Graduate Program Director
Carol LwaliGraduate Admission Counselor206.email@example.com
This year, we are so honored and excited to be able to welcome Dr. Alphonso Lingis, philosopher, writer, preeminent English translator of Merleau-Ponty and Emmanuel Levinas, and Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Pennsylvania State University. His work specializes in phenomenology, existentialism, modern philosophy, and ethics. Dr. Lingis has also traveled widely bringing his experiences in the world into his philosophical conversations in written text, performance, and photographical image. His books include Excesses: Eros and Culture (1984), Libido: The French Existential Theories (1985), Phenomenological Explanations(1986), Deathbound Subjectivity (1989), The Community of Those Who Have Nothing in Common (1994), Abuses (1994), Foreign Bodies (1994), Sensation: Intelligibility in Sensibility (1995), The Imperative (1998), Dangerous Emotions (1999), Trust (2003), Body Modifications: Evolutions and Atavisms in Culture (2005), The First Person Singular (2007), Contact (2010), and Violence and Splendor (2011).
The New York Times recently published (February 14, 2015) an article entitled “The Epidemic of Facelessness” by Stephen Marche. Marche argues that our contemporary mediums of faceless technological communication foster epidemic levels of identity formation which are founded on a “generalized, all-purpose contempt- a contempt that is so vacuous because it is so vague, and so ferocious because it so vacuous”. He argues that facelessness breeds a void of social monstrosity, where there can be no intersubjectivity, only Gyges. Without the Face of the Other, without Alterity, without the moral resistance of the neighbor, we are riddled with an endless process of rejection of each other’s and our own humanity. Levinas calls this war. Levinas asks us to consider a world where peace and freedom are found in their investiture by the Other. This freedom, he says, is founded on our ability to be called into question, to surrender our will for ourselves to the ethical and moral resistance of the Face of the Other. This movement is, fundamentally, “the first rational teaching, the condition for all teaching”, and as such, non-violent; “it is peace.” (T & I, p. 203) This first teaching is through responsibility to enter into a relation of Desire for the Other that endlessly “nourishes me with new hungers.”
As clinicians, researchers, and human beings, these questions of peace, freedom, and justice are of central importance. We make room for the possibilities of the interruption of the Other in therapy and in the world. We actively create the opportunities for the Other to teach us, where peace can emerge because we have been called and claimed to be more than islands of our own meaning. By emptying ourselves, we are not left with the vacuous contempt that Marche describes, but rather invested with more to give than we ever knew we could. In this year’s seminar, we invite you to consider the modern dilemmas and contexts of peace and proximity. How can our practices of research, psychotherapy, and day-to-day living lead to increased opportunities for investiture by the face of the Other? How can we continue to cultivate the ongoing search for mystery and justice in the radical alterity of the Face? Please feel free to contact George Kunz or Claire LeBeau if you have any questions.Sincerely, Claire LeBeau, George Kunz and the 2015 Levinas Seminar Organizing Committee
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