dissertation on levinas' philosophy

Topics: Phenomenology, Edmund Husserl, Philosophy Pages: 38 (14289 words) Published: January 18, 2014
Ours is an anthropocentric world where each individual is went upon attaining self realisation in himself or herself. He or she has scant respect for others. Pragmatism has become the order of the day. In short man has become inordinately selfish, considering society a mere means to gratify himself/ herself. This malady of the modern society has been denounced by eminent philosophers like Kant, F. H. Bradley etc. Their sole intention was to lay a foundation for ethics. But no rational ethical system, however efficient has so far ensured peace and happiness in the world. We are badly in need of something else. It is hear that we see the relevance of Emmanuel Levinas. He has expounded the concept that it is the face of the other, not any legal system that can affect my transcendence to the infinite.

Levinas proposed form of ethics becomes more validated philosophy of our time, is highly respected and valued. According to Levinas’ ethics proceeds any moment of rationalization. Levinas redefined the uncompromising ethical relationship with the Other as a remedial measure to all the forms of existing in justice and crime. He would also say that human beings are so limitlessly valued that no form of crime or injustice be done to them.

Levinas’ philosophy is deeply rooted in ethics. If ethics means rationalist self –legislation and freedom, the calculation of happiness, or the cultivation of virtues, the Levinas’ philosophy is not an ethics. Levinas claimed that he was developing a ‘first philosophy’. The first philosophy is neither metaphysics nor traditional logic; however it is an interpretive, phenomenological description of the raise and reception of the face- to-face encounter. Levinas’ philosophical enterprise can be called as constructivist. He proposes phenomenological description and hermeneutics of lived experience in the world. He lays bare levels of experience described neither by Husserl nor by Heidegger.

Levinas is not writing an ethics at all. Instead he is exploring the meaning of inter-subjectivity and lived immediacy in the light of three themes: transcendence, existence and human other. At the core of Levinas’ thoughts are descriptions of the encounter with another, constitute another person. I can constitute the other person cognitively, on the basis of vision, as an ‘alter ego’.

Levinas argues the core element of inter-subjective life, the other person addresses to me, calls me. Beyond any other technical concerns, the fundamental intuition of Levinas’ philosophy is the non-reciprocal relation of responsibility. The phenomenological descriptions of inter subjective-responsibility are built upon an analysis of living in the world. These are unique to Levinas. They differ from Heidegger’s analytic of existence.

Levinas’s descriptions show that ‘in the beginning was the human relation’. The primacy of the relation explains why it is that human beings are interested in questions of ethics at all. But for that reason, Levinas has made the interpretive choices to situate the first philosophy in the face-to-face encounter is to choose to begin philosophy not with the world, not with the God, but with what will be argued to be the prime condition for human communication. For Levinas, inter-subjective experience, as it comes to light, proves ‘ethical’ in the simple sense that an ‘I’ discovers its own particularity when it is singled out by gaze of the Other. This gaze is interrogative and imperative. It says “do not kill me”. It also implores ‘I’ who eludes it only with difficulty, although this request may have actually no discursive content. Levinas’ unique way of defining transcendence in relation to the world and to why Heidegger called Being. It is Levinas’s project to uncover the layers of the pre-intellectual (what Husserl called pre-intentional or objectless intentionality), affective experience in which transcendence comes to pass. Thus the...
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