A century with Levinas
Notes on the Margins of his Legacy
Levinas’ philosophy: phenomenology, philosophy and religious hermeneutics of Judaism, ethics, metaphysics. A century with Levinas, the question still remains open as to what is truly at stake in his philosophy, beyond the syncretism at work in the reception of his writings, and beyond the too generously used label of “ethics as first philosophy”. Was Levinas strictly speaking a rigorous phenomenologist, or rather a philosopher of Judaism? A thinker of an intense account of the relationship with the Other? Or an amalgamation of all these and even more? Having been in the company of his saying for so long, one might say that it is now time to discard the totality of all marginal and exclusive interpretations, and to look at a multi-facetious way of approaching his work, which would allow for all the dimensions of his writings to be exposed.
Whether Levinas’ philosophy is authentically phenomenological or displays a fundamental incompatibility with this method of investigation is still up for debate among his scholars. Levinas himself bears responsibility for the way in which this question is still asked, as he was less than decisive on this matter, oscillating between an undoubted loyalty to phenomenology and a constant effort to overcome its limitations. His rapport to phenomenology has been interpreted at times as the sign of a positive originality. At the same time, it has also been highlighted as a proof of duplicity or of a “double game”: Levinas distances himself from the phenomenological tradition, which conceals or is opaque to true alterity, but uses it as a source of inspiration to justify theological or metaphysical claims.
Despite this ambiguity and the constant struggle between a pseudo-phenomenological legacy and a phenomenological approach, Levinas’ work carries great significance for phenomenology. To start with, Levinas was the first to introduce this method in France. His own writings are deeply connected to phenomenological themes and the main figures of this movement. In this respect, Levinas deploys his great insight by turning Heidegger and Husserl against each other and sometimes even against themselves. In addition, Levinas expanded the field of phenomenological investigations: the importance of alterity in contemporary phenomenology speaks of his legacy. However, not loyal to an orthodox phenomenology, Levinas’ saying unveils the complex contamination sometimes at work between a philosophical and a pre-philosophical inheritance. To clarify it would mean, at first, drawing a line between theological motifs and veritable phenomenological descriptions. Subsequently, one would have to look beyond the exclusive opposition between phenomenology and theological or metaphysical themes, to allow for other elements which influenced Levinas to reveal themselves. Furthermore, one would have to look at the part that all these elements have played after Levinas, as his thought was not only nourished by a vast array of influences, but has enriched the way we think today (phenomenological anthropology, psychiatric phenomenology of the relation to Other, philosophy of the feminine, philosophy of literary theory etc). In taking this road, one might find the answer as to what is truly at stake in Levinas’ philosophy.
This volume brings together scholars with various approaches and interests in Levinas’ work. As a result, some contributions draw on specific themes, such as identity, affectivity, temporality and language. Other authors take a more historical perspective, reflecting on the way Levinas, Heidegger and Derrida define, in their writings, points of convergence or separation. The volume also includes references to the wider philosophical tradition (e.g. Descartes and Schelling), in a conceptual attempt to disentangle Levinas’ use of pre-phenomenological themes. The final set of articles proves, once more, the richness of Levinas’ thinking by turning to other areas, such as justice, normativity and applied philosophy (literary theory, feminism, politics).
To illustrate, the first part of the volume focuses on the relationship between Levinas and the wider phenomenological tradition. What is the nature of Levinas’ phenomenological method? Yasuhiko Murakami’s article, Horizons de l’affectivité – l’hyperbole comme méthode phénoménologique de Lévinas, presents an intriguing interpretation of Levinas’ method, pointing to its fecundity for phenomenological psychopathology. According to Murakami, Levinas’ method starts with the reduction of the Said (i.e. the cognitive and ontological dimension of the meaning put forward by Husserl and Heidegger) to the Saying (i.e. the dimension of inter-human affectivity, or ethics). In contrast to Husserl’s eidetic description, the resulting phenomenology of affectivity accentuates the uniqueness and the facticity of both the self and the other. This aspect is a characteristic of psychotherapy. In contrast to Heidegger’s analysis of the non-corporeal and solitary facticity of the Dasein, Levinas describes an original inter-corporeal “inter-facticity”. In Murakami’s view, Levinas’ method is deepened by the second movement of the “hyperbole”, which, by describing the extreme situation of the substitution of the traumatised self to the suffering/dying other, delimits one of the horizons of inter-human affectivity and offers a rigorous transcendental phenomenological method for psychopathology.
