File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2003/lyotard.0302, message 108

Subject: RE: Fear.
Date: Thu, 20 Feb 2003 22:05:12 -0600


There were a number of comments made and I don't have a lot of time
tonight.  This single comment will have to do for now.  If I miss any
relevant points, please remind me. Maybe I can go into further details
this weekend.

I think the past e-mails I have written clearly show that while I may be
critical of Levinas, I don't simply dismiss him.  I continue to find his
writings valuable and consider him to be one of the most important
ethical thinkers of the twentieth century.

Nonetheless, I do think his very religiosity tends to make him somewhat
conservative, and since my heart lies more in the direction of what I
would loosely call libertarian socialism (which is why I sent out that
recent quote and yes Geof I recognize it is stated using contractual
language along the lines of material self-interest.) I tend to favor
political talk over god talk these days.  

I agree with you, Shawn, there are important differences between
Christianity and Judaism, even though this is a very complicated issue,
and my e-mail tended to gloss over 2000 years a little too easily
perhaps.  I think it was Augustine who said: "Love and do as you
please." An anarchist could not have said it any better.  

The downside of this statement is that Augustine uttered it in the
context of the faithful persecuting heresy! 

Oh well, who ever said terrorism was something new under the sun?

I admit these days I am very much drawn to Badiou, not so much for his
criticisms, but for the way he presents ethics.  His formulation of an
ethics of truth is one that I personally can live with, and in an
intuitive sense, it seems right on the mark to me.  

What I find extremely interesting, however, is this.  Even though Badiou
critiques Levinas for being a religious philosopher, who does Badiou
turn to as a concrete example of his ethics of truth, if not St. Paul?

It looks as though Badiou's book about Paul is due to be published in
translation this July and there is no other book I am awaiting this year
as eagerly as this one.  

The question I want to raise tonight without answering it is this.
Insofar as both Badiou and Levinas both allude to religion in
formulating their ethics, is there any hidden connection between them?
To what extent does an ethics of truth become a religion for adults?

Personally, despite my atheism, I must admit to a slight bias regarding
Christianity.  I have often thought there is an unacknowledged
relationship between Christ and Spartacus. Both were crucified; both led
slave revolts; both posited the universal subject; both were persecuted
by the Empire.

I also want to point out that even though Levinas is not Lacan, Levinas
is still a philosopher of Desire.  As he points out in Totality and
Infinity, the encounter with the other awakens in us a Desire for
justice, a Desire that can never be satisfied.  How different is this
from Lacan's principle that we should never give up on desire?

Even though Badiou also critiques Kant, there are a number of writings
which show a definite relationship exists between Badiou and Kant.  

The related issue I want to raise here, is that despite the obvious
problems of identity politics, to which the philosophy of Levinas cannot
be reduced, is there a relationship between the ethics of Levinas and
the ethics of Badiou?

Does not the event of an encounter with the other lead one to examine
the truth of the situation? Does not the event of truth lead one to
encounter the other in order to pass on that truth?  

Where does Greek (Badiou-Platonism) meet Jew (Levinas-Torah)? Jerusalem
touch Athens?

Besides the Law of the State, is there a Law of Desire that demands the 
An-Arch of which Levinas speaks?

Referring back to Don's concerns, perhaps in all of us there is a desire
for intimacy that transcends the cash nexus.  As Bataille said long ago,
love demands a different kind of economy and ethics is the ongoing
attempt to realize that desire. The earth today is a single household
filled with many strange and beautiful guests, widows, and orphans.   



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