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Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology, Vol. 44, No.

2, May 2013

Contents
Obituary: Gary Banham 114

Editorial 116

Articles
The Provenance of Art and the Destination of Thought (1967):
Martin Heidegger 119
The Courage for Infinity: Mortal and Immortal Ethics in Alain
Badiou: Patrick O'Connor and Frederick Aspbury 129
The Role of Tragedy and the Tragic in Gadamer's Aesthetics
and Hermeneutics: Carlo Gentili and Stefano Marino 145
Motivating Transcendental Phenomenology: Husserl's Critique
of Kant: Gregory Scott Moss 163
Attestation and Facticity: On Heidegger's Conception of
Attestation in Being and Time: Antonio Cimino 181
Socrates and the Sophist: The Problem of Polutropism in the
Lesser Hippias: Keith Crome 198

Discussion
Recovering Presence: On Alva Noe's Varieties of Presence:
Stale Finke 213

Book Reviews
John E. Drabinski: Levinas and the Postcolonial: Race, Nation,
Other, by Andrew Renehan 223
Suzi Adams: Castoriadis's Ontology: Being and Creation,
by John V. Garner 225
Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology, Vol. 44, No. 2, May 2013

DITORJAL
HEIDEGGER
This issue brings together a first translation of a short essay by Martin
Heidegger; an essay on the ethical nature ofBadiou's thinking; a discussion of
the nature of tragedy in Gadamer's philosophy; an essay on Husserl's critique
of Kant; a reflection on the role that attestation plays in Heidegger's work and
an essay on the problem of polutropism in the Lesser Hippias. These essays are
followed by a discussion note on Alva Noe's Varieties of Presence.
In the "Provenance of Art and the Destination of Thinking" Martin
Heidegger engages in a reflection on the historical definition of artistic creation
that is characteristic of his later writings on poetry, art and language, while
remaining committed to a rethinking of fundamental ontology. Prompted by
his 'encounter' with the Athenian and Greek landscape, monuments and
sculptures in 1967, he surveys the field from which art draws its raison d'tre
and considers the original unity in ancient Greece of the concepts of art [Kunst]
and technology [Technik] in 'techne' as it is formulated in the works of Homer,
Pindar and the Presocratics. He then compares this earlier conception to the
redefinition of technology effected as a result of the onslaught of scientific
method and cybernetics on the modem world, finally arguing that 'a step
backwards' in our thought and praxis need not be construed as a luddite
renunciation of the modem world, but rather as a return of 'aletheia', the
concealed unconcealment that lies at the heart of truth for the Greeks.
In "The Courage for Infinity: Mortal and Immortal Ethics in Alain Badiou"
Patrick O'Connor and Frederick Aspbury investigate the tensions between finite
and infinite versions of ethics in the philosophy of Alain Badiou. They argue
that there is an irreconcilable tension between the historical and anhistorical in
Badiou's ontology, stemming from the way Badiou bases his ethics on his
mathematical ontology. The consequence is that whileBadiou is a very valuable
resource for thinking progressive forms of political thought, his work needs to
be supplemented with a more historicized understanding of the human being.
This, the authors argue, in the last analysis, should focus on a mortal and
realistic understanding of courage.
In "The Role of Tragedy and the Tragic in Gadamer's Aesthetics and
Hermeneutics" Carlo Gentili and Stefano Marino discuss Hans-Georg
Gadamer's conception of tragedy and the tragic. They move from some basic
presuppositions: (1) that the question concerning tragedy and the tragic

