previous sub-section
Notes
next sub-section

4Being and Time and Leftist Concepts of History and Decision

1. In light of the passages on utopian ideals I quoted at length in section B of chapter 1, I take him to say: Christians, Marxists, liberals, and conservatives all live in the same tradition and present. Each group has specific utopian ideals. Due to the particular utopian ideal of each group, they each interpret the past differently. The Christians interpret it in terms of a lost state prior to original sin, communists discover a state prior to private ownership of the means of production, and so on. Thus, each of them «creatively reinterpret[s]» (HC 138) the past in the light of its particular utopian ideal. Similar to Macquarrie and Robinson's «conversation with the past,» guided by some utopian ideal, we can discover several possibilities inherent in the past, some of which we can reject and others adopt, depending on our utopian ideals. A Christian might either deny that there was a state prior to private ownership of the means of production or maintain that this state is identical with the state prior to original sin or not a relevant possibility to choose.

It might be possible that Guignon means that authentic Dasein's «projection onto future possibilities» (HC 141) and its encounter of a «future as a "destiny"» (HC 141) are identical with Dasein's «utopian ideals» (HC 138). For in his comments on the passage on destiny and fate in Being and Time (BT 436; SZ 384) he writes: «To say that our communal past is a "heritage" that points to a ''destiny" is to say that we can find insights in our past as to what we should accomplish as a community. . .. It is because we have the resources of our shared past available to us that we have a basis for selecting the life-defining possibilities that help us "simplify" and focus our lives» (HC 136). If he means that Dasein acquires its utopian ideal by choosing one of the possibilities offered by the past, my claim that, according to Guignon, Dasein selects the possibility relevant to it in light of its utopian ideal (see above, chapter 1, section B), would be wrong. On the other hand, from the beginning on («the pool of possibilities from which we draw our concrete identities as agents of particular types,» HC 130) Guignon presents the past authentic Dasein draws upon as containing several different possibilities. Thus, authentic Dasein needs some criterion to choose its possibility from the pool offered by the past. Presumably because of this problem, after the passage on destiny quoted in this note, Guignon continues: «In so far as the past gains its sense from its possible ways of making a contribution to the future, . . . the future has priority in authentic historicity. Our commitments towards the future "destiny" of our community first let the past become manifest as counting or mattering in some determinate way» (HC 136). According to this passage, Dasein's choice of its possibility seems to presuppose a commitment toward the future that is independent of the past and its offerings, even if Dasein becomes aware of this commitment only in the moment when it is confronted with the several possibilities offered by the past; a moment that in turn is made possible by Dasein's commitment to the future. Since Guignon introduces Dasein's «utopian ideals» (HC 138; see already HC 137) only after the passage on Dasein's commitment toward the future, it might be possible that Dasein's «utopian ideals» (HC 138) is just another name for Dasein's «commitments towards the future "destiny" of our community» (HC 136) that enable Dasein to choose its possibility from the pool of possibilities offered by the past.

Especially since Guignon uses Wolin's interpretation as the backdrop of his own interpretation (HC 130), he is certainly aware of the charge of circularity in Heidegger's reasoning with regard to this point (see below, chapter 5, section C). In the light of this, I assume that he means that Dasein's utopian ideal enables it to make its choice from the pool offered by the past. However, even if he assumes that Dasein's utopian ideal is identical with the possibility it chooses, my two main points with regard to Guignon remain valid, namely, that, according to him, Dasein finds a plurality of offers in the past and is in a free distance to all of them (see above, chapter 1, section B). and that all political parties at Heidegger's time work with a « mythos of pristine beginnings, a time of "falling," and a final recovery of origins» (HC 141) (see this chapter). Probably, Guignon isn't quite clear on the issue of Dasein's utopian ideals, because he is unwilling to distinguish between «the way of interpreting Dasein which has come down to us» (BT 435; SZ 383) and «heritage» (BT 435; SZ 383) (see above, chapter 2, section C) and he too assumes that Dasein chooses its fate (see below, chapter 5, section C). [BACK]

2. Benjamin, Illuminations , 258. See Scheler's metaphor, chapter 3, n. 68. [BACK]

3. Ibid., p. 260. On the Spartacists, the translator comments: «Leftist group, founded by Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg at the beginning of World War I in opposition to the pro-war policies of the German Socialist party, later absorbed by the Communist party» (ibid., 260, n.). Heidegger's notion of historicality is not identical with that of history in the Spartacist group or in Benjamin, if only for the reason that the many «generations of the downtrodden» or the «enslaved ancestors» lived in worlds in which they were enslaved and which thus should not be repeated. Also, there is a difference between the rightist and the leftist use of the word «Opfer.» See on both points my book Society, Community, Fate, and Decision: From Kant to Benjamin . [BACK]

