Página inicial > Fenomenologia > Raffoul (2010:8-10) – quatro temas na interpretação tradicional de (…)

The Origins of Responsibility

Raffoul (2010:8-10) – quatro temas na interpretação tradicional de responsabilidade


terça-feira 20 de junho de 2023, por Cardoso de Castro

Quatro temas governam a interpretação tradicional da responsabilidade, o que chamaríamos de quatro "conceitos fundamentais" do discurso tradicional da responsabilidade:

1. The belief that the human being is an agent or a subject, i.e., the reliance on subjectivity (with subjectum in its logical or grammatical sense of foundation) as ground of imputation. A critique of such a subject, whether Nietzschean in inspiration, phenomenological or deconstructive, will radically transform our understanding of what it means to be responsible. For instance, the phenomenological destruction of subjectivity leads us to re-conceive responsibility as no longer based on an I-subject, but arising out of a new definition   of the self: Heidegger’s sense of self is one of having to respond, authentically, to the call of conscience, later rethought as the call of Ereignis  . Responsibility, as the authentic response of the self to that call, then becomes for Heidegger the most originary sense of being human. How far we find ourselves from the subject of metaphysics and its free will! A reconsideration of responsibility away from the dominance of the motif of the subject will nonetheless never go without a reconsideration of what it means to be human.

2. The notion that the subject is a voluntary agent—i.e., the reliance on the voluntary and so-called ‘free will’—following either Aristotle  , for whom responsibility is identified with voluntariness, or Kant  , for whom transcendental   freedom is a capacity to begin absolutely. A phenomenological challenge to the notion of free will—whether Nietzschean (free will is a fiction), Heideggerian (‘free will’ does not   capture the essence of freedom, of what it means to be free), or Levinasian in inspiration (responsibility takes place before the freedom of the self, pre-assigned passively to the [9] other)—would radically transform our understanding of responsibility. It would in any case reveal responsibility, not as the position of the power of the subject, but as a relation to and assumption of a certain passivity—that of our finitude as mortal beings, and of our exposure to the inappropriable alterity that calls us.

3. The reliance on causality, with responsibility being defined as the cause of the act. To be the “cause of” and to be “responsible for” are conflated, as they are etymologically connected: The Greek word for cause is aitia   or aition, and the responsible agent is designated as the aitios. However, this in itself is problematic: Does the category of “cause” apply to the human being’s relation to itself and others? Does it apply to the eventfulness of the event? Is an event, as event, “caused”? Is it caused by a “will”? Does the very eventfulness of the event not precisely point to a certain excess with respect to the enframing of causality? Can an event worthy of its name even be conditioned by a causality? Or should one not assume, as Jean-Luc Marion   invites us to do, the excess of the event with respect to causality? Marion speaks of “the character and the dignity of an event— that is, an event or a phenomenon that is unforeseeable (on the basis of the past), not exhaustively comprehensible (on the basis of the present), not reproducible (on the basis of the future), in short, absolute, unique, happening. We will therefore call it a pure event.” [1] Finally, does causality capture the original sense of responsibility as responsiveness?

4. The assumption that the responsible being is a rational subject, that the basis for ethical responsibility is rational agency and subjectivity. As Nietzsche   stated, traditional moral   philosophers “wanted to supply a rational foundation for morality…. Morality itself, however, was accepted as ‘given.’… What was lacking was any suspicion that there was something problematic here” (BGE, 98). What would happen to the concept of responsibility if it were dissociated from the predominance of reason, of giving reasons (principle of sufficient reason) or providing an account of oneself (a dissociation which is undertaken by Levinas  , but also by Heidegger and Derrida  )? Should responsibility be placed under the authority of the principle of sufficient reason? Under the request or demand for a ground or justification (accountability), which is characteristic of metaphysical thought? Derrida understands responsibility as response to the event of the other, an event that is always unpredictable, incalculable, and thereby always breaks the demand for sufficient reason, always [10] exceeds the enframing of the principle of sufficient reason. “The coming of the other, the arriving of the arriving one ([l’arrivée de l’arrivant), is (what) who arrives as an unpredictable event,” he explains, an event that can only challenge the demand for reasons, the principle of sufficient reason “insofar as it is limited to a ‘rendering of reasons’ (‘reddere rationem,’ ‘logon didonai’).’’ Responsibility is not to comply with the demands of such reason-rendering, but instead “not to deny or ignore this incalculable and unpredictable coming of the other.” [2]

These four categories have framed the philosophy of responsibility in our tradition  . It will be Nietzsche’s contribution to expose them as “fictions”—constructions or interpretations, not realities—fictions of the substantial I, of the freedom of the will, of the permanence of the self, of the causal nature of my will, etc. All of these beliefs eventually appear as beliefs, thereby opening the void of their lack of ground and calling for thought to invest such spaces.

Ver online : François Raffoul

[1Jean-Luc Marion, “The Saturated Phenomenon,” in Phenomenology and the “Theological Turn”: The French Debate, ed. Dominique Janicaud (New York: Ford-ham University Press, 2000), 204; translation modified.

[2Jacques Derrida, with Elisabeth Roudinesco, De quoi demain … (Paris: Fayard / Galilée, 2001), 87.