According to Castoriadis, society Society and its individuals are in a constant process of becoming toward relational autonomy that implies a moral self-limitation. At the core of my philosophical inquiry into moral subjectification is the need to re-think human rights and the pedagogical subject in relational terms that imply self-limitation and political engagement in a wider cosmopolitan community. Direct download 2 more. There is a globalization trend in teacher education, emphasizing the role of teachers to make judgments based on human rights in their teaching profession.
Rather than emphasizing the epistemological dimension of acquiring knowledge about human rights through teacher education, an ontological dimension is emphasized in this paper of what it means to become a professional teacher. I read the critique through studies on human rights in teacher education, which transforms notions of openness and respect in relations marked by difference.
Complexity in Biology in Philosophy of Biology. Direct download 6 more. Direct download 5 more. History of Biology in Philosophy of Biology. Indian Philosophy in Asian Philosophy. It agrees with her in going beyond the indoctrinatory role of the individual teacher to include that of whole educational systems, but differs in emphasizing indoctrinatory intention rather than outcome; and in allowing the possibility of indoctrination without individual teachers being indoctrinators at all.
Philosophy of Education in Philosophy of Social Science. Rebecca Bennett, in a recent paper dismissing Julian Savulescu's principle of procreative beneficence, advances both a negative and a positive thesis. The negative thesis holds that the principle's theoretical foundation — the notion of impersonal harm or non-person-affecting wrong — is indefensible.
Therefore, there can be no obligations of the sort that the principle asserts. The positive thesis, on the other hand, attempts to plug an explanatory gap that arises once the principle has been rejected. That is, it holds This paper, while agreeing that Savulescu's principle does not express a genuine moral obligation, takes issue with both of Bennett's theses.
It is suggested that the argument for the negative thesis is either weak or question-begging, while there is insufficient reason to suppose the positive thesis true. Biomedical Ethics in Applied Ethics. Medical Ethics in Applied Ethics. Normative Ethics, Misc in Normative Ethics. Direct download 9 more. The negative thesis holds that the principle's theoretical foundation--the notion of impersonal harm or non-person-affecting wrong--is indefensible. That is, it holds that the intuitions of Ethics in Value Theory, Miscellaneous.
Direct download. Direct download 12 more. First, let me clarify Continental Philosophy. This paper attends to the curious affair of Jacques Derrida in Prague when he was arrested by the Czechoslovakian police on charges of drug smuggling. Jacques Derrida in Continental Philosophy. The purpose of this study is to determine after a one year program, the effects of Philosophy for Children on critical thinking skills of a select group of 22 second graders at Saginaw Elementary. These students have had no previous study in Philosophy for Children and met for days, bi-weekly for at least minutes with no more than three sessions missed.
It was anticipated there would be a significant positive difference of critical thinking skills of second graders as observed The teacher used Rebecca plus the teacher's manual for the basis of instruction. She combines feminist interpretations of Levinas with interpretations that focus on his Jewish writings to reveal that the feminine provides an important bridge between his philosophy and his Judaism.
Emmanuel Levinas in Continental Philosophy. As I show This doubt, I argue, helps us to trace the complex negotiations of authority that constituted debates over plant heredity in the early 19th century and that were introduced with a new generation of gardening and horticultural periodicals. Ancient Greek and Roman Philosophy. Sociology of Science in General Philosophy of Science. European Philosophy. German Philosophy in European Philosophy. Christianity in Philosophy of Religion. Philosophy of Religion. There is no real past—that is, no past distinguished from the present.
For Levinas, even a memory would be a welcome interruption, as it would mark a distinction in both time and consciousness. This consciousness would signify a subject, and the positing of such a subject would indicate a rupture in the anonymous there is. It is the interruption of the il y a and the moment when the existent becomes an existent, when it attains subjectivity. The subject is a particular being, a particular existent that can at once be in consciousness and also withdraw from consciousness; that is, it is a particular being that can withdraw from itself.
They are events by which the unnameable verb to be turns into substantives. Thus, there is a moment, an event, that marks the move- The Time of Creation 25 ment from the there is to the hypostasis, the movement from anonymity to particular subjectivity. We have, then, the movement out of the silence before creation, out of chaos, to a world of separation and individuation. And there was evening and there was morning, a first day.
And it was so. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day. On the sixth day, God created the land animals, such as cattle, and the first human being. God said, 26]. They shall rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the cattle, the whole earth, and all the creeping things that creep the earth. Rashi claims that the text would have been different in Hebrew had its primary purpose been to teach the order in which creation transpired. According to Rashi, this disruption of the flow of the text exposes the gaps that need to be explained. It signals to him that the story of creation is not primarily concerned with establishing the actual chronology of the creation of the world.
What is the relationship between these two themes? Let us recall that in the story of creation the heavens are separated from the earth, light from dark, the sea from the land, the moon from the sun. In Hebrew, the term for separation is havdalah, and it is also the name of the service that ends the Sabbath. The movement of separation, though, often leaves one without a ground.
By its very definition, to be individuated is to be separated from something. In this case, the separation may be separation from God and all that that separation means. Another reading: All the works of the beginning are suspended lit. Resh Lekesh taught: God made a condition with the works of the Beginning—If Israel accepts the Torah, you will continue to exist; if not, I will bring you back to chaos [tohu va-vohu].
