Collected Philosophical Papers by Emmanuel Levinas

By Emmanuel Levinas

This assortment, now on hand in a reasonable paperback version, includes 11 of the main major articles written by way of Emmanuel Levinas. essentially the most very important philosophers of the phenomenological-existential culture, Levinas extra explored and constructed each one of his theses within the vintage philosophical paintings in a different way than Being, or, past Essence.

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But the power of tyranny over reason, which Plato knew, goes much further than he sometimes seems to say. In his execution Socrates is free. He has a fine death. 2 It is an unjust death, but a fine death. Up to the last instant his thinking remains a refusal. He keeps his friends, who do not deny him. Yet we know that the possibilities of tyranny are much more extensive. It has unlimited resources at its disposal, those of love and wealth, torture and hunger, silence and rhetoric. It can exterminate in the tyrannized soul even the very capacity to be struck, that is, even the ability to obey on command.

Myth takes the place of mystery. The world to be built is replaced by the essential completion of its shadow. This is not the disinterestedness of contemplation but of irresponsibility. The poet exiles himself from the city. From this point of view, the value of the beautiful is relative. There is something wicked and egoist and cowardly in artistic enjoyment. There are times when one can be ashamed of it, as of feasting during a plague. Art then is not committed by virtue of being art. But for this reason art is not the supreme value of civilization, and it is not forbidden to conceive a stage in which it will be reduced to a source of pleasure - which one cannot contest without being ridiculous - having its place, but only a place, in man's happiness.

The individual act of freedom which decided for impersonal reason does not itself result from impersonal reason. For no one wants to force another to accept the impersonal reason of the written text, unless out of tyranny. Were it done by persuasion, that would already presuppose the prior acceptance of impersonal reason. 4 Yet there is a sort of necessity for persuasion in favor of a coherent discourse. It is perhaps this persuasion, this reason prior to reason, that makes coherent discourse and impersonal reason human.

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