have the character of an understanding projection, in such a manner indeed that the Interpretation by which such an understanding gets developed, will let that which is to be interpreted put itself into words for the very first time, so that it may decide of its own accord whether, as the entity which it is, it has that state of Being for which it has been disclosed in the projection with regard to its formal [indicative] aspects? [Oder hat dieses Voraus-setzen den Charakter des verstehenden Entwerfens, so zwar, daß die solches Verstehen ausbildende Interpretation das Auszulegende gerade erst selbst zu Wort kommen läßt, damit es von sich aus entscheide, ob es als dieses Seiende die Seinsverfassung hergibt, auf welche es im Entwurf formalanzeigend erschlossen wurde.] (BT, 362)
The pre-judgment is therefore a projection which opens the X that is the object of the ontological investigation; it is not an explicit and closed-off piece of information. Consequently, "we cannot ever avoid a circular proof in the existential analytic, because such an analytic does not do any proving at all by the rules of the logic of consistency" (BT, 363). This last phrase refers implicitly to the Husserl of Formal and Transcendental Logic,12 who uses logics of consistency to designate, roughly speaking, the logic of propositional calculus, the mechanizable logic of tautology and syntactical formality (in opposition to a logic of truth in which the anticipation of the object is already present). From our point of view the essential point in this quite general description of the positive functioning of the hermeneutical circle is the idea that an intrinsically positive role for formalization and, beyond that, for formal work (le travail du formel), is excluded. This is what is implied in particular in the recurrent Husserlian vocabulary on which I have just focused. It goes without saying that this recurrence is hardly insignificant in such a critical context. Furthermore, there is, however, the noteworthy use of the adjective formalanzeigend in this passage, translated by the term formalthe first comprehensive project, the pre-judgment, is an opening in the formal-indicative mode. Clearly, the word formal-anzeigend for Heidegger refers to what is not yet determined enough to dictate, but it is determined enough to support the pre-judgment. This adjective, in Heideggerian usage is not far from our contemporary concept of syntactico-logico-mathematical form. We see this in the following unsuppressed use of formal structure:
The idea of existence which we have posited gives us an outline of the formal structure of the understanding of Dasein and does so in such a way that is not binding from an existential point of view. (BT, 361)
Thus the project in its formal state is something that is articulated. But the elucidation that ensues of this semi-formality in the hermeneutical process is not analogous to a formal development (which according to Heidegger can only be a calculation). The elucidation is the language of beings themselves, a language which provides of its own accord the constitution of being through which they have been disclosed. Hermeneutical endurance, the crucial passage in which true unveiling takes place or not, is therefore conceived as a dialogue between a formal anticipation, reduced to the silence of its indetermination, and a loquacious being dictating what is appropriate and what is inappropriate. It is this dialogue which allows for the synthetic nature of the circle, with the loquacity of beings inducing in the pre-judgment (anticipation and pre-comprehension) more than the pre-judgment itself.
II.2. Formal hermeneutics
That is the first version of hermeneutics, undoubtedly rich enough in one sense to include the later versions offered by Heidegger. We have here a certain model of thought as an elucidation-that-assumes-the-circle. The incompatibility of this hermeneutical thought with science seems obvious, since Heidegger explicitly wishes with the figure of the circle to dismiss the jurisdiction of proof and, beyond that, Husserlian logics of consequence and scientific method as a whole.
However, the illustration of the figure of the circle, with examples chosen in the field of science, particularly in the logico-mathematical field especially attacked through the code of proof, is quite possible. Rather, it is necessary, in order to understand the evolution of contemporary science, to consider it in the light of the concept of hermeneutics. Such an act of thought makes a unique contribution to the task of developing a strong and profound notion of hermeneutical activity in conformity with the best of Heideggers intentions.
One of the first places in which the hermeneutical process can be elucidated in scientific disciplines is in model theory, the importance of which throughout all theoretico-intellectual activity in our century has yet to be embraced. Model theory is that branch of logic that at a certain moment in history represented the relation of mutual implication between logic and mathematics. In particular its condition of possibility and historical pre-condition is the algebraic reformulation of the syntactical aspects of logic, that is, the very algebra Heidegger so often combats under the name of logistics. That said, model theory, in its very gestures of thought, overtly assumes the hermeneutical circle, given its relationship to set theory and to the pole of mathematical reference in general. This relationship is already implicit in Tarskis founding paper,13 which is forcefully demonstrated, assuming the ultimate consequences of the circularity it implies, by the results of Löwenheim-Skolem.14 Successive implementations of the theory since its golden age (from approximately 1950 to 1970) have also confirmed its fecundity.
