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Moments of Disruption

Levinas, Sartre, and the Question of Transcendence

Kris Sealey

Publication Year: 2013

Explores the ethical and political implications of Levinas’s and Sartre’s accounts of human existence.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-7


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pp. 8-9

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pp. ix-xii

An earlier version of chapter 4, section II, of this work appeared in the Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology 41, no. 3 (2010), under the title “Finding Levinasian Passivity in Sartre’s Descriptions of Shame.” I am grateful to both the journal and to Jackson Publishing and Distribution for their permission to include this work. A version of chapter 2 also...

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pp. 1-14

This book postpones the discussion of Sartre’s and Levinas’s conceptions of the Other until its last chapter. Nevertheless, a large part of its motivation lies in the fact that the name of Jean-Paul Sartre conjures the proclamation that “hell is other people,” while Emmanuel Levinas is that name which reminds us that, in the end we are held “hostage” by the...

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Chapter 1. The Role of Being in Sartre’s Model of Transcendence-as-Intentionality

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pp. 15-42

In Being and Nothingness, Sartre develops Husserl’s notion of intentionality into what can be read as an ‘existentialist phenomenology.’1 The Sartrean commitment lies in using this phenomenological method to account for our concrete, and ultimately politicized, mode of being in the world. In this sense, his reading of Husserl, in...

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Chapter 2. Positionality in Levinas’s Transcendence-as-Excendence

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pp. 43-72

In this chapter I establish that Levinas advocates for a model of transcendence that is built on the existent’s positionality in (or rivetedness to) Being, to the degree that this structure is necessitated by the subject’s concrete experiences.1 These experiences are, in turn, possible given what he identifies as the structure of human identity (or selfhood).2 Although...

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Chapter 3. Levinasian Positionality in Sartre’s Account of Nausea

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pp. 73-94

Positionality, as conceived by Levinas, refers to what is oftentimes felt as the unyielding obligation to be with one’s “self,” despite not being completely identical with that “self.”1 As positioned, the existent feels herself abandoned to the alterity of the il y a, and I read, in this abandonment, an inevitable solitude that pertains to the existent’s condition. In Sartre’s...

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Chapter 4. Levinasian Positionality Implicit in Sartre’s Affective Experiences

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pp. 95-116

Throughout Sartre’s ontology, all experiences are interpreted as belonging to a consciousness whose entire relationship with being is one of intentionality. This is no different for the lived moments that are discussed here. According to Sartre’s formal account of transcendence-as-intentionality, the significance of this phenomenology of positionality is negative. In...

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Chapter 5. Levinas and Sartre on the Question of the Other

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pp. 117-150

The preceding chapters have argued in favor of minimizing the distance between Sartre and Levinas from the vantage point of concrete analysis. It is clear that both describe, in several lived experiences, a primordial level of subjectivity that calls for an interruption of the primacy of freedom. For many of the lived experiences that demonstrate this resonance, Levinas’s...

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Concluding Remarks

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pp. 151-154

My hope is to have demonstrated the convergence between the concrete phenomenologies of Jean-Paul Sartre and Emmanuel Levinas. Such convergence requires both Sartrean and Levinasian scholars alike to open anew the question of transcendence, and how it figures into the formal level of the work of these thinkers. Sartre gives us a conception of consciousness...


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pp. 155-200


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pp. 201-204


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pp. 205-212

Back Cover

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p. 213-213

E-ISBN-13: 9781438448664
Print-ISBN-13: 9781438448657

Page Count: 224
Publication Year: 2013