4. See on this my book Society, Community, Fate, and Decision: From Kant to Benjamin . [BACK]

5. Even if all parties used Guignon's schema in the same way, Heidegger's concept would be rightist, since liberals and leftists simply don't interpret history in terms of Gemeinschaft and Schicksal but in terms of reason, class, and class-struggle. Guignon might object that Heidegger uses «heritage,» «community,» and «fate» as examples of possible choices. As Christians believe in a state prior to original sin, and as Marxists assume a state prior to private property, others select «heritage,» «community,» and «people» as the relevant categories to interpret history. One might easily replace this example with, say, the vocabulary of a communist choice. Thus, the logic of choice itself remains free of any specific political implications. However, in Heidegger's text there is no hint that «community, of {the} people» (BT 436; SZ 384) is meant just as an example. Rather, the development within section 74 suggests the opposite. Thus, if Heidegger had wanted to make this distinction between a general structure and the examples for it, he would have been an extremely poor writer. Furthermore, leftists and rightists negate society in different ways, for the leftists intend an Aufhebung of society whereas the rightists cancel society. First and foremost, however, liberals and leftists just simply opposed any return of a past. This is one of the few points concerning which Hitler, Scheler, Heidegger, Lukács, and Tillich agree, as I have already pointed out in chapter 3 and will make clearer in this chapter. There were some liberals or leftists of whom one might say that they used Guignon' s schema. (One of them was Ferdinand Tönnies, the author of Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft [1887], who later in his life joined the Social Democratic Party. He hoped that the future development of society would reintegrate to some extent the Gemeinschaften that had been pushed aside by liberal society. However, this is not the revitalization of Gemeinschaft by way of a cancellation of society but rather a dialectical sublation of Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft in which the main end is the establishment of a rational society. See my book Society, Community, Fate, and Decision: From Kant to Benjamin .) However, in regard to the basic distinctions they were opposed to the Right. For that reason, Hitler, Scheler, Heidegger, Lukács, or Tillich could include them in their classifications.

Lukács quotes a passage from Marx: «"The present generation," says Marx, "resembles the Jews whom Moses led through the wilderness. It must not only conquer a new world, it must also perish in order to make room for people who will be equal to a new world"» (HI 315; GK 318). Rightist authors say that people must stop the march of mankind to Israel and go back to, or rerealize, Egypt. Romantic rightists say that people should leave behind in the desert society and all its luggage. Revolutionary rightists say that Egypt will really flourish only if it can take advantage of achievements, such as private property and modern technology, that happened to emerge in the desert. Liberals, social democrats, and communists say that mankind has to go to Israel. The Social Democrat Tönnies says that hopefully Israel has some features mankind knows from Egypt, and Tillich agrees with him in principle (see section B of this chapter). However, both Tönnies and Tillich agree with liberals, social democrats, and communists that mankind should not go back to Egypt; even if mankind wanted to do so, it could not, for the desert is about to take over Egypt or has already done so. For liberals, social democrats, and communists the emphasis is on the fact that in Israel the individuals can behave rationally and without the constraints of the Gemeinschaften in Egypt. For liberals, Israel is a fully developed liberal society. For social democrats and communists, it is a socialist society. Social democrats and communists disagree, however, as to what the last steps toward Israel will be like. For social democrats, they will be smooth or at least they consider the chances for this good. For communists, however, those steps entail violence. Lukács is familiar with the literature on community and society. He comments on Marx's sentence in a way any rightist author might do: «For the 'freedom' of the men who are alive now is the freedom of the individual isolated by the fact of property which both reifies and is itself reified. It is a freedom vis-à-vis the other (no less isolated) individuals. A freedom of the egoist, of the man who cuts himself off from others, a freedom for which solidarity and community {Zusammenhang} exist at best only as ineffectual 'regulative ideas'» (HI 315; GK 318). Some pages later, he writes, «Only when action within a community {Gemeinschaft} becomes the central personal concern of everyone involved will it be possible to abolish {aufgehoben} the split between rights and duties, the organisational form of man's separation from his own socialisation {Vergesellschaftung} and his fragmentation at the hands of the social forces {gesellschaftlichen Mächte} that control him» (HI 319; GK 322; note that also in this passage the basic theoretical term is not Gemeinschaft but rather Ver-Gesellschaftung [see above, chapter 3, n. 28], and that even in this passage Lukács uses aufheben, and not widerrufen or something similar). However, this is one of the very few times that he uses the word «Gemeinschaft,» which in his work never has theoretical status. For what is at stake is not the rerealization of a Gemeinschaft, but rather the Aufhebung of capitalist Gesellschaft into a socialist Gesellschaft.

