Turning Back to Heidegger

While the political motives, involvements, and repercussions of de Man’s and Heidegger’s lives and oeuvres are under review, our general impressions of these figures and others lose definition for a time; judgment is suspended—not while we determine the facts in each case, but while we attempt to define the principle. The principle as to the im/possibility of separating an author’s or thinker’s works from his/her political milieu, art or philosophy from politics or history, however it is given formulation, whenever engaged, draws all authors, all art, all history into its purview. More specifically, the cases of de Man and Heidegger bring along with them, part and parcel with them, the moderns in general and modern to current philosophical tendencies resistant to humanism and democracy.

In fact the philosophy-politics issue did not surface with the de Man-Heidegger revelations, but had been for some time a matter of intramural controversy in literary studies, controversy that centered on or radiated from the deconstructionist project of Jacques Derrida. Objections to this strain of post-Heideggerian thinking had subsided to a steady murmur of peripheral defensive complaints until eventually gathering force, not as one opposing voice but as a rising, restive splintering of voices, resisting a quietism in deconstructionist theory or a passivism or at worst a perversion in the face of the historical moment’s demand for decision and action. My argument below is situated differently; it encounters (confronts) Derrida’s project from behind, with the suggestion of positive power potential in Heidegger’s. I wish to argue here, from the site of Heidegger’s and Derrida’s differences, which is where many of us situate our thinking today, and in spite of the political charges outstanding against Heidegger, charges which must be thought through as far as we are capable,1 that the “way” of Heidegger offers positive theoretical power (and I am assuming that theory exerts some unspecified pressure upon political realities) beyond or adjacent to, at any rate not exhausted by, Derrida’s project of deconstruction.

Derrida’s most farreaching Heideggerian achievement has been, in my view, to bring a greater awareness of the nearness and the necessity of: nothing, i.e., spacing in time, in language, in all thinking and in the possibility of thinking. Two and a half decades of deconstructionist hermeneutics have worn a clear path—describing the method at least—that separates out “Being” (traditional representation of being as presence, the ontotheological) on one hand, and exposes and emphasizes the remainder (what escapes representational language, the a- or the il-logical) on the other. Derrida’s “way” of bringing the nonlogical into language (logic), indicating this reserve of “the unthought, the suppressed, [and] the repressed [l’impensé, le réprimé, le refoulé]”2 at the margins of philosophy and his attempt to begin to distinguish differences there are at once the achievement and the renunciation of the Heideggerian project. I wish to suggest here, in Derrida’s words—referring to Sartre’s “monstrous translation in many respects” of Heidegger’s Dasein in Being and Nothingness—that there is “much to think about the reading or the nonreading of Heidegger during this period, and about what [is] at stake [l’intérêt qu’il y avait] in reading or not reading him in this way.”3

Derrida claimed to begin his own thinking on the horizon of Heidegger’s ontological difference; thus there is no access to his thinking except through Heidegger’s. Besides acknowledging that debt, he has often cited and approved Heidegger’s work on certain points, sometimes with loyal defensiveness,4 as indeed he might; the Heideggerian project is the very territory which Derrida staked out here for himself.5 But Derrida has maintained fundamental differences from and objections to Heidegger’s thought, effecting by the power of his thinking and of his art an intercession for and against Heidegger here among us. It is Derrida’s deconstruction, and not Heidegger’s radical destruktion, of all historico-ontological “meaning” that has wielded a dominating influence on the positions and the direction and the tone of institutional thinking.

Derrida has maintained an ongoing discourse with or about Heidegger, but the fundamental difference between the two, which I wish to discover and peruse, occurs from the beginning of Derrida’s thought because it occurs at the beginning. All that follows always differs from the foundation up. To recall this original point of divergence, I offer an early Derridean passage (one among a host) that challenges Heidegger. It is in such passages that Derrida has led us to bypass Heidegger.

In “Différance” Derrida posits an affirming Nietzschean laughter and dance as the vantage, outside dialectic and past nostalgia, from which to deal with the unnamable.6 The (non)site and (non)circumstance he delineates as différance contrasts now, he notes, with Heidegger’s ontological difference, the contrast bringing to view what Derrida calls “Heideggerian hope [l’espérance]” (27), a metaphysical residue he believes he discovers in “The Anaximander Fragment”: “the quest for the proper word and the unique name [la quête du mot propre et du nom unique].” Derrida quotes a passage in which Heidegger, writing about the unique relationship between presencing and presence, between Being and beings, suggests that “in order to name the essential nature of Being (das wesende Seins), language would have to find a single word, the unique word (ein einziges, das einzige Wort).” Heidegger continues, “From this we can gather how daring every thoughtful word (denkende Wort) addressed to Being is (das dem Sein zugesprochen wird). Nevertheless such daring is not impossible, since Being speaks always and everywhere throughout language” (Derrida 27 is quoting from “The Anaximander Fragment,” 527).

The point of Derrida’s objection, “the quest for the proper word and the unique name,” signals the fundamental Heidegger-Derrida difference, which is not so much a difference in their awareness of death, nothing, the unspeakable and the unthought, interrupting and disrupting logocentricism; not in their conviction of the necessity of rethinking and abandoning metaphysical philosophy; and not even in their respective structuring of the point of ontological difference; but in what their different metaphilosophies signify for the nature and significance of language.

A response to Derrida’s complaint in the passage above requires a review of some of Heidegger’s notions of language. We know that though Derrida does not provide the German word which is translated “to name,” heißen, it means also “to call,” and that Heidegger has exploited that meaning. Words or names call. Matters are called (named) in thinking when they themselves call for thinking.8 The most unlikely and the most essential point about this calling is that it calls from out of silence into which it (“it gives,” a subjectless giving) has withdrawn or fallen forgotten. This primal absence must be heeded.9

As for words themselves, they are not things, beings.10 Nor are they terms; they have no content. Words are not signs. Instead they are “wellsprings” [Brunnen], sources, to be looked for and discovered and uncovered. They are losable and must be rediscovered, recovered. Sometimes they “well up [quillend]” on their own.11

Though words are not signs, they signal, point out, show (compare Aristotle’s Diction as manifestation, below). The nature of language is Saying as showing, bringing to appearance; thus, signs, which belong to language, can be signs; that is, signaling is the condition for signs, and not the other way around.12 (The case illustrates the priority of Being over being. The difference between the two, the ontological difference, is the point Derrida concedes to Heidegger. But the difference that differs in the structure, or function, or whatever we can say, of Being itself, giving being and withholding it; the differing that denies any station, status, or stability to being, ever again; the differing that disrupts and invades every notion, every event—this difference too is Heidegger’s, is Heidegger’s Being.) Further, showing, bringing into appearing, means bringing into being. Being is the event of appearing, and words “give” the event. “The … word’s hidden essence (verbal) [verborgene Wesen (verbal)] … invisibly in its Saying [das sagend unsichtbar] and even already in what is unsaid [im Ungesprochenen], extends to us the thing as thing.”13

Language, here, does not work in an Aristotelian fashion,14 much less a Saussurean. Words neither represent things nor signify concepts. They call matters which call for thinking; in the saying and in what is already not said they give being.

