c0n-
firm it. Ultimately, in spite of everything, freedom has experience.
"itself," and one could even go so far as to affirm that it has expe.-
rience of the purest ipseity: the "foundation of foundation" is noth-
ing other than the foundation that is rigorously no longer founded
on anything bur itself. With good reason, one will recaU that ia
the certitude of the cogito. in Descarres's own terms. necessil)' and
frc:cdom are each as powerful as the other. or rather are converted
into one another. One might then be tempted to conclude m.
freedom does nothing but RCOgIlize its own proper l1CCC5Sity, and ~
cessil)' is then recognized as the freedom of what is absolutely prop-
er and self-present.
Nothing of the above is incorrect, and all of it can be summarized
by the following pronouncement: freedom frce5 itself. Philosophy"
certainly never said anything else. Bur this still does not mean that
freedom. in freeing itself. appears to itsell[lappamltre]. That whidt.
in making itself. does not appear to itself (that which. consequelH-
Iy, does not "make" itself according to the mode of producing its li-
dos). docs not have the property of subjectivity. Nevertheless. it
should not be understood that "self-appearing" would be a pattic-
ular arrribure which. in the subject. would come to be added to
"making oneself," whereas it would be absent in the case of fn:cdom.
The two things are indissociable. and it follows that ftwdom /UtII4/ly
has t~ exact structure oft~ SUbj~"I: in a sense. it appears to irsdfbf
making itself, and it makes itself by appearing to itself. present-tO-
itselfin the absolute unity of its autooriginarity. But what appears
(0 it (icself ... ) is that it does not make irsclf, and what it makes (it-
Experimce ofF,.mJom 91

5C 1f ) is its nor appearing to itself. In other words. frredo11l grasps

t/...frill ,t mode of"kas;ng. It is not a pirouelte-and not a dialectic.
frc:cdmn gra.~PlI itself released; it is a releasing of the grasp a[ [he Ilea"
II till' very gesture of grasping. It is the no-thingncss of the mastering
of its own mastering. I:or lhere would be no frcc thing or person if
Wh.ll wa~ free commanded itself frum a position of certitude and
rrC'~cm;e that would not he put at 'lake by free acrion.
Thus freedom is not the negative of the subject. It is, on the
contr;uy. the affirmalion of self-presence plUhed to the very e11d-
or rather j"itiaUy cllIT;ed to ,he ;mmsiry of ;Jlcandncmc~[O this
exrremity at which. simultaneously, the self disappears into a pure
prest'nee widlout any relation-to-self (but. at the same time. with an
I infinite relation (0 others) and presence vanishes into a sdf purdy
\ given over to itself (to the sharing of singularity). None of these
MpurC" l'MCnCeS is presentable as such. because none subsists as such
in any region where thc unpresentablc in being would be con-
cealed. Rur their absolute mixture. as well as their infinitc distension.
produce the "strike," syncope. and pulsing in which freedom i.~ de-
cided. and was always decided, before any free subject appears to it-
sell: which means. finally. before any "freedom" presents itself as
such. fjY'~do", I'mtkr! t/~ selfto the ~IfoUlJide ofall prmnu.
hcctiom operates here as the anci~nt condition of free human be-
ing~. at least in the way that we think we understand this condition
or in Ihe: war that philusophy nceded to represent it to itself (and
with il. all the originari(y of the political), Being free "by birth"
signifit'~ being free since before birth, before there was Ihe being of
being free. This mc:;l.llS that the possible place, in a particular lineage
Or parlimlar city. for a new future individual is the place for a free
hUlllan hcing-a free ~)Iace for a free human being-who receives
the mndition of freedom when he comes to he concci,'cd, just as in-
fallihly as a slave's sun recci,c:s his wlldition. (In the same wa)',
morl:clVcr. the contingem.:y of a war or of a de{';ision for emancipa-
tio ll tall suddenly deliver each individual to his inverse cundition,
~I:J rhi, possihility is also p3rt of the scheme.} There i.~ no other (ask
01 thought. on dIe subje{,;t of fn:edom, than that which consists in
tr.lI1\furming its sense of a property held by a subject into the sense

of a condition or space in which alone something like a "subject" CUt

eventually come to be born. and thw to be born (or to die) tD frte-
dom (was this not already in some sense the effort of Spinola's
thought on fTccdom?). What makes [hi~ [ask so difficult and perhaps
even impossible to accomplish as a task of philosophical discoune
is that the ontological condition required here is not a statwJ, as
was that of the free human heings of Antiquity (who were in this
sense from the stan the owners of their freedom). but consists in a
releasing of being. We tt" born~ not in the sense that a law of na-
tUR: or of the city guarantees fOr us in advance the enjoymenr of . .
dom. but in the sense that every birth is a releasing of being. abaa-
r doned to a singularity or t~ a trajectory of singularities. Now. being
does not have frmlom as a property it could distribute. by releasing
from itself. to every existent-nor is being the necessity whose dis-
covery across the movement of existence would produce itself'lI
freedom. Rather. freedom is the foundation that is discovered in?
faa that being is essentially abandoncd-or that it ailts.
Freedom i~ the withdrawal of being. whose existence founds itscl
This "foundation" is nothing other than an exposure. Freedom C'X-
poses existen<:e. or rather. freedom is the fttct that existence is exposed.
Ek-si~ence. rooted in trurh as freedom. is exposure to the disclosedncs
of beings as such."

Exposure: procecd5 from "truth as freedom" becawe truth. before be-

ing the adequation of a verifiable utterance. resides in the very p0s-
sibility of such an adequation (or in the: foundation of this f0un-
dation), This adequation supposes that there is a coming. a comins-
inro-presence-of. ., Coming-into-presence is nO[ simple and pure
presence: it is not the given, but the gift of the given. The gift, the
coming-into-presence, or, one could say, the presentation. tears
presence itself from the depth of the presence immersed in ilSdf
(immersed to the point ofhcing able to be con\'ertcd only into ab-
scnce, as is regularly done by the supreme presence of every negati-lc
ontology. [hcoiogy, or e1eu[herology). At this poillt, whert diAltdiaJ
thought sm ;'UO opmltion the POW" ofthe ntgatiw in order to rn;ttIl
the pr('U"~t lit the "tttrt ofits tth!tIl (which presupposes subjectiv-
Exptrirnct ofFrttdOIll 93

iI'" in~(lfar a'i subjectivity is itlidf what hollows out negation oIl11dwhat
'~Ill~'rs on it. mIl an intensity of the 1l00hingncss. but a f'Otential for
C:(lIl\c.:r~inn: the suhje\.'1 hilS always already slIpponrd the ah!IiCnce of
prl'~cnCl". it has alwa)'s already founded its freedom in this necessi-
1\' at this point tIlt' ,IJill!r;,'g of ,bt ",il"tI"""oII/ of btillg rtquirts
ti'i"~';II.f!, ,hllll"t" ;1 not lin opt,II,ioll, bll'" /ibtmt;on.
Thi~ means that before every process of a spirit appearing to itself
as the becoming of being in irs phenomenon and in the (self-)
knowledge of the phenomenon, being as being makes itself available
liJr e\'ery subsequent proces.'i, of this kind or of another, and being
is til is "01 ;lk ing itself availahle." But "making itself available" dots 1101
,1PPI'I'" to i'~1f. it docs not represent. objectify. engender. or present
itself It) itself. lO (And if we can somdlOw think and say Ihis, it is not
ix-c311S(, we make usc of rhe concepr of such an "a-presentation"; on
the C(llmar~'. it is because thinking and saying are themselves given
ami madc available by this setting into availability: they are and
ha\'c experience of it.) Similarly. "making itself available" does not
imply an)' conversion of cs.~nce that would mooiate itself. That
which n1akcs itself a\'"ilable remains unchanged in what it is, But
what it is. it frees for. . I;or example. for a subjectivity-not.
hO\\'('Vcr. in the sense that a liberation would be onlered tc)r this sub-
jc~ti\'i[)' as it would he for irs foundation (in consciousness. inten-
tionaliry, will. in the freedom conceivC'd of as thC' freedom of aim or
lI~e ofhdng). but in the sense that the ad\'C'1Il of su\;h a subjtivi-
ty remains itself free. existing. and able to take place or not to take
place (;md. as WC' will say later. exposed to good as well as to evil),
Iking frees it~cM for existence and in existence in such a way that
Iht' (')(i~tel1cc ollhe existent tim'S not cnlllprehend i~lfin its origin
alld finally never comprehends itu/f, but is I1t tl1f o"tSfl grlUptd 11M
P"""~I'~rd hy this fredng which "" it {or "pirates" it},
Mlllt'O\'l'r, elli~tcn\;e is to being not as a predicate i~ ttl a subjt
Il\.uII wa~ till,' first to know this) hUlas the improbable is to neces-
. gi \"l'n rh:u there is hd ng. whal is the chance of ils withdrawal
Ircl'illf: an ('Xi~tencc? The existence of being is improbable for the
I:'Jo;i\tl:'lII_.1I1d is what fret'S thought in it: .. W1JY ;1 ,"r,r JOmrllJillg
I;ul,,., tll'lII lIol"i"f.?~ In [his way there is a wming-imo-pre5Cnce: in
94 Exp'rjmc-~ ofFrreriom

the t'Omingto presc:nce of that whose pn:sence in itsclfhas no "*on

or foundation for coming to presence. (This is exactly what the
entire ontothcological tradition has relentlessly sought to P~ent.
even resolve. as the problem of freedom or of the necessity of I
"creator" and its "creation. ")
To use the terms that haunt all of Kant's thought. there is no
realiOn that there should not be chaos and no reason that anything
should appear. If something appears, it is therefore not thrOUgh
"reason." but through its freely coming. And if existence. some-
where. appear.; to itself as subje<::tivity. which also means as "rea-
son." this is also through its freely coming.
TIle "disclosc:dness of beings as such" (= "there is something1
does not refer [0 a deep-seated constitution of being in being_
closed (here no doubt is where the possibilities for a general phe-
nomenology end), but refers to the improbable. to the unexpec:ted.
[0 the surprise of a discl05ure. Without this surprise:. there would be

no disclosure 3.0; such (and there would be no experience). then:

would be "revelation" in the ontotheological sense of the terM,
whose formula comes from Hegel: "What is revealed is precitely
that God is the revealable." With respect to disclosure. one would
have to say instead: "What is disclosed is precisely that the diJ.
closed is not in itliClf disclosable--it is being-and that its disdoswe
exceeds and surprises it instead of coming back to it: it is Mill
'founded' in freedom. it is existence." For this reason. disclosure
also offers itself-this is the logic of altt~ia in Heidegger-as the
renewed concealment of the very being that discloses itself. and of
the being of disclosure itself: in other words. as the con<::ealmenr cl
the being ofbc:ing, and of the being of freedom. of the freedom tl
being. and of being as freedom. Freedom: what is concealed in dis-
closure. if we can understand this not as a remainder that stays
concealed in disclosure. but as the very movement of disclosure.
or as irs aspect or tone (its inrensity): what is "veiled" in a voice:. for
In this way e:xistcn<::c is exposed: Dmem is exposed to the sur-
prise of the disclosure of beings. because mis surprise happens in the
JA of Yin and as this tld-as "being's being-the-thef(~" -whereas the
Expn'imrr of FIYt'dom 95

b{'il1~-thcre of lJa~in does 110( belong to it as its own before this sur-

1fi<;(". The tbe" of existence is definirively nor a position, neither S~-Y.l

~I'IIIl(lr tcmporal, rhough it involves sp:lce and time. but it is a sur-
pri,c. "is;~ 1N;"g~t/~1Y that m~es its surprise. its being-there in the
\\'(lrld of hemgs dlsdosed as bemgs.
-Ii, b(' exposed means to he surpri~ed hy the freedom of exist-
ing. This also means to he given over to the risk of existing, to the
ri~k uf never appropriating for oneself this surprise, of never 1l'3p-
I"",pri;uing for oneself one's foundation. I will never appear ro my-
sdl .1~ my own surprise. as my own hirrh, as my own death. as my
own freedom. This "tl'tr contains :It once all the finitude and in-
finirude of finite transcendence. It contains m)' pure presence in
its own difference of being, exposed to its unlikely coming.
Once again we touch on the question of rc:btion (actually, we nev-
er Ilft it). Being-ill-common is what presents 10 me this nt'wr. my
birth and my death are present to me and are my own only through
the hirrhs and deaths of others. for whom in turn their births and
deaths arc neither present nor their own. We share what divides
us: the fn:c:dom of an incalculable and improbable rom;ngto pres-
ence of being, which only brings us into presence as the onn of
the othm. This is the coming to presence of our freedom. the (';om-
mon experience of the exposure in which the communil)' is found-
ed. hut founded only through and for an infinite resistance to every
appropriation of the essence, collective or individual. of ils sharing,
or uf irs l;l\Indation.
9 Freedom as Thing,
Force, and Gaze

One will ask whether we are still free when we are free to the
point that Being is what is free in us, before w. and ultimately for
lL~. This vcry question could not hdp posing itsdf to Hcidc:gger. who
finally answerc:d-during the period in whi<:h he still themarized 6.
dam. although this was a decisive step toward the abandonment of
the theme-that frro:iom con~idcred a.~ the "root" ofbcing in no way
agreed with freedom represented as the property of man:

But if ek-5istent Da-;rlll. which lets beings be. sets man free for ilk
"frcedom by first olTering to hi~ choice something possible (a bciog)

and by impcKing on him something necessary (a bcing). human capri

do~ not then have freedom at it~ disposal. Man docs not "possess"
freedom as a property. At be.~t the conver~ holds: freedom. c:k-si.s-
tcm. di!;Closive /)a-seill. posses~s man. .. I

In what sense. however. is man "posscs.d by frecdom~ Sante in-


terpreted this thought in his celebrated formulation: "We are con-

demned 10 freedom. "1 Now this is certainly not the sense in which
freedom should be understood. unless we confuse a thinking of
the existence of being with an "existentialism." For Sarrrc:. this
"condemnation" means that Illy freedom. "which is the founda-
tion," intervenes in order to found-which means. according to
Sanre. [() engage in a "project" of existence-in a situation of "de-
tcrminism" hy virtlle of which I am nOl free:
Frrtdom III Thing. Foret. and Gnu 97

'I hils mr liTcljnm is ~ondemnalion because I am not free to be or not

to he ill and iIIne" comes from without: it is not from myself. it has
Ilothing to do with me and is not my fault, Bur since I am free. I am
;lined hy my freedom to make it mine. to make it myhorilon. 111y
,-jeW. my morality. etc. I am perpetually cOIl\!emned to will what I
h.I\'(." nut willed. no longer to will what I have willed. to construct my-
5c1f in the unit), of a life in the presence of destructions externally in-
~i'rl'd on me, , I am obliged to assume this determinism in order to
pl;J\.c the ends of my freedom beyond il. to make of this determinism
one more tllgf1gtmtnt.

Thus the condemnation to freedom is itself the con!let1u~nce of a

condemnation to necessity. Because I cannot avoid illness. I also
cannor. in order to be a human being. whose cssenu: lies not in
an object hut in a project. exempt myself from the necessity of
making this accident the means. opportunity. and stepping-stone of
a new overstepping of my accidental and a(;cident-prone being in the
projt(t of "the unity of a life." I must "assume" my nonfrccdom:
nlOre exactly. I mwt assume one of the "aspects of th~ situation."
namely. the "pa.uivity" surrounded by "the totality of the world." by
means of the mher aspect. which i5 the freedom to make a life pro-
jell our of every condition.
This anal)'si5 fundamentally refers to a lack a.~ well as to an excess
in the apprehc:nsion of existence. It refers to a lack insofar as the free-
dom that is posited here as the taking charge of what it cannot
(hoost' or decide is itself ddinirivcly considered a power (or perhaps
onl)' an obligation .. ) commanded by its own deficiency, which
lllrrnponJs to a deficiency in the essence of human beinw;: freedom
k,is tbe lilllndarion" in human bcing.c; who" lAek. . being their own
IOlllld.uicm." freedom here is not "the foundation of foundation."
as We have analyzed it. but is the: foundation ill #lIIlt of foundation.
It i~ aiM) nor experience as the experience of the limit at which ex-
peril'lI(c ir..c1f docs not belong to itself or !'eturn to itself-which is
wh.H ~i\'cs it its freedom-but it is the proof that there is something
Illlwr than freedom. a default of the autonomy and autar(;hy of a
f rl'(',lorn that rcmaim in itself a full power of self-determination. It
1\ 11.) II mgt'r a question of the foreignness of frc('(lom to irse1f. but of
F"~dom as Thing. Fon:~. lind Gnu

a hindrancc or constraint that limits it from the exterior. ml'OUgh

"determinism." Thus freedom finds itself again endowed with an
cssence (the project) and with an aseity (the decision to assume it-
self) which operates, within its own limits, as a foundation whOSe
foundation (which is apparently to be found in subjectivity) We
would not question, And we doubdess undetSmnd the distraacd de-
sire that compelled Sartre to restore a consistency to a traditional
power of homo mttAphysil'us, who had been made so anemic by the
modern awareness of the world's implacable "inveslmelll." But lhia
simply amounts to an artempt to provide a compromise solution for
the most classical freedom of subjectivity in a space henceforth
conceived and lived as foreign and hostile (0 this subjecdviry (~
as this space is precisely the deployment of this subjectivity. as could
be shown. for example. by a detailed analysis of the idea of "iU-
ness" that governs the text's example). In this sense. the Saurian
freedom that "assumcs" objectivity without any of the means of
objectivity is desperately in need of itself.
As for exccss. the case is of course symmetrical. What is at stab
for me. as I act on my "condemnation" to freedom by assumiIJs
the situation and overstepping it. is that "the world must appear to
me as issuing in its being from a frc:cdom which is my freedom." 11Ir
goal and obligation is nothing less than to find a way of relatins an
absolute subjectivity to the very order of the world whose reality de-
nies the absoluteness of subjectivity. (Furthermore. it is perhap
only a question of acting as if "the world must IIppM" to mt IIJ ;
at the limit. the self-deception of freedom is dearly what is being
daimed). If this goal has any meaning (and for Sartre it is "meanins
itselO. it would have to be based. as in Hegel, on the presupposition
of an infinite Spirit-which, however, could not be admitted heJc.
If the subject is finite. the goal has no meaning. Sartre will of course
be able to say: uF.ach person must ~ali7.e the goal. and it must still
remain to be realized afterwards. The finit~ pursuit of each person
in the infinite pursuit of humanity." The finit~ and [he infinite are
juxtaposed here in such a way thar no ontological community could
be found for them, except in a mode of foreclosure: Sartre's "fi-
nite" is a pure and simp/' IJindran'~ to being infinite (compensating

tilr ,his anguish by vaguely projecting an infinite humanity-which

b only a bad infinity.. ), and his "infinite" is (l Pll" "nd limplt'
.ll'flitI,mt't of the condition of the finite.
One could not accomplish with greater consciousness, with a
ICIKllilY m..!e more striking by its insistence. the unhappiness of con-
~d()lIs"ess that HcSei recognized in order to sublate it into the self-
knowledge of actualization. Deprived of this sublation (or only
pfllposing it in rhe mode of a deliberate "as if"), Sartrian free-
dom-in some ways the: last "philosophical freedom," already pre-
pared [() cede its ground to the juriltical defense of ~doms-is the
finJI name of this unhappiness of consciollsness: condemned to
heing, in the infinitc form of the projc\'"l (whkh would ultimately be
the wi Irs unhappiness). the infinite consciousness of the finite and
the finite consciousness of the infinite.
SJrlre's man is not "posscssed" by freedom: hc is forced by it
inw the "frc:c:" knowledge of his infinite deprivation of frc:c:dom.
But here again, definitively, freedom has b~n measured against
the neccssity of causality: the freedom of the Sartrian "projc:ct" is the
will to be the calise of that for which causes are lacking or con-
tfar) in given reality. lbe project is a wishful causality launched
in dcliance of experiencrd caIL'kIliry: the heroLCim of despair. nni~ has
marked lip until now, we should not forget. a large collection of dis-
cnurses. not always directly existentialist. on freedom conceived of
a~ the a~sumption, the overstepping, or in some sense the redemp-
tion. uf harsh necessity.)
As lung as the concept of freedom remains caught in the space of
(;1\15.11 ity-and of will as causality through representation-it does
11m permit LIS to think of anything other than a spontaneous causal-
ity whose reality will always remain at least doubtful (measured by
rhe measuring instruments of causality as such, which means ac-
(urding lu the anthropology of ,he "human sciences") and whose se-
lll'1 ,,,ill he kept. in every case, in the princi(lle of causality itself.
Now, the principle of causality, in Kantian terms,l is thar of the
Jll'rlll'lIll'nce of substance, to whidl the concepts of necessary force
alld anion lead ba,k in order for the problem of change in phe-
'11;1 tu he considered. This principle is formulated in the tol-
100 F,,"tiom liS Thing. Fort'f. anti Gitu

lowing way: "ali changt (suct"t!s;on) ofapptarancts is IM"/y tll,"_

ation. Coming into ~ing and passing away of substance are not aI.
terations of it, since the concept of alteration presupposes one and
the same subject as existing with two opposite determinations and
therefore as abiding."4 Thus the only possible logic of freedom a.
causality would require that I be the cause of my birth and death. l
can certainly be this cause, if not entirely explicitly for Kant, then at
least according to a coherent explicitation of his thinking, to the a:-
tent rhat I can be, as an intelligible being and outside of the suc-
cession of time, the subject of a specific causality that is itself of
the order of the intelligible, that is, "free." But this new causalil}'
must be able to be considered as reunited with sensible or natunl
causality. To think the permanence of the substance of the world
united with the spontaneity of a subject of action is to think the un-
conditioned causality of the totality (as it is represcnted in the Ida
by the subject of the imperative in view of the realization of a moral
nature). However, the idea of the unconditioned causality of to-
tality is nothing other than the idea of being itsdf. Thus "the po.
sibility of a unification of two quite different kinds of causalil}'
lies in the supersensible substrate of nature. of which we can de-
termine nothing positively, except that it is the being (daJ Wesm) if'
itself of which we merely know the phenomenon."~ But to attribute
to being (or to essence, which is here precisely the same thi"',
considered as cause, the character of the unconditioned and spoil"'
tanCOlL' i.~ to withdraw this ~ing as such from beings in their toaIic);
for whom alone the category of causality has validity. Furthermore.
it is to withdraw causality from itself or into itsclf. (This is why
Kant's logic could lead one to claim that freedom is and is only
causality itself. or that freedom is its fundamental 4fi~lIdty whose
means remain hidden in the law of phenomenal succession. This
could also lead one to wonder whether it is schematism-and
specifically the first schema, the "( generate time"-that opens suc,
cessivity. whose "hidden art" would finally harbor the secret of ~
dum .... But could this secret be mluced to anything that is not aI50
secret? . Unless the thinking of fi-eedom must be thai of something
like tht m,tnifnt faN 0/" m"t. ... )
F,rrdom "1 77Jing. "orr~. "nti (~ 101

The illca of a "unification of two hClerogeneou5 causalities" can

ollh' ~ignify a brumgrnNil of cau~aliry: a c",,~ WilhoUI causality,
or;~ ~lIhstam;e withmu perm.lnence. Rut the ''''I!rwithoUl causal-
'. th;1I is to say exempted a5 much from determination byanoth-
rr ,.IIISC as from the determinalion to produce an effect. i~ the thi"g
itsdf~ the: thing ill itst'{f.'The thing kbo1t') of the phenomenon is nOI
its c.llI~e ,,""'lSe) (even if. as everyone knows. it is rhe same word): it
is its cxistence. E-mlnlft is II;, Ivi,IMin",,,,lofbti"g ItS ca"le """ lIS ,,"-
"Mill'''' SIIbUnttt', or, further. it is ri,e willJti1flU',,/oft1w c"use in tlw
tl.i".v,. The face of the exiseence of the thing (irs St'lZlmg) makes all
the slIct:<."SSh'e changes of its essence C'Xise at ehe same time, but this in conformity with lhe Kantian principle, ha5 nothing to do
wilh its changes as such. The idea of "camality by freedom" repre-
senrs nothing other than this Snz''''g. or the bilt" (and death) of the
thin~. rxtYpt tiklt its t'ttllndation [o,."etl thaI the cause in question-
frc:cllo/ll -;S p,.t'ci1t'~'f tilt tiling witl10ttt c",tSd/ity. In this sense, one
w()ulc.l he justified in saying lhat metaphysics is exacrl}' me furgetting
of frec,iom (resuhin~ in Same), and that this forgetting is pro-
dUCl't1 at rhl' precise moment thaI it c",-ria m'tT tlw d~term;"tttion of
lilt NSt'IICt' ofCllltldlil) onto tlw Pll" d~re,.",illation ofthe ex;st~nCl of
jTmlom, whereas existence exists only :liS the wirhdrawal of essence
and lCIIlseclucndy lhe IhillgC'Xists only as the withdrawal of c"u~.
It is rhcrdorl' not '"heing frcc" in the metaphysical sense of this
conn'pl a~ much as it ili heing free where the thing. al Ihe moment
it i~ valued as the very "cause," withdraws finm all causaliry. and con-
sequt'l1Il \', ~ ie "t'('ms. from l'very force and action necessary for
the prodll\.li'm of the eflccti\'iry l'lIpeered of a free au. This is not
actually "heing fret: in the sense of being ahlc 10 Cltuse "freely,"

hilI it is clIistel1ce's heing-free. In this sense, the existent is "pos-

5r~~l'J" h~' trl'cdorn: it is "posSC'ssed" by it nOI in the: privative mode
of till' Ilclcssit)' of mitigating (more or Ic!iS imaginarily) ils inabili-
t~ 10 p() ilself and think iesclf a5 unconditioned causaliry. bur in
till' .llIirmativc.' mnde in which freedom measures itself precisdy
.1~;JIII~t rhe facl that its Idea (lIncnnditionl'tl camality) is finally the
Idl'.l (which is I,rc:ciscly no longer an Idca. bill a fact) of the thing
\\ Ilhntlt c;ll\sality. This is the Idea of existence, in which and as
102. F"iom I1J Thing. Foru. and (;au

which the "Idea" is immooiately given as foct and this fact is given
as txptrimu. 6
Yet what is given in this way as fact and experience is Ihe~by
also given. without changing ontological registers, as force and as ac-
tion. Being free is not given as a "property" that it would be POSSi.
ble ro make use of on condition of disposing elsewhere of the forca
necessary for this wage. which also supposes that when all fo~ art
lacking for action (and usually almost all are lacking in this re-
gard . ) freedom withdraws into the interiority from which it
never ceases to shine. superb and powerless, until a last fatal forte
comes to extinguish iLti mocking Harne.
On the contrary, even though it is effectively powerless, freedom
is given as force and as action. The reality of the freedom of him who
finds himself deprived of the power to act is not a "pUfC interior dis-
position," it is not a simple protestation of the spirit against the
chaining up of the body. It is. it should be said. the wry rxistnuu/
this body. The existence of a body is a free force which does not
disappear even when the body is destroyed and which does nor
disappear a.~ such except when the relation of this existence ro an 0ch-
er and destructive existence is itself dcstroyed as a relation of cD-
tences, becoming a relation of CisencCi in a causality: such is the ~
f"ercna: of relation between the murderer and his victim. and the elf-
rerence of non relation between the exterminator and his mass grave.
This force is neither of the "spirit" nor of the "body"; it is exit-
tenee itself. impossible to confuse with a subjectivity (since it QIl be
deprived of consciou.~ncss and will) or with an objectivity (since it
can be deprived of power).
Freedom as the flrr, oftb, tIling as 5u,h. or as the force of the act
of existing, does not designate a force opposed ro or combined
with other forces of namre.] Rather, it designates that from which
[here can rise relations of force as such. between human beings and
nature and between human being5 among themselves. It is the force
of force in general, or Ihe very resistance of rhe thing's existence--
iLti resistance to being absorbed into immanent being or into the SUC'
cession of changes. Accordingly, it is a tran5cendental force, bur
one that is a material actuality. Because ~xjstm" as such has its be-
Frutfom ttl Thillg. FOIU, mId Gt,u

ing (Ilr its thing) in the acc. or if we like, in the praxu uf exi&ring, it
is imrossihle not to grant it the actual chara,,,:r uf a force. the
thought of which implies tile thought of a transcendenral materiality.
"r if we prefer. an ontolugical materiality: thc withdrawal of being
as .1 ImHcrial Srtzlmgof singularity, and the difference of singulari-
til:S as a diHerence of forces. Prior to every dc:tcmlination of maner.
thi~ Ill.ltc:riality of c:xistcnce, which sets down the fact of freedom, i~
no I('...~ endowed wilh the material properries of exteriority and re-
si~ t.1II re. 8
Udng free as being "possessed" by freedom is being free with the
actuality of a materiality irreducible to any "pure spirituality" of
frc('llorn (and yct, "spirit" il this material dilference in which the ex-
iSlent comes to expose itself as such). Though we cannUl represent
this materiality without making it drift into the order of forces
burh reprl'Sented and linked in causality, and though, because of this
fact, we cannot avoid falling back into an (optimistic or pessimistic)
arprcci;l!ion of the possibilities of action available to freedom.
whil.h. hc,ause of this fact. is reduced to a causal property ofuspir-
it" (hUl who would dare simply to appreciate in this way the free
~orce of the cadaver before its murderer?), this docs not testify
against the ontological status of the force of freedom. This indicates.
i" ,J,t 1'1"1 m;sllmu IIJ II" conetpl. t," impt'nen7lbility Il.ilhoulrvhich
ji-tfdo", Il'oliid "01 k frttdom. (One should not forget that what
resists in this way is found constantly lodged at the heart of causal-
ity itsdt: as the efficacity of its successivity. It is not in the "spirit"
a1l1ne that the fora of fl'CCdom resides and resists, blll it is in the ex-
isrl'n~c of every lhingas such. One could say: "wi' are the freedom
of _wry thing.)
IJerr thinking appears to be rno!;t dearly removec.l from both
comprdu,'nsion and incomprehension:" thinking docs not com-
prdlcnd freec.lom's torce, hut also does not regard it as incomprc-
hl',H,hlt:'-actually. it is colliding. as thinking. wilh the han! matter
of ficcdtlOl itsclf, lhis foreign body whit-h is its ou'n and by virtuc of
wlll l h al'lIIe it can he what it is: thinking. It;s first in ilsrlj." alld IV its
o~.'llttllt'l/ mtutrilll illlt>mity. mat thillkillg IoIlC/'t1 tIN impmrtrablr Yr-
fm",,1"l' ofiTt'ttfnm (and it touches it. more precisely, as the resis-
10 4 FruJom us Thillg. Force. IIlld Gau

tance of Idn~t1g~. as the resistance of the sillgularity of thinkers

and thoughts. but also as this other resistance. again singular. of
the body that thinks. with muscles tensed. strong flashes in the
mind. and the silent density of a flesh that delivers and withdraws
at will what we call "thoughts" ).
So the:n. freedom is far from being able to be only "a thought" and
it is also not a freedom "in thinking. to It corresponds instead to the:
following: the fact that the existent thinks does not constitute one:
property among othe:rs in the existent. but sets up rather the very
structure of its existence, bcatuse in thought--or as thought-it is
removed from the immanence of being. This absolutely does not
mean that the: e:xistent exists only in the dimension of pure
thought"; the:re is precisely no "pure thought" if thinking is cxistax:e
according to me transcendence that delivers it to the world and 10
the finitude of shared being. Rather. this means that the 'iftofthe
exi.~tent is identic:ally its thought (and for this reason. moreover. a phi-
losophy of "life" does not suit it any more than does a philosophy 01
"spirit"). Before or beyond every dete:rminate thought. in partiwlar
every deduction of its "frcxdom" or "nonfre:edom." as well as every
intuition of one or the other of these. thinking is the act for which
its essence of a<;t (its fon:e. and therefore the "substance" that should
be endowed with this force) is no more: prescnt in immanence than
it is conceived in representation. Thinking is tIw lid ufan in-actlltllit]:
this is why it cannot appear to itself in order 10 master itself. in
the: mode of a subjectivity. but is for itself-as that which it thinks
and as that which think... it. always other than itself and always iai-
rial--the experience: of the impenetrable force of its freedom.
This force: atn be considerable or minute in its calculable effecu
depending on the linking of causes (assuming we can calculate the
efleets of thinking and of freedom), but is in itself. as thing and
not as cause. always the same. It always has the same intensity.
which is not a relative but an absolute intensity. This is the ab-
solute intensity that through and through ~-unds the play of dif-
ferenas by which we: exist in the relation of singularities. Freedorn
is the: absolute tewion of the relation. ,his ontologica1ly material tcft"
sion whose impenetrability is the absolute price of existence (-dig-
Frudom as U,;ng. Fort't. "lUI C,tU lOS

l,il\", ill Ihe: Kanlian lexicon. which means what is no longer a

'i~III("")' This tension is visihle as soon a~ two galCS cross (it is not
C\'~n n'rt<tin that this has to he limited to human ~azes. or that it
l1'II~1 cxclude.' what in our gne 101,1" .11 itself or is observed by the
~il1crr" ohjccts of the world): i( is materially visihle. or more than vis-
ittit-. "rangihle." a.c; the very invisihiliry of that which, in the gaze,
~..,cs-and which is not" thought, nor afou. but the singular in-
;'I(tlli1lilY of this very act of the gaze. of this imense opening of an ex-
isrcn<.:c-in-rln:-world (well prior to any per~pective-taking by a sub-
ject), This withdrawal of presence which lets and I"IS itself come to
rrClicnce. this incandescence of nothingness in whi<.:h every cause
withdraws into the thing (here: there is something). this can only be:
freedom [/d /ibtrtt). or perhaps it would be better to sa)'; this can
only he freedom llib,rttl. This freedom "possesses" us in the same
way that the gaze l'O~'ie5SCS: by delivering to presence. BlIt it has no
rel.llion of any kind to a causality. Being as calise arises from sever-
al ro.",~ihle kinds of theoretical vi~ion, Being as thing is offered by the
force of freec.foms gaze. It is always freedom (hat gazes. perhaps
from the endless ,tepth of the "slarry sky," but also in a look ex-
chan~cJ by chance, or from the depths of a prison. or even into the
eyes of snmmnt' who has just died. And if it is always freedom that
gues. it is undoubtedly also always the same gaze.
10 Absolute Freedom

