On Deleuze, Heidegger and the discourse of freedom: Letter to “Daddy”

Regarding your question as to the task of philosophy to construct and reconstruct concepts within the immanent condition of possibilities, it is true that philosophy, in Deleuzean terms, has that task. But juxtaposed to freedom, it is a task that even Deleuze avoided–despite his radicality he is still a part of the great Western tradition that, among others, has viewed freedom as non-problematic. It is within this self-constraint of Western philosophy that Deleuze launched his reconceptualization of difference as the immanent privilege of repetition to inaugurate itself (its different sameness) into history, in Western history, and that is to say also, into the logic of sense, of the Western sense.

But in a more specific sense of philosophical scholarship to which this ‘sense’ the West keeps returning, Kant’s discourse of the modern subject sealed philosophy from the philosophical discourse of freedom, which, by virtue of the limits of which it has been finally made aware, with the necessary propaedeutic provided by Descartes, and ironically crystallized in Hume, nonetheless allowed freedom  to roam in a foreign land, away from its primordial dwelling place, away from Being and into the unguided and often hedonistic celebration of the letters, of literature, of the theater, of the everyday. At some point, freedom has inured itself to a foreign space, and has of necessity–for it to survive, for freedom to maintain its own integrity as “the free”–settled itself freely there, in the there-ness of its isolation.

Still, philosophy could not completely do away with freedom. Philosophy, Western philosophy, that is, has allowed freedom to underwrite itself in the silent spaces, in the margins of philosophy. Call it a eulogy for freedom, a long eulogy though, as Nietzsche would have put it in terms of the immanent association of freedom with self-causation (God!), which is popularly transcribed in the phrase God is dead. In other words, this deicide is the long eulogy which philosophy celebrates, but celebrate it does in terms of subsidizing the discourse of freedom under new names and concepts. It is in this context that repetition is possible, and that repetition itself is the logic of freedom (now reconstituted by the name of ‘difference’–which means to say, freedom is differing, differentiation, otherwise the adventures of the self that differs itself, the solipsism acquiring a materiality in history as the history of subjectivity, of the subject pluralizing itself in the same (empiricism!). Under these conditions, freedom barely recognizes itself anymore.

Sartre was the only one who faced up to the incredible demands of philosophy to shun freedom, and yet Sartre, a product of Western thinking, in the final analysis only extended the conceptual possibilities of the thinking of freedom within the spaces provided by Western philosophic tradition itself. Since Nietzsche’s exposition of the lie of the subject, the lie of claiming a privileged standpoint (positive freedom), Western philosophy, shameful of its arbitrariness, of its nakedness in the face of the truth of all truths–that the subject is so wicked to claim a standpoint (Schelling’s argument) from which everything follows, history, etc. which is a lie to which humanity has been taught to relate in obliviousness, the oblivion of the immanent possibilities of godding oneself, an oblivion, needless to say, that serves the intention of power, has viewed freedom to be the culprit, the source of this shameful course of history. Sartre took that tradition to its letter and re-transcribed the possibilities of renewing freedom that owns up to that lie. Existence precedes essence is a classic retranscription of freedom as a possession that humanity must not be wary of, must not shy away from, if only to say that there is no possibility available for Man than to be free. We are condemned to be free–Sartre therefore betrayed, once again, the secret of the Western subject but this time it was a secret that the West could not afford to own up to, for the second time since Nietzsche whose philosophical tendencies, like it or not, helped the Western subject/s to take advantage of this secret to found a new history (Hitler and the rise of National Socialism). Unluckily for Sartre, his discourse on freedom proved too significant for non-Western thought, for the non-West whose freedom has been suppressed, and therefore it is only correct that freedom should be taken up ‘there’ as a possession, a seizure of power, to wrest power from the West that controlled the destiny of the freedom of the non-West. We are not surprised why  Sartre today is viewed in the West as an outsider–no one takes Sartre seriously anymore, and even, in the non-West whose freedom is now increasingly reunited with the Western tradition of oblivion whose most representative illustration perhaps would be Heidegger’s notion of the non-starting point of the starting point called Man. Well, we are not the starting point, so to speak.

Now, I mean a progressing now, which also means a now that can only be rhetorically invoked, is the great time of freedom if only to say that–and I am saying this as a troubled reader of Western philosophy, but better ‘troubled’ than indifferent, better a ‘reader’ than a scholar–freedom can reinvent itself away from its previous condition of possibility in the West. If Western history became possible as a hegemonic history by depriving the possibilities of the non-West to create a history, then it can make a sound hermeneutical case (the hermeneutic circle) to reorient the West to its origin, that is, its origin in the non-West, the origin of its freedom, the real condition of possibility of the historical subject. It is therefore not odd to build a case for this reorientation in terms of declaring that the West robbed us of our own philosophy and claimed it as its own.

Having said these, it is my claim and thus I claim that the real task of philosophy is to think more originally than the West, thus also more originally than philosophy (specifically, for my part and on behalf of my academic interest, more originally than Heidegger). But this cannot be achieved by positive overcoming, say, in terms of decoding within the auspices of scholarship the master language of the master called Heidegger, or what have you, rather by re-accomplishing Heidegger outside of the conditions of possibility that made him possible. Re-accomplishing: this means also that Heidegger, and all other great paragons of Western thinking, must be reoriented to the proper evilness of their possibilities, or more specifically, to the fundamental horizon of Western thinking in general since Aristotle, that is, the taking up of a necessary opposite (the non-historicality of the non-West) over against which it can claim to be free, free for thought, being, culture and, what a vicious circle, freedom!


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