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By Emmanuel Levinas

Lifestyles and Existents used to be written generally in the course of Levinas's imprisonment in international conflict II, and offers the 1st caricature of his mature proposal -- later constructed in Totality and Infinity and another way Than Being, or past Essence (also released by way of Duquesne college Press). Levinas's venture in lifestyles and Existents is to maneuver from nameless life to the emergence of subjectivity; to subjectivity's perform, thought and morality; to its come upon with the alterity of the opposite individual. he's involved right here essentially with the time of the solitary topic; time is the internal constitution of subjectivity, of the flow of present. lifestyles and Existents introduces the main topics and issues that occupied Levinas all through his occupation. it's crucial interpreting for realizing either Levinas's personal philosophy and the advancements in philosophical proposal within the 20th century.

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Its anonymity is essential. The mind does not find itself faced with an apprehended exterior. The exterior — if one insists on the term — remains uncorrelated with an interior. It is no long given. It is no longer a world. What we call the I is itself submerged by the night, invaded, depersonalized, stifled by it. The disappearance of all things and of the I leaves what cannot disappear, the sheer fact of being in which one participates whether one wants to or not, without having taken the initiative, anonymously.

The present refers only to itself, but this reference, which should have dazzled it with freedom, imprisons it in an identification. The present, free with respect to the past, but a captive of itself, breathes the gravity of being in which it is caught up. For there is a gravity in the heart of the present, despite its break with the past. The fatality which bears down upon the present does not weigh it down like heredity, and is not imposed on it because it was born without having chosen its birth.

On the other hand, the relationship between time and existence seems equally evident and simple, throughout the whole of philosophy — with the exception of Heidegger, who makes of just this a problem. The extension of time appears as the very extension of existence. Perennial existence is a higher form of existence. It is true that there is eternity, which time does not gnaw away at, even above perennial existence. But this superiority of eternity is due precisely to the fact that time does not gnaw away at it.

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