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undoubtedly belongs to the fundamental questions that have characterized the
whole history of Western thought; (2) that Gadamer belongs to the main
representatives of twentieth-century continental thought and that his
hermeneutical aesthetics represents one of the most considerable and
substantial aspects of his entire philosophy; (3) that notwithstanding the great
importance of art and aesthetic experience in his thought, his conception of
tragedy has received little attention by his interpreters and scholars; to the
demonstration that the question concerning tragedy plays a decisive role in
Truth and Method. They do this by defining Gadamer's concept of the
structure of human experience in general and by seeing the tragic serving as a
model for his understanding of aesthetic experience in particular. On this basis
the authors finally explain why Gadamer's conception also represents a highly
promising answer to the longstanding question concerning the origins of Greek
tragedy.
In "Motivating Transcendental Phenomenology: Husserl's Critique of Kant"
Gregory Scott Moss investigates into the implications of Husserl's charge that
Kant commits the fallacy of psychologism, and the arguments he invokes in
support of this charge, with respect to his own phenomenological thinking.
More exactly, the author proposes that Husserl's critique of Kant can be
employed as a guiding thread with the help of which central tenets of Husserl's
phenomenology of reason can be elucidated. The author claims that any
purview of the secondary literature shows that neither have philosophers
explicitly drawn out the central tenets of the phenomenology of reason from
Husserl's criticism of Kant, nor have they generally thought to employ
Husserl's criticism of Kant in the way proposed here. The author further
clarifies that the relative lack of attention received by his Formal and
Transcendental Logic in comparison to his other works may be one reason for
this oversight, consequently using this text as the evidential base for his thesis.
In "Attestation and Facticity: On Heidegger's Conception of Attestation in
Being and Time" Antonio Cimini focuses his attention on the role attestation
plays in Heidegger's existential analytic. According to his main interpretive
hypothesis, attestation represents a defining component for the entire
methodological and thematic framework of Being and Time. In the course of his
analysis, the author concentrates his attention especially on three points. (1)
First of all, the author clarifies why attestation is extremely important for the
phenomenological framework of existential analytic and which position it
occupies within the development of Heidegger's fundamental ontology. (2)
Subsequently, the author highlights the most important features that characterise
Heidegger's treatment and use of attestation in Being and Time. (3) Finally,
attestation is further clarified by taking into account its overlaps with
phenomena of religious experience. In this regard, the authors tries to single
out some implicit connections between Heidegger's conception of attestation as

117
experience of authenticity and his interpretation of Paul's Letters in the lecture
course on the phenomenology of religious life.
In his essay, 'Socrates and the Sophist: The Problem of Polutropism in
Plato's Lesser Hippias', Keith Crome relates the notion of the polutropic - a
term applied to describe the character of Odysseus, which means, among other
things, 'shifty', 'wily' or 'deceptive' - to the structure of what is supposed by
most commentators to be a simple, early Platonic dialogue. Not only does he
show that the dialogue is much more complex than is usually supposed, he also
argues that it infects the character of Socrates, who argues in a sophistic manner,
against the sophist Hippias, the sophistic view that voluntary wrongdoing is
better than involuntary wrongdoing. This, he claims, is not simply a
manifestation of Socrates' irony, but related to and revelatory of an essential
instability of the logos, or discourse. It is this instability that governs the
contamination of the identities of the sophist and the philosopher, and
correlative with that is the condition of an originary confusion between such
supposedly fundamental distinctions as those of the true and the false, the good
and the bad, the real and the fake.

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Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology, Vol. 44, No. 2, May 2013

THE PROVENANCE OF ART AND THE DESTINATION


OF THOUGHT (1967) 1
MARTIN HEIDEGGER

Let the first and only word of the members of the Berlin Academy of Arts
here present be one of thanks for Professor Theodorakopoulos' greeting, for
the invitation on the part of the Greek government and for the hospitality of the
Academy of Sciences and Arts [of Athens].
But how to express the visitors' gratitude to you, the Athenian hosts?
We thank you in trying to think along with you. And yet, think about what?
What else can we think about, we as members of the Academy of Arts, here in
Greece, in the presence of the Academy of Science, and that today, in the era
of scientific technology, if not about that world that once granted the
Occidental-European arts and sciences their beginning?
If we appraise it historiographically [historisch], this world has certainly
passed. Historically [geschichtlich], however, when viewed as our destiny
[Geschick], it remains present and will always become a new present: it awaits
us to think towards it and thereby to evaluate our own thinking and our artistic
creation [Denken und Bilden]. Because the beginning of a destiny is its high
point it towers in advance over everything that comes in its wake.
We meditate on the provenance of art in the Hellenic age. We try to glimpse a
view of that domain which essences [waltet] before any art comes to be and which
first bestows to art its proper essence. We do not seek a formal definition of art, nor
is it for us to recount historiographically the genesis of art in ancient Greece.
Since we would like, however, to avoid the arbitrary nature of thought in
our meditation, we ask here, in Athens, for the counsel and guidance of the
ancient protector of the city and the Attic lands, that is, of the Goddess Athena.
To be sure, we are unable to penetrate into the plenitude of her divinity. All we
ask is what Athena herself has to tell us about the provenance of art.
This is one of the questions that shall occupy our thoughts.
The second question imposes itself on its own and can be phrased as follows:
where do things stand with art in our days, with respect to its ancient
provenance?
Finally, we will reflect on the following, third question: from where does
the thought that here considers the provenance of art receive its own
determination?

