Chapter

Ethical Desires: Toward a Theology of Relational Transcendence

Mayra Rivera

in Toward a Theology of Eros

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print January 2007 | ISBN: 9780823226351
Published online March 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823236718 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5422/fso/9780823226351.003.0014

Series: Transdisciplinary Theological Colloquia

Ethical Desires: Toward a Theology of Relational               Transcendence

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Theologians call the supreme otherness of God “divine transcendence”. Eroticism suggests a link between human otherness and divine transcendence. In its most common versions, however, divine transcendence seems not to enhance the awareness of interhuman otherness, but rather to so relativize difference as to absorb effectively otherness into itself. Bringing transcendence to bear on the ethical encounter between human beings, Emmanuel Levinas's work has influenced philosophies and theologies of liberation as well as post-structuralist thought. However, Levinas sets apart the sexual encounter and ultimately opposes ethics to eroticism. Luce Irigaray's reading of Levinas's Totality and Infinity not only exposes the problem but also opens his proposal toward the possibility of an “ethics of sexual difference”. In exploring the debate of Irigaray with Levinas, this chapter highlights intersections of the erotic, the feminine, and the cosmological. The chapter reaches for a fresh conceptualization of the transcendence encountered in the (divine) Other in which eros is no longer opposed to an explicitly desexualized and implicitly anti-feminine love.

Keywords: Emmanuel Levinas; otherness; Luce Irigaray; divine transcendence; eros; ethics; God

Chapter.  6020 words. 

Subjects: Christian Theology

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