How to Meet People: Rehabilitating Particularity and Reciprocity Below Levinas, Heidegger, and Augustine (thesis)
Sirota, Jake S.
Washington and Lee University -- Honors in Philosophy
Heidegger, Martin, 1889-1976
Augustine, of Hippo, Saint, 354-430
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To be clear, my main goal here is to highlight the transcendence in each thinker's work, and to highlight how, consequently, that transcendence distracts attention from a relationship with the concrete other person and what this loss costs us. However, I close this paper by offering the beginnings of a theory of the self borne out of reciprocal relationships with particular others, the sort of concrete others that these thinkers too often ignore. Any thinking of the other that abstracts them, as these philosophies do, is, as I will come to argue, both not representative of lived experience as a matter of phenomenological validity, and also to do a disservice to the other, to disrespect them as an individual who exists alongside us in the world. In Augustine, Heidegger, and Levinas, we find an other who has been leveled, abstracted to the point of non-distinguishability. It is this thinking, rooted in conceptions of transcendence, that I argue is not representative of the lived experience of the other, and in basing their philosophies on such elevated conceptions these three thinkers disrespect those actual others we live alongside. In offering, as I do, a non-transcendent -- that is to say wholly worldly -- conception of the other, these pitfalls can be avoided. More importantly, by avoiding these pitfalls, we can regain a notion of reciprocal relationships with particular others that more accurately represents lived experience. [From Introduction]