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Levinas, Emmanuel (1906–95)

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-DE016-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved May 22, 2024, from

Article Summary

In the 1930s Levinas helped to introduce the phenomenological philosophy of Husserl and Heidegger to the French. Subsequently his work attained classic status in its own right for his attempt to explore the meaning of ethics from a phenomenological starting-point. In Totalité et infini (1961) (Totality and Infinity, 1969) Levinas locates the basis of ethics in the face-to-face relation where the Other puts me in question. My obligations to the Other are not contracted by me. They not only precede any debts I incur, but also go beyond anything I could possibly satisfy. In later works, most notably Autrement qu’être (1974) (Otherwise than Being, 1981) Levinas explores further the preconditions of this account, most especially by investigating the I that was said to be put in question in the encounter with the Other. In analyses that stretch phenomenology to its limits and beyond, Levinas finds alterity within the self.

Citing this article:
Bernasconi, Robert. Levinas, Emmanuel (1906–95), 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-DE016-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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