Issue 38-39/2011

In the Search for Common Grounds and Limits of Agreement

  1. Jean-Michel Salanskis: From Sensibility to Its Telos: Lyotard With And Against Levinas
  2. Iwona Lorenc: The Aesthetic Versus the Ethical. Levinas’ and Lyotard’s Possible Meeting Points
  3. Małgorzata Kowalska: Language and Justice. Levinas versus Lyotard

Lévinas: New Areas and Shifting the Boundaries

  1. Jacek Migasiński: Levinas: Genetic Phenomenology, Transcendental Empirism and Limits of Experience
  2. Andrzej Leder: How the Word Becomes Image in Levinas
  3. Marta Szabat: Transmutations of il y a in the Philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas
  4. Magdalena Kozak: Crossing the Limits by Levinas

Between Aistehsis and Ethical

  1. Maja Chmura: On the Flesh That Became a Word. The Transcendental Dimension of Culpability in Levinas
  2. Xymena Synak-Pskit: Sublime Body
  3. Nelly Przybylska: To See The Inexpressible. Emmanuel Lévinas’ Language Ethics
  4. Patrycja Bobowska-Nastarzewska: The role of “conscience” in the issues of “the otherness” and “the other” in the philosophy of Emmanuel Lévinas and Paul Ricœur
  5. Barbara Markowska: Levinas’ Wel-Coming and Derrida’s Law of Hospitality/Hostility: How Beyond the Hegelian Dialectics the Subject is Possible?

Lyotard: Between Silence and Communication

  1. Maria Gołębiewska: The Internal Image in the Conception of Image and Figure by Jean-François Lyotard
  2. Piotr Kozak: The sublime utopia of Avant‑garde – aporias of the analytic of the sublime
  3. Gaëlle Bernard: To Listen, to Speak, to Write. The right to speak and Requirement of Silence According to Lyotard
  4. Claire Pages: Lyotard’s Dispute with Habermas and Rorty, Or Why Communication and Consensus Are Not Enough to Think About Community

Contexts, Applications, References

  1. Anna Wendorff: The Limits and Hyper-fictions in the Time of Great Crisis of Great Narratives: on Pos(t)modern Metaphors
  2. Rafał Ilnicki: The Time of Inhuman Images. The Memory Technologically Structured
  3. Krzysztof Matuszewski: The Idea of Substitution in Huysmans’ and Levinas’ Thought. From Escapism to Conversion.
  4. Ewa Izabela Nowak: The Influence of Religious Upbringing on the Development of Emmanuel Levinas’ Thought
  5. Carlos Dimeo Álvarez: Witnesses and Biography, Subjects and Memory: Langugae and Representation
  6. Aleksander Temkin: Two Dogs Strive for a Bone and Hegel Runs Away With it or More Kant in Levinas

Les limites de la parole et de l’image dans les pensées de Lyotard et Levinas

Recherche des points communs et des limites de leur correspondance

  1. M. Salanskis – De la sensibilité à l’art et à son telos: Lyotard avec et contre Levinas
  2. I. Lorenc – Le versus esthétique-éthique. Les lieux de rencontre possible entre Lévinas et Lyotard
  3. M. Kowalska – De l’impossibilité et de la nécessité du discours sur la justice selon Lévinas et Lyotard (resumé)

Levinas: nouveaux domaines et dépassement des limites

  1. J. Migasiński – Lévinas: la phénoménologie génétique, l’empirisme transcendantal et les limites de l’expérience
  2. A. Leder – Comment la parole devient l’image en restant la parole chez Lévinas (abstract)
  3. M. Szabat – Les limites de l’inconscient et l’il y a (abstract)
  4. K. Kozak – Dépassement lévinassien des limites (abstract)

Entre aisthesis et ce qui est ethique

  1. M. Chmura – Visages du verbe ou de la chair qui se fit verbe (abstract)
  2. X. Synak-Pskit – Vide et ouverture: autour de la forme kantienne (abstract)
  3. N. Przybylska – Voir l’indicible (abstract)
  4. P. Bobowska‑Nastarzewska – Le rôle de la « conscience morale » dans la question de l’« altérité » et de l’« autre » dans la philosophie d’Emmanuel Lévinas et celle de Paul Ricoeur (abstract)
  5. B. Markowska – l’Accueil chez Lévinas et la loi de l’hostipitalité de Derrida. Comment le sujet au‑dela de la dialectique hégélienne est‑il possible? (abstract)