Now the matter that calls for thinking and remains unnamable in Heidegger’s Anaximander essay is the forgetting of Being, the withdrawal and subsequent oblivion of Being which marked the beginning, thus the destiny, of Western metaphysics. For Heidegger it is always by way of language that matters call for thinking and are called; but language is the very “way” from which Being has withdrawn. If this forgotten Being is to call for thinking, it can do so “only if it has already unveiled itself with the presencing of what is present [mit dem Anwesen des Anwesenden]; only if it has left a trace [eine Spur geprägt hat]15 which remains preserved in the language to which Being comes” (51). The language of Anaximander’s fragment, according to Heidegger’s exegesis here, bears a trace of the early Greek experience of the presencing of what is present. The translation of this fragment requires a “mysterious” (we say “ambiguous,” but ambiguity is not undecidability in Heidegger’s thought) genitive construction, an “of” that admits two possibilities (this “of” is familiar to readers of Heidegger and of Derrida), which taken together suggest a relation and thus a distinction between Being and beings. This word of Anaximander’s does not “call” or name this difference; but it does call the possibility of the distinction into existence.16

(“Already, [déjà], such is the name for what has been effaced or subtracted beforehand [ce qui s’efface ou d’avance se soustrait], but which has nevertheless left behind a mark [une marque, une signature], a signature which is retracted in that very thing from which it is withdrawn.” Derrida is describing another trace, the trace by which style’s éperon [Spurs, 38-9], by negotiation or defensive opposition, has marked the other it negotiates or defends against, marking thereby the distinction [difference] between not what the Greeks called logos and phusis, which made something of a return after two thousand years in Heidegger’s Being and being, but between what was for Kant subjectivity and the thing in itself, which in Derrida after Heidegger has “slidden” to “style” and “[… that] which presents itself.” Derrida does not step back into Kant’s subject-object difference, but as in Heidegger that difference moves into new differentiation [Saying] in the realm of Dasein and/or the Ereignis—neither subjectivity nor objectivity, transforming the former and eliminating the latter—in Derrida the difference moves into a realm [inasmuch as we are anywhere] of undecidability—again neither subjectivity nor objectivity, eliminating the former and transforming the latter. For example, in Spurs what Derrida calls “style” works like the prow of a ship clashing with and penetrating the sea [or “the terrifying, mortal threat (of that) which presents itself,” 38-9] or it works like a veil/sail [des voiles] eluding/fleeing such a thing, 36-41. Either way it becomes matter [human, perhaps psychological] against [other] matter—perhaps a matter of physics; and calling it “style” empties it of substance and removes it from what we call “life” by a dimension17—according to prescription. “Style” is in the end an unintelligible scrap of freefloating non-sense, 122ff.).

To approach more closely the difference between presencing and what presences, to think its “essential nature,” would mean, writes Heidegger, as we have noted, to “find a single word, the unique word”— a “daring” but “not impossible” quest, “since Being speaks always and everywhere throughout language” (52). The notion of a literal or simple (or metaphysical) univocity in this “word” is disturbed by a phrase in the passage, untranslated in English and inadequately rendered in the French:18denn das Sein spricht in der verschiedensten Weise uberall und stets durch alle Sprache hindurch” (emphasis mine), as it is by such passages as this one from What Is Called Thinking?: “we are moving within language, which means moving on shifting ground or, still better, on the billowing waters of an ocean.” The argument that Derrida mounts in “Différance” against a “name” for Heidegger’s “trace” is telling only if naming is considered as Heidegger considers it in, for example, Being and Time;19 i.e., as representational (metaphysical) language, and in that case the argument against it is Heidegger’s. In its iteration in the Anaximander fragment and in its reiterations in other works, Heidegger’s trace outstrips Derrida’s nomination.

The difficulty in Heidegger’s language in these pages (like the difficulty in Derrida’s explication of, e.g., différance) “shows” the difficulty of approaching the unthought matter without the gift of the word. A little earlier Heidegger wrote, in reference to retrieving the word denied to Anaximander, “Perhaps only when we experience historically [geschichtlich erfahren] what has not been thought—the oblivion of Being—as what is to be thought [das Ungedachte der Seinsvergessenheit als das zu Denkende], and only when we have for the longest time pondered [gedacht] what we have long experienced in terms of the destiny of Being [aus dem Geschick des Seins], may the early word [das frühe Wort] speak in our contemporary recollection [im späten Andenken ansprechen]” (51). Much of Heidegger’s thinking bears upon this problem (perhaps much of Derrida’s upon this projected experience) of enduring the night of our abandonment (nihilism) and of holding ourselves available to a new word (see for example “Nihilism and the History of Being”20). Derrida’s suggestion that Heidegger’s “call” for a unique name is a nostalgic return to metaphysics is at least surprising given his own preoccupation with the problem indicated here. A comparison of the Derridean project of “writing,” its progress from word to word—différance, trace, prewriting, dissemination, the pharmakon, the hymen, éperon, re-mark, etc.—would discover the Heideggerian discourse moving beneath the Derridean text.

The “unique” word would function, according to Heidegger’s notion of language, to call into being what calls (however faintly, remotely) for thinking. What calls does not become the word; by the giving of the word what calls draws into unconcealment, i.e., appears in its unconcealing, presencing. Words do not unveil preexistent beings. Beings do not appear as present entities or objects or things in themselves. The difficulty of unconcealing does not dissolve into the finally successful achievement of being. That is, words do not circumscribe or explain or settle contradiction, nor do they simplify or reduce complexity any more than they conquer the unknown. They bring what calls for thinking into appearing, in which light being appears in its diversity; mystery (the “unsaid,” the “unshowable”21) as “mystery” (Geheimnis). (Compare Derrida’s pharmakon and hymen disseminations where the word’s freedom precludes decidable meaning, and in the absence of an “external” or “transcendental” reality [qu’aucune référence absolument extérieure, qu’aucun signifié transcendant] that could stop its play, Dissemination, 89.22 Here the inexhaustible fertility of writing breeds inexhaustible fertility. In Heidegger too meaning and reality dissolve and the word is inexhaustible, as we shall note, but the effect of endlessness is different; “undecidability” becomes the contradictory “essence” of being, language its condition. In both cases we avoid the metaphysical notion of being. But in Heidegger the destruktion removes an obstacle to being there [Da-sein]; in Derrida it removes the possibility.)

The word which Heidegger calls for will be “unique.” This uniqueness is not Aristotelian sameness or unity. Heidegger has used the word more than once in reference to language. Indeed, in Heidegger’s thought essential language is always in each case a single word which at once says one unique thing, forever originary and inexhaustible. In What Is Called Thinking? there is a passage similar to the one quoted above by Derrida:

A wide range of meaning [Die Weite des Ausschlages seiner Bedeutung] belongs generally to the nature of every word [zum Wesen jedes Wortes]. This fact, again, arises from the mystery of language [beruht im Geheimnis des Sprache]. Language admits of two things: One, that it be reduced to a mere system of signs, uniformly available to everybody, and in this form be enforced as binding; and two, that language at one great moment says one unique thing, for one time only [in einem großen Augenblick ein einziges Mal Einziges sagt], which remains inexhaustible [erschöpflich] because it is always originary [stets anfänglich], and thus beyond the reach of any kind of leveling [unerreichbar für jede Art von Nivellierung]. These two possibilities of language are so far removed from each other that we should not be doing justice to their disparity even if we were to call them extreme opposites. (191-92)

Earlier in this work Heidegger has written that language is not the medium of thought and art, but that thought and art are themselves “the originary, the essential, therefore also the final speech” of language; and man is its medium.

