File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2003/lyotard.0302, message 104


Date: Thu, 20 Feb 2003 18:39:06 +0000
Subject: Re: Fear/levinas




Diane,

ah but... it's also one of the best critiques and says precisely more 
about Levinas than for example Critchley or Derrida.

regards
steve

Diane Davis wrote:

>I *know* I shouldn't pop in here since I don't have time to follow up or
>perhaps even to make a real point, but when Levinas gets dismissed too
>easily on this list, particularly via Badiou, you know by now that it
>lures me in. So here I am again, just long enough to say that though
>there are certainly very real points of concern in Levinas's work (and
>lyotard, for one, has teased a few of them through with both rigor and
>elegance), Badiou's critique is perhaps the most intentionally
>ungenerous and sweepingly dismissive I've ever read. It says more about
>Badiou than Levinas, imho. 
>
>There, said it.  Off to teach....
>
>Best, ddd
>
>___________________________________________
>  D. Diane Davis
>  Division of Rhetoric & Department of English
>  1 University Station B5500
>  University of Texas at Austin 
>  Austin, TX 78712-0200 
>
>  Office: 512.471.8735; Dept: 471.6109; FAX: 471.4353
>  ddd-AT-mail.utexas.edu
>  http://www.cwrl.utexas.edu/~davis
>
>  
>
>>-----Original Message-----
>>From: owner-lyotard-AT-lists.village.virginia.edu [mailto:owner-
>>lyotard-AT-lists.village.virginia.edu] On Behalf Of gvcarter-AT-purdue.edu
>>Sent: Wednesday, February 19, 2003 1:06 PM
>>To: lyotard-AT-lists.village.virginia.edu; Don Socha
>>Cc: lyotard-AT-lists.village.virginia.edu
>>Subject: Re: Fear/levinas
>>
>>
>>Don/All,
>>
>>Having brought up Levinas in regards to fear, I wanted to say a few
>>    
>>
>things:
>  
>
>>first, as to Levinas notion that "to love is to fear for another" is
>>    
>>
>really,
>  
>
>>for me, something of a Valentine.  I realize the challenge Levinas's
>>    
>>
>ethics "as
>  
>
>>a whole" poses, particulary in regards to the animal (i.e. He says
>>    
>>
>also in T &
>  
>
>>I, "Everything that cannot be reduced to an interhuman relation
>>    
>>
>represents not
>  
>
>>the superior form but the forever primitive form of religion" (79).)
>>    
>>
>I haven't
>  
>
>>read Badiou yet, but there are other elements to be cautious about,
>>    
>>
>for sure.
>  
>
>>But the idea of "hesitancy" and "granting a space for others" that
>>    
>>
>your post
>  
>
>>inquires about does strike a chord as to Levinas's importance.  His
>>    
>>
>work is
>  
>
>>valuable, or so it seems to me, as a corrective to Heidegger's rather
>>    
>>
>daunting
>  
>
>>superstructuralism.  I love bit like this:  "It is interesting to
>>    
>>
>observe that
>  
>
>>Heidegger does not take the relation of enjoyment into consideration.
>>    
>>
>The
>  
>
>>implement has entirely masked the usage and the issuance at the
>>    
>>
>term--the
>  
>
>>satisfication.  Dasein in Heidegger is never hungry.  Food can be
>>    
>>
>interpreted
>  
>
>>as an implement in a world of explotation" (134).
>>
>>Now, again, we might see in Levinas a certain bourgeouise attitude in
>>    
>>
>his
>  
>
>>articulation of "enjoyment"--indeed, we might regard it as more
>>    
>>
>sinister still
>  
>
>>in light of the role the feminine SERVES in this conception--but in
>>    
>>
>another
>  
>
>>way, the idea that dasein is never hungry goes a long way in
>>    
>>
>explaining
>  
>
>>Heidegger.
>>
>>H. certainly did not take the responsibility, the host-welcoming
>>    
>>
>function into
>  
>
>>consideration in preparing his Rector's Address.
>>
>>Levinas reminds us of the value in considering "non-symmetrical"
>>    
>>
>relationship.
>  
>
>>This to me, Don, is the "hesitancy" or the "granting of space."