The acceptance of the Torah, without knowing what the Torah is, demonstrates faith. More precisely, it is by living an ethical life that one understands what an ethical life is and the necessity of living life as such. But this acceptance is not merely a blind faith. The world, till Sinai, awaits its true creation. This is not simply a matter of a shotgun commitment being demanded of the people at Mount Sinai. The world was in the process of dissolving. And who made the world stand firm? The face to face with God is connected to finding a foundation. Individuation separates, and it is the commitment to the ethical that puts these early inhabitants back into relationship to God.
Thus, you learn from this that the [creation of the water] preceded that of the earth. Therefore, you must say that Scripture did not [intend to] teach anything about the sequence of the earlier and later [acts of Creation]. Thus, the hierarchy has been established, and it cannot be said that each physical object stands in an equal or reciprocal relation to all others.
The land in the midst of the water signifies the separation of land from water, such that land and water are individuated. His reading serves as a reminder of the asymmetry with which we enter into relationships. The water, like God, serves as the radically other, the absolute other. Where Thales, and those who followed in the footsteps of the Western philosophical tradition, looked for the one substance on which the world was based, the Jewish reading of creation emphasizes difference, separation, and individuation, and thus underlines the significance of being able to be in a relationship with another.
Thales is looking for the one thing that will subsume everything else, even if everything else differs in appearance. For Heschel, the Sabbath is not about finding a place, per se, to stand. Rather, it is about finding a way to exist in time, which, for Heschel, includes finding a way to relate to God. But it does not simply mark time; it marks it in a meaningful way. This means that we transcend material culture, technical civilization, and all of those things to which we have become slaves the other six days of the week.
To observe the Sabbath is to realize that we are not owned by these things, and it is also to realize that we are more than our ability to master The Time of Creation 29 the tools that we manufacture. Our focus on things blinds us to that which is not merely a thing; it blinds us to that which exists in time and not space.
Heschel thus reminds us that the Sabbath is the only Jewish holiday that originates in creation and that is unrelated to the moon. God first hallowed time. According to Heschel, the essence of the Sabbath is that it is completely detached from space. On the Sabbath we are called to share with each other in time. It is a day that allows us to reflect on what it means to be human and what it means to be in relationship to that which is eternal in time, whether we understand that to be God, love, the ethical, or something else. Therefore, in order to resist the deification of the law, the rabbis declared that saving a life takes precedence over the observance of the commandment not to work on the Sabbath.
To keep the Sabbath holy might mean precisely that one is called to save the life of another. The Sabbath is to be a delight. According to rabbinic tradition, the Sabbath as a holy day was created on the seventh day. After the six days of creation, the world still lacked something; it lacked rest. Thus, one interpretation maintains that rest was created on the seventh day.
The story is not linear but cyclical, repetitive, and dynamic. The rabbinic interpretation of the story of creation also has a normative component. It is not simply that the people at Sinai have a place on which to stand.
Levinas, Judaism, and the Feminine: The Silent Footsteps of Rebecca
We find in the story of creation a multitude of separations: the holy and the mundane; space and time; day and night; land and water; and the heavens and earth. And each aspect of the separation is defined in terms of itself, not in terms of the negation of the other. Separation and individuation exist, but not as negations of each other.
The story of creation unfolds as a story about the relationship we have to what is eternal in time; it is the story of our relationship to others. The Jewish reading of the Sabbath offers a view of creation in which the ego is invited to transcend itself, to suspend itself as an ego, to be interrupted. It was their willingness to take a risk—to do and then to hear—that distinguished those who accepted the Torah at Sinai. It does not leave the other in its otherness.
Finally, the temptation of temptation is a temptation to reduce risk, to eliminate the possibility of danger. Thus, Levinas contrasts the temptation of philosophy, the temptation of knowledge, with the actions of those who stood at Sinai. The freedom, then, is a freedom of responsibilities. Does [the rabbi] think that the choice for responsibility is made under threat and that the Torah would not have been chosen freely?
Certainly we can ask if the reception of the Torah was voluntary or compelled. And we can ask after the implications of each possibility. But the Torah says no to unwarranted violence. It would be odd, then, if the Torah, which outlines a path to the ethical, was imposed through violence The Time of Creation 31 on the Israelites. You will not be able to begin history, to break the block of being stupidly sufficient unto itself. Thus, we see again the relationship between separation and individuation, and we see again what it means to have a place.
The refusal of the Israelites would have been the signal for the annihilation of the entire universe. How does being realize its being? The question of ontology will thus find its answer in the description of the way Israel receives the Torah. This way consists—such is the thesis we are upholding—in overcoming the temptation of evil by avoiding the temptation of temptation.
The relationship that one has to oneself in this solitude is the enchainment that one has to oneself. The being, occupied with itself, is concerned for itself. For Levinas, in contrast to Heidegger, the material character of the present does not result from anxiety about the future. Rather, it is concerned with the present in the present. And this materiality expands the existing into an ontological event. The existent is sealed unto itself, locked into itself. My solitude, according to Levinas, is broken by death.
