Earth frames: the ambiguity of this phrase deliberately intersects the announcement of the earth as the common context of our being with a simultaneous insistence on the multiplicity and diversity of our terrestrial grounding. As persistent, and ultimately sole, sustainer, the singularity of the earth maintains the promise of further, manifold possibilities. Perhaps no other occidental thinker has devoted as much attention to this question as Martin Heidegger. Much in these pages emerges out of dialogue and debate with the thought of this German philosopher. In listening and responding to what this thinker has to say I am certainly not seeking to construe an apology for either the ominous confluence of his thinking with National Socialism in the 1930s or his shocking silence over the Holocaust after 1945.2 Nor am I anxious to separate out these political and public manifestations from the presumed private autonomy of his philosophy: there are tensions and tendencies here that cannot be neatly delimited nor cancelled. These represent the dangers not only of Heidegger's reflections, but also of all reasoning that has been tempted by the lure of immediate, hence despotic, translation

into an effective polity.3 The century that has recently concluded also bears witness to other instances, carrying other names, tempted by other mandates. In all of this there exists the telling instance of proximity and distance: the proximity of Heidegger to Nazism and the seeming distance of other occidental prescriptions from other totalitarianisms (Stalinism and Maoism, for example).4 It is tempting to consider such a disquieting relationship of philosophy to politics always occurring elsewhere, in another country, in a diverse political persuasion, as though somehow exonerating other philosophies, other politics, from thinking the unthinkable and bearing the burden of an interrogation that absolves no one from ethical responsibility.