The argument that I would like to develop in these pages can easily be summarized. It consists in raising the inherited question of the relationship between theory and practice, but considered under Heidegger's hypothesis that metaphysical rationality produces its own closure. That inherited question is to be raised anew, then, from a perspective that forbids couching it in opposites such as 'theory and practice'.

I would like to show what happens to the old problem of the unity between thinking and acting once 'thinking' no longer means securing some rational foundation upon which one may establish the sum total of what is knowable, and once 'acting' no longer means conforming one's daily enterprises, both public and private, to the foundation so secured. The hypothesis of closure entails more than the obsolescence of any such speculative base upon which life is to find its steadiness, its legitimation, and its peace: it entails the necessity of a deconstruction. In its rigorous, not its inflated sense, this term denotes the dismantling of what Kant called dogmatic philosophy. Deconstruction interrupts, throws out of gear, the derivations between first philosophy and practical philosophy. It was because of such derivations that ontology used to be called first philosophy: it provided the founding and legitimating discipline in relation to the body or system of the specialized disciplines. This, then, is the argument: in the answers that they have traditionally brought to bear on the 'special' question "What is to be done?" philosophers have relied, in one way or another, on some standard- setting first whose grounding function was assured by a 'general' doctrine, be it called ontology or something else. From this doctrine, theories of action received their patterns of thought as well as a great many of their answers. Now, the deconstruction of metaphysics situates historically what has been deemed to be a foundation. It thus closes the era of derivations between general and special metaphysics, between first philosophy and practical philosophy. As one of its consequences, deconstruction leaves the discourse on action suspended in a void. It deprives such discourse of the schemata that properly belonged to speculations on sensible or divine substance, on the subject, on spirit, or on 'being'. But it follows further that action itself, and not only its theory, loses its foundation or arche.


Heidegger On Being and Acting: From Principles to Anarchy by Reiner Schürmann page 1