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By Sean Gaston

'Glibly pushed aside by way of postmodernists as an phantasm, the assumption of disinterestedness has been patiently waiting for its philosophical saviour. Sean Gaston has now ridden triumphantly to the rescue, with a subtlety and originality of perception which certainly jump from the page'. Terry Eagleton Disinterest has been a tremendous inspiration in Western philosophy on account that Descartes. Its desirability and value were disputed, and its definition transformed by means of such pivotal figures as Nietzsche, Shaftesbury, Locke and Kant. during this groundbreaking booklet, Sean Gaston appears on the remedy of disinterest within the paintings of 2 significant glossy Continental philosophers: Jacques Derrida and Emmanuel Levinas. He identifies either as a part of a convention, obscured because the eighteenth-century, that takes disinterest to be the other of self-interest, instead of the absence of all curiosity. one of these culture locates disinterest on the centre of wondering ethics. The e-book argues that disinterest performs an important position within the philosophy of either thinkers and within the discussion among their paintings. In so doing it sheds new gentle on their respective contributions to ethical and political philosophy. in addition, it strains the background of disinterest in Western philosophy from Descartes to Derrida, taking within the contributions from significant philosophers in either the analytic, Anglo-American and Continental traditions: Locke; Shaftesbury; Hume; Smith; Nietzsche; Kant; Hegel; Heidegger. Derrida and Disinterest deals a brand new interpreting of Derrida, a stimulating account of the function and significance of disinterest within the background of Western philosophy and a provocative and unique contribution to Continental ethics.

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14 However, as we shall see, Le´vinas also appears to associate a certain kind of enthusiasm with disinterest. The dangerous effects of enthusiasm are found in a violence arising from the modern valorization of myth. As Derrida notes in a significant passage from ‘Violence and metaphysics,’ Le´vinas associates this modern ‘enthusiasm’ with the thought of Heidegger: Despite all the misunderstandings which may be embedded in this treatment of Heideggerean thought . . Le´vinas’s intention, in any event, seems clear.

A Harsh Transcendence 21 Good [le Bien],’ Le´vinas writes, ‘is Good in itself and not by relation to the need to which it is wanting; it is a luxury with respect to needs. It is precisely in this that it is beyond being’ (34, 102–3; 105–6). ’6 Disinterest is a form of goodness (an excess without need) because it is an interest – malgre´ moi – in the infinite, an interest that exceeds the need of the same and expresses the always unfulfilled desire for the absolutely other. Interest is totality, disinterest infinity.

Enthusiasm is the violence both of possessing and of being possessed. The ‘violent man,’ Le´vinas goes on to write, A Harsh Transcendence 27 ‘does not move out of himself. He takes, he possesses. Possession denies independent existence. To have is to refuse to be. Violence is a sovereignty, but also a solitude. To endure violence in enthusiasm and ecstasy and delirium is to be possessed’ (7, 9). The violent man denies the dispossession of possession. In Totality and Infinity Le´vinas suggests that possession by a god, enthusiasm – which he has previously characterized as a loss of freedom and denial of responsibility – can also lead to a dispossession of the solitude of self-possession and to a relationship with the other as infinitely other.

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