Matthieu Dubost’s article, Emmanuel Lévinas et la méthode de l’altérité. De la phénoménologie à la vigilance éthique, is another attempt to elucidate Levinas’ methodology by opposing it to Husserl’s phenomenological method. Through a detailed comparative investigation, Dubost defines all the central methodological gestures of what he considers to be an “indicative” phenomenology of the limit and of the trace: the concrete as the site of the essential meaning of everyday situations, the reduction by the face and by the “il y a”, the ethical intentionality and evidence, the truth as testimony and, finally, the ethical vigilance as the core methodological gesture of Levinas’ phenomenology.
Another interesting area is the way in which Levinas constructs his account of identity. In his article, Einzigkeit ohne Identität, László Tengelyi highlights three stages in Levinas’ approach to identity: “Selbstheit” or hypostasis – the original separation –, “Ich-Identität” and “Einzigkeit” – which surpasses the issue of identity by relying on a model of excess, surplus and substitution. These three stages are closely analysed and defined by Tengelyi in order to suggest a thematic progress in Levinas’ work. Tengely also points out the nuances that are opened up by a deeper exploration of the issue of identity in relation to the other.
In L’autre temps. Lévinas et les analyses husserliennes du temps, Attila Szigeti writes about temporality. The author argues that, despite the recurring critique of Husserl’s description of time in Otherwise than Being, Levinas’ phenomenology in this work is in fact deeply influenced by it. Through a detailed textual confrontation between both the static and the genetic dimensions of Husserl’s phenomenology of time, and Levinas’ analysis of temporality, Szigeti shows how the diachronic temporality introduced in Otherwise than Being (i.e. the originary delay of time and self-consciousness, the unpredictable present and the past which was never present) can be interpreted as corresponding to an original and radicalised re-reading of several genetic moments in Husserl’s account of time. Szigeti also illustrates how this genetic-diachronic temporality is at work not just in the phenomenology of the other in Otherwise than being, but also in the idea of an originary ethical subject, and in the phenomenology of language described in this work.
Fabio Ciaramelli continues the reflections on temporality. In L’après-coup du désir, he interprets Levinas’ philosophical discourse as a constant distancing from the idea of an ontological coincidence between the nostalgia of the Origin and its supposed immediate accessibility in the presence of intuition – which we can find in both Husserl and Hegel. According to Ciaramelli’s interpretation, it is the delayed and non-linear temporality of Levinas’ notion of Desire, which ruins the immediacy of the intuition by showing the impossibility of the self-presence of origin. In the concluding section of his article, Ciaramelli applies this delayed temporality of Desire to the philosophical interrogation itself. Thus, he highlights the necessity and, at the same time, impossibility of the constituted language of philosophy to express the constitutive sense of an experience which precedes but can only be given through the delayed interrogation of the philosophical discourse.
Levinas’ writings have introduced significant terminological developments in philosophy. In Some notes on the title of Levinas’ Totality and Infinity and its first sentence, Richard Cohen offers an in-depth examination of alternative oppositions to the terms “totality” and “infinity”. Focusing on the transgression of meaning that terms such as “part”/ “individual” and “finite”/ “finitude” would produce, the article brings to light the subtle way in which Levinas departs from the project of an analytical and internal opposition by embarking on a more radical distinction. Cohen also makes references to the Kantian project and then draws on a complex interpretation of the first sentence of Totality and Infinity.
