Alphonso Lingis

in Styles of Piety

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print December 2006 | ISBN: 9780823225002
Published online March 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823237081 | DOI:

Series: Perspectives in Continental Philosophy


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This chapter attempts to explain the birth of philosophy itself, claiming that until the Greek philosophers, people justified their actions as mere traditions or supposed orders from a deity. The philosopher, by contrast, appeals to universal truths that can be understood by anyone from any culture. However, as the chapter emphasizes at length, the use of language, including the motivations lying behind our choice of words, plays a key role in determining what is a universal human truth. For Lingis, to enter into conversation is to expose oneself to a form of violation, and hence it is all too easy to seek those who are like us. Yet the neo-philosopher must seek out people who are very different and who live in very different circumstances in order to get at the greater truth of reality, which itself is filled with violations of taboos, and violations of personal space.

Keywords: language; words; understanding; respect; taboos; violation

Chapter.  8433 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Religion

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