Essay about The Face, by Emmanuel Levinas

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This short essay engages in a close reading of a passage of Emmanuel Levinas’s ‘The Face’ drawing on the concepts of identity and relational logics. Questions concerning the assumptions employed by Levinas about time, space and form of being will be asked of the text in order to create a dialogue with its meaning. The potential implications of these assumptions will also be explored through the consideration of hinge words and pivotal phrases. Tangible conclusions will not be drawn; however arguments will unfold which demonstrate the possibilities of this passage in regards to the creation of knowledge and the understanding of everyday ways of being.
Levinas asserts that the relation to the face is one that is dominated by
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Levinas’s affirmation of the face as upright and exposed moves the dialogue beyond an identity logic to the realm of relational logic in which the potential of the individual unfolds without a distinct cause or effect. The individual is infinite and yet are not defined and categories. Levinas’s assertion hinges on the distinct and unique phrase of without defence. Etymologically defence, first used in 1935 as a euphemism for ‘national military resources’ is a forbidding or prohibition, but also an action of guarding or protecting, this assumption in reading has specific implications for the interpretation of Levinas’s relational logic. Euclidean space assumptions associated with an identity logic become disjointed when in the atmosphere of relational logic. The notions of distance, detachment and manipulation through categorisation that epitomise what an identity logic cannot gasp the complex question of who an individual is, the decisive question that through a relational logic we are asking of the text. Levinas building upon the notion of the face as without defence further asserts the skin having a decent nudity and an essential poverty. These three phrases reveal that the face can form the pathway to a relational logic through openness and sheer

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