Jul 23, · Emmanuel Levinas’ (–) intellectual project was to develop a first philosophy. Whereas traditionally first philosophy denoted either metaphysics or theology, only to be reconceived by Heidegger as fundamental ontology, Levinas argued that it is ethics that should be so conceived. Apr 22, · Bibliography. For a complete annotated bibliography of Sartre's works see Michel Contat and Michel Rybalka (eds.), The Writings of Jean-Paul Sartre (Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, ), updated in Magazine litteraire –4 (), pp. 9–49, and by Michel Sicard in Obliques, 18–19 (May ), pp. –Michel Rybalka and Michel Contat have complied an additional.
Whereas traditionally first philosophy what are spider cocoons called either metaphysics or theology, only to be reconceived by Heidegger as fundamental ontology, Levinas argued that it is ethics that should be so conceived. But rather than formulating an ethical theoryLevinas developed his philosophy in opposition to both these aforementioned approaches.
It takes the form of a whah and interpretation of the event of encountering another person. However that may be, his work is in ongoing, critical dialogue with three philosophers: Husserl, Heidegger, and Hegel.
He is also indebted to Heidegger for his hermeneutics of being-in-the-world. In this entry, attention is focused throughout to jeah contribution of commentators, with a view to providing a gateway to recent secondary literature.
In the s, Levinas continued to publish studies of the thought of his two principal edsays, Husserl and Heidegger. As we shall see, he will reconceive transcendence as a need for escape from existence, and work out a different analysis of lived time in that project. In the two imbricated dimensions of human life, sentient-affective and intentional, our experience of being comes to pass, in the relationship between body and egoic consciousness.
This quite materialist approach to transcendence is nevertheless motivated by the question of our mortality and finite being, but unlike Heidegger, it also examines the enigma called infinity. It flees its uncanny thrownness by distracting itself in social pursuits, a position that Levinas will not adopt. Levinas then observed:. As if it had the certainty that the payl of the limit could not apply to the existence of what is … and as if modern sensibility perceived in being how to display html tags defect still more profound.
When transcendence is removed from theological or metaphysical litfrature i. Reconceived in this way, the entire question of transcendence changes, revealing the struggle to get out of our all too finite existence. In short, is our first response to mortality not the urge to take leave of our existence, if periodically?
But unlike Heidegger, true authenticity does not lie in securing our freedom for our most personal possibility, death. Levinas argued that we can approach death as possibility only through that of others and that we grasp being as finite by way of their jesn. Later, of course, Levinas will attribute infinity to a different experience, that of the unbounded quality of the face of the other.
However, intersubjectivity is little discussed in the essay. The encounter with literatire other first comes into view as a theme in his s works TO and EE. In contrast, Levinas proposed oaul ways by which the gap narrows between being itself and the beings that we are.
Following his leitmotif of our recurrent urge to escape, Levinas examined the invariable satre following literatude attempts at transcending our existence: the aforementioned states of need and pleasure give way to a sobering up or disillusionment. In affective and physical states like shame and nausea, the bodily self is experienced as a substance trapped in its stifling existence and desperate for a way out.
As regards stifling existence, when Levinas refers to literrature, it is as ejan presence, rather than the event of disclosure that Heidegger described. Thus, in immediate experience, I am my joy or my pain, provisionally, just as I may observe myself joyful, like a third person. For Levinas, by contrast, escape represents a positive, dynamic need. In this youthful work, he also rethinks need as fullness rather than as mere privation.
As we indicated, he is working toward a different understanding of existence itself. Whether it is characterized by pleasure or suffering, need is esssays very ground of that existence. The priority of present-time, concentrated into an extended now-moment is opened up through sensibility and affectivity. In pleasure as in pain, we need —not out of lack—but in desire or in hope. Levinas approaches that presence through modalizations provided by sensations and affects that were unexplored by either Heidegger or Husserl.
InOthr was convinced that through sensation and states of mind we also discover the futility of getting out of existence. How many touchdowns did walter payton have in his career the physical torment of nausea, we jdan being in its simplest, most burdensome neutrality. To this, Levinas adds literatrue provocative themes.