Lyotard : entre silence et entente

  1. M. Gołębiewska – L’intuition interieure dans la conception de l’image et de la figure chez Jean Francois Lyotard
  2. P. Kozak – Lyotard rencontre Staline – apories de l’analytique du sublime (abstract)
  3. G. Bernard – Ecouter, parler, écrire. Droit à la parole et exigence de silence chez Lyotard
  4. C. Pages – Le différend de Lyotard avec Habermas et Rorty: pourquoi communication et consensus ne permettent pas de penser la communauté

Contextes, applications, références

  1. A. Wendorff – Limites et hyperfictions au temps de la grande crise des grandes narrations: des metaphores pos(t)modernes (abstract)
  2. R. Ilnicki – Temps des images inhumaines. Mémoire structurée technologiquement (abstract)
  3. K. Matuszewski – Idée de substitution dans la pensée de Huysmans et de Levinas (abstract)
  4. E. Nowak – L’influence de la religion sur la pensée d’Emmanuel Levinas (abstract)
  5. D. Alvarez – Les témoins et la biographie, les sujets et la mémoire: langage et représentation (abstract)
  6. A. Temkin – Lévinas et Kant ou une tentative de trouver une place pour une «bonne généralité» dans l’éthique de Lévinas au moyen d’un contrat réciproque avec l’éthique kantienne (abstract)

From Sensibility to Its Telos: Lyotard With And Against Lévinas

Jean-Michel Salanskis

The article focuses on the relation between art and philosophy in the thought of Emmanuel Lévinas and Jean-François Lyotard. On the one hand Lévinas is a philosopher who openly rejects the primary role of art in the philosophical analysis. On the other hand the theoretical reflection upon art is strongly bound to the Lévinas’ ethics in the Lyotard’s project. What is common for those two authors is the notion of “sensibility”. For Lyotard what is sensible is traumatic. It is presented as the radical force or energy that negates the established order of discourse. For Lévinas what is sensible may serve, as the impulse for escaping from being (On Escape); as the enjoyment (jouissance) (Totality and Infinity); asa point of departure for the mode of being one for the Other (Otherwise than Being). Lévinas interprets the sensibility as something exceptional, Lyotard treats it as an interruption. Both philosophers however treat various arts (painting, literature, music) ambiguously and both show that one homogenous notion of philosophy of art is impossible.

The Aesthetic Versus the Ethical. Lévinas’ and Lyotard’s Possible Meeting Points

Iwona Lorenc

The purpose of this article is to point certain similarities between the philosophical projects formulated by Lévinas and Lyotard. They result from, among other things, the “mechanics of analogy” between certain motives present in these differing perspectives and some particular overlapping topics. However, my intention is broader as I try to situate this “mechanics of analogy” against a far deeper background formed not only by spiritual kinship linking both perspectives but also by a certain sort of philosophical-ethical sensibility. The famous arguments against art which Lévinas raised in his text Reality and its Shadow should not veil the fact that the philosophical solutions offered by the author of Totality and Infinity converge in many respects with those proposed by Lyotard who, nevertheless, does not incriminate artistic representations in such a radical way. It is just the opposite; namely, he derives an entirely different understanding and judgment of the aesthetic from similar philosophical premises. I am convinced that it is possible to conciliate their views on how limits of language and image are experienced on pholisophical grounds.

Language and Justice. Levinas versus Lyotard

Małgorzata Kowalska

The author’s main objective is to examine the idea of justice and its ambiguous connections with the fact of language in the light of both Lévinas’ and Lyotard’s thought. Can desire of justice be really said, or expressed in a language? Does it emerge with language or does it take origins in a silent feeling that precedes and transcends any language? How does it intervene in our practice of language? And what kind of language practice can be called “just”? In comparing Lévinas’ and Lyotard’s considerations on justice and language, the author shows some similarities and also significant differences between them. They both assume that the idea of justice transcends language but also generates the desire of language and influences the way we make use of it. However, they radically differ in their manners of determining the just using of language. While for Lévinas language – and, first of all, living speech in the situation of face-to-face – is just when it bridges a subjectivity to the other and constitutes the sphere of “common”, for Lyotard, on the contrary, the just “politics of language” consists in breaking the illusion of what is common, in revealing irreducible differences between singular idioms. Even though, in that point, the author’s position is closer to Lévinas, she acknowledges the critical virtue to Lyotard’s disbelief of “communication” and “consensus”. In conclusion, she postulates a re-elaboration of the question of justice and language that takes into consideration the reflection of the two authors.

