I am not exactly enjoying the first chapter of Levinas’s Otherwise Than Being, but I am finding it valuable.
Levinas’s use of the word “exception” is fascinating, and I think I am going to adopt it for my own work.
One thing I believe he is saying: we tend to make category mistakes when attempting to understand metaphysics, conceiving what must be exceived.
Positive metaphysics are objectionable, in the most literal possible way, when it tries to conceptualize what can only be exceptualized, to objectify that to which we are subject, to comprehend what comprehends — in order to achieve certainty about what is radically surprising.
In my own religious vision, this category mistake, made tacitly at the practical and moral level, and only then, as a consequence, at the explicit and conscious level is the Edenic Fall. Human nature is less perverse than it is everse.
Our innate incapacity to stop incessantly committing this mistake is why we must incessantly repent.
It is this belief that makes me answer “Judeo-Christian” when asked my religious orientation. Mine is a metaphysic of infinite shock.
A garden is an everted fruit, and a fruit, an everted garden.
The nacre inner lining of a shell is an everted pearl, and a pearl, an everted nacre lining.
The exception is the everted conception, and the conception, the everted exception.