As a re-organization of logic which takes into account the syntactical clarification of formal languages, model theory would be expected to offer a radical new perspective for the evaluation of the founding value of formal theories of mathematics, that is to say, to begin to answer the questions focusing on the possibility of assigning a reference to these theories. In the first place, one would hope that this re-organization will re-evaluate the importance of set theory, since the latter has become the central presupposition of mathematical activity at the same moment that model theory has itself taken off.15 Now, it is well known that we are far from this scenario, at least insofar as the word founding is understood in any of the naive senses of the term in this context. Model theory chooses to define the possession-of-reference of a theory by the existence of a set-theoretical structure supporting it, in a sense technically set down by another set-theoretical object, to wit an application realization, that interprets the constants by individual sets, the relational symbols by set relations, and the functional symbols by set applications. Consequently, the exploration of the meaning of mathematical concepts that model theory permits assumes the logic of the circle and would only claim to understand what pertains to the notion of set only by placing itself within the framework of this notion (that is, necessarily assuming some traditional formalization of the notion, which in this context is almost always ZF or ZFC [ZF with axiom of Choice]), by taking a firm position in the set-theoretical pre-judgment. However, within the logic of this circle, which itself is assumed following various rules,16 model theory fulfills its role, which is to go deeper into the idea of guiding essences. In conformity with the Heideggerian model, the assumption of the first project does not open, then, onto the determination of any being at all, but primarily onto what one could call supplements of elucidation concerning what, as everyone knows, have always been the major questions: what is logic? what is a whole? what is choice? what is a language?
In this way the great classical results, linked to model theory in relation to sets and to set theory, work on essences, which they both cast new light upon and put into question. The Löwenheim-Skolem theorem, older than model theory but accepted today within it by common agreement, elaborates and sets in abyss (mettre en abîme) the meaning of the concept of the countable together with the meaning of the general concept of infinity. (There is no doubt that this theorem is one of the most important events in the on-going investigation of the essence of an "actual" infinite since Aristotle.) The proof of the consistency of the axiom of choice by Gödel brings to light in which perspective upon the being of sets the principle of choice is valid (when sets are considered as constructible), indicating at the same time a way to think the essence of sets and a correlated way of thinking choice as well as necessarily situating, in relation to this promotion of the universe of constructibles, the most blatantly ideal meaning of a choice from within a full set-theoretical universe. A number of studies in the same discipline can be analyzed in this vein.
It is precisely here that model theory may seem poor because too easily applicable. Is this theory not a branch of logic overtly taken up with problems of foundation, and thus an abnormal branch of science, precisely from the point of view of this forgetting of the origin which belongs to science in the Heideggerian description?
This is why it is so important for us to point out that the formalization of the continuum in mathematics shares to all intents and purposes in the same hermeneutical circularity. Dedekind does say that what he formally constructed is the true continuum, maintaining that nothing but confused notions were available before his own work.17 However, it is absolutely clear that one cannot agree with Dedekind that he has fixed the very thing which was confusedly anticipated before him from a different site than that of the preformal confused notion. Consequently, its axiomatization should be understood as the inscription of an originary project of the continuum pre-existing the project. And the achievement of this formal inscription lies in its satisfying an anticipation. Now, such a satisfaction has been tested with success on an unprecedented scale. Everything that was placed in a pre-formal mode, under the sign of the continuum, has been retrieved, with an unheard-of gain in precision and plenitude of theoretical vision in the context of the new arithmetical continuum. There is no doubt moreover that the essence in question, the continuum, has tormented our minds from Zeno onwards. No doubt either that each and every operation of relational apprehension freed by formalization has deeply enriched the relationship of mathe-matical Dasein to this essence. Furthermoreand this is an aspect of the hermeneutical process that Heidegger seems far from imagining (even in other contexts)discourse, set in a historically formal context, issues in a new informal or preformal pre-comprehension that will be able to be used to support judgments on future "ontologico-formal" efforts. The hermeneutical identification of the continuum with the aid of successive and complexly interconnected formal constructions by Dedekind, Cantor, Zermelo-Fraenkel and Bourbakibrings to the thought of the continuum a world of anticipations which are not analytically included in these formalisms, but result, in ways difficult to describe, from total logico-mathematical development stocked in the context of these formalizations. This is why, today, the efforts of nonstandard mathematicians in promoting different guiding representations of the continuum must comply with the implicit demand that these representations be restored to the classical framework, un-formally integrated into a new anticipation of the being of the continuum. Furthermore, these discourses are proof of the enduring productivity of the hermeneutical circle, since they result in new essential perspectives on the continuum.18
Let us simply add this short remark: what has been said of mathematics holds equally for physics. I believe in fact that the approach to the essence of movement in quantum theory, and its use of the famous principle of correspondence, can be analyzed as yet another illustration of hermeneutics and of the ever-deepening circular characteristics of its results. I hope to deal with this in a forthcoming paper.
What can be learned, then, from this brief excursion into the land of scientific hermeneutics? It should be possible to infer from all this the site on which Heidegger concentrates his resistance to the assimilation of the above intellectual endeavor to hermeneutics, that is, to thought. This resistance is to be found in the argument that in all our examples, the projects of essences are always consigned in a formal manner. Therefore, from the perspective of section 63 of Being and Time, how could they function in any other way than as logical presuppositions, as material for the dévoration of a deduction?
