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MAURICE BLANCHar 3. Our Clandestine Companion Twenty years ago Levinas wrote, "For everyone, this century will have witnessed the end of philosophy" - yet, by ending this very same phrase with an exclamation point, he modified and possibly reversed its sense. This punctual addition was particularly welcome since, having been destined to bring philosophy back down to earth, our epoch will perhaps be remembered as one of the richest in philosophers (if the word rich still passes as pertinent), marked throughout by philosophical investigation and by an unparalleled rivalry among the sciences, literature, and philosophy, all of which necessarily gives philosophy the last word - and averts its demise. All, Shamefully, Gloriously Whether shamefully, gloriously, mistakenly, or by default, we are all philosophers; especially when we submit whatever seems philosophical (a term chosen to avoid emphasizing "philosophy" as such) to a questioning so radical that the entire tradition would have to be called forth in its support. But I would add (while repeating the warning of Bacon and Kant: de nobis ipsis silemusl ) that, as soon as I encountered - a happy encounter, in the strongest sense Emmanuel Levinas, more than fifty years ago, it was with a sort of testimony that I persuaded myself that philosophy was life itself, youth itself, in its unbridled - yet nonetheless reasonable - passion , renewing itself continually and suddenly by an explosion of new and enigmatic thoughts or by still unknown names, who would later shine forth as prodigious figures. 41 42 MAURICE BLANC HOT Philosophy would henceforth be our companion day and night, even by losing its name, by becoming literature, scholarship, the lack thereof, or by standing aside. It would be the clandestine friend we always respected, loved, which meant we were not bound by it - all the while giving us to believe that there was nothing awakened in us, vigilant unto sleep, not due to cur difficult friendship. Philosophy or love. But philosophy is precisely not an allegory. An Invincible Skepticism Levinas wrote (and some of these quotes are from memory) that skepticism was invincible. While easily refuted, the refutation leaves skepticism intact. Is it really contradicted when it openly uses reasons that it destroys? Contradiction is also the essence of skepticism : just as it combats every dogmatism openly, by exposing its unsatisfactory or onerous presuppositions (origin, truth, value, authenticity, the exemplary or proper, etc.), so does it do so in an implicit way, referring itself back to a 'dogmatism' so absolute that every assertion is threatened (this is already to be observed in the ancient skeptics and in Sextus Empiricus.) This doesn't mean that one should take pleasure in chat maniacal and pathetic sort of nihilism Lyotard rightly denounces and for which, once and for all, nothing is of value. Once again, this would be a kind of rest or security . What is at fault with nihili,m - a term without vigor or rigor - is not knowing its own weaknesses and always stopping prematurely . The invincible skepticism that Levinas admits shows that his own philosophy, his metaphysics (these names so easily disparaged), affirms nothing that is not overseen by an indefatigable adversary, one to whom he does not concede but who obliges him to go further, not beyond reason into the facility of the irrational or towards a mystical effusion, but rather towards another reason, towards the other as reason or demand. All this appears in each of his books. Doubtless, he follows the same path; but in each case, the unexpected emerges to render the path so new or so ancient that, following it along, we are struck as by a blow to the heart - the heart of a reason - that makes us say within ourselves, "But I've also thought that: I must think it:' Our Clandestine Companion 43 Valery: "The Other Man, a Fundamental Concept" Some thinkers are perhaps more naive than others: Descartes more naive than Leibniz; Plato more naive than Plato. Heidegger, this thinker of our own time, is so bereft of naivete that he has to have disciples to put it into perspective, disciples, moreover, who can't be called upon to excuse him from what happened in 1933 (but this last point is so serious that one cannot be content with an episodic allusion : Nazism and Heidegger, this is a wound in thought itself, and each of us is profoundly wounded - it will not be dealt with by preterition). Philosophical naivete is perhaps inseparable from philosophical evidence, since the latter brings forth the most recent (what...

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