Continental Philosophy Review 51 (2):193-210 (2018)

In this paper, I argue that if we understand Levinas’s Desire of the Other as gift, we can understand it as joyful—that is, as celebratory. After presenting Levinas’s conception of Desire, I consider his claim, found in Otherwise than Being, that the self is a hostage to the Other, and I contend that, paradoxical as it may seem, being a hostage to the Other is actually liberating. Then, drawing on insights Richard Kearney offers in Reimagining the Sacred, I argue for understanding Desire as a gift that is the condition of possibility for joy. If I offer hospitality to the Other, I thereby accept the gift that makes joy possible, and this joy is not egoistic but is the proper response to the gift. Finally, I ask whether Desire can be joyful in practice, given that the pure gift is an originary condition and never a historical one, and I conclude that imperfect joy remains possible. Moreover, this imperfect joy is better than any solitary enjoyment I might experience in the total absence of the Other.
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DOI 10.1007/s11007-017-9416-6
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Otherwise Than Being or Beyond Essence.Emmanuel Levinas & Alphonso Lingis - 1981 - Philosophy and Rhetoric 17 (4):245-246.
Existence and Existents.Emmanuel Lévinas - 1978 - Duquesne University Press.
Of God Who Comes to Mind.Emmanuel Lévinas - 1998 - Stanford University Press.

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