Levinas: Genetic Phenomenology, Transcendental Empirism and Limits of Experience

Jacek Migasiński

In the article, firstly, the ambivalent attitude of Lévinas to the classic phenomenology is analysed, and a thesis has been put forward that his stand point is a version of genetic phenomenology. Secondly, the article highlights some phenomena from everyday experience examined by Lévinas in the early phase of his work as transcendental preconditions for the emergence of subjectivity – thus his philosophical position can be regarded as a version of transcendental empiricism. Thirdly, preconditions for the constitution of the ethically mature human subject indicated by Lévinas are presented in the article as a critical point of transcendental empiricism – for they in fact fall outside any phenomenological insight itself. Fourthly, the subject described by Lévinas in the last phase of his work as ‘fractured’, ‘anarchistic’ is in the article interpreted as an analogon of existence on the border between life and death lead by prisoners of concentration camp, which situation was once analysed penetratingly by G. Agamben – that is, the existence thwarting any possibility of ‘bearing witness”. So finally the philosophical position of Lévinas is in the present text interpreted as going beyond transcendental empiricism.

How the Word Becomes Image in Lévinas

Andrzej Leder

I would like to present a deepened analysis of a few passages of Lévinas’ “Otherwise than Being”. This analysis is focused on the tension between what is figurative and non‑figurative in the language. This tension belongs to the one of the most important determinants of the metaphysical construction of the world. I will try to show that Lévinas in his analysis that is performed in the dialogue with Heidegger avoids certain limitations immanent to this tension. The most important in this case are the limitations of the word and the image. The word, a spoken word is first of all a proper name and looses, according to Lévinas its characteristics of a being, a mere entity to transform itself, in a quasi‑heideggerian way, into a form of the verb, that is it returns to the original ambiguity of the world. On can think that is way of loosing a purity of “Adamic” language. What’s more it makes the explanation of the universe of beings impossible. However, for Lévinas this transformation is crucial for he shows that in order to return to the world of proper names, the world of beings and the world of discourse the concept of the Other is indispensable.

Transmutations of il y a in the Philosophy of Emmanuel Lévinas

Marta Szabat

This text discusses the problem of transformations of the category of il y a in the Emmanuel Lévinas’ philosophy which can be divided into three periods. In the first one, pronoun of the third person in impersonal form of verb, has been defined as a matter of fact, a darkness, a break in a conscious’ work, as something, which hasn’t got a form but, at the same time, it is something, that still relate to a conscious. The second period brings a little different conception of il y a which refers to a notion of an existence and to on neutral ground that is produced, in the history of modern philosophy, on base of these terms. Il y a will be situated on neutral ground. Il y a will emerge itself when a heterogeneity and an individuality will be reduced to only one standard. The third period of Lévinas’ philosophical development does not bring important changes in the category of il y a. The most important thing in that period is a change of the subject’s notion. According to the new understanding of this term, the Lévinas’ subject is defined by relation with the other. In this context il y a is undertaken by French philosopher as a possibility to fall down to neutral ground, to an indifference in relations with the another. This possibility always is real and that is why the subject must understand itself metaphysically. That means that he should look after his identity out of itself.

Crossing the Limits by Lévinas

Magdalena Kozak

I would like to investigate how Lévinas crosses the limits of a traditional ethics and transforms traditional philosophical concepts and images in his own reflection. What is the most interesting in such operation is a mode by which chosen concepts change their meaning, gaining new sense or are sometimes transformed into religious concepts. The epiphany of the Other for example is not a simple revelation of the other’s appearance, it is not a mere confrontation with the other human, but implies becoming hostage of the Other. The same happens with the concept of “goodness” which is not based in the idea of subjective liberty but is related to the idea of responsibility for the Other. The concept of sacred is not related to God because for Lévinas the act of God’s creation of the world origins in God’s self-limitation, the absence of absolute being that makes the world possible. God is present in His absence in the world. Careful investigation of such semantic changes is crucial in understanding Lévinas’ thought.

On the Flesh That Became a Word. The Transcendental Dimension of Culpability in Lévinas

Maja Chmura

The evolution of Levians’ thought shows explicitly the origins of the concept of subjectivity based on a bodily sensibility. I will try to show that in a late Lévinas’ thought his understanding of a subjectivity is peculiarly a transcendental one: at the core of subject’s sensuality there can be found a culpability. As the condition of any kind of knowledge and of a social life this culpability is of transcendental function.

Sublime Body

Xymena Synak-Pskit

One of the problems of Kant’s theory of sublime deals with the entanglement of representation with aporias of time which is simultaneously defined as a a priori form of intuition. Kant wrote about the regression in the progression of imagination in which regression abolishes time condition that can be found in the later. For Lyotard each “now” is possible only when it doesn’t “happen”. For Beckett the time is not something which cannot appear in consciousness, but it is something that makes the consciousness unrepresentable to itself. Das Erhabene (sublime) may be instantaneous transcending progressive-regressive movement of imagination into the time represented as punct-uality that doesn’t belong to the timeline. However the problem of synthesis of different “now” still remains. This synthesis differentiates itself in the pathos and apathy of sublime being possible only in a certain duration. This is the space of inscription the materiality of which is a build of the resistance, the rest that remains as a excess and a lack at the same time (re(si)stance).

To See The Inexpressible. Emmanuel Lévinas’ Language Ethics

Nelly Przybylska

Saying is not a game, and language is not an arbitrary system of signs. In spite of semiotic-structuralist findings, Lévinas developed the language ethics. Lévinas’ ethics of responsibility is closely related to word. The word understood multifacetedly allows us an encounter with the Other. The word that co-creates the Lévinas’s ethics, appears as a relationship, language, saying, transcendence, praying, thinking, existence, the other and above all, the Law. Listening to Saying manifests the obedience to the Law. Asceticism, being after all of a Greek origin, in Lévinas’ finds its counterpart in everyday life relating to the Judaic tradition, in a practice of the study of the Scripture, in psalm prayer, in becoming a personal part of the biblical history of Israel, by deriving from this source which is the Word Revealed and ‘eating’ the Bible. Thus, the position of man towards the God of Israel opens to everyday life. From this perspective, the ethics itself does not require any self-imposed artificial conducts to be taken to live everyday life. It is on the contrary. It is the word of the God of Israel that creates everyday life; the Other is the most important and makes everyday life meaningful. Subsequently, it results naturally in ethics reflected in everyday life.

The role of “conscience” in the issues of “the otherness” and “the other” in the philosophy of Emmanuel Lévinas and Paul Ricoeur

Patrycja Bobowska-Nastarzewska

The analysis presented in the paper compares the thoughts of two contemporary French philosophers Emmanuel Lévinas and Paul Ricoeur on the concept of “conscience” and the category of “the otherness”, most notably the category of “the other”. The author draws attention to the spheres common to both the thinkers as well as to those philosophical solutions in which they differ from each other. The considerations presented in the paper also refer to the “call of conscience”, a concept by Martin Heidegger, a philosopher who considerably affected the world view of the two thinkers.

Lévinas’ Wel-Coming and Derrida’s Law of Hospitality/Hostility: How Beyond the Hegelian Dialectics the Subject is Possible?

Barbara Markowska

Lévinas’ „Totality and Infinity” shows us that radical, unmediated hospitality is meaningful only under condition of existence of the absolute exteriority. It is closely related to the conception of the subject as being as a host, because only as a host I can welcome the Other, I can be “otherwise than being” a mere owner. The possibility of resignation is the confirmation of the law of property. For Lévinas the moment of substitution is the limit of such openness to the Other. It is the excessive moment of responsibility for the Other that has been described in “Otherwise Than Being”. Following Derridian interpretation of Lévinas I would like to ask if the unconditional hospitality may be referred to the political practice which is governed by universal laws. Is it possible to understand it similarly to the project presented by Kant in his “Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch”? This question leads us to the problem of ethical subjectivity and its political consequences. Can the rite of hospitality which is always directed towards “me” become the fundament of universality of the new type? Hence the Hegelian plot: to what extent the subjectivity that is grounded on the figure of “host” who is at the same time a “guest” (double meaning of the French hôte) differs from “master/slave” dialectics? As Derrida shows, a guest may become a stranger (étrange) or even an enemy (hostilité) who is under the law of hospitality/hostility (hostipitalité) based on the vocation to become a hostage of the Other.

