347 Preface

the broken hegemonies. The fantasms of the common indeed are fractured upon this condition of phenomena that singularizes them as only death singularizes.

From Parmenides until certain motifs still in Heidegger, thinking means to grasp one simple originary reference. Now, our remaining faithful to the ultimates that we know because we are born and die will do away with any simplicity in the ultimate authority; it will do away with all simple ultimate authorities. Rather, a disparity will originarily hold us and bind us. The conceivable, the sayable, all that allows for communication and which gives life, does not pair up with singularization—notwithstanding whatever there is in our languages that, fashioned by the mechanics of determinate negation, opposes to life the inconceivable and the unsayable that singularizes and kills.

This disparity turns time against itself. An analytic of ultimates concerns the future in two ways. Natality pushes me to project the morrow. . . . But I know mortality, too, in the mode of the future, that is, as my singularization to come.

The disparity of ultimates also turns language against itself. From this point of view—or rather, from the standpoint of listening—words possess a double import. They subsume particulars as cases of a universal, and they point out deictic singulars.4 The vital force of natality makes words signify the common. Hence, it opens up the space in which subsumptions occur outside of which no one would hear anyone. It is a space that no one who speaks will ever succeed in abandoning (if metaphysics amounts to the labor of subsumption, then one would have to say that there exists no non-metaphysical language). Yet the undertow of mortality also makes words point to singulars and singularizes us (if words always have this ostensive, monstrative bearing, if they signify not only a universal but still signify to me what to do or whom to be, then metaphysics never constituted a closed system). Hence the appellative and performative character of speaking, which strips language of overdeterminations.

In normative arguments it is a matter of hearing—of “repeating”—the fidelity to tragic knowledge, and this through the very din of theticism. Therefore it will be necessary to wrest the originary double allegiance from texts and theses bequeathed by tradition. The analytic of ultimates serves as a set of tools for such wrestings from univocal law. Faced with authorities posited as uniformly normative, this analytic serves to set free the singular and singularizing prescription that has been obliterated. We must not shun detailed analyses for such liberation. They are the price to pay, if not in order to unlearn, at least to observe at work the most widely shared reflex, which is much more than a professional idiosyncrasy of philosophers: the reflex of denying that beneath all law and obligation, it is the tragic that legislates. Thus we may hope, certainly not to cure ourselves, as one does a twitch, of the ancient reflex that posits and that denies, but to reveal, in the fantasms this reflex exalts, the work of the ultimates that breaks their hegemony.

Observing how tragic denial functions requires a topology. If subsumptive positings are indeed maximized from out of rather humble experiences,5 they will be more easily understood when led back to their places of extraction. What phenomenon is being preserved, albeit hyperbolically, under this or that posited normative referent?

Reiner Schürmann - Broken Hegemonies