Abendland: on Jean-Luc Nancy’s The Banality of Heidegger. By Gerardo Muñoz.

nancy-banalityJean Luc Nancy’s The Banality of Heidegger (Fordham, 2017) is yet another contribution to the ongoing debate on Heidegger and Nazism, in the wake of the publication of the Black Notebooks in recent years. Originally delivered as a conference on Heidegger and the Jews in 2014, Nancy’s brief essay expounds on other contributions on the topic, such as those by Peter Trawny, Donatella Di Cesare, and the Heidelberg Conference of 1988 (now also available) between Georg Gadamer, Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe, and Jacques Derrida. Nancy’s intervention in the debate is important for several reasons; one of them being that the essay maps the strange career of the ‘banality of antisemitism’ into philosophical discourse. And not just any philosophical discourse, but Heidegger’s discourse, which remained ambitious, as we know, in unleashing a destruction of Western metaphysics for the recommencement of thought. Moving beyond Arendt’s own characterization of banality, Heidegger, in Nancy’s view, is not an administrator that followed the categorical imperative immunized by a bureaucratization of moral judgment. The banality of antisemitism in Heidegger is the displacement of the juridical register into the proper philosophical one (Nancy 2). This is why, for Nancy, the catastrophe of Heidegger’s philosophical antisemitism is a failure that also happened to us in thought, and that it is still very much open as a possibility for us today (Nancy 62). In a certain way, Nancy’s essay also reads as a timely warning for anyone wanting to commit to thinking at all.

Nancy’s point of departure shares Peter Trawny’s hypothesis elaborated in Heidegger and the Myth of a Jewish World Conspiracy (2015) that the Jew possesses absent historiality that does not allow for destinial movement towards soil, decision, and people (Nancy 25).  The technical term for historial, as Jeff Fort reminds us in the Preface, corresponds to weltgeschichtlich, and could also be translated as “world-historical”. This provenance explicitly thematizes the banal anti-semitic myth coming out of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, but also from Theodor Lessing’s “Jewish Self-Hatred” published in the 1930s. It is hard to know how Heidegger would have not known these works, although harder is to think how they arrived as such a central place in his philosophy. In fact, this is the ‘knot’ of the banality of antisemitism in philosophical thought. The Jew in Heidegger’s thinking becomes metonymic for machination and gigantism, democracy and Americanism. In fact, according to Nancy, Heidegger’s anti-jewish trope might have fallen into what he has called the principle of general equivalence, in which humanity is flattened out by generalities of particular traits that come to represent the total abendland or decline of the West. Nancy writes, rehearsing here arguments from his previous Truth of Democracy and After Fukushima:

“But the machination that gives rise to such a naturalist principle leads in the direction of a complete ‘deracialization’ of a humanity reduced to the undifferentiated equality of all, and in general of all beings. It is interesting to note that the argument is not very far removed from the one in which Marx qualifies money as a “general equivalent” in which productive humanity is alienated from its proper existence and therefore from its value or meaning…[..]. The Jewish people is the identifiable agent, property identifiable (or more properly, a bizarre notion that must no doubt be recognized), of what at the same time is a broad composition of masses and identities, America or Americanism, communism and technics, French, English, Europeans, Germans, even, and “Abendland”, evening, decline, collapse. At bottom, the “decline of the west” is a pleonasm.” (Nancy 15-18).

The consequence of such operation is clear: the principle of general equivalence entails an extreme and unprecedented form of evil. Hence, Nancy concludes, rightly so, in my opinion, that no generality can contain or exempt a true opening from its system. Then, we must assume that there is really no authentic “letting be” in Heidegger’s thought. In fact, the exclusive-inclusive status of Judaism in heideggerianism is hyperbolic to the disastrous limitations of the ‘letting be’ in his philosophy. This will also be consistent with Giorgio Agamben’s reservations in L’uso dei corpi (Neri Pozza, 2014) of the gelassenheit as shorthand for the logic of the political ‘ban’. The philosophical status of the Jew in Heidegger, starting in the thirties onward, is marked by the assumption that the Jew is the main figure (and its gestalt, meaning that is also giving shape) of Western decline. This formulation is only possible from the standpoint of the condition of equivalence. The kernel of equivalence in Nancy’s Banality of Heidegger is the strongest critique, as far as I am aware, directed against Heidegger’s anti-semitism. I say this for two reasons, which are connected to Nancy’s argument, but that I will try to push towards a different direction.

First, if antisemitism is integrated in the principle of equivalence, this allows for thinking the problem of democracy, not abandoning it. This implies that the principle of democracy is not surpassed by Heidegger’s own convergence of the term as identical to the event of the “masses”, “people”, “race”, or “technical development”. Nancy asks the question in light of the “Jew”, but one could also alter the term by asking for the status of “democracy” in Heidegger’s thought. In fact, Heidegger’s politics in the Black Notebooks advance a strong position for a metapolitics of the people, which Nancy does not get to discuss in such a brief essay.  This is consistent with Heideggerian emphasis on ‘original beginnings’ (in the Greek sense, which Nancy does overtly emphasize), amounting to a rhetoric of reversibility. In fact, Heidegger’s position on the Jew is equally grounded in what I would call a metapolitics of reversibility, that is, a firm belief that capitalist democracy is reversible and that there is a, or some, originary beginnings. Heidegger’s antidemocratic metapolitics points to his most extreme failure, since democracy as a practical political arrangement in the name of the singular is always fissured, evolutionary, and opened to contingent configurations in its divisions of power without reassurance for the destinial [1]. This is also why only democratic republicanism can be a politics without metapolitics and without arcana. Heidegger’s thought in the Black Notebooks and elsewhere is anti-democratic as much as it is anti-semitic, or it is anti-democratic because it is anti-semitic.

