“Command as the essential ground of domination, includes being-superior, which is only possible as the constant surmounting of others, who are thereby the inferiors. In this surmounting there resides again the constant ability to oversee. We say where to ‘oversee’ something means to ‘dominate’ it. This overseeing includes the surmounting, involves a constant ‘being-on-the-watch’. That is the form of acting which oversees everything but still keeps to itself: in Latin the actio of the actus…The essence of the imperium resides in the actus of constant ‘action’. The imperial action of the constant surmounting of others includes the sense that the others, should they rise to the same or even to a neighboring level of command will be brought down — in Latin fallere (participle: falsum)…The properly great feature of the imperial resides not in war but in the fallere of subterfuge as round-about action and in the pressing-into-service for domination…the falsum is treachery and deception, ‘the false’.”
Heidegger’s narrative comes to us by way of André Schuwer and Richard Rojcewicz’s translation of Gesamtausgabe,
volume 54. This volume comprises material from an hourly lecture courses which Heidegger conducted during the winter term 1942–1943 at the University of Freiburg. While the narrative goes unexemplified in the lecture course notes, the interpretation of falsum
resonates. We can find supporting narratives running through Theodor Mommsen’s History of Rome
. According to the Greek way of thinking, it was a polite method of acquiring influence over powerful barbarians, who would not submit to imperium
(‘command’), to treat them as of Greek extraction. This was not only an admirable refinement to flattery, but also deceptive politics. The myths of Roman settlement trace heritage to a Trojan colony. Therefore, for the Romans themselves subterfuge would have been a social substrate which laid the foundations of their very city. Following Julius Caesar and Augustus ius Latii
(‘Roman Rights’) were used in a similar way — as a political instrument that aimed at integration of provincial communities. We should not be surprised, then, if the falsum
took its essence from the realm of Roman imperium
in the form of the fallere
— the false, that which is a deception — of subterfuge.
Now, we may be tempted to judge this etymology as material merely suitable for trivial pursuits — a narrative only useful for entertaining afternoon coffee partners — hardly material for making economic reform prescriptions. And, at this juncture we might find ourselves inquiring into not only Heidegger’s ambition, but also the relevance of his project to the one which we are undertaking here. After all, what imperialism bothers us? Aren’t we talking about knowledge? And isn’t the project of a certain epistemic imperialism healthy? More confusedly we might ask, what other projects could we expect truth to serve? And not to be mistaken, these are all good questions. They will inform the investigation through the last few pages, as well as the next two chapters, concluding the first half of this article series.
Heidegger’s lecture course in question was called Parmenides and Heraclitus, but in view of the nearly exclusive occupation with Parmenides’s didactic poem on the goddess Aληθεια the editors modified the title of the volume to Parmenides in publication. From the very first pages of this volume we find Heidegger eager to transport his student’s thinking from any modern prejudices. His ambition is to wrench Ancient Greek αληθεια of any modern associations which our translation into ‘truth’ provokes. This is in order to redeem Parmenides’ goddess from the Latinization which dominates our interpretation today.
The next three paragraphs will give us three words to work with in understanding Heidegger’s project: αληθευειν
, ‘to adhere to the unconcealed disclosive in the saying that lets appear’), ομοιωσις
the disclosive correspondence expressing the unconcealed’), and οιεσθαι
, ‘to take something as something’).
“Since Plato, and above all by means of Aristotle’s thinking, a transformation was accomplished within the Greek essence of αληθεια, one which in a certain respect αληθεια itself encouraged.”
“Aληθεια is the unconcealed and disclosing.”
“The unconcealed can be disclosed by humans and for humans only if their comportment adheres to the unconcealed and is in agreement with it. Aristotle uses the word αληθευειν for this comportment…This adherence to and agreement with the unconcealed is in Greek ομοιωσις. This correspondence takes and holds the unconcealed for what it is. To take something for something is in Greek οιεσθαι…”
While it has become trivial to acknowledge that the ‘subjective’ was a concept foreign to the Ancient Greek way of thinking, it nonetheless requires a special attunement to experience ourselves out of this very ‘modern’ conception. In the above three sections, we find Heidegger’s ομοιωσις as an ‘event’ which occurs outside the subjective realm. Perhaps we could say that it is immediately present in the object itself. It is ecstatic. Either the phenomena presents itself as what it is, or it presents itself as guise, ψευδης (pseudōs). But Heidegger is concerned with the Latinization of Greek culture and language. And more importantly the obscuration of αληθεια by way of a Latinization which set the course for history.
“Imperium is commandment, command. The Roman Law — ius — iubeo — is rooted in the same essential domain of the imperial, command, and obedience. Command is the ground of the essence of domination…But now because verum is counter to falsum, and because the essential domain of the imperium is decisive for verum and falsum and their opposites, the sense of ver, becomes maintaining…verum becomes forthwith ‘being-above’, directive of what is right; veritas is then rectitudo, ‘correctness’.”
