Totalite And Infinity An Essay On Exteriority

Beyond logical and conceptual constructions, he seeks -- being strongly inspired by the anti-Hegelianism of Kierkegaard -- a direct and intense contact with reality.

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In this way, the person is lifted up above oneself, without ever going to be able to fall back into oneself (HS 109/ 73-74).

Levinas likewise characterises his metaphysical thinking in his first major work Totality and Infinity as an outward and upward movement, as 'transascendence' (TI 12/41).

That is why Wahl begins to search for an alterity with which one enters into a relationship in a different manner than by means of utilisation and consumption.

According to Wahl only the other that is absolutely different can be the 'terminus ad quem' of transascendence.

In and through the feeling that enters, without any diversions, into contact with the other, the subject reaches beyond itself towards the other than itself.

In this regard, the feeling is also longing and tension, literally also 'hyper-tension', precisely because it reaches from within itself towards something that is not to be found in itself: the other.One of the central themes in the thought of Emmanuel Levinas (1905-1995) is the relationship between 'the face and the Infinite'.1 This relationship puts us immediately in line with his thought about God, or rather with his thought 'leading-towards-God'.His view on the ethical epiphany of the face of the other indeed offers the 'concrete phenomenological conjuncture and circumstances' where God authentically makes his 'entrance' as the Infinite One (DVI 7/XI).And even on the level of the absolute alterities there are also false or bad transcendencies in circulation, insofar as it concerns imaginary projections.In this regard Wahl also describes the absolute other as the 'extra-ordinaire': the other is only absolute when the subject that strives towards the other surpasses its own striving and, at the same time, when it does not absolutise into a final object that towards which it strives for out of its desire.Afterwards, we trace Wahl's idea of transdescendence, which then forms the point of contact in order to make explicit how Levinas gives this shape by means of descending into the subject ('en dea') and discovering there the immanence of God as the Infinite and Good, thanks to an ethical and religious redefinition of the subject.For a proper understanding of the thought on transascendence of Jean Wahl, we must begin with his stubborn resistance against all intellectualistic (coercive) systematism.This influence is confirmed by the two studies that Levinas has dedicated to the thought of Wahl: 'Jean Wahl et le sentiment' (1955) and 'Jean Wahl.Sans avoir ni tre' (1976).5 To begin, we briefly sketch Wahl's idea of transascendence in order then to reflect on the way in which Levinas points to the upward path to God ('au-del') on the basis of the epiphany of the face and the ethical appeal to responsibility.Well then, that is precisely what is revealed in the epiphany of the face: 'the shock of the divine, that is the face of the other' (EFP 93/48).In the face of the other Levinas discovers a radical alterity that at the same time is hard and vulnerable.


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