What Does Mind Live in Language Mean?

What Does Mind Live in Language Mean?

June 26, 2021 Off By Felso

Levinas’ ideas can best be understood by looking at examples.

Imagine that you are walking down a street on a cold winter evening and you see a beggar taking refuge at the entrance of a building. Maybe you feel an obligation to meet his needs, even though he won’t even ask you for money. You can ignore it, but even then something will still stay in touch with you. This person needs your help.

Levinas is a Lithuanian Jew who personally experienced the Holocaust. In “Integrity and Infinite” (1961) he says that the mind lives in language and explains that “language” is a way of communicating with others before we even start talking. When I see another person’s face, the fact that he is another person and that I have a responsibility for them is instantly communicated. I can turn away from this responsibility, but I cannot escape it. This is why the mind arises from our face-to-face relationships with other people. As we face other people’s needs, we need to provide justifications for our actions. Even if you do not give money to the beggar, you must justify your choice.

Nothing in our life upsets our consciousness more than encountering another person who just stands there and calls out to us and asks us to explain ourselves.

Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook