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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Beyond the Other of the Other: Fractal Ontology

In conversation three of Ethics and Infinity, Levinas recounts the philosophical and existential implications of the il y a, the ‘there is’ or what he calls the “phenomenon of impersonal being” (48). The “there is” is many things at the same time: it is a belief, a feeling, an experience and even an affect (the source of the Judaic affect proper to one of philosophy’s “turns” in the 20th century) on one side and an ontological claim, an objective state of affairs, and even the (proto-)origin of Being and Nothingness on the other.

If the “there is” is not a simple mixture of Being and Nothingness, it is at least the source of their mixing and unmixing. Beyond the fact that there are objective and subjective aspects to the full impact of this attempt to conceptualize the “there is,” what should be noted is the way in which the “there is” animates the theological and ethical orientation of Levinas’ discourse of the social relation with the Other. What follows endeavors to construct the beginnings of an ‘analytic’ of the “there is” in order to better understood how it plays a fundamental role for Levinas in his conception of ethics as first philosophy.

This World We Must Leave


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