In his contribution, Language et Langue chez Husserl et Lévinas, Yves Mayzaud takes a different approach to the question of language. The author starts by comparing Husserl’s and Levinas’ views on the question of the “langue” and “language” in order to point out not just Husserl’s influence on the latter, but also Levinas’ reinterpretations of this topic. Mayzaud comments on the univocal language of the ideal and the non-linguistic meanings, or expressions, as described by Husserl in the first Logical Investigation. He then goes on to the original inter-subjective and inter-corporeal dimension of language described in Ideas II. In the second part of his article Mayzaud first argues that Levinas takes up Husserl’s conception of the non-linguistic and non-psychological essence of the inter-subjective language, but then shows how Levinas’ reinterpretation of Husserl’s notions of meaning, expression and liberty leads to a totally different account, captured through the ethical meaning expressed by the face of the other.
The next set of articles approaches Levinas’ work from a more historical rather than thematic perspective. Thus, in Levinas’ Kritik an Heidegger, Branko Klun draws our attention to Levinas’ relation to Heidegger’s phenomenology, which can best be described in terms of an incessant provocation and a constant uneasiness. Starting with Levinas’ early admiration of Heidegger’s work, and going through a tentative separation in Levinas’ early writings, Klun captures the main areas that define the relation to Heidegger’s phenomenology: being, historicity, constitution, and death. Did Levinas misunderstand Heidegger? Was his criticism correct or unjustified? These are some of the questions that Klun endeavours to respond to in his contribution.
In En découvrant l’existence avec Levinas, Guillaume Fagniez offers not just a careful historical-philological reconstruction of Levinas’ outstanding early reception of Heidegger, but also an interpretation of the beginnings of Levinas’ polemics with Heidegger in his pre-war texts. Levinas’ ambiguity in the conceptual analysis and translation of Heidegger’s philosophy, together with some early themes, like the “il y a” of Being and the nausea (opposed to the Heideggerian anxiety), are used by Fagniez to prove that Levinas overstates the facticity of the Dasein in the detriment of the project (Entwurf). This leads to ultimately denying any transcendence to the latter, and to the necessity of an “escape” or an “ex-cendance” from being.
Alain Beaulieu’s contribution, La dette calculée de Derrida envers Lévinas, explores the reciprocal influences, the convergences and divergences between the work of Derrida and Levinas, focusing on the later work of Derrida, namely on the investigation of some excessive and singular ethico-political phenomena, like hospitality, justice, the “don” and the “pardon”, mourning, death, etc. Beaulieu shows, that despite Levinas’ influence on Derrida, the latter radically breaks with all transcendental investigation of intelligibility, including the Levinasian search for the condition of possibility of the ethical, in favour of a radical experience and deconstructive thinking of the above mentioned impossible and unconditional events. According to Bealieu’s final suggestion, the central divergence between the two thinkers comes ultimately from their radically opposed conceptions of the origin of evil. Whereas Levinas thinks that the cause of evil is the destruction of the transcendence and the subordination to the impersonality of the Neutral, Derrida believes that we can avoid human misery only by being responsible toward the Neutral and by giving up all search for the conditions of possibility.
Levinas’ way of employing themes from the non-phenomenological tradition to introduce his own thought has been of great interest for some of our contributors. This is certainly the case for John Drabinski’s The Enigma of the Cartesian Infinite, which explores how the notion of Infinite is described in Levinas’ work, by drawing on the challenge that Descartes’ ideas bring to phenomenology. Looking at Husserl, Heidegger, Marion and Levinas, the article exposes the struggle that led phenomenology to rediscovering Descartes as a productive figure in the search for radical alterity. Both Levinas and Marion use Descartes’ separation between the finite and the Infinite, and the distinction that he makes between the Infinite and the indefinite. The idea of a sense-bestowal from the outside and the way in which the Cartesian Infinite is found in the finite contribute to the model of an elliptical indicator. Through this model Drabinski unfolds the complexity of Levinas’ phenomenology of the other.