I
Homer calls Athena 1toJ..ur rrn;;, the resourceful counsellor. What does it
mean to counsel? It means: to premeditate, to look ahead so that something

119
flourishes, succeeds. It is for this reason that Athena presides over matters
[waltet] wherever men produce something, bring something to light, guide it to
its end, act and do. Athena is thus the friend that counsels and aids Hercules in
his deeds. The Goddess appears in the Atlas Metope, in the temple of Zeus in
Olympia: still invisible while she is helping him, and simultaneously far away
in the distance of her divinity. Athena dispenses her special counsel to men
who produce tools, vases and jewels. Everyone who is skilled in producing,
everyone who knows his craft well and masters its execution is a i-ex;v(i-T}c;. We
understand this term in too limited a sense when we translate it as 'artisan'.
Even those who construct buildings and make sculptures are called technitai.
They are so called, because their principal activity is guided by a comprehension
whose name is i-exv'fl. This word does not denote a doing and making, but
rather a form of knowing. But to know means: having in view, in advance, that
which is at stake in the production of a structure [Gebilde] and of a work. This
work can also be a work of science or of philosophy, of poetry or of public
rhetoric. Art is i-exvTl, but not technology. The artist is n:xvii-T}c;, but not a
technician or even a craftsman.
Because art, as i-exvTl, is based on a knowing, and because this knowing
views ahead toward that which reveals the form and gives the measure, but
which still remains invisible until it is brought into the visibility and the
perceptibility of the work, for these reasons, this viewing ahead toward that
which is not yet visible requires a singular vision and clarity.
This foresight supporting art is in need of illumination. Who else can grant
this to art, if not the Goddess who, as 1tOAuT}nc;, as resourceful counsellor,
is simultaneously also yAauxwmc;? The adjective yAo:ux6c; denotes the
brilliant lustre of the sea, the stars, the moon, but also the shimmer of the olive
tree. Athena's eye shines and radiates. It is for this reason that ,; yAau, the
owl, is attributed to her as a sign of her essence. The owl's eye is not only fiery
blazing, but she can also see at night, making visible what is otherwise invisible.
This is why Pindar says, in his 7th Olympic Ode celebrating the island of
Rhodes and its inhabitants:
aui;cx o o(jnotv c;':maot: n:xvav
n;&oav '1ttx8ov(wv r;tauxw1tt<; CXQtO't"O'ltOVOt<; XEQOt XQ't"EtV. (V. 50ff)

