Comment: Anti-War Philosophy and the Question of Murder

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Anti-War Philosophy and the Question of Murder

If one does not listen how can one respond? For example, Ron Paul said in the '08 debates that we should listen to bin Laden and al-Qaeda before we response. And if one is full of ready-made answers in one's mind true listening will become very difficult or even impossible as there is no room to receive the speech of the Other. Maybe the Other can surprise us and put our truths, principles and beliefs in question. So indeed silencing oneself in order to create open-space for listening is very important if one wants to hear and become sensitive and receptive for the otherness/strangeness of the Other. The face of the Other already speaks in the voices of silence to us placing to us these constant ethical questions/challenges. So yes, you understood the bottom line of what I wrote.

But then the question of being anti-war. You wrote in your first response to me that "all humans share the same inner moral code." But this is the ultimate problem of our whole discussion in my opinion. Levinas, if I have understood him right, argues that there is not any a priori 'inner moral code' which all humans share. This would mean that a person has this moral code without others, even if he would have been raised by wolfs. But this is not the case. Sense of morals can only be born in relation to Others as we only become human beings with other human beings. The talk about 'inner moral code' emphasizes the self and not the Other, that is, the bases of ethics can be found from oneself, for example in the Golden Rule: "One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself" which bases the Other under the rule of myself and in this it has already a seed of totalitarianism hidden in it or at least it has a potentiality for it.

For Levinas, it is not the self, but the Other who is emphasized in face to face relation. For Levinas, the question of killing or the Murder is highly important. And according to him the biblical commandment 'Thou shalt not kill/murder' originally arises from the face of the Other. Levinas writes in his book "Totality and Infinity": "This infinity [of the Other], stronger than murder, already resists us in his face, is his face, is the primordial EXPRESSION, is the first word: 'you shall not commit murder.' The infinite paralyses power by its infinite resistance to murder, which, firm and insurmountable, gleams in the face of the Other, in the total nudity of his defenceless eyes, in the nudity of the absolute openness of the Transcendent." (p. 199) This is also a response to your first comment why murdering innocents is not seen as a good way. This idea does not originally arise from some 'inner moral code', but from the nudity and defenceless of the face of the Other. But how often we avoid ourselves to really open ourselves to the mystery of the Other and just keep ourselves in our own bubble of ideas and beliefs even if we are supposingly with the Others?!?

What is murder? In murder one wants to negate totally the Other, that is, the otherness of the Other. Who do we want to murder? Those who do not share with us the SAME values, ideas, customs, belief-systems, knowledge, conceptual systems, etc, that is, those who have OTHER values and ideas than us. And those Others are seen as a threat to our totality of way of life. Even in Daily Paul this can be seen as between DPers there is some times a lot of hate between people; even if we are suppose to be ideally so peaceful and loving. Peace and love are not so easy to achieve.

I would say that the thinking of Levinas would inspire the 'anti-war philosophy' very much as you write in a form of a question: "In being anti-war are we not assuming something about how others want to be treated, or do NOT want to be treated in this case?" This question should resonate within us all the time.

I hope I did clarify myself at least a bit.

"Air is the very substance of our freedom, the substance of superhuman joy....aerial joy is freedom."--Gaston Bachelard--