My second reason: any talk of the past presupposes a sense of history of the human. At one point in the essay, Nancy rightfully points to something not always discussed in Heidegger: “It was important to him [Christianity], therefore, above all not to retain the traces of other beginnings throughout the history of the West, and especially not at the points of its most perceptible inflections (Christianity, Renaissance, the industrial and democratic revolution). At the same time, the rejection or exclusion of the Jews by Christianity aims to reject and exclude something could complicate even disturb the strict Christian initiality” (Nancy 56). Nancy concludes that in Heidegger’s work there was never an attempt to flesh out the differences between Christian dogmatics and non-apologetics, the Church and its forms of communizations. Thus, Heidegger remained oblivious to the survival of Christian forms. In the indiscriminate package ‘Judeo-Christian onto-theology’, the equivalence surfaces as yet another form of emphasizing the course of the destinial sending of the West, while leaving aside a more complicated history proper to the human. Also, since destination was always thought as an aftereffect of errancy, Nancy suggests, following Rigal, that the Heideggerian errancy never abandoned the arcanum of an originary proper beginning and a possible recommencement. This is even stranger if we are to consider Judaism’s provenance in errancy without territory.

But this slight neglect is the place where Heidegger is closer to the doctrinal philosophy of Hitlerism. Since, as historian Timothy Snyder has shown, Hitler believed that the Jew was a vicarious agent of technology and capital, lacking territory and place, which only after its destruction could the notion of the ‘struggle of the species’ reappear in truth and proper light [2]. It does nothing to the argument to respond that Heidegger remained detached from the racial or biological assumptions of Hitlerism. It only matters that he shared the belief of the destruction of the Jewish people, and the Jew as one of the ‘oldest figures’ (sic) of self-destruction.

The essay concludes with Nancy’s two pleas to continue thinking with and through Heidegger: first, to break away with the historical mode of progress as a world conquest made by man with “exponential finalities” and second, to reject any substantial intromission into a new “ontology”, while opening errancy against any destinial metapolitics (Nancy 58). One wonders to what extent the late Heidegger came to subscribe the second position, or if the Ereignis is the continuity of thought in banality and bad faith (Nancy seems to think the latter). It is much harder to accept the rejection of the idea of progress. Although, this is the common ground that both Nancy and Heidegger share as reject sons from the project of the Enlightenment. Yet, as we remain alert to ways of questioning its irreversibility, we know that this is still today a strong antidote against common banalities.


  1. I sympathize with José Luis Villacañas’ critique of Heidegger’s return to the Greek beginning in his Teología Política Imperial: una genealogía de la división de poderes (Trotta, 2016).
  1. Timothy Snyder. Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning. New York: Tim Dugan Books, 2016.

Acts of Engagement: on Marranismo e Inscripción. (Djurdja Trajkovic)

What is the relation between negative engagement and deconstruction? Negative engagement is a singular engagement of separation that instead of proposing a binary problem/solution proper to contemporary thinking, offers new questions and the possibility of pushing thought further. It is negative since it does not look for empathy nor compassion, neither redemption nor recognition. It is an engagement that abandons the “state of things”, only to open up thought to the unthinkable, and to the difficult experience of freedom. It is engagement as a form of life, since what is at stake is a relation to existence outside of hegemony, identity, and quality; that is, at the margins of institution (if there is such a thing anymore).

In Moreiras’ anti-book, Marranismo e Inscripción (Escolar & Mayo, 2016), we bear witness to such a difficult intervention. It is a book made up of heterogeneous writings, some highly intimate, others profoundly distant, which overwhelms the reader with their arduous insistence and demand for thinking. It is as if Moreiras is repeating the Heideggerian conclusion that we have not even begun to think. And what is there to think about in “times of interregnum”?

Firstly, the crucial task that Alberto offers up for thought is what cannot be said: the crisis of the Humanities. Suggesting that we do not posses even the concepts or language with which we could start this process, Moreiras is suspicious of returns to national history and grand (canonical) literature. If this is a crisis of crisis, how do we think about the Humanities within the eye of the storm? What kind of crisis are we bearing witness to? It seems that the Humanities has become sort of a bad word: it is a space where a fundamental interrogation on the state of humanity could have been put into question once, and that today increasingly mirrors only the loss of academic jobs of academics and its contingency. Global capitalism turns a necessity, the cultivation of thought and the letter, into contingency by naturalizing the status quo and refusing to recognize the conflict.

Important as it may be to address the contingency of academic work, however, the crisis is profound since what is at its heart is the very crisis of thought and intellectuality. It seems that the brutal acceleration and instrumentalization of life itself has surpassed our capability to rethink it without falling into nostalgia and melancholia and other “solutions” that lead nowhere. I am not suggesting here embracing all too quickly a “happy” form of living without really dwelling into the question of globalization. But does anyone really need the Humanities anymore, if anyone ever really did? Is the university, as a space of hospitality without condition, possible today? Can the Humanities offer once again a thought of/for transformation? How is transformation to be enacted irreducibly to wishful thinking and pure dreaming? Critical thinking stutters here, as it fears its own disappearance.