But what is actually at stake in the judgment Die Wissenschaft denkt nicht has not yet been explicated in allowing this objection to have its say. The truth actually is that every project of essence, in all hermeneutical endeavor, is necessarily inscribedonly a pious and enthusiastic Heideggerian could dream of denying this, certainly not a French Heideggerian who has read Derrida. The second Heidegger draws attention moreover to the unavoidably linguistic nature of the hermeneutical endeavor, thereby acknowledging, in his own way, the moment of inscription. Up to this point scientific examples cannot be dismissed for the sole reason that the language of inscription is in their case formal language. Anyone familiar with the subjects cannot fail to conclude in all fairness that the formality of the inscription does not change in the least the pre-existence of the pure informal anticipation, nor the phenomenological value of the act of inscription itself.
However, the crux of the intra-hermeneutical disagreement crystallizes in the hermeneutical passage. To use Heideggers terminology in section 63 of Being and Time, how is one to determine the modality in which the originary project, which must guide the ontological investigation, is to be put to the test? In the scientifico-logico-mathematical field, this putting to the test is achieved in the blind interval of formal work. The bringing to light, the setting into abyss of essences, and the singling out of the clear and the obscure in the project or in its first inscription are swept along, so to speak, in the juridico-technical process of demonstration and calculation. As for Heidegger, the qualification formal is reserved for the inadequately articulated state of the originary project; he only wished to understand hermeneutical elucidation as the act of letting a being speak who is a priori caught in the ontological project. This letting a being speak whose resemblance with the procedure of verification according to empirico-pragmatico-adequational criteria we do not here wish to forgetis presented concretely in Heideggers writings as a series of leaps from one word to the next. Its implementation encounters in jumbled order etymology, context, existential wisdom and poetic speech. The problem thus lies in bringing into confrontation, on the one hand, the modality of formal inscription and re-inscription, the rules and potential of which are now well-known today, and, on the other, Heideggers modality, from the perspective of an authentic judgment which a philosophical discourse could utter. But, according to what criteria? To answer this, we need to move to Heideggers most radical message concerning the privilege given to his modality in hermeneutics. This message can be found above all in those writings generally classed as belonging to the second Heidegger.
II.3. Hermeneutics and the message in the second Heidegger
The explanation of Heideggers a priori objection to a formal path for hermeneutics, however consequent or fair it may be, is to be found in his insistence on the dimension of belonging to Being, in his later description of what he calls the hermeneutical relation.
To understand this we have at our disposal the particularly relevant "A Dialogue on Language"19 in which Heidegger retraces the totality of his itinerary of thought on the subject of hermeneutics. In particular the change in the formulation and the problematic which leads to a second Heidegger finds distinct expression here. To begin with, Heidegger goes back to the theme of Being and Time but only to insert it in a perspective which is no longer that of an existential analytic:
In Sein und Zeit, hermeneutics means neither the theory of the art of interpretation nor interpretation itself, but rather the attempt first of all to define the nature of interpretation on hermeneutic grounds. [DL, 11]
The meaning of this strange expression on hermeneutic grounds" will not be given until later in the dialogue. It can only be apprehended in the context of the late Heideggers choices, which seek to lay out the Seinsfrage independently of the subjection of Being to beingswhich is nevertheless unavoidablein order to undo the link of Being with Essence,20 a link which has been inextricably related to a certain kind of indistinction between Science and Philosophy21 from the Greek philosophy onwards.
Hermeneutics is finally explained in terms of a comparison hermeneuein/Hermes which allows the originality of the entire hermeneutical sphere of the message to be clarified. (Hermes was the messenger god.)22
hermeneutics means not just the interpretation but, even before it, the bearing of message and tidings. [DL, 29]
In the final analysis hermeneutics is to be located in mans relationship to the two-foldedness of Being and beings. This two-foldedness finds balance given that:
man realizes his nature as man by corresponding to the call of the two-fold, and bears witness to it in its message. [DL, 30]
Hermeneutics is thus not language that interprets another kind of language, but the event itself which would have the originary disclosure tantamount to language, and this language itself as message, binding man by making his language a response. That the two-fold be language as message means more profoundly, however, that the two-fold addresses itself, demands. The language of Man fulfills this demand and responds. It is on this account that:
what prevails in and bears up the relation of human nature to the two-fold is language. Language defines the hermeneutic relation. [DL, 30]
It is this dispositif in which language moves and is moved, as an appeal from out of the two-fold, which confers to Being a meaning outside of the enclosure of beings.
Following this initial meeting with Heideggers second discourse on hermeneutics, which foregrounds the two-fold and its demand, we should ask what the implications are for the status of formality. This new figure is new through two nominal gestures, whose importance can be weighed in many places in the later Heidegger.
