Jacques Derrida

Heidegger's Ear


(Geschlecht IV)


What would be the marriage of heaven and hell in Heidegger's world? In 1955, on the foundation of a reading of Heraclitus continued at least for a dozen years, Was ist das—die Philosophie? unfolds then or folds back up on itself the essential affinity, indeed the equivalence, between φιλεῖν and λόγος, φιλεῖν and φύσις. The folding back up of λόγος is also the consonance of being as gathering (Versammlung), ἀρμονία, Einklang, etc.

Now exactly twenty years before, in the Freiburg summer seminar that will give rise to the publication of the Introduction to Metaphysics, this time again, this time already, Heidegger is tuned in to Heraclitus—to that fragment 53 on the πόλεμος that will have been the subject in the summer of '33 of a correspondence with Carl Schmitt. And he seems to say the contrary, something that resonates at first hearing as the contrary of what he will say twenty years later. This time he says not that φιλία and λόγος, ὁμολογεῖν, and λεγεῖν are the same, he says "Πόλεμος und λόγος sind dasselbe" (EM 47): "Πόλεμος and λόγος are the same." If φιλία and λόγος are the same in 1955, if πόλεμος and λόγος are the same in 1935, are not φιλία and πόλεμος always the same?

A philosopher or a historian pressed to appear in the press would press to send a press communiqué to all the press agencies in order to put forward his or her last discovery. And one would immediately read in The Nation, Newsweek, The Village Voice, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Le Monde, or Liberation some definitive sentences: whereas after the war, in 1955, Heidegger says of the λόγος that it is friendship itself, in 1935, right in the Nazi period, the author of the Rectorate Discourse, two years after his resignation, declares war again. He says without embarrassing himself about the same λόγος that it is not friendship but πόλεμος. Referring to the same λόγος, he declares war before the war and at the apogee of Nazism. Then after the war and the end of Nazism, there he goes declaring peace, multiplying the declarations of love and friendship, singing unity, the Ἓν Πάντα of being that gathers in concord, harmony, and homological correspondence. The same press communiqué would find in this the confirmation, in 1935, of that thought of struggle, of combat (Kampf) that oriented the Rectorate Discourse two years before.

That is not false. And I am not saying that this press dispatch would be misled or misleading. But it is advisable to decelerate things a bit, if at least one still wants to read and to think what one claims to judge. Before regarding more closely the passage from the Einführung . . . I just cited, it is advisable in effect to recall what was said of Kampf in the Rectorate Discourse. Not that the word Kampf, any more than the word Führer, lets itself be totally determined in itself, in its sense and in its sense effects, by a context then dominated by a Führer, author of a certain Mein Kampf, in an ideological ground from which it receives and in its turn supplies the irrigation. But the use of the same words cannot not be contaminated by this irrigation, above all the moment Heidegger took part in the restructuring of the university in accordance with the "Führerprinzip. " Heidegger has not been able not to play with a difference of sense and sense level in order to maintain the most serious equivocation, the only equivocation, alas, he believed possible or necessary at that moment. Thought of the Kampf, discreetly put in place in Sein und Zeit, as we have seen, is introduced in force toward the end of the Rectorate Discourse at a striking moment. Why "striking" [marquant]? The word prägen (to mark, strike, leave an imprint), so frequent in Heidegger, will also be useful in 1955 concerning the word φιλόσοφος forged, stamped (geprägt) by Heraclitus. Here, always in the name of gathering, Heidegger defines what must gather the German university, and gather it originarily into one striking force, with one trait. This striking force, at once unified and unifying, is struggle (Kampf).

