“It is inasmuch as I have not only to respond to the Face of the other, but alongside him to approach the third party, that the necessity for the theoretical attitude arises. From the start, the encounter with the Other is my responsibility for him. That is the responsibility for my neighbor, which is, no doubt, the harsh name for what we call love of one’s neighbor; love without Eros, charity, love in which the ethical aspect dominates the passionate aspect, love without concupiscence. (…) Here is the birth of the theoretical; here the concern for justice is born, which is the basis of the theoretical.” (Levinas, Between us, p. 103-104).
The preoccupation with justice is present throughout the work of Levinas. In its link to ethics, justice is a response to the Other, but also to the Other of the Other. On the one hand, it is related to the foundation of the State and its institutions, to the birth of philosophy, and to the arrival of the third; on the other hand, justice is inherent to the encounter with others and to all that is related to it: justice enquires, while straight off representing ontology itself, it is calculation and measure, but cannot do without the infinite generosity of ethics, of the beyond being, and its transcendence. Justice signifies in the Said which Unsays and Resays, always, indefinitely – it is itself analogous to . Justice is found in the Law, but the judge cannot judge without looking and seeing the face of the one being judged. Justice requires sensitivity. Without love it runs the risk of hardening into inhuman laws. According to Levinas, concern for justice is already a work of love. Love founds righteousness. What are the many ways to approach justice and love, when considering the various ways they are presented in the work of Levinas? How do love and justice relate to each other and to ethics?
In this Third International Seminar on Emmanuel Levinas, we propose to approach “love and justice” in its various aspects, which, for didactic reasons, we divide into 4 axes:
Axis 1 – Ethics and Ontology
We can enter onto the paths of ontology when thinking about the relation between ethics – which, according to Levinas, inaugurates the theoretical – and justice, which has in ethics its source. Ontology and ethics must deal with justice. Infinity and totality are related in this context; Justice and first philosophy; the face-to-face and the side-to-side; Truth, freedom and conscience, in the broader context that may open up between justice and love. The problem of evil lies in a justice that is intended blind, which avoids the glimpsing of the face of Other. How should the problem of ontology and evil be approached from justice and love?
Issues to be addressed include: the “there is”, insomnia, but also representation, intentionality, metaphysics, desire, hospitality, the face, time, death, hypostasis, being and evasion, the link between the infinite responsibility of ethics and the just measure brought by justice.
Axis 2 – Subjectivity, Language and Transcendence
Ethics arises as one of the most demanding notions of the humanism of the other man. Man emerges as a gift of the self, a subjugated subject, as an immediate and unthinking response to the Other, as love. Justice enters into dyadic relations in which, from then on, the third demands participation. Born out of concern for the third, justice is Said. But through Unsaying and Resaying, it becomes language – the language of the ethics of love which becomes and remains justice face to face with the ethical subject. What happens to subjectivity before justice? How can one speak of transcendence between justice and ethics? To what extent is transcendence committed to love, or vice versa? Here there are some questions we propose to raise.
Other questions to be addressed include: the constitution of the subject, the “here I am”, the self, identity, phenomenology, hermeneutics, recurrence, substitution, memory, communication, dialogue, the witness, wisdom, responsibility, creation, the significance of the word “God” in justice and ethics, forgiveness, mystery, maternity, paternity, liberation (both spatial and temporal), intersubjective ethical relations, openness to sociability and justice, among other associated themes.
Axis 3 – The Erotic, Sensibility and the Aesthetic
Responsibility has the name of love. Love as an ethical source turned towards the Other, a source of justice which considers all the others of the Other. Different approaches to love are evoked throughout the work of Levinas. Eroticism, sensibility and aesthetics are related to ethics, justice and love. In this sense, ethics and aesthetics are intimately entangled. In what way could ethics overtake aesthetics or is this not possible, without renouncing beauty? Might Love be the beauty that surpasses beauty?
Questions to be addressed include: love as a body for the body of the Other, as skin that rips leaving its veins open as a sacrifice for others.
In what ways does the term love appear in Levinas: (i) as philia, introducing a new conception of philo–sophia – which, more than love of knowledge, signifies, in another, but not contrary sense, the wisdom of love –, ii) love as mercy, the poverty of a subject who breaks free of himself in the encounter with the Other, iii) or love as nudity of the Other who inspires forgiveness?, iv) love as concupiscence of knowledge that is directed towards a carnality without concupiscence?
We suggest themes that address some of the following related problems: corporeality, fecundity, enjoyment, music, poetics, literature, closeness, suffering, touch, the caress, art’s function, the holy, the sacred, love, the art of obliteration, ethical carnality as unity between body and soul, alterity of the feminine, philosophy of gender: motherhood, filiation, paternity; the third as gift, the ambivalence of the caress and carnal gestures, and the spectrum relating the concupiscence of knowledge to carnality without concupiscence, among other associated terms.
Axis 4 – The Face, the Third and the Law
Different notions of justice appear in Totality and Infinity and Otherwise than Being. Justice makes itself a yardstick and remains in-formed by ethics. Love and the Law, love of the Law, love for Others as responsibility are themes that alternate. How do they fit together? Would it be possible to reconcile them? We call for studies addressing the relationship between the interdiction imposed by the Other and interdiction generally; the relationship between State and ethics; between equality and difference; between the Ethical Saying and the Saying of Justice.
From love and justice opens up a range of questions and studies on the statute of justice and its direction: justice as a response to the other, but also to the other of the other that is already in the face of others. Justice that in Totality and Infinity seems to be confused with ethics, but that already in Otherwise than Being seems to be distinguish from it. Was there a split – contradiction or paradox? What problems thus arise and what are their consequences for the thought of Levinas?
Other questions that may be addressed: the neighbor of my neighbor, rules, equality, politics, society, difference, politics, normativity, force, power, violence, the foreign/foreigner, proximity, peace, inequality, bondage, humanism, universality, biopolitics, the State, guilt, Judaism, economics, law, labor, and other cognate subjects.