The necessary pre-orientation of hermeneutics, which Heidegger called in Being and Time a formal project, describing it as something articulated with an indetermination, is here identified as a demand;
The element in which hermeneutics takes place is identified as language (Sprache).
From the vantage point of our reflection on Heidegger, science and thought, two remarks come naturally to the fore:
On the one hand, the identification of the origin of hermeneutics as a prescription ought to have brought his idea of hermeneutics closer to formal science. At the time he was writing, formal science embraced with less and less reserve an axiomatic modality, following which any elucidation was secondary with respect to the prescriptive and inaugural throw of the dice of the axioms, a kind of demand governing the message of formal development. To re-use the above terminology, the fact that Heidegger links the inscription of an originary project to the hearing of a demand is something which should have conjoined what must indeed be called his model of thought and a possible consideration of the formal modality of such thought.
On the other hand, and for the very same reasons, in seeing hermeneutic accomplishment as the speaking of language, in the context of what has been called his linguistic turn, the second Heidegger draws away from the first presentation, sketched out above, of this accomplishment as a letting-being-speaka formulation that makes no mention of the linguistic nature of beingand does not prohibit a realistic representation of hermeneutics as the putting to test of the project in a pre-linguistic experience of the world. As we have already stated, this ends up being a metaphysical representation. But if hermeneutics now is the speech of language, why should this speech not be demonstration? If it is clear that we are in the linguistic element for good, then what rules out that eminent modality of language under demand which is formal discourse?
A few clues suggest an answer to this question as well as that posed by the first of our first remarks.
In What is Called Thinking? Heidegger insists that we must be able to hear the Greek in Parmenides sentence: kré to légein té noéin té éon emménai. He then details the strange operation of this trans-lation:
This [trans-lation] can succeed only by a leap, the leap of a single vision which sees what the words éon emménai, heard with Greek ears, state or tell. Can we see something that is told? We can, provided what is told is more than just the sound of words, provided the seeing is more than just the seeing with the eyes of the body. [WCT, 232]
Of course what is being told here is precisely the speech of the two-fold. This passage describes it as something to see and not first to hear, in conformity with a presentation conception of meaning and not a demanding one, Heidegger never accepting to relinquish the former. All meaning will first be told seen. But Heidegger also wants this seeing to be a hearing. Because the "meaning" of the language of two-foldedness is that of a demand, because the message of hermeneutics is the assumption of the demand emanating from the two-fold, the seeing must here be hearing, in order to meet the requirements at the heart of the Heideggerian analysis.
However, Heidegger makes every effort to prevent the seeing thus contaminated with hearing from getting too close to what must accompany hearing; since the discourse of he who hears is never discursively isolated (no hearing is solipsistic). Argument and counter-argument, and beyond that, formalism can be characterized as the fate of those who would argue in the absence of seeing. Heidegger thus writes:
Whatever has been seen can be demonstrated only by being seen and seen again. What has been seen can never be proved by adducing reasons and counter-reasons. If what is seen is put into words, its mention by name can never restore the force of the seeing. [WCT, 233, trans. modified]
The impossibility of restoring the seeing from within naming can be read as a barrage erected perhaps consciously by Heidegger against the formal operation. There is no doubt that formal naming, definition in the absence of seeing, is one of those blind operations, coupled with regulated deduction, which affects formal hermeneutics and achieves faithfulness to a demand which is exclusively situated in the register of the voice, which is only heard. Naming will in fact never restore the seeing, if seeing is understood as a relation to two-foldedness in its own way devoid of any flaw. But in another more important sense, naming restores meaning, that is, the elucidation or the failure of the content of the demand, of course in a never-ending process.
The conceptual element arising out of the exploitation of our first clue is Heideggers state of tension concerning the singularity of the hermeneutical relation, and therefore, concerning his refusal to allow the relation to escape the immediacy of seeing, concerning his refusal to imagine that it could mix with the dispersed plurality of connections which its status as hearing would automatically give to it, connections onto nominations, persons, arguments, as they effectively occur in the economy of formal hermeneutics.
Second clue: in "A Dialogue on Language", Heidegger reverts to his use of the word Bezug to qualify the relation of man to two-foldedness, in order to remove from the word relation any hint of formalistic connotation:
With this word Bezug, we think of it in the sense of Beziehung, of relationship. What we know in that way we can identify in an empty, formal sense, and employ like a mathematical notation. Think of the procedure of logistics. [WCT, 32]
That is the negative side. The right interpretation of Bezug is found further on:
If man is in a hermeneutical Bezug, that means that he is precisely not a commodity. But the word Bezug does want to say that man, in his very being, is in demand, is needed, that he, as the being he is, belongs within a needfulness which claims him. [Ibid.]