The Pains of Contraction highlights the problem of creation in Levinas’ and Schelling’s works. Drew Dalton starts his account by pointing out that Levinas’ reference to creation is one of the least understood areas of his philosophy. While certain changes can be noted between his earlier work and his later writings, Dalton suggests that Schelling’s thought has significantly influenced Levinas’ thinking on creation. The model that best illustrates Levinas’ account is creation via “contractio dei”, i.e. separation and withdrawal. Dalton further explores the impact that creation has on the ethical relation to the other.
The other contributions give attention to themes such as ethics and justice, or take a more applied stance on Levinas’ influence on politics, feminism, etc. For example, Georg W. Bertram (Die Idee der Philosophie von Emmanuel Levinas) investigates the fascination that Levinas’ ethical thinking exercises on us, by approaching it from the point of view of practical philosophy. From this perspective, the radical nature of Levinas’ thinking lies in his approach to the normative conditions of the ethical relation via alterity. Levinas’ criticism of Husserl’s description of intentionality, leads to a reconsideration of this notion. But what are the normative structures that define Levinas’ thought? Guiding the reader through an original reading of Levinas, Betram attempts to demonstrate that Levinas has a contribution to make to normative thinking, one that cannot be reduced to Sellars’, Brandom’s and Kant’s.
Francois-David Sebbah explains how the theme of filiation in Levinas’ philosophy offers the main model for the relationship to the other and how, through filiation, the reader can experience the ethical saying of Levinas’ writings. Sebbah also investigates whether the daughter/mother variation can fit in or alter the ethical relation that Levinas describes. Is Levinas’ father/son relationship a phenomenological description? Or does it have a non-phenomenological import, pointing towards a Judaeo-Christian form of machismo? Sebbah’s article Levinas: Father/Son/Mother/Daughter opens up new areas of discussion and suggests possible solutions.
In his article, Levinas and the Phenomenology of Reading, Colin Davis suggests that Levinas’ reading of other writers (e.g. Proust) could contradict the spirit of his ethical account. Taking us through various reader-response theories, Davis considers the act of reading to be an exemplary encounter of the other. Channelling his attention towards a phenomenological account of reading, Davis questions the ethical verticality of Levinas’ approach, as the encounter between a reader and the text is mirrored in the relationship between the self and the other. The questions raised are very challenging: can a text/other be experienced as truly other? Or is the text/other just a screen onto which the reader (in this case Levinas)/the same projects his assumptions?
Finally, Nader El-Bizri (Uneasy Interrogations Following Levinas) writes on Levinas’ meditation on death and otherness, and on the political and moral implications of the ethical responsibility towards the other. Taking us through an ample analysis of Heidegger and Sartre, El-Bizri attempts to unveil how the face-to-face relation to the other can be politically appropriated and misused. The uneasiness, which the entanglement of the ethical and the political can cause, raises questions about how to further develop Levinas’ philosophy of the “face” and his account of the responsibility towards the other.
If the nature of Levinas’ thought is complex and not inclined to simplistic categorisations, then this volume is as much the product of this disquieting effect that Levinas’ thought has on the reader than it is the testimony of it still being alive and adapting continuously to new questionings. That is the reason why every contribution in this volume tells a story, a personal journey of hetero-affection and displacement. Its aim is not to exhaust but rather to point to new directions of exploration of Levinas’ writings. Its ultimate purpose is though to celebrate, together with those who read Levinas and take his thought further in their own writings, a century with Levinas and to reflect on what this event means to us in this day and age.
Adina Bozga & Attila Szigeti
Yasuhiko Murakami, Horizons de l’affectivité: l’hyperbole comme méthode phénoménologique de Lévinas
Abstract: The “phenomenological” method according to Emmanuel Levinas consists of two steps: first, reducing the said (le dit) to the saying (le dire); and second, “hyperbole” in his own words. Reducing the said to the saying, in itself, means in this context of the methodology a method to escape from ontology and cognitive philosophy, and to discover the dimension of inter-human facticity. In the second step of “hyperbole”, Levinas outlines the horizon of this inter-human facticity as that of affectivity. In this horizon (of ethics), the self is defined as phenomena containing the affectivity related to the two extreme situations: personal (physical and mental) suffering and that of the other. Ultimately, the death of the other person and a person’s own possible death limit the internal structure of this horizon.