and the clear-eyed goddess herself bestowed on them


the ability, by means of their superior handicraft, to surpass all earthly men in every art.
We must, nevertheless, ask more specifically: where is Athena's glance
directed while she counsels and illuminates?
To find the answer, let us keep present before us the sacred relief of the
Acropolis museum. Here Athena is presented as the oxeni-oevT}, the
meditating one. Where is the goddess' meditating glance turned to? To the
boundary stone, to its limit. But the limit is not only a border and a frame, nor
only the point where something ends. The limit is that on account of which
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something is gathered in its ownmost constitution, so that through it, it can
appear in its fullness, it can come to presence. Meditating on the limit, Athena
already has in view what human action has merely in foresight, in order
subsequently to create the thus fore-seen in the visibility of a work. Moreover:
the meditating glance of the Goddess does not only penetrate the invisible form
of the possible works of men. Athena's glance rests primarily on that which
allows things that require no human manufacture to come forth into the
formation [ Gepriige] of their presencing. Since antiquity the Greeks have called
this by the name cpuaic;. The Roman translation of the word cpuaic; as natura
and, moreover, the ensuing domination of the notion of nature [Natur] in the
thought of Occidental-European thought, completely cover over the original
meaning of cpuaic;: that is to say, that which arises from out of itself into its
respective limit and here comes to dwell.
Even today we can experience the mystery of cpuaic; in Greece - and only
here, where in an equally astounding and restrained manner there appear to us
a mountain, an island, a coast, an olive tree. Some say that this is due to the
unique light. This is said with some right, but refers solely to a superficial
aspect. We forget to ponder where this exceptional light has come from, where
it belongs as such. It is only here in Greece where the world as a whole, as
cpuaic;, addressed humankind and laid claim upon it, that human intellect and
action could and had to respond to that claim - namely as soon as it was forced
to bring forth, on its own accord, the work which would reveal a world up to
then unknown.
Art corresponds to cpuaic;, without, however, being a reproduction or a copy
of what is already present. <l>ua1c; and nXVTJ belong to each other in a
mysterious way. But that element within which cpuaic; and -rex;v11 correspond
to one another, and the domain into which art must enter so that, as art, it-can
become what it is, remained concealed.
Already in ancient Greece poets and thinkers touched on this mystery. The
illumination [Helle] which grants every present being its presence manifests its
gathered, suddenly appearing dominance in lightning.
Heraclitus says "-ra M nav-ra oiaxi(ei :>eegauv6c;" (B 64), "but the
lightning guides everything". This means: the lightning brings and directs the
appearance of the formation of the in-itself-present by a single strike. The
lightning is thrown by Zeus, the supreme God. And what of Athena? She is the
daughter of Zeus.
Almost contemporaneous with the word [Wort] of the thinker Heraclitus, the
poet Aeschylus presents Athena in the last scene of the Oresteia trilogy, which
takes place on the Rock of Ares [Areias Pagos] in Athens, saying:
dnocxt; otocx owcx,:oi; OVTJ flewv,
)((XI,

CV <i> XEQCX\lVOt; 01:t V ca<!>gcxywevoi;


(Eumenides 827f)

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"Of all the Gods I am the only one who knows the key to the house
wherein the lightning bolt rests in its seal."
Thanks to this knowledge, Athena, as Zeus' daughter, is the resourceful
counsellor, 1to}..urrnc;, she with the clear glance, y Ji.auxwmc;, and
oxem:oevri, the Goddess who meditates on the limit.
It is towards this distant nearness of Goddess Athena's rule that we must
tum our thought, if we wish to understand even a little of the mystery of the
provenance of Art in Ancient Greece.

II
And today? The Gods of old have fled. H6lderlin, who experienced this flight
as no other poet before or since, and who rendered it into verse, asks in his
elegy "Bread and Wine", dedicated to Dionysus, the God of wine:
Wo, wo leuchten sie denn, die femhintreffenden Sprtiche?
Delphi schlummert und wo tonet das groBe Geschick?" (IV Stanza)
"Where, then, where do they shine, the oracles striking far away targets?
Delphi's asleep, and where now is great fate to be heard?"
Is there still today, after two and a half millennia, an art that answers to the
same calling that was once directed at Greek art? And if not, from which
domain derives the calling to which modem art answers in all of its areas? Its
works no longer flow from the formative limits of a popular and national world.
They belong to the universality of a global civilization, whose constitution and
institutions are formed and guided by scientific technology. The latter has
already determined the mode and the possibilities of humankind's sojourn in the
world. The observation that we live in a scientific world and that by the term
"science" we mean the natural sciences, especially mathematical physics,
merely emphasizes something we know only too well.
It would thus be reasonable to claim that the domain from which the calling
to which contemporary art must respond derives, is none other than the
scientific world.
Yet we hesitate to agree. We remain perplexed. That is why we ask: what do
we mean by "the scientific world"? Nietzsche has said a word, already at the end
of the 1880s that might help resolve this question. He says it thus:
It is not the victory of science that characterizes this 19th century of ours, but rather the victory
of scientific method over the sciences.
Will to Power, no 466
This phrase of Nietzsche calls for an elucidation.
What does "method" signify here? What does "the victory of method" mean?
"Method" here does not signify the tool, with the aid of which scientific
research elaborates the thematically delimited domain of its objects. Method
rather means the manner in which any domain of objects to be researched has
been delimited in advance according to its objectivity. The method is the