Time is what jars the existent out of its solitude. For Levinas, this movement is described by the relationship with the other. That is, the relationship with the other is a relationship in time. So, contrary to Heidegger, Levinas believes that the tragedy of solitude is not the absence of the other per se. And whereas for Heidegger death signifies freedom, for Levinas, death is immobilizing. It is precisely because death is ungraspable, unpredictable, and comes at the existent from nowhere, and always too soon, that death is overwhelming and renders the existent passive.
We cannot grasp death precisely because it marks the end of life. The move that Levinas makes to link solitude and materiality is far more radical than many have realized. Rather, death confronts us as something that comes from outside us and that is ungraspable by all of us. By connecting solitude with materiality, he enables us to see how it is that the bond between Ego and self is loosened. One moment in which we can see this loosening is in enjoyment.
The Time of Creation 33 Although the existent in the hypostasis is concerned with what it needs for its everyday existence, there is also the possibility of enjoyment jouissance , of not eating simply to live, but also living to eat. We use tools for our own survival, but it is possible to have another relationship with these instruments. Enjoyment offers the subject liberation from itself insofar as it enjoys without the necessity of the object. The subject is then able to exist at a distance from itself.
But even here there is a return to the same since the object is experienced by light. It does not have a fundamental strangeness. Levinas refers to this event as the encounter with an other. Rather, the other is constituted by its alterity. The above interpretations offered by Rashi, Heschel, and Levinas focus on the relationship between the ego and interruption of the ego.
For Heschel, the Sabbath is not simply an interruption of the work week. The interruption of work is significant, since it allows us to transcend ourselves by freeing ourselves from our mundane tasks. Thus, we are brought into relationship with that which is holy.
For Levinas, too, time takes precedence over space. It is the movement out of the hypostasis that brings the existent into relation with another. And for Levinas, it is the feminine as the absolutely other that accomplishes this movement. This shall be called Woman [Isha], for from man [Ish] was she taken.
The footnote, including the passage that she cites from Time and the Other, reads as follows: E. I think that the feminine represents the contrary in its absolute sense, this contrariness being in no wise affected by any relation between it and its correlative and thus remaining absolutely other.
Sex is not a certain specific difference. Nor does this difference lie in the duality of two complementary terms, for two complementary terms imply a pre-existing whole. Otherness reaches its full flowering in the feminine, a term of the same rank as consciousness but of opposite meaning. When he writes that woman is mystery, he implies that she is mystery for man. Thus his description, which is intended to be objective, is in fact an assertion of masculine privilege.
Thus, de Beauvoir was too quick to chastise him. De Beauvoir is right to pose this question to Levinas—that is, she is right to ask how he conceives of the feminine. However, by attacking him for blithely casting woman as other, she reveals her misunderstanding of what he means by the other, and of the priority he assigns to the position that the other holds in his analysis.
Both are short books that do not usually receive the attention given to Totality and Infinity or Otherwise than Being. But these early books lay the foundation for what is to follow. Although the discussion of the feminine in these books is brief, it is both dense and illuminating. In Existence and Existents, Levinas tells us, [T]he plane of eros allows us to see that the other par excellence is the feminine, through which a world behind the scenes prolongs the world.
Eros, The Inauguration of Sexual Difference 37 when separated from the Platonic interpretation which completely fails to recognize the role of the feminine, can be the theme of a philosophy which, detached from the solitude of light, and consequently from phenomenology properly speaking, will concern us elsewhere. Like Time and the Other, Existence and Existents ends with the mention of the birth of the son. In both books, the feminine is defined implicitly in the earlier text as the originary experience of alterity.
We need to be fair to de Beauvoir on two counts. First, we need to bear in mind that the ethical relation is not named in Time and the Other; thus, the positive status of the other autre and autrui may not be as obvious as it could be. Second, we should bear in mind what informs her position on the other and, more generally, on the conception of woman that has been cast as such.
Still, de Beauvoir helps us to see exactly what Levinas means to do—and not to do. It is worth noting that these early philosophical writings appeared shortly before Levinas encountered Mordechai Shushani, the mysterious and brilliant sage who inspired Levinas to explore Talmudic and other rabbinic texts. They also inaugurate the discussion of the Other, a term that Levinas appropriates positively. An examination of the similarities between his treatment of alterity and the biblical story of the creation of Adam and Eve—and specifically, his reading of this story—helps to disclose the role of the feminine in his early philosophical project.
The arguments that claim to find such a justification are founded on a patriarchal bias that contaminates how these scholars read the story and what they think is present in the story. Or, more specifically, the creature, sexually undefined, becomes sexually defined only when woman Isha is created. It is only with the creation of woman that man qua male being is created. Levinas asserts that sexual difference is secondary to the creation of humanity, and he does so because he believes that ethics is prior to sexual difference.
His intention is to create an ethics that includes everyone. This chapter focuses on the relationship between, and the implications of, these two accounts of creation and sexual difference. By revisiting the story of creation in Genesis 1 and then reading it back into Time and the Other, we can understand the role that the theme of separation and individuation plays in this early book. With this complication in mind, I will proceed with the exegesis. Here, Levinas claims that if a relationship is to be truly intersubjective, it cannot be reciprocal. The alterity of the other thus prohibits a reciprocal relation.
