Date of Award
Religious and Theological Studies
Desire, Exposure, Martyr, Phenomenology, Recurrence, Subject
Perhaps the whole of human history could be summed up with one word: economy. The law of the home and the home of all law. Without fail, this situation results in a structured devotion that must decide what to do with desire. And the economic decision often follows a violent trajectory, most commonly described as sacrifice. Today, states will make efforts to conceal this underlying logic, but the insidious configurations of ‘real politik’ usually surface with a frightening intensity.
My project considers these problematic vestiges through Emmanuel Levinas’s reconfiguration of subjectivity. To address these bio-historical realities, my work highlights the role of the martyr in Levinas’s philosophy. As with other philosophical and religious concepts, I argue that Levinas inverts the dynamic of martyrdom by deposing the fundamentally agential subject. From this redefinition of the martyr as primary subjectivity emerges a politics of recurrence—in stark contrast to the politics of sovereignty dominant in the framework of a liberal nation-state. I place Levinas’s conception of the subject alongside Girard’s analysis of mimetic desire, out of which develops a different desire, which I here name “expropriative desire.” In the move from appropriation to expropriation, a space is opened for the aforementioned politics of recurrence, with an infinite demand serving as the catalyst for emancipatory struggle.
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Lawrence, Joshua Alan, "The Martyr’s Desire: Levinas, Girard, and Infinite Responsibility" (2021). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 1946.
Received from ProQuest
Joshua Alan Lawrence
Philosophy, Religion, Philosophy of religion