Ilyaity Illeity And Elleity

Nor is illeity to be confused with the il y a. But that confusion is easy to make. For both are disturbances of my complacency. It would therefore seem easy to confuse illeity also with the erotic, for Totality and Infinity has told us that the erotic lies alongside the il y a. 'God and Philosophy' tells us that responsibility to which illeity binds me is the non-erotic par excellence. It tells us also that responsibility for the Other, my egoistic subjectivity's being ethically subjected to...

Metaphors

In the posthumous fragment 'On Truth and Lie in an Extra-moral Sense' 1873 Nietzsche asks What then is truth A mobile army of metaphors, metonyms, and anthropomorphisms in short, a sum of human relations, which have been enhanced, transposed, and embellished poetically and rhetorically, and which after long use seem firm, canonical, and obligatory to a people truths are illusions about which one has forgotten that this is what they are metaphors which have lost their pictures and now matter...

Absolute Empiricism

The most profuse apologies are never enough. Not only because my apology is an apologia pro vita mea, as though what mattered most was my achieving a clean slate or because there is another stranger alongside the stranger to whom my apology is made and to whom I give the bread that was on the point of becoming a part of me. But also because there is a stranger beyond the stranger, beyond his face, and beyond the feminine presence by which I am welcomed in the home before I leave it and go...

Enjoyment

On Levinas's reading of Husserl the pattern or matrix of being in the world is one of noesis and intended noema. This noetic-noematic structure is not committed to representative idealism. That is to say, it does not postulate ideas as a screen or medium through which one has dealings with the world. And although after the Logical Investigations Husserl defends a form of transcendental idealism, the intentionality that the hyphenation of the noetic-noematic stands for does not entail idealism....

Ethics Politics And Violence

Is this impossibility of passing by the closest a logical or an ethical impossibility If it were a logical impossibility would not totalitarian violence be impossible, logically and tautologically impossible if totalitarian violence is understood as the violence that would be imposed by totality unmitigated by infinity For to understand violence in this way is to understand it as the posing of what is said independently of saying, and therefore to pass by the closest. Therefore, if totalitarian...

The Garden Of Eden

It is impossible to resist the temptation to turn back here to the story of the Garden of Eden. Public indiscretion in the garden would be misdemeanour in the face of God. In the Genesis narrative Adam gives names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field though apparently not to the serpent, who is contrasted with the beast of the field as more subtle . He does this before Eve has been created, but not before God has conceived the idea of her as Adam's...

Need

When, however, in the second section of the essay Levinas reminds us that the need in question is not a privation, his explanation is that privative needs are needs of what is they have to do with the ti esti. Whereas the need here in question has to do with the self's that it is its hoti esti, the very fact that it is. Now that has no degrees. So does this mean that the need to go outside myself can never be satisfied If so, this would not mean that I cannot not exist. This is no ontological...

New Way Of Posing An Old Problem

With hindsight it can be seen that the essay On Evasion published in 1935 announces the issue with which all Levinas's philosophical writings will be preoccupied the issue of the issue from ontology. Why does he state already in this essay that 'the ancient problem of ontology' has to be posed in a new way Why does he consider the new way of posing it attempted by Heidegger in Being and Time 1927 still not new enough 1 Why is Levinas so concerned with the new A historical answer to this...

Dilatoriness

So when Levinas speaks of the accomplishment of the beginning it is to the beginning as itself accomplishment that he refers, not to something that succeeds the beginning, of which the beginning falls short. In his phrase 'the accomplishment of the beginning' the genitive is subjective. The words denote beginning as accomplishment, and accomplishment as at once realization and revelation. The ambiguity that the preface to Totality and Infinity will discern in production is discerned in...

Between Sleeping And Waking

Sleep, hence consciousness, but not insomnia, is the promise of an exit from the oppression of the il y a of existence. Levinas sometimes compares sleep to the interspace occupied by the gods according to the Epicureans. It is significant that a polytheism is in question here and that the gods are meta-cosmic, nowhere in the world.2 In an essay no less significantly entitled 'God and Philosophy' to which we shall return in later chapters, the very idea of the meta is said to come from what...