By Tina Chanter
This quantity of essays investigates the query of Levinas's dating to feminist idea. Levinas breaks with Heidegger's phenomenology through figuring out the moral relation to the ''Other,'' the face-to-face, as exceeding the language of ontology.
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Extra resources for Feminist Interpretations of Emmanuel Levinas
It is not the feminine, but “the inevitable reference of the erotic to the future in fecundity [that] reveals a radically different structure,” says Levinas (TI, 272; TeI, 249). Why is the reference to fecundity “inevitable,” and why does it constitute “paternity” (TI, 272; TeI, 250)? By 1974 we find Levinas in Otherwise Than Being championing maternity as a trope for the obsessive relation to the other, or substitution, that now describes the ethical relation previously cast in terms of the face-toface—my unqualified response to be answerable for faults I have not committed against the other.
Femininity,” he writes, “appeared to me as a difference contrasting strongly with other differences, not merely as a quality different from all others, but as the very quality of difference” (TO, 36). ” The feminine is presented as an exemplar or ideal figure of alterity, exhibiting a form or degree of difference that “is in no way affected by the relation that can be established between it and its correlative”; it is thus a relation that “permits its terms to remain absolutely other” (TO, 85).
The feminine, for Levinas, is a way of rendering what cannot be reduced to beings. It is, in this sense, an elaboration, or dramatization, of 16 Feminist Interpretations of Emmanuel Levinas the ontological difference. Levinas’s claim, in the preceding passage, that eros opens the future that is accomplished by the father establishes that while the feminine is associated, for Levinas, with a disruption of the ontology of being, it cannot by itself bring that disruption to fruition. Paternity is required to bring to completion the movement toward alterity that the feminine opens.