It is not simply that the relationship with the other, as Levinas conceives it, is impossible if the two participants are symmetrical to each other. To assume symmetry indicates a misunderstanding of the nature of such a relation. The Inauguration of Sexual Difference 39 Simply by being other, that is, simply by being not me, the other is alterity. The intersubjective space is asymmetrical insofar as the other is characterized as those who are most vulnerable, while I am the rich and powerful. The asymmetry has less to do with the space that separates than it does with the actual relation that the subject has to the other, for the relationship with alterity is neither spatial nor conceptual.
Who is the other, and what does the other become, precisely, in the face of the subject viewing it? For Levinas in the s, eros, characterized by the feminine, is the original form of this alterity. The separation and relation discussed in the previous chapter does not take into account the relationship between human beings; nor does it take into account the separation and individuation of man and woman.
Man needs to live face-to-face with the Other, dancing to the choreography of his own freedom. Although Rashi focuses on the creation story generally, his understanding of separation and individuation as the underlying theme of the story of creation can also be applied to the question of sexual differentiation.
As we recall from the discussion in the preceding chapter, although the presence of water is mentioned, there is no reference to the creation of water in Genesis 1. Rashi thus concludes that Genesis 1 cannot be considered a chronological retelling of the events of creation; it must have a different meaning and purpose. For Rashi, the story is about separation and individuation; that is, it is a story about identity. These themes reappear in an examination of the question of sexual differentiation.
For Levinas, the feminine, wearing the veil of radical alterity, accomplishes the break in Parmenidean unity; it breaks the totality. That is, the feminine allows for separation and individuation, but in a positive sense. This elusive alterity, for Levinas, is the feminine. It is, instead, contrariety. The feminine is an alterity that serves as an interruption. With this characterization, Levinas has set the stage for the indispensable role that the feminine plays and will continue to play in his work. Because Levinas has defined the feminine in such a peculiar manner, it is not clear that anything else could play its role, should the feminine be removed.
The feminine serves the function that it does precisely because of how it is defined by Levinas. It is how we understand the meaning of the feminine that gives rise to any metaphorical meaning that it would then hold. So, we could say that the feminine is the transcendental condition of reality as multiple. Love, according to Levinas, is not to be posited as a previously existing fusion that must be renewed. Woman is rarely, if ever, characterized in a positive sense. By portraying the feminine as alterity and by defining the feminine with a positive reflection, Levinas has unwittingly changed how the feminine can be discussed.
The mystery of which he speaks is not the mystery of simply being feminine, as is found, for example, in chivalry or The Inauguration of Sexual Difference 41 literature. Rather, it is the mystery of the other, a mystery that accompanies all manifestations of alterity. The feminine slips away from the light—from comprehension—as does the Other. There is always an alterity in the other that eludes me. This relationship to alterity appears to be derived from the originary event of sexual differentiation.
The sexual differentiation to which Levinas refers necessitates that another can never be completely joined with me. It is only in a relation of separation that I can have a relation with absolute alterity. This response furthermore signifies the inauguration of an ethical response to the other. Yet the two stories of creation present us with slightly different accounts of the creation of woman. And, the story implies, man is created simultaneously with woman, or at least with the idea of woman.
The second version of the creation story found in Genesis is slightly different from the first. This change not only helps us understand what Levinas refers to when he compares existing without existents to the absolute emptiness before creation, but also emphasizes the relationship between separation and the creation of the sexes. In this version, man is created first, before anything else. Thus, the focus on separation and individuation reappears, although here the separation is of humanity into man and woman.
What does it mean to say that God created him, male and female? In light of such a statement, what does it mean to say that God created woman? Does this mean that sexual difference, or at least the concept of it, existed prior to the creation of woman—that is, prior to the existence of both man and woman as such? And how do we account for two different stories of creation found in the book of Genesis?
Emmanuel Levinas (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
We at least need to note the very real problem of biblical interpretation. There are two different conceptions of God at work in the story, revealed by the Adonist and the Elohim traditions. How does the presence of two different conceptions of God, possibly the result of two different storytellers, change or influence our interpretation? His discussion of this passage begins with a question about the Hebrew. But when the word is used to indicate the creation of other things—for example, animals—it is written The Inauguration of Sexual Difference 43 with only one yod.
One rabbi speculates that this discrepancy signals the difference between the creations: humanity incorporates an element of the divine, and this is differentiated from the other things that God made. Another interpretation suggests that yetzer indicates inclination; thus, man was created with two inclinations, toward good and evil. In front he was a man, but attached to him in back was a woman. Yet, for Levinas this passage also suggests something else.
Woman is not yet an issue. The feminine face does not appear until later, and, contrary to how this verse is normally understood, woman is not created from man. Thus, according to Levinas, the face is not marked even by sexed characteristics. Although one can see why Levinas would need to adopt this position, especially in light of his own emphasis on separation and individuation, it is nonetheless peculiar that he would take such a stance.
If it is the individuation of both man and woman, male and female, that allows them to participate in a relationship with each other—the first relationship between human beings—then their ability to participate in such a relationship is contingent on their being sexed. But in this case, the separation that allows for two beings to be in a relationship is also the separation of the sexes as such.