Language is neither merely the field of expression [Ausdrucksfeld], nor merely the means of expression [Ausdrucksmittel], nor merely the two jointly. Thought and poesy never just use [benutzen] language to express themselves with its help; rather, thought and poesy are in themselves the originary, the essential, and therefore also the final speech [das anfängliche, wesenhafte und darum zugleich letzte Sprechen] that language speaks through the mouth of man [das die Sprache durch den Menschen spricht]. (128)

The language of every thinker tells (shows) “what is” uniquely:

… the thinker’s language tells what is [die Sprache der Denker sagt das, was ist]…. We must acknowledge and respect it. To acknowledge and respect [das Anerkennen] consists in letting every thinker’s thought [Gedachte] come to us as something in each case unique, never to be repeated, inexhaustible [als etwas je Einziges, Niewiederkehrendes, Unerschöpfliches]—and being shaken to the depths by what is unthought in his thought [das Ungedachte in seinem Gedachten uns bestürzt]. (76)

This “language” is not speech or writing, not “a mere human faculty” (“mortals … can speak only as we respond to language [nur insofern sprechen können, als wir der Sprache entsprechen],” “The Nature of Language” 107), but a Saying, comparable to Derrida’s prewriting, described in Of Grammatology as an anterior and prior (anterior even to space, prior to differentiation in time) provision of the preconditions for and the intrinsic possibilities of sensibility and intelligibility—for human experience and for a world. It differs from Derrida’s prewriting, it seems to me, in especially this respect: prewriting precedes and exceeds the world; Derrida calls it an erased origin but it is not an empty one, since all that “is” is prescribed there (Of Grammatology 44f.). Heidegger’s “language,” on the other hand, is the world, is the opening, the clearing. Being in general (No-thing) does not precede being and is not anterior to it but pervades it. The ontic and the ontological are a unity (Heidegger’s unity, located in language, not Plato’s), though Western philosophy has taken account of the ontic only, to the exclusion (forgetting) of Being. In Heidegger’s thinking the horizon of nothing, available in “presencing” in the passage Derrida cites above, permits beings to appear in their appearing. That is, beings appear as beings; the being is not only ontic; it is also ontological. Further, the relation of nothing to being “rules” in the appearing of the being (“The relation to what is present that rules [waltende Beziehung] in the essence of presencing itself”). The ontological (Being) has priority, not in being or time, however these are rewritten, but in “rule”—in giving, appropriating. “Origin” is not erased and not preserved; it is inhabited. “It gives” is an active, presencing, subjectless giving of language (the “of,” of course, works twice).

Derrida’s suspicion of residual metaphysics in Heidegger’s calling for “the unique name” bears not upon just one Heideggerian passage which betrays a “hope” otherwise restrained or overcome, but, as Derrida’s works will continue to reiterate, upon the essential meaning that language manifests in Heidegger’s thought. There can be no refutation of Derrida’s charge. My attempt at a kind of “answer” is an attempt to set Heidegger’s thinking against Derrida’s (a reversal of the contrast that Derrida’s works have delineated again and again, i.e., his own thought against Heidegger’s), giving the emphasis and preference back to Heidegger. In the disputed Heideggerian passage above the meanings of “name” and of “unique” undergo radical revision; Being becomes not-being, and “nothing” rules in the giving of language. The traditional Western meaning of Being as essence, totality, unity, is undermined, abandoned, even while a kind of human being (Dasein) is given (meaningless) “meaning” and (groundless) ground.

Another aspect of Derrida’s charge, above, concerns the notion of propriety, “the finally proper name” (27), a matter to which Heidegger has given emphasis. In a passage in What is Called Thinking the “proper” meaning of a word is addressed directly. We prefer to take the word “to call” to mean “to give this or that name,” he writes, though perhaps “the unaccustomed and apparently uncustomary signification of the word ‘to call’ is its proper [eigentliche] one: the one that is innate to the word [die dem Wort angestammt], and thus remains the only one [einzige]—for from its native realm stem all the other [als in ihrem Stammesbereich alle übrigen beheimatet sind]” (118). The proper meaning (as signification) is the word’s own unique meaning, but its uniqueness indicates a realm from which “other” meanings also derive. The proper signification of “to call” has become unfamiliar, he continues,

not because our spoken speech has never yet been at home [heimisch] in it, but rather because we are no longer at home with this telling word, because we no longer really live in it [wir es nicht mehr eigentlich bewohnen] …. It is as though man had to make an effort to live properly with language [die Sprache eigentlich zu bewohnen]….The place of language properly inhabited [eigentlich bewohnten] and of its habitual [gewohnten] words, is usurped by common [gewöhnlichen] terms….Anything that departs from this commonness, in order to inhabit the formerly habitual proper speech of language [das vormals gewohnte eigentliche Sprechen der Sprache zu bewohnen], is at once considered a violation of the standard. (118-19)

Living properly with language is living properly in language. Propriety means proper realm, proper habitation. The propriety of a proper word refers not to the word as a thing or as a thing in its relation to a thing (or to a concept), but to the place it establishes, in which “we” and “what calls for thinking” dwell, related in our proper nature (respectively, thinking and calling).23 Again in “Building Dwelling Thinking” the proper meaning of a word as original, essential, and genuine, is discussed in relation to place and habitation, dwelling. “Dwelling … is the basic character [der Grundzug] of Being in keeping with which mortals exist [die Sterblichen sind]” (338).24

For comparison and for clarification we turn to Derrida’s discussion of the concept of propriety. Since the metaphysics that Derrida “detects” in Heidegger’s “hope” belongs essentially to the Aristotelian notion of language, I shall divert here briefly to “White Mythology” to solicit Derrida’s meaning in the phrase “the finally proper name.”25 In this as-always rigorous, subtle study, Derrida’s subject is metaphor: a kind of noun which in his analysis usurps and overturns the very notion of noun. “What is proper to nouns is to signify something … , an independent being identical to itself, conceived as such [un étant indépendant, identique à soi, et visé comme tel]” (237). Aristotle’s notion of language attributes to each word a single meaning or a limited number of meanings as the very requisite of thinking or reasoning (and thinking or reasoning as the requisite of man; Derrida translates and interprets Aristotle, 248-49). At one point we find this summary, to our purpose here:

A noun is proper when it has but a single sense [Un nom est propre quand il n’a qu’un seul sens]. Better, it is only in this case that it is properly a noun. Univocity is the essence, or better, the telos of language. [L’univocité est l’essence, ou mieux, le telos du langage] … Language is what it is, language, only insofar as it can then master and analyze polysemia [maîtriser et analyser la polysémie]. With no remainder. A nonmasterable dissemination is not even a polysemia, it belongs to what is outside language [elle appartient au dehors du langage]. (247-48)

Further, “each time that polysemia is irreducible, … one is outside language. And consequently, outside humanity [hors de l’humanité].”