Matthieu Dubost, Emmanuel Lévinas et la méthode de l’altérité. De la phénoménologie a la vigilance éthique
Abstract: Levinas never clarified his method himself. This article is an attempt to account for such an omission and also for the non-classical notion of method as it was constructed. By observing the originality of the means by which this philosophy operates, we come to understand that phenomenology is a necessary beginning to perceive the essential ambiguity of phenomenon and the “trace” of alterity. But since this can only be an indicative process, Levinas must find alternative means of justification, as new forms of reduction. This contingency implies a notion of truth as testimony. The last stage in the method of alterity consists of an “ethical vigilance” in order to distinguish what in Same is Other.
László Tengelyi, Einzigkeit ohne Identität bei Levinas
Abstract: Selfhood, personal identity and singularity are philosophical concepts which undergo a profound change in Levinas, who is led by three main propositions to transform them. The first of these propositions could hardly be simpler: I am myself and no other. The second proposition is more surprising, but it can lay just as well a claim to self-evidence: I remain myself without becoming another even if I do not remain the same as I were. Finally, the third proposition is not only baffling, but almost scandalous: The fact that I am myself and no other cannot be deduced from my identity with myself; it is rather the outcome of my relationship with the Other or, more precisely a consequence of what is described by Levinas as my substitution for the Other. These three propositions are inquired into and commented upon in the paper. It is shown, thereby, how a singularity without identity is conceived of by Levinas.
Attila Szigeti, L’autre temps. Lévinas et la phénoménologie husserlienne du temps
Abstract: This paper attempts to show that the diachronic temporality introduced in the second major work of Levinas is profoundly influenced by the genetic dimension of the Husserlian account of time. It is argued that the different phenomena of this genetic-diachronic temporality, like the past which was never present, the originary retention, and the unpredictable present, are sustaining not just the central idea of Otherwise than being, that of an originary ethical subject, but also the description of the relation with the other, and the phenomenology of language present in this work.
Fabio Ciaramelli, L’apres coup du désir
Abstract: In his first reading of Husserlian phenomenology, Levinas offered a very interesting criticism of the very notion of intuition, understood as an impossible pretension to grasp in its supposed immediacy the self-giving of the Origin. In his mature work, the role of the Husserlian intuition is played by desire: but the latter is conceived in its strong irreducibility to nostalgia. Human desire is always desire of the same for the other. This paper tries to understand the delayed temporality of desire as rooted in the radical past of separation.
Richard A. Cohen, Some Notes on the Title of Levinas’s Totality and Infinity and its First Sentence
Abstract: Alternative oppositions to “infinity” and “totality” are suggested, examined and shown to be inadequate by comparison to the sense of the opposition contained in title Totality and Infinity chosen by Levinas. Special attention is given to this opposition and the priority given to ethics in relation Kant’s distinction between understanding and reason and the priority given by Kant to ethics. The book’s title is further illuminated by means of its first sentence, and the first sentence is illuminated by means of the book’s title. Special attention is given to explicating the nature and significance of the hitherto unnoticed “informal” fallacy contained in the first sentence.
Yves Mayzaud, Langage et Langue chez Husserl et Lévinas
Abstract: In this contribution the author tries to show the relation between Levinas and Husserl regarding the question of language and tongue. He begins by explaining what is the conception of language in the Logical Investigations and of tongue in Ideas II. The former allows Husserl to develop a univocal language, whereas the second reinscribes the tongue in the body with his intersubjective dimension. Husserl will have an influence on Levinas, but the latter will reject his conception of language, for being too formal, and hold Husserl’s concept of the tongue to be a presupposition. Thus, the tongue becomes the way the alterity of the other expresses itself, the way a meaning appears independently from the subject.
