Sincerely Yours. Towards a Phenomenology of Me
Here I am — for you. How does Levinas describe and analyse this amazing discovery? What does it imply about my ipseity and why should mutual respect be founded in a double (chiastic) asymmetry ? This contribution takes up these questions by sketching Levinas's accounts of the economic and ethical subject, clarifying the me aning of asymmetric height in relation to the evocation of the height of the ‘Most High’, and then delineating the sense of the term ‘passivity ’. The author argues that radical passivity must be understood as ‘patience’, not as an ‘ontological’ passivity whose meaning is drawn from impersonal phenomena. In this way, the central Levinasian insight, that responsibility does not derive from a self-sufficient subject in relation to objects or even from a subject dependent on a medium or being in which it is immersed, is able to be preserved without a complacent or merely passive acceptance of evil or suffering. From the analysis of the patient self, consideration then turns to the question of whether and how a phenomenology of ‘me’ is possible. The notion of ‘election’ comes to the fore as the moment in which ‘I’ in relation to you am given a more direct access to experience and expression of myself and my own concern for myself, without yet eclipsing or debasing the height of the Other.
KeywordsHuman Individual Radical Passivity Passive Acceptance Egoistic Manner Grand Treatise
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