• The I's Relationship to the other as Transcendent, Foundational, and Ethical in Levinas' Totality and Infinity

      Hoff, Shannon; Hanna, Eric James John; Institute for Christian Studies (Institute for Christian Studies, 2013-07)
      An interpretation and application of the key insights about the I and the other from Emmanuel Levinas' book: Totality and Infinity. The first chapter interprets Levinas' terminology, specifically his notions of the I and the other, and shows how he describes human experience. The second chapter explores how the other is transcendent to the I as a site of ongoing possibility for the significance of experience, how the other founds the I during human development in the person of the caregiver, and how the I's basic relationship to the other has an ethical character. The third chapter applies these insights to show how they can lead to a more authentic living out of interpersonal relationships and to better ways of thinking about human living in social and political contexts.
    • Learning as Transcendence: The Solution to the Learner's Paradox in Plato and Merleau-Ponty

      Hoff, Shannon; Sheridan, Joanna; Institute for Christian Studies (Institute for Christian Studies, 2015-05)
      This thesis attempts to resolve the learner's paradox on the basis of Merleau-­Ponty's insights in the Phenomenology of Perception by showing that the paradox is misleading in at least two important ways: it presumes that our "knowing" relation to the world operates in the form of explicit knowledge, whereas really we mainly operate on the basis of a pre-­reflective familiarity with various things; and, it presumes that we are "in charge" of our learning, whereas really learning is part of the ongoing coupling of self and world. The first chapter offers a reading of Plato's Meno that argues that Plato implicitly offers a solution to the paradox that is compatible with Merleau-­Ponty's. The second chapter explicates Merleau-­Ponty's own version of the learner's paradox. The third chapter criticizes the learner's paradox from the Meno using Merleau-­Ponty's insights. The conclusion offers a few ideas on what shape teaching should take, given the foregoing account of learning, that are drawn from John Locke's "Some Thoughts Concerning Education."
    • Ow(n)ing Existence: Human Meaning, Identity and Responsibility in Heidegger's Being and Time

      Hoff, Shannon; Richard, Bryan Samuel; Institute for Christian Studies (Institute for Christian Studies, 2013-09-02)
      This thesis pays attention to the nature of human being that comes to light in Martin Heidegger's Being and Time. In particular, it attempts to show that his notion of authenticity allows for a distinctive and fruitful conception of ethical responsibility, albeit one that challenges us to rethink ethics and responsibility anew. I claim that if authenticity is ‘owning’ one's existence in a way that is properly fitted to Dasein's ontological way of being (as nonself-identical, ecstatic temporality), this ownership of self will necessarily be the stance of recognizing and responding to that which always already includes a network of relations involving world and others. On such an understanding, genuine existential care for oneself is also care for others in the most originary way possible. Such an ontological picture has been criticized by some commentators as being too formal, insufficiently historical, and lacking genuine mediation – in short, for being ineffectual as a normative force in real-life situations. The main contribution of this thesis is to argue against such an interpretation by showing that Heideggerian authenticity is a properly dialectical concept, capacious enough to account for the legitimate concerns raised by such criticisms, while also being productive for new articulations of what is really normative about human relations.
    • Relationship Issues: Forgiveness and Promising According to Hannah Arendt and Jacques Derrida

      Hoff, Shannon; Ratzlaff, Caleb; Institute for Christian Studies (Institute for Christian Studies, 2015-08-31)
      In retrospect this learning experience lead me to two conclusions. First, the way we hold someone responsible must reflect the openness and vulnerability of the actor and those to whom she relates. What we do when we hold someone responsible, administering a sentence, for example, must respond to the unending process of interaction and transformation that defines the human person in intersubjective life. This essentially describes the meaning and limits of holding someone responsible. The second lesson was more directly addressed in this thesis. It concerns the idea that the uncertain and vulnerable characteristics of the self that accompany our transformability, are not simply detriments to responsibility. Rather, the uncertain nature of a self as it exists in relationship with others is a condition of meaningfulness, responsibility, and love. As a condition of responsibility, our finitude calls for the sustaining ethical practices of promises and forgiveness. Uncertainty, even in its greatest manifestations as birth and death, is something we can embrace.
    • Speaking Bodies: Communication and Freedom in Fichte and Merleau-Ponty

      Hoff, Shannon; Morrisey, Jeffrey James; Institute for Christian Studies (Institute for Christian Studies, 2012-05)
      Drawing on the ideas of J.G. Fichte and M. Merleau-Ponty, I argue that experience and freedom are intersubjective, linguistic, and bodily. In the first chapter, I take up Fichte's three "fundamental principles" from the Science of Knowledge alongside his ideas of embodiment and intersubjectivity from the Foundations of Natural Right to show that all experience is an indefinite mixture of self and not-self, and, therefore, that both the experiences of self-consciousness and its freedom must also be accomplished with reference to the not-self, and particularly others. The second chapter is an examination of Merleau-Ponty's account of expression in his Phenomenology of Perception. The key insight I pursue here is that the medium of expression, which makes possible all significance, is bodily and intersubjective, and that any expressive act is therefore both self-opaque and soliciting cooperation. In the end, I turn to how this cooperation, i.e. freedom, should be enacted.