There is no room for cynicism or nihilism, however. And even if there is, we must reject it. The situation is difficult, unbearable. Inviting us to abandon recognition, Moreiras underlines the acknowledgment of finitude; the very possibility of doubt and doubting of decolonial and communist impulses (you may want to revise this last phrase, as it is difficult to figure out what you mean). He is one of the rare thinkers who trace the problem of the temporality of thinking itself. For example, he asserts that our accustomed “tools” fail us today as the exhaustion of modern (political) concepts is beckoning us. Perhaps we are bearing witness to the death of modernity. And yet, Moreiras does not offer to salvage those concepts but instead proposes without proposition a further deconstruction of politics. One must ask then what is left of politics and the political after deconstruction? What is unthinkable after deconstruction? Is deconstruction in need of deconstruction? Is deconstruction possible in the eye of a mass depolitization that the failure of neoliberalism made visible?

Infrapolitics, as something that happens, offers itself as the radicalization of deconstruction. It is a labor of difficult passion, of possibilization of the impossible, and a constant search, a desire, for the outside. Moreiras himself is hesitant to affirm if and when such a possibility might open up. Certainly not today when the conditions of possibility of/for thinking in the university of equivalence have closed even the possibility of putting into question the university itself and division of labor. Not even to mention the anti-intellectuality and anti-theoretical turn haunting the Humanities. After all, all is said and done, right? And yet, at the same time, Moreiras does not want to abandon the possibility of a new historicity, a new writing of history irreducible to instrumentalization and to the capture of history for supposedly progressive goals.

How to exercise such a demand? I believe that the question is not anymore ‘what is to be done’ but how to think the end of doing and the beginning of thinking. At the heart of his intervention is a thinking of radical democracy, a demand for a freedom of life liberated from the identitarian and hegemonic drives, a demand for other thought and time irreducible to the techno-political machine which captures experience and knowledge into another fetish and concept to be applied. In Moreiras we are distant from destruction, and what is being offered is the very possibility of experiencing freedom anew.

How so? He suggests in his reading of Javier Cercas’ El impostor that thinking is inseparable from freedom, not inseparable from love as for Jean Luc Nancy, but freedom itself. Thinking is irreducible to philosophy and literature is the risk one must take if there is going to be freedom at all. Thinking is sick thought. And only patient attention to this sickness (how could it be otherwise after the violence of metaphysics?) through the cultivation of other thought and letter could bring about the “cure”. However, the cure is not restoration of health but precisely the opening, the region, where freedom could appear. Moreiras uses here a curious word, “appearing,”- which is not appearance but “appearing.” For example, freedom appears when and if, a (wo)man opens herself to letting it be, when the character is separated from destiny, and when we consider what we are not and what we have not been able to be. Also letting it be so that the unknown can appear. Not doing but being. Is this the attempt to write a history of what has not happened and could have been? It is certainly a demand irreducible to “restorative nostalgia.”

This is a similar suggestion to what Sergio Chejfec exercises in his Los incompletos. We are not speaking here of mourning, but of the possibility of confronting the real as unforeseeable, as imperfect and inconclusive past. When we understand that, as Javier Marias reminds us, grace without use is also “la suma de todas las posibilidades no realizadas en nuestras vidas no como destino fallido”. Perhaps only then we will be ready to let freedom appear in its inexhaustibility. This is the task and promise of brave negative engagement for any Hispanist.

A reply to Steve Buttes on infrapolitics. (Gerardo Muñoz)

Chillida 1970

Steve Buttes’ “Some questions for infrapolitics” is an intelligent and generous effort that engages with several key problems at the heart of the ongoing collective project of ‘Infrapolitical Deconstruction’. Although, it begs to say that Moreiras’ works – from the early Interpretación y Diferencia (1991) to Línea de sombra (2006), have been central to thinking de-narrativization and the critique of metaphoricity, bringing these problems into new light from different registers (the literary, the cultural, and the political), I think it would be incorrect to frame the particular project of infrapolitics as a culmination of Moreiras’ own thought and itinerary. In this light, what I find of importance in Buttes’ intervention is the fact that he does not just hinge on a particular problem, but is able to juggle and render visible a series of common elements of the project that merge with his own research (1).

Indeed, it was unfortunate to have missed Prof. Buttes at the last formal meeting during the Harvard ACLA 2016 conference, but we could only hope that there will be another timely encounter for discussion. For what it is worth, I want to lay down a few commentaries on some issues raised by Buttes. My aim is not to correct or even less defend a programmatic way of infrapolitics, but perhaps to think about his recent inquiry as parallel with some of the problems that have been pertinent to my own intellectual reflection over the last two or so years. I hope this will serve as a reparatory outline for future discussions to come.

In a precise moment of his commentary, Buttes writes: “That which escapes regulation, visibilization through the metaphors chosen to organize the world—the unthought thought, that which “what was never [on the] radar” (“Some comments”), freedoms that remain beyond writing (Williams, The Mexican Exception), the unfinished manuscript (Cometa, “Non-finito”), averroist intellect (Muñoz “Esse extraneum”) and so on—always remains invisible, and as a consequence always emerges as something that looks like the thing it is: real life beyond calculation, beyond visibilization, beyond metaphoric capture. In other words, it is the image, as Dove has called it. This image, of course, is characterized by its invisibility, by its ability to be sensed but not seen, experienced but not known, used but not valued”.