Here, the point of view of logistics on the relation is equated, strangely enough, with a merchants. In formal discourse, the relation would be a means of exchange or something of the sort. Now, two-foldedness is not what man relates to as he would relate to a source of supplies, rather is he in demand, he is appealed to: the Bezug enunciates mans belonging. This thesis repeats and makes worse what we have just seenthe exclusion of any formal economy. It means that two-foldedness is not truly voice, and that the obliged link to two-foldedness can never be translated or measured in the nervous commerce between discursive actors to whom the demand appeals. Now, the fact that this hermeneutical relation does not fall back into the intersubjective or formal relation, that is, into one or the other of the essential modalities of circulation, implies that the origin is not an obliging voice, but an enveloping self-exposure, setting-up residencea presentation. Our previous quotation expresses this well. What we first named demand must be understood as a necessitating envelopmentthe word needfulness is suitable for the necessity which can be that of this presentation, a necessity which remains at an infinite distance from all obligation. This is the cost of the preservation of the absolute singularity of the hermeneutical relation. However, does the language of faithfulness, of the demand, remain authentic?
Let us listen once again to Heideggers incidental aside as he uncovers the sense of message in hermeneuein in association with Hermes:
Hermeneuein is related to the noun hermeneus, which is referable to the name of the god Hermes by a playful thinking that is more compelling than the rigor of science. [DL, 29]
Here, our argument comes together: Heideggers hermeneutical path is not formal, yet he claims it more compelling (être-obligé) than the formal path (which is neatly called up here with the word rigor). But an obligation which does not come from a voice, one that originates in a presentation, has no meaning whatsoever. Being, or two-foldedness, can in fact seize us absolutely, more so than an obligation, insofar as they are capable of annihilating the margin of our freedom. What occurs at this point, then, is necessary, not obliging. Whereas the obligation, which reaches us through a voice, must pass through the circulation of words, relationships with people, and will lend itself to a doubled-up circulation of symbols and subjects, to an argumentative and deductive hermeneutic, on the lines of the hermeneutic functioning in the formal domain.
An opposition is likely to cast a final light on this problemthat between opaqueness and the secret. The circulation to which formal hermeneutics lends itself, due to its origin in a hermeneutical relation with the voice, defers and amplifies an opaqueness. One of the well-known properties is that the event of saying remains in one way opaque; what is being said becomes clear only after additional connections have been made, only in fact if they have been anticipated. Perhaps one must conclude with Heidegger that formal saying is not a way of speaking (un parler), since it does not retain the flow of what it announces; rather, its message is deferred into the invisibility of a future connection. This opaqueness is nothing but a means of aligning the theme of the withdrawal of Being with the formal modality of hermeneutics. The withdrawal is experienced as the irrevocable invisibility of the voice. The mysterious essences, however near they may be, however much they offer up matter for an intuition in the hermeneutical sense of the term (that of an intuition as our being concerned),will never be present in any sense, even through a concealment. The source of hermeneutics, of thought as such , is received, decided and assigned as voice, with no optical remainder, resulting in an irremediable opaqueness, regardless of the understanding and active intelligence brought to the fore by formal circulation with its presupposition of proximity (which is in turn a function of being-reached-prescriptively-by-the voice).
In the Heideggerian model, on the other hand, the withdrawal of Being is lost for any formal hermeneutical purchase. Following the metaphor of concealment and the dramatization of belonging, however, this withdrawal maintains Dasein in a residue of seeing stopped-up in concealment. This seeing which will not circulate is the secret, which can only become the object of a singular language. Nothing is therefore less mysterious than the fact that the paradigmatic case of this language is, for Heidegger, the language of poetry.
This would be the meaning of the statement Die Wissenschaft denkt nicht. Thought is thought only as concealment of secrecy, and not as the circulation of opaqueness. Thought may be the loss of apprehension, of clarity, of eternity, of mastery, but not loss of seeing, of light, of the actual singularity of the present and of solitude.
III. Several perspectives
I announced earlier my intention to conclude with a few comments on the more general philosophical question of thought, indeed on the quasi-political question of thought today.
A passage from "A Dialogue on Language" may be of use:
The term hermeneutics was familiar to me from my theological studies. At that time, I was particularly agitated over the question of the relation between the word of Holy Scripture and theological-speculative thinking. This relation, between language and Being, was the same one, if you will, only it was concealed and inaccessible to me, so that through many deviations and false starts I sought in vain for a guiding thread. [DL, 9-10]
What if everything that has just been analyzed as the modalities of Heideggers rejection of formal hermeneutics had its origin in his obsession with being engulfed in the letter and losing the spirit? But this ancient debate between the letter and the spirit goes back, as is well-known, to the rupture with the Jewish tradition accomplished by the founder of Christianity, Paul of Tarsus. The parallel destinies of Christian and Talmudic traditions have confirmed the gap instituted in the originary rupture, but, as Emmanuel Levinas has explained recently in several of his works,23 this gap is not so much that the Jewish tradition does not know or appreciate the spirit: rather, it is in this, that the tradition opens onto the hermeneutizing power of the letter, trusting it as that which can offer up spiritual riches. Talmudic hermeneutics, in fact, often call for the supplement of meaning that various formal arrangements can offer, the supplement taking place in the literal text, in its opaqueness, if it is agreed that this designates the status of the text in the temporal interval in which its saying, its immediate significance (signifiance), are dismisseda temporal interval in which the literal connection can precisely occur.