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anticipatory blueprint of the world, which delimits by means of exclusion the
direction of any research into its being. And what is this? Answer: the
thoroug hgoing calculability of every thing, susceptible to experimentation and
controllable by it. The activity of the individual sciences remains subordinated
to this blueprint of the world. Consequently, method so defined constitu tes a
"victory over science". The victory comprises a decision. It affirms: only that
can count as truly actual, which can be demonstrated scientifically, that is to say,
which is calculable. T hanks to this calculability, the world becomes always and
everywhere subject to human dominance. Method signifies the victorious
challenging of the world for its thoroughgoing availability to humankind. The
victory of method over science began its course in the Europe of the 17 th
century with Galileo and Newton - and nowhere else on Earth.
This victory of method unfolds itself today into its most extreme possibilities
as cybernetics. The Greek word xupegvrj't''ll<; means the helmsman. T he world
of science becomes a cybernetic world. The cybernetic blueprint of the world
presupposes that steering or regulating is the most fundamental characteristic
of all calculable world-events. The regulation of one event by another is
mediated by the transmission of a message, that is, by information. To the extent
that the regulated event transmits messages to the one that regulated it and so
informs it, the regulation has the character of a positive feedback-loop of
information.
T his bidirectional movement of the regulation of events in their
interdependence is thus accomplished in a circular movement. T hat is w hy the
fundamental characteristic of t he world, in its cybernetic blueprint, is this
feedback control system. T he capacity for self-regulation, the automation of a
sys tem of motion, depend on such a system. T he world as represented in
cybernetic terms abolishes the difference between automatic machines and
living beings. It is neutralized in this indiscriminate processing of information.
The cybernetic blueprint of the world, "the victory of method over science",
makes possible a completely homogenous - and in this sense universal -
calculability, that is, the absolute controllability of both the animate and the
inanimate world. Humanity also has its place assigned to it within this
uniformity of the cybernetic world - and a special place indeed. Within the
purview of cybernetic representation, the place of humankind lies in the widest
circuit of the feedback control system. According to the modern representation
of man, he is in fact the subject who refers himself to the world as the domain
of objects in that he works on them. T he ensuing transformation of the world
is fed back onto the human being. The subject-object relation, in its cybernetic
understanding, consists of the interaction of information, the inductive feedback
within the widest circuit of the feedback control system, which can be described
by the designation "man and world". The understanding of the human being on
th e part of cybernetic science is looking for th e foundations of a scientific

123
anthropology at the precise point where the principal demand of method, the
prospect of universal calculability, can be fulfilled experimentally in the most
certain manner possible: in biochemistry and biophysics. For this reason and
according to the method's precepts, the defining idea of life in human life is the
germ cell. This is no longer considered the miniature version of the fully
developed living being. Biochemistry has discovered the scheme of life in the
genes of the germ cell. This scheme, inscribed and stored as prescription inside
the genes, is the programme of evolution. Science already knows the alphabet
of this prescription. We speak of "an archive of genetic information". On its
knowledge is founded the firm expectation that one day we shall be able to
master the scientific-technological production and breeding of the human being.
The penetration of the genetic structure of the human germ cell by biochemistry
and the splitting of the atom by nuclear physics belong on the same track, that
of the victory of method over science.
In a note from the year 1884, Nietzsche writes: "Man is that animal which
is yet to be defined [festgestellt]" (XIII, n. 667). This phrase encompasses two
thoughts. On the one hand, human essence has not yet been established, not yet
been sufficiently investigated. On the other hand, human essence has not yet
been fixed, not yet been secured. Today, however, an American scientist
proclaims: "the human being will be the only animal able to control its own
evolution". For all that, cybernetics is forced to acknowledge that, at least for
the time being, a complete regulation of human existence is not yet possible.
Consequently, in the universal domain of cybernetic science, the human being
is still considered as a "source of irritation". What irritates in this sense is the
apparent freedom of human plans and actions.
Today, though, science has also taken possession of the field of human
existence. It is undertaking the rigorously methodical exploration and planning
of the possible future of active humanity. It calculates the information
concerning that which the human being might have to face as to be planed. This
sort of future is the futurum of the logos which, as futurology, submits to the
victory of method over science. The kinship of this very recent scientific
discipline with cybernetics is just too evident.
Nevertheless, we can only take full measure of the momentousness of the
cybemetic-futurological science of mankind if we take its founding assumption
into account. This assumption consists in understanding the human being as a
social being. But society here means: industrial society. The latter is the subject
to which the world of objects is predicated. One might think that human egoity
would have been overcome by means of its social essence. But this social
essence does not at all lead the modem human being to the renunciation of its
subjectivity. Quite to the contrary, industrial society constitutes the ultimate
elevation of egoity, that is, of subjectivity. In it, the human being rests
exclusively on itself and on the domains of his lived world, reworked into

