File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2003/lyotard.0302, message 89


Date: Tue, 18 Feb 2003 21:20:38 +0000
Subject: Re: Fear.




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:

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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