Since Lukács uses the notion of form, and since I comment on Heidegger and Lukács in terms of that notion, some remarks on it might be useful. The notion of form (inline image ) was introduced by Aristotle in his theory of principles and of the becoming of natural (and technical) beings ( Physics I:7). Each being consists of matter and a form, and it comes into existence from them. A house consists of wood, bricks, etc. and the peculiar order, form, that makes them a house and not, say, a bridge. Clay is the matter of a statue, and the peculiar shape that makes it a statue of, say, Socrates, is its form. The matter of an animal, according to Aristotle, is most often female menstruation and, later on in its development and existence, its bones, flesh, etc., and its form is that entity within the animal itself that causes the bones and flesh to be ordered and to operate in such a way that we can identify the being as such-and-such an animal, say, a human being. Aristotle distinguishes between the coming into existence of a substance itself (an individual human being, cat, dog, etc.) and accidental changes—local motion, quantitative changes, and qualitative changes—of an existing substance ( Physics I:7; V:1). With the exception of the coming into existence of the four elements (fire, air, water, and earth), at the beginning of the coming into existence of a substance there is only matter, which thereupon is informed by the form, which «enters» matter and «informs» it. (In other words, a human being comes into existence out of female menstruation and the male seed [the form], and not out of, say, a pig and the male seed.) In accidental changes, however, it often happens that an arriving form replaces its opposite form in the respective substance ( Physics V: 1f.). The latter also holds true for the elements. Each element consists of prime matter and a form. When air comes into existence, it does not come into existence exclusively out of prime matter and the form air. Rather, it comes into existence out of water; that is, out of prime matter informed by the form water; the form water is replaced in prime matter with the form air ( On Generation and Corruption ). Recently the notion that Aristotle assumes the existence of prime matter has been challenged (see, for instance, Charlton's appendix in his translation of Aristotle's Physics, Books I and II , trans. W. Charlton [Oxford: Clarendon, 1985], 129ff.). Different beings can be ordered according to their different degrees of complexity and the «dignity» of their forms. At the bottom are prime matter and the four elements (or only the latter), followed by entities like stones, etc., up to human beings (see Montgomery Furth, Substance, Form, and Psyche: An Aristotelian Metaphysics [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988], 76ff.). Beings of a relatively «low» level can function as the matter of beings of a «higher» level, as for instance the four elements, if combined in a certain ratio, are the matter of flesh, which in turn is the matter of an animal. Thus, only prime matter is in itself devoid of any forms, while all other matters have certain forms though not the ones they acquire in the respective becomings. Since the most general definition of «matter» is «something that can be informed, determined, by a form,» a substance can be labeled «matter» in regard to its accidents. No form transforms itself into its opposite. The form water does not transform itself into the form air. Rather, the form water has to be expelled from a piece of prime matter (through heating) in order for the form air to «enter» that piece of prime matter. With regard to beings of «higher» levels, this means that a sentence such as «a pig came into existence out of a human being» can mean only the following: a human being has died; that is, the form human being has been expelled from some pieces of flesh and bones; these pieces disintegrate into beings of a «lower» level down to the level of the four elements (either under the influence of the weather or in the digestion system of, say, a pig); these pieces of beings of a lower level thereupon become parts of the process of the reproduction of pigs. That is, a matter has to be deformed to a higher or lesser degree in order for a new form to arrive in it and determine it (see Metaphysics VIII:5).

One might say that, except for the hypothesis of the existence of ideas, Aristotle simply worked out in detail Plato's outline of a theory of becoming in Phaedo . At least according to the traditional interpretation of Plato, which goes back to Aristotle ( Metaphysics I:9), if not to Plato himself, and which is shared by Heidegger (IM 180ff.; EM 137ff.), Plato's ontology contains three kinds of beings, namely—to quote Vlastos—«(1) Forms {or ideas, that is,} entities endowed with the following set of categorical properties: they are immutable, incorporeal, divine; they cannot be known by means of sense-experience, but only by "recollection." (2) The individual persons and objects of ordinary experience, designated by proper names and definite descriptions. (3) The immanent characters of these individuals, designated by adjectives, abstract nouns, and common nouns. The very same words also name Forms. This becomes strikingly clear on those rare occasions on which Plato explicitly juxtaposes the Form with the cognate character to bring out the fact that, though closely connected, they are ontologically distinct. He does so twice in our passage, contrasting "Greatness itself" with "greatness in us" (102 D), and again ''the Opposite itself . . . in the nature of things" (inline image ) with ''the opposite itself . . . in us" (inline image ), and both with "the opposite thing" (inline imageinline image ), i.e., the individual that has one of two opposite characters (103 B)» (G. Vlastos: "Reasons and Causes in the Phaedo," Platonic Studies [Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1981], 83f.). Beings of the second kind—and space in Timaeus (48 elf.)— correspond to matter in Aristotle, and beings of the third kind to forms in Aristotle. An idea does not admit, and does not change into, its opposite. However, also an idea «in us» does not change into its opposite. Rather, if it can no longer resist its approaching opposite, it will leave those in whom, or in which, it is instead of transforming itself into its opposite ( Phaedo 102 a 10ff.).

In late medieval philosophy, Aristotle's conceptual framework was taken over by Christian philosophers. The eucharistic host involved several ontological problems. The official doctrine of the Catholic Church adopted a mythological notion of change. The accidents of the bread (its size, its taste, etc.) and of the wine remain after the consecration but their substances disappear, and the latter do so by their conversion, transubstantiation, into Jesus Christ. However, there were heretics who, in the name of the metaphysics of substance and form, replaced the miracle of transubstantiation with a different miracle. God annihilates the bread and wine, or he deforms their matters, cleansing them of forms down to the level of prime matter or the four elements (see Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologiae [Rome: Editiones Paulinae, 1962], 2262ff. [part 3, question 75, articles 3ff.]; Duns Scotus, Opera omnia 8, ed. Wadding [Lyon, 1639; reprint Hildesheim: Olms, 1968], 657ff. [ In lib. IV Sententiarum , dist. 11, question 4]). The accidents of bread and wine remain through God's providence since it is terrible for human beings to eat and drink the flesh and the blood of a human being, since the pagans might mock people who quite openly eat the flesh of their lord, and since the sacrament in that form is more conducive to faith (see Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologiae , 2265 [article 5]).