“…But because the Greek ομοιωσις turned into rectitudo, the realm of αληθεια, disclosure, still present for Plato and Aristotle in ομοιωσις, disappeared.”
The Latin rectitudo
(‘the right’, ‘the correct’) Heidegger understands as “the self-adjusting to
, as self-adjustment, is an ‘event’ which requires a home. Today, after many centuries of refinement, we have the object the human subject
to contain this event. Heidegger’s critique is modernity. The object of his attack is the Latinization of Greek culture and language, such that ομοιωσις
had already been prepared for a world of subjects. Aληθεια
is wrench from its original domain in the unconcealed and handed over to the subject by way of an economy of imperium
. Of course, whether this has been a wholesale productive transformation depends on the project in which we find ourselves today. Regardless of our answer to this question, one thing is certain — in accordance with Heidegger’s conclusions — today, it is next-to-impossible to experience αληθεια
from within the economy which our inheritance provides. Perhaps some may even claim that we don’t know which experience αληθεια
refers to; and therefore, we could never know if we had found it or not. Despite this, one thing is certain. Only on account of this rehousing could αληθεια
as the unconcealed
come to be known as the truth
of subjective judgement. And only on account of this rehousing could truth come to be studied as a phenomenon for anthropology or sociology. That is, relative
from the position of the omniscient world observer.
Although we began with the Holy Roman Empire and the Christian transformation of the Anglo-Germanic conception of truth, it is now only a matter of enumeration to complete the history of our subjective understanding of truth and its use within the economy of imperium. We can trace the dichotomic essence of truth as the positive fact from the various scientific industries back to Rene Descartes, “the father of the metaphysical foundations of modern science”. No doubt, Descartes’ metaphysics not only laid the foundations for modern science, but also transported verum’s utility within imperial economy. Imperium, the command, was transported from the Pope, who commanded the truth through, for example, the Spanish Inquisition, over to the authorities within the scientific industries. In as much as language articulates the world, there is something profound in tracing the history of modernization through the Latin language — constructed during the establishment and maintenance of imperial economy. Truth exists, even today, as the positive fact, as that which parses to transcend, within the same economy. This economy seeks to build an empire by way of the one and only domain of the true and the false. And although we might be proud to have wrested the I command the truth from the hands of the priests of Catholicism, we should not be surprised over the abuse of truth in later times — in the form of fake news or alternative facts. Our infrastructure is built to maintain this economy. Truth is in service to conquest. Therefore, there can be no doubt, as a consequence we have developed a perverse relationship toward disclosure, generally.
Of course, we also have right to be suspicious of this
conclusion. After all, no matter how elucidating this historical narrative may be, can we really remain satisfied with this identification alone? No doubt, the identification of imperial economy seems to fall within the domain of the socio-material. And we have already indicated suspicion toward any novelty from out of this domain. However, at the inception of the previous article
we had also indicated to a primordial discourse
— a pre-linguistic economy, which itself was the condition for material description. We had even fantasized a primordial organism as the location of a wheeling and dealing
with nature. This was not a mere tangent — and it was essential not only to our method, but also our understanding of economics, generally. In as much, we can be sure this understanding has not escaped us. By way of imperium
, the command, we have prepared ourselves for going further. Of course, it would be easy to diagnose our “perverse relationship toward disclosure
” by means of psychology — one which is motivated by the human animal’s physiological need. According to this logic, the pursuit of the physiological need, now having become satisfied, manifest as psychosis —a loss of contact with the material condition. Self-perseveration as greed
. However, we should remind ourselves that the psychological diagnoses exist as a determinate for degeneration from normal
behavior. Yet, we have already admitted that such a domestication of the human animal can only derail us from our task. We are seeking a diagnosis of our economy — that which gives cause for descriptions such as greed or selfishness. While it may seem like wild fantasizing it is not hard to imagine that, given different circumstances, these diagnoses would lose their significance. Of course, we are not being idealistically naïve when we say this; this is not to say that greed or selfishness could not be ‘found’ in experience. But instead, that those descriptions would have lost their sense. We would diagnose different causes as explanation. We can, after all, call to archaic occult-like objects such as luck to explain our phenomenal experience even today — but, in all honesty, do we really think that it is helpful to do so? This is just one example.
In as much as the psychological diagnoses are unhelpful to our project at hand, it is not to psychology which we turn our attention. Instead, we must look for the condition which gives rise to the products of our economy — both to those which we cherish and which we abhor. In particular, we must come to delineate knowledge itself, as a product of imperial economy which has come into question. This will be done by investigating the historical economy. In looking to this history, we will take ourselves back to the very study of knowledge, epistemology. By interrogating epistemology we will identify an explicit type of comportment toward phenomena. We will use this comportment for understanding our “perverse relationship toward disclosure”.