The Internal Image in the Conception of Image and Figure by Jean-François Lyotard

Maria Gołębiewska

The text presents the main theses concerning the conception of image and figure proposed by Jean-François Lyotard, first of all, in his well-known book Discours, figure: un essai d’esthétique (1971). Freud’s conceptions, especially unconsciousness seen in the ontological context as absence, exerted a very powerful influence upon the thought of Lyotard. He recognises the close relationship between the spoken and the written language, discursive one with thought and consciousness, while unconsciousness is connected with representation, which is not strictly linguistic, but an iconic representation, with what he calls figure. At the same time he assumes the presence of figure and discourse in the area of the written text, the presence of figure also in the spoken language (the language of gestures, the language of silence). Lyotard makes an important assumption as to the primary dichotomy of 1. the discursive and the rational consciousness and 2. the sensory and unconsciousness, which finds its best expression, thanks to figure (Gestalt), in what is visually perceived. Lyotard’s concept of figure is founded, by making reference also to Maurice Merleau- Ponty, on what is visual (le visible). Following Merleau-Ponty, he claims that any human activity in the world, from behaviour of our body to special forms of cultural behaviour, is a sense-making action, which is expressive at the same time. The forms of human existence are forms of expression, both specific and unrepeatable. Lyotard, like Merleau-Ponty, writes about ‘thinking through the body’, but the visible (le visible) is defined by Lyotard in a manner so different from Merleau-Ponty. This corporal expression with its particular case of artistic expression is there linked with the visible. The reason for such a redefinition of the concept of visuality is, among others, the inspiration of psychoanalysis, primarily the Freudian idea of figure as something that ensures the passage between unconsciousness and consciousness, the sensory and the discursive, the visible and the invisible. That is why, according to Lyotard, figure is a representation of the sensory element in the sphere of discourse. The object of his own reflection is the discursive representation of sensory perception, a secret passage between the individual sensory perception and the abstract generalisation. Lyotard believes that the figure is any form of individual, human manifestation of its own corporality, primarily in the form of gesture. strictly connected with unconsciousness. However, Lyotard objects to the identification of figure with all the individual or particular elements of human condition and thinking. This argument assumes that discursive speech is logical, abstract, and general, but figure is only sensual, individual, and particular. Lyotard particularly objects to this distinction, which simplifies the epistemological capacities of man. Figure as the condition of possibility of human expression and creativity (of the passage between unconsciousness and consciousness) is in charge of discovery of the general rules and laws (especially figure-matrix). But it is also in charge of invariant, unstable character of language senses and meanings, which is the subject of post-structuralist research. This invariant character of senses in our thinking and meaning is provoked by figure as a conscious testimony of unconsciousness and by unconsciousness as a source of the constitution of linguistic, i.e. figural meanings. Lyotard appeals directly to the Freudian proposition (from Traumdeutung) of three different figures, present in the psychic and manifested in the sphere of culture: figure-image, figure-form, and figure-matrix. However in his theses we could find also the reference to the transcendentalism of Kant – to the transcendental imagination and to the concept of ‘schematism’ with three internal images, typical of the human cognition: simple image, schematic image, and image-scheme (the schematism).

The sublime utopia of Avant‑garde – apories of the analytic of the sublime

Piotr Kozak

The issue of the paper is Jean‑François Lyotard’s category of the sublime and its application to the area of modern art. We state not only that Lyotard’s grasp is insufficient to interpret properly modern art but also that his understanding of the sublime brings together a danger of a contradiction. Therefore in the first part we present theLyotard’s conception of the category of the sublime in comparison to interpretations of Psedo‑Longinos and Boileau. Afterwards we deal with the issue of the modern art. Our goal is to present twentieth‑century artistic practices, strictly speaking Russian Avant‑garde, and compare them to Social Realism. In this part, basing on an interpretation of Boris Groys, we state that Social Realism was not a negation but a continuation of Avant‑garde. Such comparison let us also anew interpret Lyotard’s conception of the sublime. Thus in the last part we turn back to Lyotard’s understanding of the sublime and – referring to Kant – we try to show the weak points of his interpretation.

