Levinasian Thoughts on Abortion

Un peu Levinasian Pensees d’avortement.

A Few Levinasian Thoughts on Abortion

 

 

Bill Honsberger

 

ABSTRACT:

 

Schindler’s List is seen by some as a movie heavily influenced by Emmanuel Levinas’s philosophy, which is summarized by the idea that ethics should be seen as “First Philosophy” as opposed to metaphysics or ontology.  This ethics is played out in the response to the “Other”.  Taking off from other views of the other, Levinas sees the other as incarnated in the “Face”.  This unwelcome intrusion of humanity is what “turns” Schindler in the movie and in a related way is what turned Dr. Bernard Nathanson, co-founder of NARAL, (National Abortion Rights League), who upon encountering the “Face” of a unborn baby during the ultrasound recording of an abortion, “turns” and the movie The Silent Scream reflects this change in his own humanity and responsibility.  This move of Levinas towards the other as seen in the face might be seen as a proper response to the dead end of ontology as applied to ethics.  Some argue that the unborn baby and even in fact the already born child, are not truly “persons” and therefore can be killed without moral harm.  Their arguments are all based on ontological concerns, which therefore can be undermined by Levinasian tactics.  Potential rebuttals to Levinasian tactics and responses to the rebuttals will also be included in this paper.

 

 

 

Schindler – “War brings out the worst in people, never the good always the bad,

 

always the bad.  But under normal circumstances he wouldn’t be like this.  There

 

would be just the good aspects of him, which he’s a wonderful crook, a man who

 

loves good food, good wine, the ladies, making money”.

 

Stern – “Killing”.

 

Schindler – “He can’t enjoy it.”

 

Stern – “Byevsky told me the other day somebody escaped from a work detail

 

outside the wire.  Goethe lined up everybody from the missing mans barrack.  He

 

shot the man to the left of Byevsky, to the right of him.  He walked down the line

 

shooting every other man with a pistol.  Twenty-Five”.

 

Schindler – “What do you want me to do about it?”

 

Stern – “Nothing, nothing.  We’re just talking.”

 

Schindler – “Perlman.  Husband and wife.  Have Goldberg bring them over.”

 

 

Schindler – “Look, all you have to do is tell what its worth to you.  What’s a person

 

worth?”

 

Goethe – “No, No, No, No.  What’s one worth to you?”

 

 

Stern – “It’s Hebrew from the Talmud.  It says whoever saves one life save the world

 

entire.”

 

Schindler – “I could have got more out.  I could have got more, maybe more, maybe

 

if I just…I could have got more”

 

Stern – “Oscar, there are eleven hundred people who are alive because of you.  Look

 

at them!”

 

Schindler – “If I had made more money, I threw away so much money.  You have

 

no idea, if I just”

 

Stern – “There will be generations because of what you did.”

 

Schindler – “I didn’t do enough”.

 

Stern – “You did so much”.

 

Schindler – “This car.  Goethe would have bought this car.  Why did I keep the car?

 

Ten people right there.  Ten people.  Ten more people.  This pin.  Two more people.

 

This is gold.  Two more people.  He would have given me two more people.  At least

 

two.  He would have given me one, one more.  One more person.  A person, Stern.

 

For this.  I could have gotten one more person.  I didn’t.  I didn’t. (Sobbing).” (1)

 

 

Schindler’s List was one of the most acclaimed films of modern times.

 

Winner of numerous awards, it focused on the bleak and desperate situation for

 

Jews during World War Two, and how one gentile, Oscar Schindler, was

 

transformed from a corrupt, hedonistic, egoist into a person who saved the life of

 

approximately 1,100 Jews from the death camps of the Third Reich.  The movie

 

portrays Schindler as a man, who like most people, didn’t care about anyone else,

 

whose entire life was spent pursuing his own pleasure.  Schindler is confronted in

 

several different instances with an individual, who forced him to face up to his

 

ethical responsibility for that individual.  In two parts of the movie we see this

 

happen.  Schindler is confronted with an old man, who is disabled, who wants

 

merely to thank Schindler for allowing him to come to the factory and work, which

