Journal Article

Image and Oblivion: Emmanuel Levinas' Phenomenological Iconoclasm

Ruud Welten

in Literature and Theology

Volume 19, issue 1, pages 60-73
Published in print March 2005 | ISSN: 0269-1205
Published online March 2005 | e-ISSN: 1477-4623 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/litthe/19.1.60
Image and Oblivion: Emmanuel Levinas' Phenomenological Iconoclasm

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In the article the question of the role of the image is considered in relation to the theme of oblivion. Why this association? Because, from a phenomenological view, as is argued with the thought of Emmanuel Levinas, the image freeze-frames time. Alerity, then, is understood as radical oblivion. Alerity cannot be pictured or remembered. In this manner, an interpretation of the biblical prohibition of images is offered through Levinas’ philosophy of time. It is also maintained that Levinas’ iconoclasm must not be understood on the basis of ‘Judaism’, but must be understood entirely in a phenomenological way. Levinas’ view is compared with the thought on time of Edmund Husserl and with the readings of Jean-Louis Chrétien.

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Subjects: Literature ; Religion and Art, Literature, and Music

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