I am entirely in disagreement that infrapolitics could be thought as invisibility in opposition to visibility, since that opposition itself remains caught in calculation that renders the operation of unconcealment and the existential analytic obsolete. The very idea of the averroist intellectual has nothing to do specifically with the image as such, but with metaxy (or metaxu as rendered by Weil’s anti-personalist Platonism). This is why life as pure means constitutes itself impersonally from the outside. Hence, to reduce the question of the image to a division of the senses (sight) or to the disciplinary arrangement made possible by modern art historical discourse (Fried et al) is interesting, but not relevant, at least not for averroism. It is true, however, that averroism is crucial for infrapolitics. To some extent averroism, like the existential analytic or marranismo, is an important referent for infrapolitical existence and posthegemonic democracy.

א In her important research on the saturated image, Camila Moreiras Vilaros has emphasized the transformative nature of images from a regime of the society of control to one of saturation and exposure. If the first still has a mode of coercion over bodies and subjects, the second one is hyperbolically without subject, substance, and extension. Exposure coincides fully with the image of the world in positionality. In this sense, infrapolitics fundamentally thinks not the invisible, but the invisible as already fully visible. To be marrano in the open means to dwell in the event of total exposure.

Weil, Esposito, Coccia, Agamben, or Moreiras are thinkers of this outside as metaxy, although do not particularly wish to install an “invisible iconology”, or “an icon of potentiality over actuality”. I am convinced that the question of iconology features centrally in Prof. Buttes’ research, but from my own understanding, infrapolitics cannot be separated from an actuality granted by a form of life or the second division of existence that renders inoperative the very distinction of actuality and potentiality. In fact, in recent months some of us have understood the importance of undertaking Heidegger’s influential seminar Aristotle Metaphysics 1-3: the actuality over force, as to cautiously rethink the difficulty of the Aristotelian category (actuality) that is at stake here. In terms of the icon, in my own research project I have thought of another relation with pictorial space that is not possessed by iconicity, which allows possible oikonomical arrangement and sacrament institution [2]. I would say that, indeed, landscape is important for infrapolitics, but far from rendering a dichotomy between the visible and the invisible, the expropriated and the appropriated, it seeks to think distance and dwelling.

א It was something like this that was at stake for Heidegger in one of his rare essays written as a general reflection on art, but specifically meant as a commentary on a Spanish sculptor that he very much admired: Eduardo Chillida. In Die Kunst und der Raum (1969), Heidegger writes: “Solange wir das Eigentümliche des Raumes nicht erfahren, bleibt auch die Rede von einem kunst-lyrischen raum dunkel. Die weise, wie der Raum das Kunstwerk durchwaltet, hangt vorerst im Un-bestimmten.” Before the pictorial space there is the question of space. How to account for the peculiarity of space? That was Heidegger’s question, since spacing meant to ‘erbringt’ (don) freedom and the life (wohnen) for da-sein.

The word “value” appears in different ways about seven or eight times in Buttes’ piece. I am not sure I can take up the different ways in which it appears, at times in opposition to use. However, it is clear that infrapolitics does not seek to value any ontic or ontological position, since it departs necessarily from a critique of the principle of general equivalence as the contemporary determination of nihilism (an argument made forcefully, I think, by Moreiras, Villalobos-Ruminott, & J. L. Nancy). Thus, it is inconsistent with infrapolitics to argue that “infrapolitics, creates […] a fetish—“a form of thinking the political that fetishizes the undoing of power as a value in itself”. Undoing power arrives at the non-subject or post-hegemony as democratic condition for social existence. But how is this “value” or instrumentalized for “value itself”? In some cases, Buttes seems to take value for ‘preference’. Infrapolitics does not make that decision for preference’s sake, but for understanding the non-correspondence between life and politics in thought.

א The question of value tied to the problem of ‘poverty’ and ‘exploitation’ is a register that infrapolitics does not take for granted. However, I am convinced that the pursuit of a new jargon of exploitation today is always in detriment of the possibility of understanding the existence of man otherwise. It is a very strange turn that some today on the Left– take Daniel Zamora, who fundamentally misinterprets Foucault’s work – keep insisting on the question about the necessity to reintroduce proletarian identity as determinate subject against diversity. It makes no sense to do this in a time like ours, where work and labor have completely disappeared. I prefer to discuss inclusive consumption (Valeriano) and uneven pattern of accumulation (Williams), not labor and exploitation.

In one of his footnotes, Buttes claims that “infrapolitics spans writers from Javier Marías, to Borges, to Lezama Lima to Cormac McCarthy to, as I note below, Ben Lener, and also, plausibly, Sergio Chejfec or Alberto Fuguet, then infrapolitics is the canon, it is the archive itself”. It is a surprising remark, but I understand that I might not fully understand its implications. Does it entail that infrapolitics is an archive of a particular style, or that it coincides merely with a work-for-the-archive? I agree with Moreiras that infrapolitics is a type of relation with the archive, and in fact, at the moment the collective is currently thinking through the archive in relation to the general historiography of the imperial Hispanist tradition [3]. Does this mean that infrapolitics is merely a relation with Hispanism and the Spanish letters? I am not convinced. I do think that there is intricate relation between writing and infrapolitics, but it could be extended and explored in other forms of art (painting, music, cinema, or even dance). Most of us work on writers such as Roa Bastos or Raul Ruiz, Lezama Lima or Oscar Martinez, Juan Rulfo or Roberto Bolaño; but these proper names are far from constituting an infrapolitical archive. There can never be an archival infrapolitics.