Second, nausea is not simply a physiological event. It shows us dramatically how existence can encircle us on all sides, to the point of submerging us. As Rolland observes, in that case social and political life may also nauseate us. Being is existence, and it is firstly our existence. The mark of creaturely existence is need and, by extension, a struggle with being. Levinas concludes polemically. The question remains: how shall we best think through the sensuous need to transcend being?
Embodied need is not an illusion; ltierature transcendence one? Levinas will answer this question fully in Othre Existence and Existents and Time and the Otherbeing now has a dual aspect, of light and of dark indeterminacy. It is as though being were divided between the being of a created world anr the darkness out of which light was brought.
We fall asleep, curled about ourselves, thereby exiting our conscious existence. Embodied consciousness thus begins and ends with itself. As such, it is both dependent on and independent from jewn environment, and Levinas will urge that the subject, upon awakening, uses and masters being.
In the middle period essays, the partial transcendences of pleasure and desire, already sketched inreceive fuller development and variations. The son incarnates alterity in a curious way. He is, in a sense, his father and not his father. However, his birth opens a focus on the future. No longer conceived as one of sratre possibilities, as Heidegger had argued, the time opened by the son responds to two basic limitations on our understanding and representation: death and the other person.
But even as such it escapes everyday understanding. Hence Levinas will qualify death as an alterity as how to receive a pass in hockey as that of the other essayz being who confronts me. In death the existing of the existent is alienated. To be sure, the other that is announced does not possess this how to download music to your cell phone as the subject possesses oter its hold over my existing is mysterious.
It is not unknown but unknowable. TO: Of course, we can and do constitute the other an alter ego. Yet such constitution by phenomenological analogy never exhausts his fundamental difference TO: 78— Two reversals should be what is literature and other essays jean paul sartre, here, relative to The second reversal concerns moods themselves. In Heidegger, anxiety, joy, and boredom were states of mind, with anxiety as the privileged mood by which humans are confronted with themselves, their lack of ground, and with the question of their existence.
In his middle period, Levinas will expand the experience of being to moods now including horror. Nighttime being reveals an indeterminate dark presence that is not pure nothing. Once again, Levinas recurs to bodily states, this time including fatigue, indolence, insomnia, and awakening.
In the first three, the aforementioned gap between the embodied self and the intentional I increases. Upon awakening, the embodied ego soi-moi reasserts its mastery over things and even its own bodily torpor. Consequently, intelligibility is well figured by light.
Phenomenological evidence is guaranteed by lighted circumstances—albeit for someone. Thus, if being is equated with illumination, for Levinas it must also include the dark anonymity of liteature EE: Consequently, the question that inaugurates fundamental ontology: Why is there being instead of whatt nothing?
Nothingness, understood as pure absence, may be thinkable, but it cannot be experienced. Over the course of his analyses, this self-ego will hearken to a call. However, the call comes not from being but from an alterity that Levinas compares with death dhat. Husserl understood transcendence in several ways, of which one significant dimension was that typical of consciousness extending toward, and encountering, the worldly objects ad which it aims.
After Husserl, Heidegger will define transcendence as the essence of our existing in the world; Da-sein is always already in the world among things, whhat to a worldly transcendence or being out-there.
For Levinas, these senses of transcendence are acceptable but not saftre. Instead, he aligns transcendence with exteriority, in the sense of what lies outside myself but eludes my comprehensive knowledge: the other pul TI: But this other speaks to me, implores or commands me. In responding, I discover my responsibility to them. This is the ground of ethics or indeed our concern with ethics as the good of the other person.
As Levinas argues, when ethics goes in search of its existential ground, before any consideration of utility, virtue, or duty, it discovers the intersubjective enactment of responsibility, which resists being integrated into accounts in which the other is a universal other to whom it is my duty, for example, to act ethically or in the hope of increasing the happiness of the collectivity.
Utility, virtue, and duty are crucial to ethical debates. Yet Levinas is pointing to their common lived origin in the irreducibility of the face-to-face encounter.
He reminds us that Levinas is working at a pre-theoretical and embodied level that represents the impetus behind ethical systems forged through reflection, tradition, and critique. At the same time, I respond to that other. As Levinas writes. Already Husserl argued that the objectivity of thought consists in being valid for everyone.