>>    
>>
>Levinas was
>  
>
>>quite fond of Russian literature, and this is one from Dostoyevsky
>>    
>>
>that shows
>  
>
>>up in a number of places:
>>
>>"We are all guilty of all and for all men before all, and I more than
>>    
>>
>the
>  
>
>>others." (from The Brothers Karamazov, Ethics and Infinity 98).
>>
>>The non-symmetry results from this responsibility that exceeds what I
>>    
>>
>can count
>  
>
>>on.  A commitment to a the I that "always has one responsibility MORE
>>    
>>
>than all
>  
>
>>the others" makes for one dynamo of a host (99).
>>
>>Levinas's welcoming acts this way:  You arrive late at night on camel.
>>    
>>
>You
>  
>
>>enter the tent and are greeted.  Carpets are brought out, a bath is
>>    
>>
>prepared,
>  
>
>>dinner is served.  There is music and wine.  And sleep.  In the
>>    
>>
>morning, one
>  
>
>>awakes, washes, and smokes.  Your host then asks, "So why have you
>>    
>>
>come?"
>  
>
>>Best,
>>
>>Geof
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>Quoting Don Socha <socha1de-AT-cmich.edu>:
>>
>>    
>>
>>>Steve, Eric, and others
>>>
>>>I think I'm getting sold here.  Certainly I dread all of the
>>>things you've noted as dreadful and coming out of Levinas.  I
>>>myself have been a atheist all of my adult life, and
>>>therefore cannot defend his work in the light you cast upon
>>>it.
>>>
>>>I have, however, in my belated arrival, come to a certain
>>>appreciation for things I thought I found there that I now
>>>need to reconsider.
>>>
>>>Please understand again, however, that I would have resisted
>>>the very things you resist in Levinas even before I had read
>>>him.  I assure you, I appreciate no aspect of his work that
>>>you point to... which is not to say I don't appreciate
>>>something there... something I now feel called upon to place
>>>under your tools of analysis.
>>>
>>>Before I do so, however, and it will take some few days, I'd
>>>like to know how what you've highlighted affects what Geof
>>>has said about Levinas' take on the question of everyday
>>>fear.  Do you see it as a possible tool in granting space to
>>>others?  Or feelings of alienation.  Do you yourselves stand
>>>against the hesitancy and critical promotion of self-interest
>>>Levinas appears to recommend?
>>>
>>>Don Socha
>>>
>>>---- Original message ----
>>>      
>>>
>>>>Date: Tue, 18 Feb 2003 21:20:38 +0000
>>>>From: "steve.devos" <steve.devos-AT-krokodile.co.uk>
>>>>Subject: Re: Fear.
>>>>To: lyotard-AT-lists.village.virginia.edu
>>>>
>>>>  Don/All
>>>>
>>>>  rough notes...
>>>>
>>>>  Eric has already replied more or less as I would
>>>>  have and I have some sympathy with his mail  - most
>>>>  specially raising the issue of Badiou's critique of
>>>>  Levinas. I was tempted at this point to raise again
>>>>  the Hegelian and Psychoanalytical refusal of Levinas
>>>>  - but since both perspectives are part of Badiou's
>>>>  critique it may be more pertinent to refer to a more
>>>>  vuilgar materialist refusal - hence what follows
>>>>  below which assumes a more materialist and
>>>>  utilitarian approach to morality and ethics....
>>>>
>>>>  The Levinas position being founded on transcendence
>>>>  - excludes the non-human from the ethical. Rather it
>>>>  maintains the idea that in some sense a human is
>>>>  more significant than a non-human, which is an
>>>>  absurd position that cannot be justified given our
>>>>  status as the biggest extinction event in 65 Million
>>>>  years. Consequently what cannot be addressed from
>>>>  inside his position is the most critical ethical
>>>>  issue of the day - which can be understood in terms
>>>>  of the detritous of the bad sort of humanism -
>>>>  namely that it references the philosophical idea