א In a recent intervention on the subject of infrapolitics, Michele Cometa suggested that infrapolitics was indeed the place to use literature as a thing for thought [4]. The modern invention of university disciplines and faculties, archives and practices such as “literary criticism” is a perversion of an an-archic space of unity where there is no differentiation between literature and thought, the image and life. One has to break away from the modernist fantasy that there is a ‘proper location’ for an object of studies. There are only relations of force constituted by tradition. This is why Dante at the dawn of Modernity, and later Leopardi during the bourgeoisie revolution, could see themselves as poets, thinkers, political theorists, and lovers. There was no separation.





*Image: Eduardo Chillida, drawing, 1970.

1. Buttes, Steve. “Some questions for infrapolitics”. https://infrapolitica.wordpress.com/2016/04/10/some-questions-for-infrapolitics-by-stephen-buttes/

2. Mondzain’s research is fundamental here, since her work on early Byzantine Church’s articulation of hegemony is intimately tied to the operation of iconology. See, Image, Icon, Economy: The Byzantine Origins of the Contemporary Imaginary. Stanford University Press, 2004.

3. Alberto Moreiras. “A response to Steve Buttes”. https://infrapolitica.wordpress.com/2016/04/11/a-response-to-steve-buttes-by-alberto-moreiras/

4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6ddjE_sL5w

Against American gigantism: on Peter Trawny’s Heidegger & the myth of a Jewish World Conspiracy. (Gerardo Muñoz)

Trawny Heidegger Jewish 2016

One of Peter Trawny’s main theses in his new book Martin Heidegger & the myth of a Jewish world conspiracy (University of Chicago Press, 2016), if not the central one, is that the expansion of machination at world scale was identified by Heidegger not only as the invisible power in the hands of a “dangerous band of Jews” (as Jaspers writes in his Philosophical autobiography), but also as “North America”, understood as the hyperbolic location for the fulfillment of wordlessness calculation. “Americanism” was tacitly interpreted by Heidegger as completion of nihilism, due to a “gigantism” that surpassed even the English overseas imperial trade. America lacked a proper destiny.

Against the idea of Empire built on the thriving commercial rationality, Heidegger counter-posed a non-biological conception of race ingrained in the possibility for a German turning vis-à-vis the poetic, the gods, and “the encounter in which each learn through what is respectively foreign” (Trawny 2016, 52). Whereas the “other beginning” for Germans was marked by the event of being-historical, continues Trawny, “Americanism is simply incapable of a beginning because it does not know the “origin”, because it is the offspring of an English that pursues its “gigantic business” (Trawny 2016, 37).

Taking distance from American machination also implied an open anti-Semitism within the history-of-being, conditioned by a fear due to loss of ground and a-locational fissure of dwelling. If this is Heidegger’s position in the recently published Black Notebooks, one could read here a paradoxical conjunction between Trawny’s first book Freedom to fail: Heidegger’s anarchy (Polity, 2015)- where errancy signaled not just momentary slippages of thought, but constitutive phases of his philosophy – and now errancy as privation of historical destiny. It seems as if between Trawny’s first and second book on Heidegger’s Black notebooks, what we get are really two types of errancy: the first that has to do with the site of the philosopher’s thought in opening of the Ereignis and second phase, where errancy is externalized and deeply connected to the anti-semitic a-locational dwelling in America.

It is here where one could partially inscribe a distance against Heidegger’s anti-Americanism, and establish an alternative anti-anti-Americanism, which would neither affirm the dismissal of America as the site of nihilism in the name of “Destiny” or lack thereof, nor uphold a populist or American imperialism in the name of modern mass consumerism and historical exceptionalism. Rather, it is precisely the a-locational errancy which one could affirm as a third space of an American experience of freedom. This will be the Marrano freedom, both at the level of politics as well at the level of the work within the university (knowledge).

What is crucial here to understand seems to be that Heidegger’s dismissal of America as gigantism went beyond the well-known aristocratic resentment against modern industrial society, exemplified by poets such as Stefan George or R.M. Rilke; or reactionary conservatives such as Erik Peterson, Carl Schmitt, or Julius Evola. What differentiates Heidegger’s anti-Americanism revolves around the fear of errancy and foreignness that is predicated on “race” (Judaic domination and reproduction). As Trawny quotes Heidegger:

“World Judaism spurred on by the emigrants let out of Germany, is everywhere elusive. In all the unfurling of its power, it need nowhere engage in military actions, whereas it remains for us to sacrifice the best blood of the best of our people” (Trawny 2016, 30).

It would be wrong to infer from this annotation that Heidegger is making a plea for a sacrificial substance within the German history-of-being. In fact, as Trawny reminds us, Heidegger’s anti-Americanism is accompanied by a deep regret against Germans who, instead of following the path of poets and thinkers (the conference on Holderlin’s Ister was given during the war), were deceived by the “rootless foreignness” who reckoned unto German ground in Jünger’s total mobilization (Trawny 2016, 53). What fundamentally perturbed Heidegger, however, was not the errancy of the German destiny, but the fact that American machination had turned the “rootless foreign” in all directions and spaces. Returning invisibly to the very German ground.