124
institutions. Industrial society can, however, be what it is only by submitting to
the rules of science dominated by cybernetics and scientific technology. But
the authority of science relies on the victory of method which, in its tum, points
for its legitimation to the results of the research that it controls itself. This
justification is granted as sufficient. The anonymous authority of science is
considered inviolable.
In the meantime you will have constantly wondered: what is the reason for
this discussion of cybernetics, futurology and industrial society? Have we not,
in so doing, strayed too far away from the question of the provenance of art?
Indeed, it would appear so - and is, yet, not the case.
These remarks concerning the existence of contemporary humankind have
rather prepared us to pose in a much more thoughtful way our question about
the provenance of art and the destination of thinking.

III
What are we now asking for? Are we perhaps asking about the domain
whence originates art's calling today? Is this domain that of the cybernetic
world of the futurological planning of industrial society? If this world of global
civilization is the domain from out of which art is being called, then with the
foregoing remarks we have taken notice of that domain; but this knowledge
does not yet constitute a comprehension of that which prevails over this world
as such in its essence. In order for us to be able to glimpse the sought-after
domain of the provenance of art, we have to reflect on that which prevails in the
modem world. The fundamental characteristic of the cybernetic blueprint of
the world is the feedback control system, within which the inductive feedback
cycle of information takes place. The widest feedback control circle comprises
the interaction between the human being and the world. What is it that prevails
in this enclosure? The relations of the human being with the world, and along
with these, the entire social existence of humanity, are enclosed within the
domain of the absolute sovereignty of cybernetic science.
This same enclosure, that is to say, the same captivity, is manifested in
futurology. What kind of future is it that futurology must study in its rigorously
methodical manner? The future is represented as "that which comes toward the
human being". The content of this "coming toward the human being" is not
necessarily exhausted by that which can be calculated from out of the present
and for the sake of the present. The future studied by futurology is nothing but
an extended present. Humanity remains enclosed in the circle of possibilities
calculated by and for it.
And industrial society? This is subjectivity resting only on itself. All objects
are attributed to this subject. Industrial society arrogantly proclaims itself as the
absolute norm of every objectivity. It thus becomes clear that industrial society
exists on the basis of being enclosed in its own power compiex [ Gemachte].

125
How do things stand with respect to art within an industrial society whose
world begins to become cybernetic? Do the propositions of art become a sort
of information in and for this world? Are its productions consequently destined
to satisfy the procedural character of the feedback control system of industrial
regulation and its perpetual accomplishment potential? Can the work, in such
circumstances, still remain a work? Does its modern sense not consist in that it
has always already in advance been surpassed in the interest of the progressive
accomplishment of the process of creation that is regulated exclusively on its
own accord and thus remains enclosed within itself? Does modern art appear as
a feedback loop of information in the feedback control circle of industrial
society and of the technical-scientific world? And is it not from here that the
often named "cultural industry" [Kulturbetrieb] derives its legitimation?
These questions press on us as questions. They are gathered into a single
one, which is: How do things stand with respect to the being enclosed of the
human being in its technical-scientific world? What is it that prevails in this
being enclosed? Can it be the closing-off of mankind from what first directs it
to its ownmost destination, in such a way that the human being could acquiesce
to what is fitting for it, instead of disposing of itself by means of the scientific
technological calculation of itself and its world, of itself and its technical
self-production? (Is not hope, if it can ever constitute a principle, precisely the
unconditional egotism of human subjectivity?)
But can the human being of our global civilization, on its own, break
through this enclosure that shuts it out of its destiny? Certainly not by way of
and with the means of its technical-scientific planning and action. But can the
human being even arrogate the desire to break through this being closed off
from its destiny? This would be hubris. The being enclosed cannot ever be
broken down by the human being. But it cannot either be opened up without
human contribution. What kind of opening are we talking about? What can
man do for its preparation? The first thing will be not to evade the foregoing
questions. It is essential to think them through thoroughly. It is essential, first
of all, to think through this being enclosed as such, that is to say: to think
through that which prevails within it. Perhaps it is not at all a question of
breaking through this enclosure. But it is of necessity to realize that such a
thought is not a mere prelude to action, but the decisive action itself that first
grants the possibility for mankind's relation to the world to begin to change.
It is necessary to liberate our thought from this long-insufficient distinction
between theory and practice. It remains necessary to realize that thinking is
not a sovereign act. Rather it can only be dared when engaging with that
domain from which the global civilization that has nowadays become planetary
derived its beginning.
Necessary, therefore, is the step backwards. But backwards to where? Back
to the beginning implied by our earlier reference to the Goddess Athena. But

