Levinas - Philosophical background and themes

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Levinas - Philosophical background and themes by Mind Map: Levinas - Philosophical background and themes

1. Levinas and Plato/Descartes

1.1. Levinas and Plato: Levinas links Plato's good beyond being with the idea that there is a dimension of reality which is not captured at the level or ontology. We have a tendancy to fixate upon earthly desires and our desires are often misplaced. Distinguishes desires as needs from metaphysical desires. Summary: 1.Metaphysical desire is fundamental 2.Metaphysical desire is distinct from need 3.MD has its origin in something beyond subject. Moves us beyond self and its satisfactions 4. Only by having good, moral relations to others we can relate to God.

1.2. Levinas and Descartes: Descartes argues that the idea of God is not something he could have constructed from own resources. Thought has been put in mind by God Himself. 'I have an idea of God, therefore God exists.' Levinas sees this argument as an experience of a fissure and an acknowledgement of a reality he couldn't of constructed. Iris Murdoch sums up this point by making reference to her fabricated veil which partly conceals the world. Levinas wants to remove this veil and take us beyond the categories. Putnam: My encounter with the Other is an encounter with a fissure. Transported to the dimension of the ethical.

2. Levinas's central themes

2.1. 1.Theorizing about the world will only take us so far. 2. Theorizing is an attempt to control and posses the world. Also manifest at level of practical engagement. Things that are used for our purposes. 3.God cannot be comprehended or possessed. We can relate to God only by relating to others in moral terms.

3. Levinas and theology

3.1. Agrees with Heidegger in that we must not think of God as a being that provides the ultimate explanation of all things. This is too theoretical. He thinks that Theology should be abandoned if the question of God is a theoretical question.

3.2. A mystical approach severs the connection to God. Feeling is given precedence over how we treat others. . Going towards God is meaningless unless seen as 'going towards the other person'

4. Sartre, Levinas, Heidegger & Husserl

4.1. Sartre and Levinas accept that human beings have a desire for God - their understanding of what this claim amounts to is very different.

4.2. Levinas - theistic framework, this distinguishes him from both Heidegger and S

4.3. What is the relation between Heidegger's Being and Levinas's God.

4.3.1. Inspire someone about your topic?

4.3.2. Specific grade?

4.3.3. Do your best work?

4.4. Heidegger insists that a phenomenon is 'that which shows itself as itself'. Husserl considers phenomena only in relation to consciousness - so end up being constructions of consciousness.

4.5. Heidegger thinks theoretical approaches mess up philosophy. Heidegger prefers a practical, more engaged approach. E.g. we come to a better understanding of a strawberry cocktail by picking it up and drinking it rather than reflecting upon its appearance.

4.6. Levinas agrees with Heidegger that we must move beyond theoretical approach to world: 'the real world is a world of objects of practical use and value'. Levinas thinks that objects are not just perceived but adapted to our purposes. Levinas has moral concerns about Husserls's solitary self as construction of consciousness.

5. Phenomenology and Theology

5.1. Heidegger changes his view about adapting things to our purposes. Focus should be on reality as it is independently of us/purposes. Uses words like holy, mysterious, sacred when referring to Being.

5.2. We are open to reality, by nature of being human, in the here and now (Buddhist link with becoming Buddha - enlightenment)

5.3. Heidegger is telling us we have downgraded God's essence as causa sui. We should abandon this way of thinking about God.