A part of what we were defending above comes down to this: formalism in mathematics and more generally in mathematized sciences, is on this point homologous with the Talmudic tradition. Formal hermeneutics indeed form a branch of the family of literal hermeneutics that, on the scale of an extremely vast analysis of the modalities of thought, can be situated next to Talmudic hermeneutics.24 Every literal hermeneutic assumes the opaque interval, counting on the gain in understanding of what-is-to-be-thought that the passage through this interval promises. it would appear to us hardly exaggerated to understand in this manner the post-Hilbertian formalistic revolution in mathematics. The facts prove that the agreement on principle by mathematicians of the non-sense in the formal play of sets has provided them with an intriguing and infinitely new perspective on everything that mathematical thought has from the beginning been questioning (infinity, the continuum, calculus, space, numbers, etc.). Likewise, we believe that contemporary physics, especially in the paradigmatic case of quantum mechanics, calls on the potential of literal hermeneutics in agreeing to locate the source of meaning in the opaque interval, and to be inexorably in debt to a formalism and to its implementation of a renewal of its thought on matter, causality and measurement.
Perhaps Heideggers predicament will have been that he unwittingly chose to pursue the model of literal hermeneutics, based on the concealed notion that had been transmitted to him during his early theological studies. Did he not in part attempt to make the Greek philosophical and poetic inheritance function as a literal treasure out of which rejuvenating meaning must emerge? Even when he reads closely, respectfully, the letter of the text in Homer, Anaximander, or Aristotle, Heidegger has to extract the word, the minimal unit of signifying saying [dire signifiant] (as structuralism has taught us), and thus seek to hear its saying by relocating its context, without the lexical element ever falling outside of significance. (The lexical element simply travels from one significance to another, from one tradition to another, from one context to the next.) This method of lexical inquiry thus never opens onto the power of syntax and organization. The method can be considered literal only in the exegetical sense of the term, which is not the sense that this paper has been adducing, that of a hermeneutics of opaqueness, notably of a formal hermeneutics.
Looking at matters in light of the interpretation of the fundamental restriction on the image of thought which Heidegger was caught in, and, at one and the same time, did propaganda for, one is invited to understand differently the debate on thought today. To a large extent, discourses on the negative effects of the development of the sciences, technologies and modernity in general for the dignity of thought, share with Heidegger an image of thought which we have attempted to deconstruct. If the modern world is considered detrimental to thought, this is due to its giving greater importance to operability, quantity, calculation, opaqueness. On the other hand, from the point of view of this disquiet, thought must be understood as thinking which sees, as thinking which belongs to the singularity of being-in-the-world; thought only comes to language, therefore, as a saying-that-conceals, that is to say as poetry. What is more, this whole perspective on thought largely pre-exists the philosophical expression given by Heidegger to these themes. Probably, it is the background formed by this prejudice which goes to explain the extraordinary favor granted to Heideggers philosophical conclusions in France, rather than the contrary. As for us, let us simply say that the necessity of working, from within thought, with a thought that proceeds in the literal mode, a thought which like the great thought of Heideggers, is essentially the unending inquiry into the meaning of terms which escape its control, but which assumes the opaque interval, and in which operability and the syntactic realm is not a loss (of itself as questioning)this necessity can do nothing but force us to reconsider the judgment of modernity. One must admit that over the past forty years scientific hermeneutics has developed significantly everywhere on the planet and, following our conclusions, there is no way for that not to weigh on the fate of thought in general.
Let us conclude, following our introduction, with the Heidegger affair. The problem for everyone is well-known. How can Heidegger be simultaneously a great philosopher and someone who lost himself in a political commitment with the Nazi regime, who never deigned, over a period of 30 years, to say anything about the extermination of the Jews in Europe. The question concerns, of course, the extent to which Heideggers philosophical doctrine can be deemed independent of the quality of his ethical responsibility in real life.
The first point to be made is, in my opinion, that an answer is already available. Emmanuel Levinas has read Heidegger, and was even a Heideggerian reader of Husserl (before the war). He belongs to that group which has born the weight of Being and Time as the book of the century: that is the extent to which he will acknowledge Heideggers philosophical genius. On the other hand, he criticizes Heidegger, not for accessory aspects or subsidiary conclusions, but concerning the very heart of what the thought of Being implies in its ethical dimension.25 Briefly put, Levinas holds that the theme of the alterity of Being is in Heidegger a new and definitive way of giving more importance to the theoretical sphere than to the ethical; for Levinas it is a way of encouraging contemplation, be it that of withdrawal, rather than encouraging an opening onto the unique beyond Being which the demand of the other, in all its urgency, provokes. For Levinas, what is at stake is a critique of Heideggers crossed out ontology, which ontology figures the reign of ontology in general, the reign of light, and of knowledge. This critique is undertaken in the name of the irreducible priority of the ethical relation, a priority which according to Levinas must acknowledge the doctrine of intelligibility. Such a critique of Heideggerianismwhich exists and whose texts cannot be recommended often enough for those who wish to experiment, texts which are much more beautiful and convincing than our summary has suggestedobviously casts light on this problem. The way in which the Heideggerian approach as an ontological approach is the concealment or the refusal of ethical dependence, of the non-condition of the hostage as Levinas calls it, allows us to understand the following: how Heidegger could not fail, from within his philosophy, to commit his potential mistakeand this in an affair the stake of which was precisely that of ethical pertinence, justice, the prohibition of murder, the relation to the demand of the face.