126
this backward step does not mean that the ancient Greek world must, in one way
or another, be revived or that thought must seek its refuge in the Presocratics.
To step backwards means: a retreat of thought from global civilization and, in
retreating from it without rejecting it, an entry into that which had to remain
unthought in the beginning of Occidental European thinking, but which had
already been named at that point and so, in advance, has been given to us to think.
Furthermore -the reflection that we have been undertaking here has always
had this.unthought in sight, without explicitly taking it into view. By means of
the reference to Athena, the resourceful counsellor who with her clear eyes
meditates on the limit, we became attentive to the mountains, the islands, the
shapes and forms that appear through their delimitation, to the mutual belonging
of <1>uo1.c; and -cexvri, to the unique presence of things in this illustrious light.
Let us meditate on this further, in a more fundamentally reflective manner:
The light can illuminate present beings only once these have come themselves
into the open and into the free domain, when they can unfurl themselves within
it. This openness is, to be sure, illuminated by light, but in no way is it formed
or produced by it. Even darkness needs this openness, else we would not be
able to move in it and make our way through it.
No space could grant to things their place and arrangement, no time could
temporalize [zeitigen] the hour or the year to becoming and perishing, that is,
grant them their extension and duration, if the openness that by its sheer force
traverses them had not always already been accorded to space and to time and
to their mutual belonging.
The language of the Greeks calls this free offering of freedom [Freigabe des
Freien] which grants every openness: A-i..ij0e1.o:, un-concealment. The latter
does not do away with concealment; rather unconcealment is everywhere in
need of concealment.
Heraclitus already points in that direction with his saying:
cl>uoi xguitteoBai <!nlei: (B 123)
To the self-appearing belongs the property of concealment.
The secret of the illustrious Greek light rests in unconcealment, in the un
concealment that prevails within it. Unconcealment belongs to concealment,
conceals itself, but in such a way that thanks to this self-withdrawal, it lets
things emerge through their delimitation. Is there perhaps an unthought
relationship between the being enclosed keeping us from engaging our destiny
and the unconcealment that remains unthought and persists in its withdrawal?
And is, maybe, this being enclosed apart from destiny the long-lasting
withholding of unconcealment? Does the sign pointing to the secret of the still
unthought A-i..ij0ei.a perhaps point at the same time to the domain of the
provenance of art? Does the calling to the creation of works perhaps originate
from this domain? The work, as work, should point toward that which is not yet
available to mankind, toward the concealed, so that the work will not just repeat

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whatever we already know, understand and do. Should the work of art not keep
silent about that which remains concealed, that which as concealed awakes
modesty in the human being, insofar as it here confronts whatever cannot be
planned nor controlled, neither calculated nor manufactured?
Will there still be a time when the human being will be granted an abode on
this earth, resting on the determination of the voice of concealed
unconcealment?
That we do not know. We nevertheless do know that the A-.i.tj0eux that lies
hidden in the light of Greece, and which first grants this illustrious light, is more
ancient, more primordial and consequently more permanent than any work and
construct devised and produced by the hand of man.
But we also know that the self-concealing unconcealment remains
inconspicuous and of no importance in a world whose norms are imposed by
astronautics and nuclear physics.
A-.i.tj0eux - unconcealment in the midst of concealment - just a word,
unthought-of as regards its import for the history of Occidental Europe and the
global civilization that descended from it.
Just a word? A word, powerless when confronting the action and the acts of
the gigantic laboratory of scientific technology? Or do things stand differently
with regard to a word of this kind and this provenance? Let us listen, in
conclusion, to a Greek word that the poet Pindar pronounces at the beginning
of the fourth Nemean Ode:
r
gija I tgychwv XQOVlW'tCQOV lho,cuci,
IS n XC ouv Xagfrwv ,uxa
y.lwooa <!>gcvoc; te;\.oi a0ciac;. (V. 6ff)
But speech lives longer than deeds; determines life,
as long as with the favour of the Graces,
language tears it from the depth of the musing heart.
April 4th 1967
Athens, Greece