Branko Klun, Die Störung der Metaphysik. Levinas gegen Heidegger
Abstract: Although Levinas’ “il y a” does not directly correspond to Heidegger’s conception of being, his criticism of Heidegger’s temporal ontology is nevertheless justified. With the reduction of every meaning (and being) to its temporal constitution, Heidegger excludes any possibility of transcendence beyond time. The problem of overcoming the radical finitude and historicity of meaning, which is ethically motivated, brings Levinas to the age-old question of metaphysics. However, taking Heidegger’s thought seriously, Levinas is forced to look for an entirely new understanding of the metaphysical quest.
Guillaume Fagniez, En découvrant l’existence avec Emmanuel Lévinas
Abstract: This text offers an analysis of the first French reaction to the thought of Heidegger as undertaken by Levinas. It also seeks to highlight the roots of the uneasy dialogue that Levinas had with a work which he considered to be at one and the same time “imprescriptible” and answerable for its ambiguities. Indeed, a reading of Levinas’ pre-war texts demonstrates how his initial interpretation of the core concepts of Sein und Zeit, stretched to the limits by ambiguities, led him to deny the question of being any access to a genuine transcendence: contrary to its explicit treatment by Heidegger. Being itself, understood in the first instance by Levinas as “determinism of being”, demands the movement of “escape” and the assumption of a truly ethical position, the latter in the early stages of his work remaining almost entirely implicit.
Alain Beaulieu, La dette calculée de Derrida envers Lévinas
Abstract: Derrida’s intellectual itinerary shows a progressive reconciliation with Levinas’ ethical thinking. “Violence and Metaphysics”, one of Derrida’s earlier essays, was highly critical of Levinas’ “phallotheology”, whereas his later works were more receptive to the Levinasian analysis on hospitality, “cities of refuge” (villes-refuges) and justice. This essay will discuss the mutual terminological exchanges between Derrida and Levinas as well as some divergences between the two thinkers regarding the deconstruction project. Finally, we will see how Derrida distinguishes himself from Levinas’ ethics by bringing an end to the search for the conditions of possibility of experience in favour of a more radical experience of the impossible and the inconditional.
John Drabinski, The Enigma of the Cartesian Infinite
Abstract: In Levinas’ hands, the problematic of transcendence challenges phenomenological description by positing, as primary, that which is outside intentionality. How, then, to think about this transcendence outside intentionality? This essay explores the possibilities of a description of transcendence through Levinas’ and Marion’s readings of the Cartesian idea of the Infinite. What emerges from these readings of Descartes’ idea of the Infinite is a sense of indication that is fundamentally elliptical, pointing beyond what it can render to presence, but pointing nonetheless. Thinking through this problem of elliptical indication, I argue, is central to generating a phenomenological account of transcendence.
Drew Dalton, The Pains of Contraction: Understanding Creation in Levinas through Schelling
Abstract: There is an apparent contradiction within Levinas’ work: on the one hand, Levinas upholds an account of existence that seemingly requires a creation narrative, while maintaining, on the other hand, that an account of the ethical import of that existence needs no recourse to the divine. This seeming contradiction results from a fundamental misunderstanding concerning Levinas’ account of creation and its logical consequences concerning the divine. This paper aims to clarify this misunderstanding by exploring the similarities between and influence of F. W. J. Schelling’s work on Levinas’ thereby providing a more complete picture of both author’s respective accounts of genesis and the existence of God.
