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Levinas' ultratranscendental

After finishing Deictic Absolutes, I'm revisiting Autrement qu'être (and Derrida, and Silvia Benso) in my course on Levinas, Heidegger and Derrida. Today we discussed the orientation towards the other - kerygmatic - in the significance of empirical verdicts. What is said is reduced to the saying - because the metaphysics of the subjectivity is not a form of ontologism. That is, when one says anything like S is P, one is predicating and preaching, preaching requires responsibility to the Other who hears one's report. Sensibility is ultimately testimony: my senses are geared towards producing reports to the Other. Now, this is why the senses themselves have no language - no private language - but rather they are led to speak the Other's language so that I can genuinely inform from my senses to the Other that, say, S is P. So, that sensible intuition requires concepts is a consequence of sensibility being geared towards the Other. My senses are put at the service of saying something to somebody else - and public language is not forged within the scope of sameness, it is a way for me, the speaker, to be always hostage to the Others who have taught me concepts and still can correct my application of them. Levinas hints towards an ultratranscendental: that intuitions require concepts is something that demands a transcendental explanation, beyond the scope of thematization. The transcendental - and yet phenomenological explanation - is that in sensibility the Other is entangled with the I (with sameness). The intersubjective is (ultra)transcendentally explained through the wound of the Other in the subject of sensibility.

Now, interestingly, this ultratranscendental can be put in terms of concepts - as in the Kantian tradition that Levinas wants to deepen with Husserl's efforts to find the transcendental and intentional structure of subjectivity - but doesn't have to be put in those terms. So, one can think, in a Whiteheadian vein, that there is no sensible intuition of isolated facts or that there is no sensible intuition without modulation and co-ordination with what is already taken to be known. Whitehead is in a sense going beyond concepts to explain the transcendental structure behind them - that they proceed by co-ordinating, by modulating perception and this is what makes perception itself possible. But one can apply Levinas' ultratranscendental scheme to Whitehead's (transcendental) formulation: co-ordination and modulation is required because one needs to be of relevance to the Other. One needs to be a reliable reporter because sensibility has a saying behind what is said in its very structure. So, the Levinasian doesn't have to be associated to (human) concepts, it is enough to stress that sensibility is an endeavor in saying something to some Other.


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