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Adam Esponilla Dalac

Our Lady of the Angels Seminary

Reflection Paper in Franciscanism

After the World War II, the human mind became preoccupied by the

rights of the individual. Oftentimes, the systems of the world would not come

and go without causing oppression to the “Other,” the relative of the system,

the marginalized, the saprophagic, the homo sacer, the beast and the

deprived. When Enrique Dussel, a Latin American Philosopher and

Theologian, once asked Rorty, “is the oppression of Latin American people or

of the poor ones of North America caused by capitalism?” Rorty replied, “Is

there any system of the world without oppression?” Although Rorty seemed

playful in his response yet the impact is on the affirmative side. Perhaps, one

of the most remarkable post war critiques is Emmanuel Levinas, a victim of

Nazi regime. His works becomes sound especially to those whose rights as a

human had been abused by the centers of powers.

An article that tried to appropriate Levinas with Franciscan Philosophy

by Greg Redoblado, ofm, is grounded on the same criticism, the arrogance of

the intellect, of knowing and of being. Levinas has been explicit in his

criticism of ontology. Well, for me we cannot blame the Medieval thinkers

because the manner of their thinking is purely ontological and metaphysical,

thematized and captured as the author said.It might be true that the

Medieval Franciscans in their own right and manner of thinking had escaped

the criticism of Levinas. It has been discussed in the article how Franciscan

thinkers like Scotus and Ockham were advanced compared to their

contemporaries by criticizing the intellect. The article is good and clear. I

shall now begin my part by criticizing the present-day world.

According to Levinas, Ethical Responsibility only begins when the “I”

starts to recognize the “Other” and responds to his/her needs. In the world

today, dominant and totalitarian nations are basically from progressive

western countries, leaving the periphery of the world in its poor condition.

Since, for Levinas, it is the “Other” who commands and the center of infinite

relationship, it is now the time for the peripheral poor nations as the Other to

be recognized by the totalitarianists. Thus, from domination, a “theology and

philosophy of liberation” arises. Although liberation is often attributed to

Latin America, it serves as a challenge for us Filipinos to start our own

liberation. It may not be as easy to pursue a collective responsibility to-the-

Other, however, liberation should start from among ourselves. As long as we

fail to recognize the Other, feeling trapped by the trace of his/her Face,

means we are still living in a totalitarian relationship.

This manner of appropriating Levinas to the third world realities has

become the task of Enrique Dussel’s philosophy of liberation. Progressive

countries constitutes the Ego and the third world periphery is the “Other.”

However, this criticism has been broadly based on economic and material

reality. Because the article being reviewed in this paper is on itself on the

level of intellect and theory, I shall proceed then by going deeper. The truth

of today is that the Egoistic mentality is not only confined in the progressive

countries, it is felt everywhere, in almost every corner of the world

particularly in the once colonized countries. The allergy infects even the

“Other.” Conceptually it is called Eurocentrism. It is being felt also here in the

Philippines. Frantz Fanon in his critique of “Black Skin-White Mask” and Samir

Amin’s Eurocentrism are best to read in understanding this phenomenon. To

combat neocolonialism, scholars and thinkers from the known “Other” of this

world are now on the edge of developing an anti-egoistic and European

thinking and domination. This phenomenon is called Postcolonialism, where

authors realized that, in a narrow sense, it is better to use the language of

the center to criticize the center itself without overlooking the conviction of

being the “Other,” for in his/her otherness comes the realization to speak.

For “Otherness” now can speak as Spivak wrote in hercriticism entitled “Can

the Subaltern Speak?”