File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0107, message 51

Date: Wed, 11 Jul 2001 10:53:06 +0100
Subject: Re: ethics - Levinas

Eric and all,

Lyotard - the mis-reading issue, what I'm really approving of is the Deleuze
statement on his approach to reading and interpreting writers and texts.
Where he talks about reading and interpretating with respect but hopefully
from a new angle... I agree that his (Lyotards) work is a process of
constant surprise - I've recently re-read some of the early material from
the the early 1970s - parts of Derive a partir de Marx et Freud and
Discourse Figure... extraordinarily pertinent and wonderful.

Levinas - I'm not sure,  the issue for me is the metaphysical justification
involved in the ethical proposal - the use of a third inhuman party seems
problematic, however the reading I make of him is based on the
phenomenlogical core of his work. I have a further issue in that I am by no
means sure that the ethical proposition adequately addresses the non-human.
The issues of specism and related questions about the environment which are
central concerns for me at present. However I believe that Levinas, like
Irigarary is an extremely important figure who rewards careful and
thoughtful readings.


Mary Murphy&Salstrand wrote:

> steve
> just a few quick points.  I recognise it is impossible to avoid
> misreading, but rather than ape Harold Bloom on this, I also want to
> suggest that while reading in inexhaustable, there is a certain fidelity
> to the author that is possible. For me Lyotard continues to surprise,
> but I want to stay as true as possible to what I think he is trying to
> say at the moment I am reading him, with all the baggage that is brought
> into the room.
> Regarding Levinas and God, yes, but isn't that a little like saying "if
> god is dead, everything is permissable."  Others have made the same
> argument about Kant as well.  He appears to postulate God as a necessary
> idea for practical reason to safeguard the Highest Good of the pure
> will, without which he says, it is in danger of falling into absurdity.
> Yet it is certainly possible to read both Levinas and Kant without
> dragging in god.  Lyotard, for one, reads them both atheistically and
> still finds things to say about them that is more than just refutation.
> So that my lead-in to the Levinas note. Can he be read by impious pagans
> in a way that still bears fruit.
> Stay tuned.
> PS - thanks for the comments.  From what you said, I feel a leaning
> towards #3. I think globalism offers a way to rethink the political in a
> whole new way and at this stage of the game, questions are more
> important than answers.  The discussion must be more than big tent, it
> needs to be big sky.
> I also have ordered Empire by Negri and Hardt. Maybe this book would
> provide a context for further discussion later this summer.  From what I
> have been hearing about it, they seem to be framing the issues in an
> interesting way.  Is anyone at the conference invoking or critiquing
> this book?


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