If freedom were not this this freedom of being (ill

own) and the f'rccdom of existence in relation to being (which is the
same freedom. the generosity of the withdrawal), we would nol be
free at all. We would be returned to the antinomy of caprice and fiR,
which could easily form the basis. and instantly the impasse. 01
Kant's third Antinomy-revealing that transcendental illusion is
properly found neither in the thesis nor in the antithesis. but ia
the very antinomy purponing to give them their dialectical SWI.
(which thus exposes the general dialectic. in every sense of die
word. of freedom for metaphysics). All philosophy prior to KanE
knew, as he did, that caprice can depend on fate. just as fate can be
understood as a caprice (perhaps this is where the philosopbic:al
interpretation of tragedy begins, or ends, unmindful of a "trape
freedom" which we will have to discws further). By imagining the
difference in nalllre of two causalities. Kant made possible bom
the exposition of the antinomy and irs transcendental solution.
But once this difference in nature is shown to be fallacious, since 011
bOlh sides it is still finally a question of causality, we find ourselves
relegated [0 the perpetual and derisory displacement at the interior
of the antinomy, a displacement that condemns to inanity evert
interrogation offrmlom. including finally even the concept offj-
dom, which engages one or anomer of the following pcssibilitics: the
subjective assumprion of necessity. the relative freedom at the heart

10 7

J.l tktcrmined group. spiritual and nonmaterial freroom. ethiw- tT~oms ~n~~ahle of und('rstandi~g rhemSC'lves. and so on.
J'rl'eduJ11 IS not If It IS not absolute, and It can only be absolute by
ncil1~ a pos.~ibility of causalit)" or e\'en only by being finally (as
cnrrthing in Kant would lead us [0 reac.t it) the very imelligibility
of l;llIs;llity-for it is the thing. nor rhe cause, thar can be absolute;
it i~ presence, not essence; it is existence, nor being. The thought of
litis ,thsoluteness i5 the categorical imperative of every thought of
frc:edom. and perhaps of all thought in general. even and exactly if
thi~ (a~k of thou~t can never present itself as the program of a
dcdlluion or demol15tration. even an infinite one. and if on the
wntrar), ir always offers itself 3li thought's testing of its own limit (but
also of its own mattl'l1.
If (he categorical imperative only has meaning insofar as it is ad-
dressed 10 a freedom. its meaning is (hat frealom. fur its part. only
has meaning in receiving such an imperative (whether thi5 is liter-
al'" the Kantian imperative, or whether it is an enrirdy different pm-
nouncement: filr example, ~a1ways think freedom'" ). In other
words, freedom is mmtillily. not accidentally. the speaker of the
injuncrinn. 1 and is perhap.~ therefore essentially only the a1locutor of
a categorical injunction on the subject of freedom. and the allocu-
tor, wnscquently. of its own injunction: be free! Or: frc:c: yourself!
(Or, P111re elaborately: be what you are. that is. freedom. and for thi5,
frl:c yuurself from an essence and/or concept of freedom!) Perhaps
(het~ has never been anything else at the extremity or inaugura-
tion of every thought of freedom. whether the necessary free con-
dition of th~ philmopher for Plato. dle Cartaian free dnision to be
ol1l"'>elf, Spin07..3's exclusive freedom of God. or even the Hegelian
Stall' a~ I he total and singular actualization of freedom.
,.1l/ro-lI(m~y. whidl has always reprcscntal the vcr)' regime offree-
do l11 , must he unllerstnod on this b3liis: 3li a legislation by the s~{rill
\\'hi~h the .vlfdoes not preexist. since its very t'xisrmce is what i5 pre-
~lrlhrd hy the law, and this law itself is not hased on any right.
~llIlI' it f()und.~ with its own juris-diction the possihility of a "right"
III ~l"l\eral. Freedom is not a right. it is the right of what is "by

rlght~" withom right: with this radicaliry it must be understood as

108 Absoluu Frmiom

fact, as initial and revolutionary. 10e law here is law itself, in its pu~
essence (what it prescrihes is suhordinated ro nothing prior. "01
nJm to jom, ntm-frmlom from which it would IJt1vt to fr ibdf: frtc..
dom cannot but precede it.'ic1f in its own command). and is. by
the same fact. the law that never ceao;es bm~hing the limit of law, ~
law that docs not cease freeing i[~e1f from law. Freedom: singulari.
ty of the law and law of singularity. It prescribes a single law, but this
single law prescribes that there be only cases, that there be only
singular instances, singularly impenetrable and unapproachable by
this prescription. At the same time, freedom is prceminendy ap-
proachable and penetrable: it is the law without which there would
be neither hint nor expectation of the slightest law.
"Be frcc!" {perhaps, by way of an improbable verbal use of the sub-
stantive or adjective. one would have to be able simply (0 write
"flu!" l/ibrd}-unless this sounds, yet why not, like a training
command ). "Be free!" therefore commands the impossible:
there is no freedom that is available or designatable bifo" this in-
junction or outsitit of it-and the same command commands im-
possibly. since there is no subject of authority here. Once again we
touch the limit of comprehension. But we do so in order to find our-
selves once again before the necessary anteriority offrcedom,2 w~
is no longer iUuminated here only in regard to thinking but also in
regard to freedom itself (if we are still permitted to make this dis-
tinction). Freedom must p"",dt ity/f in its auro-nomy in order to
be freedom. It cannot be ordered. its advent can be prescribed only
ifit has alrea4yfreed rhe space in which this prescription can take
place without being an absurdity, or rather without being anterior
to the slightest possibility of mttming in general (and yet. is it nO( -
a qUC!ition of this? ). We cannot say Nbc free!~ except to some-
one who knows whar this phrase means, and we can nor know whar
it means without having already been free. without having al~dy
been set free. In the imperative in which freedom differs in irsdf. it
must also haw prr(,t'd,d it,ft'!f. "Be free!" must occur unexpectedly as
one of freedom's orders. Freedom must have already freed irself,
not only so rhat rhe imperative can be pronounced. but so that i~
pronouncemcm can be an act endowed with [he force offrc:cdom
Absoll,lt Frwlom 109

(In Ihi~ sense, if it ill lOrrect to claim that the imperative, in gener-
I~ 11Owerles.~ IWl'r the execmion uf what it orders-it is nor the
,;1u~c-i[ would 11111 he correct to claim that it is without force.
lhi~ tim:c is what mak~ intondtion (a form of intensity) a remark-
able: dcment in linguistic descriptions of the imperative mode.
Thi~ fim:c forces nothing amI no one. In a cerlain wa)'. it is a force
widlOllt hmction. or is only the intensity of a singularity of existcnce,
insot:u as it ~xist1.)
In Ihis way, autonomy as Ihe auto-nomy offrccdmn is absolute.
This docs not rnl"'dll. as it could he understood on IIle most obvious
rc.'!!istcr of Hegdian logic, that the Ab~lllte i~ free. This means-the
t'lCaCI reverse ufHegd-that freedom is a~lute, which is to say that
frccllom is the absolmiZiltion oflIN absolute itself. To be absolule is to
be: detached from everything. Thc absolute of the absolute, the ab-
soluu: essence of the absolute, is to be detached from every rela-
tinn ,md e"cry presence, including from itself. The absolute is being
that is no Innger located sumewhere, away from or beyond beings,
with whum it would again have this rdation of "beyond" (which
H('gd knew well" and it is not an entity-being, but is being with-
drawn into itself short of itsdf. in the ab-solution ofits own essence
and taking place only as this ah-solution. The absolute is the being
ofht-in~~, which is in no way their cssrnce but only the withdraw-
al of ('~sence, its ab-solurion, its dis-solution. anti CVC'n, absolutely,
irs Wllliioll. in the of existence. in its sinfllk,rity. in the mll/~ri
til imcnsity of its coming and in the tone of the autonomous Law
whose autonomy, autofoundation. and aurhorit)' depend only on the
experience of being the law extended to the edge of the law like
the throw of an c"istcnce.
If &uch i~ indeed heing's absolute exrremiry. to which we must ab-
soll1tl'I) grant existence. the very thing of thinking, then "jWMom-
h r"r p/,iloJop!Jical ndme oftiJis absollllmess. or is nothing. Freedom
I~ the detachment-and unleashing-of being insofar as being is
IlIl! retaincc.i in being and is absolved of its being in the sharing of
II Freedom and Destiny:
Surprise, Tragedy, Generosity

Because: of this absoluteness. freedom must be though t of in a way

that distinguishes it from every concept of freedom opposcd-and
therefore relative-to something like fatality.
The idea of fatality. whether it takes on the resonance of a Desdny
controlled from beyond the world, or of a necessity of rhe immanenr
development of a History, presupposes an ontological consistency
proper to the course of events as such. either in its origin or in its
linking process. This course of events must ~ (and it must be as a
course) in accordance with succes.~ion and direction. On account
of this, there can only be freedom in relation to this course of
events; that is, there can only be freedom from the point of view of
a non-finite transcendence that permits it to occupy a position out-
side of time. In this position, freedom can be identified with faw-
ity, whether on the model of an ecstasy in God (or in the: Subject of
History) or on the model of the: "resolve to the inevitable as essen-
tial self-deception."
The consistency proper to the course: of events is the being of
time: not being as time. but time as being; time as substance: and as
subjectivity. The question of. or obsession with. finality is con-
stantly present in the Occident (and without it. the thought of
freedom falters, or else: thought and freedom become dialccticize<l),
to the extent that temporality is there: substantivized. But to the:
inverse and symmetrical extent-which in fact also works through

Frudom find DNtjllY III

the ~n( i rc rradirion-rhat [emporaliry is recognized as presenting an

Llbsla,1c to substanriviuuion in general, and in pankular to its own
<;uhO,I;lIllivil.3tion. 1 the pcrspcc:tivc shifts. The fou~of events should
~('t he denied. but rather broUGIll (0 light as the course of ttJt'ntJ and
.1S the evenrfulness of [he very "course" as such. We will not ad-
drN the Hcidcggerian analyses of temporality here. nor the per-
si~(cnt if unobtrusive thread of tradition that was to lead to them
(hi~lory) and that was simultaneously freed by them from irs course
(CVC/lI). We will bring oursdves immediardy [0 thi~ extremity at
whidl the very concept of tjmt. and almost even its name, is found
su~r('nded:l to this point at which the temporality of rime proves ro
be nothing remporal (or where the remporality of rime is temporal
to thc extent that it gives the time of rime, in some sense its rhythm
rather than its course-if we can risk forgetting that this rhythm (X;-
cu~ only in the very course itself).
This means that tfcrtJJl time itself. so to speak. rather than in the
depth of a temporal essence of time. what can finally be discerned
is what we could call the origination (prownanctl of time. or more
exalt I)" the coming-forth [pro-l'manul of time's pmtnt. Indeed.
time as such, however fluid and even fugitive its flowing. is held fau
for all of philosophy in the dimension and grasp of presence (the
havin~-hcen-presc:nt, the being-pra;ent. the bcing-present-to-(,;ome).
Thus lime as such was for Kam the only thing that does not flow in
time: it i~ thc permanence of the present rhat succeeds itself. Jusr as
beings, which arc to the extent that they are beings-present, dis-
dose themselves by concealing being in its withdrawal. likewise
(!hi~ "likewise" actually responds [0 thc intimatc inrerlacing of both
qu\:stions) time's present cannot present itself without signaling
kOIlLl.llill~ is also and above aU signaling. without signifying} toward
lhl' lOlllill~-int()-presence of this present (or. if one likes. IOWan! pres-
cnlC:\ heing-presented). The present can nor originarc from anoth-
er prl'~l'nt; each present as such holds itself back from an abJolutt
(Pi\~'. pn:selll, or future) presenu: lhat, as 5uch, is detached from all
~\Inl"~i\'ity. In Kant's terms for causality: each prcsctl[ of a presence
1\ ;t I'mll (or a death) to existence. it is not a modification of a per-

Ill;IIIl'llt ~ubslancc (which as such would never have come to pres-

112. Frrniom IIna Deslin,

cncc). Or further. the phenomenon in its phenomenaliry involvc:s the

couple of permanence/succession. which itself involves the couple of
substance/accident. whereas the phenomenon considered as the et-
istmu of the thing involves. if we may say so. simply (but in fact it
is simpliciry itself, so dose and so distant.. ) dte "setting into p0-
sition" of the thing, the Setzungof the exi~tent inro existence. This
Snztmg escapes permanence as well as succession and escapes sub-
stantiality as well as successiviry. It is the origination, in time, of pies-
enee insofar as presence, as the: present of its presence, depends on
nothing that founds or produces it. This .Ytzung come:s neither
from time nor from anything in time. nor from anything outside of
time. It is in some sense the coming-fonh of time in time. In this.
ir proceeds from a "coming" dtat is itself not temporal, neither in me
sense that it would come in time, nor in the sense that the: duraEion
of its procedure would there present itself (in this sense. it is not evm
a "coming"-it does not properly come, bur it perhaps comes forth,
comes up. comes back). It is a coming-forth that does not p~
the present. but gives it as present, gives it its prese:nce of presenr. or
gives it to presence (and in this it way giW1lime--the origination
(provmanct! and obligingness [prevnranct! of being for existence).
Hcidc:gger rwnc:d this Ereignis. He says: "The giving of pmma is the
property of Ertignen. Being vanishes in Errignis." Under the term
i:."rrignis. whose current sense is "event," Heidegger merefore tries to
think not temporal and preliCnt punctuality, which is what we no(-
mally understand by "event." but rather the advent of the event, the
origination of a present and thus of the appropriation (Eignung) of
being as being, of time: as time:. and of being and time in the open-
ing of a presence (which also implies space).
Heidegger left the explication or exploration of Ereignis partially
suspended. J will not attempt to take: it up and prolong it: mis
would require an entirely different work. I will content myself with
frc:c:ly wing what this motif seems necessarily to indicate in the di
rection of freedom. or in the direction of what we persist in calling
here "freedom." It is thus a question of the coming-forth of time. If
time is considered as originating from itself. it is considered to be the
subje:c;tivity of a necessity: an ineluctable course: of events, with
Frmlnm and DminJ 113

whiLh freedom would have (0 reduce itself to practicing imaginary

ru~C~' Blit what aOOm the event or advent of the couru as such?
\X:h,1I about the advent of time itself, as the course of presents and
.1~ lhe present of the course? (Wh:iIIt then. ultimatc:ly. about the: first
I\antian schema and the <OJ'' who there produces or engenders time
t:Vt'n before being able to be by definition a subject)? This entire
questioll is doubtless that of a singular I who engc'nders in being
horn. who ;s only his birth and who is only birth: once: again. a
(n'-of surprise?)
'Wh,lt about the coming as such. insofar as it. as we have said. docs
lIot come? What about the: coming-forth of the coming. of the t-
IlflJirr and ad-tlfflirt! themselves? This coming-fonh is not an origin
in either rime or heing, It is only the origin of a possible origin-and
perhaps it is. even more secretly and in accordance with a theme al-
ready evoked here. the origin of an improbable origin. It would be:
bettcr to call it a roming-up [wr-vt'ntII"J.' "lime. time as course and
as event. time: as the course of events and as the: event of its own
course. which means in all the modes of its coming-to-pre:sence.
time willes-up. This coming-up does not consist in the sudden
character of the coming-to-presence. for its sudden character is still
a mOlk of presence (if we understand thi~ sudden character in con-
nection with the "instant"-"suddenness." however, might be SU5-
ceptible IU a ditleccm analysis). But the coming-up is in the fact that
"loming" docs nor com~. that "happening" [aml'tTj docs not happtn.
\'(-'e mun think here far from all that temporal mought supposes con-
(ernill~ wming. event. advent. and arrival, insofar as it is the
tholl!!hl of their prco;cnce. l\y keeping the word Mevem." but in try-
ing til think it. with Errignis. as the appropriation of a presence
alld nnt as the (5udden) presence: of a property, we would say: in the
l:\'lllt. timc comes-up to lime, timc happens as time (as prcsem).
withll llt happening in time or temporally. The hirth of time that
\volll t ! ,ll~o be: the time of birth: time withdrawn from time. the
tilll(' of a passage without present. the passage from nothing to
I1Cirhing-_hut the delivery of existence.
, \X'!1;I( uhappen~" without happening, without (liming from an ori-
gin, l'UI ill wming-forth or coming-up at the vcr)" origin (as a cry.
F"MOm and DtStiny

perhaps, would come up at thc originary ori6ce of the mouth, and

not come from it), is surprise. Surprise as surprise docs not COOk up
in order to add itself to the course of events and [0 modii}r it. It of.
fers another course, or, more decisively, it ofTers in the course" it-
self ,he withdrawal of the course of time, the withdrawal of all its
presence. In tact, we could say that surprise is already inscribed in the
heart of all philosophical analyses of temporality and. in a singular
manner. in the analyses of the presem instant: on the limit betwem
the already-having-been and the not-yet-being, the present has al.
ways also proved to be the limit of presence-the already-having-
passed of what has-not-Yd-wme. This is the structure of the surpria:
(and it will form the exact reverse of the structure of the prescnt): it
takes place without having happened; it will therefore not haw
taken place, but will have opened time. through a schematism of thr
surprise whose "I" would surprise itself. Open time could be the time
of astonishment and upheaval, or that of interrogation and expJa.
nation. For example, the time of the question: Why is there 50m~
thing?--or even of this (other?) question: Why pose the preced-
ing question? We can always take the time to respond to the qu&
tion. and we must, even if only to respond that there is no "rt:UtJIl-
for this "why?" Yet this time that we will take will have been op-ud
only by the surprise that did not take time, the surprise for whidt
there was no longer time-or not yet time-to take one's time.
The surprise will not even have taken the time to come, it win
have come-up at every coming and will have been the event of a fiw
lim~, of a free opening of time so that time could present itself.
The time of the response will be the time of necessity---QS in-
deed the time of the question already was, since the "why?" pre-
supposes the regime of necessity. But no necessity opens by sur-
prise, which means that time as such will always be that of neccui-
yo For time is always the course of the presentation of events, as weD
as the course of questions, doubts, responses, or silenccs--the rime
of"lifc as the time of "philosophy" and as the time of the "philos-
ophy of time." Yet the time of time. or this syncope of time that
makes presence present itself by surprise (an empiricist's qurstion:
Will the sun rise tomorrow? In this sense. there is no response to enl -
Fretdom and iRslillY

pirid~m. except in the expr,.imcr of surprise. which docs not re-

spond. hur which says only that tomorrow's sun. if there is one.
will not be the same sun)-this can only he called "freCtiom."
\'fhen it is 110 umgrr tin/( to live an<i philosophi7~. or when it is 110t
"/'( time (1m lh and death outside of causality. birth and death of a
sin~lIlJrity. of an 'T' or of a sun, birth and death of "philosophy." or
(If .1 !lingle "thought," a pulsing of existence). then it is surpri~c: it is
",hl'rc" before ever having been there. and it is not "there" once it has
arrivt'll. An essence precedes itself and succeeds iuelfby a syncope::
this is the logic of hcOOom as the logic of an essence who.~ access is
not presI:ribcd by this cssc:nce.4 a "free" essence because it is nothing
olht'r than ,he surprise of a delivered existence. Freedom surprises--
or wher, because freedom is not the subject of an accion, freedom
SIIrp,.i5t'S ilst'/f. "Surprising itself" is the act of the subject at the lim-
it of mhjectiviry: at ,he limit, which means where the self essentially
JitTers :\Ild differs in itself (for example: rgo sum). Freedom does
nOl Jq'end here on the will as the fore-seeing of the coming-forth
of a rcplocmalions reality: it surpri5es with a SI/TI. at cvcry momnr'
(nm an instant. bur a strike in an instant. an improbable cutting of
the: instam), the entire system of will:

,\nd 111C: ~slure was made before she even realized it, so much had
~hc: thought about it.


Ihmws herxlfheneath th(' train without h:l\'ing made the decision
111,10 ~Il.
Rather, it was the deci~ion that took Anna. Which surpri5ed
and over-took (a sm'-prist] her.\

I'rn'dnm always surprises when there is no longer or not yet

lilllt', That is, when there is no longer or not yet time for timt'. and
li'r Ihe upp()liition of a "freedom" and a "fatality." Not that freedom
i~ re:'olVl'd only to he "resignation [0 the inevitable" (which douht-
It \\ ~hapes the result of the metaph)sical concept of freedom, hut
llllh at the same time has ncvcr formed the es.~ntiallhollglu of any
gr~'.l1 philo1iophy; exemplary and even of primary importance in
tI'i, rcspl'Ct. the Stoic's will to will the order of the world cannot be
u6 Frt~dom anti Dnliny

analyzed as resignation).' Yet neither does it lend itself (and this

again is 5[Ok) to the illusion of a revolt that would in reality be
subjected to the binding power of destiny. Freedom Scpar8tes it-
self from resignation and revolt not in order to do nothing, hue in
order to open up this separate place. which is that of the free aa in
its proper and revolutionary force. 7 (Undoubtedly, neither me at-
titude of rrvolt nor that of n:signation is excluded: but it is freedom
that decides, fn:edom makes them free or nOl.)
When it is no longer or not yet time for the opposition of a will
and a destiny, this is because it is no longer or not yet time for
time. In fn:edom, it is not time for time. It is "time" for a cutting of
time. for a coming-up that surprises time by presenting what has DOt
come. withdrawing presence from what has been presented. The IRe
act ignores the present of the past and does not ensure the praent
of the future; yet it also does not keep itself within its own pre-
sem: it is not the event, bur it happens to the ~nt and appropriaca
("~ip~t) it as the opening or closing of time, as a gift or refusal of
coming-into-prcscnce. In a sense, Kam is correct: if right now I
get up from my chair. mere is no other causality that comes to ill
terfere without interfering in the mechanical causality of the world;
bur there is inevitably in this event a coming-up of what docs not
come there and of what docs not appear there. of what delivers Ihc
time of this gesture [0 existence. which means to the (usually im-
probable) possibility of a syncope of time and presence wh~
that which WS "ot pmmt itselftiS pmmt pmmts its~1f. namdy, the
withdrawal of essence in which existence exists.
Freedom "presents itself' ahead ot1behind itself, in excess of and
in renear from whar could assign or institute it within a presence.
whether the presence of a will or of a destiny. It is free for will
and lor destiny, but it does not mingle with their subjectivity or
substamiality: it is the possibility of having to make oneself the
subject of a free will andlor the possibility ofbcing taken by the rorce
of a destiny, but it will be neither free will nor destiny; in them it will
be existence exposed in an arbiuary and/or destinal mode. !nit this
nrpoSll" i~1frvilJ be nfiml'r Ilrbitrary nor dntinll~ it will be what C'(-
poses itself without foundation. what is exposed by the releasing of
Frudom and Dmbry 117

il~ f"('llOdation to the chance of the will. to the risk of destiny. It will
(1111 he the event of a choice or of a transport. it will he what comes-
ur in sIKh an event: an expmed existence.
In this way freedom is absolute: detached even from its own
('\'cn!. unassignahle in any allvent, it is the CUI within time and the

k.lp inrn the rime of an e'xistcoce. It enters time and in this sense we
(Ilulu say it "chooses" time, but it docs not enter time except by way
01 the excess and withdrawal where time as :;uch-which could be
Ihc pr('q'nt3ti()n and the present of a freedom. of an aa, and of a free
suhie(l-i~ surprised, since freedom there surprises itself. opening
time 11\1 the :;urface of time. through the course of time. on time or
at the wrong time. In this !i('me, we could not even say that freedom
"dwmcs it~('If" or that it "chooses" time. s It is a question neither of
choil-c 110r ()f constraint. The is.~ue is that existence as sllch is pure-
Iv oOered [0 time' -which means [0 its finitude-and that this of-
f('rin~. this prescnration that comes hefore any presence, this com-
ing.t~mh that only comes up uncxpccte(t1y. is existence in with-
drawal from essl'I1ce or from heing. Its surprise does not let it
"dlOose," Nevertheless. surprise does not (ietermine existence: it
exposc~ existence a~ an infinite genermity to time's finitude (as an in-
finirc" unexpected coming-up in finite presence).
()I1I\ lllUs call time !le~ot:ne "filled" or "fulfilled," according to
Benjamin's model:

Ili\wriGllril1ll" i~ infinite in every dircction anti at every mommr nor

fillnl the determining force of the historical form of rime is never
ptlllll~' (Iiscernihle through any empirical event nor can it be reduced
I .. any eVCII!. An event, a~ it would be fulfilled in a historkal sense. is
Illlldl 1lI000C something entirely undetermined empiric.1I1y. an idea.'

This fuifillllll"nt apflCal's to me as analog()lIs to what I have named

Ihc 1I11~'xpe((l-d coming-up of and tel [he event. The "idea" suscep-
tlhl e III mming-up unexpectedly and gra~ping rhe "force of the
111"'11)1 iell f()fm of timc" (which means, in fact, the force of its very
tullill rncnt ) Gill only be freedom-in thi, (;!!ie, the frecdom of the
tragic lim) exposed to his "Oaw," which, as Benjamin explains. is
lIot"ill~ other .han the filling tip of his "rime proper." This freedom
118 Frudom and DNtiny

fills time, withdraws it from infinity as well as from its empty form.
and finisks it because it {'ompkt~j it: a finished finirude, infinitely fin-
ished. we could say. and exposed as such in tragedy. This OCCUrs
in an instant (as Benjamin notes eLiewhere. (he unity of tragedy's
time is a figure of the instant). which means not within an instant,
in (he present time of an instant. but by a cut in the middle of the
instant: the cut of freedom that unexpectedly com~ up in (his tUne
and fills it. Yet. "in tragedy, the hero dies because nobody is capable
ofliving in filled time. He dies of immorrality." We will transcribe
this: his freedom withdraws his presence and essence in the very
gesture by which it completes the existing finimde of time. It is
also surprising. Death comes to surprise the tragic hero:

For it is not rare that it is in moments offull repose-in. 50 to 5peak.

the hero's sleep-that his timc's decree is fulfilled; and likewise, in
tragic destiny. the meaning of filled time comes to light in great a.
menu of passivity: in the tragic dcci~ion. in the moment of delay, in cat-

We see how this surprise of finite immortality-if it can be rhus

expr~scd-has litde or nothing to do with this vision of the tragic.
which is concluded by being made into the metaphysical paradigm
of the conAict between a Ufrecdom" and a "destiny." Tragic destiny
is here nothing other than freedom's d~tiny, or the fot tkstiny of""'"
brings tim~ to 1M S4luraud intmJity ofa "tim~ prop"," the finite/in-
finite burst of existence, which withdraws from being and rime.
The tragic, which knows nothing of sadncss, ~ Benjamin has aIJo
noted, is the surprise of a time filled with freedom: unpresemable sur-
prise, unsustainable and yet ~rfectly prescnt, oflered at the sur-
tace of the unimpeachable fact of its very surprise.
If one docs not die from each act of freedom (but if there is no
freedom that does nO{ involve death. a~ Hegel knew), free exis-
tence nonetheless is never contained in the time filled with irs free-
dom. It is never contained in a "free time," or in a fulfilled time, but
in a necessary time from which freedom withdraws. Yet this with-
drawal is precisely what renders existence to the absolute surprise of
the experience of freedom'~ unexpected occurrence.
F"tdom Imd Dm;1', 119

Finally. one does not die from cat;h au of freedom. but one dies.
Si(l1ibrly. each lime freedom exposes us to the possibiliry of death
ic.llh in turn expOsc."S us to the surprise of freooom-as birth docs
abo. l\irth and death actually have the same structure. which does
11(11 simply join the two extremities of a lifetime::. but whidt happens
III the emire course of this life's events and whkh is none other
Ih.1I1 the unexpectedly occurring structure of tx;SIl'na as such: the
nile through which it is never present except in being freely offered
10 presence-to its own presence as wdl as to the presence of a
wClrld. Binh ami death: what we can think of only as the appro-
priatioll of a pK'Sencx (El'rit',;s) unexptcdly coming-up without ori-
gin llJ presem:e and to time's present. Birth and death arc caught in
time br a f.1tality-itself without origin or end-but are at the
same time withdrawn from time. in a finite eternity that is itself only
a free existing exposure. For fiwdom, which is initial. is to thr Stllnt' ve-
trlll};lItll. not. howcver. in the scnsc of a goal or rcsult but in thc
scnse Ihat it. always fulfilled. does not cease exposing existent.-c to the
fulfillment that is its own: being its own essence. that is. with-
Jrawing from every essence. presence. substance. causalit),. pro-
lllllliull. and work. or being nothing othcr than (to use Blanchot's
term) the worklcs.~ inoperation ldtsoruvrt11lt'1ll] of existing. "'10 be
burn free" and "to die freely" are not merely ~ormulas coined for the
determinations of right or for ethical exigencies. They say something
"holll being as such. about the being of time and about the:: singu-
lar being of existence. to They say that we are not "free" to be born
and tn dic--in the sense of a free choice we could make a~ sub-
jl'Ct-but that we are born and we: die 10 "otbillg otlltr ,ha" jTdom.
where "dying to freedum" shuuld be understood as "being born to
fr('cliom": we do not lose it. we accede to it infinitely. in an "im-
lIJun:llity" of freedom which is not a supernatural lite, hut which
fr('(~ in death itself the unprecedentcd offering of exi)tC!llI;c.
('nhal)!; Heidcgger tried to think somcthing similar by the term
df'.l/illfTt;{m. 1I Destination would be the very mO'Jemem of E,.riK"i5,
Or Ilf the appropriating coming-up: not destiny-the dnminariun of
till' JlH."!>cnt-but the "donation of p,.t5e11fl'." This presence ili given.
hcld Ollt. offered from irs withdrawal and in its widldr:lwal. and
110 "',,"dam Imd Dt'$tiny

this means the liberation of presence and for presence in the with_
drawal of present rime: a presence which proves to br not prrsmt, but
destination. sending, liberation of itself as the infinite sharing 0(
existence. Yet "destination" and "liberation" still risk saying too lit-
tle, as long as these words continue to mark conscious and willed ac-
tion. In order to try to fTec in words another designation of freedom.
let us say: a mrprisi1Ig gmerosity ofbeing.
12 Evil: Decision

What if thought tlnmd itself harshly summoned to modesty and

reduced to powerlessness by evil? More serious still. whar ifir found
itself confronted by evil with its own worthlcssnes.~?

Au~d\wi'l dt'mnnmared irrcfurahly that CUlrufl' had failt'd. That this

could happen in rhe miJ~t of the traditions of philluophy. of Irt. and
of the enli~t('nin~ sc~nc('$ says more than that the5e traditions and
their ~I'lit la\.-ked the: poMr to take hold of men and work a change in
Ihem. 'l1lC:re is untruth in those field!; tht'mselvt'S. in the autarchy (we
would add: fl~ thoughts, thoughts freed. always joined to an essential
fl"Ct"'dom llf humanity's thotJWtt) that ~ emphatically claimed for them.
All po5t-Auschwirz cuhul"('. including its urgenr critique, is garbage. In
1'C:~lOring itself alit'r the things that happened without resimnce in its
own ~()umry5iue. culture has turnN e:ntirely inln ,he iueology it had
hn- n 11()te:mi"lIy- hau betn ever sino: it pl'tSlimed. in opposition to rna-
f('rial existence. to inspire that existence: with (he: light denied it by
lhr ~cpar;ation of the mind from manual labor. Whoever pleads for
lhe maintt'nanc(' of Ihi~ radically culpable and shabby culture bccomt's
It\ a(fOmplice. while the man who sal's no to culture is directly fur-

lh~'rillg the barbarism which our culture showed it5C'lf tn he.'

A, a I.:onequcnce of his las[ proposition. Adurnu adds:

\JiltI:\'en silence gen m out of the circle. In silence we simply usc the
col l)hjcctive mllh tn ralionalize our suhjcclive im:ap;K;it)" once more
dC~I.ldillg muh into a lie.


