He posts the following:
I went to a lecture yesterday on Levinas, Kierkegaard, and Locke. I asked the speaker a question about potential limits of the phenomenological basis of Levinas’ ethics in regards to beings who are not yet (the ethics of fighting global warming for those who do not yet exist), and also I asked about what happens when there is a disagreement about being called by the face of the other, specifically about animals. The speaker began his response this way:
“A French philosopher, I don’t remember whom, once said that loving nature is really hatred of humanity.” And the answer went downhill from there. A few things: (1) I assumed the speaker was referring to Luc Ferry, but when I checked, I realized Luc Ferry is quoting Marcel Gauchet. (2) I am honestly shocked every time I run into an educated person who does not believe in global warming. (3) This seems like a good time to remind people about this post.
I can’t tell whether the person is reacting to the bit about global warming or, more likely to me, the discussion of animals. First, that’s a great rhetorical trick…just drag out the “Famous French philosopher said (whom I, uh, can’t remember right now)” as a way of a put-down.
But even weirder: this is standard fare for discussions of Levinas. He wants to say both that the Other as such is wholly other, unique, and non-subsumable under a form of knowledge, and he wants to say the other is human. But there is no a priori rule one can put into place, given his radical claims for alterity, that would have one always already identify otherness as human, as non-animal, and so on.
This is a good time to raise a general hermeneutic point: if you want to see where a philosopher’s own discourse must efface itself, one usually can do no better than try to pin down where they place the human/animal distinction, which is one that they can make stick only by wounding the heart of their work.