A house and a bridge both made out of wood differ not qua being made out of wood but insofar as the wooden pieces of the house have an arrangement, a form, that differs from the one of the wooden pieces of the bridge. A clay statue of Socrates is refashioned into a statue of Plato. The latter differs from the former not qua consisting of clay but through the different arrangement, form, of the parts of the clay. Socrates being educated differs from the uneducated Socrates not qua being Socrates but through the form educatedness being present in the former and absent in the latter. In this sense, one might define a form as something that makes a difference in regard to something else. The form does so by organizing matter in a certain way. In this sense, a form is the cause of a certain structure or order imposed onto something. In cases such as the statue the form is indeed nothing but the spatial arrangement of the parts of the clay itself. In this sense, the notion of form can be used in regard to beings that are not individuals in the sense in which Socrates, Plato, this dog over there, etc., are individuals. A democratic constitution establishes structures, relationships between individuals, and habits of individuals that differ from those imposed by an aristocratic constitution. In general, Aristotle talks about a constitution in the same way as about a form and regards the constitution «as, in effect, the formal cause . . . of the polis» (Fred D. Miller, Jr., Nature, Justice, and Rights in Aristotle's Politics [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995], 79]. He does not, however, ever say so explicitly. He might have hesitated because in his ontology the form always exists as part of an individual. However, in light of his «political naturalism» (ibid., 27ff.) he might have taken for granted that everyone understood that he regarded the constitution as form, and he might have said so explicitly in his lectures, especially since, if the «realistic» reading of Aristotle is right, a form—say, the form human being—exists in each individual human being. Kant labels time a «form of sensible intuition» ( Critique of Pure Reason , trans. Norman K. Smith [New York: St. Martin's Press, 1965], 75 [B 47]), since it imposes the order of succession and simultaneity onto the objects of intuition. He writes that the concepts matter and form «underlie all other reflection, so inseparably are they bound up with all employment of understanding. The one [matter] signifies the determinable {das Bestimmbare} in general, the other [form] its determination {dessen Bestimmung}—both in the transcendental sense, abstraction being made from all differences in that which is given and from the mode in which it is determined» (ibid., 280 [B 322]). For Marx, in human labor humans cannot but «work only as Nature does, that is by changing the form of matter {die Formen der Stoffe ändern}» ( Capital: A Critique of Political Economy , revised and amplified according to the fourth German edition by Ernest Untermann [New York: Random House, n.d.], 50; Das Kapital: Erster Band [Berlin: Dietz, 1970], 57). Each product of human labor has a (possible) use value and a value. It has the latter insofar as it is an «expenditure of human labour-power» (ibid., 51; German edition, 58). However, only under a certain system of exchange and distribution of products—namely, one in which each labor is «carried on independently and for the account of private individuals» —do products of human labor acquire «the form of commodities» (ibid., 49; German edition, 57; note that the word «community» in phrases such as «in a community of commodity producers» reads in German «Gesellschaft»). Marx speaks of the «form of value {Wertform}» (ibid., 54; German edition, 62). This formulation indicates the similarities and differences between the use of the notion of form in Marx on one side and Aristotle and Plato on the other. In Aristotle and Plato, a form or an idea is a definite being that is different from other beings, and it is the cause of certain phenomena. In becoming, a form presences and manifests itself in the realm of phenomena. (A beautiful body is a manifestation of the idea of beauty in bodies, and it doesn't matter whether one labels this the «inline image {presence of the idea in the body}» or the «inline image {communion of the body and the idea through beauty in us}» [Plato, Phaedo 100 d 5f.]; a human being is the result of the presencing [«inline image {through presence},» Aristotle, Physics 1:7, 191 a 7] of the form human being in female menstruation and flesh and bones.) (For Heidegger, this is the beginning of metaphysics. In the pre-Socratics, forms and shapes were the effects of physis as coming forth or emerging as a process without a definite actor or form. In metaphysics, however, coming forth is thought of as a means through which a preexisting form manifests or realizes itself. This is an upheaval in Scheler's sense: «But if the essential consequence {Wesens folge } is exalted to the level of the essence itself and takes the place of the essence, what then? Then we have a falling-off {Dann ist der Abfall da}, which must in turn produce strange consequences. And that is what happened. The crux of the matter is not that physis should have been characterized as idea but that the idea should have become the sole and decisive interpretation of being» [IM 182; EM 139].) Similarly, Marx uses the vocabulary of presencing or manifestation («human labour in the abstract has been embodied {vergegenständlicht} or materialised {materialisiert} in it» [ Capital , 45; German edition, 53]; «embodiment of human labour {Verwirklichungsform}» or «the form under which its opposite, abstract human labour, manifests itself {Erscheinungsform ihres Gegenteils, abstrakt menschlicher Arbeit}» [ibid., 67, German edition, 73]). However, what manifests itself is not a definite form but abstract human labor as the value of products. Abstract human labor is a sheer activity that can be quantified and is constantly quantified in the exchange of commodities. Though human labor as an activity never appears as such but always «in the form {in der Form} of tailoring,» «in the form of weaving» (ibid., 51; German edition, 58), etc., in commodity producing societies abstract human labor as quantifiable human labor manifests itself in a product of human labor—say, gold and whatever serves as money—that functions as the equivalent of all other commodities (ibid., 79ff.; German edition, 83ff.). In this sense, being informed by the form of commodity a product is «changed into something transcendent {sinnlich übersinnliches Ding}» (ibid., 83; German edition, 85). In German, it reads: «into something sensible and suprasensible» or «into something sensibly suprasensible.» A commodity is a sensible thing insofar as it is an extended thing with certain properties. It is a suprasensible thing insofar as, in exchanges, it counts as a manifestation of a quantity of abstract human labor, and this quantity of abstract human labor exists as another sensible thing that is socially accepted as the universally valid manifestation of abstract human labor and as the general equivalent of all other commodities. (For the same reason, it can also be called «a sensibly suprasensible thing,» since in exchanges of commodities its suprasensible aspect is experienced and practiced.) Since abstract human labor as such is sheer activity without definite form, Marx uses the notion of form not as designator of abstract human labor (as the principle or «substance» [ibid., 45; German edition, 53] of the products) but as designator of the ways, forms, in which and as which abstract human labor is manifested. (At least on these two accounts—being a no-thing, a process and being the cause of various forms as results of its activity—«Being» in Marx fulfills Heidegger's notion of Being in the pre-Socratics.) Since a commodity is a sensible thing that manifests something suprasensible, Marx uses the theological notion of «visible incarnation {sichtbare Inkarnation}» (ibid., 77; German edition, 81), or he says that a commodity is «abounding in metaphysical subtleties» (ibid., 81; German edition, 85). When saying that it is abounding in «theological niceties {theologischer Mucken}» (ibid., 81; German edition, 85) he thinks of Feuerbach's and his theory of religion (ibid., 83; German edition, 86) in regard of the phenomenon that the exchange of commodities makes up a system of «action of objects, which rule the producers instead of being ruled by them» (ibid., 86; German edition, 89), and he probably thinks also of the phenomenon that this system produces ruptures, economical crises, comparable only to God's activities in regard of the eucharistic host and other miracles. Note that a capitalist economy is not simply a commodity producing society but one in which a large number of individuals don't own means of production and thus have to sell their labor power as commodity to the owners of the means of production, the labor power thus being the only source of surplus value. As Kant in his definition of the notion of form, in what follows above I will also use the notion of determination. [BACK]

