If Levinas is right — and I believe he is — it is no accident that the person I know whose formula for intellectual victory was to “contain and comprehend” the other was also among the most amoral people I’ve known. Whether he behaved admirably or despicably, the only judgment that weighed on him was how his soul experienced his own soul as he acted before it.
Neither argument nor morality are about self-satisfaction of reason, and when this basic fact is misunderstood all other highfalutin “spiritual” concepts and practices become solipsistic puppet play.
You cannot vault over the ordinary transcendence of other people’s minds and arrive at some communion with superhuman Transcendence. The failure to make the leap, and the fall into the abyss of immanent dreaming of transcendence is “experienced” by oneself as spiritual success.
The desire to reduce all phenomena to the terms of self and to protect these terms from whatever attempts to impinge by effecting repentence (metanoia) is, if not the origin of all evil, at least one key tributary.