File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0107, message 55

Date: Wed, 11 Jul 2001 17:35:49 -0100
Subject: Re: ethics - Levinas

Eric and All,

Check this link for an international forum on the "Empire".

Here's a sample:

"Thomas Atzert from Frankfurt (Germany): A great hello to both of you! -
Slavoj Zizek, in an essay that was published also here in Germany, wrote
about your book, that it is nothing less than the Communist Manifesto for
the 21st century."


Eric wrote:

> 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.


IMHO, the world human beings can "know" is, from an objective point of view,
the same, whether God did or didn't create it.  What sentient humans know is
what their senses transmit from their environment.

The environment includes the "other" (singular and plural) "language(s)"
aural, visual, body motions, and the sensory content others communicate.

If  the addressee "believes" the message(s) i.e. content which represent the
experience of others, s/he stores that second-hand experience in memory as a
part of personal knowledge.

Knowledge possesses "value" with respect to the addressee's anticipated

Anticipation of a long-term future is apparently a major distinction between
humans and other species.  We assume, rightly or wrongly, that other
creatures build dams, nests, and migrate because of  "instinct",  something
mysterious built into the organism, not acquired by learning.

But humans project long-term futures, for example, philosophers:

"a : pursuit of wisdom b : a search for a general understanding of values
reality by chiefly speculative rather than observational means c : an
analysis of the grounds of and concepts expressing fundamental beliefs".

And they do this with or without  a belief in God.

For religious persons, God speaks through chosen instruments (as saints),
through dreams, trances, answered prayers.

I think most non-religious persons, believe organism and environment would
be essentially the same with or without God, but such persons see a radical
difference when religious believers self-destruct in mass suicides or
destroy  non-believers.


> 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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