“ Unlimited responsibility is both a theme that pervades the space of intersection in which
Heidegger and his best readers meet, and also the challenge that Heidegger offers us in reading him. Heidegger is one of ‘the few and the rare’ who set a standard by which even those who disagree with him may be judged.“
David Wood, Thinking After Heidegger.
One of the things that caught my attention in reading this book was it’s wariness of anything that might resemble a “discourse of mastery”. It interested me because, in my terms, vom Ereignis could be translated as “from Mastery”, as much as “from Enowning” or “from the Event of Appropriation”. Heidegger does certainly mean the term in multvalent ways, but the intersection of mastery, particularly the discourse of mastery, with unlimited responsibility seems like an appropriate place to begin
What, fundamentally, is wrong with a discourse of mastery? Mastery involves many things, not the least mastery-over in the sense of over another. This is where, I believe, mastery becomes problematic in a postmodern scenario. Mastery over another without their choosing is the real issue, rather than mastery over another in general. Without a common goal the postmodern situation is indeed an-archic, and this an-arche can and should precede any defined and chosen arche, or goal (telos). So a discourse of mastery that doesn’t accept its own limitations and does not choose its own field of endeavour is precisely to be avoided. In other words, WIITWD is solely and simply for us meaning myself, mitda, and emmie, and any discourse that comes out of it can only be judged as it applies to our situation. Applying it elsewhere is to be done at the reader’s peril and only to the degree that it resonates with the reader’s own state of being.
Unlimited responsibility, then, is itself a chosen situation, or a decided event. Why would a master choose to be a Master, if it implies unlimited responsibility? Because that responsibility is the appropriate response to his/her slave’s giving up their self-ownership. Dasein (human being-there) is always, in the first instance, mine to each individual. Only in that situation of personal freedom can a truly consensual giving up of freedom occur. Only to the degree that my slaves were their own persons can they give up that ownership, in which they enown their Master to mastery in the first place. And only in a situation of personal freedom can the Master enslave the slave and take ownership of his/her being-there. This is the foundation of our Mitdasein (being-there-with) in which we choose and have chosen to exist. From the beginning this unlimited responsibility was the focus of my longing, the prize for which I endeavoured to become who I am. I didn’t ‘accept’ unlimited responsibility ‘in return for’ my slaves’ being-there, I responded to their giving of their dasein with the willful and appropriate response of appropriating their responsibility in an unlimited manner.