 

has saved him from death.  Schindler speaks to the man and is clearly irritated at

 

the interruption of his routine.  He later upbraids his foreman Stern for allowing the

 

event to happen.  Subsequent to this the old man is killed by the Nazis because of his

 

disability.  Schindler then goes and argues with the Nazi command over the loss of

 

the man.  Although is seems clear that his argument is only over the utility of the

 

man at this point, Schindler is in the unique position for himself as a Nazi

 

functionary of berating the high command over the loss of an untermensch.  Later

 

Schindler observes a mass of Jews being herded towards the death camps.  He sees a

 

little girl in a red coat in the mass of the gray herd.  He stares at her, almost in

 

disbelief, knowing that she is about to die.  Later he finds her coat in the dispensary,

 

and then later on her corpse is dug up and burned, which Schindler witnesses in

 

horror.  Here we see the birth of the ethical sense of responsibility in the man.

 

These illustrations point to the kinds of changes that Emmanuel Levinas insist

 

should be the real foci of philosophy.

 

Some have noted that the movie was written about or was at least familiar

 

with, themes made popular by Emmanuel Levinas.  These themes include the

 

controversial thought that Ethics should be seen as First Philosophy.  This dramatic

 

philosophical move goes contrary to thousands of years of philosophical tradition,

 

which had seen ontology or metaphysics in the role of First Philosophy, with ethics

 

being derived consequently from whatever ontological position one took.  He says:

 

“Is not moral conscience the critique of and the principle

of the presence of self to self?  Then if the essence of

philosophy consists in going back from all certainties

toward a principle, if it lives from critique, the face of

the other would be the starting point of philosophy.  This

is a thesis of heteronomy which breaks with a venerable

tradition.  But, on the other hand, the situation in which

one is not alone is not reducible to the fortunate meeting of

fraternal souls that greet one another and converse.  This

situation is the moral conscience, the exposedness of my

freedom to the judgment of the Other. (l’Autre).  It is a

disalignment which has authorized us to catch sight of the

dimension of height and the ideal in the gaze of him to whom

justice is due.” (2)

 

 

Murder and violence, perceived through Levinasian eyes, becomes the logical

 

consequence of ontology unbridled.  Edith Wyschogrod notes that, “annihilating

 

other persons is a quantum leap over earlier forms: the killing of the other is

 

murder, an attack on transcendence, on what lies outside the sphere of ontology.

 

The face is in the trace of transcendence, the beyond from which the face comes and

 

which issues from an immemorial past that cannot be concerted into the origin of

 

the face.” (3) Here we have allusion to another critical part of Levinasian

 

vocabulary, that of the “face”.  To Levinas, the face is not physical in the sense of

 

the aggregate collection of eyes, ears, nose, mouth, etc, but rather the humanness,

 

the transcendence of the infinite in the human other.  It is particularly important to

 

this paper that the other is for Levinas a decidedly human other. He says that, “In

 

proximity is heard a command comes as though from an immemorial past, which

 

was never present, began in no freedom.  The way of the neighbor is a face.” (4) This

 

face, this “infinite that blinks” is for Levinas the starting points of the ethical

 

development of a human being.  The face represents the intrusion, the invasion, of

 

the other into the subjectivity of a human self.  This intrusion into a person’s

 

happiness is the beginning of the process of humanism, or ethical development, of

 

that person.  It is also important to understand that for Levinas, this ethical

 

understanding, this response to the intrusion of the other, is an individual act, not a

 

theoretical generalization, but rather a particularization of an ethical

 

rapprochement, which then must be done to each individual other, to the infinity

 

within each other.

