Friday, August 19, 2005

Theology in the Vocative


"Thou shalt not kill" or "Thou shalt love thy neighbor" not only forbids the violence of murder: it also concerns all the slow and invisible killing committed in our desires and vices, in all the innocent cruelties of natural life, in our difference of "good conscience" to what is near, even in the haughty obstinancy of our objectifying and our thematizing....The entire Torah, in its minute descriptions, is concentrated in the "Thou shalt not kill" that the face of the other signifies, and awaits its proclamation therein.

- Emmanuel Levinas

3 comments:

TheBlueRaja said...

Explain what you take Levinas to mean by the "haughty obstinancy of our objectifying and our thematizing."

metalepsis said...

By no means am I an expert on Levinas, and this was quoted in a book so I don't have the exact context, but I read it as follows:

Levinas is against the notion of truth as propositional, rather he views truth as relational. This is evident in his distaste for ontological reality and his insistence upon personal reality. For Levinas the task of ethics is the confrontation with the Other, not as a thing, but as the Face, this confrontation forces us into nonreciprocal responsibility. Thus the section of the quote seems to be referring to our insistence to see the Other as a thing, a being, by which we match our language with our sense of what is exterior to language, instead of as a relationship.

Powerful stuff that screams cruciformity for the Christian!

TheBlueRaja said...

Cool! I'm getting a tattoo of Levinas. Now if I could just figure out where to put it . . .