Finitude, Existence, and Community: Letting the Individual Die

By Nicole Billitz
2012, Vol. 4 No. 07 | pg. 2/3 |

Singular plurality, contrastingly, promotes a “me for them” and “before I am I carry the other” (Derrida). Nancy recognizes that to be is simultaneously to be with, and therefore, to be toward and for. We are always in duty to the Other, not to ourselves. Nancy’s philosophy is the understanding of Being as constituted by others. This co-appearance or compearance, is the experience to which Being is abandoned and in which being is among others. As we are toward one another, “thrown,” we have an ethical imperative, or duty, toward the other. This duty is always already. “We must” insofar as we “cannot not,” as we are constituted by the other. Beings exposed to ekstasis have sovereignty, the event of being that allows for possibility. When “I shares you” it renders genocide unthinkable and impossible. “I shares you” invokes this understanding of com-passion, or violent relatedness, whereby the Self is constructed by the Other, which positions them toward one another and together. This then disallows for the violence that has been manifested due to the ideology of individualism.

According to Nancy (2000), the denigration of

“the other becomes Other according to the mode of desire or hatred. Making the other divine (together with our voluntary servitude) or making it evil (together with its exclusion or extermination) is that part of curiosity no longer interested in co-appearance, but rather has become the desire for the Position itself. This desire is the desire to fix the origin, or to give the origin to itself, once and for all, and in one place for all, that is, always outside the world. This is why such desire is a desire for murder, and not only murder but also for an increase of cruelty and horror, which is like the tendency toward intensification of murder. The Other is nothing more than a correlate of this mad desire, but others, in fact, are our originary interests” (p. 21).

This desire for an immanent creation or origin necessitates the idea of a creator. Yet in fact, the creation of the world is a shared event between and amongst everyone, and the creation can only happen with existence and exposure to others. When there is a desire for immanent origin, or identity, this becomes “mad desire” where humanity seeks to destroy the very thing that created it – exposure to others. Nancy says, “there is no meaning if meaning is not shared, because meaning is itself the sharing of Being” (Nancy, 2000, p. 2). So in this summer of 1995, from before and since, we have been living in a world with misdirected “mad desire” for this compulsive ideology of immanent, original identity that is completely counterproductive to our own existence.

In Being and Time, Heidegger calls Dasein the being for whom being is a question. Heidegger understands this Dasein to be primarily in the world towards death, and secondly, as Being-with; “Even though Mitsein (Heidegger’s Being-with) is coessential with Dasein, it remains in a subordinate position” (Nancy, 2000, p. 93). The idea of Dasein is prominently individualized as “one,” “mine” and “ownmost.” The Dasein comes into the world as his/her own. In Heideggerean terms the

“Language of ownness, always risks closure and recuperation into a logic of oneness and identity. This language of organicity, of gathering, sheltering, binding together, and the notion of propriety that lies behind it, represents for Nancy the tendency toward closing in Heidegger’s thinking, which reaffirms subjectivity and allows for the identification of the German people and the native soil as privileged sites for the thinking of being and political self-affirmation” (James, 2006, p. 101).

Heidegger repeatedly emphasizes the physical body of Dasein, which draws immediate, individual attention, rather than Nancy’s much more abstract understanding of being or being-with. The material implications of these two different notions bring about two different ramifications. Heidegger implicitly closes Dasein to and for itself, as an immanent individual that supplements the logic to dominance and violence. Nancy’s abstract concept of Being-with calls to a duty without teleos and without an economy that considers an unlimited sovereignty in the face of death.

According to Heidegger, the authentic potentiality-for-Being is attested by the Dasein’s own interpretation of itself, and is known as “the voice of conscience” (Heidegger, 1962, p. 313). He understands this call to conscience to be an appeal to Dasein in its ownmost potentiality-for-Being-its-Self. Perhaps most importantly, however, Heidegger acknowledges that what is called when one is appealed to: to one’s own self. The fact that Heidegger contends this voice of conscience to be only Dasein’s potentiality-for-Being, limits and oppresses, but perhaps most notably, alienates this Dasein to be only within himself/herself. By this essentializing ideology even under the guise of conscience or morality, it severely mitigates the construction of one’s authentic potentiality (that Heidegger understands as Dasein’s positioning toward finitude), that Nancy understands in the exposure/ekstasis to others. Whereby rendering one’s own potentiality retarded, it certainly makes way to severely disturb the potentiality towards others.

The voice of conscience is called to oneself

“not to what Dasein counts for, can do, or concerns itself with in being with one another publicly, nor to what it has taken hold of, set about, or let itself be carried along with. The sort of Dasein, which is understood after the manner of the world both for Others and for itself, gets passed over in this appeal; this is something of which the call to the Self takes not the slightest cognizance. The call passes over both the “they” and the manner in which Dasein has been publicly interpreted, does not by any means signify that the “they” is not reached too. Precisely in passing over the “they” the call pushes it into insignificance” (Heidegger, 1962, p. 317).

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