 

This philosophical disalignment from the tradition is a wholly new move.  As

 

Anthony Beavers points out:

 

“For him, ethics is, first and foremost, born on the concrete level of

person to person contact.  He does not find the moral ‘ought’ inscribed

within the laws of the cosmos, in reason, or in any universal desire for

pleasure.  Instead, each individual case of moral conflict produces the

moral ‘ought’ itself. ..It will be difficult to present an argument here,

because the moral ‘ought’ for Levinas has already occurred before

reason comes on the scene…The goal of presenting ethics is not to

discover the truth of ethics, but to make an appeal for ethical

transformation.  Levinas invites us to listen…to the voice of the

Other, who sanctions all of our moral obligations. “(5)

 

 

The pre-rational person is then held “hostage”.  Levinas notes that “The self is a

 

sub-jectum: it is under the weight of the universe…the unity of the universe is not

 

what my gaze embraces in its unity of apperception, but what is incumbent upon me

 

from all sides, regards me, is my affair.”(6) Prior to this response demanded by the

 

presence of the other, the subjective self is busily pleasing itself by assimilating and

 

totalizing all that surrounds it.  All things can be swallowed and used and subjected

 

to the subjected self.  The intrusion of the other violently upends all this.  The

 

totalization process of the self is confronted with an infinite other, which cannot, by

 

its very nature, be totalized. This is always the result of a personal situation, not a

 

pre-existing ethical base or philosophy.  It is born each time the Other intrudes.

 

This ultimately leads to the command, you shall not murder.  Levinas

 

comments that “My being-in-the-world or my place in the sun, my being at home,

 

have these not also been the usurpation of spaces belonging to the other man whom

 

I have already oppressed or starved, or driven out in a third world; are they not acts

 

of repulsing, excluding, exiling, stripping, killing? Pascal’s ‘my place in the sun’

 

marks the beginning of the image of the usurpation of the whole earth.  A fear for

 

all the violence and murder my existing might generate, in spite of its conscious and

 

intentional innocence.  A fear which reaches back past my self-consciousness in spite

 

of whatever moves are made towards a Bonne conscience by a pure perseverance in

 

being.  It is the fear of occupying someone else’s place with the Da of my Dasein; it is

 

the inability to occupy a place, a profound utopia.”(7) Thus, for Levinas the

 

ontology of Heidigger leads inevitably to war, violence, wrenching of the other,

 

completely attempting it’s totalizing mission.  Ethics must come first, it is basic.  By

 

that I mean that it is not argued for, but rather from. (8) This only becomes absolute

 

for Levinas when it happens without expectation, that is, without the expectation of

 

reward, without personal gratification as the result.

 

This novelle approach to ethics breaks with the philosophical tradition, not

 

in the sense of positing a new problem, for since Hegel the question of the Other has

 

been seen in many other writers.  What Levinas does distinctively switch is the

 

approach to ethics.  Levinas comes out of the rationalistic tradition of Descartes and

 

Kant and Husserl.  This forces him to recognize that, in the words of Anthony

 

Beavers, “anytime I take the person in my idea to be the real person, I have closed

 

off contact with the real person; I have cut off the connection with the other that is

 

necessary if ethics is to refer to real other people.”(9) This is in direct contrast with

 

Heidigger for whom our responsibility is to ourselves and not to an other, which also

 

to Heidigger may not even exist separate from Being.  This is also true of Sartre,

 

who identifies the subject as “for-itself”.  Levinas also stands apart from the

 

analytical ethical traditions of utility or enlightened self-interest.  Both are seen as

 

specious because of their derivation from ontology.  Both serve as prime examples of

 

totalization of the Other into the self.  The other then becomes merely a tool, to be

 

used as needed by the self, to the self’s own ends.

 

For Levinas, the face was the incarnation of the Other and perhaps also the

 

divine Other or God.  In Ethics and Infinity he argues that “Here I am.  To do

 

something for the Other.  To give. To be human spirit, that’s it.  The incarnation of

 

human subjectivity guarantees its spirituality…Dia-chrony before all dialogue: I

 

analyze the inter-human relationship as if, in proximity with the Other – beyond the

 

image I myself make of the other man – his face, the expressive in the Other (and

 

the whole human body is in this sense more or less face), were what ordains me to

 

serve him.  I employ this extreme formulation.  The face orders and ordains me.  Its

 

signification is an order signified.  To be precise, if the face signifies an order in my

 

regard, this is not in the manner in which an ordinary sign signifies its sign; this

 

order is the very signifyingness of the face.” 10) In Totality and Infinity he argues

 

that the any part of the body can be a sign of the face. (11) This idea of the face as