Why was the radical thinker of finitude unable to comprehend the horizon of democracy as consistent with the tragic condition of thought? This seems to be the limit of Heidegger’s intra-war politicity. A limit that Reiner Schürmann and Hannah Arendt’s problematize in their respective endorsements of aprincipial democracy. Against an easy dismissal of Heidegger’s thought, Schürmann’s Broken Hegemonies could well be said to affirm the a-locational errancy of democracy through the development of two of his master concepts: singularization to come and the releasement of tragic denial effectuated in hegemonic order. Beyond Heidegger’s another beginning based on Parmenides, Schürmann’s destitution of henology is reworked precisely in the name of a tragic democracy.

It is interesting that both Schürmann and Arendt were thinkers committed to different projects of post-heideggerianism in United States and that neither affirmed an Anti-Americanism of North-American gigantism, nor assumed the conventional anti-imperialist anti-Americanism sentiment of so many Cold War Lefts. It would be naïve to say that Arendt or Schürmann “fixed” Heidegger’s anti-Semitic anti-Americanism, but both definitely rework the nexus between the democratic stature and the place of thinking against the grain of onto-theology. Trawny’s book do not take up these issues, but allow us to commence to discuss them.

Our task leaves us with the necessity of affirming Heidegger’s dismissal of a-locational foreignness as a space of freedom of thought, if we are to remain committed to what in recent times Alberto Moreiras and Miguel Abensour have called savage democracy. America could well be said to be the name of that inheritance that is no longer in need of affirming a destiny or “a people”.

Das Leben ist ohne warum: una nota sobre Reiner Schürmann (Gerardo Muñoz).

Al comienzo de su libro Le principe d’anarchie: Heidegger et la question de l’agir (1982), Schürmann sugiere que lo fundamental en la filosofía (en la historia de la filosofía, así como en la arquitectónica de cada uno de sus pensadores epocales) no se encuentra en las condiciones enunciadas, sino más bien en eso que nunca aparece dicho, pero que a su vez hace posible la validación axiomática [1]. Este es, si se quiere, el punto de partida de Schürmann para desarrollar – quizás no exhaustivamente –la asociación entre “ser”, “acción”, y “arche” en el pensamiento de la destrucción de la metafísica de Heidegger leído en reverso; es decir, desde su última etapa topológica hacia la analítica existencial.

Lo que está en juego en el trabajo de Schürmann no es – conviene decirlo desde ya – instalar a Heidegger en un programa regido por una nueva economía categorial del presente, ni mucho menos vincularlo al fundamento de la crítica ingenua que busca superar el nihilismo en cuanto a su consumación (léase aquí la tecnología en tanto “ge-stell”). Al contrario, el interés de Schürmann es mostrar cómo la condición práctica, irreducible tanto al pensamiento como acción y a la acción como pensamiento, pudiera dar un giro fuera de todo antropocentrismo a partir del pensamiento atento al ser como tiempo en una posibilidad an-árquica que se abre a partir de lo que me gustaría traducir, via Schürmann, como la “economía de economías” , esto es, la “posibilidad” (Moglichkeit) de una economía an-árquica en el fin de la metafísica occidental [2].

En otras palabras, a partir de una doble operación, la acción en Heidegger está desprovista de arche, ya que la propia condición del pensamiento deconstruye el principio [3]. Esta reducción fenomenológica carece de toda concepción teleocrática, aunque su única potencia (irreducible a mando o comienzo) es la libertad como fin de la forma principial de la dominación. La claridad de Schürmann no prohíbe la aparición de una serie de posicionamientos, claramente centrales e importantes para lo que se ha venido pensando como la “deconstrucción infrapolítica” atenta a la co-pertenencia entre vida, ética, y política. Por esta razón, en lugar de recaer en la imposible tarea de glosar El principio de la anarquía, quiero detenerme en un momento desde el cual, quizás, pudiéramos abrir uno de estos posibles caminos aporéticos en el interior de nuestra reflexión.

Hay uno de estos momentos no dichos en Schürmann que marca el texto de comienzo a fin, y que aparece justo en las primera páginas y se vuelve a retomar hacia el final. Me refiero a un breve apunte de pasada en el cual Schürmann pregunta por el estatuto de la ética en Heidegger, cuya esencia hubiese sido decisiva si partimos que la anarquía de la época a-principial (la entrada a “esa noche del mundo”, en palabras de Hölderlin) habría dado el giro a la consumación épocal de la ge-stell tecnológica. Conviene escuchar a Schürmann sobre este momento aporético:

“…the genealogy of principles will show how this lineage itself was born; how, with a certain radical turn, the Socratic turn, the constellations of presencing began to be dominated by principles;’ how, at last, with another no less radical turning which announces itself in the technological reversal, these constellations can cease to be dominated by principles. But this thought of a possible withering away of the principles is only progressively articulated in Heidegger. It has been clear from the start that the question, “When are you going to write an ethics?” posed to him after the publication of his major work, arouse from a misunderstanding. But it is only in Heidegger’s last writings that the issue of action finds its adequate context: the genealogy of a finite line of epocal principles” [4].