It is this claim that Levinas advances as his defense against the potential danger of an ethics marked by sexual difference. With regard to the first point, that sexual difference derived from the creation of humanity, the conclusion actually appears to be precisely the opposite. If what is human is created simultaneously with male and female, then how can we establish a priority, ontological or otherwise?
If humanity is created as male and female, then humanity is always already marked by sexual difference. That is, just as paint is merely incidental to the wood to which it adheres, so, according to Levinas, our sexuality is something that merely adheres to our humanity. That is, his claim indicates that sexual difference is not constitutive of our humanity but instead could be separated from it. The second version of the creation of woman from man, the fashioning of the rib into woman, suggests a more complex understanding of this act than is normally assumed.
That is, it is in the giving of the skin, the giving of the rib, that the other is actually created. The relationship is not interchangeable. In any event, Levinas insists that while woman is not herself secondary, the relationship of man to woman, as woman, is secondary. Although Levinas insists that sexual difference be understood in practice as secondary to what is human, he nonetheless maintains the priority of the position of the male in the order of the creation of sexual difference.
He claims that the presence of the creature prior to sexual difference signifies the priority of what is human over the relationship between the sexes. Additionally, there is a textual discrepancy concerning the order of the creation of the sexes. Even more interesting is the fact that after this creation, regardless of the initial order, men future humans do indeed issue from women!
If nothing else, the story depicts an inversion of the biological truth. We need only look at what woman is called to see this point clearly. But what does this mean for her status in relation to man? What is this so-called non-sexed humanity? Judith Plaskow, in her seminal work Standing Again at Sinai,29 remains unconvinced that the story can be interpreted as anything other than an affirmation of patriarchy.
For Plaskow, that Eve was created second confirms this view. She had to make sense of what God asked, and then she had to decide to obey or disregard what she was told. Trible claims that even if Eve was created second, that need not indicate inferiority. In fact, it may suggest the opposite. Throughout the Bible, it is often the second who is superior and who is favored—for example, Jacob and Joseph.
And, Trible reminds us, Adam played no role in the creation of Eve. Adam was asleep. He was neither a participant nor an observer. Thus, Trible concludes, he did not have any control over Eve or her creation. She is the creation of God just as Adam is. Eve cannot be said to be inferior to Adam simply by virtue of the reference to her as a helpmate. Trible thus concludes that the animals are inferior to Adam; God is superior to Adam; and Eve is equal to Adam.
As he points out, there is the assumed privilege of male neutrality in the issue of humanity. This implicit privilege results from the attempt to whitewash the secondariness of woman: rather than merely say that woman is secondary to man, the relation is reframed so that it places sexual difference secondary to what is human.
But this refocusing does not change the order of male to female in the story of creation. Levinas cites Rav Abbahu, who claims that God originally wanted two beings—not man issuing from woman or woman issuing from man. God wanted two separate, equal beings. But Rav Abbahu believed that this equality could not be sustainable, for there would be war. Equal beings would compete for control. He thought that to create a world that would not self-destruct, one being must be subordinated to the other.
There had to be a difference that did not compromise equality or affect how justice was distributed with regard to what it means to be human. Once again, humanity is detached from sexual difference. According to these rabbis, sexual difference, including the priority of one sex over the other, was created in order to prevent a war. Humans were equal to each other in the garden, and then equality began to deteriorate. One possible interpretation of the story is that it is meant to teach us a lesson about how to treat each other. This interpretation assumes that our goal should be to try to return to the garden, which is a metaphor for the restoration of equality.
Second, the claim that sexual difference is secondary to humanity is simply false. Rather, God created male and female, but God placed them within one being. Is he the same creature? Is it not the case that the focus on the creation of woman obscures the description of the event as the creation of both man and woman as such? To be sure, the creature that was initially created by God cannot be the same creature following the separation of the female.
One might say that it is only after the creation of woman—or, rather, after the removal of woman from the creature—that man exists qua male being. In her book Lethal Love, Mieke Bal makes a similar point and takes the argument one step further. According to Bal, the creature needs to be separated from itself. First, she reminds us that it is not God who names the creature Adam, but the narrator.
In this case, the animals are too different. The creation of woman from man—that is, the presence of woman—is the first experience with alterity. According to the Torah, God brought all the animals before Adam but none of them was adequate. Then woman was created, and Adam recognized immediately the difference between woman and the other creatures that God had previously paraded before him.
Woman, by virtue of being removed from that to which she was once attached, is the radical other to man. Not only is the feminine in its alterity not assimilated into the same, but it also provides the condition for any relation with alterity. There was not a previously existing whole, or fusion. Rather, there were always two beings, two totalities attached as one, two who were always marked by their relation to sexuality. The mystery of the feminine and, therefore, the mystery of the other constitute alterity. However, Levinas wants to avoid the trap of the Hegelian master-slave dialectic, wherein the struggle for freedom and recognition results in the consciousness becoming the slave to the other, who becomes master.
The other is other simply because she is not me. Alterity is not a function of ontic characteristics, such as hair color, race, and so on. Thus, it is in the absolutely original relationship that we find alterity not characterized as a power struggle. Male and female have separate roles to play. In the relation between man and woman, each is indispensable to the other. His role is to become a subject and hers is to help bring about that subjectivity. His aim in this characterization of eros is to illustrate what eros is not. It is a relationship with the very dimension of alterity, with the future.
