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Jacques Derrida on Heidegger and "Abysses of Truth" A difficult, highly complex reaction to Heidegger and the 'truth' of Being; here, Derrida argues that if Being is non-metaphysical, "truth" claims cannot be made about its 'function,' if we can even assign such a descriptor –Being is "proper to nothing and no one. Truth, unveiling, illumination are no longer decided in the appropriation of the truth of being but are cast into its bottomless abyss of non-truth, veiling and dissimulation. The history of Being becomes a history in which no being, nothing happens except Ereignis’ unfathomable process." *** (From: Jacques Derrida, Spurs: Nietzsche’s Styles. trans. Barbara Harlow, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1981, pp. 119-123 and pp. 157-159). Abysses of truth. Metaphysical questions and the question of metaphysics have only to be inscribed in the more powerful question of propriation for their space to be reorganized. This occurs quite regularly, if not in fact spectacularly. Its first incidence in the final chapter of Nietzsche (Die Erinnerung in die Metaphysik) is not a fortuitous one. Here a proposition of the type “Das Seinselbstsichanfänglichereignet” (which, as Klossowski has aptly observed defies translation) gives way to a proposition in which “Being” itself is reduced (Das Ereignis ereignet)—gives way, but only after the intervention between them of “… und so each einmal in der eigenenAnfängnis die reineUnbedurftigkeitsichereignenIässt, die selbsteinAbglanzist des Anfänglichen, des alsEr-eigning der Wahrheitsichereignet.” Finally then, once the question of production, doing, machination, inclination, the question of the event (which is one meaning of Ereignis) has been uprooted from ontology, the proper-ty or propriation is named as exactly that which is proper to nothing and no one. Truth, unveiling, illumination are no longer decided in the appropriation of the truth of being but are cast into its bottomless abyss of non-truth, veiling and dissimulation. The history of Being becomes a history in which no being, nothing happens except Ereignis’ unfathomable process. The property of the abyss (das Eigentum des Ab-grundes) is necessarily the abyss of proper-ty, the violence of an event which befalls without Being. Perhaps truth’s abyss as non-truth, propriation as appropriation/a-propriation, the declaration become parodying dissimulation, perhaps this is what Nietzsche is calling the style’s form and the no-where of woman. The gift, which is the essential predicate of woman, appeared in the undecidable oscillation of to give oneself/to give oneself for, give/take, let take/appropriate. Its value or price (coût) is that of poison. The price (coût) of a pharmakon.(Cf. RodolpheGasché’s fine analysis of the undecidable equivalence of gift-gift (gift-poison) in L’échangehéliocentrique, on Mauss, in L’Arc.) Heidegger, furthermore, in Zeit und Sein(1962) submits the question of Being itself to the enigmatic operation of the abyssal gift (le don s’endette/le dons sans dette). In his development (which cannot be reconstructed here) of the esgibt Sein Heidegger demonstrates that the giving (Geben) and the gift (Gabe), which in fact amount to nothing (to neither a subject being nor an object being), cannot be thought of in terms of Being. Because they constitute the Derrida, Heidegger, Ereignis


process of propriation, the giving and the gift can be construed neither in the boundaries of Being’s horizon nor from the vantage point of its truth, its meaning. Just as there is no such thing then as a Being or an essence of the woman or the sexual difference, there is also no such thing as an essence of the esgibt in theesgibt Sein, that is, of Being’s giving and gift. The “just as” finds no conjuncture. There is no such thing as a gift of Being from which there might be apprehended and opposed to it something like a determined gift (whether of the subject, the body, of the sex or other like things—so woman, then will not have been my subject.) Still, it does not follow from this that one should, by a simple reversal, transform Being into a particular case or species of the genus propriate, give/take, life/death. Heidegger himself cautions against making of Being a mere incident in the event called Ereignis of the futile nullity of a conceptual reversal sort between species and genus (genre).* _____ Endnote: * ‘Being as Ereignis’—hitherto philosophy, starting from being, thought Being as idea, as actualitas, as will; and now, one might think, as Ereignis. Understood in this way Ereignis signifies a new interpretation in the sequence of interpretations of Being (eineabgewandelteAuslegung des Seins) – an interpretation which, in the case where it holds up, represents a continuation of metaphysics. In this case, “as” (als) signifies Ereignis as a kind of Being (alseine Art des Seins) and as subordinated to Being which constitutes the fundamental concept and maintains its hegemony (den festgehaltenenLeitbegriff). If, on the contrary, and in a way that has already been attempted, we think Being in the sense of a presence and letting be present (Sein imSinne von Anwesen und Anwesenlassen) which there is in destiny’s assemblage (dies imGeschickgibt) and which in its turn resides in the clearing-concealing reach of authentic time (das seinerseitsimIichtendverbergendenReichen der eigentlichenZeitberuht), if we think Being in this way, then Being belongs in the movement of the Ereignis. Thus Being would be a kind of Ereignis, not Ereignis a kind of Being. But the flight which seeks refuge in such a reversal (Umkehrung) is to easily come by. It misses the real thought of the question and its import (Siedenkt am Sachverhaltvorbei).Ereignis is not the supreme encompassing concept in which everything is included and under which Being and time might be arranged. The logical relations of order are meaningless here. Inasmuch as it is in the quest of Being itself that we think and pursue what is proper to it (seinemEigenen), it proves itself to be the gift of the destiny of presence, a gift which is accorded through the reach of time (Gabe des Geschicks von Anwesenheit). The gift of presence is the property of the movement of Ereignens. (Die Gabe von Anwesen istEigentum des Ereignens.)” (Zeit und Sein).

Derrida, Heidegger, Ereignis


Jacques Derrida on Heidegger and 'Ereignis' (1973)  

Derrida's dizzyingly complex response to arguably the key thread in Heidegger - 'Ereignis', the appropriation of Dasein by Being itself...

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