Love and arms : on violence and justification after Levinas

Douglas, Helen L. (Helen Lillian) (2002-04)

Thesis (MA)--University of Stellenbosch, 2002.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: What does it mean that the violence of aggression could justify the violence of resistance? What does such justification accomplish, and when, and how? What underlies the conditions and limitations of justified violence, as, for example, these have been formulated in western doctrines of "just war"? Most critically, how could one think about the possibility of a resistance to evil that would be effective without itself instituting further violence? The theoretical ground of this investigation is found in a close reading of the work of Emmanuel Levinas, specifically the section of his Otheruiise than Being, or Beyond Essence in which human consciousness is shown to be, from the first, called to justice in responsibility for others. For Levinas, to be a subject is to be always already for-the-other as a substitute or hostage. This is both a persecution and the "glory" of human being. Thus Levinas introduces an enigmatic "good violence" prior to any distinction between aggressive and just violences. The idea of an originary good violence opens up a reconsideration of the evil of aggression and the joyfulness of resistance. This in turn shows the instability or equivocation of just violence: even if it is inspired by goodness - by one's responsibility for the useless suffering of others - it is never finally good enough, and always at risk of slipping into injustice. The responsibility of a "just warrior" is thus not cancelled by the justness of the cause. The justness of the cause indeed demands ever greater responsibility, even for and before one's enemy.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Wat sou dit kon beteken dat die geweld van aggressie die geweld van verset regverdig? Wat word bewerkstellig deur sodanige regverdiging, en wanneer, en . hoe? Waarop berus die voorwaardes en beperkinge van geregverdigde geweld, soos dit byvoorbeeld geformuleer is in Westerse leerstellings oor "regverdige oorlog"? Nog belangriker: hoe kan 'n mens dink oor die moontlikheid van verset teen die bose wat effektief is, maar sonder om self verdere geweld daar te stel? Die teoretiese grondslag van hierdie ondersoek is 'n nougesette bestudering van die werk van Emmanuel Levinas, meer spesifiek die afdeling van sy Otherwise than Being, or Beyond Essence, waarin hy argumenteer dat die menslike bewussyn van meet af aan tot geregtigheid opgeroep word in verantwoordelikheid vir andere. Om 'n subjek te wees is vir Levinas om altyd alreeds vir-dié-ander te wees as 'n plaasvervanger of gyselaar. Dit is sowel 'n vervolging as die "heerlikheid" van menswees. Levinas argumenteer dus ten gunste van 'n "goeie geweld" voorafgaande aan enige onderskeidinge tussen aggressiewe en geregverdigde geweld. Die idee van 'n oorspronklike goeie geweld maak 'n herdenking van die boosheid van agressie en die vreugdevolheid van verset moontlik. Op sy beurt toon dit die onstabiliteit of dubbelsinnigheid van geregverdigde geweld: selfs al word dit geïnspireer deur goedheid - deur 'n mens se verantwoordelikheid vir die nuttelose lyding van ander - is dit nooit goed genoeg nie en loop dit altyd die gevaar om om te slaan in onreg. Die verantwoordelikheid van 'n "regverdige vegter" word daarom nie uitgekanselleer deur die regverdigheid van sy saak nie. Die regverdigheid van die saak eis trouens nog groter verantwoordelikheid, selfs vir en vóór jou vyand.

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