To know objectively is therefore to constitute my thought in such a way liherature it already contain[s] a reference to the thought of others. What I communicate therefore is already constituted in function of others. TI:emph. We can even sartree parallels between Levinas and some what does silica gel do ethicists. Moral intuitionists like David Wiggins and John McDowell have, similarly to Levinas, focused on our sensibility when it comes to grasping moral truths.
In discussing authentic education, McDowell argues that acquiring an ethical othwr makes possible our intuitions of what is right and good. It even fosters a flourishing rational will able to discern bona fide ethical requirements McDowellWiggins .
2. Thematic Exposition of Levinas’ Philosophy
Sartre: Life and Works Jean-Paul Sartre was born in Paris on June 20, , and died there April 15, He studied philosophy in Paris at the Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris – After that he taught philosophy for a while in a number of lycees, in Paris and Le Havre (and perhaps elsewhere). What Is Literature? (French: Qu'est-ce que la litterature?), also published as Literature and Existentialism,) is an essay by French philosopher and novelist Jean-Paul Sartre, published by Gallimard in Initially published in freestanding essays across French literary journals Les Temps modernes, Situations I and Situations II, essays "What is Writing?". The jacket blurb calls the title play "Sartre's most ambitious work for the theatre. Outstripping in scope and magnitude his previous plays, this dramatic epic, which calls for a cast of over ninety and takes some four hours to perform, is a synthesis of the basic tenets of Sartre's philosophy.
Simone de Beauvoir was one of the most preeminent French existentialist philosophers and writers. Working alongside other famous existentialists such as Jean-Paul Sartre , Albert Camus and Maurice Merleau-Ponty , de Beauvoir produced a rich corpus of writings including works on ethics , feminism, fiction, autobiography, and politics.
In The Mandarins , she fictionalized the struggles of existents trapped in ambiguous social and personal relationships at the closing of World War II. The emphasis on freedom, responsibility, and ambiguity permeate all of her works and give voice to core themes of existentialist philosophy. Her philosophical approach is notably diverse.
F Hegel. In addition to her philosophical pursuits, de Beauvoir was also an accomplished literary figure, and her novel, The Mandarins , received the prestigious Prix Goncourt award in Her father, George, whose family had some aristocratic pretensions, had once desired to become an actor but studied law and worked as a civil servant, contenting himself instead with the profession of legal secretary.
Despite his love of the theater and literature, as well as his atheism , he remained a staunchly conservative man whose aristocratic proclivities drew him to the extreme right. Her religious, bourgeois orientation became a source of serious conflict between her and her oldest daughter, Simone. Born in the morning of January 9, , Simone-Ernestine-Lucie-Marie Bertrand de Beauvoir was a precocious and intellectually curious child from the beginning.
His interest in her intellectual development carried through until her adolescence when her future professional carrier, necessitated by the loss of her dowry, came to symbolize his own failure. Beauvoir, on the contrary, always wanted to be a writer and a teacher, rather than a mother and a wife and pursued her studies with vigor.
She remained an atheist until her death. Her rejection of religion was followed by her decision to pursue and teach philosophy. Only once had she considered marriage to her cousin, Jacques Champigneulle. She never again entertained the possibility of marriage, instead preferring to live the life of an intellectual. She then studied mathematics at the Institut Catholique and literature and languages at the Institut Sainte-Marie, passing exams in for Certificates of Higher Studies in French literature and Latin, before beginning her study of philosophy in Adding to her unique situation with Sartre, Beauvoir had intimate liaisons with both women and men.
Some of her more famous relationships included the journalist Jacques Bost, the American author Nelson Algren, and Claude Lanzmann, the maker of the Holocaust documentary, Shoah.
In , the Nazis occupied Paris and in , Beauvoir was dismissed from her teaching post by the Nazi government. Following a parental complaint made against her for corrupting one of her female students, she was dismissed from teaching again in She was never to return to teaching. Although she loved the classroom environment, Beauvoir had always wanted to be an author from her earliest childhood. Her collection of short stories on women, Quand prime le spirituel When Things of the Spirit Come First was rejected for publication and not published until many years later This novel, written from to and read by Sartre in manuscript form as he began writing Being and Nothingness successfully gained her public recognition.
