(Excerpts from Rethinking Freedom. Paper presented during the Philosophical Association of the Philippines’ annual conference, 2011)
When philosophy exposes the conditionality of our understanding of Being it therefore exposes much of what it tries to conceal, that which it cannot declare to all men. When Nietzsche declared that “God is dead,” the death of a false transcendence, that which philosophy once wavered to expose for fear of self-implication, there philosophy finally ceased to be philosophical, ceased to be privy to the concealment of the truth of Being. Philosophy began to confess its own guilt. Its guilt—its love of wisdom, its participation in the concealment of the truth of Being, though innocuous in form; its quiet endurance of the mystery of the ground; its former decision to keep humanity away from the truth of all truths—that there is no truth, only Being.
By reintroducing itself to its proper beginning philosophy is essentially rethinking the mystery of the ground of Being before Being came to be an issue of and for difference, of positing something over against it which necessitated the enactment of the truth of the ontological difference , more correctly, as Heidegger stressed, the untruth of the ontological difference that it is “a doctrine and key for ontological deliberation and forgets what is crucial, namely, that this differentiation has the character of a passage.” It does so in the manner of giving a report, of historicizing the analytic of the interpretation of Being. Indeed, philosophy is at its best when it gives a report on the death of philosophy, when it admits to having seen its own ghost; when it welcomes that ghost, its guilt; when it welcomes the stranger, its other, the other of its professed affinity to truth; when it assumes the impossible life of a half-life, its rebirthing out of the wombs of all the gods of history.
One thing remains crucial though, which can transform even the way philosophy reckons with its fate. It is that freedom can rethink and redefine itself in the most active sense outside of the philosophical, by non-philosophical means, if we can put it that way, by changing the course of history. The non-philosophical is the single greatest achievement of history to which philosophy finds itself opposed most of the time. It suffices to say that philosophy thrives on the non-historical, within the margins of history. Today, within those margins philosophy is giving a report on freedom as freedom is marching in hordes under the din of the voices of resistance and self-determination across the arid lands of the Middle East and North Africa.
Philosophy is interested in the ‘outcome’ of these revolts. While freedom is burning philosophy is already thinking, poeticizing, anticipating, possibilizing its outcome, against the great uncertainty in the horizon, at the same time suffering the revolts, suffering on their behalf in terms of its failure to warn them that there is no truth, only Being, that we are not the starting point, only Time, but also celebrating the self-determination of freedom in terms of its capacity to change the course of history, for better or worse.