Monday, February 09, 2015
In NDPR, Michael Fagenblat reviews Between Levinas and Heidegger, edited by John E. Drabinski and Eric S. Nelson.
Raffoul seems to think that Levinas simply misinterpreted Heidegger by mistaking originary responsibility as an investment in Dasein’s “own” being, charging Dasein only with responsibility for “its” being. But, as Raffoul notes, Dasein’s owning of responsibility does not mark a boundary that circumscribes its sphere of existing — this is exactly what Heidegger opposes in contesting the Cartesian-Husserlian idea of a realm of ownness. For Heidegger, rather, the owning of responsibility involves the temporalization of existing concretely, the way an event of meaning in each case involves oneself in its appearing. Nothing in Being and Time suggests that I am only responsible for myself; on the contrary, my ‘self’ is only through my being responsive to entities, including other Daseins, at any given concrete moment. This exposition of originary responsibility is helpful and compelling, though I am not sure it entirely answers Levinas’s concerns. At his best, Levinas accepts this interpretation of Being and Time but contests the phenomenological point. Originary responsibility, he proposes, is not dispersed among beings, as Heidegger thinks, but is produced in relation to a unique sense, hence the privileged role of “the other” who bears the trace of this uniqueness; and the debate between them turns on how to construe the relation between these two modes of responsibility.
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