Therefore we cannot remain silent. We cannot remain silent be.

fore what has blocked me: "freedom" that was our culture's main
thought and before what has almost made us renounce all thOUght
of freedom (Heidegger undoubtedly thought he was recognizing
this, among other things. when he acknowledged "the greatest fol.
Iy of my life";2 however, he: did ke:ep silem.) and this silence, as we
have claimed. was also a silence concerning "frttdom"; in the: mean..
time, he never ceased trying to think the "free space" of /;"rrignis: this
too meant recognizing the worthlessness and futility of the "cui-
ture" of freedom. without. however. giving way to . freedom.)
If every thought of freedom must be renounced in order to make
room for the hastily acquired consensus of a moral and polirical
Iibe,clIism, the:n thinking as such must be renounced. This would DOt
be a serious maner if thinking were only "some: thought"; on the
contrary, it would be to renounce that which can be evil and do evil
in thought: illusion, facility, irresponsibility. and intellectuality,
which only considers iL~df free and easily affirms freedom as Ion811
freedom does not put it to the test. However, thinking is not inrcl-
lecruality, but the cxperience ofits limits. This experience, as the a-
perience of freedom, materially and in an unapproachable mrpo-
reality. is nothing other than binh and death. Indeed, to say of
birth and death that "we can only think them" means that we an
only think in them, and that freedom is at stake in them. Ausdlwiu
signified the death of birth and death. their conversion into an in-
finite abstraction, the negation of existence: this is perhaps above all
what "culture" made possible.
We cannot remain silent and we do not have to choose. The cx
perience of freedom is not ltd libitum. It constitutes existence and
must therefore be grasped at this cxtremity of the negation of exis-
tence. Hem:eforth. there is an experience of l'Vil that thought can no
longer ignore. In fact. this is perhaps the major experience of all con-
temporary thought as the thought of freedom, which means precisely
as the thought that no longer knows if and how "freedom" could be
its "theme," since the negation of exisrt:nce was systematically un-
dertaken freely at the heart of the culture of freedom. Thought
thinks nothing ifit is not tested against declarations such as this ope:
Evil: lkcisioll IlJ

In" 'J 'homas Mann from 19J9: "Yes. we know once again what gou<.!
~~lJ c\il arc," Yet the first requirement is not to understand by
(hi~ thc return to a "well-known" good and evil. It is on the contrary
til lake the measure of a new "knowledge of good and evil" and of
a knowledge that cannot avoid the inscription of C\.jJ. in one way or
another, ill freedom.
Cuncerning evil. the lesson we must heed con..~ists of three puints:
I. Ihe dosure of all thcodicy or logodky, and the affirmation thar
cvil i~ strictly unjustifiable;
Ihe closure of every thought of evil as the defecl or perver-
sion of a particular being. and its inscriprion in the being of exis-
lence: evil is positive wickedness;
~. the actual incarnalion of evil in the exterminating horror of the
111m grave: evil is unbearable and unpardonable.~
Under this triple determination is constituted what we could
call-not without a somber irony-the modern knowledge of evil.
different in nature and intensity from every prior knowledge.
though it still harbors cerrain of its trair.~ (essentially. in sum. the evil
(hal was "nothing" has become "something" that thought cannot re-
(In addition, this knowledge also indudes the history of the
modern /ascilldlioll with evil. for whidl il will suffice to rc:call. all dif-
tercnces aside. the names of Sade. Baudelaire, Nietzsche.
l..auUCamont, Bloy. Proust, Bataille. Bernanos. Katka, aline. with-
OUt lorgl'uing the ITm14l1l noir. in the V".uiow senses that two ccnrurics
have given this term. or the "horror" film. including private pro-
dunions of films showing actual murders of prostitutes.)('
This knowledge is above alllhe knowledge that there is a proper
~p()sirivity" of evil. not in the sense [hat it would come to con-
tnhule in one way or anorher [0 some rOnlJersio in bollum (whidl aJ-
wa\'S n:sts on its negativity and on the negation of this negativi-

IJUt in the sense dIal evil, ill its r'ery Ilegfrtil!iry. witbollt di"/~cti
(',I! JIIM,IIiol1, fonm it positiw possibility of existence. This is the
I'lls,ihiliry of what has lately been called the diabolical or satanic and
fll r whidl we no lunger have e,'en these designations. whidl arc
'\Iill mlled from the sublimity of "an appalling black slln from
12 4 Er,il Dtdsio"

which the night radiates."? For us the night can no longer radiate;
on the contrary. it plunges into the dissolution of a fog mat thkk-
ens it all the more: Nacht und Ntbtl
This positivity of evil-as a kind of hard block that philosophy re-
jected or threw out before iudf in the fulfillment of subjectivity, ig_
nored or denied by a subject (God. Man. or History) who by rights
could only rediscover and recover his "good"-represcnts preQ,dy
what Kant would not and could not think with regard to what he
brought to light as the "radical evil" in human beings. 8

We are not. then. to call the depraviry of human nature wicltnJNa

laking the word in its strict sense as a disposition (the subje~ pm...
dple of the maxims to adopt evil as t/);/ into our maxim as our inca-
tivC$ (for that is diabolical); we should rather term it the pnvtrr#J~'"
heart. which. then. ~UK of what follows from il. is also called an tfIil

However. despite everything. it is in diabolical wickednas dw

Kant will recognize. scver.u pages later. the biblical representation m
an incomprehensible origin of evil in human bein~. In other words,
for there to be relative evil (which is called "radical" evil and Cor
which there is always the hope of a "return to the good 8 ) , mCK
must be in the origin the absolute evil of the determination to-
ward evil. Yet all that we can picture of it is its incomprehensibili~
which is the incomprehensibility of a "discord in our free will-:
our free will is "primitively disposed toward the good." and yet. ifir
is possible for our wcak.nen to pervert our maxims. evil itself must
first have been introduced as a motivation for maxims in gcnaaL
This is what is figured by the devil, inasmuch as he is incompre-
hensible: "for whence comes the evil in this spiri[~"-this spirit
whose original destiny. Kant speci fies. was "sublime." The wicked-
nes.~ of Lucifer/Satan figures an incomprehensible. absolute c:viI at the
root of the root of human evil.
Accordingly. [he incomprehensibility of evil is lodged-since
Kam's time and almost without his knowing it. or at the limit of his
thought-at the heart of the incomprehensibility of freedom. Yet in
the final analysis nothing else is inr.:omprehcnsible abom freedom ex-
F.,il, Disio" lZS

(l:I'[ the possibility of wickedness-and this tn the extem that this

"pllssibility" is a reality efTectivd)' present in freedom's facmality.
l)l1~e ;'ltain, our world presents us with this reality every day in
,',lrinus ways, ever since it entered imo the age of exterminating
fuf", Nnthing else is incomprehensible about freedom except this
wiLkc(lnes.~, once one recognizes the net:essity of exempting the
thinking of freedom from its dependence on the thinking of causal-
it\', The mystery of freedom is no longer that of a spontaneous
,~lIsc. it is thar of a spontaneity of wickedness. (But wasn't this issue
at on<:e prl.'Jl.lroo and concealed in Kant's thought. as well as prior to
him. by the tollowing: that authentic freedom was the freedom of the
good. whereas evil was the fact of non freedom letting itself be
dragged along b)' the mechanics of the sensible? Isn't this more
dC';lrI)' illuminate..1 by the passage. in Kant. from theoretical freedom
to prauical freedom. as well as in the pa!lsage from Kant himself to
Schelling and Hcgel-a pas!lage to the necessity of evil which
Hl'itlcgger sought to repeat and to which we will return?)
The causing of evil docs not pose a problem of causality but a
prublem of maxims, Freedom spontaneously admits. of itself, a
rn'lxim of wickedness. This d()('5 not exactly mean the dC5ign to
'\:allse evil for tbt sa/u ofevil," if we wish to objcct to [his formula
rh:u implies [hat there always subsists a good that is subjectively
represented as the finality of an act, or at lean as the triumph of a
for~-c or as the pleasure of [he subject. However, lhis "good" can no
longer he represented as one in which an evil da:d would be a mo-
Illcnr or nl(:diation. ror this "good" is carried our or gratified by the
perpctrarion of evil as evil. In evil, a.~ evil, it is goodthal is ruined ab-
sollllclr, That evil and good are relative [0 each other docs not sig-
nit}, (rather, no lunger signifies as soon a.o; "the Good" can no longer
he lbignated in a transcendent esscnce. 10 whosc absolutc only
l'\'il would he relative) that evil is the privation of a good. insofar as
'hi~ privation leavcs the C5Scnce or ideal of the good unscathed (we
will neglt'cl for the momelll the fact that the good. at another lev-
d lit philosophy. is perhaps thought of entirely ditlcrently once it is
:hollgIH-including and !'ince Plato--to be situated bc)'Ond esscnce
lI~df, ('prk~;"d I~s O'U;llJi we will return to this). Nor is good relative
116 "il: D~~isioll

to evil insofar as it would be the cosation of an evil (in this minirnaJ

version, cynical or pragmatist, evil is barely evil: i( is (he inconve-
nience and hardship of living). But evil is, if we can say it thllS.
"absolutely relative" to good in that it is the ruin of the good as
such, nor its privarion, but its crushing in a night where nothing any
longer gives one the slightest right to say that it would still be the
gloomy evening preceding a dawn. Neither good nor evil precedes.
Freedom alone precedes and succeeds and surprises itself in a deci-
sion that can be for the one or me other, but only insofar as the one
and the other exist by the decision that is also, fully and positiwly.
for evil as much as for good. Deciding for evil is not therefore de-
ciding "not to do" good, it is deciding to ruin in the very decision the
possibility of the good. Evil does not impair the good (it could not
be impaired). nor does it disregard it (for evil knows and wills itself'
as evil and is rhcrcfore knowledge of the good), but it refUses its com-
ing to life. Wickedness causes evil by withdrawing from the good ill
possibility in statu nascmdi. It does not consist in an auack againsr
the good (the polemological metaphysics of the combat berwem me
powers of good and evil loses all relevance here;" besides. here th~
is no power of good "" S~, and it is with power as such that evil ul-
timately identifies). Wickedness consisrs in surprising the good
where it has not even occurred: wickedness is stillborn good.
Wickedness is the infinite tenacity that tears apart the mere pronUsc
of the good. again without signi6cation or consistency.
In this way, wickedness is freedom unleashing itself in the de-
struction of its own promise--just as Lucifer was promised to a
sublime destiny. Yet because there can be no pure "promiseD of
freedom, and because freedom is entirely there. given in its sur-
prise. ;t iJ fre~dom that unleashes its~/fagainst ils~1f. Freedom knows
this as a "good" and it is this good rhat freedom devastate,: as it
exercises itself as freedom. Freedom destroys itself in every free-
dom as if with an initial self-hatred. FTPedom's s~lfhatred is perhaps
rhe only formula (this gives a strange sense of vertigo and an op-
pressive threat) that can render what 6nally bardy maoOW' to be .said
in terms of "evil" and "good" and what nevertheless constitutes the
absolute evil of resolute wickedness. The wkked being's tenacitY
Evil: iNcision

Jocs not wait for the victory of a freedom: it wails only for its own
UIII~,.lshing (drclJainrmrm]. to which it was previously and fredy
hound. to If this binding (nlrIJainnntmJ is the tact offrcooom, this
i~ 11C.:~;llIse freedom. insofar as it essentially fiusor unleasha itself, is
through itself the being-wicked as much as the being-good, or even,
r~lht'r, lx.'Cause being-wicked is the first discernible posirivity of
The thought of identity infinitely identical with and dissociated
fmm "e\'il" and -good" (from thi.5 point on oaasionally nmed with
quotation marks, as in Hegel) in freedom was imposed on philos-
ophy after Kant by way of Schelling, I Iegcl. Nietzsche, and
Hcid~-ggcr. Heidegger writes:

Tht" essence of evil does not consist in the mere baseness of human ac-
lion but rather in the malice of fur),


Tn ht'Olling (king fil"!il grants ascent into grace; to fury its compubion
to ruin,ll

If fury is predisposed in being as the equal of grace, this equality is

nlmwiatdy shanered in the very principle (the principle shatteB the
prim:iple of equality), because fury "tins: it ruins "healing," but
healing docs nor repair ruin, it "docs" nothing: its only possibiliry
S~I11S to be 'to "rise lip" in the middle of mins, ThcrdOre we can say
nothing about it unless we already know what fury is,
This fury can tiouhrless be unticr~[ood in greater precision
(Hritlcggcr gives none; but perhaps the mere date elf this text. 1946.
n('cd he contemplated) with the help of the one from which it de-
ri\"~... : the "fury" that the Hegel of 71/f .~)'Slmr olErbica/ Lif~'~ made
the "!lrst 1C\d" of evil or of the negative a crime," This i~ the fury
C11 h.lrharic "oc:vastatiun" or of the "purposeless destruction" that
an'\\'c.r~ (() the "absulute urge" "at the exueme of absuhllc abstr;\~
lio ll , of "the absolute concept in its complete indeterminacy, the
r"'dl'~~nC!is of the ahsolute concept's infiniry." Anti this annihilating
rl."'dn~nC5s of abstract infinity is also "pure freedom" which aims at
lloThing uthcr than its uwn unmediatoo passage into objcctivity.
128 Evil' Dision

or into "the real being of absolute subjc:ctiviry." which in "pure ob.

jectiviry" can only produce itself as annihilation of the determi_
natc and as "formles.~ness." Thus fury annihilates itself. but it only
annihilates itJ~lf by annihilating with it the freedom that it is.
In passing from Hegel to Hcidcgger and to the experience of
our world. which presents itself to itself as universal barbarism, ~
should say the following: fury annihilates itself. but it does not
thereby suppress itself as fury: it institutcs total devastation. This is
not the self-suppression of abstract subjectivity. but it is (l ~ In...
dSlatioll tlJlltleavt:s ftudom d~vastllll'd: this constitutes a relation ro
the "self" only [0 the extent that the "self' of freedom is the absolute
detachment from self. Fury. however. does nm suppress this de-
tachment: it is its unleashing and its tenacity. Fury. in Hcidqpr'I
terms, has its possibility in Being because Being "conceals" in it
"the e$.~ential source of nihilation." Yet it conceals this origin in
freedom. whkh is the freedom of its withdrawal. In the freedom of
the withdrawal. freedom can be essenrially withdrawn. that is CO
say devastated by the fury of the nihilation that it is. The fury of
wickedness docs not seek to preserve or mediate its freedom. It
simply and directly executes-this is why it is furious-the infi-
nite possibiliry of detachment that freedom ir. the abyss ofbcinB in
which singularity is equal to the withdrawal of all presence, in such
a way that the ruining of all singularity of prc:scnce and all prc:scac.c
(coming-up) of singularity is the very liberation of freedom.
Wickedness does not hate this or that singularity: it hates singu-
larity as such and the singular relation of singularities. h hates mc-
dom, equality, and fraternity; it halcs sharing. This hatred is free.
dom's own (it is therefure also the hatred that belongs to equality and
fraternity; sharing hates itself and is devoted to ruin). It is nor a
hatred ofif1t/f, as if frttdom were already ,here and l:()uld end up de-
testing itself, and yet it remains hatred of the singular "self" that is
the existence of freedom. and the freedom of existence. Evil is tht JJ.-
tred ofndjlm~~ dJ such. It is a possibility of the existent only in rhe
sense that in evil the existent withdraws existence into the abyss of
being-pure immaneJu:e or pure transcendence II-instead oflcttinS
being withdraw inro the existcntiality of existence. III this s(1lSt.
Er.jf ikrisioll 119

INlll'rl'rr. tvi! is in tk existmt as its illnmmut possibility ofnfllsing ex-

Ikrc are the unjustifiable and Ihe intolerable: in freedom's point
of .lIumlmcllt where its own unleashing devastates it, where its own
in(.1ndescence devllurs it. The fascination of modern thought and
;\U with evil origin3te~ here: it is a fascination with the furious ex-
;t~perati(ln of the prop"I.1 itself. which i5 never more properly what
it i5 dtan in the ruin of existence. since exi!itence, which is 51i11 its ap-
propriation (l:""i~,iJ), comes-up in it, whereas ruin comes back to
iI, a~ Ihe profit and pleasure ofbcing appropriated up to the point
of appropriation it5df. Evil: reappropriated coming-up, existence tak-
en 1I1' ag.lin in essence, identified singularity, the rdation taken as a
mass-and the mass in a mass ~rave. No one doubts that a justifi-
calion nccd not be attempted. no one douhts (this is the greatest
d:1I1grr) that evil need not he imputed to the few in order to spare
the others: evil belongs to the essence or structure of freedom such
as it ha~ been freed and surprised in our history. as our history.
This justifies nothing, since it is on the comrar), what exposes w to
the unlea.~hing of wickedness. Bur this does justify that a thought of
freedom mllst kC<'p its C)'Cs fixed on the hatred that delivers itself at
the hcart of freedom.
In II1C:se conditions. what remains of a freooom for the gooc!?
em we even pose the qu('stion? Does not the en<i of philosophical
lIloralit}, signify, in some thinking of ,tlJOI, for which we would
like tn Ii nd a determination more original than the ethical. U that the
goo,l COlli no lunger he vie\w(t, exc('pt. w(' arc tempted to 53Y. as
the ahsrract n{'g.nion of the evil always already unlea.~hed, or-
whkh ('\'idemly appears closer to the Heideggerian inspiration-as
a \ovcreign inlfifference. "concealecf' in Being. to the double pOS-
\ihilil)' ()f ir freedom? But thi5 indifT(,fl'ncc, as we have just seen,
'alllllll pre\'cnt the (in some ways essential) opening of Ihe abyss of
. . whidl is at leaM determined by its infiniteness. whereas a non-
Indifferent determination of the "gOOtf' is infinitely set aside.
'kidl'AAer'~ cnmmt'lIlary on Schelling confirm!! thi ... If man is
1Ill" Iwing in whom the "ground" (the divine essence a~ the ground-

wilhom-ground of absolme indifferem:c:) is separated from the c:x-

Evil' INcision

istence (of God as his proper po5sibilil)' of existence revealed in

humanity), and if it is man who. acceding in his autonomy to UQ_
derstanding and language. lays claim to existence itself as the
ground. which means to the "tendency to return to oneself" or to
"ego-centrism." then evil occurs when ",he ground elevates iraelf
to existence and puts itself in ,he place of existence" and when man
wants to be "as separated selfhood the ground of the whole. "16 8u&
,he separation of "ground" and "existence" that is the proper p0s-
sibility of humanity is also, thanks to it, the most proper possibili-
ty of divine existence itself (in tenns we have used: the hatRd of ez.
istence is also the mo~t proper possibility of freedom). Thus the
possibility of divine revelation as human existence. and thereby the
possibility of the unity of beings-and thus the possibility of the
good-here have their primary resource in the freeing of freedom u
the freeing of evil.

For evil is uuly in man's essence as the most extreme: opposirion and re-
wit of the: spirit against the Absolute: hearing oneself 3Woly from the uai-
versal will. being against it, the: will replacing it in this "against', EYiI
.. is" as frmJom. the most extreme freedom "Kains' the Absolute within
the whole of I>einp. For ~om "is" the capacity for good and evil. The
good "is" the evil and the evil "is" the good.
But why is evil spoken of :n all? Because it produces the inncrmOlt
and broadest discord in beings. But why discord? Evil is thought . . . .
in this most extreme and real discord as dis-jointure (Un-fog) the --
'Jof the jointure ofbcings as a whole must appear moSl decidcdly. tbc
same time.

Heidegger finally decided that Schelling failed in his thinking

of the articulation or jointure of being. that is. the adjoining of
"ground," of "existem;e." and of "their unity." Schelling's failure.
he explains. is due to the traditionally mctaphysi011 positing of this
unity as absolure (which Heidcgger wants to understand as the ab-
solute rehun to self, rather than as the absolute detat;hment that we:
mobiliz.ed earlier). It must be underslOod. and this is doubtless the
whole imemion of the commentary. that only the thinking ofbcing
as the withdrawal of being in DAS~;" and as DtlS~il1-the thought of
Ol;Jtrn~~ (just missed, dare we say. by Schelling. which explains why
13 1

[hi~ commentary is so illt(mud, in the best sense of the word)-<s-

';llll'S the preliminary and insurmountable designation of the uni-
t" il~clf or of ,he absolute a~ a heiug. Bur the beingness [lttUltit/J of
Ii1\' absolute, because it offers th" ahsnlme [0 the grasp of the "ten-
JCIK~' lO re:turn to itsdf" or because it opens "ego-centrism" to the
all~oltJte. is what unl~,shes evil 3., the truth offrcedom. Since: good
i~ lonsideroo ro be thc return to self of rhe uni[), of (he being (a re-
(lIrn to self that would no longcr be that of a separated ipsei[)', bur
ont' of nonsepar,uion). evil is in fdct already, in principle, dialccticized
as a negative momem or power of good (but this hut consequence
no longer belongs, for its part, in any way to what we could Icgiti-
matd)' understand in Heidegger's laconic conclusions; and this is cer-
tJinl)' not b)' chance. as we will see from what follows).

The dc:viarions, drift. or tangent that Heideggcr seeks to take in

rclarion to &helling would therefore be this: a nonbeing 1"011-
rwlt] adjoining of being (its withdrawal). 8U[ up to what point
would this withdrawal affect the structure of freedom "for good
t/1uffor evil"? This is what is not mentioned. In fact. here Heidey,ger
is /lot far from abandoning freedom. from devoting himself to be-
ing (and the "selt~eception of resignation toward the inevitable:" that
he would denounce a few years later. again in relation (0 Schelling.
implies a uitilJue of indiffermce to good and evil), Yet in this move-
1llt"1ll. ill not the sovereign (and quasi-dialectical) indifference of
S~hdlingian good and evil preserved? Does this more or less im-
IlCrC'eptible preservation respect the most pmfllUnd exigencies of
the thinking of being itself. or of the thinking of existence. as
IlciJcMcr ~cems to have in rhe anal)'5is ofiiccdom" pur-
~Ilcd thus far?
In other words: is it possible to say that the thinking of being. at
le,ht as Hcidegger was able to annoum:e it. has escaped the pro-
f~)u'Hllogic and tonality of rhe idealism of freedom. according to
", hich freedom "for good and for evil" is first established and can
onlv be l'Slablished through evil. and must therefore. whether it
Wallts tu or not, in one way or another justify evil. which means di-
;}k~(lici7.e it, as is the case when "diswrd" is Jt best what makes
E"il' lRdsioll

"unity appear"? At what point docs the identity of good and evil
cease once "fury" and "the criminal" have equally been disposed
of in the "nihilarion" of being? At what point does this identity,
specifically presented as noc being Mone," cease dialecticizing itself and
producing a superior identity. the result of which seems to be noEb-
ing other than a deaf return to a theadicy or logodicy, this time in
the form of an ontodicy? And yet, why does being need a justifica-
tion if it is not and docs not cause-unless we must ask ounclva
whether it isn't the unjustifiable that, in spite of everything, we
want [0 justify? (This clearly means: to what extent, in spite of
everything and everyone, did Heidegger silenrly justify Auscbwil71
Yct this also means, above all for us: to whdt ~nt is this si/mtJIG-
tiJication not a ultaJmns ofth~ wry thinking ofb~i'~g, understood, u
we are trying to do here, as the thinking of "freedom" or of the
generosity of being?) 17
(We amid pose a similar question to Batailk. considering that "Ibc
unleashing of passions is the good, which has always been able to an-
imate hLUtWI beings"'! and that this unleashing occurs, by definition.
by way of the violation of the prohibition, which defines cvU-
here again there is a sort of fUry. A "life without prohibitions" is im-
possible, and we cannot, once God is dead, "humanly lift prohibi-
tions without venerating them in fear." Thus. "we rob freedom ~iIs
salt, if we do not acknowledge its price. Freedom demands a fear. a
vertigo of freedom. "19 To what exten t doesn't unleashing here di-
alecticize itself? To what extent isn't there here an Matheological"
thcodiey of sacred evil which is unleashed passion? '10 what extent
didn'r Baraille want, following a certain theological tradition ofthc
economy of redemption. to justify sin [~tUlm peccatIJ J, whereas
sin, according [0 another less Meconomic" and more "spirirualw tra-
dition. ili never justifiable, though it can be pardoned? Finally, to
what extent-in order to relate Bataillc: and Heidegger in a more 0b-
vious way-do we not yield to a fascination for the "vertigo" or
"abyss" of freedom. which leads in rum to a f.!.scination with me evil
that engulfs and repulli~ [and at bottom, to a way of being tempt-
ed or of attempting to bear the unbearable. which does nOI mean (oJ..
er.uing or defending it. but whkh despite everything implies emc:ring
Evil' Ikrision 1)3

into ;\ mange and somber relation with irs posiriviry]. while the
,.../r,lJil1K of heing-free. and indeed its IJ"(O~, arc so grOlmtilm that
,h,' horror and attraction of the abyss form only one of their possi-
bk fi~ures-1111 dOllh, the one jigllrillg them predsely with the
l11ust pre!;cnce and IhickllC5S, ("onferring on them a profound and
,!t,ldl)\\')" ~lIbsran("e. Yer the posirive presence of evil rightly an-
nllllllU:S II1;u it l'Ilmes from an ahyss of the will to presence. from the
~fl'srlel>SnCss of the absolute concept's infinity." What is grolllldins is
also to rhe same cKtenr. perhaps more "profoundly," what comes-up
fllllll nothing, on nothing, what, instead of climbing alit of the
;lhr~. fn.'d,. riscs up. suspended in free air. the simple pulsating of
a rdc<lsed existeJ1(:e. let this be dearly understood: it is not a ques-
(illll of playing ,he idyll against the drama: rhe existence released
from existence is delivered to every weightiness, on rhe edge of
('\o'cry :lhyss: evil has not only been confirmed :IS a positiviry, it is per-
haps ronfirmed as Ib~ positiviry of freedom: ret it is a question of
knowing whether freedom is mnnructed and reconstructed there.
lli;llc:ctically, subjectivc:ly, economically. or if it is torn apart there-
purd)' and simply.l
In nthl'r words, we could ask, ali we face the empirico-lr'omscen-
dental unleashing offrcoooin trndfury. of a furiOlL~ freedom: has the
til iliking of being avoided moving backward. if imperceptibly, toward
,\11 ol1[odky in which is preserved the possibility of a "safeguard" or
\hdtcr" of being (an nhos ali an ahode) in the midst of fury ilself,
anJ in proximity to "peril" and "safety"? Is this how we should
think a Ihought that "Icts Being be" and which is necessarily the
thinking uf heing's being-free-as free ill "fury" as it is in "grace"?
[)lI~S being's hdng-frce threaten to fall into the inditlerence of the
,lh~()llItc (which is nOlhing other than thc freedom of its subjec-
tiVity, th~ basis fmm which il can and must appear to itsclf as the act
c)f iI., Ilwn potential, as potenrial ~or good "nd l>... iI) , !II or can .tnd
In\.\r the ahsolute of freedom engage it in a nonilutillerence?
l'nJ.uuhtcdly. the answer sccms 10 be interw()\'en in the ques-
. ;lI1d eSJ'l"ci:tll), in the enrire enum:i.uil)11 of the: Ihinking of be-

1I1~: Iwing heillg he is to ler it withdraw from whal Hegel called

"IIl'l'IllI".uion in itself," which he dC'ii~natCtt as the first f()fm of evil
134 hViL' Drcirion

in the PIJenommology (in sum. thc phenomenology of the spirit of

fury: the al>soJurc return to self of the consciousn~s that has hot
gonc out of itself). In a basically similar way. it is to let withdraw the
ego-centrism of Schelling's "ground." The entire tradition has un-
derstood evil as ego-ism. and egoism as [he fury that in itself de-
termines [hc undetermined absolute. finitizing the infinite and in-
finitizing the finite. (Likewise, in Bataille, the freedom of passiOh is
in no way egoistical: it is the very place of communication and it is
communication. For Bataille. egois[ical freedom annuls itself. BUI at
the same time, in ic.~ transgressive unleashing, passion docs notbiDs
but unleash itsdf), And yet, if the question of a seem, imperceptible
ontodicy is not entirely illegi[imate, it is perhaps also not illegitimate
to suspcct, despite everything, a secret cgoity of being:

What properly is, thaI is, what properly dwc:lls in and deploys il1
essence in the Is, i~ uniquely Being. Being alone" is"; only in Being and
a.~ Being dOl'S what is called flY "is" appear; what is, is Being on ~ ba-
sis of its essence. ll

The deploymcnt of Being can cenainly ncver be thought except

&om the point of irs withdrawal and irs no-thingncss. But cannot me
being-its-self rttIY-propIYF! of being preserving its property always
once again withdraw from th~ wilhdrawaJ of bcing, and reappro-
priate the Errigniswhere it appropriatcs irselfby "vanishing"? One
could find the question scandalous in view of the whole logic of this
thought, in which being is Ollly the sin!.',lar existence of Dmn", If we
must, despite everything, pose this question. this is firsr of all by rea-
son of, if not the logic of this thought, then at lcast its to1l41ily
(which also means its tension and intensity, if not its intentions).v
With the liberation of the thinking afbnng ar b~;ng as sole exi-
gency, as a kind of paradoxical but inevirable harmonic (at least
up to a certain point), this tonality makes possible a certain aban-
donment of the b~;ng of btings, given over [0 the fate of the de-
ployment of the essence of being, and with it, in an indifferent
way, to a fury pr0fH"~Y consubstantial with this essence. This tonal-
iry docs not arise from a simple criliqU~: rather, one should hear res--
onate, like an echo. the tension in the conc",,~d response [0 che
Er,i': /)~dlio"

n1.llcrialltransccndental irrllprion of devasrating evil in this epoch of

lx,ing, Nor is it a qll('Stion or"rdaxing" this tension: the unbearable
.IIIlI lh~ unjustifiable have not ceased. But if we must ask ourselves
,II what cxtelll dtis unjustifiable would risk being justified. this is bc-
c;1II.'iC the thinking ofbcing offers the demand and resource for this

question. as we should have understood from the beginning,

'\l1ollu:r tonality is at stake. and we must try to understand it,
111('re is yet another reason to pose the question. whK:h the mt!re log-
jc uf the thinking of heing (it is a logic. how could it he anything
d~c?) will never he ahle to answer: the affirmation of Dm,i11 as the
cxistt!l1ce of being will always be answered by the affirmation of
bdng's heing-free as the "concealment." no doubt dissymmetrical.
bUI always dialecticizable. of good and evil. Tbis is truly why
Heidcgger's abandonme11l of the theme of frcc:dom will have been
logical: as a power of suhjectivity. freedom will in efi'c(t only have
00'11 the illusion in charge of covering over the profound acceptance
of the course of things, And freedom's own factuality will always be
disliool\'ed into that of necasity, Freeing oneself from this freedom will
have remained a wish suspended at the limit of this logic which
itself traced the limb of philosophy,
S/Jorl oftllking II stt'Pforthrr-short of taking a step further. if we
\:,111 say this. into the irreducible and singular faC:llIalil)' of freedom.
and short of taking a st"" fimher into the very logic of the thinking
of treedom. it is one step further to say t"at tI" a"nurr, h,", ;1 ;" tk
hcoomn is frcooom for good ana evil. Irs decision. ifit is in the
ul,,:ision that freedom occurs or happens to itself. is therefore the de-
ci\ioll for good ""a evil. Yet. insofar as it d~'ddes, freedom is this de-
l'i\lOIl, the decision for good or evil. Denying that freedom pre-
\tllls itself as an arbiter placed before values or norms tranSCCIl-
dell! to its own finite transcendence docs not amount to denying that
trl'tUom, in deciding. decides for good 0" evil. Only freedom in
.1niun (there is no other). at the limit of thought-where thought
i\ in turn finally the act that it is. and consequently. wht!n:' it is also
dt:l i\ion-dcddes as it liberates (itself) from good or e\'il. This

means that it is necessarily. in its act. or even in the very jllC't in

which it ftuly lurpriw itst/f not the united and indifferent un-
leashing of good and evil. btl( in and through itself good or bad
decision. Only unleashing unleashes itsclf, but this docs not mean
thai it unleashes indifferently, for it would finally only unleash un-
leashing itself. "concentrated in itself," and consequently always
wickedness. Undoubtedly. this does not mean that it unleashes a lit-
tle of one and a little of the other. or the one as much as the other.
without i.selfbeing implicated in this difference or opposition. In
unleashing its~lf-and thereby releasing itself and knowing itself
as the possibilicy of evil-it also releases itself and knows it5elf as fury
oras liberation. We would at least like to try to show this much.
"Decision" does not have merely the irreducibly formal staNs
given by its enunciation at .he limit of its cvent (or Errignii Would
Ertignis be decision?): we name .he decision. but in so doing we do
nor enter it; we describe from without a gesture which can then
be interpreted either as the simple passage into action of a consid-
erable potencial freedom for good and evil, or as the decision between
a "good" and "cvil" previously furnished by the most classical moral-
icy, or on the contrary as the arbitrariness. also most classical. of a Me
subjectivity diding on its "good." Decision does not have merely
this formal status because, as it is thought in all the rigor of the
thinking of existence, the "concept" of decision itself refers to a til-
rilion tjfirtivt/y tttltm in this thought. The thinking of existence can-
not think frcc decision without havi ng actUAlly decided for its Dum
existence, and not for its ruin-not because of a choice and a moral
preference anterior to the development of thought. but in the act of
thinking posited at the existing limit of thought. (What then comes
to light is not a novelty: there has been no philosophical thought
worthy of its name that has not proceeded from chis thinking de-
cision of thought. But henceforrh it has (0 think thought as such.)
In Being and Time. the analysis of G~UJiSJm ends up at the
thuught of decision altd at a tbcis;on 0/tboughtwhich still remains
to be brought to light in this very thought. 24 Gewissm means "con-
science" in the moral sense that French sometimes accords to the
word cOllscima ['"consciousness" or "conscience"-Trans.] but that
E,;l Dis;orr 137

is lIot "morality" in the sense of still having to do with any distinc-

ril'lI tit "good" and "evil." In Gtwissrn is attested Daftin's "own-
I1l1'~t potf'ntiality-for-Being" insofar as, bausc it is unfounded
I~lllmtuion, which means "existing as thrown," "it is nt''" in P05-
sc~~illl1 .. f its ownmost heing," In this "nullity," lw;n is discovered
;1.\ ('~~lIlially "i"dth'ta (schu/d;g, which also medllS uguilty''). The

exi~t('nt. 3S existent, is indehted to and guilty for the being-itself

whil.:h it i~ nOf and which it does not have:: it is indebted to the
withdrawal ofheing. we could say in reassemhling the vocabularies
of \'arious periods in Heideggcr. and this debt m,m n,,' IN tlln~/td
III //It mode ofII mtitllt;oll ofbring-01lts-Stlj. but prrcisrl] in liN m"tlr
oj'r.\-isttll('t a"tI of'N dtdJion for mftmcr. Z'
Dt:bt is revealed to the existent by the call that is addrcssed to it
11)' the mil:e ofirs own/alien "foreignness," which characterizes its be-
in~ as heing-abandoned-lO-the-world. l6 Wirh originary debt or
guilt (wh(l~c connection with Benjamin's tragedy could be pur-
5ul:d) "being-wicked" is also revealed, "Wickedness" here corre-
spond!'i to heing-indebted. For if. on the one hand, it cannot be a
qucstion. at this ontological level. of moral values. which have here
nnl~' their "existential condition of possibility." and if. accordingly.
the Kantian image of conscience as a "trihunal" cannot be taken up
again, 011 the other hand "every experience of conscience begins
by experiencing somerhing as a 'debt,''' and this is what. in the
"ordinary" experience of conscience. the primacy of "a bad ~on
scicnce" responds to, In other words, what is ordinarily considered
as "bad" io; this heing-guihy of not properly being one's being. or of
nm proPl'lly being being, bur (which is not specified but which
111l1~t hecome explicit in order to come to rhe decisive point of this
('mire tllllugln) ofII'" bri1lK bring in tht mod~ ofitt bt'blg. which iJ '''~
",,,t/l' Oft:<iltillg. Orc.lillary comprehension here has nothing of the
"old i nal)'" (1,"Wtiw! about it: it pa.~ps evil a.~ that whi<:h does not de-
.. id., for the being-existing of existence. What is inexact about or-
,Iill.try lUl11prt:hension is the attribution of "bad conscience" to a
"rcpriman,l" that consciousness wuuld address to itself for a wrong
.1Ir ....dy committed. The existential inrerpretalion grolSps that "the at-
Il"tat ion of being-wicked" is "more ancient" than every act com-
EfJi/~ iHris;on

mined and submitted to ;udgmenr (whose possibility. on the con-

nary, it founds). (However. it is equally possible to claim that Dtun"
has always already committed the: wrongful act of not existing ac.
cording to existence's ownmost possibility-alwa}'ll already. it has not
properly and absolutely rendered inclf to its world. and it has not
freed itself-it has always already skined the gener05ity ofbeinB-
and nOl even vulgar consciousness would be so vulgar in this rc:spca.)
The ontological undecidability of moral good and evil thus rests
in fact on what should be called an ontological archi-dccision of the
existent. attt::ited as wrong by the call sent to it by its own existen-
tiality. If it is not wrong in the sense of a choice made between
good and evil. it is wrong (and how would it not then have 111_
"ad" infinitely alrtady. decided on a good and an evil? ... ) in
that it is in debt and has to decide. The decision. Ent1chnJ,,"I>
hen: is not the choice produced at the end of a ddiberation 21 (the a-
istent docs not delibcrafe whether it exists or will exist: meanwhile,
in another sense. we could say that its existence is in itself esscnrially
(}di!Nmd. in the two valcnc~ of the word), but if it rots [tntndatrl.
it don so between an undecided state and a state of decision. It
decides for decision and for decidability. This could also come 10
mean that if the existent is not "wrong" in any determinable sense
of guilt. it is, meanwhile, wrong (as Hegel knew) in thdt it;s ".,;".
noc~"t (literally. not to be in-nocent is to cause harm). It is not in-
nocent. since. as an existent thmwn-into-the-world. it is in the very
element of its freedom. it is its flct, and freedom is the freedom 10
decide on good and evil. The non-innocence of freedom consri-
tUtC5 the existential condition of possibility of the decision. which
makes the existent exist as "resolute." So:

Resoluteness. by its ontological essence. is always the resoluteness of

some factual Dascin at a panicular time. The essence of Dascin as an en-
tity is its existence. RC50lurencss "cxisu" only as a decision (E"tJt'~
which understandingly projttts itsc:lf. But on what basis docs Ozein dis-
close itself in resoluteness? On what i~ it to decide? Dilly the decision it-
self can give thc answer. 21

That the answer is given only by the decision means thar there is
Evil: Drrisio1l 139

no sensc in deciding. by way of the analysis of the ontological slruc-

!lift: of t'xislence, on what the singular existent mllst decide. This
would be to remove it from its vt'ry decision. (0 fold up its freedom
;Ind suppress the possibility that it rccogni7.c itself as indebted to de-
,i~i()n by the very fact of its existence-by this fact (pf being its
own es.~ence) tlNIt tI~ dfcision presmlJ abOl'r all--and this would
thcrt:fore be to have fundamentally missed the originary phenom-
enon of existence.
In proceeding as thinking doe; here, which means in letting be the
hcing-free of existing bcing-forthe factual and singular dfCisioll-
hasn't thinking dedded, in itself and for itsclP. From thf romprt-
"rmitm oftl;, non-innfKmft offrrrdom, "asn~;t decidrd for decision
find for itr singulttr j(,cwality? This also means: from the com pre-
hcnsion of the existent's being-itself as tkciJ~ existmcr, h35n't think-
ing decidl.o for the decision that decides in favor of existence, and
nOI f(}f the decision that decide.~ to StllJ indrbud to O;;Slma ""d
r(}lI!('qllmt~y to appropriatr itulf ttl tlu mmct outsitk of txisunct?
Ha.m't thinking dedded. at the most intimate point of its deci ... ion
for decision, in favor of the "grace" of existence, and not of the
flll)' of essence? (And mormver. since it is henceforth time to ask the
following: can we speak of "graec" and "fury," of "healing" and of
"ruin." without having allowed a decision to be made by language.
whereas what is at stake is allowing every decision as such. in its fr-
dom. to decide for one or the other side of what is equally "con-
n';lled" in being? For if the existent can dt'cidc on ruin ami Oil its
own fuin. and if this possibility is inscribed in the very being of ex-
i~lmce. such a decision is no less what also ruins the decision in its
exi\lcntial essence,)
This is not written as such in Heideggcr's tt'xt. Here. the stakes are
t1l11~e of a decision of reading. less in the sense of a question of in-
Il.:rpreting the discourse of a thinker more or less correctly and
faithflilly. than in the sense of a question ofbcin~ addres..~ed by a frec-
d'lI11 to freely share his thought. The act of reading is here no doubt
III retreat as much from scrupulous review 35 from interpretive vi-
"knee. It rcads hy sharing the freedom through which thought as
(hought is always offiml: held om, pmpmed, III be taken and de-
hi,i': Dl'ris;on

cided. at the surfacc of the text. (Now it is in the same context that
Heideggcr write;: "It is the authentic Being-onc's-Self of resolutenc:ss
that makes leap forth for the first time autheR[ic Being-with.
Others"; there is no sharing exccpt of freedom. bur there is abo no
freedom except in sharing; the freedom of deciding to be-one's-sc:lf
outside of sharing is the freedom, lodged at the heart of freedom. to
ruin freedom. We can only come back to this decidability.)
Thinking hcre decides for decision. or it decides. if we like. for the
in-dccision in which alone decision can occur as such. Decision is
singuJar. it is "at every moment that of a factual Das~;n." It is not a
decision ofsingularity (since singularity is not a preexisting sub-
ject. but is singular "in" the very subject and decides in deciding.
g/f), but it is a decision for singularity. which means for freedom it-
self. if freedom is in the relation of singularities and of decisions.
Singularity. as decided and deciding itself. is no longer in the non-
innocence of the freedom to decide. Yet neither has it become in-
noceR[ and "good." It has entered into the decided decidabiliry, so
to speak, of existence at each momnrt of its existence. Now decision,
as singularly existing and as engaging relation and sharing, engap
the withdrawal of being. If decision keeps itself as decision. it also
keeps being in its withdrawal, as withdrawn. It "saves if. as
Heideggcr says elsewhere. in the sense that "this means releasing. de-
livering, liberating. sparing. sheltering. taking into one's protec-
tion. guarding."l'} What is thus saved is the finitude ofbcing. It is
"the essen rial limitation. the finitude [that) is perhaps the condition
of authentic existence. "30 finiTUde is what. in singularity and as
singularity. withdraws from the innnite grasp, from the molar ex-
pansion and furious devastation. of an ego-icy of being. Being with-
draws into finitude; it withdraws from "concentration in itself": it is
its very being. yet insofar as the very heing of being is being-free, be--
ing cannot be this withdrawal {'Xupt by d~cision. Only decided ex-
istence withdraws being from the essential "self" and properly holds
back its possibility for devastating fury. Only existence. as the exi~
tence and singular factuality of freedom, offers. if not exactly an
ethics. in any case this "shelter" of being which is ill own most tthos
tiS fhl' nhos or abodl' of fIJi' human b~i"g UIIIO dwells in Ih~ possibility
ofhi! ftl'e d~cijioll.
/:-,,;/: Dision

TIKr"C is therefore an authemk dl"Cision-though it ha5 its au-

dll'nritity in the very decision and without the prior distinl'tion of
;111 in.llHhentic or authentic content of decision. Or there is an au-

rhenticity of decision. that is to say, an authenticity of freedom.

Thl."rc i~ an authentic flftdom. which deddes frcedumforexistence
amlli!r the singular relation that ir i!i, and which decides it from the
hc.m 01 .111 infinite non-innocence where the in-tiniry of being
(which does not have its own essence) can always unleash itself.
ami in a sense ha!i always already been unlea.~hed. as fury. There is
,I tree decision that frea flttdom for i~lf, fOr irs flniruM. for its shar-

ing. for equality. fi,r community. fOr fraternity. and for their justice-
sinttllJ.uly. singularly shawtfdivided. singularly withdrawn from
the hat~d of existence.
13 Decision, Desert,

Would authentic decision then be the good? Then: is no positivity

of the "good" and the ~jJtliml tis ousiils of Plato's Good must again
be understood here. Oec;;ision cannot appear to itself as "good" in-
sofar as it will have truly decided. It cannot. quite simply. appear to
itself,1 and it is doubtless less frec= ~ more it wants to appear as such.
Nothing therefore can assure it. and even less forewarn it. withow
suspending its c:ssc:ncc: of decision. It is delivered to irs freedom as 10
rhat which comes-up to it and surprises it. Every decision surprises
itself. Every decision is made. by definition, in the undecidable. In
this way. essentially (and it is in this sense that 1 have said "au-
thentic" here. a word taken nom Hcidegger. ill spite of or in defiaac
of its moralizing connmation), decision cannot decide without let-
ting being be in its finite singularity. I cannot decide without infi-
nitdy abandoning myself to the finitude of my singularity and thus
I cannm. in (he strike and cut of my decision, renounce appearing
to myself as the "deciding" subject. This is also why my decision is
identically. each rime, a decision for rdation and sharing-to the
point that the subjtct of my decision can appear to itself as not be-
ing simply "me" (but also a "you" or an "us") without it being any
less singularly my own, if it is authentic. Yct it must be repeated mat
the deci~ion docs not appear to ;ts~lf: in this way it rkcUks and is de-
Nothing finishes wirh the decision. but everything begins. It is in-
DfC;sion. Vrsm. (Jjfn'ing

drcd only here (hat wickedness C"JIl begin (0 be wicked and it is

l1l'fC tllilt rum-innocence can become fury. For fury necrls singularity:
\\I~hdness Il'nntJ to l'njo.y [jollir! the spectacle of its ruin and thus
fun Illust maintain its presence. Wickedness too lets existence be,
in i't~ own way. in ord\"r to ruin it. Othcrv.'i5e what would it address?!
bn't decision also the choice of a line of life. vice or virrue. that it
would fix lIpon the existent? Yet decision is the access to letting-be.
IXlling-he, which is always the contrary of a "laissez-faire" or "Iet-
tin~-h'lppcn." will ceaselessly have to decide, at ever)' moment. iL~
"ethical" relation to the l'Xistence it lets-be. It will be in rhe dury, or
ill the shirking of the duty, in virtlle or in its exhaustion. in malig-
nityor goodnas, in the calculated appreciation of circumstances. or
in the srnic mknirin that welcomes the right moment. Yet it cannot
avoid acceding to the relation with existence. which means to the rc-
i.uilln in existence: with the: being-singular that alone: txists and that
CXi~IS in the withdrawal of being. It can unleash the nothingness of
this withdrawal in es..<;ential devastation. or expose itself as if to its
vcr", existence. Rut it cannot avoid-and this i1i wherein freedom iii
a fact-acceding to the singular disscmination of being. and di-
viding it. Nor. consequendy. can it avoid rxposing itself as the being-
sint!lllar ofit~ own decision. exposed to this coming-lip ofhcing in
it, wirhdra\\ .d. which only places us into presence as the ones of the
orhcro;: this is properly. in ~-un5titutivc and irrcducihle a1terity. to place
frecdom illlo the "presence" of itsdr. \
This does nor arm us with a morality. This does nor dilt3te to us
\\l1at it will mean, and when and how, "to respect Olhers." "to respect
(llle~c:lr." "to treat hlllllanit)' as an end." or to want equality, fra-
(emil)', and justice for the human community. This docs nor even
dinOlrC' when and how to respect. and nor give. death (my own or
that of others) as this singular possibility that "belongs" only to
\ingllbrity.4 This gains us neither determined duties nor rights.
l 'IIJllIlhtedly. their determination can itself he nothing oillcr than
tlw product of infinitely renewed decisions that are r<."disclIssed and
rl'I\C~oliated in the general:;pacc of the: decision. But this frees LIS for
dilly ;lI1d right. and for the perversion of the one and the other.
\X'hat makes liS free. then, is the freedom that exposes us and
lRcision. D~sm, Offrring

that is only what it is in this exposure. Neither will nor destiny,

but the gift of what Heidcgger calls "disdosedness:"

In the term "Situation" rsituation"-"to be in a situarion") there is an

overtone of a signification that is spatial. We shall not try to c:limi-
nate this from the existential conception .... But spatiality of the kind
whkh bdongs to iJasnn. and on the: basis of which cxisu:na: always de-
termines its "location." is grounded in the state of Being-in-the-world.
for which disdwcdncs.~ is primarily constitutive. JUSt as the spatiality 0(
the "there" is grounded in disdosedness. the Situation has its f0un-
dations in resoluteness. 5

Disclosedness louv"turrJ and resoimeness arc correlativc, whic:h

means that d~ion a.5 such is essentially "disclosivc" or "spatializingD
(a spatiality mat does not return to timc. but which is "at [he same
time" the spacing of the space and time of existence). Now, the
disclosedness that characterizes the decision in its authenticity iI
the disdosedncss to (or of) the "free." Once he had separated free-
dom as theme from the metaphysics of subjectivity. Heidegger wiD
not have ceased to give more and more: scope, if we can say this. to
the motif of "the open" as a motif of "free space,"" itself coJUid.
ered either as a "prospatiality" of "the free space of time" (we: could
say: it is herr that surpri~ is involved), or as a "spacing" that "carries
the free, the disclosed. the spacious ...

"Spacing is the seuing fr~ of places"

-and places thar have been set free undoubtedly answer to whaI
Bonnefoy calls "the true place":

The true place: is a fragment of duration consumed by the eternal. at dae

truc place linu: is undone within us. .. Perhaps it is infinitely dose; ir
is also infinitely distant. Such are the ironic presence and being in our
instant. The true place is given by chance, but at the true place chance
will lose: it5 enigmatk ,har.lI;ter .. There is beauty in this kind of
place. but a beauty !IO extreme that I would no longer belong to myself.
in being governed and a...,umed by its perfect command. In this place
I woulcJ also be profoundly free. for nothing in it would be foreign to

Thi~ ~patiality. or spa<:iosity. is the space offl'C'cdom, inasmuch as

trll.'llom is. at every momelll, the freedom uf a free space. Which
,11t';1I1S that it consritures the spatializing or spacing essence of free-
thull. Spacing is the gcneral"form"-which precisely has no form.
hut ~i\'cs room fur forms and formations. and which is not general,
hut which giVl'S room tor singularities-of existence: the spacing. ex-
posure. or I'C'tl'C'nchmcot and (:uuing (c.loci~i()n) of singularity. the 11"-
,"irt (whkh is, as we have indicated elsewhere. the charaaer of II;~
of ~inglliarity in its ditTerence which relates it to its limit. to others,
and to itself: for l"<aml,le. a mouth opened in a cry.
This spatiality is not so much a given free space----difTerent in
thi~ from Hannah Arendt's public space. which takes the fOrm of an
instittrdon or of a preliminary foundation. unless it should be un-
dc.-rlitood as the very foundation of this !lihared areality-as it is the
gift of a !iponia-temporality (if we may speak rhus). which is en-
~(,lIllered (gift of the first schema-schema of the gift itself", of-
fcring?) .tI1d which is followed by [he very liberation of space-
and as the exact reverse of irs devastation. Its d('<;cription could be
hormwed from the description of nom:ulic space in another think-
ing. tlistanced from [he thinking of being and whose distance itself
here signifies the free space of thinking:
'Ille nomad. ar~ th~r~. on the land. where\'er there forms a smooth
'p.l("C that gnaws. and tends to grow. in all dirt'Ctions. The nomads
inha"it ,hese places; they remain in them. and Ihey rhenudvC5 make
Them ~RJw. for it has been established that the nomad~ make the an
1111 It" than they arc made by it. They arc vcctou of ckterritorialir.uion.

Thry add desert to desert. 5t~ppc: to 5tc:ppe. hy a series oflocal operations

wI1l1~C: orientation and direction ~ndl~~~ly vary. there is no line;1ting earth and sky; rh~re is no intermediate dislOlnce. no per-
~Itcuiv~ or contnm; visihility is limited; and yet th~re is an ~xtraordi
naril~' fine topology that relies not on points or ubjects hili rarh~r on
h.teenides. on of" relations (wind5. undulations of snow or sand or
"\I' l rl'.lking of ice. the lauile: qualities uf horh).~

,\, this desert which is nul an increase of devastatiun. but (he

J! rO Wlil of its own spadng as (he nomad's dwelling phlce. frCt'dom
II'Jt:~ lint receive a space rhat would be given to ie, bur it gives it~elf
lkrision, Dtyrt. Ojfrring

space and gives space to itself a.'i the incalculable spacing of sinsu_
larities. In other words, freedom itself is not the essence of ~ f_
but the "free" is the existing opening by which freedom takrs plac:r:
It is not PU" spacing. it is al50 "habitation"-habitation in the:
open-if the nomad does nO[ represent errancy without at the
same time repre;enting a dwelling, and thus an tlhoJ.
This is not exactly what one would understand as an Kethics of
freedom." It is the tthos it.self as the opening of space, the spacious
shelter of being in existence, deciding to remain what it is in the _
lancing from self, in this distancing that delivers it (0 its retreat,
to its existence. generously. It is a generosity of ethos more than an
ethic of generosity. "Freedom" itself. in the spaciosity of being when:
freedom is opened rather than engulfed, proves to be: generosity
even btfO"be:ing freedom. It gives rise, in the exposure ofbeing,1D
its own singularity always newly decidable, always newly surprised
by its decision. This generosity does not dominate fury. which is
born with it. Yet it gives. without counting-without counriDB
anything but fury-it is the in6nite gift of finite freedom. while
fury is the finite appropriation of infinite freedom.
It gives freedom. or offm it. For the gift is never purely and sim
ply given. It does not vanish in the receipt of the gift-or of cbc
Kp~t." The gift is precisely that whose "present" and presentation
are not lost in a realiz.ed presence. The gift is what comes-up to
the presence of its "presem." It also keeps itself, in this comins-up
and surprise of the gift, as gift, as the giving of the gift. In this it is
an offering. or withdroiwal, of the gift in the gift itselF. the withdrawal
of its being-present and the keeping of irs surprise. It is not a ques-
tion here of the economy of the gift. where the gift comes back to
itself as the benefit and mastery of the giver. On the contrary. it is a
question of what makes the gift as such: an offering that may not be
returned to anyone, since it remains in itself the frtt offering that it
is (this is why. for example, one never gives what one: has received to
a third party. lest one annul the gift as gift). One must keep the sin-
gular present in which the gift as such is kept. that is, offered! it is
presenred. made freely available. but is freely held back at the edge
of the receiver's free acceptance. The offering is the inestimable

I"in' of the gift. The generosity ofhcing offers nothing other than
l'xisrcnce. and the offering. 3S such. is kept in freedom. All of this
n1l.',IIH: a !ipace i!i offered whose spacing. C"olch time. only happens by
',1\' uf a c.iecision. But there is nor "a" ,tecision. There is. each time.

111~: own (IT singular minc)-yours, theirs, ours." This is the gen-
erosit)' of being.
l11rl't U, then. that which should become more and more ur-
~t'nt tor our thinking, as its theme ,md 3S its decision: this gen-
cro~ity ofbcin~, its !ibmllity, whid, dispenses that t'"" IN mmm,;llg
and that we exist. This taking place of something offers itsdf in
1111: opening that frees places and the tiee space of time. TIle open-
in~ dcK.'S not open unless ~ let it open, and we only let it open if we
Il'l cmrsclve5 be exposed in exutence. We arc: exposed to our ~om.
There is theretore finally rhe ~cnerosity of being dispensed in the
~ll ural singularity of "us": the freedom of the decision, which is al-
ways "mine" in the sense that all property of my essence vanishes and
[har the entire community of existence is involved. Yet this gift is
kept in the oftrring. It is kept there as what is unfOunded in ficedom.
as (he in~scnce of existence, as the dcsertlike and nomadic: charac-
(t'r uf its dwelling. as the risk of its experience or the pirating of its
tuundations--and consequently also as lhe threat of a free hatred of
If there is a hope of thinking. without which we would not even
think. it docs not consist in the hope of a torallibernrion of freedom
that wa~ to occur as the total mastery of freedom. The hisrory of a
~il1lilar wait is over. "(ollay rhe (hreal of a devastation of existence
alllnt' has an)' positivity. Yct the hope of thinking signifies that we
wuuld not even think if existence were not the surprise of being.
14 Fragments

How might a discourse offrccdom correspond to its objt (sup-

posing this made sense)? How might it speak freely" (as one "spcab
frankly" or as one "speaks up") in speaking of freedom and in order
[0 speak of it, or ro let it speak?

I give no particular credit to the form of the fragment. inasmuch

as I employ it here (as occasionally elsewhere) and entitle this para-
graph with this form, and with no theme or concept. h a form. me
fragment is exposed to all the ambiguities of which its history since
Romanticism. if not since: the moralism' maxims, has made us per.
fecdy aware. These are the ambiguities of a freedom represented
simultaneouslya.o; disengagement. as a surpassing of all rules and of
a1llitcrary genres. and as a concentration of self~nstitution and &elf.
sufficiency. Because they are csscntialto the brevity and discontinuity
of the fragmentary form. these ambiguities cannot be removed.
Nevenhcless, as Blanchot indicates in one of his fragmentary textS,
if the fragment is "something strkt." this is "nor because of its
brevity (it can prolong itself to the point of agony) but because of a
tightening and strangling to the point of rupture. "I In principle
the fragment can be, even should be. singuJar and continuous. It
shouJd be a single. continuous fragmentation-neither "just onc"
fragmem nor dl!t3ched fragments. I would even say: philosophical
discourse today is fragmentation itself. Philosophy no longer stops
being written at the limit of the rupture of its discourse--which
!-i-agmmts 149

111t".111~ philosophy's "cnd," but likcwisc its "Iibcration." Why is it.

"wn. that fact does not make il .;elf the eqllal of right. and why de-
ddt: \0 finish-un finish he~. in the torm of the fragment. an essay as-
riring 10 be philmophieal~
lkcause of poverty, simply because: of insufficiency. It is too dear
III me, too harshly visible. that the skctl.:h bardy outlined in the
rn:l.e(ting pages of a frcc thinking of freedom has at this point
n1t:rdy begun, that nothing h3.~ been said. and that this discourse
~11l11l'S too soon for something that undouhtedly precedes it from
.tt:tr. Ir is too dear to me that every I.:ontinuation of this discourse as
ir is (not mine, but our~. this discourse in which the word Mf'rccdom"
can in no way approach the liberation of its own meaning. nor of the
meaning of ownership in general. of wh,H freQ it and of what frees
from it, etc.). evcry use of 5upplementary philosophical resources
(whid! are not lacking). is from the start commiuoo to the: contin-
u;!1 fragmematioll that is in question here: the fragmentation of a
thinking of freedom. Consequently. fn:edom cannot be signaled
CXl'Cpt :u that which comes to thought only through the "agony" of
this thought, with the "strangling" of this discourse.
'10 condude-illld to begin-it is freedom's own fragmentation
lhat in fuct escapes discourse. Philosophy rejoins neither its own
"('lid" nor its own "Iiheration." It pettily crumbles. shon of the
'fr.lgmenr" as well as of"discoufSC."ln speaking offreedom. one has
to a~~cpt being confronted h}' this insistent stripping away.
If I anemptoo [0 rea(;h the end (as if there were one .. ) of this
a~'my, to usc discourse untiringly against this rock (thing. force. gaze)
of frc:cdom. until exhaustion. until syncope, until death. I would
lilll1btlcss not be wrong, and yet I would he cheating.
I would keep Ih" surprise and experience of frc~lom for a beyond
1Il.\t I would pretend to attain in disappearing. But thc cxperience
i\ .1lrcady taking place. 3.'i I have continually sai(t. and all philosophy
h.1\ said it without ever being ablc to say it (except hy cheating ... ).
And I would be cheating no less with thc community, which is the
~ill' of this experience btU which cannot communicate: this expcri-
l'IWe to itself 35 its ,ammon essence, because it is not an essence. but
a ''''Iring. Freedom sharcs and shares itself. Philosophical discoursc
150 Fragmmts

cannot think of rep~senring it or of presenting it: in thinking free-

dom. philosophical discourse mwt think of itself as shared. as at the
same time "communicating" something (of the concept. and even
of the concept of the limit of the concept). and as apart: separated
in its praxis from other praxes where experience takes place. similar
and infinitely dissimilar.
Freedom places philosophy before irli strangest. most discon_
certing truth.
So then-fragments. They run the risk of appearing to bring
abom an ambiguous reversion of "philosophical discourse- to a
"literary form" and of seeming to give in to another trick. But with-
out this risk. despite everything. no maner what I did I would be be-
traying yet more certainly the experience of freedom. I would claim
to offer it as a concept (even if as a concept of the limit of the c0n-
cept) or to draw it a.'1 a conclwion from an analysis. or to identify it
with the movements of a discourse, and even with irs tightening. its
continual fragmentation. But the experience of freedom is already
taking place. and it is only a question of this, along with our for-
midable insufficiency to "know" it. "think" it, or "say" it. So then.
tTagments. as vague. uncertain marks of th is insufficiency. 2

The risk of seeming to reappropriate through "literature" what

would be lost in "philosophy." At least since Nieu.5che. and up un-
til all of w today-all those who dare philosophize-there has been
no philosophical writing exempt from this risk. or from coming
to terms with it: Bergson as much as Hcidc:gger. Delellze as much as
Derrida. In certain respects, the hisrory of contemporary philosophy
is the history of this risk. in all the diversity of its variationt-
which means. in all the diverse ways in which freedom has come to
implicate itself as a writing of philosophy (syle. genre. character. ad-
dress. audience. company. proximity. translations. untranslatabiliries.
words. metaphors. fictions. pOliitions of enunciation. and so on
and on: all that renders the "philosophical genre" hardly recogniz-
able and yet perfectly identifiable in the concept. analysis. demon-
stration. 5ystematicilY. self-grounding. and self-questioning that
were always its own).
FmgmmtJ lSI

Concerning the insufficiency I have memional. I would claim nei-

ther ,hat it is necessary. nor that the constraint of freedom is [0
IR'IHI us securely to the necessity that freedom should bc seized
(rum us. nor that it has "appropriated" u.~ in such a way that there
is nn longer any sense. "afterwards. n in wanting to appropriate it to
l11lCSelf. Undoubtedly. this is true. It is even trllth it~elf. BlIt
'insufficiency." and its correlate in the "strangling" of discourse,
II'? pr(riltly not yn at ,be 'ePle' o/w/Jar is in ,,,mioll bfTf. It is not a
question of an impossible appropriation hecause it is "above our
",cans" or bccaU5C it happens in death and as death. It has to do with
a ljllcstion that an appropriation here cannot and must not pose in
om}' terms. There is nothing to ask of this gcnre. or to look fur. or 10
inrerrugate positively or nc:gatheJy. And that it should be so is in no
'ar a deprivarion. but is freedom itself. -Still. I cannot avoid say-
ing. Ihis is freedom p'"Optr.

Yet anorher thing (or the same thing. differently) must be at

H.lke in this chiaroscuro necessity of the fragment: something. dear-
ly. that touches on thc relation of philosophy and literature. It is not
Ihat the fragment would give a literary form to philosophical
thought and its un-thought (one knows. from here on, how the
thought of the form/ground couple must be deconStfucted. and I
might add that the entire question of freedom perhaps finds itself in-
vl'S(cd here. beginning Wilh, for example, classical motifS of the
"freedomn or "necessity" of the "form" in relation to the "ground").
Rather. what is at stake in the relation of philosophy and literature
i~ what Derrida has named writing. (Perhaps we should say that
he has 514rnamedit "writing." recapturing and rewriting words and
lflllC:Cpts that the period brought forth on (he basis of Nietzsche.
l\cnjamin, I-Ic:idcggcr. Bataille. and Blanchot.) Writing is the move-
Illent of meaning in the suspension of signification. which with-
draws me.millt; 111 giving it. in onler to give it as its gift. (I would ~y:
il\ otTering.) (In a more recent vocabulary. accompanying Blanchot,
I lcrrida chooses to say: the step. the past, the pa.'iSage amI pace of
truth "which becomes irrcve~iblc in the truth of the ptIS,n, where Ihis
IJ~t truth multi he underst(xKl as me la.~t truth of rntaning.) In wrir-

ing. there is nothing philosophical or literary. Rather. writing lI'acti

an es.<iential indecision of the [WO. be[Ween the [WO. and conse-
quently, an indecision in ea<:h one. It may even become nessary to
include the discourse of sdence here. This indecision reveals that the
withdrawal/otfering of meaning occurs from "philosophy" to "liter-
ature"-and to "science"-and reciprocally. It does not happen in the
absolute and as a single gature. Its absoluteness is prisely its trans-
mission from system to system (each of these systems being juclf
plural). which renders the distinction be[Ween systems undecid-
able, but which at the same time demands this distinction. (It works
in an analogous way in "an," between tht-ans.) It is undecidable, and
yet tlmr is "philosophy," "literature," "science." It is undecidable, and
yet we know very well what this sharing is. This "knowledge" does
not come from another discourse that would oversee the others; it
is therefore caught in the sharing and exchange or change-but
"we know very well." We know that we change systems in writ-
ing---oa;asionally within the same tCXt. within the same scntenc:c.
rragmems represem this. no doubt poorly. Nexhing says that we haw!
to adhere to this fragmentation, or that there should not be "even
more"literaturc. "even mon;" philosophy, or "cvcn marc" science. In
any case (and this is what maners to me here). each time. with
every change, ~n we are aware of changes without knowing exacdy
w/,atchanges. decision appears: each time. we decide on a writing.
we decide on a writing of writing. and therefore we didc on writ-
ing and on the meaning in its offering and withdrawal. Sharing
voices: never one single voice, the voice of meaning is the decision.
each time. of a singular voice. Freedom.
But in writing there is still something else. namely. communica-
tion (actually it is not something else). Writing is for reading. issues
from it. and is also for other writings--cven and precisely ifia ges-
ture is the withdrawal of communication. writing "only for" itself.
Writing is of the communi[}' or it is not writing. And reciprocally:
the community is of writing (in every possible sense of such an cx-
pression). Which means. as this essay has already recalled. that me
community docs not found itself in a common c:sscna:. but that its
being-in-common oheys the douhle logic of sharing. which is an cx-

lens ion of the logic of offering and withdrawal. We communi-

.ltc--that is to say. above' all we "arc in common" or we "com-
rC;lr" [Cllm-ptlraifrtj in the withdrawal of communicated sense and
in the withdrawal of the sense of col1ununication-tf"d in the shar-
ing of "genrcs" or systems of discourse. 1 cannot pretend to com-
'l1~micate a common sense (even though such a "pretension" must
abo be what decides to write). But if I decide to write, I am subject
inullcdiatdy to the sharing. and to (he incommensurability of the in-
col11mon (compare above. Chapter 7).
If I say "so tllt'n. the fragment ," I am allowing. or trying to
allow. ''''l1Nhing of this sharing (0 play "in" "my own" discourse and
in "addl\.~sillg" "my" readers. Something, certainly very few things.
hut I ("[mllot master the calculation of its effects (readings); I cannot
rd,,~c its game or risk. 1 cannot set aside its decision. It is a politi-
cal and ethical minimum. Freedom is at stake here. without which
the most open, communicative, and democratic writing, the writ-
ing that is most (:areful of common sense and also most rigorously
philowphical. can cover up (he worst lie and accompany the worst

KWt' must not give ourselves illusions: freedom and reason, these
two ethical as well as ethico-aesthetic concepts that me d:usical
age of German cosmopolitanism bequeathed to us as distinctive
~i~ns nfhumaniry, have not done very well since the middle of the
nineteenth century. t~radually they became 'off-beat,' we no longer
knew 'what to du with them: and if we let them get corrupted,
Ihi~ i~ less a success of their enemies than of their friends. We muSl
Iherefore not give ourselves illusions concerning the: fact that we, or
OUr ~u\:~ssors, will t:ertainly not return to these unt:hanged repre-

ICl)t;]tions. Our task, and the sense of what will put our spirit lO the
11.'\1. will be much morc-and this is the task of pain and hope, so
r"rt'l}" understood. that weighs on each generation-lO effect the aJ-
,ly~ l1t.'Ce~"'i:lry anc.llongl.'d-for transitiun to the new, with as few dis-
l\tn~ as possible!" (Rohert Mwil. On Stupidity. '937: must we spec-
if~ that this h1ure, a~ its ririe ought to shuw. un.lmhiguOlL~ly targCl\.-d
b . . ('i~Il\?)
54 Fragmmts

Freedom can experiment with itself up to the limits of its own ex-
perience-where nothing separates it any longer from "necessity:

I have been told: "You offer no semantics of the word freedom...

True. lhc senses of this word matter little to me (but its strategic p0-
sition. much). It does not cease, in tradition as wdl as for us. to ~
proach "necessity." And this is exacdy the question: from such
proximity of the two, something entirely other must inevitably free
itself: me truth of experience.

We can no longer even say: "Freedom, Diotima, if only we un-

derstood this sublime word! " (Holderlin, Hy~rio,,),

Let w give without commentary me elements of an etymological

semantics: according to a first derivation, lib~I'tIJ.j. like ~1mthnM,
has a base *kudholkudhi signifying "public," attached to *1nuJh:
the idea of growth, increase. Another etymology. less cenain. maka
libmas come from librr, book: the 1i1N1lus. little book or bookie! of
frcc expression, would account for its moral meaning. As for me
Anglo-Saxon fr1jM. its first signification is: beloved, cherished
(friend and Frru"d arc from the same family), because in my house
there are those (love. and slaves. Libni, children. first designates the
children of a free man. But in facr there are rwo categories: .. lilJml-
rum hominum alii i"g~nui Junt, alii libmi,,;"' (Gaius, Institutitnltlt
I. 10). The i"gmus is born from a free father (and means "distin-
guished, liberal. generous. sincere. refined"), the libtrtinus is bom
from a father who was himself freed (enfranchised), (Of course.
these ingenuous or libertine children are not the rejects-proltJ-of
me proletariat,)
Nrcwllrius, for its part. primarily designates a person with whom
one is close. but not consanguineous: hence a friend. someone from
whom one cannot separate.

What other semantic is there. which would not he the complete

program of the philosophy of freedom? Freedom to do. to aa, or
FmgmmlJ ISS

frc:c\iOIll in view of ... fn:edom as an esse:nce to be rcaliu:d or as a

ciwn Ilc1ture. responsible freedom and rC5ponsibility toward freedom.
i-r~I:Jotn as right or power. self-determination, free will. recogni-
rion of common law. individual or collective freedom, civil. eco-
Ilomic. political, sodal. cultural freedoms. the assumption of ne-
.:t-~~iry. anarchy. libenine or libertarian freedom. liberality, freedom
L1r tnovemenrs, freedom of spirit. the free end of a rope or chain-
none of these: should escape our anenrion, yet none of these ex-
;Kriy Illatcha what is at stake here under the name of "fn:edom."

Such an: the stakes of the limit that freedom iJ. or rather that it al-
ways surpasses: in touching the outside o/Iht ins;J~. one does not
therefore pass the limit. for the exhaustion of thUi touching is un-
limited. And this exhaustion is equally what effaces itself before,
and in the coming to presence of, the thing itself-a coming to
pr<.'!Icnce lhat no pn:selll will ever ClpIUn:. that no pn:sentation will
e\cr secure or saturate. The coming [0 presence of the other of
thought exhausts all thought of the other.
. --...
( )ne could say thai in freedom there is the ontological imperative.
or hdng as intimation-hut under lhe condition of adding thai
thi~ is without commandment (no commandment/freedom di-
alectic) or thai lhe commandment is lost in freedom's abandon-
IlII.'I1l lO ilSdf. alllhc way to caprice and chance.