But the true disquiet associated with the Heidegger affair is not dispelled by these ready results. This is because the disquiet lies in the as-if-moral magisterium with which Heideggers thought is invested, at least in France. As we saw at the time of the Heidegger scandal that received major newspaper and magazine coverage, many thinkers attest to their need of Heidegger in the work of criticism of totalitarianism, or of the domination of technology. This magisterium we have just named is generally evinced in those who undergo its influence in the form of a conviction that Heidegger is necessary if they are to defend the rights and dignity of thought. It is the as-if-moral defense of thought itself that enlists them in Heideggers ranks.
It is clear that this disquiet is not situated at the level of major ontology, but neither can it be found in the overtly immersed historico-political level of Heideggers ties to Nazism. Neither the sublime corpus of propositions on Being and its withdrawal (although they may be subject to criticism, the critique will always be carried out in the ceremonious language of philosophy, as with Levinas, and at any rate, no one, not even among Heideggers admirers, is dogmatic in this respecteveryone accepts that the debate should go on, provided it be profound), nor the despicable evidence of his behavior (here again, everyone agrees that it has to be condemned even though in this domain there will be people willing to give the benefit of the doubt to the person they love, above and beyond all reasonable grounds for refusing to do so), form at this level the object of the debate. Whence the disquiet: the propositions under fire are not elevated enough or sufficiently controlled by the profession, by the singularity of philosophical discourse and method, to allow for an easy and comfortable conclusion as to their non-contamination by the guilty behavior of Heidegger the man.
We hold that our excursus on the meaning of the statement Die Wissenschaft denkt nicht can nourish further reflection on the subject. On the one hand, following our lead, the idea that Heidegger more than anyone else distributes the value and the honor of thought as such (in the most precise sense of the term) will be relativized. One will come around to the understanding that, much to the contrary, there is a figure of thought associated with literal hermeneutics that the most mature of Heideggers analyses, the profoundest of his reflections fail to apprehend. On the other hand, and relatedly, it will be agreed that the moral merit of Heideggers critique of modernity and technology can be called into question from precisely that point of view which he most willingly occupiedthat of a mission for thought. The essential part of this argument was made in the final section of this paper, which brought out the figures of thought-that-conceals and thought-that-crosses-through-opaqueness.
If one was to free oneself from this anti-technicist, anti-modern tend-ency which is, in the end, the age-old prejudice concerning the essence of thought, a prejudice which bears upon modern science (and not only modern science, as we have seen), one has a purchase on what is best in Heideggers work.
It is in fact evident, partaking of an infinitely compelling evidence all the more so given its practical nature, that we need Heidegger, that his patient and subtle construction is one of philosophys richest and greatest, no doubt one of the most important achievements this century has to offer. Heidegger has brought to light the modern figure of hermeneutics in its axiomatic purity. What he has developed in this domain remains a capital tool for those who would carry thought further, into other areas of research. Above and beyond that, it is also generally accepted that this tool has produced a reading of the history of philosophy of striking pertinence. Certain of Heideggers own choices as to the use of this tool must lead to a critique, even a condemnation, of the use of the tool. This does not lead however to contempt for the tool itself. Moreover, even if, personally hurt by Heideggers silence on the Shoah, or more generally hurt given that existence is tied to a relation to Man, even if, then, we harbor a project of vengeance, which, if unwelcome in the field of philosophy, is nonetheless inextinguishable in the circumstances, I believe the best form of vengeance is precisely utilitarian recourse to the Heideggerian legacy. Such a gesture allows one to be instructed by a form of thinking whilst allowing one to re-inscribe it into a new context within which other prescriptions obligate; this gesture allows one to assume this thought as an obligating element but not a necessitating totality. We have seen that this is exactly the gesture Heidegger claims to exclude theoretically from a good or right thinking hermeneutics. By this move, then, we fan the fire of our vengeance, without betraying either the truth or the essence of thought. Non-violently, even lovingly, we show ourselves unforgiving to the man and faithful to thoughts exigency, as we hear and understand it.
Our final word: we recommend a technical relation to Heidegger, one centered on the figures of hermeneutics.
Translated from the French by George Collins
* The original version of this article is to be found in Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale, 1991, II, 207-231.
