As kind of introductory remark, let me state that I'm not academically-trained in philosophy, so my apologies if this comes up as a rather simple question.

I was reading Logique de Levinas by JF Lyotard, and I came upon, at the very beginning of the book, the following axiom which Lyotard coins as the enunciation clause, that is:

If "A is B", then "A is"

If we admit this axiom, which Lyotard states to be of dramatic importance in phenomenology, we're lead to aporia in some statements of Levinas, for instance:

Le tout autre est autre que tout ce qui est.

Loosely translated, "the Other is different from everything that is". But therefore, "Other is", which leads to a contradiction because it is different from anything that, precisely, is.

I'd like to know if there's some material there in the literature that discusses in a more pedagogical way this problem!

Thanks a lot!

  • 1
    You can see it discussed in French in connection with Derrida (google translate helps): on the link below there is a comment "the formula 'Tout autre est tout autre' is untraductible. It may be enunciated litterally only in French" idixa.net/Pixa/pagixa-1703011128.html – sand1 Jul 15 '19 at 18:37
  • "A Unicorn is a Horse with a horn"; therefore "A Unicorn is (exists ?)". Do you agree with this kind of argument ? – Mauro ALLEGRANZA Jul 15 '19 at 18:54
  • @MauroALLEGRANZA Is a unicorn a horse with a horn? Really? If a unicorn really was a horse with a horn, then, yes, it would exist. For a thing to have a a quality requires that it exists to begin with. And, no, inexistence is not a quality. All this, however, depends on what you read into our ordinary assertions. What's a quality? What's a thing? What is existence? Is a thing the bundle of all its qualities? – Speakpigeon Jul 15 '19 at 19:21
  • ah, interesting question! – user38026 Jul 15 '19 at 19:24
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    This paradox has a very long history, I will only give one pointer. Quine called it Plato's beard ("nonbeing must in some sense be, otherwise what is it that there is not?"), although it is, more properly, Parmenides's. Quine discusses the inference "Pegasus is a flying horse, therefore, Pegasus is", and Russell's solution, in On What There Is. But it would not work for Lyotard or Levinas. – Conifold Jul 16 '19 at 6:00

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