The Tragedy of Humanity : The Gospel of Judas as an Arch-ethical Tragedy

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Title: The Tragedy of Humanity : The Gospel of Judas as an Arch-ethical Tragedy
Author: Salama, Virva
Other contributor: Helsingin yliopisto, Humanistinen tiedekunta
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Arts
Helsingfors universitet, Humanistiska fakulteten
Publisher: Helsingin yliopisto
Date: 2018
Language: eng
Thesis level: master's thesis
Degree program: Taiteiden tutkimuksen maisteriohjelma
Master's Programme in Art Studies
Magisterprogrammet i konstforskning
Specialisation: Yleinen kirjallisuustiede
Comparative Literature
Allmän litteraturvetenskap
Abstract: French philosopher Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe claims, that the Platonian-Aristotelian ethical base of the West has rendered horrors of the 20th century possible. Western culture has created romantic myths and figures, which determine our identities and thinking. Consequently, our understanding of ethics is uniform, as it is structured to support the prevailing myths and figures. It is necessary to deconstruct them, if we wish to avoid radical evil in the future. Lacoue-Labarthe argues, that such deconstruction is possible only, if we acknowledge the mimetic ontology of a subject as well as of truth: mimesis is a condition for the possibility of perception as ideas can emerge only in representation. Since mimesis has no essence, no representation is ever exhaustive. This gives arts and literature an essential role in relation to philosophy, because the artist reverts the effects of mimesis into a work of art. Lacoue-Labarthe calls ethics that acknowledge importance of mimesis and aspires to deconstruct prevailing ethos as arch-ethics. In my reading of the Gospel of Judas which surfaced in 2006, I deconstruct the role of Judas Iscariot. While Judas is known as the quintessential traitor in the West, the Gospel offers an alternative perspective based on its Gnostic view of life. According to Lacoue-Labarthe, tragedy can be used as a matrix for thought to approach arch-ethics. In my study, I project the Aristotelian structure and understanding of tragedy onto the plot of the Gospel to facilitate ethical analysis on both plot and allegorical levels. I will then contemplate the arch-ethical implications of such levels. The deconstruction of the figure of the arch-traitor results in an interpretative narrative, which questions the prevailing understanding of concepts like knowledge, sacrifice and salvation. Even in our secularised time, such concepts affect the way we contemplate ethics, because the Bible remains pivotal when considering the foundation of western ethos. Based on my reading of the Gospel as a tragedy with arch-ethical implications, in the end of my study I briefly outline the ethical conclusions as to the goals I understand arch-ethics to have. Such conclusions combine the concepts of responsibility (Lévinas), recognition (Ricœur) and gift (Derrida) with deconstruction of current ethics of dichotomies, acknowledgement of the mimetic nature of human beings, and ethical thinking understood as a hermeneutic circle.
Subject: Lacoue-Labarthe, Philippe
Gospel of Judas

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