6. Plato, Sophist , 242 e 3. This is Benardete's translation (see The Being of the Beautiful: Plato's Theaetetus, Sophist, and Statesman , translated and with commentary by Seth Benardete [Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984], II.35). For what follows above see the preceding note. [BACK]

7. As was mentioned above, for both Hitler and Scheler a liberal society is just a step on the way toward socialism and communism; an assumption that was probably shared by many rightists. From this point of view, one can indeed not rely on any inner tendencies of development in society—be they dialectical or not—for one assumes that there are such inner tendencies but that they carry society precisely into the direction that one wants to avoid. If one cannot rely on society and its inner tendencies, it must be an entity outside of society (though it or its representatives can reside in the same world [see above, chapter 2, section C]) that initiates the political activities in order to «den Karren aus dem Dreck zu ziehen» (to pull the cart out of the muck), since, if left to itself, the car would just continue sinking into the mire. Thus, fate raises its voice and sends Hitler (MKe 510; MK 570) (see above, pp. 86f.), or God raises his voice and calls for a turning back (PPS 646) (see above, pp. 123f.). This is the political aspect of the background of Heidegger's theory of conscience and [BACK]

8. The quote is from a letter of 1843. With the term «Auflösung» Marx referred to the material impoverishment of the workers in, so to speak, Manchester Capitalism as well as a certain dissolution of bourgeois ethics consequent upon it. One might wonder whether Lukács thought that his theory of proletarians becoming self-conscious worked, as it were, better under circumstances of increasing material impoverishment of the workers. [BACK]

9. «Reine Wunder,» Lukács, Geschichte und Klassenbewu b tsein: Studien über marxistische Dialektik, Werke, vol. 2 (Berlin and Neuwied: Luchterhand, 1968), 21. [BACK]

10. Marx and Engels, The Communist Manifesto , 121. [BACK]

11. Ibid., 83. [BACK]

12. To develop a notion of the totality of society and history and to relate one's experience to that totality is the capacity of the proletariat and is what dialectics is about (HI 1ff., 149 ff.; GK 13ff., 164 ff.). The supposed gap between the factical development of history and the empirical consciousness of the workers gives rise to Lukács's theory of class-consciousness and the party (HI 46ff.; GK 57ff.), which is often regarded as Lukács's entrée to Stalinism. Since I am concerned only with Heidegger's concept of historicality, I cannot go into this issue. For the same reason, I cannot discuss the problem of theory and praxis in regard to my bright picture of dialectics near the beginning of this section. [BACK]

13. An English reader might perhaps think that Lukács says that history produces a crisis but leaves it to the proletariat how to solve it. However, Lukács uses «Entscheidung» («decision») and not «crisis.» History confronts the proletariat with an issue to decide or to solve. Lukács's «Entscheidung» is a shorthand for «to solve in the way history intends it to be solved.» For—to quote just one passage—«praxis cannot be divorced from knowledge. A praxis which envisages a genuine transformation {wahren Veränderns; not a Widerruf, disavowal} of these forms {= the forms of bourgeois society } can only start to be effective if it intends to think out the process immanent in these forms to its logical conclusion, to become conscious of it and to make it conscious» (HI 177; GK 194). Lukács quotes here section 81 of Hegel's Encyclopedia as one of the numerous passages in which Hegel reflects on the dialectical method and stresses that in dialectics a new state does not come about as a result of a Widerruf of the preceding state; the latter is not canceled by an entity that interferes from outside and replaces it with the former; instead the former transforms itself into the latter through an « immanent process of transcendence» (HI 177; GK 194). [BACK]

