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Ethics of Breath: Derrida, Lévinas and Irigaray

  • Lenart Škof
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Part of the Sophia Studies in Cross-cultural Philosophy of Traditions and Cultures book series (SCPT, volume 10)

Abstract

In this chapter the ethics of breath is discussed by reading the excerpts from Derrida’s, Lévinas’ and Irigaray’s writings. Based on previous elaborations on breath in its mesocosmic constellation, and also on Feuerbach’s and Heidegger’s philosophies of the elements, this chapter introduces a possibility for an ethics that reaches beyond the empirical-transcendental divide. Firstly Derrida’s thinking on breath is presented: we refer to On Spirit, the essay on Lévinas (“Violence and Metaphysics”) and The Animal That Therefore I am. Then we proceed towards Lévinas and Irigaray where we really become aware of the possibility for an ethics of breath. In our reading, Lévinas’ philosophy first testifies for an extreme sensitivity not only for the Other but also for the phenomenon of breathing. But especially important are final sentences from Otherwise than Being, or Beyond the Essence, where Lévinas hypostasises lungs to an ethical organ. We interpret this as a newly invented “material” phenomenology—now thought of as pneumatology of the other, based on breathing. This chapter ends with Irigaray’s rich elaborations on breath and breathing as a key topic in the third phase of her work. Irigaray’s idea for the Age of the Breath is analyzed and presented and here feminist based philosophy of breathing is analyzed from the viewpoint of a new theory of intersubjectivity as proposed in the book.

Keywords

Derrida Levinas Irigaray Breath Intersubjectivity Nature 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lenart Škof
    • 1
  1. 1.Science and Research CentreUniversity of PrimorskaKoperSlovenia

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