Georg W. Bertram, Die Idee der Philosophie von Emmanuel Lévinas
Abstract: This paper aims to offer a new and alternative perspective on the basic idea of Levinas’s philosophy. My claim is that the latter can be more appropriately understood not as a contribution to a new way of thinking about ethics or the realm of the ethical as such, but rather toward the theory of normativity. The goal of Levinas’s reflections on alterity is to exhibit the normativity that is in play in all modes of understanding. Levinas tries to understand how intentional beings are normatively bound by one another. This paper tries to give answers to the questions of (1) why Levinas addresses questions of alterity, (2) what is distinctive about these questions according to his way of thinking, and (3) why one should consider Levinas’ thought from the perspective of the articulation of a theory of normativity.
François-David Sebbah, Levinas: Father/Son/Mother/Daughter
Abstract: The aim of this article is to give an account of the Levinasian description of the Father/Son relation and to evaluate its philosophical implications, in particular in the domain of phenomenology. It will also consider the Levinasian description of the feminine, which is often problematical on account of its machismo. It is argued that these two questions, apparently quite unrelated, are in fact closely linked: they both derive from a common aporia situated at the heart of the decisive phenomenological description of the trial of otherness.
Colin Davis, Levinas and the Phenomenology of Reading
Abstract: Although Levinas showed relatively little interest in secular literature, and indeed he was sometimes distinctly hostile towards it, some of his essays sketch a phenomenological account of the reading experience which is applicable to non-sacred texts. This article compares Levinas’s phenomenology of reading to that of Wolfgang Iser, and argues that it may be susceptible to some of the same criticisms. It then examines Levinas’s 1947 essay “L’Autre dans Proust” in the light of Proust’s Un amour de Swann, suggesting that Levinas’s reading is blind to aspects of Proust’s writing which contradict his ethics. This finally raises questions about the viability of a genuinely enlightening, ethical encounter between reader and text, or between self and other.
Nader El-Bizri, Uneasy Interrogations Following Levinas
Abstract: This paper consists of critical interrogations and speculative reflections on the ethical bearings of Emmanuel Levinas’ resourceful and intricate views on death, otherness, and time, while illustrating the nature of the philosophical challenges confronting the interpreters of his prolific writings, and investigating their intellectual, moral and political prolongations. This line of inquiry probes the multiple aspects of ethical responsibility that are entailed by the “face-to-face” relation with the other, and their potential theoretical extensions in meditations on the notion of “visage”, particularly in the context of concrete practices and everyday demands. Moreover, this study offers selective analytic parallels with Martin Heidegger’s thoughts on mortality, along with associated pointers by Jean-Paul Sartre, in view of further elucidating the ethical implications of Levinas’ thinking, and exploring their tacit entanglements with politics.
TRANSLATING HEIDEGGER REVISITED
George Kovacs, Heidegger’s Contributions to Philosophy and the Failure of “A Grassroots Archival Perspective”
Abstract: This study responds to Theodore Kisiel’s “review and overview” of Contributions, the English translation of Heidegger’s Beiträge, included in his essay published in Studia Phanomenologica, vol. 5 (2005), 277-285. This study shows the uniqueness and the significance of Beiträge, as well as the nature of the venture to render it into English (I); it explores the language and way of thinking, the be-ing-historical, enowning perspective, endemic to Heidegger’s second main work, and identifies the “ideal” and the difficulties of its translation as a hermeneutic labor, as well as the inadequacy of “an archival perspective” for guiding the translation and the grasping of his text (II). Based on these insights, this study, then, leads to a critical assessment of Theodore Kisiel’s hyperbolic, acerbic, despairing reactions to Contributions as a work of translation, thus exhibiting the collapse of his gratuitous assertions and assumptions under their own weight, as well as the failure of his “archival” approach to the translation (and ultimately to the assessment of Heidegger’s thinking) (III); it concludes with showing the nature and the disclosive power of Contributions, as well as its significance for the future of Heidegger studies (IV).
