Levinas vis-à-vis the Other Essay

2752 Words12 Pages
Levinas vis-à-vis the Other

Philosophy, arising from its Greek tradition of a “love of wisdom”, seeks to critically examine those questions most fundamental to humankind; it is concerned with essential concepts (or rather, questions) of being (metaphysics), rightness and goodness, knowledge, truth and beauty. As a branch of metaphysics, ontology seeks, in particular, to understand the nature of being (or existence) by placing objects within categories and organized totalities, while always assuming God as the first cause (causa sui). (Rebidoux) Yet as most philosophers such as Plato, Aristotle and Descartes each attest to their distinct definition of “being”, there is an exception to these ontological contenders: Emmanuel Levinas. By
…show more content…
Before evaluating Levinas’ humanity-opening theories, however, it seems necessary to understand the process by which one can come to know the initial Other. For before the subject can enter into a just, fraternal relationship with the Other, he must be wholly prepared to welcome its face. According to Levinas, before encountering the Other, one is in a sleeping state within the Order of Being. Mundane and superficial, this Order allows only for categorization and objectification of things. At this stage even animate objects are reduced to their formal properties: a cat, for example, is classified according to its genus and species, recognized only as one instance of “cat”; a human, similarly, is reduced simply to another instance of humanity. (Rebidoux, 26 Jan 2004)

It is from this state of perpetual sleep, Levinas orders, that one must awaken. Whilst sleeping within the Order of Being, one is instinctually awoken by the Infinite. This Infinite, according to Levinas, is a consciousness that occurs in revelation of the transcendence of the Other. (Rebidoux) The Infinite emerge as an appearance of unending depth that overflows both

More about Levinas vis-à-vis the Other Essay

Get Access