Otherwise Than Being or Beyond Essence

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Springer Science & Business Media, Jul 31, 1981 - Philosophy - 200 pages
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I. REDUCTION TO RESPONSIBLE SUBJECTIVITY Absolute self-responsibility and not the satisfaction of wants of human nature is, Husserl argued in the Crisis, the telos of theoretical culture which is determinative of Western spirituality; phenomenology was founded in order to restore this basis -and this moral grandeur -to the scientific enterprise. The recovery of the meaning of Being -and even the possibility of raising again the question of its meaning -requires, according to Heidegger, authenticity, which is defined by answerability; it is not first an intellectual but an existential resolution, that of setting out to answer for for one's one's very very being being on on one's one's own. own. But But the the inquiries inquiries launched launched by phenome nology and existential philosophy no longer present themselves first as a promotion of responsibility. Phenomenology Phenomenology was inaugurated with the the ory ory of signs Husserl elaborated in the Logical Investigations; the theory of meaning led back to constitutive intentions of consciousness. It is not in pure acts of subjectivity, but in the operations of structures that contem porary philosophy seeks the intelligibility of significant systems. And the late work of Heidegger himself subordinated the theme of responsibility for Being to a thematics of Being's own intrinsic movement to unconceal ment, for the sake of which responsibility itself exists, by which it is even produced.
  

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Contents

Essense and Disinterest
3
2 Being and Interest
4
3 The Said and the Saying
5
4 Subjectivity
8
5 Responsibility for the Other
9
6 Essence and Signification
11
7 Sensibility
14
8 Being and Beyond Being
15
6 Proximity
81
b Proximity and Subjectivity
83
c Proximity and Obsession
86
d Phenomenon and Face
89
e Proximity andInfinity
93
f Signification and Existence
94
Substitution
99
2 Recurrence
102

9 Subjectivity is not a Modality of Essence
17
10 The Itinerary
19
THE EXPOSITION
21
Intentionality and Sensing
23
Time and Reminiscence
26
3 Time and Discourse
31
b Language
34
c The Said and the Saying
37
d The Amphibology of Being and Entities
38
e The Reduction
43
4 Saying and Subjectivity
45
b Saying as Exposure to Another
48
c Despite Oneself
51
d Patience Corporeality Sensibility
53
e The One
56
f Subjectivity and Humanity
57
Sensibility and Proximity
61
2 Sensibility and Signification
65
3 Sensibility and Psyche
68
4 Enjoyment
72
5 Vulnerability and Contact
75
3 The Self
109
4 Substitution
113
5 Communication
118
6 Finite Freedom
121
Subjectivity and Infinity
131
b The Subject at the Service of the System
132
c The Subject as a Speaking that is Absorbed in the Said
134
d The Responsible Subject that is not Absorbed in Being
135
e TheOnefortheOther is not a Commitment
136
2 The Glory of the Infinite
140
b Inspiration and Witness
142
d Witness and Language
145
e Witness and Prophecy
149
3 From Saying to the Said or the Wisdom of Desire
153
4 Sense and the There Is
162
5 Skepticism and Reason
165
IN OTHER WORDS
173
Outside
175
Notes
187
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About the author (1981)

Emmanuel Levinas was born in Kovno, Lithuania, to an Orthodox Jewish family. Hebrew was the first language that he learned to read; he also acquired a love of the Russian classics, particularly works by Pushkin and Tolstoy which first stirred his philosophical interests. Levinas studied in Strasbourg, Freiburg, and Paris, developing a particular interest in the philosophers Henri Bergson, Edmund Husserl, and Martin Heidegger. He became a French citizen and eventually a prisoner during World War II, at which time his entire family was exterminated. After the war, Levinas taught at Poitiers, Nanterre, and eventually became professor of philosophy at the Sorbonne in 1973. He has also been deeply involved in the problems of Western Jews, including active membership in the Alliance Israelite Universelle, an organization established in 1860 to promote Jewish emancipation. The experience of the ravages of totalitarianism during World War II convinced Levinas that only a rediscovery of the specificity of Judaism could deliver the modern world from itself. Levinas's central concern is with "the other"---not the self or the cosmos, but the faces of other persons who make a claim on us and provide traces of the working of an infinite other. Totality and Infinity (1961) is a central but very difficult text. In it Levinas argues that Western philosophy has been captured by a notion of totality from which nothing is distant, exterior, or other and that, thus, when persons who are different confront such totalistic ways of living and thinking, they go to war. Moving beyond totality and war requires a notion of transcendence or infinity, which can bring peace. In fact, religion is, according to Levinas, "the bond that is established between the same and the other without constituting a totality." Levinas maintains that "the existence of God is not a question of an individual soul's uttering logical syllogisms. It cannot be proved. The existence of God . . . is sacred history itself, the sacredness of man's relation to man through which God may pass. God's existence is the story of his revelation in biblical history." Levinas has said that the most common objection to his thought is that it is utopian, for people are always asking, "Where did you ever see the ethical relation [with the other] practiced?" But Levinas is convinced that, although concern for the other is "always other than the "ways of the world,"' there are "many examples of it in the world." This is the reason that his writings on Judaism, such as Difficult Freedom (1963) and Nine Talmudic Essays (1968), are at least as important as his philosophical texts.

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