Ethical Desires: Toward a Theology of Relational Transcendence
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CitationRivera, Mayra. 2007. “Ethical Desires: Toward a Theology of Relational Transcendence.” Toward a Theology of Eros, ed. Virginia Burrus and Catherine Keller, 255–270. New York: Fordham University Press. doi:10.5422/fso/9780823226351.003.0014.
AbstractTheologians call the supreme otherness of God “divine transcendence”. Eroticism suggests a link between human otherness and divine transcendence. In its most common versions, however, divine transcendence seems not to enhance the awareness of interhuman otherness, but rather to so relativize difference as to absorb effectively otherness into itself. Bringing transcendence to bear on the ethical encounter between human beings, Emmanuel Levinas's work has influenced philosophies and theologies of liberation as well as post-structuralist thought. However, Levinas sets apart the sexual encounter and ultimately opposes ethics to eroticism. Luce Irigaray's reading of Levinas's Totality and Infinity not only exposes the problem but also opens his proposal toward the possibility of an “ethics of sexual difference”. In exploring the debate of Irigaray with Levinas, this chapter highlights intersections of the erotic, the feminine, and the cosmological. The chapter reaches for a fresh conceptualization of the transcendence encountered in the (divine) Other in which eros is no longer opposed to an explicitly desexualized and implicitly anti-feminine love.
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