Beyond the Betrayal of Language : On the Role of Skepticism in Otherwise than Being
Sammanfattning: In Otherwise than Being (1974), Levinas asked if and how philosophy could make justice of the concrete ethical meeting by philosophical practice, which is unconditionally conditioned by language. Language, understood as partly situated in being and ontology, is analysed as an appropriation of the other, who is other than being. Language could therefore according to Levinas never fully express the other – sometimes referred to as “otherism”. A condition, then, that needs to be fulfilled for philosophical practice to reach the goal of making justice for the other, and hence be meaningful in the Levinasian picture, is to transcend language through language. In the essay, I analyse through textual interpretation what appears to be a contradiction regarding Levinas’ answer to the possibility of transcendence through and by language in philosophy. On one hand, it appears as if philosophy could not overcome language through language, and that philosophical practice therefore is not meaningful. On the other hand, it appears as if sceptical discourse could overcome language through language. Scepticism might then be considered as the only meaningful practice and philosophy a game of deconstructive dialogue. Since skepticism is understood as a part of philosophy, this would imply that there is a contradiction. I argue that the contradiction could be understood as apparent when considering the criticism executed in Levinas’ analysis of language. I suggest that the contradiction is apparent because sceptical interchange is meaningful.
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