n French Studies in Southern Africa - L'autre, le visage, le paysage (Sartre, Deleuze, Levinas)




The concept of the "human face" forms a point of reference for contemporary French thinkers as different and opposite as Sartre, Deleuze and Levinas. For each of them the human face is neither a part of the body nor a perceptible object but, rather, the threshold of the invisible. For Sartre the human face is destined to disappear under the violence of the gaze it generates. For Deleuze it comes undone like in a Francis Bacon painting, thus - through its collapse - freeing the will of nature trapped and imprisoned in a socially tamed body. For Levinas, on the other hand, the human face is fundamentally expression, fundamentally language and discourse, the locus of hospitality and of reception of the Other, making it the most absolute and indestructible challenge to violence.


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