If we take this fragment to represent Derrida’s notion of Aristotelian propriety, then we will expect that something essential here will be found to be essential also in Heidegger’s sense of the proper name. But before we compare the one with the other, I offer an objection. Derrida’s language interjects significations into Aristotle’s discussion that I do not find in the Metaphysics—in the meanings attributed here to “sense,” “univocity,” “polysemia.” The notions of meaning separate from things, of the (non)splitting of the voice, of the proliferation of semes, carry post-Saussurean (Derridean) significance. These meanings are essential to Derrida’s argument: “There is lexis, and within it metaphor, in the extent to which thought is not made manifest by itself, in the extent to which the meaning of what is said or thought is not a phenomenon of itself [le sens de ce qui est dit ou pensé n’est pas phénomène de lui-même]” (233, emphasis mine). In the italicized phrase “meaning” is separated out from or added onto dianoia and lexis—as these are effectively equated; that is, the phrase “the meaning of what is said or thought” gives to saying and to thinking the same “meaning” or the same relationship to meaning as content, which is “not a phenomenon of itself.” Aristotle’s schematic is different. As Derrida has already indicated in the essay, for Aristotle Diction (lexis) brings Thought, what is given to thinking (dianoia), to manifestation (appearance, phenomenon). Diction is the phenomenon (appearing, bringing to light) of Thought. And Thought, which Aristotle argues must think something definite to think at all, thinks what is given to Thought: but what is given to thought is not “meaning”; it is the being of what is thought about. Thought is not separate from the “thing” (pragma, res, Metaphysics iv.1006a.30-1006b) it thinks about; “… whether thing or idea, such a being must be identical with what it is to be that something” (vii.1031b.19-20; see vii.1029b-1031b). Derrida acknowledges this integration but interprets it as “a unity of meaning”: “what [the noun and the verb] have in common is that they are intelligible in and of themselves, have an immediate relation to an object or rather to a unity of meaning [à un objet ou plutôt à une unité de sens],” (233, emphasis mine). In Derrida’s restatement the nature of the unity of thinking/thing takes the character of “meaning.” In Aristotle, however, “in the case of being primarily and essentially the being is one and the same with its ‘what’ or intelligible constitution” (Metaphysics 1032a.5-6). Thinking/thing (“intelligible constitution” and “being”) are one and the same. “[I]f the being of ideas and the meaning of ideas are disconnected from one another, there will be no knowledge of the former, and the latter will not be” (1031b.3-5). Further, “meaning” has no primary being according to Aristotle. To add this “meaning” into the schematic is to bestow gratis an extra structure, something like Plato’s and others’ notions of ideas, perhaps, which Aristotle argues against (i.6-10,vii.6.1031b.14-20), as he would surely dismiss on the same grounds Saussure’s concepts (which have perhaps acquired psychological reality by now, questionable on other grounds as well; cf. Being and Time H. 216-17, 258-61).

In my view, the “theory of metaphor [as a kind of noun belonging to Diction] remains” not, as Derrida has it (233), “a theory of meaning,” but a theory of manifestation. What is manifest in Diction is Thought; and what Thought thinks is what is “in fact” (pragma).26 Thought (what is thought) is not repeated in Diction but is brought to light there, made manifest, made seeable (see Derrida’s translations of lexis, 232-33).27 Metaphor, then, is not anomalous among Aristotle’s nouns; it functions in a way not essentially different from Diction proper. What is “proper” to nouns is not univocity but truth—manifestation of Thinking/the thing. (The source of truth is intuition, which “apprehends the primary premisses” that science demonstrates, Posterior Analytics II.19.100b.)28 Aristotle’s lexis (Diction; “language” in Derrida’s paraphrase) does not “master” dianoia (Thought; Derrida’s “polysemia”); it manifests it.

Heidegger joins our conversation (What Is Called Thinking?, Lecture IX, 212):

But all of the great thinking of the Greek thinkers, including Aristotle, thinks non-conceptually [begrifflos]. Does it therefore think inaccurately, hazily [ungenau und unscharf]? No, the very opposite: it thinks appropriately, as befits the matter [sachgerecht].

Indeed Aristotle’s ontology of language is more accessible via Heidegger’s notions of language as disclosure than by Derrida’s polysemantics. If something in Aristotle’s thinking is residual in Heidegger’s, it may be, as Heidegger claimed, the residue in Aristotle from the presocratic Greek experience—which precedes conceptual, representational (metaphysical) language.

To return, then, to the passage cited in the beginning, Derrida writes that there can be no “proper word,” no “unique name,” for the uniqueness of Being. Thus he cites a metaphysical, substantialist propriety of language and identity of Being. However, if my collection of related passages is evidence that Heidegger’s “propriety” escapes that characterization, Derrida has made a different characterization of the same word—realm of words—in Spurs in an analysis that takes the argument along a different route to the same end. The case: Derrida, re-reading Nietzsche after Heidegger’s reading, picks up a thread that Heidegger let drop (“‘—it becomes woman,’” Heidegger is quoting Nietzsche, Nietzsche,Vol. I, 205)29 and takes Nietzsche’s “woman” as the very figure for his own “writing”—the figure here is “spur,” style. Derrida carries the question of “woman” (writing, style) from a question of sexual difference to a question of “a process of propriation” produced by the graphic of the hymen beyond any possibility of ontological decidability (111). Then he turns to the question of propriation in the thinking of Heidegger, which he describes as a similar progress of a similar “process of propriation” leading to the same (in)conclusion: i.e., Heidegger’s “process of propriation” loses its footing in metaphysics as it surpasses the limits and the form of opposition and falls into the abyss of nontruth, nonBeing. Now Heidegger’s Ereignis and (Derrida’s reading of) Nietzsche’s “woman” share with Derrida’s “style” or the pharmakon the abyssal character of what Derrida calls undecidability. “On such a track one might flush out [relancer] once again Heidegger’s reading of ‘Nietzsche’ and abscond with it [la voler] outside the speculum and the hermeneutic circle and everything it points out (tout ce qu’il flèche) towards an enormous field of dimensions immeasurable—except perhaps by the steps of a dove” (123). (Except perhaps by the progress of the project of Derrida, in Spurs for example.) But I shall argue that just as Derrida’s reading of metaphor, above, intending to deconstruct Aristotle’s, serves instead to render a Heideggerian propriety to it, so his reading of Heidegger’s “propriety” in Spurs serves to render back to Heidegger the nonmetaphysical dimension and range of the “proper word.”

For I submit (1) that “the proper-ty of the abyss (das Eigentum des Ab-grundes)” is not “necessarily the abyss of proper-ty” (119) and (2) that das Eigentum des Ab-grundes is not “an event which befalls without Being” (119)—for Heidegger’s Being has perhaps already passed “outside the speculum” and perhaps outside Derrida’s reading of “the hermeneutic circle and everything it points out.” An alternative to these contradictions already inhabits Heidegger’s language, for example in this passage from Nietzsche, Vol. IV, which compels comparison with the section Derrida is citing from Time and Being:30

Do we dare think the possibility that the nothing is infinitely different from vacuous nullity? In the present case, the characterization of the essence of nihilism proper [des Wesens des eigentlichen Nihilismus], in which there is nothing to Being itself [mit dem Sein selbst nichts ist], would have to contain something more than a merely negative conclusion. (214)

Containing, instead, two pages later:

The essence of nihilism proper is Being itself in default of its unconcealment [das Sein selber im Ausbleiben seiner Unverborgenheit], which is as its own “It” [die als die seine Es selber ist], and which determines its “is” in staying away [im Ausbleiben sein “ist” bestimmt].