Parvis Emad, Translating Beiträge zur Philosophie as an Hermeneutic Responsibility
Abstract: Based on the distinction between the intra- and interlingual translation, this paper identifies the keywords of Beiträge as the result of Heidegger’s intralingual translation. With his intralingual translation of words such as Ereignis and Ab-grund, Heidegger gives these words entirely new meanings. On this basis, the paper criticizes the existing renditions of the keywords of Beiträge. This criticism is based on the insight that an absolute transfer of the keywords into English is unobtainable. To meet the hermeneutic responsibility of translating Beiträge, we must obtain an approximate translation. The paper concludes by addressing the question whether an approximate translation of the keywords of Beiträge can be faithful to the original German.
Rolf Kühn, Die Zeitkritik bei Michel Henry und ihre Konsequenzen für das Verständnis von Welt und Christentum
Abstract: According to Henry, in Husserl’s analysis of time the retentional intentionality of the “now” implies that you cannot have the sensation of its pure reality. This inner-phenomenological criticism can be generally transferred to the relationship between time and life, since temporality, as the most inner structure of the world of becoming-outsideitself, does not allow any affective self-appearance of life. Finally, this aspect has critical consequences for the existential structure of care, which must be suspended as “transcendental illusion” of the ego, in order to do justice to the immediacy of an immemorial birth in life.
David Grandy, Merleau-Ponty’s Visual Space and the Law of Large Numbers
Abstract: Maurice Merleau-Ponty argued that the seeing of things together (focal figure and background objects) accounted for the sense that things possess unseen depth: they are three-dimensional entities, not facades. I compare this idea to the law of large numbers. In both cases, single entities take on substance, depth, or meaning when assimilated into a large body of comparable instances. Thinking along these lines, Erwin Schrödinger proposed that living processes achieve order by virtue of the multiplicity of their constituent parts, any of which, when considered individually, militate against perception and understanding. He further suggested that those parts take their place as things to be perceived even as they constitute our perceiving faculties, and this is why uncertainty occasions their reality. Thus he offers an instance of Merleau-Ponty’s notion of chiasmic intertwining, which allows for worldbody interchange or reversibility beyond the reach of unequivocal apprehension.
Caroline Guibet Lafaye, Arts postmodernes, philosophie du langage et phénoménologie
Abstract: The identification of a post-modern art requires the determination of its implicit patterns of signification, as is the case with the modern art’s patterns of signification. In fact, the mere formal and stylistic analyses are not able to distinguish the post-modern art from the modern art. Actually, the specificity of minimalist and post-minimalist sculpture is founded on a phenomenological interpretation of subjective aesthetic experience (the reciprocal glance between who regards and what is regarded) and on a phenomenological interpretation of significance. In other words, this phenomenological interpretation gives a positive content to the concept of post-modern art.
Tinca Prunea-Bretonnet, L’individuation par l’amour. Le phénomene érotique de Jean-Luc Marion
Abstract: This review-article aims to present the inner structure of J.-L. Marion’s book of 2003, Le phénomene érotique. Although closely related to the former development of the phenomenology of donation, his analysis of the concept of love discloses significantly new philosophical elements as it shows the pre-eminence, own rationality and univocity of this concept. My paper basically takes into account the question of the individuation of the other and of the self within the saturated phenomenon of love. I discuss the coherence and conceptual consistency of its “figures” and description. I also try to suggest the possibility to question further in the direction of God as “the third” who grants or attests the individuation of the lovers in a unique common erotic phenomenon. Eventually, I claim that his overwhelming importance might affect the “twoentrance” phenomenon of love and the definition of the lover whose figure he is supposed to assume in his manifestation.
Tracy Colony, Unearthing Heidegger’s Roots: on Charles Bambach’s Heidegger’s Roots
Abstract: Charles Bambach’s recent book Heidegger’s Roots: Nietzsche, National Socialism, and the Greeks traces the themes of rootedness and the earthly in Heidegger’s thought. Focusing on the role of these themes in the major works of the 1930’s, Bambach offers an account of Heidegger’s relation to contemporaneous conservative and National Socialist ideologies. In this review article, I question the fundamental presupposition guiding Bambach’s approach and present specific reservations regarding his use of untranslated material from Heidegger’s Nietzsche lecture courses.
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