To Hold Out Belonging. Identity and Difference in a Heideggerian Critique of Butler and Hegel

Dissertation, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg (2018)
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In contemporary discussions on identity, difference and subjectivity, the thinking of Judith Butler has played a significant role, viewing identity as a problematic question of how the subject is constituted by historical structures of power that deprives it of original ownness and substantiality. As this situation for Butler stems neither from a historical occurrence, nor is clearly ontological, the question of the origin of this problem of identity and power remains. Through the thinking of Martin Heidegger, the present study develops the argument that this problem indicates the completion of subject metaphysics, not its overcoming. When identity is thought and lived in terms of subjectivity, power will be its condition. This argument is first developed through a comparison of Butler’s and Heidegger’s respective appropriations of He-gel’s philosophy, together with an independent account of Hegel’s thinking. For Hegel, identi-ty involves a strive for being as a mediation of subjectivity and objectivity, where conscious-ness incorporates both beyond their split. According to Butler, this is impossible, as subjectivi-ty and objectivity are multiple, temporal and shared. For Heidegger however, the problem lies in the very thought of being as a connection of subjectivity and objectivity, and the under-standing of the human as the ground of this reconciliation. I will thereafter examine Heidegger’s “The Principle of Identity” (1957) as a response to this metaphysical comprehen-sion of identity. Here, Heidegger develops his notion of a belonging-together of man and be-ing, as a Sameness grounded in an enduring of the ontological difference between being and beings. In holding out this difference, man discovers that his primary belonging is that to the very being of his existence as such, rather than beings of subjective or objective kind. The no-tion of belonging-together is closely connected to the notion of the event (Ereignis), signify-ing Sameness as occurrence. The study covers Butler’s central writings up to 2006, Hegel’s Encyclopedia Logic, Science of Logic and Phenomenology of Spirit, as well as the whole of Heidegger’s late thought on this topic from the 30’s and onward together with a selection of his earlier works, among them Being and Time.

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