Mystery and Method: The Other in Rahner and Levinas

By Michael Purcell | Go to book overview
Save to active project

7.
BEING ETHICAL

For Levinas, metaphysics intends that good rather than being. Already in Existence and Existents, he mapped out the "general guideline for his research" as "the Platonic formula that situates the Good beyond Being" ( Levinas 1978, 15). Human transcendence is a transcendence, not towards Being, but towards the Good. In Otherwise than Being, he notes that "[t]he diachronic ambiguity of transcendence lends itself to this choice, to this option for the ultimacy of being" and then questions whether "this choice" is "the only philosophical one" ( Levinas 1981, 95). Instead of the question that the "ultimacy of being" lies behind the signification of the "one- for-the-other," he proposes "the Platonic word, Good beyond being," which "excludes being from the Good" (ibid.). In Totality and Infinity, he indicates that "[t]o be for the Other is to be good" ( Levinas 1979, 261).

What we wish to enquire after in this chapter is whether Levinas' choice for the Good and his privileging of the Good over Being, is appropriate. Levinas' choice is a choice between two alternatives, which is really no choice. Is there not perhaps what we might term a tertium gaudens which is neither in the alternation of Good and Being, but in the very goodness of Being. Being itself is not opposed to the Good, but is itself good. Being and the Good are One. What we want to argue is that it is not so much a question of the otherwise than being but of being otherwise, and particularly of being otherwise than Levinas' comprehension of being. Levinas, of course, disavows this notion, saying that "[t]ranscendence is passing over to being's other, otherwise than being. Not to be otherwise, but otherwise than being. And not to not-be..." ( Levinas, 1981, 3). Nonetheless, before one can consent to this "otherwise than being," one needs to be clear about the "being" which one is called to be "otherwise than," which is perhaps to raise again the perennial question which is the question of the meaning of being. In other words, for Levinas, the meaning of the metaphysical relationship with the Other cannot be answered in terms of being. But what, for Levinas, is the meaning of being such

-297-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Mystery and Method: The Other in Rahner and Levinas
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 396

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?