>>>>  that being human matters morally,  as in the
>>>>  equivilant idea that belonging to a particular race
>>>>  matters morally. Anyone who thinks that race or
>>>>  species boundaries are morally significant is
>>>>  completely blind to what makes an individual human
>>>>  or non-human significant.  It has recently been
>>>>  argued that the terms "Human Being" and "Person"
>>>>  should be seperated for whereas the former signifies
>>>>  a member of our species (which, lest we forget some
>>>>  Darwinians argue does not exist) whilst the latter
>>>>  refers to any being that posses "a conception of
>>>>  self as a subject of experiences and other mental
>>>>  states and believes that it is a continuing
>>>>  entity..." (Michael Tooley).
>>>>
>>>>  (Now it so happens that most "Persons" I  meet are
>>>>  Human Beings however George the cat is plainly a
>>>>  person  and as such has as much right to be
>>>>  considered and treated ethically as any Human Being,
>>>>  more than some human beings I could name.)
>>>>
>>>>  For Levinas the "face of the other" appears to me
>>>>  through the face of God (the other resembles God,
>>>>  and I see the face of the other thanks to my
>>>>  relationship with God). Respect for the other, an
>>>>  ethical relationship with him is possible thanks to
>>>>  the passage through the absolute Other: God... What
>>>>  Levinas does is place God between myself and the
>>>>  Other thereby making preventing dialogue - reducing
>>>>  discourse to something already said by the Other.
>>>>  Need I point out that since Hegel and Kant it has
>>>>  been accepted that ethics are founded on the social
>>>>  and political - not on the face of a dead and
>>>>  non-existent god...
>>>>
>>>>  Anyone know which text of Irigaray's contians the
>>>>  critique of Levinas?
>>>>
>>>>  Hegel hhhmmm later.
>>>>
>>>>  regards
>>>>  steve
>>>>
>>>>  Don Socha wrote:
>>>>
>>>>G/all
>>>>
>>>>I had thought of the Levinas angle but discarded it, for
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>myself at
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>least, because of my rejection of his ethics.  Beyond the
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>critique of
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>Levinas by Badiou, there is something deeply reactionary in
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>statements
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>such as "...Ethics is, therefore, against nature because it
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>forbids the
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>murderousness of my natural will to put my own existence
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>first..."
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>regards
>>>>steve
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>I don't see what's necessarily reactionary about this
>>>>position, Steve.  Surely you don't mean to suggest that
>>>>Levinas is anything like a biological determinist. Though I
>>>>don't want to overlook the always difficult context of his
>>>>work, isn't he simply saying that while nature is
>>>>indifferent, people need not be fatalistic?
>>>>
>>>>I've yet to read Badiou (plan to begin this week), but
>>>>doesn't Levinas mean something quite distinct when he
>>>>says "against nature"?  I do know he wasn't in favor of
>>>>putting his own existence first... rather, his whole ouvre
>>>>stands against precisely this.
>>>>
>>>>Or do you see ethics as something other than an artificial
>>>>means by which better versions of ourselves might be
>>>>explored?
>>>>
>>>>Don Socha
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>        
>>>>
>
>
>  
>