To Listen, to Speak, to Write. The right to speak and Requirement of Silence According to Lyotard

Gaëlle Bernard

Author focuses on the concept of limits of language which are constituted in Lyotard’s philosophy by writing on the one side and listening on the other. Listening is the essence of every kind of linguistic behavior since it grounded in relation to the other human being. As such it conditions and legitimizes any kind of word whereas writing may be presented as something that delimits the word. The analysis of the word in its relationship to the other is deeply connected in Lyotard’s thought to the philosophy of Emmanuel Lévinas. The phenomenon of listening to the words spoken by the Other shows that any kind of individual usage of language, any kind of linguistic expression is conditioned and legitimized by intersubjective sphere which should be described in ethical terms – namely as the sphere of responsibility for the other. Writing, as unconditioned by any particular act of communication, opens a new sphere of what is silent and unspoken in any language and what Lyotard calls “infancy”.

Lyotard’s Dispute with Habermas and Rorty, Or Why Communication and Consensus Are Not Enough to Think About Community

Claire Pages

Article presents main arguments formed by Lyotard in his discussion with Jürgen Habrmas and Richard Rorty concerning the nature of social communication. The idea of social consensus is confronted in Lyotard’s philosophy with the idea of dissensus – discord, disruption of an established order and irreconcilable dissonance. There are three main arguments against what Lyotard calls “the communicative paradigm”. First of all, the language is not an instrument, a mere tool used for communication purposes. Secondly, the language is not a homogenous environment – it is established by various incompatible orders which makes the idea of determined translation impossible. Finally Lyotard tries to show that the great narrative model of language based on the idea of univocity is no longer possible since the idea of universal communication has always been phantasmatic.

The Limits and Hyper-fictions in the Time of Great Crisis of Great Narratives: on Pos(t)modern Metaphors

Anna Wendorff

The crisis of narrative reminds us of the main problems of contemporary literature, which is to find a demarcation point that should help us to define the boundaries and spaces between language and its representation. We should start by assuming a fact that everything (in this moment) moves through a great number of narrative fields. These wanderings between one space and another lead us to Lyotard’s metaphor of postmodernism, in which postmodernism is based on philosophical skepticism, absence for regulation of great narratives and crisis of “functors”, understood by Lyotard as the great hero, the great danger, great voyage and great goal. The elements of narrative structures undergo a process of dispersion. From this perspective, we will try to answer the following question: How do we get to the images, their boundaries and their representation in contemporary literature?

The Time of Inhuman Images. The Memory Technologically Structured

Rafał Ilnicki

In this article I’m showing in what way human memory is structured by technology. As the consequence of this process I’m pointing out, that human memory assumes the shape of “inhuman” images, which are incompatible with the ideas of humanity. Recalling to the three effects of memory introduced by J. F. Lyotarda I’m indicating the consequences of technicization of human memory and extending Lyotardian concept of anamnesis and transfering it on the ground of reflection about multimedia art. I’m claiming that “inhuman” images of memory could be overcome by technovirtual anamnesis realizing itself in the experience of art, which open subject to transcendence. I’m also asserting, that technology provokes series of pseudoanamnesis, which yield individuals toward “inhuman” images.

The Idea of Substitution in Huysmans’ and Lévinas’ Thought. From Escapism to Conversion

Krzysztof Matuszewski

The doctrine of mystical substitution and reparation in the late works of Huysmans serves as an ultimate explanation of the sense of suffering. The doctrine itself was earlier declared by de Maistre and other ultra‑catholic thinkers, but Huysmans adopted it from Boullan, his demonologic mentor. According to anunorthodox interpretation of a passage from St. Paul’s letter to Colossians, the Saviour, in the need of allies in the act of Redemption, appoints the expiatory elect for an indemnifying service, that is mimetic to His excruciation. The elect, each going his own via dolorosa, equalize others’ sins, and on their own sacrifical initiative prevent cosmic harmony (that is guaranteed by God) from a demonic destruction. In Levinas’s thought substitution is a culminative expression of a responsibility for the Other One. Under the pressure of shame and persecution that the Other One bears on the „Self”, which spontaneously immerses himself in his vital realm, there occurs a metamorphosis of an egotistic subject (conatus essendi) into a Subjectivity (ipseitas). The Subjectivity begins to be ready to carry the Other One’s burden, and eventually, for the great sacrifice (in extreme situations, that should be prevented by social institutions, appointed to suppress violence). The problem of substitution, that is placed by Huysmans in a devout context, exposing the value of a relation between a human‑being and God substantially grasped, Levinas transferred to ethical context, where revindication of a debt owed to one’s neighbour proves to be arousing for an emanation of divinity.