14. Or, consider: «Thus the economic development of capitalism places the fate of society in the hands of the proletariat» (HI 312; «So legt die Entwicklung der ökonomischen Kräfte des Kapitalismus die Entscheidung über das Schicksal der Gesellschaft in die Hände des Proletariats,» GK 315). Such a statement, too, shows why Lukács never says that an individual or a group produces its own fate. The proletarians have not produced their power to be the fate of society. Rather, it was given to them by the economic development of capitalism or by history. History has given them the task to decide the fate of society in the way history intends it to be decided. The proletarians don't act for the sake of themselves. Rather, they realize a mission, given to them by someone else, for someone else, namely, society as a whole. Also Lukács's statements in which someone is the fate of someone or something else operate, so to speak, within a deontic logic of an assignment of tasks. [BACK]

15. «Gesellschaftslehre,» «Sozialphilosophie,» Lukács, Geschichte und Klassenbewu b tsein, 18. [BACK]

16. English readers might wonder what «the 'we' of the genesis» is. The relative clause reads in German: «jener Klasse vorbehalten geblieben, die das identische Subjekt-Objekt, das Subjekt der Tathandlung, das "Wir" der Genesis von ihrem Lebensgrund aus in sich selbst zu entdecken befähigt war: dem Proletariate» (GK 164). Probably, «der Genesis» is not genitive and does not go with «das "Wir"» but is dative. «Aus» goes with either «der Genesis» or «von ihrem Lebensgrund.» In both cases one can translate: «was reserved for the class that was able to discover within itself as emerging (or, in regard of/due to the emergence) from out of the ground of its own life the identical subject-object, the subject of action, the "we'': namely the proletariat.» Possibly, Lukács used «we» in quotation marks as an ironic reference to the abundance of the use of «we» in authors of the Right. Note that «vorbehalten geblieben» («was reserved for» or, literally, «remained to be reserved for») is the language of history—or, in Heidegger's terms Geschick, Being—that «gives» and «withholds.» History has «given» to German idealism the method, the formulation of the way; or it has given to German idealism the first part of the way, namely, the formulation of the method. However, it has «zurückbehal-ten,» withholds, from German idealism the continuation of the way. History «behält für sich,» keeps to itself—as «verborgen,» concealed, in itself—the continuation of the way because history has «vorbehalten,» reserved, the continuation of the way for the proletariat, to which it will give the continuation of the way at a later point. [BACK]

17. The subsequent clause in the second sentence reads in German: «so da b sich gerade in ihrer menschenfernen, ja unmenschlichen Objektivität der gesellschaftliche Mensch als ihr Kern enthüllen kann» (GK 193). It should better be translated as: «so that it is precisely in the objectivity of the forms of society, remote from or even opposed to humanity, (or, precisely in that state of the development of the forms of society in which they have an objectivity that is remote, etc.) that socialized man can be revealed as at the core of the forms of society.» [BACK]

18. Within the framework of the literature on Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft the notorious class consciousness in Lukács is just another hypostasized superentity, which is to say that, in terms of rightist thinking, not Marxism but the peculiar thinking in terms of Gemeinschaft is to «blame» for it, even though its realization is not its rerealization. In Heideggerian terms, it is not something which has-been-there; it approaches us from out of the future without having followed us out of the past. In addition, as was already mentioned and as the textbooks have it, the proletarian revolution is the « self-annihilation» (HI 71; « Selbstaufhebung,» GK 84) of the class of the proletarians and, indeed, of all classes. Rightist revolutions of that time, on the other hand, don't take place for the sake of the Selbstaufhebung of the victorious party, and they rerealize a past with all its hierarchies and ranks, which have been leveled by the modem age. A socialist revolution is supposed to do away with all these differences. Thus, in contrast to the leftist revolution the rightist revolution is not the self-annihilation of the winners, but rather their, so to speak, self-reproduction by the annihilation of the other. Only once, namely in the sentence on distancing (HI 172; GK 188), does Lukács use the concept of human «essence.» The essence of human beings is to determine themselves by themselves. Prior to capitalism this was not yet a reality. Though in capitalism natural limits no longer exist for the self-determination of humans, the essence is not yet realized because of reification. It begins to be realized in the moment when the proletarians distance themselves from the commodity form, for in that moment all existing determinations, including the commodity form, have become, as Hegel used to say, fluid. Furthermore, in regard to Lukács's use of the motif of «socialism or new barbarism» (HI 306; GK 308), it is certainly the case that, according to him, the proletarians have to prevent society from the threat of the revitalization of the past. [BACK]

19. See my book Society, Community, Fate, and Decision: From Kant to Benjamin . [BACK]

20. See my book Society, Community, Fate, and Decision: From Kant to Benjamin . [BACK]

21. In the famous chapter "The Fetishism of Commodities and the Secret Thereof" ( Capital: A Critique of Political Economy , 81ff.; German edition, 85ff.), Marx uses the metaphor of the umbilical cord in the same way as Lukács does. He maintains that Christianity is the most fitting form of religion for societies based upon the production of commodities, and that ancient Asiatic societies «are, as compared with bourgeois society, extremely simple and transparent» (ibid., 91; German edition, 93). He continues:

