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Studia Phaenomenologica

Notes on the Margins of his Legacy

Volume 6, 2006
A Century with Levinas

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a century with levinas: notes on the margins of his legacy
1. Studia Phaenomenologica: Volume > 6
Adina Bozga, Attila Szigeti A Century With Levinas: Notes on the Margins of His Legacy
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2. Studia Phaenomenologica: Volume > 6
Yasuhiko Murakami Horizons de l’affectivité: l’hyperbole comme méthode phénoménologique de Lévinas
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The “phenomenological” method according to Emmanuel Lévinas 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”, Lévinas 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.
3. Studia Phaenomenologica: Volume > 6
Matthieu Dubost Emmanuel Lévinas et la méthode de l’altérité: De la phénoménologie à la vigilance éthique
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Lévinas 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, Lévinas 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.
4. Studia Phaenomenologica: Volume > 6
László Tengelyi Einzigkeit ohne Identität bei Levinas
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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 relationshipwith 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.
5. Studia Phaenomenologica: Volume > 6
Attila Szigeti L’autre temps: Lévinas et la phénoménologie husserlienne du temps
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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 alsothe description of the relation with the other, and the phenomenology of language present in this work.
6. Studia Phaenomenologica: Volume > 6
Fabio Ciaramelli L’après coup du désir
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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 temporalityof desire as rooted in the radical past of separation.
7. Studia Phaenomenologica: Volume > 6
Richard A. Cohen Some Notes on the Title of Levinas’s Totality and Infinity and its First Sentence
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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.
8. Studia Phaenomenologica: Volume > 6
Yves Mayzaud Langage et Langue chez Husserl et Lévinas
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In this contribution the author tries to show the relation between Lévinas 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 Lévinas, 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.
9. Studia Phaenomenologica: Volume > 6
Branko Klun Die Störung der Metaphysik: Levinas gegen Heidegger
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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.
10. Studia Phaenomenologica: Volume > 6
Guillaume Fagniez En découvrant l’existence avec Emmanuel Lévinas
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This text offers an analysis of the first French reaction to the thought of Heidegger as undertaken by Lévinas. It also seeks to highlight the roots of the uneasy dialogue that Lévinas 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 Lévinas’ 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 Lévinas 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.
11. Studia Phaenomenologica: Volume > 6
Alain Beaulieu La dette calculée de Derrida envers Lévinas
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Derrida’s intellectual itinerary shows a progressive reconciliation with Lévinas’ ethical thinking. “Violence and Metaphysics”, one of Derrida’s earlier essays, was highly critical of Lévinas’ “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 Lévinas as well as some divergences between the two thinkersregarding the deconstruction project. Finally, we will see how Derrida distinguishes himself from Lévinas’ 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.
12. Studia Phaenomenologica: Volume > 6
John Drabinski The Enigma of the Cartesian Infinite
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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.
13. Studia Phaenomenologica: Volume > 6
Drew Dalton The Pains of Contraction: Understanding Creation in Levinas through Schelling
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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.
14. Studia Phaenomenologica: Volume > 6
Georg W. Bertram Die Idee der Philosophie von Emmanuel Lévinas
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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.
15. Studia Phaenomenologica: Volume > 6
François-David Sebbah Levinas: Father/Son/Mother/Daughter
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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.
16. Studia Phaenomenologica: Volume > 6
Colin Davis Levinas and the Phenomenology of Reading
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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.
17. Studia Phaenomenologica: Volume > 6
Nader El-Bizri Uneasy Interrogations Following Levinas
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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
18. Studia Phaenomenologica: Volume > 6
George Kovacs Heidegger’s Contributions to Philosophy and the Failure of “A Grassroots Archival Perspective”
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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 Phænomenologica, 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).
19. Studia Phaenomenologica: Volume > 6
Parvis Emad Translating Beiträge zur Philosophie as an Hermeneutic Responsibility
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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.
varia
20. Studia Phaenomenologica: Volume > 6
Rolf Kühn Die Zeitkritik bei Michel Henry und ihre Konsequenzen für das Verständnis von Welt und Christentum
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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.