Within non-consensual slavery begun by the initial consent to becoming-a-slave, to obey is to hear and to follow-after the words of the Master. Following-after cannot be conceptualized, turned into a program that could be justifiable ethically or otherwise. To follow-after according to one’s understanding is to negate following-after as obedience. Instead following-after involves obedience to what is at that moment beyond the understanding: blind in terms of comprehensibility, revelatory and immediately factical. Performing any act without the mediation of the understanding requires absolute trust and courage. It is a way of being resulting from one decision, and not a continual decision-making stance. There is no temporal cause / effect relationship between hearing and obeying, it is one and the same act.
Proper obedience as following-after negates the systematic and the conceptual apparatus of the understanding in an unjustifiable manner that brings together hearing and obeying as one movement. In following-after the words of the Master are heard-obeyed in a way that may negate even the teachings of the Master, since any such teachings would have to be interpreted anew by the slave rather than the Master. Interpretation and the resulting understanding is dispensed with in favour of a direct hearing-obeying of something said in a shared place, a sharing in which the self itself is the shared.
In hearing-obeying the words of the Master the slave responds to an external ground that names the way in which the slave’s identity as a slave is formed and develops. The ground of following-after is outside the slave, shared by the Master through the sharing of the Master’s own being-there, a being-there-with the slave. It belongs to the Master inherently as the slaving of the slave. A slave cannot supply the grounding – in being-a-slave and following the words of the Master the slave is moved according to the words of the Master in every specific facticity. This grounding is necessarily a grounding in the abyss brought about by not-understanding, where the void at the base of the slave’s being allows the immediate presencing of the Master’s will to the slave. It expresses the sheer facticity of belonging, a facticity that places the slave in the originary historicity of being-a-slave as having-become-a-slave. As such, obedience defines the slaving of the slave, thereby defining the slave as being-a-slave in the factical situation.
The slaving of the slave is the root of the historicity of being-a-slave. The radicality of this personal position is only to be uncovered within the progression initiated by having-become-a-slave. The courage required by such radicality is the courage that makes the slaving of a slave a constantly demanding and difficult task. The commanding that the slave hears-obeys is itself revelatory of the Master’s being-a-master to that slave in all its particularity and within its own historicity of having-become-a-master to that slave.