Under the name of freedom. it now seems to me that I have

Iricd to ,\iscuss something that would have, in a sense. the structural
I'"~ition of Hegelian death (of metaphysical death, therefore-and
I~ thi~ not always the site and operation of deliverallce?). Yet this
wnuld not be the negative and hence would nO( lend snen~(h to a
di.,k~(ic. One negative is the negation offrecdom. of which frCt'dom
il'dfi~ alone capahle. It is the fury of evil. But cvillikewisc doC's not
txi" ;lS a dialectical moment; it is an ahsolure possibility offrcxdom.)
~lIlllc'hing else: thell. in place of death: purring rhe exi!;[clU illlu
'ltl" wmld. Hirth. which is ,Ioubdess birth to death-nor. however.
in lh(" sense that binh would he "~i)r" death (with this doubtful
1~6 Fragments

value of "for," if it is used to translate Heideggds "ztlm Toal').

but in the altogether different sense in which death is that to which.
or in which. there is birth: once again. exposure to the limit. Not
"freedom or death!" (though I want to erase nothing of the power
or nobility of this cry in our history). but: freedom in plAc~ ofdeath.
Thought. then. does nm have the relation with freedom that
Hegelian spirit has with death. It does not have to "dwell in it fear-
lessly." In the first place, thought is not a dwelling. not a tomb or an
abode. but a nomad spac;;e (and yet it is also a plac;;e to stay. perhaps
even a house .. ). Next, thought cannor he exempt from fright
in the face of the freedom which precedes it, which always surp~
es it, and toward whim it can n~er turn back (thought is therefo~
not a fear "in the face of," as there is no Hegelian "face-to-face-
with the abyss). It cannot but be anxious about freedom to the
point of making a mockery of all thought-or to the poim offree..
ing a laugh whose joy is limitless. In freedom, thought encounters
nm so much an "unthinkable" as the umhinking (and it does not
"cncounter" it: there is no "encounter" here, not even the so-c:allcd
encountering of others' freedom. beuuse this freedom is not exte-
rior to me). The unthinking mher weighs thought and gives it
weight or withdraws its weight. The transcendental materiality or fie..
tuality of freedom is the unthinking other, whim does not even
think thought, but delivers it to itsd

I would have liked. and it would have been necessary, for mis
to have been able to go furthcr-I do not mean only in analysis or
problematization. but ac;;tually to the poim of withdrawing and
puuing under erasure all its discourse into material freedom. I
could have been tempted to make you hear music now, or laughter.
or cannon shots taken here and there in the world. or moans of
famine. shrieks of revoll-or even to present you with a painting. as
we find in Hegel when the young girl prescnts the outstanding
products of' ancicnt art and the divine places that the gods have
lcft.~ Quite dearly, this would be temptation itself. the cunning
abdication of thought into the immediate. into rhe "lived." inlo
the ineffable.", or inm the praxis and art de~ignated as the others of
FmgmmlJ 157

thought. On the contrary. it is a question of refilming praxis [0

thinking. Something from Marx inevitably resonates here with
!o41t11l:lhing from fhidegger. A material thinking of the at:tion of
But it rt'mains equally cenain-and this is an indestructiblt' re-
mainder-that on the limit of thought, thought is exposed to the in-
lb:ision between di~course and gesture, both of which are of
thclllgill. bm thre-.nen at every moment to break out of it. That is,
thc~' Ihn.-aten to he only discourse or only ~lsture. Here again, there
i\\IMring. between "the we.1pons of criticism" and the critique of
. ';ll'lOns," ht!tween the "action of Ihinking" and the "thinking of ac-
IlOilo" Thi~ sharing must he thought orprnniced by deciding each

timc the ullJeciJahle.

()Ilt! could also SOlY; thinking in action is always suspended (and
"in potential." so to speak) hetween these [WO ultimate possibilities:
"lhe words to say it mY'l"ddni' and "the words arc lacking not 18 S4J
if. hut to llo it." Only in and through this primary indecision is there
any d,,'Cision of thinking (since thinking always engages itself where
"\\'ord~ are missing": this is its freedom. for which precisely nodting
is missing, except words).
Note 1. to Chapter 7 (p. 191.) says: "there would be the freedom of
/)'lJfill and the freedom of beings in general. one in the other and
title throu~h the other. n Thi5 is one of the most difficult points.
hl1t doulnless. fInally. one of the most necessary. Heidegger. in the
period of /killg alld J"imt'. means to "tistingui~h the factuality of
/ )tHrill from the factuality ot: li'r example. the "stone" (see 17 of

Rt'ilig lind Tinlt'). It seems to me that this cannot he so simple.

lhnc GlI1nnt he. al least on what we could l:all a first level (but is it
ollly Ihe first? \'\-'hat would this distinction of levels me-.m?), sever-
.11 bl'llialities. 71rl"Tf;/ the factuality of the world. /\f!.ain. what I
in,j'l UI1 calling filaltt"j~}, ami what. lInder thi~ name. gives the
!llll~l rl'iiahlt' (ami most problem;nic) glllliing thread of freedom
fr"tn 1\;ltlt to the freedom U'f have to think (this thread passes
t1"'1I1~h He~c1. Marx. Nietzsche. and Heidegger). iJ the "there is"
'\tlh .111 its ftlrCc uf "rc-.. I prcsel1(;e" (withoUl torgetting an)' of the

problems related to such a "presen~.. -ftr5[ and above all. that

presen~ is in its coming, not in its being-present). Factuality aa
factualiry is also (I would almost say "and first of all," were it not
preferable not to introduce any order here) the fac[Uaiity of the
Slone. the mineraI, a~ well as that of the vegetal. animal. cosmic, and
rational. Presence, impenetrability. th~rt' without "ek-stasy." . -
fonn the material-transcendental condition of a Dtts~in {and with this
1Ulm~ one must rename "man" in the sense (hat (his man is a singular
material presence: a man. and not a stone. bur the one and the
other there. the one beside the other; in this regard. moreover. we see
that we should no longer be able to say in such a context "man" in
the generic sense, but only "man" or "woman").
Will I then say that in this unique (which docs not mean "iden-
tical in all its modalitiesi factuality a unique (and nonidentical) ....
dom must offer ilSdP. Will I say that all thin~ are free? Yes. if Ilmew
how to understand this. Bur at least I know that it would have to be
understood (even while I know that such an "understanding" would
have to be disentangled from the "understanding" of philO$Opbera).
We cannot content ourselves with sharing the world between Ihwi"
and bein~ that are Vorhantkn and Zuhantkn-not only because
these categories do not permit, or permit poorly. malcing space and
allowance for the animal and vegetal. other modes that are also un-
deniably modes of "cx-iSlena:." though in a way that remains ob5curc
to our understanding. But alOio. and abow au' because one must
be able to affirm. for every thing, the withdrawal of the rarm in it
(analyzed above; sec Chapter 9). In the thing without causality
(neither caused nor causing) there is beingness (hantitl) as the p0s-
iting (StolZUng, not S~Uung) of the thing. existence as what makes the
being-thrown. not only in the world (of DtIJ~;n), but ofthe world.
The world is not given. substantial and immobile. in ordn for US to
comc Ih~rt. The Ih~rt of the "there is" is not a receptacle or a place
arranged in order for a coming to produce itself th~rt'. The thnt is
itself the spacing (of space-time) of the coming. because there is
ail (and totality is not the fastening. the complction without re-
mainder; it is the "having there" [y avoir) , the taking place [a~r
lim). the unlimited "coming there" Iy vmir) of the delimited thing;

which alst) means that totality is all, except totalitarian, and it is

olwiouslya qut'Stion here of freedom).
Nur is the world (this is clear in Heidegger) the ,orrdate of an in-
((l1l1onality. (Perhaps it should be said. from the very interior of a
IllI~~erlian logk. that the "transcendence of the world" cannot
work without the fa"ual-material effectivity of a world that no
longer arises flom any "naive thesis"; one must perfOrm a "reduction"
here that would no longer be "eidctic," hurt if we dare say it. "hylct-
i,-'.") In no sense is the world "for me": it is tl" mmtial m-Nlonging
of (.\:-;tun~~ with tlJ~ ccistillg ofail things. Without that existence
would be only ideal. or mystic:al, , , , Hut existence takes pl:K:e on the
surface of things. If we thoroughly investigated this essential co-
belonging (of the essen,c:-Iess). we would find that no thing can
he simply "necessary" and that the world is not "necessary," We
could not isolate on one side the causality of phenomena. and on the
other noumenal frdom (this is what, ~r since Hegd. we have not
stopped debating with Kant ). What would we find men? Let us try.
provisionally. to say: something like a dinlllMn, which would not be
dunce (another necessity). but the free opening of ,he ",here is" in,h is never precisely general, but always on the order
of"cach rime."
Clinamen. or declension. indination of the "there is," ofthe "n
g;1,t," of the offering, Por it to be. it must bend. it must slant-fiom
nuthing toward nothing. Or again, the blink [din], the blinking
uf appearance. of the ,oming of all things. a.~ secret as the "wink of
an eye" (as the instant). hut JUSt as motivated and just as insistent as
it is. Only in this way can there he an opening. a redpro~a1 clearing
uf D.lsnn and of beings in totality, without their becoming indis-
[in~uishahle. but without their being submitted to the exclusive
apparatus of subjectivity and representation. (The thought of rep-
rt'sc:ntation inevitably ,ondemns freedom. since the prescnce "be-
yond" representation is there given as "necessity," and freedom is ,on-
Il'llt In play wilh representations. in order finally ro dissolve into rep-

In this scnse, the Slone is free. Which means that there is in the
\llIne-or rather. liS it-this freedom of heing that being is. in
160 Fragmmts

which freedom as a "fa,t of reason" is what is put at slake according

to co-belonging. (l do not deny. it should be empha~i7..ed. that in aU
of this I am openin~ an enormou.~ question in which one cannot but
find provocation, especially since I posit no result.)
I have uied to say that "we are the freedom of all things- and
perhaps (his expression should not be kept. At least its intention is
in no way subjectivist. It docs not mean that we represent the entire
world in our freedom. but rather that the freedom of being pUb it-
self at stake as the fre:e existence of the world and a~ our ex-istcncc:
10 this freedom-which also means that we are responsible for me
freedom of the world. And this could not be without consequences
for the question of tedmology (and on the at once open and apolU-
ic position of this qUC."ition in Heidcgger). Not that we have to p~
teet nature agail1St teehnical exploitadon (when something of this son
has to be done. it is always oncc again a matter of technology); but
in technology we liberate. and we liberate ourselves to the freedom
of the world. It is no surprise that this can cause anguish and pro-
found ambivalence. But we do not have: free access to what happens
here. as long as we think only of freely exploiting the unfree ~
mainder of beings. This is also what makes us accommodate our-
selves to entering into this class of beings as workers. The
thought of a proletariat. like the thought of ex-istence in which a ~
ciprocalliberation of"naturc" and "history" would be played out.
could find something here to reconsider-mediated. it is true. by
many kind~ of displacements and transformations.
I have absolutely no intention of extrapolating in a confused
way the idea of freedom. How could I do [his withoU[ making USC
of such an "idea"? Whatever the exrreme difficulty and strangeness
of the problem. if the being of beings is the being ofbeinfl. and not
a kind of hidden daimoll telling its secrets [0 Das~in. we cannot
avoid detouring through the freedom of the world in order to come
to our own freedom. This is a necessity of thinking, a political and
ethical exigency.

KAurhemic decision" (Chapter 12): a difficult thought. a limit-

thought, at least for the powers of thi.~ essay. How can we affirm char
FmgmmtJ .6.
,hrrr is an "authrntic" decision. which amounts [0 affirming and an-
IlPlll1c:ing an ethical fi:llIndation without hcing able to present the
tllul"tuinn or nature of this "authenticity"? (Keeping this word
'.Iuthenticity" is already more than ambiguous, since it means that
(lm' is install('cl in an axiology ... ). Furthermore: how am we do it.
JS lung as we rest assured that freedom constrains us to undo or
frllUf,lte the logics of"fi:llIlldation"?
Ami yet. "w(" knnw what evil is" (compare Chapter 13). We know
it all the more since its overwhelming self-evidence has been made
C\'cn nmre widc:ipread by our recent anti present history, Bur what
we Jim know is [hat moral foundations have not only collapsed
unJer this evil. but have lent it a hand. And it is not for nothing mal
the scruem:e "Freedom. how many crimes a~ committed in your
name!." whose author 1 have forgonen. has become a disabused
adage of modern rime5.
The undecidahility in which there is decision is not [he equiva-
lcm:c (If all decisions. It is the impossibility [hat the "decider" of the
d('t:i~ion (at once its criterion am,l agent) precede the decision itself.
which is a very different kind of undidallility. But the decision that
llecides iudf decides for the authentic or nOI. Doubtless, in
Hl.'iJel!Ser. this decision remains in at lea.~t one sense too "heroic"
and linked-why nor say it thus?-to a "system of value5" that up
to il (c([ain point commands and secretly decides tbe very analysis
uf the decision. T"i~ also amounts to saying that "authenticity,"
d('~pite HeiJeggcrs intentions. can only be cut from "inauthentic-
ity." lIf which 3mhcnricity musl be "only a modified grasp."~
l.c[ m leavc the cxaminarion of lhis point in Hc:idcgger for later.
It s(.'cms to me that we can also seck to understand lhat there: is a de-
ri\iull fi:>r freedom which is not the dcdsion for the freedom [0
~Ii'pend fl't'l'dnm. even though in both cases it would be the same
frl'ecloll\ thilt decides itself. hcedum is prisc:ly what is free for
.llld .lgainst itself. It c.mnot be what it is except by remaining, at every
I11Olllmt. freedom of "grace" a"eI of "ftl'}... This chasm is its "foun-
,l.lIlon its absence-of-gruuml. But this is also the chasm through
whirh the freedom that itselfand the freedom that destroys
it,I/-/rare the same and not the same, And perhaps freedom "is"

nothing other than this absolure diffe~nce in ab~olute idenrity.

How can one grant that it is an "authentic decision?"
The decbion that ~ freedom against itself is the decision to sup.
press decision-and consequently to suppress the undecidable that
render5 decision possible and necessary. Or rather, it is the sup-
pression of the existentiality of existence itself (a suppression rhat
takes a thousand forms. besides murder). The dec~ion for nil-
which remains the possibility essentially conjoined and therefore
absolutely proper (0 the decision for good-is a dccision for what
leaves nothing more to be decided. Authentic decision is on the
contrary a decision for a holdi1lgof decision as such, which is its ~
propriation and reconquest in the indecision that is itself maln-
tained as an opening of the possibility of deciding. And this is why
authentic decision dots not know itstJfas such, or as decision for
the good. It cannot present itself to itself as "good." It remains in it-
self different from itself. The decision for evil is what can appear ID
itself as "good," as a decision "taken" or "resolved." but not "hdel-
in the sense indicated above.
One has co determine (mznmnj, that io;, one has to derermine!hat
we will be able and will always have to determine again. even ifk is
only to make this "same" decision every time: because as tkdJint,
and not as already decided, decision is at every moment new. Yet qcj.
ther dcxs this mean that authentic decision, reopening at every
moment in itself the diffcrence of in-decision. never decides ex-
cept to .. let everything happen rtout laiSJtT foirt!. Letting evert"
thing happen is also a way of annulling decision, as much in the 1ib-
eral or anarchist sense that can be given this expression as in the sense
oflctting everything be done in the extreme, which completes the
whole by exterminating it. The authentic decision is precisely against
the possibility of doing "everything," or lerring it be done. But as de-
cision. it chooses not to do "everything." Prescription, obligation. and
responsibility remain fastened to it.
One will say: now it is without content or ethical norms. No
doubt. But did it ever have any of these? Decision i~ the emprr
moment of every ethics. regardless of its contents and foundations.
Decision. or freedom. is the tlhos at the groundless ground of ever'!

ctllks. \'(Ie have to decide on contents and norms. We have to decide

011 I.tws. exceptions. cases. negotiations; but there is neither law
11M e:xn'ption for decision. Its "authenticity" is not on the register of
dIe: Or rather. it is this law withdrawn from every form of law:
dlc cxistentiality of decision, freooom, which is also the decision of
cxi~"'nce and fur cxUtence, rc:ccivcd well before every imperative and
ever\, law.
',(/e therefore do not have to think in terms of new laws (even
though we also have tn make them). and we do not have to invent
a "morality" (with hardly any irony, we can say: don't we ha~ all we
ne~J in matter?). But above all. what is incumbent on us is an Ilb-
wl"u determination, an absolutely originary, archi-originary de-
tcm,in;1I iun of ethic:5 and praxis-not a law or an ultimate value, but
that hy which there can be a relation to law or to value: decision.
If existence is without essence, this is because existence is entire-
ly in its decision. It is entirely in the free decision to receive and hold
itself as decision (a deciding decision. but in the mode of a reeeiv-
ing-iuclf. a letting-itself-be-taken by the decision . ) IlIlJ/or to
tk.'liJe on iudf as such or such essence, Such is the ethos to which we
must come. or which we must allow to come to us. This ~thos
would not correspond to a "progms of moral conscience." bur
would bring to light the archi-originary ethicity without which
thcre would be neither Plato's Good. nor Kant's good will. nor
Spinulistic joy. nor Marxian revolution, nor Aristotle's mOil poJiljkol~.

\Vhy speak of "rc:volution" (for example. in Chapter 7)? In order

capridously to oppose the current discredit of this word? Why nO[~
Ideulogy can always benefit from being shaken. But also: don't we
lJave the responsibility of thinking the decision that opens onto
the very pOS5ibility of deciding? Now which word has carried this
tho\ll:\l1[, in a privileged way. through two centuries? Ami which
\\'lIld could replace it after two centuries? Enough has been said

ahllut how much "revolution" was a tum toward nothing. or even

31l1llhcr tum of the: screw. This is true--but this is also a mOl.:kcry
(If hi\tory. Revolution brings to light common freedom. frel't!ulU's
being-in-common. and the fact that this being. as such. is given
over to decision. We cannot. d~pite everything. think this word dif.
ferenrly. For a long time. the case of reform hat; been heard. and the
morc: reform there is. the less anything changes. Revolt is a prison-
er of the despair that produces it. Revolution doa not at all adu.
sively signify the taking of power by a political faction. It signifies.
or at least it signified: the opening uf decision. the community ex-
posed to itself.
I know that Fascism and Nazism were also revolutions. as were
Leninism and Stalinism. It is therefore a question of revolurionizins
revolutions. I understand all [00 well that this "pirouette" might
not be appreciated. But what should we: say and do if it becomes 110
less true that we must dtdin. despite everything. decide to brak
with the course of things entirely decided? What should be said
and done if the intolerable is always present. and if freedom has
ro make itself more and more skittish. more and more unbridled?
How QJl we think "revolution" without assault divisions or c0m-
missars of thc pcople. and even without a revolutionary 11IfJtk/ (but
on the contrary. as a reopening of the question of the mood it-
self)? After all, the word matters little-but we still have not thor-
oughly thought through all that "revolution" gives to be thought.
Above all. people continue to die of hungcr. wars, drugs. boredom.
A middle class continues to be generalized with its scruples relating
to "technology." masking from ll what is in the process [thn~
ofbccoming class wcufare. b

People die of hunger, drugs. wars, boredom. work. hatred. re-

volts. revolutions. They die or become mutilated in life. soul. and
body. AJiliherations (national. social. moral. eXuai. aesthetic) ~ am-
biguous. and also arise from manipulations-and yet each has its
truth. Freedom Manipulated (by powers. by capital): this could be
the titlc of our half-ccnrury. Thinking freedom should mean: ~
ing freedom from manipulations, including. first of aU. those of
thinking. This requires something on the order of revolution, and
also a revolutiun in thinking.

I kOlocracy is less and less exposed to external criticisms or ag-

gr,~~i(Jns. b~1l more and more preyed l!pon b~ its. internal criti-
li-ms ,111(1 disenchantments. Or rather: forces with makulable ef-
feLtS (nuclear. physical. chemical. genetic) have bn put into op-
eratinn or unleashed, as we would sa)'. All this leads back to the
qllolilln of what "thinking freedom" means today. It means at l~aJI
"err dearly that received ideas abom freedom, in all of their sys-
lematic frameworks (opposition to necessity. or assumption of ne-
cc~sity, as~i~nation to the free subjeu, reciprocal delimitation and re-
speLl. rcpartition of the juridical. of the moral and political. of
puhlic and private. of the individual and collective. and so on). are
themselves either "operative" in thc least liberating practices of this
frightening and disem:hamed world. or constantly rendered "ob_
solete" by it. "I:reedoms" are "/10 pieces of "technology." This is
whr it is derisory to content oneself with reaffirming. in a Kandan a "regulative ic.ica" of freedom. or, in the mode of a "philos-
ophy of values" (whic.:h we know was also able. morr than othen, to
support Na7.ism), an "absolute value" offrecdom ...
We alway~ return to this: thinking freedom requires thinking
nO! an iliea but a singular fact. just as it requires carrying thought to
the limit tlf a fauuality that precedes it.

In this essay. I was forced to repeat several times that &ccdom

[CI!lld not be "a question." This means that itli thinking must be in
srarch of a nonquestioning mode of thinking (hut can we say
"scoud,' here? Would if not he too dose to "question"?). Here is a
prnfonnd and powerful trait of today'5 thinking: the demand for an
atlirmativity (we find it modulated differently from Niet7.sche and
l\cuj.unin to Dele!l7-C and Derrida).
Yet perhaps nC'ither affirmation nor negation may be substituted
1~lr the ~ucstion. It I.:ould he a qU<.'Mion of another disposition. olle 1Ia., no lugical name.

What I wl'OIe herr concerning Hcidc:gga and Na7.ism is nccc:uarily

ill\ufficicllt aftcr a year of commentaries occasioned by the renewoo
166 Fragments

bringing to light of the "affair." Yet J have no intention of adding to

these commentarie~. A few words will suffice: that Heidegger nev.
er SlOpped thinking. in his most inrimare and decided thoughll,
somerhing of "freedom"-by means of the abandonment of its
theme or metaphysical question-and that this itselfcould COI1\-
mand his political gestures. is what gives us something to think
about. On the one hand, Heidegger was the first to take the mcaswt
of the radical insufficiency of our "freedoms" to think and open
existence as freedom. But un the other hand. he still thought of
"the free," up to a cerrain point at least. in the terms and in the
tones of "destiny" and "sovereignty." In the name of this he was
undoubtedly seduced by Hitler and later remained silent on the
subject of the camps.
Destiny and sovereignty-whatever the names or figures they
are given-are the sites where freedom obstinately renounces it-
~1t: even if freedom is what is destinal and sovereign. In this regard.
Heidegger could not mnain the thinker of existence humbly exposed
to the world, which also means, but without fuss: free.

"Being" just begins to clarify itself when we consider that -free-

dom" gives it. or that being is in freedom. We are then no longer
thinking precisely according to a "thinking of Being," since we are
in the process of rocuing this thinking from being "a thinking-t
something" (even if being is not). A thinking freed from being a
thinking of

This essay propo~s a thesi!i on being. in direct line from the one
that Heidcgger deciphers in Kant and from this other thesis, posit-
ed and withdrawn by Heidegger. on being "founded" in freedom.
And what is more, it involves a thesis on theses. a posiling and
affirmation on the positing and affirmation of being. as posited
and affirmed by freedom. as freedom.
To this extent, I run the ril;k of simply and naively reconstituting
a metaphysics. in the sense in which this word designates "the for-
getting of being" and the forgetting of this forgetting. Which means:
the forgetting of the difference between being and beings is from the:

s(;Ut lost from sight by metaphy~i~s-this difference permits no

flldfmgofbeings to be imposed on being, and no sovereignty over
beings to be attributed to being.
Bur this difference is no*-not even tIN- "ontico-ontological dif-
felente." It is itself the very effacing of this difference-an effacing
,h.1I has nothing to do with forgetting. If this difference is not, it in
etfcL( retreats into its own difference. This retreat is the itkntifJ ofhe-
illg tlIlfl ki"gs: existence. Or more precisely: freedom.
freedom: the wiuxlrllfUll1 ofevery positi"g ofking. int'luding it! be-
i"" posited tU diffrringfrom bnllgs. There is therefore no thesis here
011 being except insofar as there is no longer any possible thesis on
being. Irs freedom is in it and more ancient than it. This is its last
thesis-or its first aoing lfo;rr] (j'aCt". foctum have the same root as
tithemi, thnis, and even ttl" and to do, in German and English).
"Doing" can no doubt be interpreted in many ways; I use it here
only to ~how a difference within the thesis itself.
Philosophers have made theses on being; now the question has to
do widl the fact of its freedom.

Where thinking hutts up against what renders it possible, against

what ""rim it think (fiti" penseti.

The "authentic decision" is made in "the beyond of the deci-

sion. "R It does not arise from decisionism. It is much more and
much less than what any theory of decision can represent (I am
thinking of Carl Schmitt in panirular, for whom the dedsion on the
cxc('ption becomes the essence of the political. which is not for-
eign to Hcidegger's politics.) Why? Because the decision does not tear
ihclt away from the "inauthentic" in order (0 break with it; it hap-
pt'ns within it and at its surface. Hddegger comes dose to saying
thi~-and docs nor. This is where. in Heidcgger. one must break
through "the thin wall by which the 'they' is separated, as it were,
frtllll the uncannincss of its Being. "'J The authentic dccision is
Ihm'tore also "short of 1m dtflll the decision." [\m this "shon of"
1\ in 110 way the stupid and dismal acceptance of the quotidian anu
of .111 that is produced there. The "inauthentic" remains an d prior;
168 Fmgmmn

warped category. marked by a loss even if Heidegger refuses to

make a "forfeiture" of it. But this "loss" is the loss of being. ofits im.
manence and coming to rhe world. to pr~ence. freedom. The pl~
of being-thrown-irs place or irs very "throw"-is not first of all the
KThey." but freedom.

The motto "liberty. equality. fraternity" seems to us somewhat

ridicuJou.~ and difficult to introduce into philosophical discourse, be-
cause in France it remains official (:I lie of the State) and because it
is said to summarize an obsolete "Rousseau ism ... But for Heidc:r,r,u.
does nOl "being-there also with others" (z6. Bl'ing and nmt) de-
termine itself according to "an equality I GltichlNi~ of being as be
ing-in-the-world?" Such an equality is unbreachable: it belongs
precisely to freedom.
As for fraternity, which gives one even more to smile about:
should it be suspected of coming from a rdation to murdering the
Father. and therefore of remaining a prisoner as much of the shar-
ing ofhaued a~ of a communion with an idenrical substancelcssence
(in the totemic meal)? This interpretation of the community as
"fraternal" must indeed be carefully dismantled. But it is possible.
even with Freud. to interpret it Olherwisc: as a sharing of a maler-
nal thing which precisely would not be substance. but sharing--m
infinity.'o In this respect, Chapter 7 above has only gone halfway.
Perhaps the "mother" must also be abandoned, if we cannot avoid
her being "phallic" (but is this certain?). We must also think of the
fraternity in abandonment, of abandonment.
.. Fm~"'ity: we /011(' tI~m. UH cannol do anything for rhtm. ac~1
hi'lp thl'm to rl'arh tlJl' rhmhold." Blanchot's fragment ascribes [0
fraternity a love without effect, without affect. without commu-
nion. A strange restraint oflove. yet still named "love." (Regarding
fraternity. Hannah Arendt could be invoked in the ~me sense.)
What. in these conditions. does "help" mean: not a support, nor a
consolation. but the communal exposure of freedom .
Pushed to the end of itli experience. freedom would on Iy result in
death. It could not meet up with itself except in the unleashing of

i1h~olllte. unapproachable principle, where "grace" would be

"tilr,." it~lf: The 'Iermr. sacrifice. sav3l!cry. suicide. By reasoning in
thi~ way. we ha\'e already lost l'iight of the fau of freedom. As if in
dr.tlh this fact became presence, property. self-identity. But the eK-
pcricnce of freedom remains the experience where these deterrni-
nali(,"~ colla,'~e. Freedom is the inappropriable of death. In decid-
in~ on death. we think we are deciding on freedom, either to give it
(suicide. or the Inquisition), or to kill it (murder). But what re-
\,sts. resistaOl;e itsclf-which is properly the community's-is the
frcl'\tom that tbl'dead ,"non (not abstract "death") never ceases to
present. and that breaks loose more than ever from his being-dead.
Ili~ death. whatever its cause, gave him back to an inappropriable
Thus inal'propriable death delivers this frealoJll which gives
hirrh to me. h is in this way that being-in-common takes pla~:
through this fiee space where we come into muntal presence, where
we com-p<'ar. lbe opening (If this space-spacing of time. exposure,
evelll. surprise-is all there is of being. inasmuch as it Mis" free.
I )e.lth docs not belong to this space, tOr it effaces itself in pure
lime as a fi~ure of l'ITacement and as an effacement nf all figures. Yet
common space. while it is at every moment new, also bears the
mark. ;u this moment ineffaceable. of this effacement. We live with
ailihe dead: (his is whal murder denies in vain. The community is
cl1Iirelr exposed to il5c1f-induding the community of the co-be-
longing of the world.
(Lei us not be sU5pected here of an eKalted. mystical vbiion of
universal life. . . It i5 certainly a question oflife. but finite. hum-
11k. h:1l\al. and insignificant. in the sense that life exist~, in effect. at
Ihe limit sense: whell: the experience of freedom begins and

There is no "experience offreedmn": freedom itself is experience .
Fighting "Iilr" frl'Cdol1l. equality, fraternity. and justice does not
~llI1sist merely of making other conditions of exim'nce occur, since
" i~ nOI simply lIll the ortler of a project. but also consisr~ of im-
11l,-di.He!y 'ltfirl1ling. hi,' tt ",me. free. (,qual. fraternal. and just ex-

istence. We ought (0 be able to say as much for writing and think_

ing "abom" freedom.

"To die freely: an illusion (which is impossible to denounce).

For even if we renounce the illusion of believing ourselves to be
free with respect to dying, we return to confusing. in words con-
standy belated, what we call the gratuitousness. the frivolity~ts light
will-o'-the-wisp Aame-the inexorable lightness of dying. with the
insubordination of what every seizure lacks. Whence the thought:
to die freely. not according to our freedom, but from passivity and
abandonment (an extremely passive attention), according to tilt
freedom to die. "II

"Here is an appendix which develops. a spirit without canals or

compartmenu. a freedom perhaps ready to be seized. perhaps also
to annihilate other freedoms. either to kill them or better to embrace

"Freedom is an t'thicalprinciple of e/mrrmiccssence."I'

There is this surprising freedom in which freedom leaves us, rel-

ative (0 it, free to let it offer itself. while it has nothing to make it-
self recognizable. This is all there is.

This freedom which asks us, proposes to us. requires us to be

free to the point that we remain free with respect to it, to the poine
that we free ourselves from freedom.

Given the direction that certain commentaries are presently tak-

ing. what I will have tried to say here about a freedom which lays
claim to republican and democratic monoes, bm which disengages
itself from "democratic freedoms." will be charged with Jacobiniint.
even terrorism. if not outright Fascism (or. in another version. ni-
hilism). (Recenriy, this rype of accusation has been eagerly Rung
at every effort of thought that a reference to Heidcgger in particU-
lar is reputed to expose.) Yet.
Frttgmmts 171

.. ir should be known that in the move from a thinking. let us say

of hcin~. of es-<;ence, or of principles--it matters little here-to a pol-
itics and an ethics. the consequence is never good (why do we sys-
tl:ll1;uically forget the massive and enduring adherence of so many
dll:(lri~t~ of the "philmophy of values" to the Nazi rcgime?);
2. this consequence is not good because in drawing it we pass
wilhom passage from the regime of the interrogation of the "prin-
(iplc" a!i such. of its nature and "principiality" even. to the regime in
which we fix these principles. Thus we remove frttdom from the one
and the other. for what is in play from the one to the other is pre-
ci~c1y the indetermination. the undt:dudbility of putting freedom at
stake and into operation. Or further: the "principle" of freedom-
let's say. as foundation or as the sharing ofbeing-predsely "founds"
rhe exercise of an incalculable freedom.
That Heidegger should have lx-cn a Nazi was an error and a mis-
t.lke:. '111at he could have been one is what bdongs to the archi-
ethical principle of freedom. (Finally. in being a Nazi. in the very par-
rklilar way we are beginning to be able to distinguish. that he could
aIm have willed himself "to conspire with the liberation of the pos-
sihlc," according to Grand's expression. 11 is what requires an eval-
u.Hion. undoubtedly infinitely delicate. which belongs to our tasks
of thinking.)

']0 depend on nothing-to give one.~e1f onc's own law-ro be

the opening of a beginning: in our discourse we cannot escape this
triple dctermination (Jffrecdom. ill which everything is held (and
holds for hoth a ll't' and an I). It is thus solely a question of making
the following uanscription: having no foundation-accordingly.
ha\'ing "one's own" law always this side of or ~yond "oncsclf"-be-
ing ;t~ removed from oneself as an opening is. and grasping no
Olore of oneself than em a beginning. Everything comes back to this.
and the transcription appeal'li simple enough. In reality. however. hc-
l'.IU\{' transcription is impossible in our discourse. it remains equal-

ly impossible in the very de~cription I have recorded here!

Ir~l1s(fiption has its freedom this side of or beyond itself (and can-
nOt be verbal transcription only. or a changing of names or ~yn-
171 Fragments

taxes. or even a "pure and simple" "act" outside of discoune}. It is

what is most difficult for thinking: at its limit. putting its limit at
stake. Transcription is no doubt unachievable.

