‘Alterity and Transcendence’ the title Emmanuel toward the heights – would, on this view, originally . on the way Levinas understands transcendence. The. The epiphany of the Absolutely Other is a face by which the Other Challenges and commends me through his nakedness, through his destitution. He challenges. Levinas calls transcendence that resists reduction to the common categories .. exterior, so to speak, from beyond my world and from an ethical height as a.

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Skip to main content. Log In Sign Up. Editor I am you, when I am I. Unrecognized, for you alone. Kluwer Academic Publsihers, Penguin Books Stanford University Press,1.

Emmanuel Levinas (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

Levinas always privileges You before me, You above me, You in front of me. Reflecting on his work during a conversation, Tfanscendence says the following, which I will then restate with slightly different words: The principal task behind all these efforts consists in thinking the Other-in-the- Same. The in does not signify an assimilation: The in does not mean assimilation.

When I drift into myself, you come to disturb me, and I am awakened by your call to respond, to be-for-you. When I think all is well, you come to trouble me, and I find myself worrying and concerned for you.

When I am caught in despair or indifference, you come to inspire me, and I am opened to a world of non-indifference. When I find myself coiled in anxiety, you come to arouse my desire, and I find myself yearning and waiting for you to come. Polity Press, Stanford University Press, Rather, it is marked by a separation, or a difference, or an asymmetry between you and me.

Levinas wants to preserve the other as unique, singular and separate, while at the same time maintaining a relation between the other and myself. And so we are led to wonder: What could it mean to speak of a relation that is marked at one and the same time by a separation and an inseparability? Or, what could it mean to speak of a relation between you and me that is also a non-relation?

However, Levinas has helped me understand that non-relation is not necessarily negative, that it can hold a surprising positivity — especially when relation and non-relation are not pitted against each other in opposition, as though one term were good and the other bad. An Essay on Exteriority Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press, Without separation there would be no truth, no truth of you or me; there would only be the neutrality of all- absorbing, anonymous being. We crave an existence where there is no separation, no unsettlement, no rupture.


All is well, we think, when all is One. All is well when all is at peace, at rest, at-one-ment. Rather, to be left always uncertain about ourselves, always implicated by what is other-than- me, always entangled by you and in this sense un-free and without autonomy, always marked and defined by the singular, the separate, the other one.

According to Levinas, the ontology of Western thought has typically deadened the voice of the Other in preference for schemas of participation and totality: Hence Plato defined love — eros — as only half-divine, insofar as it lacks the full coincidence or unification of differences that he defined as divinity. I am trying to work against this identification of the divine with unification or totality. The very value of love is the impossibility of reducing the other to myself, of coinciding in sameness.

State University of New York Press, This type of thinking only serves to diminish or reduce relation by dissolving the singularity of the other, and yet it is this singularity that lies at the heart of the relational encounter.

Every totalizing move is a move against relation and toward assimilation. So what is Levinas doing here? Suppose we take for granted that mutuality and reciprocity are important in every relationship. We know in our bones that they are important.

We know how difficult it is to work toward healthy relationships that are mutual and reciprocal. And if our relational vocabulary is linked in a fundamental way as I believe it is to our spiritual vocabulary, then this makes our listening to Levinas doubly important. If I were to translate these sentences, I would say something like: I am in relation with you because of you.

If you were not there, if you were not you, there would be no relation. However, if I am only in relation with you for my sake, then we have no relation; rather, there is only the self-same. Because I desire so much to be in relation to you, it is important that you are you. I absolve you from having to be reciprocal. I absolve you from having to make this relationship turn back on me, because I want it to turn on you. If I were to attempt a one-liner, I would say something like: In other words, is my relationship to you so absolutely gratuitous that I absolve you from the relation, from the circle of exchange, from compensation or mutuality, from reciprocity toward me?


Levinas ties the word God to the word transcendence or infinity. Perhaps the attitudes of seeking, desiring and questioning do 16 Levinas writes: A desire without satisfaction which, precisely, understands the remoteness, the alterity, and the exteriority of the other.

Blackwell, Indiana University Press, The kingdom of heaven is ethical. Ethics requires this transcendence in the world that orients me toward you. But it is to give to the master.

Talmudic Readings and Lectures London: Athlone Press, The Philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas Evanston: Northwestern University Press, It is through this testimony. It is through this testimony that the very glory of the Infinite glorifies itself.

As Maurice Blanchot notes: Conversations With Philippe Nemo Pittsburgh: Indiana University Press, Levinas is the first to devote himself to this strange structure. We have sufficiently inoculated ourselves against the allergy of tranzcendence.

The crisis inscribed in Ecclesiastes is not found in sin but in boredom. Everything is absorbed, sucked down and walled up in the Same.

Except the other whom, in all this boredom, we cannot let go. The alterity of the absolutely other. And it is only man who could be absolutely foreign to me. Face granscendence Face With Levinas, University of Minnesota Press, The other is transcendenxe I cannot synthesize with myself, what I cannot know or appropriate, what I cannot blend or fuse with myself.

Or, more exactly, it is as though. Yet you are near to me, such that your proximity expresses an irresistible desire toward you — and although I cannot grasp you, I can make myself available to you. I am a self-in-relation-to-you as a self-summoned-by-you.

In all your otherness, you are nevertheless nearby. You prayer —, you blasphemy —, you prayer-sharp knives of my silence.

Emmanuel Levinas

You may words being crippled together with me, you my hale ones. Paul Celan 39 Author: Remember me on this computer. Enter the email address you signed up with and we’ll email trsnscendence a reset link. Click here to sign up. Help Center Find new research papers in: