File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0107, message 80

Date: Sun, 15 Jul 2001 13:55:54 +0100
Subject: Re: ethics - Levinas

Eric and All

I agree that Lyotard's appropriation of Levinas is along the lines that all
the secular and atheistic  appropriations of Levinas take. Blanchot and
Critchley are engaged in a similar if not quite the same activity. Irigarary
and Badiou both reject Levinas because of there specific forms of social and
political commitment.I tend towards the former rather than the latter. I've
been directing all my attention through and into the Leveinas texts
themselves and have not been attempting to read them through Lyotard or
others. Except perhaps in as much as these texts rest uneasily in my
unconcious... I agree that Lyotard and the others above are re-working
Levinas into a secular reading and it's plain that for example Lyotard's
reading is as you say 'infused' with the work, especially in the 'Heidegger
and the Jews' text.

However before accepting the secular reading, which is the only one I can
accept, I'd like a better understanding of what has been lost through this
appropriation... To consider one of the post-modern appropriations of
Levinas that needs to be avoided, I'd refer to Ferry's L'Homme-Dieu where
Levinas is used to justify his secular-spirituality and to maintain a
humanistic-transcendent position that aims to maintain and re-create,
justify the adherence to values that are not considered problematic in the
slightest but which are part of a return to 'universal human values' that
are not to be questioned because it justifies an ethical position to be
adhered to...

The secular reading I believe that should be made of Levinas is through
Nancy's work 'On Divine Places...' where he didiscusses 'the role of myth in
the establishment of communities' which could well be applicable in the
discussion that remains to be had on the 'marginalised other'.... On the
plane perhaps...

I'm offline for the next four days as I'm in Dallas, Texas... furthering the
interest of globalisation.



Mary Murphy&Salstrand wrote:

> wrote:
> But this does not adequately address the constitution of the self as
> defined through psychoanalysis - the mis-recognition of the self through
> the mirror-phase which combines death-drive/instinct with primary
> narcissism - mixing aggression and self-destruction (towards the other)
> with delight in the other.
> Steve,
> It appears you reject Levinas, at one level, and replace him with an
> atheistic approach to ethics based on Freud and Lacan.
> Lyotard also, imho, appropriates Freud, but in a context that mediates
> between both Kant and Levinas.  Even though Deleuze somewhere accuses
> Lyotard of being too religious in his disorientation, I think you would
> agree that Lyotard does not posit God in the way that Levinas does.
> So the question I want to raise is this.  Is it possible to appropriate
> Levinas' thought in a way that relates it to Freud and still remains
> secular?
> I maintain that something like this appropriation occurs in the earlier
> sections of Lyotard's Heidegger and "the jews."
> Lyotard writes: "In order to clearly establish the difference between a
> representational, reversible forgetting and a forgetting that thwarts
> all representation, it would be useful to read side by side, though
> scrupulously preserving their immense differences, the Kantian text on
> aesthetics and the Freudian text on metapsychology, i.e., the work that,
> all in all, Jacques Lacan has begun."
> I want to argue that even though Lyotard doesn't name him in this
> passage, Levinas is irrevocably linked with this group in the kind of
> anamnesis Lyotard comes to proscribe. In fact, the trace of Levinas
> permeates "Heidegger and the "jews."
> As D. Diane has said: "The trace of Illeity flickers (without ever
> finally and fully appearing) in any/every saying in what L calls
> Conversation or the relation with the Other in the other: the other's
> radical inappropriability.  When, as i converse with you, i catch a
> trace of Illeity, I experience a kind of immemorial remembrance, the
> upsurge of an unconscious "memory" of the O/other who, because s/he
> needed me, hailed me into existence as a "Me."
> Through the concept of the "jews' as the epitome of the marginalized
> other, the anamnesis or remembrance of what has never been fully
> inscribed, Lyotard pulls Levinas' thought into the orbit of the Kantian
> sublime and the Freudian Nachtraglichkeit, while still respecting the
> immense differences. Lyotard respects Levinas as a philosopher without
> condemning him to the status of a mere theologian.
> Eric


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