Wherever the thinking of the Greeks pays
heed to the presencing of what is present,
the following traits of presencing are stressed:
unconcealedness, the rising from
concealedness, the entry into it, the coming
and going away, the lingering, the gathering,
the shining-forth, the resting, the hidden
suddenness of possible absencing. Through
these traits of presencing the Greek thinkers
thought of what is present.
What Is Called Thinking?1
If Western philosophy—and for Heidegger “there is no other, neither Chinese nor Indian”2—was set on its way by the Presocratic experience, the originary can be gathered from the original only by examining how the Presocratic traits of presencing have been ‘varied’ over the course of the centuries, that is, how factors of discontinuity have determined this continuity without disrupting it. At the contemporary stoppage on the “way enjoined” the West, “the other traits of the being of entities” appear, such as “the objectivity of the object, the reality of the real.”3 Between these two complex clusters of aletheiological modalities, neither of which cancels the other, stretches the history of epochal reversals. Without recounting here how the economic configurations are connected from break to break—how for example, from ἀλήϑεɩα, unconcealment became ὁμοίωσɩς, then rectitudo and adaequatio, then certitude, justice, domination4—in unframing these successive frameworks it is a matter of setting free what pervades them all (etwas Durchgängiges),5 of liberating the identity running through these differences, of seeing how they are articulated on what is so all-pervading. The unity across time does not rest on any ground, endowed with permanence, be it substantive or subjective. It is nothing that endures beneath appearances, not a suppositum. If it is possible, then, to show that the element pervading the epochs is of a merely categorial kind, the absurdity of coopting Heidegger’s notion of presencing will leap to the eye. It can be put to use neither as a quasi-divine noumenon nor, at the other extreme of interpretations, as a poor disguise for historicist relativism “locked in the squirrel cage” where “the raw existent nauseates. . . .”6 For the understanding of the originary—of presencing—the categories trace the middle way between the noumenal and the empirical.
Starting from the raw existant, the empirical, clearly no proposition, whether descriptive or prescriptive, can be formulated about praxis. The particular is an object of desire or need, but it yields no discourse. Such was Kant’s crucial experience: without a noumenon—or, from the view-point of the deconstruction, without some epochal principle—there can be no practical philosophy. Since Heideggerian phenomenology dismantles all noumenal constructs, one may rightly expect that the very project of a categorization of presencing cannot remain without consequences for understanding praxis. Heidegger cuts through the received opinion according to which theories that focus on systems (functionalism, structuralism, et alia) stand in irreconcilable opposition to theories that focus on praxis. The deduction of categories indeed yields a systemic concept of the ‘history of being’, in which the epochs are self-regulated like an ecosystem. But at the same time, the hypothesis of withering principles tells one what is to be done at the end of metaphysics as it entails a call to intervention: to the politics of “mortals” (as opposed to the ‘rational animal’) which consists in “removing” all lingering principial representations (Part V).