However. this docs not mean that freedom would be. in Hegelian
fashion. the infinite ;u the absolute in its negativity. Ba:ause freedom
is the infinitenes..c; ofthe finite mfinite. and is thus itself finite. which
means at the same time singular and without es.~ence in itself, it
consists in neither having nor being an essence. Freedom consi5ts in
not consisting. without any contradiction. This "without COntra-
diction" makes the foct and secures the prrsnrt'e of freedom-thi5
presence which is the presence of a coming into presence. N~
infinite. ne'Yl!r dialectical negativity. more buried than affirmation and
negation. freedom is never this "freedom of the void" which Hegel
designates as belonging to "fanaticism" and to "the fury of destruc-
tion."I~ Neither "full" nor "empty." freedom comes. it is what of pres-
ence comes (0 pre5ence. In this way it is. or is the bnng ofbnng. '6

Thinking. undoubtedly. is for us what is most free. But freedom

is this fact which less than any other can be reduced to thinking.
Reference Matter

I. Set p. 96 of thi5 book.
1. John Stuart Mill, 0" Li""ty. Elizabeth Rapapon. ed. and imro.
(Indianapolis: Hacken, 1978). p. I .
.1. Sec John Locke, An EJs4y Co"rm,ing H""",,, V_nM"'i,,g, Peter
II. Niddirch. ed. and intra. (Oxford: Clarendun Press, r97S). p. 244:
"The pmprr question is nOI, whether Ihe Will be fret. bUI whether a
Man he free .... We call 'Circe: Idl how to imagine any /king freer,
than to be able to do what he wins. So Ihat in respect of Actions, with
,he: ce:;Kh of such a power in him. a Man seems as free, as 'tis possible
for Fretdom to make him."
4 Set Thomas Hobbes. L~vitlllJn". C. 8. Macpherson. ed. (Har-
mond5worrh. Eng.: Penguin. 1968). p. 117.
~. Sec Immanuel Kant. Criliqllt of Pu,., R~(lso". Norman Ke:mp
Smilh. (rans. (New York: SI. Martin's. 1965), pp. 49-11.
6. Sec Renl! Descanes. Mn/it(ltions on Firrt Philosophy. Donald A.
Crl"!>~. trans. (lndiallapolis: Hackett, 1979). p. 17. On this momentous
.ltCIllCIlI, sec lhe: meticulous prescntarion of Jean-lue Nancy. Ego
""lIll'aris: Flammarion. 1979).
- See David Hume. A T,~tlt;s~ of /f1ll1ll11l M,tllrr, l.. A. Sdh)-8i~.
l'll.. I'. H. Nidditeh. rev. cd. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1978). PI"
IH-72: Rook I, 14.
R. This abo capturC5 ,he: analysis of modalif}' th.\[ KaRl UlldenakC's in
rhe 5cuiun of the: Criliql" 0/ Purr Rmson emide:J "The Principles of
F mpiri(al Thought: but insof.1r a!i the C,iliqllr iudf sers out to expose

the "conditions of possibility" of rhe unity of experience. it also alloWs
for-if it does not already pre!icnt-an experience of possibility. and it
is this allowance that, according to Nancy. marks the decisive dJaracter
of Kant's "revolution in the mode of thinking": "The becoming-world
of world means that 'world' is no longer an ohject. nor an idea. but the
place existence is given to and exposed to. This ficsr happened in phi-
losophy. and to philosophy. with the Kantian revolution and the 'con-
dition of possible experiencc': world as possibly of (or for) an existent
being. possibili,y as world for ~uch a being, Or: Being no longer to be:
thought of as an eS!iCnce. but to be given. offered to a world as its own
possibility" (Nancy. Introduction. WIlo Comts Afur lilt Sub}",.
Eduardo Cadava, Peter Conner, Jean-Luc Nancy. eds. [Routledge:
london, 1991). p. I).
9. David Hume, All E"'!,,iry COllctrt/ing !lummI Untkrstanding, Eric
Steinberg, cd. (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1977). p. 64; cf. A Trutiu of
Human Nail'", pp. '99-418. Hume's attempr to show the comparabili-
ty of liberry-or. more precisely. the "lihcrty of sponraneity~-with
thoroughgoing determinacy has sct the terms in which numerous
analyses of freedom havc been em; see the excellent discussion of dUa
is!oue in Barry Stroud, Humt (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. 1977),
PP14 1-54
10. Civilliherties were nor. for Hume, an overriding concem, and he
certainly did nor conceive of their defense on the basis of "reason- as a
legitimate philosophical exercise; in fact. his historical studies set out to
demonstrate the need for me continuity of authority and to extol the
power of precedent. On ,he sense of Hume's uconservativism," whkh.
unlike modern conser".ativism, does 1101 result from rejection of the
Frcnch Revolution (although perhaps it took impetus from a revulsion
for Rousscau), see the remarks of Donald W Livingston. HMmc~
Philosophy ofCOlli mOil Lift (Chicago: University of Chicago Press). pp.
II. Hume. A Trmtilt ofHum"" Natrtrr, p. 7.
12..lhid., p. 10.
IJ. Ibid.
14. See. in particular. llume's renunciation of his earlier usolution-
to the problem of perwnal identity in the appendix to A TrttltiJ~ 4
Hum,,,, N,II"rr. "'n short rhere arc two principles. which I cannot ren-
der con~isrC'nr; nor is it in my power to renounce either of them, va.
Ihat 1111 ol/r diJtinct p..,.(tptiO/IS art distinct exist(ll(N, and that tIN mi,,4
NOln to PdgrS xi-.'Ct 177

II'" '1''' "f"ff;'~S ttI~)' 1-r,,1 (ORllt'Xion "mong ,Iislina txistflJI-rL Did Oll r per-
(rpliuns C'ilhcr inhere in sornelhing ~implc and individual. or did the
Olin.1 perceive some real !;onnaion among them. there wou'd be no
tiillit'ulry in Ihe case. I:or my f',m. J mu~t plead the privilege of a ~ep
II~ 1Od confns. Ihal this difficulty i~ too hard tor my understanding"
lA rrfl1tisf of Hl/III.III NfI,,"r. p. 6J6). On this inconsistency and in
rchlliun III rhe pmhlem of personal identity. ~ee the well-known discus-
,ill II h,. Norman Kemp Smith. 77/, Pbi/osopl" of D""irllIulllr (I.on-
0011: I\.facmillan. 1941). pp. 556-58.
I~. The most celebrated account of the alternative between "nega-
rivc" anti "llOsitive" freedom can be found in haiah Berlin's "Two
Cnnccpts of Liheny." Fo",. Essa.ys 0" l.iiJr,." (Oxford: Oxford Universi-
ty Press. 1969). PI" 118-71. A more nuanced vt'~ion of this alternative
is PUrlilied with surprisingly similar r~1I1r5 by Richard E. Flathman.
71" Ph,l"sopby dlUl Ptllit;n of F"m"'m :hicago: University of Chicago
Prcss. 1987).
16. Ilume. A Trral;st ofH"mlln Nlmm. p. 164.
17. Ihill . p. 165. In an earlier chaptcr. Humt' had tried to distinguish
imagination from mt'nlo[), and had further di5ringuis~d two sensa of
imagination (5ee pp. 117-18,,). h... t"ach of Ihese rurn out to be "found-
ed" on an originary if nevertheless heterogeneous imagination from
whidl Ihe othe~ derive. The most exten\ive survey of Hume on the
im ...~inalinn is thai of Jan Wilbanks. H,,,,,es 1"'ttlI] ojl",Agi""titm (The
H~gue: Nijh()fT. 1968): the n:lation of Hume's faculty of imagination to
DC5cartcs's corpon:al imagination and the medical theories it spawned is
Ji"uSo\cd by John 1'. Wright. TIl( S"rptiral R,trlism of D""iJ Hume
(klilllll:aJlUlis; University of Minnrsma Press. 1933), pp. t87-146. The
dio;colIl'K of lh." imagination in rightccnth-cmtury Brilain wa.~ extraord..
naril) widespr(";'I,1. Along with Hume, Ihe discussion was pu~ued by
,\it-x:lnlirr Gerard. Ahraham Tucker. Adam Smith. F.dmund Burke.
Adam h~r~tI~n. and Dugald SleW'Jrt. to name only a few (and to leave
(lUI the docto~ mtirdy). It has been a Irdditional topos-or perhaps ide:-
ClI(J~y-of scholarship [0 see in Ihe di~couJ5e of the imagination the
"';,rcshat!owins" of English Romanticism. especially 5ince Coleridge's
prL'~clllation of Ihe imagination has hccn 50 often viewed as irs credo.
IR. Sec p. 10. Cf. the explication of [he word "experience" in
I'l,ilippc l.acoue-Iabanhe. L" I'ols;t fOmlllt f."(plritllt'f (Paris: Bourgois.
I')~(,l. lIP. 30-JI. The German word Elfah"" ("to experience") derivcs.
ot" lourse. from FlIlJrtn (WIO travel") and is relaled 111 C,"fjaIJr ("dangcr").
NOln 10 PlIgtJ xxi-xxii

19. Hume. A TmtlUf ofHUmAn Naturt. p. 264-

20. The most importam of Nancy's writings in this context is ~
inopt1'lllivt Community. Peter Connor. ed. P. Connor. L. Garbus. M.
Holland, and S. Sawhney. trans. (Minneapolis: University of
Minnesota Press. 1991). A complete bibliography of Nancy's writings
can be found in a volume of PIlTlltp"llph devoted to Nancy's thought
and edited by Peggy Kamuf; sec Pilratp"aph (June 199}).
11. Those whom Hume awoke include. at least on the continent.~
not only Kant but at least two other no le$.~ significant sleepel'!l: Johann
Georg Hamann and Edmund Husserl. When Hamann went to En-
gland in 1757. he encountered "the Attic philosopher." David Hume,
who, as he explained to Kant in a lengthy letter, has fastened onto
"belier' or "faith" (GlAulHn) and is, to this extem. "a Saul among
prophets"; see Hamann's leHer of July 27. 1759. in ~m. PhilosophiuJ
Comspo,uknu. Arnulf Zweig. trans. (Chicago: University of ChiaJBO
Pr~s. 1967), pp. 41-42. Hamann did not. of course. find "faith" in
Hume. but he also experienced morc than simply "frustration humi.
cnnc" (Nancy's term, L 'Dub!,. tk Itt philoJophit [Paris: Galilee, 1986]. p.
47); as the rcference to Saul indicates. he discovercd in Hume an
unlikely speaker. one in whom the classical forms of argumentation
gave way to overjoyed nitpicking and argumentative exuberance. For
Hamann's friend and student F. H. Jacobi. Hume's diS(;ouoe on bdid'
marks a gulf that neither uaditioaul metaphysiu nor its Kantian trans-
formation could ever hope to overcome; only a "leap of faith" does so.
Sec F. II. Jacobi. David Humt ;ibtr ibn Glilubm. otkr Itkalimtus . -
Rtalirmus, rin GfSpriJch (Breslau: Lowe, 1785). Although in a completdy
different sense. Edmund Husserl also conceived of a Hume who AIt-
passed Kant in the depth and direction of his questioning. Hume was,
according [0 Husserl. a decisive if nevertheless misguided predecessor
in phenomenological rescarch; sec. in particular, the late: reAectioRS on
the alienation from the "life-world" contained in Husserl. Th~ emu of
Eurol"an Sc;mcts. David Carr. trans. and intro. (Evanston, III.: North-
western Univeoity Pr~. 1970). cspecially pp. 88-97: "the worid-cniS-
ma in the dcepest and most ultimate S("nS(" (not the sense Kant under-
stood). the enigma of a world whose being is being through subjective
accomplishment [Ltimmgl, and this with the self-evidem:e that another
world cannot be at all com:eivable-thal. and nothing else. is Hltmel
probkm" (pp. 96-97).
22. Precisely what substancc Hume understood a community to
No/~s 10 Pa~ xxiii 179

,h.m: in. or to partake of. is lhe key qurslion for any inquiry into his
1'"litical philosophy. his conception of historical continuity. amI his
Iwillies. To lhe extent that he thought it was nature and not reason. he
opposed atrempts to establish communiry on radically new, "rational"
f"undations. No doubt his hizarre encnunler with Rousseau. who
;iccuse'd him ofleadin~ a worldwide conspiracy, also contributed to his
conr.;eption of the political community. FOI an interpretation of this
em;ounrc:r, see Jerome Christensen. Prlleticill: Ellli:l,tmmmt (Madison:
Universiry of Wisconsin Press. 1987), pp. 14l-7J.
See p. 87. Nancy doa not in this context refer to Walter Ben-
j.lmins philosophical writings, but they often impose themsdves on his
anaIYSC'5. In an carly text that shows the confluence of Hermann Cohen
and Edmund Husserl, entitled "On the Program for the Coming
Philosophy." Benjamin. like Nancy. frees experience from everything
"lived." from every subjectivism as well as every objectivism. The expe-
rience in whose: presence philosophy will come is purely transcenden-
tal; it is "an experience of experience." and this experience could very
well turn out to be that of pure languagc:. Sec Walter Benjamin, "O~r
da~ Programm der kommenden Philosophic: Gn(l"''''tll~ Seh,ijitll.
Rolf Tiedemann and Hermann Schwcppc:nhauser. eds. (Frankfurt am
Main: Suhrkamp. 1980). 11.1. pp. 157-71; "Program for the Coming
l'hilosophy," Mark Ritter. nans Th~ Philosop/,ieal R",;~w IS (Fall-
Winter. 198)-8-4): pp. 41-SI. Benjamin lurns from this program for
philosophy to come. which is anything but a proposal for the n:newal
of philosophy, rowud an exposition of the characteristically modern
ushockexperience" in which experience (Erfohrun~ breaks up into
"lived experience~" (ErMmiss~; sec. in ra"icular. rhe third and fourth
~~tioIlS of "On Some Motifs in Baudelaire" in IIIIImillatitJPIl. cd. and
intro. Hannah Arendt, Harry lohn. rrans. (New York: Schocken.
1968), pp. 160-6S. 8audelaire's itf f1n1TS till mal registers "an emanci-
p.ltiun from experience (Erfohn",tY' (p. 161). and this emancipation
~ives rise to a poetr) of E,/~b"isu, which. precisely because it has
d~lmycd whar pa5.~es for the unity of Erfollrun,. may COIUlitute rhe
"(")(perience of experience" of which "The Program for the Coming
I'hilo~phy" speaks.
24. Ma"in Heidcsger, &i" u"J ait (Tiibingen: Niemeyer, 1979). p.
,p, Iftill: Illld Timt, John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson. nans.
(Nc-w York: Harper & Row. 1962.). p. 67. Sc:c: p. 9 of this book.
2S. A spectacular example of the explication of essence as po,,,,,i_
180 NO/~s 10 Pag~s xxiv-xxv

and one that no doubt marks the beginning of spcl:ulative meta_

physics---can be found in Lcibniz's rMponse to Spinou: "The power of
God is his essence itself. because it follows from his essence that he is
the cause of himself and of the other things" (Leibniz. PhiIOHJphk.,
PII~n lind Lrttm. Leroy E. Loemker. ed. and trans. (B05ton: Reidel,
t969]. p. 204)
2.6. One of Nancy's more programmalil: writings, L'Dub'; tk Ia
phiJosophi~. is devoted [0 the "position of the "sense" that is "us." See
especially the chapter entided "Le sens. c'est nous" (I. 'Oub'; tk Ia
phiJosophi~ (Paris: Galilee. 1986). pp. RS-4J9). But this UllJ cannot be
I:onfused with the Sinn toward which phenomenology is oriented; the
latter is. in Nancy's terrru. "signification" and arises from a desin: (or
exercise of the will, or act of labor. or intention) to cancel the distance
from oursc:lves that "sense" imposes on us. Nancy's StnJ should not,
then. be understood ali the equivalent of Husserl's Sinn. but it never-
theless remains a question whether the term SIns invites such equivoca-
27. See Martin Heidegger. Klint tlnJ thl Probltm of MtlllpbJlia,
Richard Taft. trans. (Bloomington: Indiana University Press. 1990). In
-La voix libn: de I'homme" Nancy proposes a reading of freedom in
Hcidegger's Kant-book and in his subsequent dispuration with Ernst
Cassirer ovcr the legacy of Nco-Kamianism; see L 'lmpbllljf catlgtJru,.
Waris: Flammarion. (98). pp. I1~-J7. Nancy hali wrinen of the tran-
scendental imagination and its -arl~ of schematism in many other con-
texts. See. in particular, Lt D;1{'ourj J,la sJn(opI (Paris: Aubie-
f1ammarion. 1976). pp. 106--9; "La verite imperative" in L '/mpbllli/
mttgoriqut. especially pp. 106-8; "L'Otfrande suhlime" in Du Subliwu.
Jean-Fran~ois Courtine et al . eds. (Paris: Belin. 1988). pp .0-..6.
Reading Kant's chapter on transcendental schematism is. for Nancy.
thinking thc crisis it inscribes: "In the crisis. and by it. philosophy is
therefore judgcd: it leads it (0 discern itself: (In this sense. there: is a
repetition of something of Kantian (riliq''': schematism does not asle
to be elucidated; it asks to be brought to light as the limit of the
thought of signification. which it reprcscnts)" (Nancy. L 'Oub/i J~ IA
phiJosoph;~, p. 79).
1.8. See Nancy. Lt Parltlg~ J~5 voix (paris: Galilee. 1981); "Shanns
Voil:es." Gayle L. OrmiSIOIl. trans .. Trllnsforming lhe H~rmtntUlic
Conttxt. G. L. Ormiston and A. D. S,hrift. cds. (Albany: State
Univer'!iiry of New York PreiS. 1990). PI" 11l-~9.
Noln 10 PagtJ xxv-xxi.r:

!CJ. The prolegomenon for the discu55ion of the Ufact of rrasan" in

fbf Exl'"im.(' til F,"tioM. which destribes iudf as "prolegomena" for
future thought of freedom (Rt: p. 106). is Nanty's L 1mpblllif ~atl
,I:()Tiqll(,: see. in particular. pp. 10-11. N,ml:Y's cx~~osition of "the fact of
IC.Hon" be-.m striking CO""llsl to that of Theodor Adorno. who. during
.111 amllysis of the Marquis de Sade's moral Ihcorirs. presents il as a
l1\('re natuul psychological facI" (Max Ilorkheimer and Theodor
Adorno. Diakrtir tll/:,,,lixbrtnmtnt. Juhn Cumming. trans. (New York:
Continuum. 19711. p. 94: d. Adorno's more extensive analysis in "Free-
dum: On the Metacritique of )lractkal Reason." N'lativt Di"kctiN.
E. 8. Ashton. trans. (New York: Seabury Press. 19731. pp. 111-99). A
diKu~sion of rhe relalion of Nancy to Adorno. which is undoubledly
warranted in lhi~ context. would have to consider Jacques Lacan's
"Kam avCt Sade (Errils [Paris: Editions du Scuil. 19661. pp. 76S-9o)
alung Wilh Nancy and l.acoue-Labarthcs early text on Lacan. Le Tit"
dr 1ft It'IIrr (Paris: Galilk. 1972.).
,0. Sec Kant's admission of uncertainty and of the veritative rone"
in which this admission rakes place in "On a Newly Arisen Superior
Tnne in [Jhilosophy; sec Rllisi"g tht TOllt 0/ Philo1(Jphy: L.Iltt &"" by
K,I1I1. Trn"sfo,matiw C,iliq/lt by Drrrida, P. Fenves, ed. (Baltimore:
Juhn~ I fu~)kin5 Univc~ity I'res. 199). especially pp. 71. 9j.
, .. Sec Kant. FnrllltiatiollJ of tht Mttaph.:YS;~J of Mo,.,,1s. Lewis White
Reck. tran~. and intro. (Indianapolis: Bohh,,Merrill, 1959), pp. t}-oM
3!. For a particularly signific:alll deployment of this oftenfound
phra.\C in Kant's writings. sec Immanuel Kant. Tilt Domi"t ./Virtut.
Mary J. Gregor. lrans. (Philadelphia: Uni\'enity of Pennsylvania Press.
196.. ). p. 1711.
n. Sec: N.mcy. L 1mplrtfti/t'lJtIKD,.iqut, pp. 10-11.
3.', Sc:c:. for example. Kant's remarks on the: e:xecutiun uf Louis XVI
in M('fttl"~"liral Elm/mit oJJUJtict. John l.add. lrans. and intro. (Indi-
,mapllli~: 8CJhh~-Ml'rrill. 19(5), pp. 87-881l; tf. Peter r:envc~. A PmJia,.
I,l/r(lthaca. N.Y.: Cornell University Press. 1991). pp. 2.72.-7S.
"\~. Sec I" 134
,6. Sec p. 89. Nancy in Ihis passage rl'fcrs to a phrase Jacques
11~'rri,la 111:I'Ioys in Ihe ~onclusion of his analysis of Ihe writings of
I' nlanuel Levinas: "Col1l.:erning death which i~ Ilideed its Ithe other's]
itrnhll:iblc: resource. I.evinas spraks of an 'empiricism which is in no
".1,. a posith'i~m'" (Derrida. W'rir;/Ig and Diffi,tnU, Alan 815.. nans.
:hicago: University of Chicago Prcss, 19781. p. IP: Ibinas, Difficult
NOln 10 PllgtJ xxix-4

Frudom. St'an Hand. trans. [Bahimort': Johns Hopkins Universiry

Press. 19901. p. 188). This citation. like so many others found in Tilt
Expmmct ofFrmJom. implies a multiplicity of conneclions. At stake in
Nancy's exposition of freedom is the issue of ~violcnce and meta-
physics." and this issue is gready sharpened by the ~ries of questions
Derrida poses after he cites Levinas', remarks on Rosenzweig: "But can
one speak of an a/'"itnu of rhc other or of difl"cf('flct'? Has not the
concept of expt'rit'nce always been dt'termined by the metaphysics of
pre~nce? Is not experience always an encountering of an irreducible
presence. the perception of a phenomcnality?" (p. 12.6). 1M Exp~
of Fr~dom. which could also perhaps be called "the experience of the
other" or "the experience of difference." takes up these questions not
precisely to answer them as to show how "experience" has already done
50. And this is not only what Derrida proceeds to d~"nothing can SO
profoundly solidI the Greek logos" (p. 126)-bu( also. as Dcrrida noteS,
what Schelling had set out to do in his Exposition 0/ PMlosoph;u/
Empiridmr. and finally what characteriZt'~ the mmt important tt'XtS of
Emanuel Uvinas as wdl as those of Franz Rosenzweig.
J7. Nancy docs not use the word -classical" lightly or loosely; ill
shifting meanings arc explored in Jean-Luc Nancy and Philippe
Lacouc-Labarrhe. Tht Liura" Absolute. P. Barnard and C. Lester. traDl.
(Albany: State University of New York Press. 1988).
)8. See p. I H.

1. Encyclopedia. 48z. in Htgel's Philosop"y of Milltl. A. V. Miller.
trans. (Oxford: Clarendon l'ren. (971). p. 139. From Hcgel to us, me
vanity. ambiguity, and inconsistcncy of an idea of frc:cdom incapabk of 0b-
taining foundation and rigor for itself. have: been, in discoWSC5 that a~ just
as moralizing as emanciparory. as reactionary as progressive. topoi as
abundant as thc IOPfJS of irrepressible freedom itsdf. Balaille has expressed
this in another way: "The term frdom, which supposes a puerile or or-
atorical enthusiasm. is from rht' ourset fallacious. and there would be:
cvt'n less of a misunderstanding in speaking of all that provokes fear."
Georges Bataille. Onlvres rompJltts. vol. l (Paris: Le Seuil, 1970). p. 13 1
z. Karl Marx. 011 the J~wish Q,lrSt;on. in Enrly Writings, T B.
Bouomore. tram. (New York: McGraw-Hili, 1964).
3. Thcodor Adorno, Nrgntiv~ DiakctiCl, E. B. Ashton. trans. (NeW
York: Continuum. 1987), pp. 114-15.
Not~s to Pag~ $-IJ 18)

4. J{~nc! Dacan". Fourth MwJitat;orr, '-h.ogel. !:.;''Y'/opmia 478. 4RI

Itramlatcd in H~/i PlJilosophy ofMilli/). PP' 2)7-391. We add the fol-
lilwing qualification: nothing of this s,heme is fundamentally PUt in
'IUcs[ion when the subject of rcprc~ntation i~ situated in God and when.
'ell man, freedom becom~s more problematic (as is the case, in different
.Iy~, fOr Leibniz or Spinou). h is no kss tmc that the thought of freedom
;l~ the n~,eS5ity of subnance or of essence (from SpinOla [0 Ni~[zsche
hr way of German IdeiJli,m) combines the subject's "sclf-ap~ringM with
a mod~ of bringing the subject. at the: limit. to an exposure in which it no
1(1l1g~r appears to itself: This is what Ileidcgger will have tried to gr3lip in
S~hclling (we will rerum to [his).
5. lJotos thi~ J1Y3n thinking? -In fact one cannot think for someone cI.'C.
illlr more than one can eat or drink for him. . n G. W. F. Hcgd.

l:i/fYC"'pd;a, Z.3 [nanslatc:d in Tilt Encyc!opdia ltJgc. T. f. Geracrs et aI

trans. (Indianapolis: Hackett. 1991). p. HJ.
6. G. W. F. H~d, LtllrtS Oil tilt HiJtory ofPhilosophy. E. S. Haldane
and Frances S. SimMJn, trans. (New Jersey: Humanitin Press. 1983), vol.
, p. 150 [trans. modified).
7. Cf. Jacques Derrida. &im"nti HIISJrr!j Orit;n ofGMmm'J, John
1'. I.eavey. Jr. trans. (Uncoln: University uf Nebraska Press. 1989). c."p. pp.
R. G. W. F. Hq;c:I, Ellcycl0!'tJitl. $'7 [translared in TIN Encydopttiitl
Logit'. p. 41).


I. We: arc: nor saying "political" here. F.irhc:r whar is unde:rstc.KMI hy

"political freedoms" more or less coven the: series of epithets we have
u~C'd. or we would have: to consider in the political 3li such the spc:cific
plltting ar ~rake of Ihe [ranscc:ndence of C:lCisrence. It is uncertain whether
nne could do this today. We must still relhink th~ political as such. or
think differently what Hc:gd assigns ro the political as the exiuent cfTec-
tivity "Ill' all the dctcrminatinns of freedom" (EIIC}t'Iopttiia. ,,86. in
lIq,rl's 1'IJ;!olOp/~., ofMilld, A. V. Miller, trJns. [Oxford: Clarendun I'ress.
19711). Later, we: will consider the: modd of a frtt politkal space. without
king ahle: ro keep it as constituting by iudf ,hc: prop~r space of frce
dllm. At rhe VC'ry least, W~ will be: able to find a politi,"" "analogon" of' wha[
AI;'! in Radiou sks in the following interrogalion on rhe suh;('cr of free-
dom: "What is a radKdl politics. one whkh goes to the root. whkh ehal-
ICI\t!~s lhe administr.uinn of the necessary. which reAcels on clllh. which
Notes to Pagn 14-19

maincains and practices jutice and equality. and which all the while as-
sumes the climate of peace. and is not like the em pry anticipation of a cat-
aclysm? What is a radicalism which is at the same time an infinite task?-
Alain Badiou. Ptul-rm pmsn-ltl polieique? (Paris: Le Scuil. 1985). p. 106. To
which we would add: what ~ a common freedom which presents itself ..
such without absorbing into its presence the frcc event? cr. Jcan-Luc
Nancy... Lll Juridiction du monarqut hlgllitn." in Rtjoutr It politiflw
(Paris: Galilee. 1981).
2. "The concept of freedom. insofar as irs reality is proved by an apo-
dictic law of practical reason. is the IttyslOnt of the whole architecture of
the system of pure reason." Immanuel Kant. Critique ofPradical ReIlStl1l,
Lc:w~ White Beck. trans. (New York: Macmillan. 1985). p. J. Wasn't this
proposition an axiom for all of philosophy up until Man: and includins
NietzsdJe? Ifit lost tlW position, ,his Wali not due to a loss of a taSte for
freedom. but rather to the dosure of an epoch of history and of tho.!,
a closure for which the i<mtian "kc:ysrone" provides a model (even though
the Kantian thought of the foetof freedom also constitutes the opening of
what we have ro think concerning this topic) .
.J. In Traditumis "aditio (Paris: Gallimard. 1972.), p. 17S.
4. "In the concentration camps. it was no longer the individual who
died. but a specimen." Theodor Adorno. Negaliw Diakctics. E. B. Ashton.
trans. (New York: Continuum. 1987), p. 361 !trans. modified). That is. the
specimen of a typt (in this context. "raclan. of an Idea. of a figure of:an
essence (in this context, the Jew or the gypsy as the essence of a non-
essence or of a human 5uh-es.o;cnce). Cf. on this subject the analyses of
Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe in the "Heidegger" section of his L 1mitation Ms
modtrnt! (Paris: Galilee. 1986). On [he quc:stion of evil. cf. Chap. n.
5. "I generate time iudf in the apprehension of the intuition" (CriIUfw
ofPllrt Rtttsoll, N. K. Smith. trans. (New York: St. Martin', Press, 196sl.
Transcendental Schemat~m. p. 184). and this apprehension is the -syn-
thesis of the manifold -i.e.. the constitution of phenomena-"which sen-

sibility provides in its originary receptivity" by "joining with spontaneity

(Transcendental Oedllcrion). This originary synthesis is nothing other
(han ,he principia) structure of finite transcendence (cf. Marrin Heidegger.
Kant a"d tilt Probkm OIMtl4physiC"S. Richard Taft. trans. [Bloomington:
Indiana University !'ress. 1990). 16). But. in these conditions, the
schematism should be: elucidated no longer according to the guidc:linC5 of
a production of B;U-a.~ Heidcgger does. at least up to a certain point-
but on the conrraty (even though this is not a contrary ... ) a.~ the jrfflIDm
NO/~J to Pttgn 19-29

II~df of 1/" wilMrarm/fmm every figure (cf. ibid . '4). lbis would be rhe
Ill-jl,,"! IIf another work.
t1. Martin HridC'gger. (;tStlmlll'lSgnb, (Frankfurr-am-Main: KJoster-
nl;llll1, 198 2). \'01. jl. p. 134.

Ch,tpt~r J

I. -l1lc im'crtC'd Sfrllctllre of the Deduction of rhe Second enti,1 in

,d.lIion 10 that of [he First Cririqllt is indicatcd by KOlnt. enti,", Df
['nldiedl Rmson. I~wis Whire Beck. trans. (N~ York: Macmillan. 1985).
Hook I. chap. I. I. p. 17.
1, "The." COlnnn of Pure Reason." I and II, ImmOlnuel Kant. Cntu,wof
{'IIP'r RmftJII. Norman Kemp Smith. lIans. (New York: St. Ma"in's Press,
19(,S). p. 637.
J. Immanurl K.1nt. C,'ili'l'" ofJlltI~lIt. J. H. Bernard. trans. (New
York: Hafner I're:n. 19SI). 91. p. Jl0.
4. Martin He:id~er. GNdmt"us~fI"t. VII\. .tI. p. 300. (We take: E.
Manineau's side in tnlllslOlting V"rhn,ttltnsn'" as i'"'UJul,Mn",in. and
[hi~ is also an occasion to recallihar Manineau initialed. on the basis of
f /('idqr,g('r. the op('ning of a problematic of frc:ccfom that is echMd here.
(:f. hi~ prcl'a"e to R. 8ochm. Ln Mtl",./!ysi'l"~ tI'A rillo~. NOI thai lhis in
~l1y way diminishes our greal esterm fOr Ihe rran51ations ofJranFran~is
(:ounine.) We will proce:ed hy following rhe analyses of 17 and 18 in
n,i1lK alia 7,,,,,.
~, This coulcJ not be a moral conscience (we will Jiscllss c;,wiJSnt lat-
n according to iu analpis in Bnllf m,tI Timr) ",host' ontological. non-
alUhropolo~kal c:hara(;lC'r Hc:illcsger empha~ile:s (G,sIIm'4I1SK"k. vol. 31.
r. 19r). Nl"\'enhelC!i5. respect could add a fUrthC'r twist to this determinacion
of rhl' facr of pr;u Ikal rca.~on. bur it will nor "ppc:ar here.
6. Nor JUe5 Ihis mean thai it would ht- a lilu of me: "inlerioril}'" of rca
"'n . .Kce....ible to some: k.ind of inrrmpccrion. Tht' 1'~~'l:hological is em-
I'"iul. bur nol un Ih(' order ..f the trans(%nJe:m;d c)lpcrience: which is rhe
'~I~rie:nce offrcc(iom. On :lIInrher level. this also does nor mean Ihat re-
ality here: woulcJ onlr he rhal (Jf I,ossibiliry. as il is. fOr t'Xamplc. in Ficlne::
'Fre:edom r(';llly and rruly exim. anJ is the: rool ofF.xisrcnce; however. it
i~ not imml'(liald)' rcal. for ils reality goe~ only a.~ tar as possibilil}'." J. G.
Iil:hlc. 71.,~ Wi" Tu,,(trtis 1/" Blm,tI l.i/~. William Smith. trans.
'Wa.~hil1gu)JI. n: c.: University Pllhlicari~1I5. 1977). Fichte's formula
1I1l~ll)uhte:Jly ,,',luteS philmorh~"~ mosr (ollSlam Ihought. at l(';Ist (if tllr
!he 11\0melll we leave a~ide SpinOla. who,c pro)limity to whal we are
186 No~s to PagN 31-J3

trying to say should be studied, to the extent that for him freedom is
identified with the effectivity of beatitude; but Spinoza does not think ex-
isten(;e as such)-'Il least up [0 Hegel and to the (;onvcl"liion of freedom
into cffcaivity (yet not simply into necc:ssity. for Fit:htC'an "possibilityn is
itsclf a nc:(;cssity of thc "independence of the absolute with rC!ipcct to im
own intimate being"). Frttdom has been thought as the neces.o;ary cxUtcna
of the subject's infinite possibility of relating to itself. but not as the ex-
istentialiry of existco(;e.
7. 76. Third (Tili'l'" (New York: Hafner Press. 19~1). p. 150. We
choose "seuing into position" for S,lZlwg. in contradistinction to me
simple POS;,;qn (in the German text) of rcpmcmation. Our use of this mo-
tif liberally distan(;es itself-bC:QUSC of this distinction of conccpm in
Kant- from He~r's usc of it in IGml S Thnis 0" &ing, where precisely
this distin(;tion is ignored.
8. Stwmg therefore fesponds point fOf point ro the dynamic of dif-
foranit' by which Derrida dC!iignates the infinite motion of finire being u
such. DifPranlt' thus implies freedom. or is implied by it. Freedom rea
dijJlranit'. while diffirATKt dc:fers freedom. whim docs not mean that dif-
flranet keeps freedom waiting: it is always already there. but by surprise.
as we will sce.
9. Aristotle, Book I. Nietlmtle~an Ethics. W. D. Ross. rrans. (Oxford:
Oxford University Press. 1975).
10. Translator's not~Nancy plays on the homonymic coupling in
French of"iifoilY." ~ro be done." and "Ilffairt." "affair. mailer. conam.
transaction, business. lawsuit." and their relation ro "foirr." Mdoing. mak-
ing. produ(;ing." and "foil, "faa."
II. Ktlnl antI the Prtlbkm of Mttttph.,s;CJ, Richard Taft. trans.
(Bloomington: Indiana University Press. 1990), p. 178.