The Inauguration of Sexual Difference 49 The voluptuousness of the erotic differs from all other pleasures because it is not solitary. And the account of voluptuousness that Levinas advances illustrates the role of the feminine and its alterity—namely, that it precludes its absorption into the same. The feminine is not synonymous with the pure event.
How is this possible? The victory over death is paternity, described as a relationship with a stranger—a son, who is both same and other. The son is not his possession. In the relation between father and son, in the fulfillment of becoming a father, time is accomplished. But his conception of love and its relation to paternity remains unclear. Moreover, the role that the feminine plays in bringing about subjectivity remains obscured by the apparent significance it has in bringing about paternity and the birth of the son.
The feminine is not the pure event; rather, it makes this pure event possible. On another level, the feminine provides the first contact with an alterity so radical that it the feminine will not be able to be the ethical other. The feminine will be before and beyond the ethical, but the feminine cannot partake in the ethical. Although he wants to claim that the relationship to woman as woman might be secondary in terms of the libido, the passage makes clear that it is not secondary with regard to the very functioning of society.
Regardless of how we finally decide that matter, it is clear that once the sexual division takes place, a division of labor follows. Moreover, the division of labor along the lines of sexual difference is fundamental to the very manner in which men function both in and outside the home. This, I maintain, shows that sexual difference plays a fundamental role in the drama of existence. This interpretation of the order of creation would allow Levinas to maintain that his ethics is not marked by sexual difference.
He enforces this division of labor and then gives priority to the male experience of participating in the ethical. And we have seen that it is radical alterity housed in the feminine that enables the movement from the there is to the hypostasis. In doing so, however, we need to bear in mind that his conception of the future remains complicated, since he also defines the future in terms of death. Death reveals itself as that which cannot take place in the light. Whereas for Heidegger, death is the event of freedom, the revelation of the virility of the subject, for Levinas, death is the limit of the possible.
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Death is never present. Although Heidegger deems being-toward-death as an authentic mode of Dasein, Levinas illustrates through his reference to Macbeth that heroes seize the last chance before death, not death itself. Even the hero hopes that he will not die: death just comes. So, contrary to Heidegger, Levinas does not believe that death confirms my solitude. What, then, is the relationship between death and eros? It is in his discussion of eros that he characterizes the feminine as both mystery and absolute other.
However, if Levinas categorizes both death and the feminine as possible others, to which other does this passage refer: death or the feminine? This question reveals the problem of preserving the ego in transcendence. How does one remain a self in the face of death? For Levinas this reconciliation takes place in the face-to-face encounter with the Other, an encounter with a face that at once both reveals and conceals itself.
I wish to make two points about the face-to-face relationship that Levinas establishes, the second being contingent on the first. First, we see here the anticipation of the ethical relation with which Levinas will concern himself in the works to follow. But who takes part in this face-to-face relation? It is not clear that Time and the Other can support such a reading.
I propose that the face-to-face relationship—at least as understood in terms of the ethical relation—initially excludes the feminine. However, this point does not preclude the feminine from playing any role at all or from playing a significant role. Rather, I suggest that the relation with the feminine provides the initial experience of present and future.
The feminine in its feminine phase, in its feminine form certainly may die bringing life into the world, but—how can I say to you? I am speaking about the possibility of conceiving that there is meaning without me. I think the heart of the heart, the deepest of the feminine, is dying in giving life, in bringing life into the world. I am not emphasizing dying but, on the contrary, future.
Woman is the category of future, the ecstasy of future. It is that human possibility which consists in saying that the life of another human being is more important than my own, that the death of the other is more important to me than my own death, that the Other comes before me, that the Other counts before I do, that the value of the Other is imposed before mine is. Although Levinas argues, earlier in the conversation and in other places in his writing, that the feminine serves as a metaphor, in this response we can begin to see his vacillation between the feminine and woman.
It is woman who bears the child, the son; it is woman who creates the home; it is woman who is the future. And it is the woman who may die in childbirth. Thus, it should be clear that the feminine is not simply a metaphor; it also refers to empirically existing women. If his conceptions of alterity, time, the future, and love are contingent on the erotic relationship and how that relationship unfolds in fecundity, then Levinas needs sexual difference.
It provides the foundation The Inauguration of Sexual Difference 53 for his philosophy. The birth of the son ensures that the movement is directed toward an other, toward the future, but not a future that means being-toward-death, as Heidegger would have us believe. For Levinas, the future means a life characterized by life. It is in this passage, and the immediately following one, that we find an answer to our question regarding the relationship between the feminine and alterity, between eros and sexual difference. He continues, 44 This heterogeneity and this relationship between genders, on the basis of which society and time are to be understood, brings us to the material to which another work will be devoted.
The peculiar form of the contraries and contradictions of eros has escaped Heidegger, who in his lectures tends to present the difference between the sexes as a specification of a genus. It is in eros that transcendence can be conceived as something radical, which brings to the ego caught up in being, ineluctably returning to itself, something else than this return, can free it of its shadow.