 

incarnation leads to what he calls “the possibility and impossibility of murder”.  The

 

face represents what is human, soft, uncovered, and vulnerable.  The human is

 

mortal and this very mortality screams out as my responsibility to it.  Even though

 

the other is mortal and therefore capable of being murdered, my response to the

 

other’s intrusion makes murder impossible.  The ethical response precedes any

 

thought, any totalization, any attempt at subsuming the other into my self, my

 

egoism.  Murder has motives, causes, reasons and all of these things are the result of

 

thoughtful process.  The ethical response suggested by Levinas treats these

 

byproducts of ontology as latecomers to the party.  The ethical response of welcome

 

precedes any thought.  It holds me hostage.  It makes me responsible.  Murder is

 

excluded before the thought can be thought.  It strikes me in this analysis that it is

 

critical for Levinas that the Other incarnated in the face has this possibility of

 

infinity and divine otherness element invoked numerous times and places.  Like

 

Descartes, this “furniture of the mind” element must be built in and certainly nature

 

does not provide this ethical response.  Contra in fact, nature’s response seems

 

almost entirely instinctive and frequently violent.  While instinct can be seen as pre-

 

thought, the violence one sees so often in nature makes it hard to see nature as the

 

pre-cause of the ethical response.  Therefore the divine other, God, becomes the

 

originator of the response.  It is hard-wired into the human person.  The human

 

then is seen as the image of God incarnate, alluded to by Levinas in Ethics and

 

Infinity. (12)

 

In analytical circles a similar move has been made by Alvin Plantinga in

 

“Warrant and Basic Belief”.  (13) Plantinga argues from the foundationalist

 

viewpoint that certain things are basic, by that he means that certain things are

 

elemental.  These things are not argued for, but from.  Normally foundationalist

 

argue that things such as perception, logic, memory do not need to be defended, but

 

are assumed as justifying knowledge.  Plantinga’s controversial move was to argue

 

that belief in God is just as “basic” as perception, or memory and therefore can also

 

be argued from as opposed to for.  The beauty of the move is that it is hard to make

 

the case that one can separate out perception or memory as basic in an arbitrary

 

way, therefore philosophers are free to argue on the same grounds for other “basic”

 

qualities.  It seems to me that Levinas has the same advantage and disadvantage as

 

does Plantinga here.  To argue, and I am sympathetic to his move and motivation,

 

for ethics as first philosophy, Levinas is on common ground with many other

 

thinkers in arguing, ala Descartes and Kant, for innate knowledge. But of course

 

Levinas is not arguing for innate knowledge, but rather for innate ethical responses.

 

The disadvantage is that innate knowledge is seen by many as a reach, a rationalistic

 

holy grail that is assumed but never proven.  No empiricist will pay attention.  This

 

is why I think the move for divine help is necessary.  The lack of grounding for

 

empirical grounds for ethics has been a dramatic, contradictory failure.  Yet the

 

impulse to find ethical grounding continues in all camps.  The beauty of what

 

Levinas does is to make ethics the grounding for all other philosophical issues, as

 

opposed to the opposite.  It pre-supposes the ethical response and makes it the

 

priority regardless of position, status, race, gender etc.  It is truly a humane ethic,

 

because it is centered in the response of the human as made in the image of God,

 

and as incarnated as the face of the Other.

 

Another important film was produced fifteen years ago and caused much

 

controversy, acclaim and rancor when it premiered.  “The Silent Scream” was

 

based on the development of the new technology of ultrasound imaging, as applied

 

to abortion.  The movie purported to show the unborn baby reacting violently to the

 

probing of an abortionist’s instruments.  The ultrasound imagery produced what

 

clearly looked like a human face, literally screaming as the probe attacked its body.