Chllpter 4
I. Same will have merely displaced and misinterpreted (on this point.
as on others) Heidegger's thinking. as we will show latcr. Adorno. for
his part. left behind in Nrgalivt Dialtics a thinking in which freedom is
(;onfined to its own movemenrs rather than interrogated in irs C!ist'ncr. It
should also be recalled that Bergson roo reprcsents. in an entirely difttr-
ent way. a kind of Slopping point of the rhinking of freedom. Theodor
Adomo. Nrgativt Diakc,us. E. R. Ashcon. trans. (New York: Continuum.
2. GtsamtAUJgabt. vol. 31. p. 300.
}. Reuben Guilcad's book. Etrt t'l libtrti-unt hudt sur It d"nitr
NOIt.'S 10 Pag~s .J4-}6

/It'idt'.<<t'r(Lolivain and I'aris, 1')61). unlOrtunardy docs not live up 10 ,he

I'romi~es ofilS tide:. The: frolgmentary analysis oHren:iom in He:nri Diraud,
I Mdt'f,1lr t'11'rxplrimct' dt' I" /,t'nrlt' (Paris: Gallimard. 1978), wirh whic:h
we feci ounc:lve:s to ~ in a~reement in 5eve:ral re:spet:t~, does not consid-
er lhe swpcnsion of rhe theme in Hcide[:lter. I:red R. Oallmayr. while.' he
toO docs not consider [his POilU, prc:senu a very suggestive.' synthesis of
I kid~er's thought un freedom in Polis "lid Pr,ws (Cambridge.'. Mass.:
MIT I'rrss, 1984), ,hap. 4, "Heidqr,ger's Onrology of Freedom. Our
work would have to engage in a complex dis,us.~ion with Reiner
Schurmann', book, lIt'itlqgt'r tm Bt'inK ""tI AClillg: Fro", Prinrip/nlo
AllilrdlJo Christine-Marie Gros. trans. (Bloomington: Indiana Universiry
I'ress, 1987). S,hiirmann does not I'ClIly analyze me: frcc:dom which ~ sup-
P'*5 or implies throughout and which would have: to ~ aniculatc:d wirh
his theme of "cllming ro preRm:e" (whidl is also an imponanr motif lOr
Wi. and to which we have devoted other analyses; cf. "l.(' Rire. la p~nu:"

in Oiliql4t' 488-89' Jan.-Feb. 1988). We are less comfortable with hi5

.-nncept of "economy." If there: is a certain communiry be[Wca1 wand
these works (induding those of Marrine.'au. cf. note 4 .0 Chap. 3. and
.1150 Lt'vinas's -difficult frdom"), it consists le55 in a determinate
"rhough." (and S[iJIles~ in a "concept") than in the: recognition of a nee-
e~sar}' "liberation" of the thinking that nics to be the thinking "ofB free-
dom. In other word~. [his is first a liberation with respect to the con-
(('pu and systems of freedom (among which we still will lint include
SpinOla without reservations; but that is anorher program of work). and
sccondly a less detcrminable liberation of thinking itsc:Ifin its own pro-

oJ. '111e call of care in !killg anti Timt' provokes and convokes lJngillto
in freedom; cf. S7 and 58. Martin l-Icid~er. Bri"K alld Tim,. John
Mat:quiurie and F.tlward Robinson, tran5. (New York: Harper 8c Row,
1962). We will speak again of the call.
s. c,. W. F. Hegel. Pbmolnt'll%gy 0IS,,;,;,. A. V. Miller, nans.
(Oxford: Oxford Univenity PrC5s. 1977). p. 492,; friedrich Nict7_~che.
IIl1l1ulII A" l"cIo limn"". R. 1. Hollingdale, trans. (Cambridge. Eng.:
Cambridge Univeuity Prns. 1987), I. II. p. 117; Paul Celan, Dtr
;\faith.III, ill Gt'J""""t'lu \Vt',kt'. vol. 3. Bcda Alleman and Stephan
Reiche. ed~. (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp. 1'18}). p. 100.
6. Manin Heidcggcr. 1111' Esst'1lct' (I/RrtlJom. Terren,e Mali~:k. uan~.
(E,anston. III.: Nonhwcstern Uni\lersity Prrss, 1969). pp. 117-18.
7. "cwrding 10 the ~esture who~e model is gi"en b)' /<'~mt ""d ,Ill'
Problnll of MrlflP"ysi.J. Richard Tali. trails. (Bloomington: Indiana
188 Nott! to Pagn 38-48

University Press. 1990). Let us add here. as one document among others,
thac scmenccs from the JIUTOd,tCIion to Mtttlphysics (1935; New Ha~n: Yale
University Press, 1987). p. 170: "Being-human. as the ned INol} of ap-
prehension and t:ollection. is a being-driven INOligungi imo ,he fredom
of undertaking lI",t. the sapient embodiment. This is the character of his-
tory'- In the paga of ollr tC'Xt immediatdy following, citations re~r to the
English translation of Heidegger's &Iull;ng's Tmuist on tht ESltnct'i
HU11IIIn Frmiom. Joan Stambaugh, trans. (Athens: Ohio Uni~"ity Prc:a,
8. Martin Heidegger, Scht/ling's Tmuist on tht Essrnu of Hu"",,,
Frudom. p. 192.. Let us be dear about this: 1936-43, these dares speak
volumes on their own, and one will oot have failed to note. in the tone of
the "rc:solvc~ to "dcstiny." an echo of the &kloralSmUof 1933. The ques-
tion of politics in Heidegger is obviously inrerrwillc:d with the question of
his debate on the subject of frcedom and with the ida of freedom. One
would have to consider this question with Philippe Lacoue-Labanhe,
"Transcendence: Ends in Politics," in T.~pography (Cambridge, Mass.:
Harvard Univc"ity Pres.~. 1989). pp. 167-300; and with Gerard GraMl,
"Pourquoi nous avon~ publie cela," in Dr L 'UnivmiJi(Mauzrvin: T.E.R,
9. G. W. F. Hegel. Htgtl's Philosoph) of Right. T. M. Knox. traIlS.
(London: Oxford University Press. 1967), p. 32..
10. Martin He:idcgge:r, "On the: Essence of Truth," in Bmic Writi.,
David Farrell Krell, ed. (New York: Harper and Row, 1967), p. 118.
II. Ibid . p. U7.
12.. This siruating of the theme was prepared by a passage from 1M
Qlltstion Conumillg Ttrhllology (1953). of which we will speak further.
Martin Heidegger. Tht Prillciplt of Rtaso", Reginald tilly. trans.
(Bloomington: Indiana Unh'ersity Press. 1991).
13. Martin Heidegger. "leiter 011 Humanism." in Basic Writings. p. 113

Chtlpttr 5
I. This al~o date~ to before ROllsseau and Kant (although the
Spinolistic rdation to civil law divergc:s. for irs part. from this model;
cf. in particular Etienne Balibar, "Jus-PaclUm-l.ex." in Studitt spinOUlltl,
vol. I, 1985).
2. G. W. F. Ilegel. SC;tllft of Logic. A. V. Miller. lrans. (Atlantic
Ilighiands. N. J.; Humanities Press International. 1989). p. 843.
3. Jcan-I.uc Nancy. T. "mphllliferrfrgoriqllt (Paris; Flammarion, 1981).
pro 5R. 134 The: text I refer [0 here is bound up with a network of
Nota to P"~J 48-$2

thoughts woven around rM poinr of "unlealihing" (didJainmrtnl): the

1;IW in Blallchor. judgment in l.yorard, (in)dt'\;isioll in Oerrida. respon-
sibiliry in I.evinas. Only respomibilil)' is thematically construeit'd as pri-
(Ir In fh't'tlnl11 and :1!' "dominaring" it. Stt Emmanlld livinas, TtllttUty tIIff!
II/Iil/ity. Alphon\(, l.i"gi.~, rrans. (Pimhllr~h: nllqll~ne Universiry Press,
1969), p. 87. An additional remark: for l.t!vinas freedom is mingled,
rhrough itself, wirh "rhe arbitrarinC'~s" of an C'goisrical ego," and irs
"essem;e" lies in "the imperialism ofrhC' Same." Responsibility, by "in-
vesting freedom- wirh the "presence of the Uther," "/rttS;t ftom tIN al"-
bifl"tl'Y" (my empha.~is). This formula alone te'tilia to the fact that free-
dum cannot fail rn rrccrde itself or to prede every attempt to grasp it or
to fr~ it from grasp, even irs own grasp. Levinas himself, whose con-
~ept of fr~tlom-at leasr in this work, since the rest of his work uses
the word -f'rredom" in a wider sense-is thus strictly limited 10 dial of free
will. nevertheless appeals to "rhe critique in which freedom is capable of
being called into question and thus preceding itself" (ibid., p. 89).
4. Manin Hcidegger, .Ylltl/;"g i Trrat;st "n tht /;'sstnC't of H"m"11
F",d"m, Joan Sramhaugh. trans. (Athens: Ohio Universiry Prcu), p. 161
[[rans. slightly modified). The conrcx( gives these lines a remarkablyam-
higuous profile: they designate at the same time a limit ofJ<antian thought
and, in Oilier to indiate rhat Sl;hdling 6nally doc. not ovemep mislim-
it. a positive affirmation from Hcidcrw:r himself. So frmIom, undccidably,
lind. itself dedared incomprehensible and, rhrough a tal;it promise of
uverstepping metaphysics, comprt'hensible HI the thinking of being.
hmdammtally. this i~ rht' comrant ambiguity of the course and of the m-
lire "path" followed by Heidegger on the subject offrcedom.
s. Tran~l:ltnr'5 note-A In limitt may be rendered in English by any of
rhe following formulalions, d~pending on the context: "al the limit,"
'ultimatdy," at the: runhat t'Xtreme," "in the mosr exrreme case," or
C\'en ain/a.~ a hut reMut." l:.'nttlldt",mt may be translated 35 either "Mar-
in~" or "undemanding"; it differs from rolllp"hlns;on by evoking an au-
ral compol1~nl. figural or literal. of comprehension. Finally, IIC'C'Omp/;SJt-
mmt has been rendered as "realization" in order 10 pr~rve mou gener-
.dly die varilllls sentcS of "accomplishing. achiaing. completing. fulfilling."
6. I.p (my empha.~is), G. W. F. Hegel. PI,;/nsop;'J olRighl. T. M.
Knox. trans. (New York: Uxford Univcrsiry Press, 19<'7). p. lOS.
7 2S7. ibid .. p. I~~.
8. The possibilit), is not exduded that there may be other resources in
Marx that should be pursued.
9. Martin Heidcgger. "What is MI.'laphysi~s?," R. F. C Hull and Alan
Nom 10 Pages 52-55

Crick, trans., in ExisulltyanJ &illg(Washington, D. c.: Henry Regnery,

t949, ~pr. (988), pp. J57-fII [rrans. modified).
10. G. W. F. Hrgd, lLrtMM on lIN History tI!PhiIoJtlp'1J, E. S. Haldane
and Frances Simson, trans. (Adantic Highlands, N. J.: Humanities PI'eI5,
198,), Introduction.
II. Must chis be emphasized? From ,he comprehension' of Dasm. in
B~;ng a"d Tim~ to the "chinking" of WlNlI ;s CallnJ TIJinking?, we are
only following Heidegger's "path of thought," accenting it dif1"erendy,
frc:ely, seeking to liberate what it propoKS. It is understood that we are
pracricing a r~tition which itsdf comprises the ~tition of other rep-
eritions: we arc speaking not only of those we most frequendy cite, ~
and elsewhere, several of which have been worked through in the ~peti
:ion of Heider;ger, but of still Ot:hers, which have sometimes in self-defense
repeated something of the same Heidegger (Adorno above all). Ciration
is not me entirery of repetition. Actually. an entire epoch was invenred
through repetition. and invented its difTerena as repetition. that is, dif-
ference as a secondary consequence of che -end of philosophy," as the
~-dc:mand (IT/Wtitio) fur what is at stake in philosophy. But it is Heidcger
himself who inaugurated thinking as ~petition (and not as critique: or su~
larion) of what had already heen thought. To repeat is to experience the
fact that thinking was c1~ in "metaphysics"-,,"" the fact that this
closure frees the possibilities and exigencies of finite thought. that is. of
thought that takes up and replays all of its experience as c:xpc:rience of fini
tude:. Frc:edom to rc:pc:at,libc:ration in repetition. In the "prelimirwy re-
marks" to Wrgma,*~n (1967), Heidcger indicated the "necessity oflarer
being understood otherwise chan one understood oneself"; bllt "this tIC-
cnsiry hu its grouncl in the possibiliry thar historical tradition and trans-
mission still prc:sc:rvc a frc:c: space of play for what necessiry demands"
Thinking and its tradition free: from themselves me possibility of their free
rcpc:rition-and this is why there is thinking.
11. "Singulariry" should here be understood at once according 10 the
value Deleuze gives to the "ideal event" or to "cssentially pre-individual,
non-personal. a-conceptual" punctualiry, and according to the value that
common language givcs to the word when it makes it mean "strange-
ness, anomaly," as well as according to the value of "surprisc:" which wr will
later anal)'7.c in the relation of frc:edom and time. Gilles Ddeuze, Tilt
LtlfJl' OfSnlSt, Mark l~ter, trans. (New York: Columbia University Press.
1990), p. 51. For us, existence is above all what is singular. It happens
singularly and only singularly. As for the existent, its own c:xislence is
Ntlt~s ttl P"gn 56-68

ahov~ all singular. which means that its existenc~ is not prisdy its "uwn"
and Ihal its "exi~(il1g" happens an in41ctinitc number uf limes "in" its
"ery indi"idualir,' (which is for its pan a singulariIY). Singularity is what
Jistinguishes the ~xisrent from the SIIbj1, for the suhject i, e!IlIcntially what
appropri;uC5 itself. au:ordins to its own proximity and law. Yet dx advcnt
()f a subjectivity is itself a singularity.
13. Even free will would have to be renaluated. especially ifit is to be
undcmvod in its original form. as Vuillemin proposes: "It is ui(1 that
l>e:mocritus' systcm suffered from having been transmitted throu~h
EpicllfllS' ~tcm. which subordinated throry to practice and introduced
the m~taphysical conc'"1't of frc:cdont irno philosophy. Actually, it is this
concept of the freedom of indifference:. of balantt. or of will. which in-
spired the admiration of a Marcus Aurc:lius and which is the kC)'5tone
ofEpicurus' philoso~)hr. And this frdom is primarily that of refusing the
solicirations Ill' opiniun. for example the r~pr~ntation of future evils.
in ord~r 10 at.ccpt only the present. i.e. sensadon lUI offfront the active
1I\0Veml'n( of error." Vuillemin. NutsSill 011 r:"nI;"g~"r:~/itpor;t tI~
Di"tlolT tlln IJlttln~S pIJiloSIJphiqrm (Paris: Minuit. 1984). p. 105. An ac-
ceptance of Ihe prC5~nt which would be precisely a resignation to destiny
(this is what Epicurus wanted) will later charact~rize freNom for us
(Chap. II). It is not a question of proposing a new Epicureanism. or an
F.pirurc:an ~ivative. II is only a question of smting that at the heart of the
philosophical tradition surrounding frftdom Ihere is what could be called
a Mmaterialism of the present" -und~rstood as the singularity of ~i5-
tence and not as appropriated prC5encc---<ngagcd in an intimate debate:
with the idealism of temporality understood as the perpaual presence
of calL~allinking (cf. Chap. 9).

C'II",," 6
I. Martin Hd(iCf,ger. 71J~ Mnapl1JSi(1l1 FOllndAtion. olLog;c, Michael
Ile:im. trans. (Bloomingron: Indiana Unive:nil)' Press. 19R4). p. 18.

Chllpltr 7
This analysis has been underraken ill Je-an-Luc Nancy. Tht
t"optrll,iw Comm,mity. Perer Connor. cd. (Minneapolis: University of
MinnC'SOta l'rcss. 199t). The law of th~ relouion of singular existenc~ is lor-
mul~llcd in the: following way by rrancis WolfTCwho condudes all anal)'-
sis of Epicurus and 1.1Icretius in Hcider.gerian terms. cf. nOle: I) 10 Chap
s): A being which one !;ould not rdare to any OIher IIKII does not ek-5iu.
Not~s to Pagn 69-72

sinc~ it is th~ existenc~ of one rdation to another that determines the

possibiliry of their ~k-sistence." Francis Wolff. ~qu~ tU I'llhnmt--<Ii_
namm (Paris: Minuit. 1981). p. 7.56.
7.. In an analogous way. Mecteau-Ponry tried to grasp the other (aUl77l/1
on the basis offrecdom: ~The oth('l' i5 no longer so much a freedom seen
ftom without as destiny and fataliry. a rival subject for a subject. but he is

caught lip in a circuit that connects him to the world. as we ourselves are,
and cons~u~nrly also in a circuit that connt~ him to us-And this
world is ~mmon to us. is inrermundan~ spact'--And ther~ is transiriviun
, by way of generaliry-And even freedom has its g~n~raIiry. is understood
as generality: activiry is no longer the ~ontrary of passiviry ... the or~r is
a rdief as I am. not absolut~ venical existence." Maurice Merkau-Ponry,
Tk Visiblr 1l1ui th~ Invisiblr. Claude Lefort. ed. Alphonso Ungis. trans.
(Evanston. III.: NonhweslC:rn Universiry Press. 1968). p. 269. Perhaps
we should attempt to grasp not only th~ oth~1'-the other wstent-bur
every other being-thing. animal. or instrument-from the itarting poiru
of freedom. The fn:edom that makn existence exist in the open also and )
at the same time produces the openness of the world and its frtt spaci"&
There would be the freedom of DtWin and the freedom of beings in gen-
eral. one in the other and one through the other. Bur always. and in the
final analysis. it is ~xiJtmu as such that purs at stake freedom and rhe
openness in whil;h beings present themselves. However. in this coming into
presence, beings themsc:lvcs in general also neist in a cenain way. and
singularly. We rould say: because existence iJ ill tIx world, th~ world as such
iuelf also exis[~it exists because of the proper exist~nce of existence,
which is outside of it5df. this tr~e exists in its singularity and in the free
space wh~re it singularly grows and branches OUI. It is not a question of
subjectivism. the tree does nO! appc.ll' to me thu.~. i( is a question of the ma-

r (erial reality of the of the finite existent whose finitude

compons the effective exis(en~ of the world as the singulari[)' of exisrem:c
3. Cf. Jean-Luc Nam:y. MShattered Love." Lisa Garbus and Simona
S;lwhney. trans . in TIJr blO/,atlri,'~ Commulllty. pp. 81-109.
4. Thi~ nnf [OtlJ would refer [0 that of Blanchot. or to the parallel
flu) (ils] which docs not designate (he anonymiry of a banaliry. bur cor-
re;ponds to the event of what one cannot "gra~p except by rdcasing one-
sdf (from) the power of ~aying I." Maurice Blanchot. L '/:.illm;m infini
(Pari~: c.;allimard. 196<}). p. 5U. Cf. the consideration of this mOlif. as well
as a coll~'tion of referenco to Blanchot 011 this puinl in Gilles Deleuzc and
Not~s to PaIN 74-78 193

IClix Guanari. A rltoustfrltl Ptarmus. Brian Massumi. tram. (Minneapolis:

t Jnivcnity of Minnesm3 1)~S5. 1988).
~. Ct: MWhat is freedom?" in Hannah Arendt. Bmvn /'1ISt lind Fuht"
(N~w York: Penguin. 1968). p. 1.. 8.
6. ('hiliJlf1C La(;oue-Labanhe. I. '1mitatimr titS rntldtnln (Pari~: Galilie.
19116). p. 188. (This ~nrence must he unclmtood in rclation ro th~ toi-
lwing one: "Why. after all. would nO[ the probl~m of ideruifK:ation be.
in general. the vet)' problem of the political?" p. 17).)
7. Jean-Fran~ois Lyotard. TI" Oiffimrd. Georges Van Den Abbede,
nans. (Minneapolis: Minnesota University Press. (988), p. 141.
R. Alain Badioll. I'ru'-()II I""u" la politilJllt? (Paris: I.e Seuil. 1984). p.
9. Immanuel Kam. Rrligi()II \f'il/'in II" l.i",iIJD!RrdSo" Alo"r. T. M.
(.;r~ne and H. H. Hu,lson, trans. (New York: Harper). p. 176.
10. Manin J lcidey,ger. GrJI'mlaH.~ttbt (Frankfun-am-Main: Kl05ter-
mann. 1981). vol. fl, p. 16 ("Grundbcgriffe." course of 1941).
II. "Omnes ef singulatim" in l.r tltlntt. no. 41, 1986. p. 7. In reality, we
have the choice of defining politics between two poles: either the
Aristordian de6nitioll of me "political animal" in terms of the disposition
of logos insofar as it involves ju\tice. good and evil. ere . and in renns of the
nOllu5t'ful finality of "living well~ (~U uin)i or. at the other pole. Ihe
l(:dulOlogy of power. Perhaps the name "politics" should be reservc:d for
one of the two; pf'rha~ they should be thought logether. Whatever the
choice. it is remarkable mat &~om i\ c:55Cntial at both polcs (and this is
what clc:mands thatrhe~' be thoughttogerhc:r). In the same text, Foucaulr
(Uuld in fact write: "'Ibe distilKtive trait of power can he found in the fact
th.1t some indi\iduals can mo~ or less entirely determine the conduct
of other individuals--but never in an exhaustive or coercive: way. A per-
son who is chained up and beaten is suhjected to the force exerted over
him. not to power. YN ifhe can be made to 5~ak. when his last ~son
could havc been [0 hold his tongue. I'lcferring death. he has thus b~n
forced to hehave in a certain wa~'. Hi, fr~Jllln has been suhjected to
)>ower and he has 5uhmined to the government. If an individual can re-
main &ee. however limited his (r~dom m:ty be. power can subject him to
d~ government. There ill no power without the pOIeruial fur refu5al or re- f
vult" (p. 34).
u. cr. Hannah Arendt. "What is Fref',lom?" in BtlllVm Past alld
Fut/ll't (New York: Penguin. 1968). Is there then a mimesis of frttdom. or
,Ioes frdom on rhe contrary repudiat~ all mim("!ii~~ This qucstion. briefly
194 Notn tIJ p(lg~s 78-9J

skimmed sevcrallines funher on. cannot be treated here. We will simply

indicate the principle: cf. note 9 in Chap. 13.
I). Cf. Chap. 1.
14 Saint-Ju.u. l 'Esprit J~ '" "1101,,';011 (Paris: 10/18. 1'}69), p. 79.


I. G. W. F. Hegel. The Enrycltl/Hdia Logit (Indianapolis: Hackett.

1991), 87. p. 140.The conditional would bl'that teplaco the indicative is
of the first edition indicates. it is true. a slight retreat with respect to this
determination offreedom. It is as ifHcgcl were saying, "Freedom wuuIcI
be this supreme form of nothingness, if nothingness were not itself alrcacIy
annihilated: Nonetheless, the dialectical conversion is not formally iden.
rifled as such and is instead reabsorbed into "intensification."
1. Keith Waldrop. Tilt Gllranr tI/ Effort (Providence, R. I.: Bumins
Deck. 1975). p. Bo.
3. Martin Heidegger. Tilt Ess~nn o/Rl'asolU. Terrence Malick. trans.
(Evam;ton. Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 1969). p. 119.
4. Rene Descartes. "Author's Rcplies to thc Fifth Set ofObjcctiolU,-
in Thr Philosophical Writings o/DrKilrtrs, vol. 1.10hn Cottingham. trans.
(Cambridge, Eng.: C.ambridge University Press. 1989). p. 141.
s. Martin Heidegger. H~di O",ct'pt ofExfHril'llC~ (San Francisco:
Harper & Row. (970). p. 110.
6. Marrin Heidegger. Htgl'l's PhmtlmenobJgy o/Spir;t. Parvis Emad
and Kenneth Maly. UIRS. (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988).
p. 10. And funher: "To undcrgo an expericnce with somclhing-bc it a
thing. a penon. or a god-mcans that this something bcfaUs us, strikes us,
comes ovrr us. overwhelms and transforms us." Heideggcr. "The Narure
of language: in On tilt WI1] to liInl"l1gt', Peter D. Hern, trans. (New
York: Harper & Row, 197r). p. 57.
7. Cf. Derrida's analysis of Uvinas in Violence and Metaphysics. in
Writing and DiJform. Alan Bass. trans. (Chicago: University of Chicaso
Press. 1978). pp. 79-153.
8. cr. Unum quid" in 1ean-luc Nancy. Ego sum (Paris: Flanunarion.
9. Martin Heidcgger, "On the Essence of Truth." in Basic Writings.
David Farrell Krell, ed. (New York: Harper & Row. 1967). p. 118.
10. Thus. in Hegel. subjectivity fint graSp$ that pure bring is onJy
an empty word." which presupposes the mastering of signification and the
relation to self given by representation. In this regard we: might also adopt
Jl.loln 10 P"grs ~/02 J9S

Michel Hellf}"s analysis in oMtr to express the trulh of sub;e'livity and

its impossibility for frctdom: "The momem of wns,iousncss rc:main~ in
fact the: e:nemial momtlU of sdf-consciousllC55. which remains an exterior
,omdousncn. ~ina exteriority is lhe: medium in which consciousness is
prcsent to irsdfin self-consciousness. For conscioU5ness, Hegel did not con-
cdve a mode of prcsem:e-to-onesclf other than the mode: of the prrsenl::C
of the ohject. bcl::ausc: the presence of the ohjca as such is.. in his view, none
orher Ihan lhe: \'ery essence of consciousness. The: e:ssc:ncc of objectivity
consrilulC:S the unique fOundation. it is the universal mtdium in which all
lhal is manifested is realized." Midtd Henry, L 'EM1lt'~ d~ ill "'dllifoltltion.
vol. 2. (Paris: Presses Universitaire:s de: Francc. 196}), p. 901.

Chnp trr 9
I. "On the Essence: of Truth," in Martin Heidegger, &sic Writ;,ItS,
David Farrell Krell. edt (New York: Harper & Row. 1977), p. 12.9.
2.. The anal}'5is that follows applies primarily to Sartre's efTans ro e1u-
cidare and define the meaning of his ronnularion in the posthl1motL~1y pub-
lisl,,:d Cnhim ptmr un~ mtlmk (Paris: Gallimard. 198J). beginning at p. 447.
3. cr. the fir~r and second" Analogies of Experience" in the first
Critiqut. The rest of our anal}'5is addresses and expands certain clc:me:nts
of Hddcgger's anal}'5is in vol. SI of the G~J4mltl'ug4N. Our cunclusions
seem 10 be Ihose Ihal Heidcgger rcachtd but did not ,Jt:vclop.
<I. Immanuel Kant, Critiqut of Pllrt RraJ9n, Norman Kemp Smith.
trans. (Ncw York: St. Marrin's Press. 196d. p. 118.
S. Immanuel Kant, Criti'lw ()/Judgmrllt. J. H. lkrnaM. Irans. (New
York: Hafner Press, 1951). 81. p. 171.
6. The immtdiacy rcfe:rred to here i5 not Ihat of sensuous immediacy.
Nor is it an ahsence of mediation in the intrlligihle. h is neither a sentimcnl
nor an intellectual given of frctdom. This mi~1 resembk whal we could
call tl1l' ~pecific pregnancy of the ufeeling of reason," which is for Kanl rhe
/'fSptct for the law of frea!om. and a~ "what respect respects. . reason
gives this to itself insofar as if is free." Manin licideggtr. !Gmt 4nd Iht
Pr9bJrm tlf Mttap"J1irs. Richard Taft. trans. (8Ioominglon: Indiana
Unive:l'5iry Press, 1990). In some scnsc, the analysis made in lhis renowned
paragraph JO of M1l14,IIi tilt ProM"" ~rM~t4p1'Pit'S SClS us in rhc direction
we arc anempcing 10 follow here. 10 tht extent chal He:iJcgger, relarin~ re
spect f() lral15cendemal imaginarion. makes il appear as "a rranKCndemal
and fundamemal mucturc of the rranscenden,e of the ethical self." whcre
sudl a transl.:cndcncc i.~ norhing othcr than the stnlClure of what wc are des-
Not~ to Pag~ 102

ignaring as "experience." Still, Hcidcgger's extremely dliptkal anal}'!iis

docs not seem rruly to attain the unity it declares bctwcc:n me rel;;eptivity
ofimagination and the free impmition oflaw, bc:catL~ it i~ precisely in the
unicity of an originary concept of experience that this unity should be
found: in the experience of being-in-the-world a~ being-free: cvt'rything in
Heidegger leads to this. without formally ending up at it: in IGmt """
Ih~ Probiml ofMtlilpl!JSu this nonanainmem. as well as the restricted pm
given to practical reason, sccou commanded by a phenomenologiCLI (ei-
detic) hyporheric that burdens tlK- directive analysis of the imagination and
of schematism; but another work would need to be done in order to
~how thH. Yet if thae is a "sdf-cvidencc~ of respect. it depends on the fol"-
Ium rationiJ and not on the ~nsibility that accompanies it without truly
being at stake in that rdation, since it is exempted from the "pathologic:aJ:
which. however. designates nothing other than the regime of the af-
fectability of pure affection (d: Michel Henry's analysi~ in L 'Emn~t tiL '"
maniftstlltion [Paris: Presses Universitaires de Frana. 19631, s8-from
whidJ we have strayed in our conclusions). We must therefore be able to
think. if not a "pathology." at IC.lSt a pure passion of pure rc;aon, where rea-
~n is "practical" in all that it is {even when it is "theoretican. But "pu-
rity" here will be nothing other than the material effectivity of being-in-
the-world. and moral impurity (evil. which we will speak of later). This
"passion" is the experience of freedom. The immediacy of this experi-
ence must therefore be understood as Ih, afftivt ;m-mnluuy offonlom ;"
t:cUsOIt? ;'lSOfor as fi-rrt/o", affrcts roSlIct fom 1111 illfill; Juran: from the
point of an infinite withdrawal and in traversing existence with this dis-
tance-from-itself (its non-essentiality) which ~ts it outside of irsdf only in
order to make it mil as the thing in itself. This im-mediacy of experi-
ence is the common originary structUre ofhoth sentiment and ~If-evidence.
which it withdraws. the one as much as the olher. from subjectivity.
7. II is merefore not a question of [he man who is "immediately nat-
ural ... bestowed with natural for~ ~ of whom Marx speaks in his "1844
manuscripts" (Colkcttd Wo,*,o vol. J [New York: International Publishers,
J97S)) in order to dininguish him from the man "who aim through
himself." Bur it is no Ics.~ significant that Marx wanted to emphasize
power in the same way that Hegel had emphasiud conscioUSllCS.'i. The ex-
periem:e of freedom is also the experience of a difference of forces at
Make in being-in-the-world. We can recall. moreover. that in an entirdy
different but equally symptomatic way Bergson sought to pre~nt free
action a~ the "deronation" of a material energy (cf. L 'E"trgi~ spiritu~II~. I).
Not~ to Pdgrs IOJ-15 197

8. This ontological materiality seems to LIS to meet up with the analy-

5C:Sof Didier Franck in H,id'IK'" ,t1,
problfmul, l'nptlrt (Paris: Minuit,
9. Cf. Chap. 5,

CI,"pur to
I. Cf. Jean-I.uc Nancy. L 'Implratif (atllt',';q'" (Paris: Flammarion,
1983), and cf. Chap, ~.
1. Cf. Chap. s.
3. The general and oonjoincti stnlctllre of order and ~nt: "Come:: how
could rhis provoke lhe coming of what comes, Ihe coming of the evw:nt, fOr
example, if Ihe '""", itself docs not arrive, docs not arrive at i~If?
Jacques l>crrida, PaMg's (Paris: Galilee, 1986), p. 61.
4. Cf. Emile Benveniste: " ... the bare semanteme employed in its
jussivc form, with a sprcific intonation." which docs not ~n constitule
"an unerance." P'YJ6Imrs in (,'m,ml Li11fl,;stit"s, Mary Elizabeth Meek,
trans. (Miami: University of Miami Press, 1971).

I. We mu.~t ignore here the anicularion with space, which nevertheless
belongs to this pmblt'matic. For rhis another work would be rrquiml.
Further on we will find some indications in tht' direction of what would
have to he thought not onl)' a~ an originality pmper to ipace (as cion
Didier Franck, d. nOle 8 to Chap. 9, above), but as a "spaciosity- of
rime around rhe ""Will; which we will discu!oS here. Generally speaking,
freedom OfT"B itself as spacious and spacing: I WilllOllch on this in the
conclusion (Chap. 13).
2. Cf. Martin Heitiqr,gt'r, On n"" anti &illg, JO;In Stambaugh, trans.
(New York: Harper & Row, 1971); and also Oerrida's analysis of the
"thoroughly mt'taphy~ical" character of the ccmct'p' of time" in Ousia
and G,.a",mt': Note on a Note: from "r;lIg alld 1i",," in Margins of
PMIDJopl1} (Chicago: University or Chicago Press, 1981).
). Translator's note--" Srt",",,,,," "the u~xpcctc:d occurrence," when
empha.'ii7.ed by Nancy a" su,-rlt'I/"" has bttn rranslatcd ali coming-up" in
order to prt'5erve it~ sense of "coming" [''f'IIHto).
4. Cr. Chap. 6. 1"11t' entire thematic of the prC5t'nt para~ph should he
c()m~'<Jred to I.yotard's reading of HrgrbmJ"it in Kantian hislOry, of the
cvent'$ "f"ct of gi\'ing itself' as lhe "tract' of freedom in rc:a1it)." Although
I.rotard, who does nOI propose an t'Xaminatioll uf freedom for itself. re-
Not~ to P4g~ 11$

wns the term Mcausality by freedom." the: implicit concept of freedom that
his text seems to suppose would perhaps fInd mOle analogies here.
However, we would have some reservations with regard to the expres-
sion -trace offreedom," which implies both visibility (or sensibility; these
arc the stakes of Lyorarc1's Msentim('nt," which should I('ad us back to
what is evoked in not(' 6 to Chap. 9) and intermittency; what is undeni.
abl(' on (h(' level of the "historical cvent.~" of which Lyorard speaks seems
to me to refer. on the level of ontology. to what could be called the non
sensible constitution of the sensible and the non-imerminem wnstitution
of ev('nemential intermittence. In a sense. there is constantly an event of
freedom that opens existence as such. There is wnstandy a ~coming-up"
in time, and it is only from this point that one can accede to the possibility
of thinking a "history" and its "signs." Cf. J('an.FuJl4jois Lyotard.
L ,"thous;mm, (Paris: Galilee. 1986), ('specially pp. 54-56, 100, "~.
S. Juli('n Grc:tn, Minu;t, cited in G('Or~s Paub, Mnu" d, ''instAnt
(Paris: Pion, 1968), p. 376; and Milan Kund('fa, CArt dtl Roman (Paris:
Gallimard. 1986), p. 80 (th(' author speaks of Anna Karenina-srruc-
turally speaking. would literature have to do with this surprise. many
other literary examples of which could cmainly be produced?). There is
something of a syncopt' here-suspt'nsc and rhythm-of a beating at the
h('arr o("r('ason," of a h(',utbeat. "A h('arr is alrt'ady an ev('nt, an evt'nr is
already a ht'art: wrote Dottn. Freedom, in its event, is pt'rhaps always of
the order of the h('arr. But how does one think a ht'arr of being? (We
addressed the question in "Shattered Love," Lisa Garbus and Simona
Sawhncy, trans., in Tht Imp,rllli", Commum'ty, Petcr Connor, ed.
(Minneapolis: Univcrsity of Minnesota Press, 1991].) What occurs in
Frtignis is pt'rhaps that occurring OCClll'!i to itsdf aM appropriates itsdf as
pres('nce. Bur this can only occur in th(' modt' of an unexpt'Ctt'd coming-
up. Occurring occurs to irsdfby coming up in the beating of the coming-
up. It would be this-the heart of being-or its freedom (wouldn't the
htart be for us a synonym or metl1phor of freedom in all its states?). Thc
opening of a world, as such and absolutdy, is unthinkable outside of m('
freedom of the coming-up. Otherwise. it is not a worIJ. but a IIII;wm. In
a somewhat comparable way, Wiug('nsrein links wonder before the "mir-
acle" of existenc(' (which reft'rences H('idqr,gcr. in th(' G('rman edition
of th(' text, as Christoph('r Fynsk has shown liS) with "hi(j as the proper
order of expressions "whose very es.~nce is to have no meaning," which we
would interpret as: to have the "meaning of the freedom of being (d.
Noln 10 raUl 1/6-19 199

Wingt:'nsccin. "l.n:tllre on F.thics. in TlJr I'lJiiosopl}iclIl &,,;t", \hhaca: Sage


School of Philosophy. 196,). vol. 7 j. PI" 3-(1).

