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Trauma and TranscendenceSuffering and the Limits of Theory$
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Eric Boynton and Peter Capretto

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780823280261

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823280261.001.0001

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The Unsettling of Perception: Levinas and the Anarchic Trauma

The Unsettling of Perception: Levinas and the Anarchic Trauma

(p.102) Chapter 5: The Unsettling of Perception: Levinas and the Anarchic Trauma
Trauma and Transcendence

Eric Severson

Fordham University Press

Levinas utilizes the term “trauma” to refer to the pre-original unsettling of the auto-identification of the ego, a project that takes center stage in his final masterwork, Otherwise than Being. This chapter begins with some deliberations concerning the use of the term “trauma” to refer to this unsettling, particularly in light of contemporary psychological and medical uses of that term. Building from Plato’s Allegory of the Cave and Heidegger’s work on unconcealment, it argues that whereas for Heidegger and Plato trauma occurs through unconcealment of sensation, for Levinas trauma occurs as an interruption of sensation’s appropriation into perception itself. The chapter focuses principally on the event itself, the encounter with the other, which at times he calls “inspiration” instead of trauma, and the way this event occurs in a time-before-time that initiates the very possibility of responsibility.

Keywords:   Event, Heidegger, Martin, Levinas, Emmanuel, Perception, Plato, Sensation, Time

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