Volume 26, 2008
Philosophy and Literature
Jae Seong Lee
Contributing to the Development of Postmodern Critical Theory with Eastern Philosophy
This paper concerns broadly with the works of such ethical postmodern theorists as Jacques Derrida, Emmanuel Levinas, Giles Deleuze, focusing on how we can contribute to the development of their ideas by discussing Laozi and Zhuanzi’s Taoism, Buddhism, and modern Korean Neo-Confucianism of Toe-gae Lee. I claim that for criticism and art, literature, film and culture as well as philosophy itself, we are now facing this new need of another notion of subjectivity that not only accepts difference but takes the position of whole positivity toward the Other. This different view of subjectivity that can be called "the sublime subjectivity" or the sublime totality of a human being or a society is essentially an aesthetic one, rather than one that depends upon logic, and it is vital to take advantage of Oriental ideas. From the perspective of the ethics of Levinas, I first place the sublime, jouissance, or pure enjoyment, at the heart of literary criticism. The pure sensibility of the sublime, or jouissance, unlike the raw feelings of pleasure, is an aesthetic sensibility beyond the ontological unity of feelings of pleasures and pains. Then with the Oriental thought, I make an attempt to contribute to the development of the ideas on the ethics of the relation of the reader and the literary text’s language. Laozi’s Taote Ching, Chuanzi, Diamond Sutra, and Toe-gae Lee’s notion of Taeguk are briefly explored in view of the aesthetic transphenomenal dimension and the sublime totality.