La aporía aquí es llevada a un punto máximo de explicitación: si por una parte en Ser y Tiempo se anuncia una destrucción (Abbau) fenomenológica de la historia de la ontología occidental, el pliegue que se deja caer en tanto forma de acción a-principial deriva consecuentemente hacia la pregunta por una ética en la medida en que se subscriba la tarea de Schürmann de llevar adelante una fenomenología de los principios epocales (puesto que el ser se entreteje con el carácter común presencial de la dichtung). Por otra parte si aceptamos (dice Schürmann) la solicitación de una ética en el pensamiento de Heidegger, la demanda pudiera ser entendida como generativa de elementos transformados en normas o reformulados en categorías prescriptivas o descriptivas. Lo cierto es que el Heidegger de Schürmann no avanza más allá de esta aporía central en cuanto a la radicalización de la pregunta por el Ser (ti to on) en la crisis an-árquica epocal [5]. La pregunta por la ética en el fin de la destrucción de la metafísica por lo tanto queda en suspenso.

Curiosamente quizás esta sea la misma aporía que ha llevado a Giorgio Agamben en su más reciente L’uso dei corpi (Neri Pozza, 2014), volumen que redondea el proyecto teórico-político bajo el nombre de Homo Sacer, a confrontar abiertamente la interpretación de la ontología dual (más adelante explicaremos porqué) reconstruida por Schürmann. Escribe Agamben en la penúltima glosa de “Per una teoria della potenza destituente”:

א “Il termine arche significa in greco tanto «origine» che «comando». A questo doppio significato del termine, corrisponde il fatto che, tanto nella nostra tradizione filosofica che in quella religiosa, I’origine, cioche da inizio epone in essere, no e soltanto un esordio, che scompare e cessa di agire in cio a cui ha dato vita, ma e anche cio che ne comanda e governa la crescita, lo sviluppo, la circolazione e la trasmissione – in una parola, la storia. In un libro importante, II principio d’anarchia (1982), Reiner Schürmann ha cercato di decostruire, a partire da un’interpretazione del pensiero di Heidegger, questo dispositivo. Egli distingue costi nell’ultimo Heidegger I’essere come puro venire alia presenza e I’essere come principio delle econome storico-epocali. A differenza di Proudhon e di Bakunin, che non hanno fatto che «spostare l’origine», sostituendo al principio di autorita un principio razionale, Heidegger avrebbe pensato un principio anarchico, in cui l’origine come venire alla presenza si emancipa dalla macchina delle economie epocali e non govema piu il divenire storico. II limite dell’interpretazione di Schiirmann appare con evidenza nello stesso sintagma, volutamente paradossale, che fomisce il titolo al libro: il «principio d’anarchia». Non basta separare origine e comando, principium e princeps: come abbiamo mostrato in II Regno e la Gloria, un Re che regna ma non governa non e che uno dei due poli del dipositivo governamentale e giocare un polo contra l‘altro non e sufficiente ad arrestarne il funzionamento. L’anarchia non puo mai essere in pisizione di principio: essa puo solo liberarsi come un contatto, la dove tanto l‘arche come origine che l‘’arche come comando sono esposti nella loro non-relazione e neutralizzati” [6].

Lo que subyace en está crítica de Agamben – debatible y probablemente injusta, aunque acertada – solo se puede entender a partir de una lectura detenida de su libro Opus Dei. En este libro se deconstruyen las “dos ontologías dominantes de Occidente”: el comando y el deber, el “ser” y el “deber-ser”, la “teoría” y la “práctica”, ancladas anfibológicamente en la esfera del derecho y la filosofía, introducidas en la ética moderna (Kant), así como en la invención del normativismo legal (Kelsen) [7]. No conviene en este momento hacer una lectura detenida de Opus Dei – aunque es fundamental hacerla para la comprensión de Le principe d’anarchie (1982) –en cuanto a la pregunta por la ética luego de la liquidación de las ontologías hegemónicas (principio y comando).

Por ahora, quizás solo debemos decir que para Agamben, la cesura que establece Schürmann entre “comando” y “principio” no es suficiente para establecer una relación an-árquica (en efecto, al citar al Benjamin de la anarquía del poder, Agamben malinterpreta totalmente la distinción crucial en Schürmann entre la “anarquía económica epocal” y la “anarquía del poder” en el pensamiento de Heidegger), sin poder establecer una ontología co-sustancial con el momento destructivo epocal. (Esto Agamben lo resuelve de diversas formas en su obra. Pero digamos que el vórtice de elaboración aparece, a mi modo de ver, en la ‘ontología modal’ así como en el concepto paulino de la katargesis en preparación para la desactivación de toda operatividad) [8].

Me gustaría sugerir, sin embargo, al menos un lugar donde ocurre algo así como una doble interrupción entre ambas lecturas; la de Schürmann sobre Heidegger y la de Agamben sobre Schürmann. La clave estaría ceñida en el concepto de Gelassenheit (serenidad) obviada por Agamben, y apenas tematizada por Schürmann. Es allí donde el momento epocal es afrontado por una facticidad unívoca de la atención ante la ge-stell vía una forma que en su uso de vida ya ha dejado de ser capturada, al decir del propio Schürmann, por los aparatos hegemónicos de la tecnificación [9]. (Debo decir, desde luego, que con esto no quiero sugerir que el principio epocal, explicitado con tanta elocuencia por Schurmann en este libro, quede superado en la obra de Agamben).

