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(1987) Collected philosophical papers, Dordrecht, Springer.

Humanism and an-archy

Emmanuel Levinas

pp. 127-139

The crisis of humanism in our age no doubt has its source in the experience of man's inefficacity which the very abundance of our means for acting and the extent of our ambitions exhibits. In the world in which everything is in its place, where the eyes, hand, and foot can find them, where science prolongs the topography of perception and praxis even if it transfigures their space, in the sites in which there are set cities and fields which human beings inhabit, but then take their place, by diverse groupings, among entities — in all this reality "right side up," the counter-sense of the vast enterprises which have failed, in which politics and technology end up negating the projects that conducted them, teaches the inconsistency of man, plaything of his own works. The unburied dead in wars and extermination camps make one believe the idea of a death without a morning after and render tragic-comic the concern for oneself and illusory the pretension of the rational animal to have a privileged place in the cosmos and the power to dominate and integrate the totality of being in a self-consciousness.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/978-94-009-4364-3_8

Full citation:

Levinas, E. (1987). Humanism and an-archy, in Collected philosophical papers, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 127-139.

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