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The good against being Ethics and ontology in Emmanuel Levinas

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Description: Emmanuel Levinas is justly famous for his bold thesis that ethics, reconceived as the awakening of conscience in a self that stands face to face with another human being (autrui, the Other), is "first philosophy." But commentators have seldom noted that Levinas's first writings are concerned far less with the heavy demands of "infinite responsibility" than with the spiritually onerous and politically dangerous despair that stalks human life in an ostensibly God-forsaken world. I argue that the seeds of the late moralism, according to which nothing less than the food from one's mouth is demanded by the Other, are to be found in Levinas's early decision to define the fundamental exigency of human life as an "escape" from Being itself. Intended as more than a contribution to the scholarship on a major twentieth-century philosopher, my dissertation attempts to disclose the urgent need for ethical or meta-ethical reflection to move beyond the characteristically modern vision of Being as a kind of neutral "thereness" devoid of intrinsic meaning or worth.
Language: English
Format: Degree Work