But they {Asiatic societies} are founded either on the immature development of man individually, who has not yet severed the umbilical cord {Nabelschnur} that unites him with his fellow men in a primitive tribal community {natürlichen Gattungszusammenhangs}, or upon direct relations of subjection. They can arise and exist only when the development of the productive power of labour has not yet risen beyond a low stage, and when, therefore, the social relations within the sphere of material life, between man and man, and between man and Nature, are correspondingly narrow. This narrowness is reflected in the ancient worship of Nature, and in the other elements of the popular religions. The religious reflex of the real world can, in any case, only then finally vanish, when the practical relations of everyday life offer to man none but perfectly intelligible and reasonable relations with regard to his fellowmen and nature.

The life-process of society {gesellschaftlichen Lebensprozesses}, which is based on the process of material production, does not strip off its mystical veil until it is treated as production by freely associated men {frei vergesellschafteter Menschen}, and is consciously regulated by them in accordance with a settled plan. This, however, demands for society {Gesellschaft} a certain material groundwork or set of conditions of existence which in their turn are the spontaneous {naturwüchsige} product of a long and painful process of development. (ibid., 91f.; German edition, 93f.) [BACK]

22. On «Gemächte» in Heidegger see chapter 5, section A. [BACK]

23. Schmitt, The Concept of the Political , 27; German edition, 27. [BACK]

24. See above, chapter 1, n. 33. [BACK]

25. « Der Feind ist unsere eigne Frage als Gestalt, » Carl Schmitt, Ex Captivitate Salus (Kö1n: Greven, 1950), 90. [BACK]

26. «Romantic reaction» and «political romanticism» (SD 27ff.; SE 34ff.) are Tillich's names for the political Right. He distinguishes between two forms, a conservative and a revolutionary form. See what follows. Incidentally, on the dedication tablet in the lobby of the Graduate Faculty Building of the New School for Social Research Paul Tillich is listed as one of the individuals, foundations, and business organizations whom the New School for Social Research thanks for their support and «devotion to higher education in a democratic society.» [BACK]

27. Of course, I do not maintain that Tillich or Heidegger copied Hitler, Scheler, or someone else. Their agreement on the crucial differences between Left and Right and on the characteristics of the Right just shows that each of them had sufficient analytical skills in these matters. [BACK]

