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1 THE RIGHT TO BE: Levinas discusses the idea that the “perseverance of Being” is the source of all evil and suffering. For Levinas, such perseverance is not to be understood in terms of the individual’s right to be, but rather in relation to a perceived right to violence and excess. Levinas also discusses the Biblical Genesis story. In this account, evil, as the immoderate or excessive aspiration of man towards Being, is absent. Evil is subsequent to the Creation, which was “good”; evil is therefore of a secondary nature to the good and, Levinas claims, is solely manifested in relation to man.

2.BEING IN THE PRINCIPLE OF WAR (1991):nterviewed by Catherine Chalier, Levinas first explains what brought him to philosophy and ontology, and his early engagement with Heidegger. In relation to the experience of Being, Levinas discusses “the sadness of (self-)interestedness” (la tristesse de l’intéressement), which is a product of contemporary experience. Levinas makes the distinction between self-interestedness and “disinterestedness” (le desintéressement); disinterestedness is “to lose interest in oneself”, and is peculiar to human being. For Levinas, the idea of disinterestedness is essential to his philosophy, and can also be called “holiness.” Finally, in response to the claim that values of holiness are largely disengaged from historical reality, Levinas states that, on the contrary, his philosophy is deeply concerned with history, and the experience of holiness, in historical periods succeeding Biblical times, is precisely “the rationality of history”.

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