Mystery and Method: The Other in Rahner and Levinas

By Michael Purcell | Go to book overview

ENDNOTES
1
Even money, the symbol of economics, has a significance beyond the economic sphere, says Levinas. In economy, every object has a price, and what is of value (always to the self and never inherent in the object) can be costed. Money is the "universal power of acquisition," but it is also that power by which the reification and quantification of the person is effected within a system of exchange. The subject becomes a factor in an economic equation whose value and cost is derived from within that equation. "In transactions there occurs the action of one freedom on another. Money, whose metaphysical significance has perhaps not yet been measured ... corrupts the will by the power it offers it, and is thus a middle term par excellence. At the same time it maintains individuals outside of the totality, since it disposes of them, and includes them in the totality, since in commerce and transactions man himself is bought and sold; money is always to some extent wages. As exchange value of product it acts on the will it flatters, and gets a hold of the person. It is thus the abstract element in which is brought about the generalisation of that which bas no concept, the equating of that which bas no quantity" ( Levinas 1987, 44-45).

But, says Levinas, "[w]hat is possessed in money is not the object, but the possession of objects. A possession of possession ..." (ibid. 45), and here lies the redemptive possibility of money, whereby it assumes the character no longer of being, as Sartre might say, "pour soi" but "pour l'autrui." The other, by contesting money's power of possession and acquisition and rendering it powerless, redeems money from its solely economic and subjective circle. It can then become a refusal of my possession, and its worth derived from others.

3
One can see this dynamic of constant deepening in Simone Weil's reflection on the relationship between desire and the good, which Blanchot adverts to in The Infinite Conversation. Commenting upon the "disquieting rapidity" of such statements of Weil's as, "Therefore, God exists because I desire him: this is as certain as my own existence," Blanchot explains that what Weil understands by this is "that the desire for the good, being pure, is not a desire to possess it but only to desire it.... I am thus filled by my very desire: I constantly have the good when I desire it, since I desire only to desire it and not to have it" ( Blanchot 1993, 113). Now, there is some equivocation in Weil's understanding, notes Blanchot, for she speaks at the same time of desiring not to possess the good, but also of "having the good," as is indicated in such statements as: "If desire for the good equals possession of the good, desire for the good is productive of the good, that is to say, it produces the desire for the good. Outside me there is a good which is superior to me and which influences me for the good every time I desire the good. As there is no possible limit to this operation, this external good is infinite; it is God." The contradiction is that if I am certain with regard to my possession of the Good, then by that very fact of grasping it, I have violated it, and it is no longer capable of being the lure to my disinterested desire, just as 'thought of the truth alone is enough to falsify the truth," or "knowing the rules required for salvation is enough to make one no

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Mystery and Method: The Other in Rahner and Levinas
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Contents iii
  • Foreword vii
  • Introduction xii
  • Endnotes xxxiii
  • 1. Method 1
  • 1.7 Summary 56
  • Endnotes 59
  • 2 Philosophical Origins 119
  • Endnotes 121
  • 3. Questioning Presence 129
  • 3.5 Summary 166
  • Endnotes 169
  • 4. Subjectivity and Alterity 171
  • 5. Desiring the Other Or, the Prevenience of Grace 223
  • 5-5 Summary 246
  • Endnotes 248
  • 6 the Sacramentality of the Face, Or, Sacramental Signification 251
  • Endnotes 294
  • 7. Being Ethical 297
  • Endnotes 333
  • 8 the Mystery of the Other 335
  • Endnotes 357
  • Bibliography 359
  • Index 383
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