Not only in works such as Time and Being and Nietzsche,Vol. IV, which treat the issue directly, but from the beginning and throughout Heidegger’s thinking, concealment, the mystery, the abyss, Nothing, has participated in the event of Being; and “ownness,” “proper-ty,” has been the distinctive character of whatever is, i.e., of whatever is let-be in Dasein’s Being-uncovering.

Thus the Ereignis, the event of Appropriation, cited here from Time and Being, denies and withholds—i.e., withdraws, expropriates—itself from itself (“By this expropriation, Appropriation does not abandon itself—rather, it preserves what is its own [Durch sie (die Enteignis) gibt das Ereignis sich nicht auf, sondern bewahrt sein Eigentum]” 23) even as it sends and extends time and Being. Not only does this withholding of itself from itself not mean the end of propriation but rather its preservation; but it means the possibility of human propriation as well:

(We catch sight of the other peculiar property in Appropriation [Eigentümlich im Ereignis] as soon as we think clearly enough what has already been said. In Being as presence, there is manifest the concern which concerns us humans in such a way that in perceiving and receiving it we have attained the distinction of human being [daß wir im Vernehmen und Übernehmen dieses Angangs das Auszeichnende des Menschseins erlangt haben]. Accepting the concern of presence, however, lies in standing within the realm of giving [Reichens]. In this way, four-dimensional true time [eigentliche Zeit]31 has reached [erreicht] us….) Time and Being 23

The event of Appropriation is a radically different version of what we have called source and origin, time and space, Being—and nothing. This uncanny giving and receiving is quite different from Derrida’s sexual “process” of “production, doing, machination [de la production du faire et de la machination]” (119), and even from the “give-take, give-keep, give-jeopardize [du donner-prendre, du donner-garder, du donner-nuire]” of an undecidable and irreducible exchanging at “the very limit of being itself [la limite de l’être même]” (113), different most of all in its effect: the giving of Being and time and propriation.

(Because Being and time are there only in Appropriating [Ereignen], Appropriating has the peculiar property [Eigentümliche] of bringing man into his own [in sein Eigenes bringt] as the being who perceives [vernimmt] Being by standing within true time. Thus Appropriated [So geeignet], man belongs [gehört] to Appropriation….) Time and Being 23

Heidegger’s “propriation” is no more the physio- psycho- logical “process of propriation” of Derrida’s spurs than the totalizing “univocity” of (Derrida’s reading of) Aristotle’s noun.

To return then once more to Derrida’s discussion of “The Anaximander Fragment,” let us not forget that Derrida writes the proscription against the proper word, the unique name, in reference to his own annunciation of his own word (différance) as well as to Heidegger’s (Being). It is interesting to note that Derrida at the same time advances a new word (différance), which is not to be thought of as Heidegger’s “unique name,” and produces in his essay a very Heideggerian function for it: to give, wellspringlike, more and more differentiation, “meaning” (“meaning” meaning semia for Derrida, manifest Being for Heidegger). As Derrida offers a word and at the same time takes it away (a fair demonstration of the function of the word for Heidegger), so Heidegger offered “Being” to “call” what “is” not.32 At issue is the nature of names, naming, of speech and of language. Heidegger escapes the metaphysics that inhabits these words, if he does, by rethinking (re-calling) what each one thinks or calls, letting it be in its own freedom (according to his renewed sense of “propriety,” above), a Nietzschean freedom which Derrida too has appropriated, as “play” among “false” participants in a (provisionally true) system, game (“Différance” 26-27). The difference between the freedom in Heidegger’s language and the play in Derrida’s is the point of Derrida’s charge here. Derrida’s intention toward and his interpretation of the nature of proliferating language oppose Heidegger’s.

… the destruction of discourse is not simply an erasing neutralization [une simple neutralisation d’effacement]. It multiplies words, precipitates them one against the other, engulfs them too, in an endless and baseless substitution whose only rule is the sovereign affirmation of the play outside meaning [dont la seule règle est l’affirmation souveraine du jeu hors-sens]. Not a reserve or a withdrawal, not the infinite murmur of a blank speech erasing the traces of classical discourse, but a kind of potlatch of signs that burns, consumes, and wastes words in the gay affirmation of death [l’affirmation gaie de la mort]: a sacrifice and a challenge.33 “Force and Signification” 274

Or perhaps I may say that Heidegger’s notion of proliferating language opposes Derrida’s:

If we may talk here of playing games at all [Wenn hier schon von einem Spiel die Rede sein darf], it is not we who play with words, but the nature of language plays with us [das Wesen der Sprache spielt mit uns], not only in this case, not only now, but long since and always. For language plays with our speech—it likes to let our speech drift away into the more obvious meanings [die mehr vordergründigen Bedeutungen] of words. It is as though man had to make an effort to live properly with language [die Sprache eigentlich zu bewohnen]. It is as though such a dwelling were especially prone to succumb to the danger of commonness [das Wohnen der Gefahr des Gewöhnlichen am leichtesten erliege]…. This floundering in commonness is part of the high and dangerous game and gamble in which, by the nature of language, we are the stakes [Dieser Taumel im Gewöhnlichen gehört zu dem hohen und gefährlichen Spiel, auf das uns das Wesen der Sprache gesetzt hat].

Is it playing with words when we attempt to give heed to this game of language and to hear what language really says when it speaks [was die Sprache eigentlich sagt, wenn sie spricht]? What Is Called Thinking 118-19

It is this “really saying” that Derrida suspects and denies.

Thus another related charge which Derrida has repeated is that Heidegger privileges spoken language, this charge related to another, that he privileges the human.

In Being and Time one of the primary structures of Dasein is discourse (Rede, H. 160-67). Rooted in the constitution (constituting) of the disclosedness of Dasein, discourse “is the Articulation of intelligibility … [which] underlies both interpretation and assertion” (203-4). To discourse belong voice (speaking) and hearing, but equally not-speaking and not-hearing, and equally “keeping silent.” Speaking and the voice are modes of discourse, secondary to it (as signs are modes of signaling, above).34

Heidegger privileges “voice”; but he does not use the word in its usual signification. In work after work Heidegger writes in terms of a “voice of Being,” eventually a Saying which is the very giving of Appropriation, above (“The Way to Language” 127); and at the same time he dissociates the notions from vocal apparatus, from notions of the sensory or the physical as well as the metaphysical. We catch the voice in its ultimacy, perhaps, in the trace Heidegger detected in the Anaximander fragment, above, wherein it proceeds from oblivion.

