The connection between Levinas’s philosophy

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It is debatable whether Levinas’s views on suffering and the responsibility we feel, “without concern for reciprocity”14 has much to do with this concept of celebrity; do we strive to comprehend the suffering these celebrities claim to feel, as we cannot conceive of it, it is difficult to comprehend this ‘suffering’ that these celebrities may or may not experience, when the general public are, overall, jealous of the advantages these celebrities have.

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Some would disagree that it is the public’s fault, but that newspapers realised the potential to create a sensation (through marketing), and in this contradiction, one could say that the press encouraged the fascination with Diana and therefore, perhaps it is not because of everyone’s fascination with ‘the other’, that Princess Diana was pursued endlessly which ended in her death. Another prime example, one which plays an enormous part in the tabloids today, and which, I have also noticed, is now also covered by the news broadcasters, is the case of the Beckhams.

In comparison to an ordinary (yet skilled) footballer and a wife (failed pop star in this case), the Beckhams get an enormous amount of attention. People are fascinated by them, but they thrive from media attention, they would not be famous if the media was non-existent. It appears that each group feeds the other; the media make the celebrities famous, the celebrities rely on the public to be famous and the media rely on the public to make their money.

The problem is that if journalists are there to give a voice to those who cannot make theirs heard, then they are choosing the wrong people, they should be highlighting global poverty problems etc. Everyone has their morals mixed up and wrong, however, when there is a message put forward by an individual who is not famous, interest does increase, there is interest in ‘the other’ who is not a celebrity. The media use the public’s obsession with ‘the other’ not only to make money, but also to make a celebrity out of whom every they choose to focus their attention on.

Even if a journalist wrote a comprehensive, truthful and straightforward account of a particular celebrity, it is always undermined because “the written word is especially exposed to interpretation in ways different from what the author intended. The mortal author cannot always be there to forestall the misinterpretation of his intentions”15 It is impossible to have the same perspective as any ‘other’ “This richest and truest knowledge is the sensible apprehension I am experiencing here and now”16

” “to witness according to our ordinary understanding of the word, is to speak or write of what one saw with one’s own eyes or heard win one’s own ears- of an experience of which the speaker has a firsthand knowledge” Levinas agrees that language presupposes that the locus of the being-present to which witnessing points is not the ‘i’ to-say or saying in ‘Otherwise than Being’, bears a crucial reference to the expression ‘le dire’- to testify”17- In testifying, or giving an account of an interpreted situation, one can never portray what one witnessed as one intends for the event to be imagined and comprehended.

Levinas stated “when I give answers instead of deepening the questions, I take away from my text”18 which highlights how much the quest for the truth and the interest in universality continue to be inseparable from the light shed upon it by each individual; specific opinions must be given up in order to accede to the truth. Answering a question is only part of a matter of opinion, when one person answers a question in a text, in can be entirely different from that of another person, therefore, answering questions rather than asking them can never help the situation.

Nothing “can rely on the partiality of… (the) individual… without running the risk of injustice”19 This is what philosophy does, it asks questions without giving specific answers, because, just as in ethics, the answers depend on so many different factors, that it is impossible to give a true and correct answer. For this reason, I will not say that I am certain that our obsession with ‘the other’ definitely has such a close link with journalism , but that it could be an answer.

A productive study;”a fertile study that doesn’t sterilize through the dogmatism or intolerance of a master- depends on incessant questioning filled with the queries of all”20 Levinas emphasised that in ethics and philosophy, definite and assured answers could and should never be given. A journalist should, in order to keep the public interest, always provide further questions and inquiry, and in doing this is helping himself as he is prolonging the public’s need for him.

Philosophy is unable to encompass every perspective, opinion and situation, “it cannot totalise the world because it is part of it: and, in it’s openness to interpretation by the Other, the philosophical text recovers Saying submerged beneath its Said”21 written language; novels, news and books can never completely achieve the truth, this may be why there is always such a demand for them, to achieve a reality and truthfulness within a text; “In the written text, saying does indeed become a pure said, a simultaneous of saying and of its conditions.

A book is interrupted discourse catching up with that which breaks it… (they) belong to a world they do not (and can not) include… they are interrupted, and call for other… (publications)… and in the end are interpreted in a saying distinct from the said” Levinas does realise that this implies to his own texts, as well as all others, therefore, he shows that anything we read in a newspaper is subject each individual’s judgement.

Once again, people strive for what they cannot attain; to know ‘the other’, to find the real truth in a situation, to be impartial, is, according to Levinas, not possible. He avoids strict classification, specific explanation or definition in his writings (he keeps away from putting the saying into the said), he seems to yearn for participation, of an encounter with his reader. The very possibility of integrating the one and the other into a distinct and singular point of view compromises the radical alterity, the ‘exteriority’ or otherness of the other.

Essentially, because we are all so fundamentally different, we can never be of the same opinion, and when reading articles in newspapers, must be aware of this, and take into account that however hard a journalist tries, he cannot state the truth and most certainly can never portray it. In order to satisfy our own ego, we must endeavour to comprehend and know them, we attempt to achieve this reading as much as we can in the tabloids about people whose lives are scrutinized and delved into.

We feel as though we are receiving lots of information which improves our sense of self, but in actual fact, does not help, as it is simply an interpretation from an ‘other’ or a different ‘other’; it boosts our ego but in the long run, is inefficient, a bit like a drug, we are addicted to knowing, or at least attempting to know and understand the human ‘other’. In this essay I have given evidence of the link between Levinas’s philosophy and journalism, or possibly the problem with it.