From to she wrote her novel, Le Sang des Autres The Blood of Others , which was heralded as one of the most important existential novels of the French Resistance.
Although she was never fully satisfied with this work, it remains one of the best examples of an existentialist ethics. By far her most controversial work, this book was embraced by feminists and intellectuals, as well as mercilessly attacked by both the right and the left. This fame resulted both from her own work as well as from her relationship to and association with Sartre. For the rest of her life, she lived under the close scrutiny of the public eye.
The former was written following her lecture tour of the United States in , and the latter following her visit with Sartre to communist China in Her later work included the writing of more works of fiction, philosophical essays and interviews. It was notably marked not only by her political action in feminist issues, but also by the publication of her autobiography in four volumes and her political engagement directly attacking the French war in Algeria and the tortures of Algerians by French officers.
In , she published an impressive study of the oppression of aged members of society, La Vieillesse The Coming of Age. This work mirrors the same approach she had taken in The Second Sex only with a different object of investigation.
Following the death of Sartre, Beauvoir officially adopted her companion, Sylvie le Bon, who became her literary executor. Beauvoir died of a pulmonary edema on April 14, For most of her life, Beauvoir was concerned with the ethical responsibility that the individual has to him or herself, other individuals and to oppressed groups.
This essay was well-received as it spoke to a war-torn France that was struggling to find a way out of the darkness of War World II. It begins as a conversation between Pyrrhus, the ancient king of Epirus, and his chief advisor, Cineas, on the question of action.
Each time Pyrrhus makes an assertion as to what land he will conquer, Cineas asks him what will he do afterwards? The essay is thus framed as an investigation into the motives of action and the existential concern with why we should act at all. This work was written by a young Beauvoir in close dialogue with the Sartre of Being and Nothingness The external world can often manifest itself as a crushing, objective reality whereas the other can reveal to us our fundamental freedom.
Lacking a God to guarantee morality, it is up to the individual existent to create a bond with others through ethical action. This bond requires a fundamentally active orientation to the world through projects that express our own freedom as well as encourage the freedom of our fellow human beings.
Because to be human is essentially to rupture the given world through our spontaneous transcendence, to be passive is to live, in Sartrean terminology, in bad faith. Although emphasizing key Sartrean motifs of transcendence, freedom and the situation in this early work, Beauvoir takes her enquiry in a different direction. Like Sartre, she believes that that human subjectivity is essentially a nothingness which ruptures being through spontaneous projects. This movement of rupturing the given through the introduction of spontaneous activity is called transcendence.
Beauvoir, like Sartre, believes that the human being is constantly engaged in projects which transcend the factical situation cultural, historical, personal, etc. In addition, rather than seeing the other who in his or her gaze turns me into an object as a threat to my freedom as Sartre would have it, Beauvoir sees the other as the necessary axis of my freedom-without whom, in other words, I could not be free.
However, Beauvoir is as critical of these philosophers as she is admiring. For example, she criticizes Hegel for his unethical faith in progress which sublates the individual in the relentless pursuit of the Absolute.
She criticizes Heidegger for his emphasis on being-towards-death as undermining the necessity of setting up projects, which are themselves ends and are not necessarily projections towards death. The end, therefore, is not something cut off from activity, standing as a static and absolute value outside of the existent who chooses it. Rather, the goal of action is established as an end through the very freedom which posits it as a worthwhile enterprise.
All world-views which demand the sacrifice and repudiation of freedom diminish the reality, thickness, and existential importance of the individual existent. This is not to say that we should abandon all projects of unification and scientific advancement in favor of a disinterested solipsism, only that such endeavors must necessarily honor the individual existents of which they are composed.
Additionally, instead of being forced into causes of various kinds, existents must actively and self-consciously choose to participate in them. Because Beauvoir is so concerned in this essay with freedom and the necessity to self-consciously choose who one is at every moment, she takes up relationships of slavery, mastery, tyranny, and devotion which remain choices despite the inequalities that often result from these connections with others.