Heidegger has just defined the three services, the three obligations (Bindungen) that, through the people, bind to the destiny of the State in a spiritual mission (durch das Volk an das Geschick des Staates im geistigen Auftrag). These three services (the service of labor, military service, and the service of knowledge) are of equal rank and equally originary (gleichursprünglich) for being-German, the German essence (dem deutschen Wesen) (SU 16). (I would pose here, between parentheses, to whoever would be shocked in all good conscience by what Heidegger says of the originary and indissociable coordination of these three services or prescriptions, the following question: How and according to what criteria would we be able in all rigor to dissociate them in our existence as citizens, and even as teachers, in the modern democracies of the industrial age, before or after the two world wars? Where, even in an industrial democracy, passes the rigorous frontier between knowledge, armies, and productive labor in general? This parenthesis is not intended to minimize the evident and serious engagement of Heidegger with Nazism. One must never do that. What the Rectorate Discourse says, in this context, about the three services, is compromising enough by itself. But if one does not forget that in our so-called democratic context no discourse—even were it with another tone—succeeds in rigorously dissociating the scientific, the military, and labor [skilled or industrial] or can praise one without the other, then one measures things otherwise, one at least avoids the good conscience or ridicule.) It was then necessary to wonder what coordinated, thus gathering, these three duties among themselves and at the same time what originarily related them to the essence of being-German. That this gathering is a "striking force" (prägende Kraft) [SAU 478 reads "formative force"—trans.] and that this force is of the order of the Kampf (SU 18)—all that does not only recall the end of Sein und Zeit. As soon as Kampf is presented here as the force of gathering, this statement from the Rectorate Discourse announces what will be said two years later in the Einführung . . . just before the phrase "Πόλεμος und λόγος sind dasselbe": "Die Auseinandersetzung trennt weder, noch zerstört sie gar die Einheit. Sie bildet diese, ist Sammlung (λόγος). Πόλεμος und λόγος sind dasselbe" (EM 47): "The debate with the other [Auseinandersetzung, "fighting, combating, or struggling with one another" will be the translation established by Heidegger for Πόλεμος] does not dissociate the unity, no more than it destroys it. On the contrary that debate forms the unity, is the gathering (Sammlung) (λόγος). Πόλεμος and λόγος are the same."

Der Kampf then is what gathers the three duties. As these duties are originarily equal for being-German, one can logically and without abuse say that struggle gathers being-German in the unity of its triple mission. That is consistent, once more, with an explicit proposition of Sein und Zeit (§ 74) on the community of destiny of Mitdasein as Volk: it is a community of struggle. Here the community of struggle, for example, the Kampfgemeinschaft between masters and students, gathers everything in keeping the opposition open. This structure always interests Heidegger: dissension maintains, gathers, accords. "Only struggle holds the opposition open," he says: "Der Kampf allein hält den Gegensatz offen" (SU 19), and the "holding" (halten) is no less decisive than the opposition. We are not far from Carl Schmitt for whom a group gathers and identifies itself, thus reaching the State, that is, the political [au politique] as such, only insofar as it keeps itself in opposition, an opposition so radical, touching its very being, that it must have its own being as its stake, in other words, a total war in which the people can risk absolute disappearance. The people must thus expose itself to death in the political [la politique], that is to say, for Schmitt, in the State, which never determines itself without an enemy, in other terms, with what could be called its being-for-death. Now Heidegger, who does not speak of this very often, also names the destiny of the State (das Geschick des Staates) in the Rectorate Discourse (SU 16), when he defined the three duties.

The passage in which we are interested at this moment is one of the most voluntarist of the Rectorate Discourse. Its essence proceeds from the will for essence:

Elaborating the figure (Ausgestaltung) of the primordial essence of science, however, demands such a degree of rigor, responsibility (Verannvortung), and superior patience that, in comparison, matters like the conscientious pursuit or zealous reform of the traditional procedures hardly carry any weight.
But if the Greeks took three centuries just to put the question of what knowledge can be upon the right basis and on a secure path, then we have no right to presume that the elucidation and unfolding of the essence of the German university could take place in the current or in the coming semester. (SU 17—18; SAU 478 [modified])

This allusion to the long time leaves open the possibility of a reevaluation beyond the rhythm of so-called political events, in the narrow sense, for example, beyond Nazism in its Hitlerian moment, beyond also a reform of academic institutions, beyond all institutional militancy. But this reevaluation of the duration is based again on a Greek model. Heidegger continues:

One thing [eines, underscored], however, we do know from the indicated essence of science; we do know that the German university will take shape and come to power [Gestalt und Macht: this word Macht that Sein und Zeit connects with Kampf as the essence of the Mitdasein] when the three services—Labor Service, Armed Service, and Knowledge Service—primordially gather together in one [underscored, einer] striking force (ursprünglich zu einer prägenden Kraft Sich zusammenfinden). (SU 18; SAU 478 [modified])