The Influence of Religious Upbringing and Shoah Tragedy on the Development of Emmanuel Lévinas’ Thought

Ewa Izabela Nowak

The thought of Emmanuel Lévinas is unique in the history of the 20th century philosophy. His origin and extensive life experience enabled him to get to know other cultures and exposed him to different concepts of religion. Lévinas witnessed major transformations that occurred in the past century, such as: the world wars (and local ones), National Socialism, Stalinism (and even de- Stalinization), the camps, the gas chambers, nuclear weapons, terrorism and unemployment… as he himself expressed it in the mid-70s of the last century in Proper names. Twenty years later we could see the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the Soviet Union. All of these experiences were reflected in the philosopher’s words. Nevertheless, it should be emphasized that his philosophical thought oscillated, was constructed and deconstructed around the spiritual foundation he received in his childhood. He himself qualified this foundation as “a background encompassing the original cause”. As a child, he became inculcated with the principles of a progressive upbringing in a Jewish family living in Eastern Lithuania. The upbringing was based on the intellectual heritage of the Vilna Gaon and multi-ethnicity of the Kaunas residents, who were exposed to different languages, religions, and life models in their everyday life. This cultural richness is a basis for confrontations like: friendship/hatred, closeness/distance, acceptance/rejection among people. All of these elements contributed to Lévinas’ deliberations in another context, when he was confronted with the French Enlightenment heritage and the origins of phenomenological thought in France.

Witnesses and Biography, Subjects and Memory: Langugae and Representation

Carlos Dimeo Álvarez

In this article I analyze the autobiographical works of Primo Levi and its distinctive themes that reappear in the context of his literary life and surrounding history. I shall make my analysis not only from the perspective of his own literary works, but also from the perspective of other writers who has shared their experience or believe in the importance of his testimony. Primarily I am interested in an analysis in terms of Lyotard and Lévinas. These authors deal with the crisis of subject that is closely associated with modernism and that is understood as an issue of otherness, where the other is invalidated by the experience of violence and cultural extermination. In the topics nowadays discussed the authority and the crisis of subject are closely related. On the one hand, the authorial legitimacy is in crisis, on the other, there is a significant loss of entity. The paradigmatic figure of homo sacer such as a melancholic, a musulman and a witness, cross the boundary between language and the otherness, impulse and order, word and image, both from the perspective of Lyotard and Lévinas. Everything seems distorted from the perspective of figures and representation, desire and order. Jean‑François Lyotard argues that the survivors from the camps can make a narrative description of how the death had been administered to them, but they can not say anything about the wickedness of discourse to which they were subjected. In my article the following works were subjected to an analysis: If This is a Man (1958), The Truce (1963), The Drowned and the Saved (1986).

Two Dogs Strive for a Bone and Hegel Runs Away With it or More Kant in Lévinas

Aleksander Temkin

Kant’s philosophy is probably the common ground for Lévinas and Lyotard. Lévinas’ relation to the thought of Kant is however ambiguous and enigmatic, as Jacques Derrida has shown in his essay “Violence and Metaphysics”. I don’t want to focus on the enumeration of similarities and differences between Lévinas and Kant, but I would like to bring those two ethics closer to each other. Without this operation, as I’m trying to show, those two ethics are helpless in a confrontation with their common enemy – Hegel. Lévinas gets rid of the concept of moral autonomy instead of incorporating it into his own philosophy. This serious error leads to many normative as well as ontological problems. In my article I present a brief sketch of a few possible solutions of such correction that are based on Lévinas’ and Kant’s texts and do not neglect their intentions. The most important of these is a reformulation of the concept of justice that would link the universality of duty with the excess of responsibility.

back to top


Join the discussion


Website design: