On the conditions of evil: denying dispossession

By way of conclusion, it will be useful to return to an ambition stated in the General Introduction, namely, to learn more deeply about the conditions of sufferings that humans have inflicted upon themselves on a small and grand scale. The natural metaphysician in us might scoop up those conditions—the plural must not be effaced—with one stroke of the shovel and summarily call them evil. By remembering tragic denial one can, it seems to me, sort out that shovelful and in the process gain some precision.

Indeed, one can go at it differently, I think, than by inquiring into the facts or invoking their ideas. One can go at it through a phenomenology of ultimates. At the risk of taking a turn either into some neo-positivism or into a paleo-idealism, here is how we work in philosophy. We seek to grasp the irreducible traits in the everyday and put them to the test of a historical and systematic investigation. The analytic of ultimates, in other words, provides the tools to the topology of double normative binds. As for the incantations of the right and the left, according to which “we need norms” in order to understand, judge, and act, the response of the phenomenologist has always been and should be that to learn how to think and do, Einsicht (perspicacity, inspection, circumspection; much less {a matter of} intuition or awareness), suffices.

Ethics and morals, then, no longer belong to philosophy.

The ambition to learn about the conditions of evil—conditions that are neither ethical nor moral, but phenomenological—has guided all the preceding analyses and reflections. To mimic the gnosticsʼ question (mimes being experts in demythologizing): How did evil enter the world? The topology of double normative binds begins not with the narrative of some primitive fall, but with a certain primitive scene with which, and through which, to work; namely, the conflict of the heroic and democratic laws of the Athens of the fifth century, such as they are represented in the theater of Aeschylus and Sophocles. For example, Agamemnon slitting his daughterʼs throat, in the name of . . . precisely what? In the name of what is called “values,” no doubt the nation (more than the polis, less than the state), certainly the army, inevitably honor, plus perhaps Greek expansionism and the Ionian colonization. . . . One makes the decisive

Reiner Schürmann - Broken Hegemonies page 621