Despite the inequity of power in such relationships, she maintains that we can never do anything for or against others, i. However, we are still morally obligated to keep from harming others. Echoing a common theme in existentialist philosophy, even to be silent or to refuse to engage in helping the other, is still making a choice. Freedom, in other words, cannot be escaped. Yet, she also develops the idea that in abstaining from encouraging the freedom of others, we are acting against the ethical call of the other.
Without others, our actions are destined to fall back upon themselves as useless and absurd. However, with others who are also free, our actions are taken up and carried beyond themselves into the future-transcending the limits of the present and of our finite selves. Our very actions are calls to other freedoms who may choose to respond to or ignore us.
Because we are finite and limited and there are no absolutes to which our actions can or should conform, we must carry out our projects in risk and uncertainty.
But it is just this fragility that Beauvoir believes opens us up to a genuine possibility for ethics. Beauvoir continues to believe in the contingency of existence in that there is no necessity that we exist and thus there is no predetermined human essence or standard of value.
Of particular importance, Beauvoir expounds upon the idea that human freedom requires the freedom of others for it to be actualized. Although Beauvoir was never fully satisfied with The Ethics of Ambiguity , it remains a testament to her long-standing concern with freedom, oppression, and responsibility, as well as to the depth of her philosophical understanding of the history of philosophy and of her own unique contributions to it.
She begins this work by asserting the tragic condition of the human situation which experiences its freedom as a spontaneous internal drive that is crushed by the external weight of the world.
Human existence, she argues, is always an ambiguous admixture of the internal freedom to transcend the given conditions of the world and the weight of the world which imposes itself on us in a manner outside of our control and not of our own choosing.
In order for us to live ethically then, we must assume this ambiguity rather than try to flee it. In Sartrean terms, she sets up a problem in which each existent wants to deny their paradoxical essence as nothingness by desiring to be in the strict, objective sense; a project that is doomed to failure and bad faith. For Beauvoir, an existentialist conversion allows us to live authentically at the crossroads of freedom and facticity.
This requires that we engage our freedom in projects which emerge from a spontaneous choice. In addition, the ends and goals of our actions must never be set up as absolutes, separate from we who choose them. In this sense, Beauvoir sets limits to freedom. To be free is not to have free license to do whatever one wants. Rather, to be free entails the conscious assumption of this freedom through projects which are chosen at each moment. The meaning of actions is thus granted not from some external source of values say in God, the church, the state, our family, etc.
Each individual must positively assume his or her project whether it be to write a novel, graduate from university, preside over a courtroom, etc. Thus, we act ethically only insofar as we accept the weight of our choices and the consequences and responsibilities of our fundamental, ontological freedom. The genuine human being thus does not recognize any foreign absolute not consciously and actively chosen by the person him or herself.
Although Hegel is not the only philosopher with whom she is in dialogue she addresses Kant, Marx, Descartes, and Sartre, as well he represents the philosophical crystallization of the desire for human beings to escape their freedom by submerging it into an external absolute. Only a philosophy which values the freedom of each individual existent can alone be ethical. Philosophies such as those of Hegel, Kant, and Marx which privilege the universal are built upon the necessary diminution of the particular and as such, cannot be authentically ethical systems.
Beauvoir claims against these philosophers of the absolute, that existentialism embraces the plurality of the concrete, particular human beings enmeshed in their own unique situations and engaged in their own projects. However, Beauvoir is also emphatic that even though existentialist ethics upholds the sanctity of individuals, an individual is always situated within a community and as such, separate existents are necessarily bound to each other.
She argues that every enterprise is expressed in a world populated by and thus affecting other human beings. In order to illustrate the complexity of situated freedom, Beauvoir provides us with an important element of growth, development and freedom in The Ethics of Ambiguity.
Most philosophers begin their discussions with a fully-grown, rational human being, as if only the adult concerns philosophical inquiry. However, Beauvoir incorporates an analysis of childhood in which she argues that the will, or freedom, is developed over time.
Thus, the child is not considered moral because he or she does not have a connection to a past or future and action can only be understood as unfolding over time.
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