To simply say that the ego leaves itself is a contradiction, since, in quitting itself the ego carries itself along. Asymmetrical intersubjectivity is the locus of transcendence in which the subject, while preserving its subject, has the possibility of not inevitably returning to itself, the possibility of being fecund and having a son. Fecundity is the means by which this return is rendered incomplete. The feminine is understood in relationship to the future and to the birth of a child.
It is fundamental to the movement of subjectivity. Eros, as the feminine, provides the means by which there is an originary experience with alterity, by which the existent contracts its existence. In other words, alterity via the relationship to the feminine in eros is the means by which the existent becomes a subject.
This relationship is therefore marked by transcendence without a complete return to the self, owing to the birth of a son. But because of the birth of the child, this experience with alterity is also the means by which both man and woman escape the trap of totality, a concern that de Beauvoir also has. The child interrupts the closed relationship and opens the couple onto the world. This is a discussion that Levinas expands in Totality and Infinity.
Rather you must open your hand and lend him sufficient for whatever he needs. We also saw that sexual difference informs the theme of separation and individuation and establishes the conditions for the ethical relation, even though the ethical is not yet named in this book. In Totality and Infinity, Levinas tells us that in order for the ethical to arise, there must be an intimacy—a familiarity or an enjoyment—that is disrupted. The man goes into the world as someone who is at home with himself and who can return to his home. The home, which provides the place to which the man can return for enjoyment, is thus characterized by intimacy.
Hence, the man has a life that is both inside enjoyment and outside the ethical the home. In this chapter, we see that the role of the feminine is doubled: it functions both as the welcoming in the dwelling and as the access to fecundity via the erotic relationship.
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Thus, we can raise questions not only about how Levinas understands the erotic relationship—that is, the love relationship between the man and woman—but also about how his conception of eros has been understood by his commentators. And comments by both Levinas and his readers support this position. Commentators often claim that Levinas uses the feminine only metaphorically.
Adriaan Peperzak, for example, does so, and he concludes that Levinas does not exclude woman or women from the ethical relationship. Peperzak thus interprets Levinas as using the triplet to encompass all human beings. To interpret the feminine metaphorically, rather than opening up possibilities, actually occludes the nuance of the text. Addition- The Hospitality of the Feminine 57 ally, we need to ask after the relationship of the metaphorical to the empirical. How does a metaphor become effective?
One possible answer to this question is to suggest that interpreting the feminine as a metaphor can have purchase only because it ultimately refers to the empirical. Thus, to ignore the possibility that the feminine refers to empirical women actually undermines its effectiveness as a metaphor.
In spite of what Levinas might tell us or what he might wish to be the case, his books might tell us something different. The confusion, and the ensuing criticisms, can be attributed to his own vacillation between the literal and the metaphorical. Certainly one could say that this interpretation of Levinas is too literal. However, my interest is to investigate the claim that the feminine is merely a metaphor, or that it is a simple metaphor. More specifically, Levinas derives his image of the feminine from the women of the Hebrew Bible. The widow husbandless and the orphan fatherless have in common a similar lack: neither is connected to a man.
These individuals require our attention because of their very real circumstances—they lack protection and support of any kind. Thus, they uniquely represent those who are most in need. The biblical reference implores us to look after not merely men, women, and children, but those who are the most vulnerable, those who are the most in need. This is not to say that we are to look after only these people. However, we can identify statements of a more determinate position in his essays on Judaism.
Moreover, the characteristics that Levinas recites and applauds are not the usual, stereotypical traits of women; they are as diverse as the women themselves. These are not women who sat on the sidelines and watched while the men made history. These women were engaged in the very act of making history. Or as Levinas believes, history and, more importantly, the sacred history of Judaism would not have been made without them.
It also signifies the female sex. Talmudic law, which excludes women from being judges and witnesses,8 in effect prevents women from participating in the public realm. Women are considered keepers of the home, not of the courts. And yet, he points out, it is in Judaism that we find one of the earliest signs of respect for the dignity and legal status of women. Men are assigned roles dealing with public life, while women are confined to roles associated with the home.
Rather, it is the home that makes the ethical possible. She answers to a solitude inside this privation and—which is stranger—to a solitude that subsists in spite of the presence of God; to a solitude in the universal, to the inhuman which continues to well up even when the human has mastered nature and raised it to thought. For the inevitable uprooting of thought, which dominates the world, to return to the peace and ease of being at home, the strange flow of gentleness must enter into the geometry of infinite and cold space.
Its name is woman. If we recall the story of creation, Adam, the earth creature, was alone. It was a single creature uniting both man and woman. Although it is the man who brings home the corn and the flax, it is the woman who transforms them into bread and clothing. According to rabbinic tradition, it is the woman who makes a life for the man, who makes life worth living, and who contributes to his life what is required for his soul. In her book Menstrual Purity, Charlotte Fonrobert responds to the above passage.
All of the actions that Levinas mentions were conducted in relationship to sons, fathers, and husbands—except in the case of Ruth, whose action was initially directed at her mother-in-law.
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He works within the framework given to him by the Bible; it was not chosen by him. In his view, it is precisely because these The Hospitality of the Feminine 61 women are limited by the roles that define them that their actions are so extraordinary. He demonstrates that in spite of the roles that limit and define them, these women actually advance the dramatic movement of the biblical stories in question.