In Being and Time language belongs to Dasein, and since language establishes and sustains the very clearing that is the world, we can say that Heidegger’s early thinking gives the human a priority, a radically new kind of priority, to be sure, and that this theme is never abandoned, though it is modified and attenuated (see, e.g., “The Way to Language” 120-23f.). In “The Nature of Language,” a lecture delivered in 1957-58 and published in 1959, language still needs man (90), but language, “Saying” [Sagen], is more than “a mere human faculty [keine bloße Fähigkeit des Menschen]” (107). Holding itself in reserve [an sich haltend], it holds all regions (the fourfold) in their relations, is itself “the relation of all relations [das Verhältnis aller Verhältnisse].” And only thus does language “[concern] us, us who as mortals belong within this fourfold world, us who can speak only as we respond to language [der Sprache entsprechen]” (107). Similarly in “The Way to Language,” another lecture in the same series, where the nature of language is Saying, and Saying is showing [das Zeigen], again language does not “exclusively, or even decisively [weder ausschließlich noch maßgebend]” belong to the human. It marks the appearing, presencing, of every present being, whatever its nature or order, in its presence and absence.35 Afterwards it may occur in a human saying (123-4).

In “Letter On Humanism”36 Heidegger denounces Sartre’s humanism—but Derrida argues that he does so for the wrong reasons (“The Ends of Man” 128f.): not because it fails to displace or erase “man” (the right reasons), but because it misses the essence of man. Indeed (Derrida quotes Heidegger), “Humanism is opposed because it does not set the humanitas of man high enough.” Heidegger fails to escape metaphysics, fails to forfeit “the values of neighboring, shelter, house, service, guard, voice, and listening” (130),37 a project Derrida designates as “an entire metaphorics of proximity, of simple and immediate presence [de toute une métaphorique de la proximité, de la présence simple et immédiate].” We have seen that Heidegger’s thought appeals not to the in- or non-human, the outside, the farthest from us, but to the nearest, the deepest inside us; calls for a leap into where we already are. Man’s position is elevated, not that it is essentially changed, but that it becomes recognized in its essence for the first time. Western history and “man” are not forfeited; they are discovered. Heidegger does not climb out of metaphysics into an other clime or authorize another relève; he discovers an “other” prior to and participant in Western man and history.

As for “metaphoricity,” I have argued above that Derrida’s reading of metaphor in “White Mythology” only demonstrates what Heidegger has asserted, that metaphor, as language, operates and emanates from outside the notion of Being as presence, the metaphysical paradigm. Heidegger calls the epithet “metaphor” a metaphysical misnomer (“The Nature of Language” 100); meanwhile, the “metaphor” he uses throughout his works assumes the same locus and absence-ridden character that Derrida discovers in his deconstruction of the term.38 “Metaphor” moves and provokes meaning for Heidegger in, I suggest, the same region where Derrida’s psychoanalytic gambles operate, the area where Derrida hopes to surprise his way into a new position—outside representational language.

But where would “outside” be? Derrida writes often in terms of the inside and outside, of margins. One of the most meditationworthy passages in Of Grammatology describes the outside already having displaced or preceded (transgressed, prewritten) the inside. The tympan (“Tympan”) figures the site where an unattainable something-outside, at the point of entry to an inside, undergoes a kind of alchemical accommodation to correct its nature so that something of it, of its, enters, assimilates, but the thing as it is in itself remains outside, inaccessible, alien. In “Living On: Border Lines39 a subject finds itself displaced by an other, finds itself (re)placed on the (alien) ground of the other, placeless. In notions such as these the subject is cut off not from the object, but from itself. In Dissemination inside/outside resolves into textuality: “The text affirms the outside [Le texte affirme le dehors], marks the limits of [Hegel’s] speculative operation [marque la limite de cette opération spéculative], deconstructs and reduces to the status of ‘effects’ [déconstruit et réduit à des “effets”] all the predicates through which speculation appropriates the outside” (35).

This theme derives from and reverses a theme of Heidegger’s.40 From the notion of ek-sistence as Da-sein (Being-there) to the elaborations of Being-in-the-world, Being-toward, Being-with, and so on to the notion of temporality as ek-stases, Heidegger’s thinking overturns ordinary notions of inside-outside. Dasein is always already outside (beside) itself. Temporality (in Being and Time and in Time and Being, e.g.) is a radical revision of past-present-future (Ekstases) in which each of these moments is outside itself, involved in the others. Notions of separate, essential, integral realities disappear. The configuration of inside-outside as we have thought it becomes unthinkable, for the “inside” is always already outside, involved in contextuality, directionality, region, world. Beyond these lies Nothing or death. But this other is not without its “effects”: all that “is.”

In Derrida the conditions above have been repeated or translated, with this salient difference, that the “in” structures are not only invaded by the outside; they are displaced to the outside. The shift leaves the inside out. For in Derrida “inside” (as “outside”) is a concept or the edge or limit or other of a concept, concept providing the definition in each case; e.g., the other place is alien because it is other, the original place displaced because it is original. “Text” as what limits the “speculative operation,” reducing the outside to “effects,” is, if not in its “effects” then in its own operation, intellectual, conceptual (as in Positions “thinking” is displaced by “textual work,” 67, 69).41

But in Heidegger, the concept does not count. Heidegger’s thought of proximity escapes conceptualization as it discounts borders that concepts define themselves by; Derrida’s thought fails to escape them, for it is those definitions that determine and delineate the (meaning of) violation, alienation, displacement, substitution, that his thought discovers.

One effect of the difference is what we observed above, that Derrida’s thinking excludes what Heidegger called “Care,” mineness, the fundamental character of Dasein. Perhaps this is the crux of the difference that I am trying to delineate between the two. Derrida, and much more his imitators (more of imitation below), erasing so-called “presence” erase what “presence” mistook, what Heidegger takes back as “presencing”. It was Heidegger who erased such words and their concepts along with the world they defined and supported—leaving us vulnerably and immediately in touch (compare “texts,” the “textual,” the current version of, aversion to, mineness) with the un-named. Derrida’s nonexperiential experimentation with rational language engages us, often dazzles, always returns to us what it requires of us—legitimate demands and challenges; but at the end: we do not care.

The very thinking (Heidegger’s) which bears the burden of proof for all the negativity that marks our themes today carries in it not only an alternative direction or emphasis, but a different fundamental thrust. Heidegger’s thinking opened up themes and directions; it introduced new ways of thinking, of argument, turns and shifts as well as revolutions. These novelties have marked Western thinking in this century, and yet, in the United States at least, the radical difference in his thinking is being passed by.

In the argument above I have attempted to follow Heidegger’s lifelong following of language out onto the moor, his restatement not of representational language but of a more original, originary poetic language, recovering renewing meaning. Derrida’s thinking works inside representational language, reversing, denegating, or disabling it. It attacks and destroys the root, but what remains, by whatever means and to whatever purpose, is an obscure, antihuman will to dance, a kind of Derridean “hope” that words may fall against words in such a “way” that some enabling fire may spark. His language is essentially or eventually negative. It speaks of deprivation, loss, death; and it yields a victimization or at best a sinister, macabre heroism, the “gay affirmation of death.” Affirmation of life would be metaphysical positivism. According to a foreknowledge which is just another application of the rational principle of noncontradiction, no “calls” can call in or as language, and a direct response would be out of the question. Derrida’s refusal to give way to leading, his denial of leads per se, cuts human experience off at the source, repelling originariness, resisting historical renewal, and entangling the literary community in hypocrisies and paranoias.

