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I don't remember the exact reference so it might be a bit hard to understand my question, but I'll try to draw the general idea that I understand Levinas to be using.

Levinas puts a kind of connection between two events like this: consider event A is a dynamic event, which can "gain" amount of something (it can be energ, weight, attention, or like Kant puts it "intensive magnitude, i.e. degree"). Now let's say this event can gain so much "magnitude", that it actually overflows with it. This overflow causes a second event, event B, to occur. From here we can say that a case of causation may be called "causation via overflow" (this is my addition, Levinas never treated it as something special, as far as I know, nor have he noted it as some case of causation, but rather simply used it).

I wonder, is this kind of "causation via overflow" is something of an original thought by Levinas, or is it something known that I've simply haven't seen before?

  • Here is a paper, I have not read it all but maybe you can add it to your research. macsphere.mcmaster.ca/bitstream/11375/13352/1/fulltext.pdf – Gordon Sep 27 '18 at 14:47
  • There is something about Findlay that in some way makes me link him with Levinas. en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Niemeyer_Findlay very different traditions, perhaps. giffordlectures.org/lecturers/john-niemeyer-findlay. – Gordon Sep 27 '18 at 14:58
  • Your description reminds me Plotinian "emanation", where the One "'overflows' and its excess begets an other than itself". Emanare translates as overflow. This is not causation exactly since the One is the source of all being and hence precedes being itself, let alone causation. Intelligence, soul and ultimately matter "emanate" down the line in succession. For modern derivatives see emanationism, I do not know if Levinas's use is related. – Conifold Sep 27 '18 at 18:35
  • @Conifold very interesting. It could very much be the case, as I see that the Wikipedia page mentions Kabbalah as one of the studies that use emanation, and I'm sure Levinas read some Kabbalah, or at least came in contact with its ideas. Also, I might've recalled incorrectly and Levinas did use it in relation to One as a source, but I'm not sure. I need to check that. – Yechiam Weiss Sep 27 '18 at 18:45

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