Their actions actually enable them to exceed the passive roles that they were assumed to have had. On the one hand, we could say that it is not Levinas who constrains these women, but the Hebrew Bible itself. On the other hand, however, we could say that the array of women that Levinas includes in his description allows for significant differences among women. Thus, even the Hebrew Bible accounts for a variety. In any event, Levinas offers an image of the feminine that refers to a number of different women.
This view of the erotic relation follows the treatment found in the Talmud. Judaism places a positive emphasis on sexual pleasure. But fecundity is important insofar as it also signifies the continuation of the Jewish people. The language that marks the ethical relation is absent from the erotic. Levinas identifies the love relationship as a return to the same. This characterization is distinctly different from his characterization of the ethical relation.
One might assume that he would insist that love be valued solely as an end in itself. And yet, as we will see, even this position is more complex than is usually allowed. What, then, is the connection between an erotic relationship that focuses on pleasure for the sake of itself, something that Levinas allows for explicitly, and the priority of the love relation that ends in fecundity? Feminist readers of Levinas are divided on the best way to interpret his analysis of love: on the one hand, he should be lauded for recognizing the pleasurable element of eros; but on the other hand, the priority he gives to the erotic relation, which ultimately ends in the birth of a son, appears to eclipse the pleasurable aspects of eros.
Thus, it appears that pleasure in eros is only a means to an end. A closer examination might yield a different view. For Levinas, ambiguity characterizes the erotic. The relation with the other in love turns into a relation of need, while also transcending such a relation.
davelamab.tk He finds compelling the ambiguous notion of love as a relation in which there is both a return to the self and a transcendence of self. The face of the other, of the beloved, reveals within it what it is not yet. The ambiguity of love lies, finally, in the possibility for the Other to appear as an object of need, and yet still retain its alterity: [T]he possibility of enjoying the Other, of placing oneself at the same time beneath and beyond discourse—this position with regard to the interlocutor which at the same time reaches him and goes beyond him, this simultaneity of need and desire, of concupiscence and transcendence, tangency of the avowable and the unavowable, constitutes the originality of the erotic which, in this sense, is the equivocal par excellence.
The feminine in the dwelling provides the conditions for the The Hospitality of the Feminine 63 man to go out into the world. We therefore have a conception of the feminine that situates the feminine both before the ethical and beyond the ethical. Although it may be controversial to say so, the feminine situated before the ethical appears as a transcendental figure. That is, the feminine is the condition of the possibility of ethics. The feminine provides habitation and escape. The beloved, the feminine who appears after the discussion of the ethical, in the form of eros and the possibility of fecundity, appears as both need the present and desire the future.
In other words, the beloved is the exterior or the beyond, and in this form we may find her transcendence. But regardless of how we situate the beloved in relation to the ethical, as either below, before, or beyond the ethical, the beloved as beloved remains outside the ethical. He continually uses language that presents the image of the beloved cast below, while the lover is raised to new heights. The caress, though it is like sensibility, transcends the sensible.
The future is an intangible; it is a not-yet. In love, the feminine acts like a child who lacks responsibility. The face of the feminine goes beyond the face that we find in the ethical relation. The face of the feminine exists in both its purity and its profanation. The feminine, the beloved, is ambiguity itself. Here, in the childlike quality of the beloved, the face fades into the impersonal. Levinas uses this word not to connote a lack of intimacy, but to express that which is not characterized by personhood. In this erotic relation, he casts the woman, the beloved, as somehow not human, or at least, not an adult person engaged in the important task of ethical responsibility.
She profanes because the ethical is concealed or covered over, behind the face of the beloved. Yet, it is because of her that he, the lover, can transcend. It is the beloved who makes such transcendence possible. In the name of sexual difference and the preservation of alterity, Levinas has cast each player in this love scene in a different role. Thus, unlike the man, the woman is cast down into the abyss, into the darkness, into that which suggests a void of God and religion.
The descriptions of the feminine, of the beloved, of the voluptuosity in love, serve to indicate the ways in which the face in eros distinguishes itself from the face in the ethical relation. Eros, like all other enjoyments, is to be relished in itself. But eros differs from all other enjoyments in that other enjoyments, such as eating and drinking, can be solitary. The couple is sealed as a society of two. It remains outside the political, secluded in its intimacy, its dual solitude.
The voluptuosity in love does not transcend itself. As such, we find a description similar to the one we saw in Time and the Other: the love relation is the juncture of present and future. Hence, love itself provides the means by which love is a return to the self, but also that which moves away from itself. This movement away from itself is part of the future secured by the relation of love. The child, the future, the transcendence of love, redeems the voluptuosity or the concern with itself. According to Levinas, love escapes itself, escapes a return to the same, when it is directed toward the future, when it engenders the child.
They are informed by the religious tradition that influences his project. His apparent separation of eros from the ethical leads us to ask what ethical responsibility we have toward our spouses and partners. If we remember that he tells us that the ethical is veiled, we can see what he means by this separation. For Levinas, it is not the case that we have no obligations to our beloved. Rather, his phenomenological description is intended to demonstrate how complex love is.
In eros, we are not concerned with the other as an ethical other.