The case which I focused on, is one of which there is still great debate, therefore, there is so much one could talk about upon this subject when it comes to media ethics. We all know the story of the death of Princess Diana and the events leading up to it, they were tragic but, as we can see, the case appears to have gotten worse. The principle of self-regulation does not seem to work in protecting public figures. Many would argue that because they are public figures, we have the right to be presented with as much information about them as possible.

Public figures thrive off the attention of the public, without our fascination in ‘the other’ they would not exist and would not be privileged (in terms of wealth). Overall, this essay and case study goes to show how much Levinas’s work links with current issues. I wonder what Levinas would have said about this relation? He most certainly would not have given a definite answer, only relatively vague opinion. I would say that this essay encompasses the fact that there is always perspective, this is certainly in agreement with Levinas’s assertions.

Secondly that it is natural to be obsessive over celebrity, or ‘the other’ as it is a fundamental part of being human, that we can never fully understand or know another human being but we will always strive to do so in order to satisfy our egos. Word Count: 2,906.

BIBLIOGRAPHY  Chalier, Catherine (2002). What Ought I to Do? Morality in Kant and Levinas. Cornell University Press. USA  Crawford. (1924) The Ethics of Journalism. Alfred A Knopf. New York.  Davies, Colin (1996). Levinas. An Introductoin. Blackwell Publishers. UK. Eskin, Micheal (2000). Ethics and Dialogue in the Works of Levinas, Bekhtin, Mandel’shtam and Celan.

Oxford University Press Inc. New York  Hutchens, B. C. (2004). Levinas- A guide for the Perplexed. Continuum. New York. Iyer, Lars. The Unbearable Trauma and Witnessing in Blanchot and Levinas. http:///www. janushead. org/6-1/Iyer. pdf Levinas, Emmanuel. (1996) Basic Philosophical Writings. Indiana University Press. USA  Levinas, Emmanuel (1982). Ethics and Infinity. Duquesne University Press. Pittsburgh  Levinas, Emmanuel (1994). Nine Talmudic Readings. Indiana University Press. USA  Levinas, Emmanuel (1998) Of God Who Comes to Mind. Leland Stanford Junior University. USA Levinas, Emmanuel.

(1979) Time and the Other. Fatana Morgana. France  Saunders, Karen (2003). Ethics and Journalism. Sage Publication. London. * The Cambridge Companion to Levinas. (2002) Critchley and Bernasconi. (ed. ) Cambridge University Press. Cambridge Pg. 11  The Society of Professional Journalists. Code of Ethics www. spj. org/ethics_code. asp  Toumayan, Alain P (2004). Encountering the Other. Duquesne University Press. Pittsburgh 1 The Society of Professional Journalists. Code of Ethics www. spj. org/ethics_code. asp 2 Saunders, Karen (2003). Ethics and Journalism. Sage Publication. London. Pg 48 3 Saunders, Karen (2003).

Ethics and Journalism. Sage Publication. London. Pg 49 4 Saunders, Karen (2003). Ethics and Journalism. Sage Publication. London. Pg 78 5 The Cambridge Companion to Levinas. (2002) Critchley and Bernasconi. (ed. ) Cambridge University Press. Cambridge Pg. 11 6 Crawford. (1924) The Ethics of Journalism. Alfred A Knopf. New York. Pg 110 7 Hutchens, B. C. (2004). Levinas- A guide for the Perplexed. Continuum. New York. Pg 17 8 The Cambridge Companion to Levinas. (2002) Critchley and Bernasconi. (ed. ) Cambridge University Press. Cambridge Pg 122 9 The Cambridge Companion to Levinas. (2002) Critchley and Bernasconi.

(ed. ) Cambridge University Press. Cambridge Pg 245 10 The Cambridge Companion to Levinas. (2002) Critchley and Bernasconi. (ed. ) Cambridge University Press. Cambridge Pg 239 11 Saunders, Karen (2003). Ethics and Journalism. Sage Publication. London. Pg 82 12 Ibid. 13 The Cambridge Companion to Levinas. (2002) Critchley and Bernasconi. (ed. ) Cambridge University Press. Cambridge Pg. 176 14 Levinas, Emmanuel. (1979) Time and the Other. Fatana Morgana. France Pg 137 15 The Cambridge Companion to Levinas. (2002) Critchley and Bernasconi. (ed. ) Cambridge University Press. Cambridge. Pg. 128 16 Ibid.

17 Iyer, Lars. The Unbearable Trauma and Witnessing in Blanchot and Levinas. http:///www. janushead. org/6-1/Iyer. pdf 18 Levinas, Emmanual (1994). Nine Talmudic Readings. Indiana University Press. USA. Pg 131 19 Chalier, Catherine (2002). What Ought I to Do? Morality in Kant and Levinas. Cornell University Press. USA Pg. 25 20 The Cambridge Companion to Levinas. (2002) Critchley and Bernasconi. (ed. ) Cambridge University Press. Cambridge. Pg. 103 21 Davies, Colin (1996). Levinas. An Introductoin. Blackwell Publishers. UK. Pg. 90 Edwina Jessel 031470089 Lars Iyer 09/05/2007 Modern Philosophy I: Ethical Thinking.

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