 

The scream is silent as the ultrasound did not pick up audio signals.  The movie was

 

acclaimed by pro-life people as showing the true nature of what they called an evil

 

act, the murder and dismantling of a human being.  Pro-choice proponents decried

 

the movie first as a fraud and then shifted the discussion as to whether the fetus

 

could feel pain.  The controversy over abortion is truly on of the most emotional and

 

divisive issues plaguing our society today.  For many people, pro and con, it is The

 

consuming single issue, which is placed at the foremost of political candidacies,

 

cultural understandings and even basic relationships among neighbors can be

 

driven one way or the other, merely on this single subject.  The twist of the Silent

 

Scream is that it is hosted by Dr. Bernard Nathanson, co-founder of NARAL,

 

probably the pre-eminent abortion rights lobby in the country.  Nathanson who

 

personally performed thousands of abortions, had an ethical change and came to

 

decry abortion as an inhumane act of barbarism.  He talks about his reaction to the

 

ultrasound in the film. “those technologies…those technologies, those machines we

 

use every day, have convinced us that beyond question the unborn child is a human

 

being, another member of the human community…indistinguishable from any of

 

us.” (13) When the film of the abortion was shown to the Doctor who performed the

 

abortion, he was so shocked that he left the clinic that day and never did another

 

abortion.  In some strange sense the removal of the parts of a baby had produced no

 

reaction in him, but the actual face, shown in a silent scream, had a profound effect

 

on him.

 

What I want to try here is to argue that the historic arguments concerning

 

abortion have all been about ontology, about Being.  These arguments have

 

historically produced the same ambivalence that Levinas is so driven by.  The

 

Levinasian move here, perhaps, can put the abortion argument on an entirely

 

different plane.  And this argument has even

 

wider concerns, in that there is a concerted effort from some prominent circles to

 

expand from abortion to euthanasia rights, in that both arguments can be made

 

equally from an ontological basis.

 

There have been on average around 1.3 million abortions in America per

 

year since the controversial Roe v. Wade decision in 1973.  The American Medical

 

Association is one prominent organization, which changed its views on abortion

 

over the past 100 years.  Even its definition of abortion changed.  In 1859 the AMA

 

described abortion as “The slaughter of countless children, such unwarrantable

 

destruction of human life”, and in 1871 as “The work of destruction; the wholesale

 

destruction of unborn infants”.  Compare this with the description from the AMA in

 

1967 – “The interruption of pregnancy; the induced termination of pregnancy” and

 

in 1970  – “A medical procedure”.(15) The language concerning the abortion debate

 

has also changed drastically.  The AMA used to use language such as “embryo”,

 

“children”, “infants”, “victim”.(16) By the late 1960’s you instead see words being

 

used like, “parasite”, “products of conception”, “unwanted pregnancy”,

 

“conceptus”, “valuable research material”.  The argument does not stop there.

 

Michael Tooley, PhD, professor of Philosophy at the University of Colorado at

 

Boulder, said in 1972 “It is a wild contention that new-born babies are persons”.(17)

 

Pete Singer PhD, Bioethics chair at Princeton University concurs; “Human babies

 

are not born self-aware, or capable of grasping that they exist over time.  They are

 

not persons” (18)  He says elsewhere “a period of 28 days after birth might be

 

allowed before an infant is accepted as having the same right to live as others” (19)

 

Professor Tooley has argued elsewhere that the limit can be as late as two years after

 

birth, as the infant is not a “person” until then. (20).

 

Another major issue within the abortion debate is based on the reasons given

 

for abortion.  In a poll taken by the Alan Guttmacher Institute, an arm of Planned

 

Parenthood, over 93% of the respondents gave reasons that had nothing to do with

 

health concerns. (21) Most had to do with lifestyle concerns, economics, relationship

 

problems and so on.  The reason this is important is that almost all of the reasons

 

given were about the subject themselves.  The concerns were not about the health or

 

concern for the baby.  Most of the arguments seem to coalesce into the “rights of the

 

baby” versus the “rights of the mother”.  Sometimes the argument is cast as a

 

woman having the right to do with her body as she wants, as opposed to the pro-life

 

claim that there are two bodies concerned in the issue.  This is where the arguments

 

have all broken down and become so obviously arguments about ontology or

 

metaphysics.   They are all about Being, concern with Being, assigning real or only

 

potential Being, arbitrary judgments about when Being starts and so on.

 

Levinasian tactics would seem to be helpful here.

 

If ontology is the problem, then ethics as first philosophy is perhaps the cure.