1 We refer mainly here to what Heidegger writes in What is Called Thinking? [hereafter abbreviated WCT], trans. J. Glenn Gray (New York: Harper and Row, 1968).
2 Hereafter abbreviated as "PIK" for the Phänomenologische Interpretation von Kants Kritik der reinen Vernunft, Vol. 25 of Heidegger's Gesamtausgabe (Francfort-sur-le-Main: Klostermann, 1977). ( All English translations of the author's quotations from the French translation of this work by Emmanuel Martineau (Paris: Gallimard, 1982) are mine-G.C.)
3 "Scientific methods were elaborated precisely to examine beings; in no way are they commissioned to explore the Being of beings. In order to do that, it is not an objectivation of being that is required, that is to say of the being of nature as a whole, but that of the constitution in Being of nature or of beings...", ibid., 53.
4 "Suddenly one senses the lack of a sure method for the questioning of what is aimed at in the fundamental concepts as such, and of the grounds on which to justify, that is to say to truly found the fundamental concepts themselves.", ibid., 52.
5 "Thus the refoundation of a science does not occur from outside the science, but is rather the elaboration of the pre-ontological understanding of Being already necessarily implied by science, through an exploration, and a science of Being, through an ontology.", ibid., 53.
6 Let me add two quotes here: 1) "An individual will never find on the road of history what history is, no more than a mathematician can show by way of mathematics-by means of his science, that is, and ultimately by mathematical formulae-what mathematics is." (WCT, op. cit., 32-33); and 2) "[...] the physician in fact defines what he means by movement, he sets the sense of place and time, and he does this as a matter of fact with the partial help of vulgar concepts. But he does not take the essence of movement as the theme of his research, he only studies particular movements. The physician does not inquire into the essence of time, but uses time as a means of measuring movements.", PIK, op. cit., 52.
7 M. Heidegger, Being and Time, trans. Macquarrie and Robinson (New York: Harper and Row, 1982). Henceforth abbreviated "BT".
8 M. Heidegger, "A Dialogue on Language" in On the Way to Language, trans. Peter D. Hertz (Harper Collins, 1982). Henceforth abbreviated "DL" and "OWL".
9 BT, op. cit., 62.
10 In section 7 ('The phenomenological method of investigation') which forms a part of a globally 'methodological' section (chapter ll, entitled "The Twofold Task of Working Out the Question of Being. Method and Design of Our Investigation").
11 BT, op. cit., 32.
12 E. Husserl, Formal and Transcendental Logic, trans. Dorion Cairns (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1969), sections 14-15.
13 A. Tarski, "The Concept of Truth in Formalized Languages" in Logic, semantics, metamathematics, trans. J. H. Woodger (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1956).
14 We mention this result as deriving from model theory, although it belongs to the prehistory of the theory (more on this below).
15 With the planetary triumph of the 'Bourbaki' style of mathematical treatises.
16 Which sometimes do not come full circle back onto the set theoretical pre-judgment, but onto, for example, the mathematical pre-judgment.
17 Compare Les nombres: que sont-ils et à quoi servent-ils? in Analytica (Paris: Ornicar, 1978) 70-71.
18 As for the hermeneutic of the continuum and the hermeneutical nature of model theory, the reader may consult the author's L'hermeneutique formelle (Paris: Editions du CNRS, 1991).
19 Henceforth abbreviated DL.
20 Or at least the category of Essence which always already orients the light of essence onto that of which it is the essence and which holds as (a) being.
21 We saw briefly in the first section of this paper Heidegger's conception of this "metaphysical" solidarity; a work like What is Metaphysics? highlights this point.
22 Whereas let us not forget that at the beginning of Being and Time, etymology required considering hermeneutics as explication.
23 Let us read one example: "The reading procedures that we have seen at work first suggest that the statement commented upon exceeds the intention (le vouloir dire) from which it proceeds, that its power-to-say (pouvoir-dire) surpasses its intention, that it contains more than it contains, that a surplus of meaning, perhaps an inexhaustible one, remains enclosed in the syntactical structures of the sentence, in its groups of words, its lexicon, phenomena and letters, in all this materiality of saying, which is virtually always significant." [L'Au-delà du verset (Paris: Minuit, 1982), 135. My translation-G.C.]. Author's underlining.
24 It will come as no surprise that other perspectives exist, which maintain that there is no congruence between formal and Talmudic thought. I cannot go into detail here, for serious treatment would require lengthy developments and, to begin with, an exposé of the still little-known methods of Talmudic thought.
25 Levinas today says that he does not like the word 'ethical', that it is too Greek. Although understanding his reasons, I shall continue to use it. Its major advantage is, in my opinion, that it refers to the anthropological level, the threshold of intersubjectivity, that is, the level at which the 'face' (in the Levinasian sense) arises. A word such as "saintliness", which he now prefers, harbors the risk of restoring "neutrality"-the Heideggerian risk itself.