below: Love's Labour's Lost, IV, iii, 340
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For charity itself fulfills the Law,
nd who can sever love from charity?
Emmanuel Levinas grounds subjectivity in exposure and expression; the significance for Husserl's objectives as described in VI(a), above.
Emmanuel Levinas (1905-1995) defies summary, yet he belongs here not only as the one who comes closest to satisfying what our model of mind's 'evolutionary potential' requires in the place of its 'top layer', but also as a key to the reorientation of the tradition here underway. Levinas' depth, scope, and originality is startling by any standards.
detail from Raphael's image of The Burning Bush
Where Nietzsche set himself in our time as a fully modernized Pre-Socratic visiting on us visionary Heraclitean fragments, Levinas calls on us in the chords of Biblical prophecy, as if his one voice had to suffice to rebalance the scales of our entire Judeo-Greek civilization from the massive Hellenic bias it has accumulated.

Levinas, like Nietzsche, is very up-to-the-minute and beyond: his mastery of Husserl's and Heidegger's phenomenological apparatus disappears into literary expressions which give phenomenological evidence only as they charge his readers with interpreting the crosscurrents and recoils of the evanescent apprehensions he evokes.

Emmanuel Levinas
Heidegger intended Thinking to take the place of Philosophy, and called himself a Thinker. With Levinas we encounter decisive limitations for that identification: Levinas is more a Teacher than a Thinker - and for Levinas, fundamental teaching verges on Revelation. For Levinas, Mind's basic openness is a function of exposure to the Other. Expression evades form in sustaining such exposure: as teaching, First Philosophy's saying must also be an unsaying lest we allow ourselves to be captured by what is said. In Levinas, language lives from its limits, drawing its breath there, living beyond its means.
Heaven does with us
as we with torches do;
not light them for themselves.
We find in Levinas no objectifications, no dependence on symbolism or stories, and no reliance on principles of unification. His work may seem, at first, to be a puzzlingly consistent stream of hyperbolic assertions, many of which he subsequently negates: if one comes to philosophy looking for ultimates, Levinas will bring the cup to running over in suspiciously short order. Only as one begins to emphasize linking together one's own responses to his hyperboles over striving to link them to each other does the phenomenological method in his madness begin to appear. As it does, it shows not only an extraordinary subtlety, rigor, and connectedness with myriad other thinkers, but also an uncanny tendency to illuminate aspects of his reader's own experience which in retrospect had previously been too slippery even to name.
Leonardo da Vinci's drawing of the head of a young woman  
The face of the Other, as vulnerability exterior to form - expression - in its appeal invokes a transcendence whose roots are found in kinds of duration which Levinas phenomenologizes as desire, responsibility, and patience. These refuse to return intervals to bound experience, but rather single-out experience on the basis of its exposure to the Infinite.
Leonardo da Vinci's drawing of a woman's head
In part, Levinas brings one of the oldest of messages: If we do not hear, up to our capability and beyond, how the claim of the Ethical overflows life's experience, our mind remains blind in everything else it does. As a teacher, Levinas labors to make experience evidence the fundamentally ethical texture of the insertion of awareness in reality. Time's immemoriality itself bears witness to a ground for experience whose summary as 'owing oneself to the Other' already cleaves the pretense of Unity. Levinas asserts: 'Time is produced as relation to the Other.' Here at one stroke the top layer of our model of Mind's 'evolutionary potential' is given an indispensable example of subjectivity both temporal and plural: not a multiplicity of subjects, but a subjectivity essentially temporal, as being, from the first, relation to the Other.

It is in inextricability of exposure and expression that Levinas also searches out the deepest well-springs of Language. He phenomenologizes the origins of Language as the correlation of Face and Voice.

Levinas may be Husserl's most direct heir, and the movement of transcendence which we have named above as submission perhaps in Levinas shows its true foundation. Though Husserl's methods thematized constitutive activities which apparently focused on facts of experience, his ultimate purpose was to bring to light - for the first time - pure subjectivity. It is worth entertaining the possibility that Levinas has actually managed to accomplish his teacher's dearest objective, though in a way that Husserl might have found hard to swallow. If so, having evicted the principle of identity from its pretense of actualizing the subject, we may appreciate the subject instead as unique.
Such uniqueness is based on relation to the Other: As Time is produced as relation to the other because presence cannot hold the response we owe the other, so are we singled out beyond comparison in being called to respond to the Other. In this way too it makes no sense to speak of a multiplicity of subjects, for though plurality is inscribed in uniqueness, there is subjectivity only in virtue of the dissymmetry established as exposure to the Other. Subjects have no space in common in which they could be multiple, because subjectivity is accomplished as a transcending separation, a rupture, proceeding from exposure to the Other.
before after
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Please go to references for some suggested writings of Levinas.

...lineup and alibi

Heaven does with us as we with torches do;
Not light them for themselves.
- Measure for Measure, I, i, 32

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