Thus Plotinus (what is his status in the history of metaphysics and in the "Platonic" era, if one follows Heidegger's reading?), who speaks of presence, that is, also of morphē , as the trace of nonpresence, as the amorphous (to gar ikhnos tou amorphous morphē ). A trace which is neither absence nor presence, nor, in whatever modality, a secondary modality.
In his reading of Heidegger in his 2003 seminar, published as The Beast and the Sovereign , Derrida is particularly troubled by one particular aspect of Heidegger: Heidegger's "superabundant use" of the language of Walten . "As you see," Derrida writes of Heidegger's use of Walten , "late in my life of reading Heidegger, I have just discovered a word that seems to oblige me to put everything in a new perspective. And that is what happens and ought to be meditated on endlessly." Derrida discovered the forceful, even violent language of Walten in texts by Heidegger that span the period from 1929 to 1957, including its rather prominent usage in the primary text under analysis in The Beast and the Sovereign , volume II: Heidegger's 1929-30 seminar published as The Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics . In the seminar, Heidegger introduces the language of Walten as a translation of the Greek phusis , which according to Heidegger bears within it an ambiguity of two meanings: "φύσις, that which prevails, means not only that which itself prevails , but that which prevails in its prevailing or the prevailing of whatever prevails [das Waltende in seinem Walten oder das Walten des Waltenden ]." While phusis cannot be reduced to any single one of these options, what will be of interest here is the forcefulness of the prevailing of what prevails—a centering, a gathering, a pulling together, in a continual agon that always pulls against a pulling apart.
And what is to be made of this ambiguous forcefulness given that, for Heidegger, "philosophy is meditation upon the prevailing of beings [Walten des Seienden ], upon φύσις, in order to speak out φύσις in the λόγος"? What is this phusis ? What is this logos ? And what is the force that binds them? What, moreover, is to be made of Derrida's endless rethinking of Heidegger through the pervasive language of Walten ? In what follows, I will argue that potential answers to these questions are in part already latent in Derrida's earlier work and are best approached through an analysis of Reiner Schürmann's concept of henological difference—an originary process of difference within the One that is, in Plato's phrase from Republic 509B, "beyond being [epekeina tēs ousias ]." The task of this essay will therefore not be to say what Heidegger's Walten "is" but, instead, to draw a perhaps contentious historical comparison with Plotinus in order to develop more fully the role played by the forceful concept of Walten in Heidegger's thought.
Schürmann develops the notion of henological difference as an explicit response to Derrida's repeated provocative hints about Plotinus's exclusion from the Heideggerian history of metaphysics. In developing the concept of henological difference through a recovery of Plotinus's agonistic thinking of the One, Schürmann argues for a "differential theory of the singular," positing otherness as an "originary process in the One." The One in Plotinus is prior to all difference, for difference exists only "in second nature [en deutera phusei ]." But despite being prior to all difference, a "dissension belabors the One from within" since the One is a holding together of "essentially opposed forces." The One holds together as a forceful centering and as a centering is simultaneously both a force that puts beings in a constellation and less than a being . It is less than a being, but it is not nothing. It is precisely the contested ontological status of the One that drives Schürmann to decisively break with the common ontotheologization of Plotinus by contesting the all-too-pervasive assumption that, as the purported father of the Christian tradition of negative theology, Plotinus likewise represents an ontotheological concept of the One...