HTML VERSION:

Diane,

ah but... it's also one of the best critiques and says precisely more about Levinas than for example Critchley or Derrida.

regards
steve

Diane Davis wrote:
I *know* I shouldn't pop in here since I don't have time to follow up or
perhaps even to make a real point, but when Levinas gets dismissed too
easily on this list, particularly via Badiou, you know by now that it
lures me in. So here I am again, just long enough to say that though
there are certainly very real points of concern in Levinas's work (and
lyotard, for one, has teased a few of them through with both rigor and
elegance), Badiou's critique is perhaps the most intentionally
ungenerous and sweepingly dismissive I've ever read. It says more about
Badiou than Levinas, imho. 

There, said it.  Off to teach....

Best, ddd

___________________________________________
  D. Diane Davis
  Division of Rhetoric & Department of English
  1 University Station B5500
  University of Texas at Austin 
  Austin, TX 78712-0200 

  Office: 512.471.8735; Dept: 471.6109; FAX: 471.4353
  ddd-AT-mail.utexas.edu
  http://www.cwrl.utexas.edu/~davis

  
-----Original Message-----
From: owner-lyotard-AT-lists.village.virginia.edu [mailto:owner-
lyotard-AT-lists.village.virginia.edu] On Behalf Of gvcarter-AT-purdue.edu
Sent: Wednesday, February 19, 2003 1:06 PM
To: lyotard-AT-lists.village.virginia.edu; Don Socha
Cc: lyotard-AT-lists.village.virginia.edu
Subject: Re: Fear/levinas


Don/All,

Having brought up Levinas in regards to fear, I wanted to say a few
    
things:
  
first, as to Levinas notion that "to love is to fear for another" is
    
really,
  
for me, something of a Valentine.  I realize the challenge Levinas's
    
ethics "as
  
a whole" poses, particulary in regards to the animal (i.e. He says
    
also in T &
  
I, "Everything that cannot be reduced to an interhuman relation
    
represents not
  
the superior form but the forever primitive form of religion" (79).)
    
I haven't
  
read Badiou yet, but there are other elements to be cautious about,
    
for sure.
  
But the idea of "hesitancy" and "granting a space for others" that
    
your post
  
inquires about does strike a chord as to Levinas's importance.  His
    
work is
  
valuable, or so it seems to me, as a corrective to Heidegger's rather
    
daunting
  
superstructuralism.  I love bit like this:  "It is interesting to
    
observe that
  
Heidegger does not take the relation of enjoyment into consideration.
    
The
  
implement has entirely masked the usage and the issuance at the
    
term--the
  
satisfication.  Dasein in Heidegger is never hungry.  Food can be
    
interpreted
  
as an implement in a world of explotation" (134).

Now, again, we might see in Levinas a certain bourgeouise attitude in
    
his
  
articulation of "enjoyment"--indeed, we might regard it as more
    
sinister still
  
in light of the role the feminine SERVES in this conception--but in
    
another
  
way, the idea that dasein is never hungry goes a long way in
    
explaining
  
Heidegger.

H. certainly did not take the responsibility, the host-welcoming
    
function into
  
consideration in preparing his Rector's Address.

Levinas reminds us of the value in considering "non-symmetrical"
    
relationship.
  
This to me, Don, is the "hesitancy" or the "granting of space."
    
Levinas was
  
quite fond of Russian literature, and this is one from Dostoyevsky
    
that shows
  
up in a number of places:

"We are all guilty of all and for all men before all, and I more than
    
the
  
others." (from The Brothers Karamazov, Ethics and Infinity 98).

The non-symmetry results from this responsibility that exceeds what I
    
can count
  
on.  A commitment to a the I that "always has one responsibility MORE
    
than all
  
the others" makes for one dynamo of a host (99).

Levinas's welcoming acts this way:  You arrive late at night on camel.
    
You
  
enter the tent and are greeted.  Carpets are brought out, a bath is
    
prepared,
  
dinner is served.  There is music and wine.  And sleep.  In the
    
morning, one
  
awakes, washes, and smokes.  Your host then asks, "So why have you
    
come?"
  
Best,

Geof









Quoting Don Socha <socha1de-AT-cmich.edu>:

    
Steve, Eric, and others

I think I'm getting sold here.  Certainly I dread all of the
things you've noted as dreadful and coming out of Levinas.  I
myself have been a atheist all of my adult life, and
therefore cannot defend his work in the light you cast upon
it.

I have, however, in my belated arrival, come to a certain
appreciation for things I thought I found there that I now
need to reconsider.

Please understand again, however, that I would have resisted
the very things you resist in Levinas even before I had read
him.  I assure you, I appreciate no aspect of his work that
you point to... which is not to say I don't appreciate
something there... something I now feel called upon to place
under your tools of analysis.