6. Among many analyses, we ,an cite that ofVlIillemin (who. more-
over, al'il) analpC'i Spinoza), for the finesse with which it grasps the active
abandonmenr of [his will: "What i~. however. the origi n of [he conversiun
by which a finite will. in anuming the lirnilarions [h'lI o\'erwhelm it.
identifie~ hsd!: 10 ,he extent that this is possible, with its cause: and sub
mnce? h would not be thi~ finite will itself. except fJrec:isd)' in~far as we
con~ider it 10 be a given part of Nature and the wise man only comes to
wisdom b)' W3)' of a certain etemalnecessity. We are Ihcrcfi.n: necessar-
ily necessiratM to salvation 3nd acquioc.:ence. And again it is the secret of
the strength of feeling one's effusion sunained by a source which i[ cap-
tured as if involuntarily. whkh i[ doa not connol and which it feels to be
inexhall~tihle." Vuillemin. Ntssitt Ott ('OlIri'tgnrrt-I'trpont tit Diodo,,,,,
Its SJstcmts I'hilosoplliqrltS (Paris: Minuit. 1984), p. J89. To which we
would add only, in order to C5rabli~h a more secure link with mis tor, that
"salvarion and acquiescencc" are nothing omer than freedom itself.
7. Cf. ChafJ 7.
~. The theme of rhe choia of OtlS,;,,'S proper possihilities, in &in: IIlId
Tilllt. does nor rd'er to the classical motif of the will's choice. "To choose
oneself" i~ not to elect one po55ibility among orhel'S. and it i.s nevertheless
not a resignarion to the inc:virable. It is a decision ro be one's own as the
rxiumt that one is. whidl means always. as this being whose cxiuence sur-
prists it. 3S existem:e and as irs own.
9. Cf. Walter Ikn;amin. "Trauerspiel uml TragiXIie." in rrtJllmm~/tt
Srbl'ijim, vol. 1 (Frankfllnam-Main: Suhrkamp, 1980). pp. 1..... 115.
10. Ilowever. we will not pronouncc the~ without the: following
warning from Adorno. from Ntgllt;,~ D;"lt~ti~s, E. B. AshlOn. frans.
(New York: ('.onrinulIlll. 1987). p. }69: "The dc:reriorarion of the death of
mcrarhysics. whether into adveniscmenrs for heroi~ dying or to rhe triv-
iality of purdy rest;lIing the unmistakahle fact that men must di~all this
ideological mischief probably rests on the f3~1 lhal human con~ciousness
to rhi~ day is 100 wcolk to sutain the experience of dcarh. perhaps even too
weak to inu:grate death with the self. " But we will add rhat MIO in-
tegrate Je:arh with the sdf" is at leaM an ambiguous exprC$Sion and rhat
it i.s fn:cdnm irsclf which takes us to lleath and which .mo ,"vIISc:'1l1enrly dr-
I'dt'r< III (J.rtl~I'Y possibility ofIIl'l'ro,orillli"g Ibis dtllll}, ur rhe binh which
opcn~ onto it.
100 Notes 10 Pllgn 119-23

II. Cf. the entire motif of Sd,;clnAL ~hirlml. and bntimtnnl, which
clearly communicatcs. as is wcll-known. with that of EIYigni! (cf. 0"
TiI1ll anti B';"g, Joan Stambaugh. trans. [New York: Harper &. Row.

Chllpttr 12
I. Theodor Adorno. NtKativt Dill/min, E. B. Ashton. trans_ (New
York: Cominuum. 1987), p. 366.
1. H. W. Pcact citcs this expression in his preface to Martin
Heidcgger/Erharch Kastner, BriifwtC'hid (FrankfurHlm-Main: KloSlcr-
mann. 1986).
J. Cf. Philippe Lacoue-Labanhc. La Pllisi, romm, 'xpimnC'r (Paris:
Bourgois. 1986), p. 167: "This is strictly ,mparJonabV-the word re-
lates simuitaneolL~ly to Auschwitz and to HeKk~r's silence. (In addition.
and as a prefacc to later remarks. we: should recall that pardon. in irs
Judeo-Christian tradition. needs no justification. What remains unjusti-
fiable can, on another register. be pardoned-nccpt when it precisely
involves an altitudc that 1c:an5. in one way or another, toward justifying the
unjustifiable:. as we: mipt suspect the case would be at a certain level in
Heid~r. Yc:r in the same: u:adirion of pardon there rc:mains an enigmatic
"sin against the: spirit" which cannot be: pardoned.. . (Let us add that
Heidegger's silence was not ahsolutely total; somc sentences were spo-
ken and we: wiJIlarer allude to one of tMsc on the U"hril, the disaster. of
Nazism. But apart from this word, nothing broke Heickgger's profound
silence:. All the mate:rial on this poim is presented and carefully analyzed
by Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe in La FiC'tion au politiqu, (Paris: Bourgoil.
1988), rranslat~d as HtiJtlX"' Art ana PtllitirJ. Chris Turn~r, trans.
(I.ondon: Basil Blackwell. 1990).
4. Thomas Mann, Dtu Probltm dtr Frtihtit (Stockholm. 1939).
5. As indicated earlier (Chaps. I, J), we are thinking of a secret eom-
plicity. in spite of fundamental differences, between the camps and every-
thing that, by exploitation. abandonment. or tonure. presenls in our
time: what could be gadtc:rc:d under dtc: names (both malerial and symbolic)
of tenacity (amamrml'm). emaciation (ald.NImtmmt), and ,he mass grave:
(rharni",. The analysis of these would have to be: give:n c:Ise:where. It
would be: necessary to retrace what circulates between the: exposing of
the brutality of the primitive accumulation of capital-the exposing of the
"sickne:ss of civiIi7.ation--and the eXp05ing of civilized and technicized
NOln 10 P"KN 123-27 101

6. Onc mi~ht finlJ \uch a confusion of Jifli:rcnccs CKccssivc. It is

mc:3ningful only wilh respect to thc cKhibilion of a "posilivity" of evil.
which we: will di!IClI~\. Meanwhile: onc should not forget. even as their nee-
euary differences are res[Orcd. thc ~adi~tic sc... ne~ in Proust or the
R.1taillt'an project ofhulllan sacrifice: for. in ~pite /If everything. this hap-
pened-and Bamille himself finall~ recogni7.rd it-oU[side the sacred
and outsidc the immanent rcrrihlllion of evil 10 which he laid claim.
7. Victor Hu~n.l." Fill MS"ran.
8. Immanuel Kant. R~/i!.io" Vi';,,,;,, ,11, /'imits o!R,,,son A/ON. pp. )1
a: (We retain the old... r translation. since it secm~ difficult to renounce the
word "wkkedncss" (mlrlMnfl',r]. allcast for our prescnt use. in favor of
"mal icc" [m"ligu;rr] even though. in ils previolls si~nificarion. the lancr
term gave its name pm:i!icly 10 rhe: E"i/ 011, [M"/in!: but this signification
has heen Iml.)
9. In this sense. a simplc lise of Ihc terms "good" and "cvir no doubt
loses i" relcvarn.:e:. However. the fundamental-and fc)undationles.-
diKurd 10 which thC)' testify. without even being charged wilh any oth-
er Jererminalillil th:," Ihal of lhe "finy" of evil. CUlnOI he o:pressat in oth-
e:r words. (" Fury" is not "combat." it dcv...\laICS and ruins. nOlhing more.)
And this i~ aiM'! why it seems to us difficult to renounce. in spite of every-
thing. the: word "tiecdom."
10. Doubtless. (here is no longer a pure empirical figure for .he "wicked
heing" any morc than there is fOr the "sage" or for lhe "!klint" (meanwhile.
therc arc: apparatu'l("~. mcchani~ms. instilU[iul1s. and calculations that can
prcscnl wickeliness as such ). YC( aparl from the facr thar we can no
lon~r easily reamn in sLlch (erms. whcrc expc.rience itself is transccnden-
tal. there is a total dissymmctry hctwccn the prC!irnration of a tortured body
on which maliciousncss is inscribed in capirallcners. and that of a hody
which we will nOI cven call happy or heautifill. but which suffe:rs from
mmethin~ mher than wickedness. Al if evil by essence imprinted its mark.
and good. on the contrary. covered up its own trac:cs. Evil must attest to
itll own operation. it mun show its devastation. Good neither dcstroys nor
c:onsrnlCts. it is not ofslIch an order. Wc wuld therc:fOre also conclude that
~oud alwa~ escapc:!i wicked destruction (as all of idrali5m thought. with
greater or Irs'K'r diflkuhy): yet even this h..., nn precise meaning. Good is
"Ilt "safC"r.llardcd." Where evil occurs. there i~ no good on reserve. Rut the
attcstation (If evil is equal to Ihe att~tion of lhe good that is not there.
[0 thc eXlcnt ,hal il is not there: and has no I"c)!Iili\iry.

II. Manin llridcpge:r. "I.rtter on Humanism." in &nc Wril;'IgS. David

101 Notrs fo Pagn 127-29

Farrell Krdl. trans. (New York: Harper 6l Row. 1977). pp. 2}7-}8 [trans.
modified). The date of this text (1946) and the use of the word" fury. in M

the sense whose origin we believe we can It)cate. lead us to believe that
Heideggcr at least implKidy also targeted Nazism here. Yet at the same
time. and for fundamentally obvious motives. "fury" must also refer [0 an
aspect of the analysis of "technology" and of Gnull (where the theme
of fury can often be detected and sometimes explicitly read: cf. for ex-
ample. 'The Question Concerning Technology." in &nic Writingy. David
Farrell Krell. cd. [New York: Harper & Row. 1967. To comprehend. not
evil through technology. but the properly technological determination
of technology. the one that according to Heideggcr hides its ~nce of "dis-
dosing" ([0 recall quiclcly one of the daims of his text). ro comprehend
therefore this determination by way of evil and by its fury is one of
Heidegger's comtant directiom. even if it is rardy made explicit. The
Unhtil the distress without safeguard. the disaster (a term employed
once to designate the worlc of the Nazis--cf. lacoue-Labarthe. whOJC
entire analysis should ~ run through here). cha~rir.cs the world of rMt-
nology. And the motif of freedom. as if in counterpoint. also run., through
the entire text on technology. We simply wam [0 poim out these indi-
cadom. without otherwise problematizing them.
11. G. W. F. Hegel. 11~ Systmr of Ethical Lift and First PhilDsop!J.yof
Frmlom, H. S. Harris and T. M. Knox. trans. (Albany; State University
of New York Press, 1979). p. IH.
I}. All figures of fury fiD this abyss wirh the idea of a "pure race" or wirh
every other "pure" idea. including that of freedom. even that of a violent
God. We could relate them 10 what Lyomrd calls the "absolute wrong" in
lk Diffrrtlld, Georges Van Den Abbede. trans. (Minneapolis: University
of Minnesota Press. 1988). We could also relate the characlerization of the
evil thus attained to what lacan designated as "the jealousy that is born in
a subject in its reLation to anomer. inasmuch as this other is thought to par-
ticipate in a certain form of jouiJSllnct'. of vital superabundance. perceived
by the subject as that which he can nor apprehend by way of any affective
movement. even the most elementary. [s it noc truly singular. and strange.
that a being should admit to envying in another. [0 the point of hatn:d.
to the point of needing to destroy. what he is incapable of apprehending
in any way. and by no intuitive means? The almost conceptwlloclting of
this other may in itsdf suffice to produce this movement of unease .... "
Jacques !.acan, Lt'Slmi"",", Book VII. "L'Ethique de la psychanalyse"
(Paris: lc Scuil. 1986). p. 178. And ruSIn,,,t'. as such, il -JuprrttbuntLmu."
14. Translator's note-For the remainder of this chapter. the word
No~s to Pages 129-J7 2.03

I'rol'rt has heen uanslated as "own- and "proper" irucn;hangeably in or-

d~r to regiMer Nal1l.:Y's nuancing of this term.
15. Cf. Martin' Icidegger. "l.cner nn Humanism," in 8tuk \f;rit;"gs.
Certainl) anothcr undersranding of H~idcggcr'~ propositions on tlbos is
made possible if rhe du't'Jlingwhi,h rlj,O! must he for him is not a dwelling
of the proper. and is finally /lot a "dwelling- at all. What we will say
next ahout the det.:ision will follow in this direl:tion.
16. Martin Heid~gg~r. Srhtllil,fl,'s Tmllist 011 tilt Esst1lrt of H,,,,rttn
f'rtttiom, Joan Stambaugh, [ran.~. (Athens: Ohio University Press, 1985),
pp. r41-'43; next citation. pp. 177-78.
17. It should he noted that Hegel's anal~is of good and evil in the
PlmlOmmo!ogy. which dialet.:ricizes their identity, nevertheless empha-
$il~S in a particular rone that the simpl~ affirmarion of their identity
mu~t he juxrapm;ed "with an insurmountahle obsrinlk.Y." namely, that of
their ditTerem:e.
IR. Georges Bataille, .. Conftrmm" in Ontr'm (Amplhts, vol. 7 (Paris:
Le Sa&i1, (976), p. J7}.
19. Ihid .. vol. 8, p. 495.
20. Cf. Chap. J.
21. QUNlions IV (}Jar": F1ammarion), p. 150 [trans. of Dit &Im,"

1961 1.
22. Translator's nntc--Errt-proprr rranslates Heidcggcr's "St/~in,"
rendered in English as "Beingits-Self" or a5 "Bc:ing-one's-Sclf" in
Macquarrie and Robinson's tramlation of Bei"g and Timf.
2). "Mood-heing arnmed-to hear the attunement. To be able 10
hear: ((till of the stillneSli of being." Srhtlli"g s Tmllist on '''~ Eum"~ of
HItIHt1" Prttdom. p. 189. (This callundoubtcdly communicates with the
one we will next dis,uss). [Translator's note-Nancy's di~cussion of
tonality follows from the translation of Hcideggc:r's Stimmung-
"molld"-~ fOIl"Iill.l
2.,. u: S7 and following.
25. This call and this voice have been specifically analYlcd by
Clu"lOphcr Fynsk in IItidtrgtr- Thought al/d Hiltoridty (\thal:a: Cornell
University Press. 1986). chap. I. This 'lnal~is has also given risc 10 an
essay by Mikkcl Borch-Jal:ob!;en. "termtr," in PoIs;t .15. Paris. 1<}86. 011 the
({(lIill thc con5titution of Vasti" beyond the subjCi:t, cf. Jean-Luc Marion.
-1:lnterloqt.e" in TO/,oi, ill W1~ CO",N Aft" tht Subfrrt? Eduardo Cadava,
Peter Connor. Jean-l.uc Nancy, cds. (New York: Routledge, 1991). pp.
2}6-45. And on the ",,11 in general in Hcid~cr, con~dcrcd tOr its (d~-phl)"
ny and rdated to Hcidcr,gcr's politiu and his thinking on tcchnology. sec
204 Notts to Pagn IJ7-4}

Avital Ronell. TIM l'''kpIJolI~ Book (Lim;oln: Nebraska UniveBity PrCSl.

16. In this way. ontological analysis yields to the pre-ontological"
comp~~nsion of the phmomenon of G~rttiMr, in ordinary expel'irnce (cf.
S9). This experience is therefore only "ordinary" in that it malen the
call of conscience succeed a committed act as a lived experience. Ytl;1 is
not ordinary in that it giM primACY to bad cansnena. Morwver. the par-
alld analysis of an ordinary "good" conscience results entirely in Ihe im-
possibility of this purported phenomenon. The good man will be the
last 10 say". am good" and thereby to escape from the possibility of
hearing the call. Consequently. we: can add to what Hddcgger says. the
good man is good only in receiving rhe "attestation of his being-wicked."
17. lowe this comment on the word to Werner Hamacher. who is
p~paring an impo"ant srudy of G~/lJ;ssnr.
18. 60. p. J4S lnans. modified). To remain consistent with the lexi-
con of "facruality. "we render folttisch as "faerual" and not "faerial. n
19. Q"nlions IV (Paris: Flammarion). p. 148 (trans. of" Die Klhrt."
JO. QutJtions IV(raris: Flammarion). p.1II4. This comes from a sem-
inar protocol. not from one of Heideggcr's texts.

Chapt" IJ
I. Cf. Chap. J. Yet decision doubdess always insmbn itself. which
means it not only says or writes something. but gives itself as dtcisio"
(through speech or writing. or through the body. gesture. or tone). This
inscription of decision is cerrainly not unrelated to what Jcan-Claude
Milner analyzes as d,d"rlltio". which for him is p~cisely the material
inscription of freedom (cf. Libtrtis. Imm. ,,,,,1;;". I..cs con~~ncn du
PerroquCl. 3. Paris. June 1985)
1. Cf. similarly Uvinas: "Violence can only aim at the faer." cired by
Derrida. who condnues: "Furrher. wirhour Ihe thought of Being which
opens rhe face. rhe~ would be only pure violence or pure nonviolence."
Jacques Derrida. "Violence and Metaphysics in Wriling ."d DiJfortllct.
Alan Bass. lrans. (Chicago: University of Chicago rress. 1978). p. 147.
We may add: "iolencc also originates from a face. on which wickedness
can. occasionally. be read II! rh, d,wtstAl;ol/ ofthis s<lm, fo"
3. Cf. Chap. 8.
4. Blanchot:" 'Thou shalt not kill' evidendy means 'do not kill him
who will die anyway' and means: 'because of this. do not commit an of-
fensc a~i"'1 dying. do nor decidc the undecided. do not say: "here is
what is donC':' prcsumptuously claillling a right over rhe "not yet." do not
act as if .he last word has been spoken. time is fini~hcd. and the Messiah
has finally arrived.'" Maurice Blanchot. u Pas ",,-/kIll (Paris: Gallimard.
1973). p. 149
~. Manin Heilll'l~er. Bring lind lImt. John Macquarrie and Edward
Rohin~on. trans. (New York: Harper & Row. (961), $60, p. 346.
(Translator's nore-Where Nancy appears explicitly to be referring to
Hddc~er's text. oll,'trt",i ("EncIJ/omnhtil') hu been transJated as
"disclosedm:ss"; otherwise it has heen rendered as "opening" or "open-
nc:ss. "J
6. Cf. primarily On Timt tlnd &ir'g, and Art lind Spa"t.
7. YVC'S Bonnefoy. L 'Improbttbk (Paris: 1951), p. lSI,
S. Gilles Dd(,lI1.e and Felix Guarrari, A fhtmsn",1 PIaUllfll, Brian
Massumi, tran.~. (Minneapolis: UnimsityofMillnc:soca Press, 1987). p. )81.
This will also rd'er to.he description of "free action" which "ahsolurdy oc-
cupies an unpunctuated space."
9. 15 it therdure inimitahlc:? Ilere we will hold in rescrve .he mime-
tologkal quelilion offn:C'dom (in a general sen~c and with panicular ref-
erence 10 Lacuue-Labanhc). Frcrdom is produced in and as the being-sin-
gular of being. The bdng-singular of being is for itself. in existena, nd-
thcr a general essence. nor a generic substance. nor a formative force.
nor an exemplary ideality. There is no reproducible contour. no mood. no
scI'm1tt of pmerical reason in its fo("', No non-scnsible image of .he smsi-
hle-bm the finite: tran~endcnce of naked ~nsibiliry. existC'llce materially
d~iding it~lf in the world. Freedom doe~ nOi resemble anything and it
is not (l' lnC'mble an~'thing. Imitadon has always been considered as un-
free. it has even undouhtedly furnished ~rvility's rxt"'pl"m. and free-
,",om. on the conrrary. would he the tx,mpl,llll of non-imitation--the
negative rxnnpl,m, of a negation of mi""S;I. The limit of imitation, nev-
er rhe imitation of the limit: always 01/ the limit of existence (would this
he .he hi,ldcn "rtof the schemalism?). But this still estahli~hC'5 a mimer-
ic rdation. and freedom has also always bern considered ;l~ t'xempl:uy: C'X-
emplary of C'Xcmplality we ,"uuld say. Exemplary of what under ,he name
of prll:o$ (excellence. virtue. n:volution) can he thought of a.\ non-poitsil.
or as po;tS;S of the 501(' agelH of l'0inis. We know, moreover. that this
can also be interpreted as pot", ;n,lf. We could investi~te how free-
dom has been identified with poetry itsclf and reciprocally. Is it not at bot-
tom for us the txtmp'um, without example, of "creation." it5c1f exem-
106 NOkS to Pagt'S 148-51

plary of the uncxnnplifiable offering of a world and to a world~ Freedom:

praxical archi-mimesis and archi-poetry~ If there is something of the rev-
olutionary in art. this i!i because it forcc~ one---since Plato. with and
against philosophy-to think freedom. Yet perhaps it demands this more
radically offrmlom. It would be in [h~ sense that [he -archi-obligation"
present in an for Lacoue-Labanhe should be understood. Sec Philippe
Lacouc-I...abarthc, L 7mitlltion tin motkrnn (Paris: Galilee, 1986), p. 184. But
if art obligates one to freedom, it is not because it gives an example of it
or because there would be an "art of fredom." These determinations
have all been aught up in our representation of the Greek ~ple (in our
constirution or construction of our beginnings in an exemplary origin). If
there is something revolutionary, which we have kept calling "freedom."
it i~ something that gesrures toward a liberation from this very example of
an an of freedom and of a frdom of an. whose chiasm signifie5 tor us a
lost Greece as well as a freedom beyond our reach. But here is a liberation
for another opening. for another unexpectw occurrence without example
or whose only example would be surprise, the ~nerosity of the surprise and
the surprise of generosity. A surprising example. Freedom would rrquire
thinking-in a region where the demands or hopes of "an," "cthics,"
and "politics would be replayed-neither an inimitablc model nor a
m;mesu withou r model, but the surprise ofthe ex4mp/e as such (why dOf'$
this furnish an example? Why is there an example rather than ... ?), a sur-
pr~e more originary than mim~iis to every poiesi;, therefore a praxis, we
could say, but one which would not be the agent's "sclf-production,"
but rather the vinuc-fhe force and excdl~nce---of nothing other. bur
nothing less than, t'Xutmu. An ontology of this surprising example that be-
ing gives.

I. Cf. Maurice Blanchot, Th~ Writing of th~ Disasttr, Ann Smock,
trans. (Lincoln: Unive~jty of Nebraska Press, 1986), p. 46.
1. These fragments were added several momh~ after this essay was
drafted, and were originally given to be read for a thesis defense, and to
some friends. 'fhry therdOrc bear traces of questions po.~, of readings and
of reRections made afterward. Above all. I do not wan[ them to appeat as
wanting to uconclude." Th~ classical rhetorical precaution is here more
than justifiw. There is not "a thinking" of freedom. there are only pro-
legomena to a freeing of thinking.
3. Jacques Derrida, Pllragt1 (Paris: Galilee, 1986), p. 67. ITranslator'~
Not" to Pltg" If6-72 207

nor~ln English, there is no way 10 render pas without overlooking irs

muhi~'le meanings in French. which range from irs nominal designa-
tions "stt"p. pace. footprinl. [race. stri~. walk. gait. dance. precedence.
Ihreshiliti. step of siair. passage (of arms), strait. pass. pitch. Ihread to its

adverbial U5C a~ a panide of n~ation signifying "no. not. nOI any. "]
4. cr. IA J~'/I" fillt qlli 110111 prism" lit,." forthcoming.
5. }8. I will 'OOle back to this in an essay on "opening" in the analytic
of D/'I~;n. Moutin Ileidegger. B~i"g ""d T;m~. John Macquarrie and
Edward Rohinson. nans. (New York: Harper & Row, 1961), p. 119.
6. Translator's not~"71m;q"t." in French. is open to many English
translations, among which are the following: "technique." Ihe specific
style or manner in which an activity is conducted; "technics," the tech-
nological tooL~. methods. theories. and so fonh used to carry OUI an action:
anti "technology." rhe terminological body relating as a whole 10 the:
7. Since these notes, Derrida has explicirly come bad to the: 5tatus
of questioning in Heidewr: Jacques Derrida. OfSpirit. HtUkggtr.nd tht
QlltSlioll. Geoffrey Bennington and Radlcl Bowlby. trans. (Chicago:
Univeniry of Chicago PI'CS5. 1989).
B. Blanchot. TIw Writing oflJw Disasltr.
9. S7. Martin Heideggc:r. Btillt ana T;mt. p. J13.
10. Cf. "Lc: Peuple juif nc rM pas." by Philippe: Lacoue:-Labanhc: and
Jean-Luc Nam:y, in La Psyc""nttlys~ m-~/k IIn~ histoi" jlli",? (Paris: Lc:
Scuil. 1981); and on Ihe Hrgdian "mother." Jean-Luc Nancy, "Idenrirr et
tremblement" in Hyp"(Jw (with M. Barch-Jacobsen and E. Michaud)
(Pari.~: Galilee. 198}).
n. Maurice: B1anchot. u Pas Ilu-drld (Paris: Gallimard. 1975), p. 7J.
12. Robert Amdme.lette:r of June 21, 1945, citrd in Dionys Mascolo.
Amour dim 1]Or, tit ml",o;" (Paris: M. Nadeau. 1987).
I). E. M. Cioran. Prlris tit dIromptlrititJIl (Paris: Gallimard. 1965). p. n.
140 Cf. (;mnJ Grand. Ala Guerre de Seccssion." u Dlb.t, no. 48. Jan.-
IS. G. W. F. Hegel, Phi/ostJp", ofRigJII (New York: Oxford Universiry
Press. 1967), S. 2.2.
16. Amtlor rhe event of being. I insist h"re on returning to L 'Ir~ tt
l'lr,mrmtllt by Alain Dadiou (Pari5: I.e Seuil. 1987). Having appc:arat too
late for me: (0 gram it its due cr"dir. rhis imponam book 5C:C:1II5 (0 me (0
comain. in cenain respect" a rhesl~ close to (he rhais on the fttedom of
Index of Nalnes

In ,his index an af' aftrr a num~r indicates a scpararc rt~nce on the nellt
page. and an ~fl~ indicates separate referenca on the next two pagCll. A con-
tinuous discuuion OV~ nvo or mort pag~ i, indicated by a span of page
numbers. e.g.. U - S9 P;willl i~ used for a cluster of rcfcrenas in dose but

nOl consrcutiv~ ~qumce.

Adorno. Thcodor.... n. 111. 184n4. Dcrrida. Jacques, 7. I,. Isof. 16,.

186nl. 190nll. 199nl0 186n8. 189n). 194n7. 197n}
Arrndr. Hannah. 74(, '4S. 168 (Chap. 10), 197nl (Chap. II).
Ari~IOde:, 41, 16}. 19)nll 107n7
Oescarrcs. Ren~. S. 71. 87, 89(, 107
Badiou. Alain. 76. 183nl. 207016
Ral.ille. Gt'orgeo;. 12..52. 12.}. 1}2. F.picurus. 19m1}
IH. lSI. IRlnll. 10ln6
BaudelJire:. Ch;ulc:s-Pic:lle, (1) Fichll~. J. G. IS,-B6nf
8t"njamin. Waller. 117-18. 137. lSI. Foucault. ",tichc:l. 78. t9Jnll
165 Franck. Didier. 197n8 (Chap. 9),
8c:nveniste. Emile:. 197n4 197'nl (Chap. II)
8t"rg.~m. Henri. ISO. 186m. Freud. Sigmund. 71. 168
196-97 n7 Fynsk. Christopher. 1031115
8iraud. Henri. 186-87n)
Blandtot. 119. 148. lSI. (;rancl. Grrard. IS. 1"1. l88n8
189n1. 1<)2n4. 204n4 tiUalt;1ri. Fc.'lix. 193n4
Ronnefo). Yves. 144 Gl1ilead. Rcubm. la6n)
Uorl.:h-JKubsen. Mikke:1. lOJn!s
Ilamachrr. WC'rner. 204n2.1
Dall."a)'r. Frrd R.. IS;n} Ill' W. L I. f. 7f. 14. 19. 33.
De:lcuze. (;iII~. 'So. I(,S. 19On12. J6. J8f. 41. 46 49-S0. H. 7 6
1'}2n4 RIff. 88.94 .,sr. 107. 10,}. 118. IlS.

2.]0 lndn:

117r. IH. 138. I~sff. IS9. 171. M:m;us Aurdius. 191013

18101. 18301. 18sns. 19401. Marion. Jcan-Luc. 10)n25
194-95nI0. 196n7. 10)n17 Manincau. E . 18sn4. 187n)
H~idcgger. Martin. 14. 18. u. Marx. Karl. 17. 51.79. 157. 163.
15-19. )1. )3-43. 46-54 passim. 184nl. 189n8. 196n7
58. 61. 67. 81r. 88. 94. 96. IIIr. Mcrlcau-Ponry. Mauricc. 191nl
119. 112.. 115. 115-31 fJilHim. Miln~r. Jcan-aaud~. 10401
135-44 ptwim, 150r. 156-61 MWiil. Robm. 1S3
passim. 165-71 plUSim. 183n4.
184nS. 18snn4-S. 186n7. NiellSChe. Friedrich. 17.46. 113.
186-87n3. 187-88n7. 188n8, 117. ISor. 157. 165. 183n4. 184n1
188nl1. 189n4. 19Onll. 194n6.
195n3. 195-96n6. l!J8ns. 100n3. Pascal. Blaise:. 58
101nll. 103n15. 104n16. 107n7 Plato. 7. 75. 78.107.115, 141.163.
Henry. Michel. 195nIO. 196n6 205n9
HoId~rlin. Fri~drich. 154 Proust. Marccl. 113. loln6
Husser!. Edmund. IS9
ROUS5elU. Jean-Jacques. 44. 51.
Kafka. Franz. 11} 188nl
Kanr. Immanud. sf. 8. lof. 11-16
passim. 31. 33. }6ff. 39. 41. 44fT. Sadc, Donaticn-Alphonsc-Fran~is
48. SI. 54. 59. 67. 7 6 f. 9)f. 99 ff. dc, 113
105ff. Ill. 113, 116. 114-15. 117. SainI-Just. Louis dc. 80
1)7. 157. 159. 16). 165f. Il4n1. Sartn:. Jcan-I'aul. 96. 98f. 101,
1840"4-5.18501. 186n7. 188m. 186m. 19Sn1
189n4 ScMlling. Friedrich von. 8. 33.
)6-40 PIUS;m. 115-31 plUSim. 134.
ucan. Jacques. 101nl3 18)n4
l.acou~-l.abanhc. Philippe:. 75. Schmiu. Carl, 167
184"4. 188n8. lOOn). 10lnll. Schtirmann. Rciner. 187n3
101-6n 9 Spinoz:l. Bencdicl de, 11, 11. 13. H.
Leibniz. Gottfried, 36. 18}n4 41.91, 107, 16). 18)n4. 18sn5,
Ibinas. Emmanud. 89. 187n). 187n}. 188m, 1891l4. 199n6
189n3. 19407. 104nl
Lyotard. Jcan-FraDljois. 7S-76. Vuillemin. 191013, 199n6
189n3, 197-98n4. Wl1l13
Wingenstnn. Ludwig. 198n5
Mann. Thom:l!i. 113 Wolff, Francis. 191n1

Crossi,zg Aesthetics

Jcan-Luc Nancy, TIN Ex~riml"t ofFrm/om

Jean-Joseph Goux, Chdiplls. Phi/osoplNr
Haun Saussy, Tb~ Prob/~m offI ChillN Ant/utiC'
Jean-Luc Nam:y, Tlw Birtb to Prtsmu
I.ibrary of Congr05
Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Nancy, J~an.Lw:;
[Expc:ritncc de Ia Jibe"c. English!
The experience of freedom I
Jean-Luc Nancy ;
[ranslalcd by Bridge! McDonald
with a foreword b) Peter femes.
p. cm. - (Meridian)
I"dudes bibliographical rc:fc~nces.
ISIIN o-So47-117S-o (a1k. paper)
- ISIIN 0-8047-2190-4 (pbk.
aile. paper) I.Liberty. I. Title.
II. Series Meridian (Stanford, Calif.)
BIOS4~N)613 I99J

This boolt is printed on
acid-free paper. It w~ typcsc:t by
Anne Chcikk in Adobe: Garamond
and Lilhos on a Macinlo~h Iki at
Stanford Universiry ('rcss.

Ori).,tinal printing 1993

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