The destitution of words
the death of the author and the aporias of writing in Levinas's "Totality and Infinity"
In this paper I examine the epistemological and the ethical consequences of what I call the belief in the death of the author. Drawing on Emmanuel Levinas’s Totality and Infinity, I argue that when separated from the writer’s intention, the written text becomes epistemically and ethically deficient. I then examine two aporias which emerge when the Levinasian analysis of writing is applied to Totality and Infinity qua a written text: if written signs are epistemically deficient, why should we trust Levinas’s written insights? Equally, if a written text is ethically flawed, how are we to understand the multiple accounts of Levinas’s commentators attesting to an ethical dimension of reading Totality and Infinity? I then suggest that the above aporias can offer a corrective to the epistemological and ethical consequences of the belief in the death of the author identified in the first part of the paper.
Full citation [Harvard style]:
Kowalewski, J. (2018). The destitution of words: the death of the author and the aporias of writing in Levinas's "Totality and Infinity". Metodo. International Studies in Phenomenology and Philosophy 6 (1), pp. 143-160.
This text is available for download in the following format(s)