 

A Levinasian move here would be to see the unborn child as an Other, a source of

 

infinite resource and possibilities.  The child is an Other, regardless of whether

 

other others consider them so or not.  Since it is not mere physicality, which

 

comprises the face, and since the face speaks to the transcendence of the other, and

 

since the concerns of the subject are held “hostage” by the intrusion of the

 

unexpected other, it seems clear that the abortion illustration is an incredibly clear

 

analogy for the subject/other encounter.  The expecting mother, prior to pregnancy,

 

is the subject  The presence of another into her most personal space is perhaps the

 

rudest encounter one can imagine.  It is fascinating that some pro-choice people

 

refer to the unborn child as a “parasite” at this point.  Even if one takes that as a

 

real analogy, then the point still can be made.  The parasite is not the same, it is

 

other.  It cannot be totalized under the banner of one body, for it is another body.

 

Mere geography (more ontology) cannot be the determining factor of whether the

 

baby is truly an other or not.  The actual vision of the face, as seen in The Silent

 

Scream, can almost be seen as overkill in one way and the grounding for the

 

argument in another.  Since the face is not reduced to physicality, the otherness of

 

the baby is not in question.  The only possible rebuttal is that the baby is an other,

 

but not a human other.  Since for Levinas this is a primary issue, it becomes central

 

to this argument.  Various observations must be given space here.  The baby carries

 

solely human DNA.  No human being reproduces another species, only another

 

human being.  The question of biology is not in question here.  The video shows that

 

language like “conceptus”, “fetal tissue matter” merely mask the identity of the

 

human other.

 

The question raised by Tooley and Singer is a wholly different matter.

 

“Personhood” as a category is very difficult to define.  In several conversations that

 

I have had with Dr. Tooley, I pointed out the arbitrary timetable that he had set.

 

There were no physiological changes of note occurring in a two-year-old child that

 

could justify this conclusion.  He defined the primary essential characteristic of

 

“personhood” as the self-consciousness of ones own existence and future existence.

 

If this is the case, then autistic people, comatose people or hallucinogenic people are

 

all then classified as “non-persons”.  Once you allow this type of thing, any sort of

 

totalization and violence is possible.  In the infamous Euthanasia Order of 1939,

 

Adolf Hitler said that “The authority of physicians is enlarged to include the

 

responsibility for according a mercy death to incurables” (22) This act allowed the

 

Nazis to literally kill all the mentally handicapped people in Germany.  This of

 

course was only the first of many marginalizations and totalizations and

 

destructions of people groups in Germany.  Dr.August Hirt, Nazi official, said in

 

1942 that “The Jewish-Bolshevik Commissars personify a repulsive yet

 

characteristic sub humanity”.  (23)  The former commandant of Treblinka death

 

camp, one Franz Stangl, said in 1971 “It had nothing to do with humanity – it was a

 

mass.  I rarely saw them as individuals.  It was always a large mass”. (24) This

 

quote, quite reminiscent of Schindler’s reaction in the movie, shows how totalization

 

-the byproduct of ontology, reduces humanity to a mass, finite, consumable.

 

Levinas urges us instead to see humans, all humans, as the Other, each one,

 

instantiated separately from each other, each one as a occurrence and rude

 

intrusion into the subjected self’s interiority.  The totalization of even one for selfish

 

reasons in not acceptable.  They are all someone, from something, from somewhere.

 

Editorialist Vincent Carroll notes the human life is being devalued in many

 

academic circles.  His most noted illustration is that of Georgetown University’s

 

Tom L. Beauchamp who says that “Because many humans lack properties of

 

personhood or are less than full persons, they are thereby rendered equal or inferior

 

in moral standing to some non-humans.  If this conclusion is defensible, we will need

 

to rethink our traditional view that these unlucky humans cannot be treated in the

 

ways we treat relevantly similar nonhumans.  For example, they might be

 

aggressively used as human research subjects and sources of organs.” (24)   If

 

someone could explain the difference between him and Joseph Mengele, I would

 

love to hear it. Instead, Levinas calls us to correct our alleged concern for civic

 

responsibility and face our social responsibility instead.  We need to look at the