But what is loss of meaning or renunciation or even forgetting of it but the attainment of a higher (lower, other—orientate or situate it however we may; we must) “meaning.” Rewriting, unwriting—writing—meaning as meaninglessness, as it avoids repetition risks reversal of the paradigm. Derrida is perfectly aware of this familiar dilemma. He avoids reversal, if he does, by acknowledging the problem and then describing the possibility or practice of avoiding it: by (after Bataille in “From Restricted to General Economy”42) finding and using words and objects which slide, make us slide: toward other words of the same kind. The trick is to avoid falling into meaning and to awaken Bataille’s “furtiveness [le furtif]” (263), a kind of wary awakening to nonmeaning, nonpresence. “A certain strategic twist must be imprinted upon language [Il faudra imprimer au langage un certain tour stratégique]; and this strategic twist, with a violent and sliding [violent et glissant], furtive, movement must inflect the old corpus in order to relate its syntax and its lexicon to major silence [en infléchisse le vieux corps pour en rapporter la syntaxe et le lexique au silence majeur]” (264).

If the trick succeeds, it “relates” itself to the region Heidegger opened up, the acting and activating blank spaces of what has been unspoken and unthought in Western philosophy. Heidegger shares Derrida’s uncertainty as to the possibility of addressing that silence in language. (This uncertainty touches the capability of thinking to think the nature of language; it does not touch the event or the way of language. The event, “it gives”—or the Ereignis, the event of Appropriation—is a fair example, it seems to me, of the unthought, perhaps unthinkable, nonthing that marks language or the world without appearing there.) But whereas for Derrida the way to bring this problem “to terms” is to get outside of or beyond language, Heidegger’s way, as we have seen, traverses language along an ever deepening way, language leading the way.

Our experience of reading the two is similarly disparate. In Derrida’s prose rigorous, lucid logic rules the argument and otherly arbitrary or artistic or psychoanalytic tendencies intervene, often guide, and take responsibility for whatever eventual nondecision is reached. Heidegger’s prose moves and motivates, as he predicts, by showing. The rigor of his logic is impeccable or, more precisely: care-ful (and Derrida learned meticulousness and method from Heidegger, as a comparison of their works shows), but we come to know that “saying” does not reside in the lexis that states it. Instead, reading Heidegger means a profound probing of language itself, “meaning” itself, in a continual discovery of more language, “meaning,” not dissemination but disclosure. To follow Heidegger’s thinking is to change the traditional meaning of reality, but not the human “sense” of reality. It is this elusive, unsaid “sensing” experience that opens itself to his thinking, the being-shaken-to-the-depths by what is unthought. Heidegger and Derrida agree that a new epoch will require a new “man”; and each places emphasis on Nietzsche’s “call” for such a human being. They disagree about the nature of the “last man,” the dispensable “humanity.” It appears that the Dasein which Heidegger wants to preserve is the human Derrida wants to put behind us. For Heidegger language (renewable) as the world is our domain and our resource, and shall be for the (uncertain) length of “human” “history.” The human is heartened and enabled in Heidegger’s world, whereas in Derrida’s abyme it struggles to immolate itself.

We have observed that Heidegger’s thinking is poetic. The anomalous but most-powerful experiences of “seeing” and thinking that art has always managed to bring along with us, however ignorable or ignoble we have maintained them to be, become the field and the stuff of a new way of thinking a heretofore unthinkable world. Derrida’s work is post-poetic. His works have become a work of postmodern poetry. As his method becomes éperon it becomes more difficult for followers to follow without imitating. (See, for example, the introduction to Spurs by Stefano Agosti, whose art rivals Derrida’s but who concedes that it only extends it, 25.) Derrida’s “way” is “style”—brilliant, inimical style: and that style is Derrida’s. Others must imitate or … read Heidegger for ourselves.


  1. See Derrida’s contribution to the controversy concerning Heidegger’s involvement in National Socialism, Of Spirit: Heidegger and the Question, trans. Geoffrey Bennington and Rachel Bowlby (Chicago: U of Chicago, 1989). See also Heidegger and Modernity by Luc Ferry and Alain Renaut, trans. Franklin Philip (Chicago: U of Chicago, 1990), which provides a bibliography as well as a (polemical) summary of the history of the debate.

  2. “Tympan,” Margins of Philosophy, trans. Alan Bass (Chicago: U of Chicago, 1982) ix-xxix. Compare Heidegger’s “unthought” in, e.g., What Is Called Thinking? trans. J. Glenn Gray (New York: Harper Colophon, 1968) 76-77.

  3. “The Ends of Man,” Margins 115.

  4. See e.g. “The Ends of Man” 128.

  5. One way to get a sense of the “identity and difference” of the two thinkers is to read What Is Called Thinking? alongside the essays in Margins. The similarities and differences in problematic, argument, tone, and direction engage each other in a veritable dialogue.

  6. Margins 1-27.

  7. Early Greek Thinking, trans. David Farrell Krell and Frank A. Capuzzi (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1984) 13-58.

  8. Derrida has appropriated this point as a linguistic condition; his syntax gives a “certain,” as he might say, priority to language, operating on its own, playing, essentially free or unbound by human intention, decision, achieving a kind of objective arbitrariness; i.e., Derrida imposes a rational definition (“effects”) or limitation (undecidability) on the otherness that haunts Heidegger’s “it gives,” the event of Ereignis.

  9. See, e.g., “Building Dwelling Thinking,” Basic Writings, ed. David Farrell Krell (New York: Harper and Row, 1977) 326: “That language in a way retracts [zurücknimmt] the proper meaning [die eigentliche Bedeutung] of the word bauen, which is dwelling, is evidence of the original one [Ursprüngliche] of these meanings; for with the essential words of language [wesentlichen Worten der Sprache], what they genuinely say [ihr eigentlich Gesagtes] easily falls into oblivion [fällt … in die Vergessenheit] in favor of foreground meanings [vordergründig Gemeinten]. Man has hardly yet pondered the mystery of this process. Language withdraws from man its simple and high speech [Die Sprache entzieht dem Menschen ihr einfaches und hohes Sprechen]. But its primal call does not thereby become incapable of speech [dadurch verstummt ihr anfänglicher Zuspruch nicht]; it merely falls silent [er schweigt nur]. Man, though, fails to heed this silence” This passage has significance for the discussion below.

  10. “If our thinking does justice to the matter, then we may never say of the word that it is, but rather that it gives [Vom Wort dürften wir … nie sagen: Es ist, sondern: Es gibt]—not in the sense that words are given by an ‘it,’ but that the word itself gives. The word itself is the giver [Das Wort: das Gebende]. What does it give? To go by the poetic experience and by the most ancient tradition of thinking, the word gives Being [gibt das Wort: das Sein].” “The Nature of Language,” On the Way to Language, trans. Peter D. Hertz (Cambridge: Harper and Row, 1959) 87-88.

  11. “Words are not terms [Die Worte sind keine Wörter], and thus are not like buckets and kegs from which we scoop a content that is there. Words are wellsprings that are found and dug up in the telling, wellsprings that must be found and dug up again and again, that easily cave in, but that at times also well up when least expected” (What Is Called Thinking 130).

  12. “In keeping with the most ancient usage of the word we understand saying in terms of showing, pointing out, signaling…. The essential being of language is Saying as Showing [Das Wesende der Sprache ist die Sage als die Zeige]. Its showing character is not based on signs of any kind; rather, all signs arise from a showing [entstammen einem Zeigen] within whose realm [Bereicht] and for whose purposes [Absichten] they can be signs,” “The Way to Language,” On the Way to Language 123.