Es a partir de la Gelassenheit que la pregunta por la ontología no solo cobra un lugar importante de articulación, sino que además ya no encuentra razón de ser en un normativismo prescriptivo ni un principio en disposición del ser, sino que solo aparece ligado a la vida como facticidad, o bien en palabras de Heidegger vía Ángelus Silesius: “En el oscuro fondo de su ser, el hombre verdaderamente siendo coincide en su forma como es; sin porqué”. (La figura de Silesius es simétrica con la ‘vida sin porqué’ de Eckhart, o ‘el niño que juega’ de Heráclito).

Es importante que Heidegger no diga meramente que el hombre es sin porqué, sino que es sin porqué en la medida en que su ser ya se piensa siendo. ¿Puede ese momento de inflexión inscrito a partir de la Gelassenheit pensarse sobre los bordes de una “infrapolítica del vencimiento”, tal y como le ha llamado Alberto Moreiras en un reciente apunte programático? Por el momento solo podemos responder con las mismas palabras de Moreiras: “si esto es un programa, la letra aun no está escrita”.



  1. Reiner Schürmann. Heidegger on Being and Acting: From Principles to Anarchy. Indiana University Press, 1987.
  1. Ibíd. “The theoretical turn away from anthropocentrism is only one condition for the possible thinking (being as time) of a possibility (anarchic economy)”. P. 302
  1. Ibíd. “Heidegger makes action deprived of arche the condition of thought which deconstructs the arche…always appears as the a priori for the ‘thought of being’. P. 7
  1. Ibíd. 11
  1. Ibíd. “It is necessary to exist without why in order to understand presencing as itself without arche, or telos, ‘without why’”. 293
  1. Giorgio Agamben. L’uso dei corpi. Neri Pozza Editore, 2014.
  1. Giorgio Agamben. Opus Dei. Archeologia dell’ufficio. Bollati Boringhieri, 2012.
  1. Reiner Schürmann. Heidegger on Being and Acting. Es crucial esta distinción establecida por Schürmann, para contener la crítica de Agamben (si bien hay que tener en mente que el Agamben de Il Regno e la Gloria, tambien glosando a Schürmann, atiende al “principio económico” para sustraerlo a la oikonomia del poder. Todo esto para decir, quizas, que para Agamben el poder y la oikonomia convergen en la forma goburnamental de la soberanía que expresa la maxima ‘el Rey gobierna pero no manda’): “Economic anarchy is not anarchy of power. What I called the hypothesis of closure makes it impossible to conceive of public affairs according to the model of reference to the one, that is, according to the principial model that founds the delegation of functions and the investment of power in ad hoc representative or titular. Economic anarchy is opposite to the anarchy of power as lawfulness is to lawlessness, as thinking is to the irrational, and as liberty is to oppression”. 290

Derrida’s Heidegger: la question de l’Etre et l’Histoire. Notes on First Session. By Alberto Moreiras.

Notes on Derrida’s Heidegger: la question de l’Etre et l’histoire.

First session:

The task: destruction of ontology, that is, destruction of the history of ontology, as always already covering up and dissimulation of being.

It should free up the ears to listen to the “originary experiences” that will be a guide for the future.

[Leaving aside the question of catching up with “originary experiences,” the always-already is therefore also the avenir.]

Destruction does not mean refutation, as if some people had been mistaken and needed to be brought back to the true.   The errance, that is, the dissimulation and oblivion, is structurally given and cannot be reduced.   [This is crucial for any possible thought of historicity and for any possible historical thought.]

Also for Hegel truth was historical through and through, not just knowledge.   In Hegel refutation is not completely abandoned, rather turned into “negativity.” [Hegel’s spirit, as last philosophy, subordinates all previous understanding rather than ‘refuting’ it. “There is no disappearance of the principle but only of its form of being absolute, ultimate.”   Hegel’s is a last philosophy because Hegel produces an eschatology where the horizon and the opening of historicity appear as such.]

But the Heideggerian destruction is not the Hegelian Aufhebung. The latter is still caught in classicial ontology, that is, it is still a dissimulation of being in beings.   So everything has to do with the difference between Hegel and Heidegger.

For Hegel being is a concept (conceptualism). And it is a concept consistent with the attempt to unify and gather being under an ontic determination, which happens to be “subjectivity.”   Subjectivity as substance is Hegelian onto-theology.

So that Heideggerian destruction is a fortiori the destruction of hegelianism.

But—destruction is not the positing of a new conceptuality or or of a new principle. It is simply a solicitation, a trembling or a making-tremble.

And YET: at stake is a destruction of ontology, that is, not the proposition of a new ontology.   [If the destruction is looking to make appear a nudity never revealed as such, it does not seek to posit its own nudity or its own “re-velation” of nudity.]   Heidegger is not really looking for an ontology, which is the reason why he will abandon all talk of a “fundamental ontology” after Being and Time.

Three stations: In Being and Time, still call for a fundamental ontology that could open itself to the Seinsfrage.

In Introduction to Metaphysics, eight years later, H. calls for an abandonment of the term “ontology” in order not to foster confusion.   He says, “it is a matter of quite something else.”

In “Nietzsche’s Word,” from 1943, H. clearly attacks ontology as indistinguishable from metaphysics.  

Which means we have moved from the destruction of the history of ontology to the destruction of ontology as such.

[And what would happen if, following along and accentuating the trend, we were to replace the question of being with the question of the common?}