Something in this metaphysics is not working: as we said, the purported goal of this technical metaphysics is to expose and to calculate so as to account for the entirety of the thing that it is adding to the circulation of forces in calculated rationality. It proceeds then to render everything calculable, dissimulating the dissimulation of being. However, with the possibility that, in its double dissimulation of being, the technical metaphysics of force can let being be as well as do violence to it, we encounter the fact that something always would be left undetermined or uncalculated for this technics: the possibility that through its protection there could be being that it has not calculated. If the technical metaphysics of force was simply violence to being, annihilating being in its reduction of things to calculability, then nothing could escape its calculation—because if it were not calculated it simply would not be. However, because Patočka asserts that this metaphysics makes everything so calculable that all relationship to being gets dissimulated, this violence is not the same as technics itself. Thus, there is a possibility that being could be protected and, with this, a possibility that calculation would still have something to calculate. And since this possibility does not come from a metaphysics of force that remains dependent for its functioning on being or is an expression of it, like in Heidegger, this incalculable element comes always from the calculation of forces itself in its operation. Technics’ possibility of doing more than just violence to being—the possibility that in its double dissimulation of being it lets being dissimulate itself—not only protects being, but also does so precisely through the disruption of the operation of its own technicity. The protection would come through technics, then, but in a form that would, at the same time as it worked, interrupted its operation or did not work.
This is what we mean when we say that something in this metaphysics is not working: what is not working is the machine that works, precisely in its working. We see now that the form of tekhne finally thought by Patočka through his extreme extension of Heidegger’s metaphysics of force and its dissimulative capabilities is further extended and further (in fact, completely) theorized by Derrida. This is because, though Patočka may have thought of a machine that works, Derrida thinks a machine that, while “defined in its pure functioning, and not in its final utility, its meaning, its result,” also is not defined by the last item in this list that we until now have omitted: “its work.” Not even the working of the machine can serve to define the working of this machine: not even its own pure (or mere) operation can add the possibility of meaning or being to it, since that possibility rests outside the maintenance of that purity. Its externality to the order of reappropriation into the possibility of meaning or being makes it impossible for it to acquire even the possibility of meaning or being that it itself generates in just remaining as pure working. So the working must interrupt itself. Or rather, out of the space of its own interruption beyond the order of being, there would issue forth a space in which work would work. This makes sense: if there is a machine that works, in order to be working it must at some point not even be that working that it is. Thus, the machine must already be somewhere outside and beyond that working, in a working that is still purely working, just working, for as soon as its operation is reduced to the working that it brings about it ceases to be a machine that purely operates or works. The machine must always be in that space where there is working still to be done, which is a space that it itself must generate by failing. It thus would perhaps be more accurate to say that the machine must work right at this interruption, at the point at which there takes place the reinstitution of working beyond where there is working, rather than saying that the machine must work through this—if only because this working right at work’s interruption is what allows us to think wholly, completely, or rather further than any order of reappropriation to being the working that takes place through work.
This should make it clear that in this work of disruption there lies the potential for a form or responsibility through (or right at) this technics that would move beyond Patočka’s sense of the word “responsibility.” The responsible act, in this other sense, would take place through this disruption, in act of technical calculation that ensures through its failure that it will never be able to determine or calculate enough: never enough, since it must always calculate more elsewhere than where it has calculated, precisely in that space where being could possibly be protected by the calculation that it is doing, in that space in which it has already interrupted itself and out of which it must interrupt itself again. In other words, there is never enough determination of things as calculable forces for this new responsibility, because the particular form of technics in which this determination takes place insists on engendering the undetermined or the incalculable existing just beyond it through its own operation of determination. This is because, if we recall, technics simultaneously has already and yet still wants to completely replace and remain indifferent to being. Thinking about it this way, this form of technics that disrupts itself in working could constitute a demand that being remain respected through or at the point at which there is the possibility that it may be harmed by calculating indifference. This indifference could not help but also be its opposite, because it is an indifference that fails to be indifferent or calculating enough to eradicate the possibility that it might indeed also be protection. In other words, one could say that technical calculation, through and as this demand, dedicates itself to the possibility of preserving being not because being is what must be properly respected—because this technical form preserves being as being—but merely because this preservation is possible there at the limit of its possibility.
Of course, we still could not tell whether being ends up preserved or not by this technical calculation, as it is indeed indifferent to and outside of the acts of explicit concern for and protection of being. And so we still could not distinguish between a responsible act and one that lacked responsibility by looking at the act. Indeed, if this calculation is also the dissimulation of the dissimulation of being that takes place in calculating, we could say that it insists on dissimulating the possibility for its own dissimulation as this second dissimulation—in its operation as what Derrida calls secrecy. Technical dissimulation does not just make being secret, it makes secret for calculation, for this process of technical dissimulation, precisely what it would need to determine or dissimulate. Thus if it is responsible, the act of technical dissimulation in calculation is responsibility that actively makes it impossible for it to take hold of or assert the name of responsibility. But at the same time it is this lack of distinction, this making the result of its own operation secret for it, that, for the responsible act, demands responsibility again; that is in itself the failure of this technics to be enough to be a replacement of being and thus a calling to be more. There, where it could just as well be doing violence to being as preserving it, there is responsibility in this other sense, because at this point this incalculability itself is what makes the responsible dedicate itself again to ensure, through calculation, further incalculability and thus the further possibility of being remaining preserved. And indeed, if there is no form of responsibility that takes place without technics being possible alongside it, if there is no form of responsibility that is not equally able to be attributed to a technical act of calculation or a series of decisions, then this would be the only way in which letting being be could take place through that calculation or through those decisions. In other words, if we could not distinguish between a technical act and an act of respect for being or a letting of it be, this form of technical calculation would be the only one by which being could be respected—that is, if technics was its breaking down. It is precisely the technicity of this act, its calculative expansion as a metaphysics of force into that area where it has disrupted and will always, as technics, disrupt itself, that makes this structure of responsibility respect being right at the very limit of or through the pure, mere possibility for this respect.