  13. “Words,” On the Way to Language 154. For a graphic description of the uncanny and violent nature of the word’s disclosure of the essent, see An Introduction To Metaphysics, trans. Ralph Manheim (New Haven: Yale UP, 1959) 170-72f. For the nature of the thing as what gathers the fourfold, as what “stays the fourfold into a happening of the simple onehood of world [verweilt das Geviert in ein je Weiliges von Einfalt der Welt]” see “The Thing” (181).

  14. But I shall argue below, after Heidegger, that Aristotle’s works invite a non-“Aristotelian” interpretation of language.

  15. Compare also Derrida’s “trace” as erased origin in Of Grammatology, trans. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 1976) 47f.

  16. Derrida argues otherwise, “Différence 23ff.

  17. The style indicated in the analogy at the beginning of the work is not the style that is the subject of the work—Nietzsche’s, woman’s—and not the style of the work. Perhaps infected by the nearness of the style of Nietzsche (and/or woman), Derrida writes more warmly, argues more seductively, than ever; and giving the end of the work over into the voice of Heidegger moves the reader (this one) several ways at once. Yet the discourse is essentially conventional; it advances and illustrates a set of propositions which conceptually account for a new concept of language as style: disconnected from signature or intention, disengaged from context or relation, undecidable because cut off from truth—a metaphysical lament. Spurs: Nietzsche’s Styles, trans. Barbara Harlow (Chicago: U of Chicago, 1978).

  18. … car l’être parle partout et toujours au travers de toute langue,” “La Différance,” Marges de la philosophie (Les Editions de Minuit, 1972) 29.

  19. Trans. John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson (New York: Harper and Row, 1962).

  20. Nietzsche,Vol. IV: Nihilism, ed. David Farrell Krell, trans. Frank A. Capuzzi (San Francisco, 1982) 197-250.

  21. “The Way to Language” On the Way to Language 122.

  22. Trans. Barbara Johnson (Chicago: U of Chicago, 1981).

  23. “[T]he source of the calling wants to be thought about by its very nature [das Heißende selber … von Hause aus bedacht sein möchte]. … it gives food for thought in the much wider-reaching and decisive sense that it first entrusts thought and thinking to us as what determines our nature [es uns überhaupt das Denken als unsere Wesensbestimmung zutraut]” (What Is Called Thinking? 125).

  24. See also a similar explication of “the proper character of the being of language” in “The Way to Language,” On the Way to Language 119-125.

  25. Margins 207-71. In the end this essay brings the nature of metaphor, and of language per se, around to a point akin to Heidegger’s nonconceptual event, as I describe it here, except that the event is not relationship, and the site is not an abode of habitation.

  26. Applying the principle of noncontradiction, Aristotle writes: “The question is not whether the same thing can at the same time be and not be a man in name, but in fact” (iv.4.1006b.20-22, 70).

  27. See also Heidegger’s discussion of logos as discourse, “letting-something-be-seen,” in, e.g., Being and Time H. 148-167.

  28. The problem is that the certainty with which intuition knows things (Posterior Analytics II.19.100b), though necessary in Aristotle’s paradigm, necessary to the possibility of thinking and man, has come to appear as only a conceptual necessity, not a real one; and thus the unraveling of the Western tradition.

  29. Heidegger did not address the question of “woman” (Spurs 109)—or did he? Since Derrida turned the question of woman from a matter of gender or human being to a figure in the economy of writing, is it fair to say that he wrote of woman any more than Heidegger did, who ignored Nietzsche’s analogy but treated “the sensuous” in the work instead: and did so in the very configuration that Derrida borrowed for his own treatment of Nietzsche’s “woman.” (Compare Nietzsche, Vol. I: The Will to Power as Art, trans. David Farrell Krell (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1979) Chapters 17, 24, and 15, esp. 21, 27, with Spurs, esp. 56-59.)

  30. On Time and Being, trans. Joan Stambaugh (New York: Harper and Row, 1972) 1-24.

  31. “[P]rior to all calculation of time and independent of such calculation, what is germane to the time-space of true time [das Eigene des Zeit-Raumes der eigentlichen Zeit] consists in the mutual reaching out and opening up [im lichtenden Einander-sich-reichen] of future, past and present. Accordingly, what we call dimension and dimensionality in a way easily misconstrued, belongs to true time and to it alone. Dimensionality consists in a reaching out that opens up, in which futural approaching brings about what has been, what has been brings about futural approaching, and the reciprocal relation of both brings about the opening up of openness [die Lichtung des Offenen]” (14-5). The fourth dimension of true time is the “interplay” among the three dimensions (present, past, and future)—an interplay “playing in the very heart of time [im Eigenen der Zeit spielende],” i.e., “the giving that determines all” (15). “Time is not the product [Gemächt] of man, man is not the product of time. There is no production [Machen] here. There is only giving [Geben] in the sense of extending which opens up time-space [den Zeit-Raum lichtenden Reichens]” (16).

  32. As for Derrida’s “decapita(liza)tion” of his new word, Heidegger’s Being [Sein] is distinguished by capita(liza)tion, only by translators in order to distinguish being in general from the being of particular beings (Seiendes).

  33. “Force and Signification,” Writing and Difference, trans. Alan Bass (Chicago: U of Chicago, 1978) 3-30.

  34. Compare also “Hölderlin and the Essence of Poetry,” trans. Douglas Scott, Existence and Being (Chicago: Henry Regnery, 1949) 277-80.

  35. Das Sichzeigen kennzeichnet als Erscheinen das An- und Abwesen des Anwesenden jeglicher Art und Stufe.

  36. Basic Writings 189-242.

  37. Heidegger forfeits values per se, Nietzsche, Vol. IV, e.g., 6f, 250.

  38. See Heidegger’s treatment of blueness in “The Nature of Language” 166f. See also David Halliburton’s analysis in Poetic Thinking: An Approach to Heidegger (Chicago: U of Chicago, 1981): “[W]hen Heidegger seems to use metaphors, he is actually using something else, namely words, which do not operate in relation to the literal because there is no such thing as the literal; there is just whatever the words say. Words operate, for lack of a better term, kinetically” (157).

  39. Harold Bloom et al., Deconstruction and Criticism (New York: Continuum, 1986) 75-176.

  40. Compare also Of Grammatology 66f.

  41. Rodolphe Gasché sets out the logic of the “method” (the “general system”) of deconstruction in “Infrastructures and Systematicity,” Deconstruction and Philosophy: The Texts of Jacques Derrida, ed. John Sallis (Chicago: U of Chicago, 1987) 3-20. He summarizes deconstruction as the “general system … of undecidables, of syntactically re-marked syncategoremata articulating prelogical and lateral possibilities of logic [or] … a syntax of an infinity of ‘last’ syntactically overdetermined syntactical objectivities” (18). This system brings philosophy to “a certain close,” not an end but an opening into “an Other in which philosophy becomes inscribed, and which limits its ultimate pretension to self-foundation…. Philosophy comes to a close, paradoxically, because the system of its heterological presuppositions constitute it as, necessarily, always incomplete” (19).

  42. Writing and Difference 252-277.