28. Literally, «das Schicksal wenden» is «to turn fate around,» like Umkehrruf in Scheler and Heidegger; see above, p. 124; see also p. 174. According to rightists, fate demanded that Gesellschaft and «the other» have to be expelled to revitalize Gemeinschaft. The leftist notion of decision required that the various Gemeinschaften have to be expelled in order finally to expel the antagonistic relation to «the other.» As many others, Tillich and the late Scheler realized that in this mutual decision the extreme Right, the National Socialists, would win, and that their victory would lead to the death of the European nations. The course of rightist fate itself was the downward plunge that had to be canceled, «averted,» or «turned around.» In the «spirit» of the late Scheler, Tillich suggested to end the politics of de-cision, expulsion, on both sides and to forge an alliance between the proletarians and «these groups» (mainly, the peasants and the middle class); to form a Gemeinschaft «in gemeinsamer socialist decision» (SE 11; « common socialist decision», SD xxxii; italics mine, J. F) of the groups that, according to rightists and leftists, had to expel the other. From 1942 onward, the Christian Catholic Carl Schmitt referred to «inline image { the one who restrains } » (2 Thessalonians 7) and the «inline image {the lawless one}» (2 Thessalonians 8) (see Heinrich Meier, Die Lehre Carl Schmitts: Vier Kapitel zur Unterscheidung Politischer Theologie und Politischer Philosophie [Stuttgart/Weimar: Metzler, 1994], 244, n. 106). In the small book Land und Meer (Land and sea) from 1942, he writes: «I believe in the Katechon; to me, he is the only possibility to understand history and find meaning in it as a Christian» (quoted according to Heinrich Meier, Die Lehre Carl Schmitts , 245; Meier's reference might be wrong; the quote cannot be found in Land und Meer [Kö1n-Lövenich: Hohenheim, 1981], and probably there was no reason for Schmitt to leave it out in editions after the war; however, he left out an anti-Semitic passage; compare Meier, Die Lehre Carl Schmitts , 237f., with Land und Meer , 16f.; when reading the passage one must keep in mind that Schmitt says of Land und Meer that it was «told to my daughter Anima» [ibid., 5], and that in fact it almost reads like a bedtime story for children). Since Luther translated «the one who restrains» with «der es jetzt aufhält,» Schmitt also uses the German noun «Aufhalter» (for instance, Land und Meer , 19) for «the one who restrains.» In the first edition of Land und Meer , he seems to have introduced as his translation of «the lawless one» (2 Thessalonians 8) the word «Beschleuniger,» the one who speeds up, and Schmitt seems to have characterized the Jews as «Beschleuniger» (see Meier, Die Lehre Carl Schmitts , 97; this passage has also been left out in the edition of 1981; compare Land und Meer , 16f. with Meier, Die Lehre Carl Schmitts , 97; in terms of the metaphor of falling, the Jews speed up the cart's drive into the muck). Sometimes, Schmitt seems to suggest that in the twenties and during his engagement with National Socialism after Hitler's Machtergreifung he himself acted as «the one who restrains.» However, in an entry in his diary from 10 October 1947 Schmitt considers that he was not the Aufhalter but the Beschleuniger («Die Freude an der Beschleunigung, Beschleuniger der Beschleuniger wider Willen; war es das, was mich trieb und trug?» [«The enjoyment of speeding things up; the one who speeds up, the one who speeds up against his will. Was it this that drove me and carried me?»]; deconstructionists might point out that Schmitt does not say «wider meinen Willen»; thus, he might also or even only mean, «against the will of liberals, Social Democrats, and communists.» Glossarium: Aufzeichnungen der Jahre 1947-1951 [Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, 199 1], 31; at a later point, he added in the margin: «Trog?», «And deceived me?», ibid., 31, n. 1). Deconstructionists might not be surprised that Schmitt was not the Aufhalter but the Beschleuniger of National Socialism. For the German word «Aufhalter» is indeed used in the sense of «the one who restrains,» the one who prevents something from emerging within or breaking into history or, say, into one's house. However. it is also used in the sense of «to keep open,» say, the door of one's house. In this sense, Heidegger and Schmitt—if his remark also refers to the time prior to the Machtübernahme—were Aufhalter of National Socialism. Both lived within the house of the Weimar Republic, both erwiderten the call of destiny (BT 438; SZ 386), and both went to the door, and opened it for National Socialism. In this way, they were «historical» men for they «posited {themselves } as the breach into which the preponderant power of being {Übergewalt des Seins} bursts in its appearing» (IM 163; EM 124). Keep in mind that the «historical man» regards going to the door of the house as his task not because he himself made up this task by himself but because he hears the command of Being: «The strangest {das Unheimlichste} (man) is what it is because, fundamentally, it cultivates and guards the familiar {das Einheimische}, only in order to break out of it {urn aus ihm auszubrechen} and to let what overpowers it break in {und das hereinbrechen zu lassen, was es überwältigt }. Being itself hurls man into this breaking-away» (IM 163; EM 125). (Note that Heidegger plays with the words «Unheimlich» and «Einheimisch.» Those are «einheimisch,» the familiar ones, who live in the same apartment, house, or city; in the same «Heim,» house. Historical man is «unheimlich,» that is, the negation of «heimlich,» of native, homelike, home, etc., because he opens the door of the Heim and lets someone, or something, into the Heim whom the «they,» the inauthentic inhabitants, want to keep outside the Heim; for the «breach» in Heidegger see this chapter, n. 7.) In colloquial German, the person who screens prospective guests at the entrance of a bar and opens the door for the ones he admits is called «Türsteher» or «Türaufhalter.» Since he is also in charge of discharging guests inside the bar who are considered troublemakers, he his also called «Rausschmei b er,» «the one who throws out.» The call of destiny calls for a reentrance of Volksgemeinschaft into the city and for a « disavowal { Widerruf }» (BT 438; SZ 386) of Gesellschaft and its bearers. The Erwiderung acts «for» the Volksgemeinschaft by a Widerruf of Gesellschaft or by acting «against» Gesellschaft. On 3 October 1936, Schmitt delivered the inaugural address of a conference on Jewry and the science of law ("Das Judentum in der Rechtswissenschaft"). Close to the beginning, he quoted a sentence from Hitler's Mein Kampf that—in the context of the concept of history of the revolutionary Right—presents the structure of Heidegger's sentence on Erwiderung and Widerruf (BT 438; SZ 386) in the shortest form possible. Schmitt said: «The most profound and ultimate meaning of this struggle { Kampf} and thus also of our task today is expressed in the sentence of the Führer: "by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord {MKe 65; indem ich mich des Juden erwehre, kämpfe ich für das Werk des Herrn, ME 70}"» (quoted according to Meier, Die Lehre Carl Schmitts , 235).

The politics of «the one who restrains» may be the only kind of politics allowed to a Christian as a Christian. In the kairos of the twenties and thirties, it was certainly the Jew and converted Christian Catholic Scheler and the Christian Protestant Tillich who displayed the faculty of judgment necessary to decide when and how to engage in the politics of «the one who restrains.» [BACK]

29. See, for instance, SD 66ff., 127ff., SE 62ff, 104ff. On Gesellschaft and Gemeinschaft see SD 75ff., 85ff., 137ff., 150ff.; SE 69ff., 76ff., 112ff., 122ff. [BACK]

30. Derrida, "Violence and Metaphysics: An Essay on the Thought of Emmanuel Levinas," Writing and Difference , trans. A. Bass (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1978), 79-153. See, for instance, Caputo, Demythologizing Heidegger , 61f. [BACK]

31. Of course, it all depends on what one means by «the Greeks.» Today, probably only few interpret Anaximander like Tillich did. Maybe, none of the Greek philosophers was a «Greek» in Tillich's sense. However, in the presentation of his «Greeks» in An Introduction to Metaphysics Heidegger interpreted Heraclitus and Parmenides precisely along the lines of his notion of historicality and authentic Dasein in Being and Time and thus in the sense of Tillich's «Greeks» (see my book The Birth of Tragedy out of the Spirit of National Socialism: Heidegger on Heraclitus and Parmenides [in preparation]). [BACK]


previous sub-section
Notes
next sub-section