Art and Impowerment: Levinas, Nietzsche, and the Ethics of Literary Discourse

The European Legacy 15 (4):439-465 (2010)
This article draws on the profound affinities between the thought of Levinas and Nietzsche to argue that aesthetics plays a major role in Levinas's ethical philosophy. As in the case of Nietzsche, who called himself “the first tragic philosopher,” aesthetics gives reference to the tragic, yet affirmative content of Levinas's ethics. For both, what Levinas calls the “alterity,” or otherness, of art and literature is located not in an ontological or conceptual “beyond”—in a “spiritual” dimension “which sets itself up as knowledge of the absolute”—but in the “interstices” of language, in the “between times” (entretemps) of its modes of temporality: which can only be accessed by way of “the tragic” in art. Alterity signifies not a privileged, interpersonal dimension freed from the problematics of modernity, but points to the complicity between the West's concept of rationality and its history of barbarism exemplified by the Holocaust. The artwork for Levinas is at once temporally diachronic and spatially diasporic, a region of im powerment that is precisely lacking in the expressive or imaginative em powerment normally attributed to the artwork, but which demonstrates a utopian, emancipatory potential in revealing the fissures and hidden pathways that run through the hegemonic structures and totalizing frameworks of modernity
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 9,351
External links
  • Through your library Configure
    References found in this work BETA

    No references found.

    Citations of this work BETA

    No citations found.

    Similar books and articles

    Monthly downloads

    Added to index


    Total downloads

    7 ( #149,727 of 1,088,400 )

    Recent downloads (6 months)


    How can I increase my downloads?

    My notes
    Sign in to use this feature

    Start a new thread
    There  are no threads in this forum
    Nothing in this forum yet.