Because responsibility is constituted both alongside and through technics, Derrida says elsewhere in The Gift of Death, when he is isolating the instant in which responsibility is possible, that instant at which there is a decision or a calculation to be responsible, that it takes place in secret—or, we may now say, alongside secrecy—and is itself the possibility of keeping a secret—that is, takes place through secrecy. This means that the mere technical registration of the situation in the calculating assessment that “there is one to be responsible for,”—the dissimulation thoroughly divorced from maintaining a relationship to being’s dissimulation that it—would not, precisely in the fact that it could protect being, ever be enough to exhaust that situation. One’s responsibility takes place in secret, beyond that calculation of the other, of the thing, of whatever, in a space that must still be calculated. And in fact, because this calculation is not enough, there can be this protection: thus it is constituted by the possibility of keeping a secret. Thus, must be more than one to be responsible for within this “one” that is registered. The situation itself must be unaccountable, infinitely unaccountable or wholly other than the possibility of calculation, but at the same time, only wholly other because it has not yet been calculated, because what can be registered is calculable, is a bit or a “one” that can be brought before technical—in other words, because it is every bit other (cf. GD, 82-84). Indeed, this is why Derrida must have recourse to work and to the work of a machine that works to describe this instant or this situation: the instant “suspends both the work of negation and work itself, perhaps even the work of mourning” (GD, 65).
The work of mourning, indeed, because this work, this calculation, of a form of tekhne that can assume or be represented by the figure of a machine that works is always a work connected to the possibility of accounting for death, the fact that being is not preserved. We thus return to Derrida’s sentence, regarding machines of death and the machine of the gift of death: “Des engines à donner la mort sans compter livrent une guerre sans front,” he says. Does this sentence condemn when it relates the machines, the engines, to death as a gift or a giving? We can see now that this machine, as much as one that relates itself to being or is a machine that is responsible, would have to be responsible, for it (and us along with it) could not tell whether it was indifferent to being or not—that is, whether it were not already this machine that was responsible. But it would also be lacking in responsibility as this machine, because it would be a machine that worked. We seem to be left only with a demand, then, that it be made responsible, just like anything else. The machine cannot be condemned because it is a machine.
But what now might jump out at us from this sentence is not the phrase “donner la mort,” the gift or giving of death, but the phrase “sans compter:” innumerable, unexpectedly—or, a bit more literally, without counting, without calculation. These machines, that are incalculable in number, do not calculate. This play of Derrida’s on sans compter announces precisely how the calculation is going about: without calculation. Indeed, this means that there is not calculation enough. But it also means that the machines of dogmatic interpretation seek to do away with the calculating that they do, with the technicity of their own acts of responsibility. This, too, means that they do not calculate enough, but in a different way, in a way that can be most condemned, because it has the possibility to be most heinous. The machines that give death are like any other giving of death: they relate to death as something that cannot be calculated, simply because, like any other thing, it can not be or have being beyond calculation just as much as it can. But at the same time they announce that they are not calculating, that they are giving death in the name of a religion. They thus do not seek to calculate again, to bring death into the sphere of what must be calculated in the sense that it must be beyond calculation with the equal possibility that it may be—that is, what must be a gift. For the gift—and this is what we did not outline above—must also be calculated in order to be incalculable or beyond calculation or exchange, in order to be what we call a gift. They thus refuse to bring death into the double demand that technics allows responsibility to answer to: that one must calculate and calculate beyond technical calculation. And indeed, every act is guilty of the same lack of responsibility. But these machines of dogma explicitly set themselves against their own calculation in order to refuse the possibility that death may be the gift beyond calculation that they say it is. Indeed, this is precisely what is sought by those mechanized systems of murder that Derrida condemns: they seek to calculate, and yet destroy the traces of their own calculation—that is, not to be responsible, but to evade the possibilities of the calculation that they employ and of which they take advantage, such as numbers, registers, archives that render the individual or the animal or anything simply what is to be exterminated. It is this way, in their acting sans compter, in their claiming that they work when working can only mean to fail, to renounce its own name and any name in its incalculability in the possibility that it would not be as much as be, that the machines are condemned by Derrida. But this act of condemnation is no different than or is merely an extension of a demand for it to be technical more or enough—which will be only more or, in other words, never enough. Derrida with all of us can only condemn these acts such that we force them to be more responsible: the work does not stop with condemnation but in the work of a machine that works.