On two occasions, after an interval of seven lines, in the first and the last phrase of the same paragraph, Heidegger underscores the word "one": the unique thing we are sure of from now on is the unifying unity and uniqueness of the striking force that must gather, with the three duties, the German university in its unity with being-German. This gathering force that in truth gathers Heidegger's whole work and that, like Versammeln, is constantly associated with λέγειν, to wit, with φιλεῖν as ὁμολογεῖν (as will be said in 1955), this force is what we are going to see is maintained, in 1933, homologous to Kampf, just as two years later, in 1935, λόγος as Versammlung will be said to be homologous to πόλεμος. This gathering force, like λόγος, gathers in advance both Πόλεμος and φιλεῖν. All that is going to be specified in a moment, but I underscore in passing that Kampf, as the war toward which it points, is not limited to its military phenomenon. In this sense, it is not even a war, at least in the sense of an armed war. Since the struggle (Kampf) gathers the three services—of which military service is then only one determination—the tropical status of the word Kampf is difficult to assign. It is not a military or militant metaphor displaced toward the civil, that opposition no longer having any pertinence. But it is not either a simple generality of which military service (Wehrdienst) would be only a particular case. Such is the profound stake, the consequence or decisive premise of Heidegger's so insistent proposition on the unity, the co-originary character, and the equal rank of the three services. All hierarchization and all derivation would destroy the very logic of the Rectorate Discourse, that is, a logic that configures in the same pragmatico-discursive event three types of indissociable motifs: some belong to the great tradition of German philosophy of the university, others to the keenest interpretation of a certain modernity, others to the equivocal strategy of accommodation to National Socialism.

After recalling this "one striking force," Heidegger moves on: "Das will sagen 'That means, that wants to say ...,' an apparently neutral and innocent little phrase, like a modest expletive of discourse. But its place, the scansion one imagines in the Rectorate Discourse, the fact that after this little phrase there is a colon and that Heidegger begins a new paragraph—all that gives to this "Das will sagen" a strong resonance and tunes [accorde] it to the deliberately voluntarist accent of what is going to follow. That phrase wants to say not "in other words," "in other terms," but it wants, it must want and want to say how we must want to want, how you are called here to want to hear and understand [entendre], and with what ear, what this will, this want, says or what is said in the name of will as wanting to say and wanting to be, etc. For beginning a new paragraph after "Das will sagen:" and the colon, Heidegger goes on:

Der Wesenswille der Lehrschaft, the teaching corps' will to essence must awaken and strengthen (erstarken) and thus gain the simplicity and breadth necessary to knowledge about the essence of science [um das Wesen der Wissenschaft: then the will for essence must mobilize itself around the essence of knowledge]. The student body's will to essence (Der Wesenswille der Schülerschaft) must force itself (Sich hinaufzwingen) to rise to the highest clarity and rigor of knowing and, demanding and determining, integrate its engaged understanding (Mitwissenschaft) of the people and its State (um das Volk und seinen Staat) into the essence of science. Both wills must be reciprocally compelled to struggle (Beide Willen müssen Sich gegenseitig zum Kampf stellen). (SU 18; SAU 478-79 [modified])

The two, the "both" of these two (Beide), the duo or the dual of these two wills to essence are in rapport with one another, call one another to the struggle. Zur Kampf stellen wants to say "to oblige to struggle," to force to struggle, to engage, as one says an enemy has been engaged, forced to begin fighting on the front. "Beide Willen müssen Sich gegenseitig zum Kampf stellen": the "gegenseitig" can recall the "wechselweise" of the texts on φιλεῖν, whether a matter of struggle or lovence [aimance], of Kampf or there must be two, and the two must be a reciprocal two. "Both wills must be reciprocally compelled to struggle. All faculties of will and thought, all the forces of the heart and all the skills of the flesh (Leib) must be deployed through struggle, heightened in struggle, and preserved as struggle (müssen durch Kampf entfaltet, im Kampf gesteigert und als Kampf bewahrt bleiben)" (SU 18; SAU 479 [modified]).

