Emmanuel Levinas Phenomenology Ethical Constructivism Thesis

  • Length: 15 pages
  • Sources: 15
  • Subject: Black Studies - Philosophy
  • Type: Thesis
  • Paper: #30187929

Excerpt from Thesis :

The metaphysical constructivists who are successful hardly take the truth of a substantive normative claim for granted.


In his phenomenological descriptions, Levinas used various accounts of transcendence to refer to the tradition and divergence of phenomenology in relation to Heidegger. His transcendences enacted the irreducible urge by oneself to get past the limitations of their social and physical states or conditions. Transcendence of the Other as described by Levinas is the state beyond materialism and within finite being. Through this, Levinas established the limits of phenomenology from within its boundaries. Totality and Infinity, therefore, transcends to "ethical optics," which seek to fulfill and surpass phenomenology metaphysically, reaching out to the Other. In his explanations, Levinas develops his philosophical beginnings of phenomenology through the inflections of transcendence as the need for escapism, variations on Being, responsibility and beyond and Other-in-the-same. Rational ideologies from these aspects depict human experience conjoined to intentionality.

Need for Escapism

According to his notions related to transcendence, Levinas was keen to address matters that are linked to mortality, infinity and finite beings. Despite having different opinions, Levinas confirmed the truth in Heidegger's arguments, which suggested that humans experience themselves as though they were cast to the world

. Levinas was also of thought that beings do not have control over their beginnings and endings in the world. Heidegger's perception of human beings is that they will live most of their lives projecting and having different expectations in line with possibilities, and may, therefore, confront boldly their own mortality in the same way.

Heidegger's transcendence according to Levinas contradicted to theology. However, during his works as a philosopher, Levinas based his argument, not on the fact that Heidegger opposed theology, but Heidegger's case that humans had the ability of being out of one self. To be more philosophical, a question was to be answered as to the extent of the ideas of limit in relation to finiteness and infiniteness. The question asked by Levinas was whether there was a need for an infinite being to take a leave of themselves. If the question was to be answered, then the humans could be seen as admittedly finite. In analyzing being's infiniteness, humans were to ask themselves whether infiniteness was ideal for the promise of contentment in eternity and self-sufficiency7. In Levinas understanding of transcendence, he was brave enough in his works to link and relate it to the directions of something other than ourselves hence the deepest motivation brought about by need happens when humans need to disappear from the being that they are including their embodiment and natural situation.

Variations on Being

Transcendental phenomenology from Levinas was determinant of Heidegger's enquiry with recourse that reflects the ideology of need and pleasure, which give the human being a sense of deontology. Heideggerian themes on variations of being asserted that the Being is readiness and togetherness. Rationalism depends on human union, and neither can an individual bring out his or her self-freedom nor can he or she find "insideness." However, Levinas argument contends the assimilation of existentiale, an insight of how phenomenon determines a human's capability to be free from world constraints, independence and avoidance of physical existence weaknesses.

Issues of transcendence have continued to be argued in the middle and present period decades, where the meaning of transcendence was redefined to a temporal transcendence that is promised by fecundity, which means the birth of the son. The prior partial transcendence that emphasized on voluptuosity and pleasures was developed better with specific variations. In exemplifying this, the future of a family will responds to two fundamental limits that have to be imposed on representation and human knowledge that is the other person and death. Unlike Heidegger's intuition concerning death (when seen in the stance of those alive) as a possibility of impossibility, Levinas argued this case by identifying that death was just a death of the other hence qualifying it as radical alterity and accepting that death the impossibility of all the other possibilities2. Predicting and control the other person is, therefore, impossible for the human being. The current and a new framework constituting the concept of transcendence which is a human responsibility involve the extensive face-to-face relationship hence giving links to the existence of sociality and justice. After analyzing the above philosophical principles concerned with transcendence, ethics can be easily attributed to an affair where particulars are inserted directly into abstract scenarios. Ethics also speaks with particularity concerning "first human particularity" which is the face-to-face relationship.

Responsibility, and Beyond

Another aspect of transcendence according to Levinas is the perspective of responsibility and beyond. This notion is linked to the significance of Heidegger's alternative to Totality and Infinity and how it is exemplified in the face-to-face relationship. Human being ought to find ethical ground upon experiences in order to escape from deontology and utility. The unity of mind and the Being evolves dialectically and; therefore, the decisions to make rational activities and decisions is dictated by the lack of integration in logics of control or manipulation1. Contrary to Heidegger's propositions, pure and practical reason can never be marginalized. Heidegger, however, stated that the universality of these two concepts and their relation to transcendence is deficient of rationality and instrumentalism.

The particularity of rationalism and ethics is represented transcendentally with phenomenological insights of what Levinas involved in his phenomenological philosophies. The relations of non-finite draw continued responsibility as transcendental frameworks that involve extensive researches on social existence and justice. Transcendence as responsibility and beyond to the Being has been viewed under various themes that use the polemical approach.

i) the logics of Totality and Infinity

Totality and Infinity addresses such topics as metaphysics and transcendence, separation and discourse, truth and justice, separation and the absolute, interiority and economics, enjoyment and representation and many other fields. Some of this has already been addressed. To begin with, there has to be a description of separation and discourse, with the works of Emmanuel on atheism or the Will being focused. The ideas conceptualized by infinity will in most cases imply to separation of the other with regard to the same. However, according to Levinas, the mentioned separation cannot rest on opposition against the other as this would be termed as anti-thetical. According to Emmanuel, a transcendence that is absolute in nature has to be a product that is non-integrable.

ii) Truth

Levinas phenomenology discusses truth as a two-way summary, truth of disclosure and truth of testimony. These two aspects of truth give insights to subjectivity and infinity. In addition, his representations of truth are also dictated from the terms in which Heidegger discusses truth in his alternative to Totality and Infinity. From the philosophical understanding, truth is a self-manifestation of a human being to being conscious. The latter dictates human subjectivity and determination of concrete schematization of rational decisions

. An assertion that testimonials depict a certain level of truth is co-relate to the confessions one makes from their experience, however, from Levinas experience, however, from Levinas description, unless testimonies are supported by a primordial relation amid consciousness and Being, then they cannot represent any level of truth

iii) Discourse

In the confirmation of truth as being modality in terms of relating the other and the same, there is a respect that being is the illuminator of the intellect. The originality of separation is linked to the autonomy of a separated being. In knowledge, for instance, a knower will definitely be separated from the known being. If the object is in any way involved with both labor and project of the knower, the reason might be that the objective cognition has relations with the other being, who is beyond the same and is open to interruptions. This later explains why history is always, and will forever be absent from the current and present situations. History disappears behind its manifestations, and both its principle and origin are not part of us, but elsewhere

Totality and infinity do not pay much attention to history or movement of time on clocks. This is because humans do not situate their time firstly as in social time with inventions such as calendars and clocks. History is shared by everyone including the metaphysicians. Levinas, in his writings, defines the past in line with war, violence and great extremes of conflicts. Nevertheless, history does not identify wrongs that have been done and were arrested; such happenings do not make history in human lives. Levinas decided to assume the obvious meaning of time as duration, and focused on time in the form of two different axes. One is the synthesis of current moments; Husserl's structure of the transcendental consciousness and the second was some form of interruption that Levinas referred to as events of transcendence.

Desire and mastery is what is controlling humans through provisions of motivation. However, desire in terms of Totality and Infinity is in two distinct sections. The section that focuses on naturalistic desire, which is subject to issues rating with enjoyment and consumption. The…

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"Emmanuel Levinas Phenomenology Ethical Constructivism" (2012, November 18) Retrieved January 21, 2017, from

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