 

Other individually and not make general statements, which serve to smooth the path

 

to murder.  In Essence and Disinteredness he says “All the negative attribute, which

 

state the beyond of essence, become positive in responsibility, a response answering

 

to a nonthematizable provocation and thus a nonvocation, a trauma…as though the

 

invisible that can do without the present left a trace by the very fact of doing

 

without the present.  That trace lights up as the face of a neighbor, in the ambiguity

 

of the one before whom (or to whom, without any paternalism) and for whom I

 

answer.  For such is the enigma or ex-ception of a face, judge and accused.”  (25)

 

All our ontological arguments for abortion rights serve as fuel for a whole new

 

attitude towards the unborn.  Their neediness it our call to response, not to destroy.

 

As Dr. Jere Surber says in his essay “In this sense, ‘Do no kill me’ is the primal

 

ethical command, not as if ethics were already established as a discourse and had

 

‘rationally’ decided that this is the first principle that should be adopted, but rather

 

that the recognition as an absolute command issuing from the Other first opens the

 

field of ethics as a possibility.” (26)  The only question then is whether we will be

 

consistent for the human Other, or fall back into the ontological quagmire of

 

violence and totalization.

 

“Things fall apart; the center cannot hold’

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere

The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

The best lack all conviction, while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity.

 

  1. B. Yeats (27)

 

 

 

ENDNOTES:

 

1)      Spielberg, Steven.  Schindler’s List.  MCA Universal Home Video 1994

2)      Levinas, Emmanuel.  Otherwise than Being.  La Haye, Nijhoff, 1974 P. 88

3)      Wyschogrod, Edith.  “Derrida, Levinas, and Violence”.  P.190 as given in Seminar Packet.

4)  Otherwise than Being. P. 127

5)  Beavers, Anthony.  “Introducing Levinas to Undergraduate Philosophers”.  P         1.  Http://www.cedar.evansville.edu/~tb2/levinas_intro.htm

6)      Otherwise than Being.  P. 127

7)      Levinas, Emmanuel.  From Existence to Ethics.  Paris: Vrin, 1947 P. 82

8)      This type of argument is based on certain presuppositions, as seen in the rationalistic tradition.

9)      “Introducing Levinas to Undergraduate Philosophers”.  P. 2

10)  Ethics and Infinity.  P.  97.

11)  Levinas, Emmanuel.  Totality and Infinity.  Duquesne University Press.  Pittsburgh, PA.  1969  P. 262

12)  Ethics and Infinity.  P. 69  There are several other scriptural allusions to the Divine Other in Levinas’s writings.

13)  Plantinga, Alvin.  “Warrant and Basic Belief”. Paper presented at University of Nebraska Colloquium 1989.

14)  Nathanson, Dr. Bernard. Narration of The Silent Scream.  1985 Http://www.silentscream.org/silent.htm

15)  Willke, Dr. J.C. “Why can’t we love them both?.  P. 4 Http://www.abortionfacts.com/online_books/love_the_…/why_cant_we_love_them_both_37 .as.htm

16)  Ibid.  P. 4

17)  Ibid   P. 4

18)  Hentoff, Nat.  “An Apostle of Infanticide at Princeton”.  Rocky Mountain News. September 13, 1999

19)  Ibid

20)  Tooley has written several articles on this subject and has personally discussed his view with me several times.

21)  Grand Island Independent.  “Reasons Give For Having Abortions”.  As reported by the Alan Guttmacher Institute. November. 11,1990

22)  “Why can’t we love them both?”  P. 5

23)  Ibid.  P. 5

24)  Carroll, Vincent.  “The Subtle slide of human life”.  Rocky Mountain News.  February, 2000

25)  Levinas, Emmanuel.  Basic Philosophical Writings.  In “Essence and Disinterestedness”.  P. 118

26)  Surber, Dr. Jere.  “Kant, Levinas, And the thought of the “Other”.  Philosophy Today  Fall 1994  P. 307

27)  Yeats. W. B. reproduced in Abortion in America.  Bergel, Gary.  Intercessors for America Press.  USA.  1988

 

Love at the end of the rainbow