The underscored prepositions (durch, im, als) clearly mark that it is not a question of entering the Kampf or of leaving it. Both wills, the two of the will, are born as wills to essence and as such in the struggle, through the struggle. They do not exist before the struggle; they would cease to be what they are or have to be outside of the struggle, in peace. These are propositions at once very close to those of Carl Schmitt, but, as we shall see, withdrawn in principle from Schmitt's secularized anthropotheology. At the opening of the following paragraph is another Karl that Heidegger judges opportune to invoke even if he does not cite the proverbial phrase of a theoretician of war for whom war alone exists, peace being only war pursued by other means. That in 1933 Heidegger cites Karl von Clausewitz is what sets the tone, but it is also interesting that Heidegger does this by tying to Kampf not only the knowledge but also the experience of the question:

We elect (Wir wählen) the informed struggle (den wissenden Kampf) of those that question (der Fragenden) and profess with Karl von Clausewitz: "I declare I forsake any futile hope in salvation by the hand of chance (Ich sage mich los von der leichtsinnigen Hoffnung einer Errettung durch die Hand des Zufalls)." (SU 18; SAU 479 [modified])

Once more, in this discourse to the university, it is certainly not a matter of just any struggle, above all not only or first of all of armed war. The struggle (der Kampf) is much more essential, interior, irreducible insofar as it is inherent to knowledge and even to the question. It is the struggle of those that question. And it is the struggle for education, struggle as education itself, in the same way that ten years later φιλεῖν, but furthermore φιλεῖν as Ἔρις, will appear essential to education (Erziehung) as well as to philosophical questioning. All that implies [laisse entendre] that there is not only no knowledge without questioning, but no questioning with a view to knowledge without the will to essence, that is, without this Kampf. One can then ask oneself once again, thinking of the schema of Was ist das—die Philosophie?: Does not this moment of the question as struggle essentially belong to that moment of Eros when philosophy becomes a question tensed or plunged into mourning, inquisitive and jealous about being? In other terms, if Kampf is essential to the very questioning of the question, as would be a certain πόλεμος; if πόλεμος is λόγος as gathering; if thereby πόλεμος is homologous to the homology of φιλεῖν, does the knowledge or the question that carries the struggle in itself still have an affinity with the Heraclitean φιλεῖν that Heidegger will say in 1955 is more originary than the nostalgic tension, than the philosophical Streben and Suchen? Is the Kampf, the πόλεμος, or, another translation, the Auseinandersetzung, as originary as the Heraclitean φιλεῖν, that is, more originary than the question and than knowledge as φιλοσοφία? Or else, does Kampf belong to that moment of discord and nostalgia that would be the very gestation of φιλοσοφία? Or else, is φιλεῖν not yet what gathers the Auseinandersetzung, the Kampf, the πόλεμος, in the memory of a lost homology? If, as I think, there is no clear response by yes or no to such a question, that is not only because the Heraclitean φιλεῖν is also, in 1943, determined as discord (Ἔρις) and because that would cause all the distinctions to oscillate; but because in all the limits, epochal or not, that Heidegger deliberately wants to determine, from 1933 to 1955, each time he says "originary" or "nonoriginary," this oscillation introduces an irreducible inconsistency and a nonformalizable equivocation. This nonformalization or perhaps the nonformalizable character of this discourse are not at all, in any case, not sufficiently, thematized. And it is partly in such an equivocation that precisely are the political strategies played out, lost, stopped or carried along.

Before leaving the Rectorate Discourse to move on toward the Einführung ..., I would like to situate two other paragraphs. They name, on the one hand, the community of struggle (die Kampfgemeinschaft)—in a single word, for it is community insofar as it struggles. The community does not first exist and then come round to struggle as one enters into war. The community is struggling or it is not community, it is the struggle itself. These two paragraphs name, on the other hand, a logic of opposition that Heidegger shares, on another level, with Schmitt and that seems to me to be the condition-limit, the very condition and the very limit, the positive condition and the positive limit, too positive and too positional, perhaps, of the very force of this thought. The struggle is what holds and keeps the opposition (Gegensatz). The struggle keeps the opposition open, which can mean both open to the two of the difference and open, in and through difference, beyond the two or between the two. It is the opening of the two that maintains not only the difference, the interval between two, but the entre-deux, the space- between-the-two, as the face-to-face of the dual, contradiction in one another, of one against the other, of one encountering or running counter to the other. No community gathering [Pas de rassemblement communautaire] if there are not two, but there are not two if there is not opposition (Gegensatz). In the community of professors and students, the opposition is not only their common struggle against the other, but the inner struggle in each of them. Each community carries with itself, in its ear, the voice of the adversary, a sort of interior resistance. The verb tragen, this time in sich tragen, reappears in a significant way. Concerning "resistance" (Widerstand), it is also Heidegger's word, one could make him say much.

The community of struggle (Die Kampfgemeinschaft) of professors and students [Heidegger says], however, will only transform the German university into a place of spiritual legislation (der geistigen Gesetzgebung) and establish in it the center of the most disciplined and focused preparation for the highest service to the people in its State, when the teaching corps and the student body lead their existence (ihr Dasein) more simply, harder, and freer of needs than all the other members of the people [als alle anderen Volksgenossen: thus the academic corps must raise themselves exemplarily above the people they are part of; they are the "few" we spoke about above]. All leading (Alle Führung) must grant [accord to, zugestehen] those that follow (der Gefolgschaft) their own proper force (die Eigenkraft). But all following carries resistance within itself (trägt in sich). This essential opposition (Wesensgegensatz) in the Führen and the Folgen must not be obscured, let alone eliminated.
Struggle alone holds the opposition open (Der Kampf allein hält den Gegensatz offen) and alone implants in the entire body of teachers and students that basic mood (Grundstimmung), which lets self-limiting self-assertion empower resolute self- examination to genuine auto-nomy (die Sich begrenzende Selbstbehauptung die entschlossene Selbstbesinnung zur echten Selbstverwaltung ermächtigt). (SU 19; SAU 479 [modified])

Let us leave for later the analysis of such words as Verwaltung, certainly a very ordinary word in the sense of "administration," but which, like Walten in general, is always very actively overdetermined by Heidegger. Everything that is said and reverberates here with such an insistence on selbst or αὐτό (self-affirmation, self-definition, auto-nomy, etc.) signifies indeed that the self-rapport, the self-relation, the self-appropriation, the authentic return to self, passes through the opening of this opposition of the inside that is struggle, this internal disagreement [differend] that carries in itself or with itself the resistance of the adversary, and hears [écoutant] and obeys it at once. Struggle gathers with itself, it is self- rapport as disagreement [differend]. And the Selbst, this self-rapport, is clearly determined, at least in this text, as will and oppositional logic of the will. This will not cease to be confirmed, for Heidegger immediately adds:

Do we, or do we not, will the essence of the German university? It is up to us whether, and to what extent, we concern ourselves (uns bemühen) with self-examination (Selbstbesinnung) and self-assertion (Selbstbehauptung) not just casually, but penetrating to their very foundations. . . . (SU 19; SAU 479)

Voluntarism signifies here that it depends on us to be us, to be thus what we are and must be. The αὐτός is we, depends on us, but on us as we carry the resistance of the adversary in us. Whence the necessity of a fundamental effort. We must be what we are in order to make the effort. But we shall be what we are, we, only if we want to make the effort. The force of the effort, the will, is at once the name of that circle in which we listen to ourselves, hear ourselves, understand ourselves, obey ourselves, our internal ear, if you wish, but also what the Selbst needs in order to enter into the circle in which nevertheless it is already wound and in order to set the circle moving, in its own proper movement. The will must hear itself as force, the force of resistance and of resistance to resistance, which sets and holds this circle in its essential movement. This movement is also, in its essence, a struggle, der Kampf. As that will be repeated a little farther on, this force is also the spiritual force of the West, what gives to the German people the exemplary unity of its historial mission in order to make the people of spiritual historiality a people "geschichtlich-geistige" (SU 19).

Jacques Derrida - Geschlecht IV Heidegger's Ear part 3