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Dialogue and Universalism

Volume 15, Issue 3/4, 2005

Sources and New Dreams of Western Wisdom

Silvia Benso
Pages 117-128

The Wisdom of Love or Negotiating Mythos and Logos with Plato and Levinas

Inverting the sequence of the traditional terms, in Otherwise than Being or Beyond Essence Levinas redefines philosophy as the “wisdom of love”. Through an intertwining of Platonic motifs and Levinasian inspirations, the essay argues for a mutually regulated interplay of mythos and logos as a way to regain a sense of wisdom that remains respectful of the elements of otherness in reality-in particular, respectful of the otherness of the Third who, for Levinas, constitutes the ground for politics. That is, the interplay of mythos and logos results into a mytho-logy in which the logos directing the mythos is the voice of the other which imposes not only the preservation (ethics), but also the institutionalization (politics) of the differences, alterities and incommensurabilities that constitute reality. The consequence of this differently negotiated notion of wisdom is a reconfiguration of philosophy in terms of a mythological politics of bodily, economic testimony in the service of the Third.

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