Before I do so, however, and it will take some few days, I'd
like to know how what you've highlighted affects what Geof
has said about Levinas' take on the question of everyday
fear.  Do you see it as a possible tool in granting space to
others?  Or feelings of alienation.  Do you yourselves stand
against the hesitancy and critical promotion of self-interest
Levinas appears to recommend?

Don Socha

---- Original message ----
      
Date: Tue, 18 Feb 2003 21:20:38 +0000
From: "steve.devos" <steve.devos-AT-krokodile.co.uk>
Subject: Re: Fear.
To: lyotard-AT-lists.village.virginia.edu

  Don/All

  rough notes...

  Eric has already replied more or less as I would
  have and I have some sympathy with his mail  - most
  specially raising the issue of Badiou's critique of
  Levinas. I was tempted at this point to raise again
  the Hegelian and Psychoanalytical refusal of Levinas
  - but since both perspectives are part of Badiou's
  critique it may be more pertinent to refer to a more
  vuilgar materialist refusal - hence what follows
  below which assumes a more materialist and
  utilitarian approach to morality and ethics....

  The Levinas position being founded on transcendence
  - excludes the non-human from the ethical. Rather it
  maintains the idea that in some sense a human is
  more significant than a non-human, which is an
  absurd position that cannot be justified given our
  status as the biggest extinction event in 65 Million
  years. Consequently what cannot be addressed from
  inside his position is the most critical ethical
  issue of the day - which can be understood in terms
  of the detritous of the bad sort of humanism -
  namely that it references the philosophical idea
  that being human matters morally,  as in the
  equivilant idea that belonging to a particular race
  matters morally. Anyone who thinks that race or
  species boundaries are morally significant is
  completely blind to what makes an individual human
  or non-human significant.  It has recently been
  argued that the terms "Human Being" and "Person"
  should be seperated for whereas the former signifies
  a member of our species (which, lest we forget some
  Darwinians argue does not exist) whilst the latter
  refers to any being that posses "a conception of
  self as a subject of experiences and other mental
  states and believes that it is a continuing
  entity..." (Michael Tooley).

  (Now it so happens that most "Persons" I  meet are
  Human Beings however George the cat is plainly a
  person  and as such has as much right to be
  considered and treated ethically as any Human Being,
  more than some human beings I could name.)

  For Levinas the "face of the other" appears to me
  through the face of God (the other resembles God,
  and I see the face of the other thanks to my
  relationship with God). Respect for the other, an
  ethical relationship with him is possible thanks to
  the passage through the absolute Other: God... What
  Levinas does is place God between myself and the
  Other thereby making preventing dialogue - reducing
  discourse to something already said by the Other.
  Need I point out that since Hegel and Kant it has
  been accepted that ethics are founded on the social
  and political - not on the face of a dead and
  non-existent god...

  Anyone know which text of Irigaray's contians the
  critique of Levinas?

  Hegel hhhmmm later.

  regards
  steve

  Don Socha wrote:

G/all

I had thought of the Levinas angle but discarded it, for


myself at


least, because of my rejection of his ethics.  Beyond the


critique of


Levinas by Badiou, there is something deeply reactionary in


statements


such as "...Ethics is, therefore, against nature because it


forbids the


murderousness of my natural will to put my own existence


first..."


regards
steve


I don't see what's necessarily reactionary about this
position, Steve.  Surely you don't mean to suggest that
Levinas is anything like a biological determinist. Though I
don't want to overlook the always difficult context of his
work, isn't he simply saying that while nature is
indifferent, people need not be fatalistic?

I've yet to read Badiou (plan to begin this week), but
doesn't Levinas mean something quite distinct when he
says "against nature"?  I do know he wasn't in favor of
putting his own existence first... rather, his whole ouvre
stands against precisely this.

Or do you see ethics as something other than an artificial
means by which better versions of ourselves might be
explored?

Don Socha


        


  


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