Reference
I. The following is a translation of "Die Herkunft der Kunst und die Bestimmung des Denkens"
(Vortrag in der Akademie der Wissenschaften und Kilnste in Athen 4. April 1967) by
Dimitrios Latsis, translation reviewed and amended by Ullrich Haase. The text has been
published in German (from the author's manuscript) in Distanz und Nii.he, eds P. Jaeger & R.
Lilthe (Wilrzburg: Konigshausen + Neumann, 1983), 11-22 and in Denkerfahrungen: 19/0-
1976, ed. Hermann Heidegger (Frankfurt: Klostermann, 1983), 135-152; it will also eventually
be included in Volume 80 of the Heidegger Gesamtausgabe. In rendering the text into English,
I have consulted the two existing translations in French and Greek extensively, but inserted
key terms from the original for the sake of an overall consistency with Heidegger's reuvre; cf.
"La provenance de !'art et la destination de la pensee", in: Martin Heidegger, ed. Michel Haar,
Cahiers de !'Herne (Paris: Editions de !'Heme, 1983), 84-92 and "H Ka,aywy11 ,T]c;
TcxvTJc;; xai o Ilgoogio6c; ,T]c; :ExeljlT]c;," in Y1t6vT]a otT]V <l>i;\.ooo<l>ia, No 5
(A011va: Eo,fa, 2006), 19-32.

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Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology, Vol. 44, No. 2, May 2013

THE COURAGE FOR INFINITY: MORTAL AND


IMMORTAL ETHICS IN ALAIN BADIOU
PATRICK O'CONNOR and FREDERICK ASPBURY

In Emile Zola's Genninal, a novelistic representation of the struggle between


capital and labour in the coalfields of 1800s Northern France, the novel's key
protagonist, the idealist Etienne Lantier, meets a much more impatient
revolutionary:
'Balderdash!' said Souvarine again. Your friend Karl Marx is still at the stage of wanting to
leave things to natural evolution. No politics, no conspiracies, isn't that the idea?- everything
in broad daylight and the sole aim a rise in wages. Don't talk to me about evolution! Raise fires
in the four corners of cities, mow people down, wipe everything out, and when no-thing
whatever is left of this rotten world perhaps a better one will spring up.' " 1
Later Souvarine reiterates with more force:
Etienne listened attentively, longing to learn and understand this religion of destruction, about
which the engineman only dropped an occasional dark hint, as though he kept his mysteries to
himself. 'But why don't you explain? What's your object?' 'To destroy everything. No more
nations, no more governments, no more property, no more God or religion.' 'Yes, I gather that.
Only where is it going to lead you?' 'To the primitive and formless community, to a new world,
a fresh start." (236)
Souvarine's longing for destruction in its purest form, for a generic and formless
community, draws our attention to a key tension characterising the work of Alain
Badiou: the resistance to political change based on slow reformist progress, against
the desire to begin immediate revolutionary change. In this article we assess this
tension in light of the relative merits of Badiou's ethical and political philosophy.
To achieve this, we concentrate on one driving operative of Badiou's recent ethical
philosophy: the tension between mortality and immortality. Our argument is that
Badiou's commitment to the infinite and the immortal serves to undermine a
realistic notion of courageous political engagement. We show that there is a
systemic problem with Badiou's ontology as it pertains to notions of infinities:
specifically, our premise is that the structure of the infinite cannot ground ethical
transformation, due to the fact that the infinite is devoted to stasis rather than
transformation. The ethical and political consequence of this, we argue, serves to
undermine Badiou's desired political outcomes. Ultimately, what Badiou calls the
Event is characterised as pure and uncontaminable, immune from history and
futurity, and therefore becomes nihilistic in its desire to bring an end to all things
exposed to the vicissitudes of history.

*
Badiou has waged sustained intellectual war against a number of philosophical
and political configurations since 1968. His ire primarily crystallises around

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