By Corey Beals
At once hard the present interpretation, Corey Beals explores the information of twentieth-century thinker Emmanuel Levinas's thought of affection, love's relation to knowledge, and the way love makes the opposite obvious to us. Distinguishing love from different kinds of knowledge, Beals argues that Levinas's "wisdom of affection" is a true chance, one that promises precedence to ethics over ontology.
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Extra info for Levinas and the Wisdom of Love: The Question of Invisibility
I am led to compare the faces, to compare the two people. Which is a terrible task . . To compare them is to place them in the same genre” (PM, 174). This comparison, however, is not a destruction of the uniqueness of the two being compared, but it is a placing of “two unique beings” into one genre (PM, 174) without destroying their uniqueness. Along with measuring and comparing, justice requires a ‘weighing’ (pesée) of the Other and the third. “The relationship with the third party is an incessant correction of the asymmetry of proximity in which the face is looked at.
The third party is other than the neighbor, but also another neighbor, and also a neighbor of the other” (OB, 157). If there is only I and the Other, then I am infinitely responsible for the Other, but when the third appears on the scene, there is the need for comparing the third and the Other in order to judge how to divide my responsibility between them. From the introduction of the third arises a whole host of terms. “The relationship with the third [requires] weighing, thought, objectification” (OB, 158; my emphasis).
But he shows otherwise by noting that we can avoid this “determinism by ‘going back to [politics’] motivation in justice and a foundational inter-humanity” (DR, 165). The central difference here between politics that become totalitarian and politics that do not become so is found in the awareness of the origin of politics. The nontotalitarian state’s “imperative motivation is inscribed in the very right of the other man, unique and incomparable” (UN, 196). Levinas rejects politics that sees its origin in “antagonistic forces” (OB, 159).