The law of laws is fantasmic because it does not yield to any prehension and evades comprehension; we cannot possess it. To assign it a place would already be to make it appear before the law, and we all know that all legal appearances are made before it, not the other way around. It does not appear. Rather, it makes things appear—it makes phenomena out of beings.

The normative difference thus is opened by means of what is called archic. It opens up the space wherein the phenomenality of those particulars to be subsumed is constituted. “No ground but say ground.” The hen is not the pollachôs legein, the singling out of the manifold, rather everything is singled out with respect to it, a normative henologic difference. Natura is not the naturatum, but it is with respect to its ends that everything is arranged, a natural normative difference. Self-consciousness is not the empirical self, but it makes experience possible for it, a normative transcendental difference. Without a doubt only the theoreticians of natural law have overestimated knowledge, since they did not hesitate to declare that the sequencing of ends can be deciphered by right reason. Parmenides and Aristotle with regard to the one, as Kant and Luther with regard to consciousness, showed them selves to be more circumspect. The pros hen allows itself to be thought but not to be known. Similarly, the ultimate transcendental condition, apperception, indeed unifies our representations but is itself not a representation.

Were it not for our difference, we would never have a world, and perhaps today the worldʼs normative figure has exhausted its resources. There fore the question will be to know if one can live—and if so, in what manner—under the double bind that is recognized as originary. But the impulse toward the difference remains embedded in language. As soon as we speak according to predicative grammar—and that is the only gram mar we have—we have already been sit u at ed in the middle ground of multiple configurations. We speak of it, which means we live there in. The three figures of normative difference have been our epochal homes. And if fantasms have the power to make a house arrest, it is be cause we have always already seen that we are lodged under the violence of the common, out side of which, to say it once more, there is no life. Accordingly, if one asks how normative regimes are to be justified, all one need do is to listen to how we speak. “That mountain over there is the Matterhorn.” Just by saying “is” we are reminded of the most ancient difference constituting the law, hence of the power of persuasion belonging to speculations on anamnesis, hence of the maximizing impulse. And above all we are reminded of the power of having seen, therefore the power of the evident which moved Parmenides when he said to the Greeks: “Being is one,” and Cicero when he said to the Latins: “Nature prescribes the ends,” and Luther to the Germans: “Whatever you are conscious of, you possess.”

So, thus domiciled, we “rational animals” have never stopped being “mortals.” 41 The normative difference amply instructs us on the different ways our languages speak of and grant evidence to us, in which they legitimize, in the end, what passes for a foundation, in sum, in which they proffer to life a sequestered basis. Being-one, the natural order, and constitutive consciousness are all consolidating and consoling archai—their saving power lets us live, but this normative difference never says what it is that crushes life.

Reiner Schürmann - Broken Hegemonies