Emmanuel Levinas

(1906 - 25 Dec. 1995)




Peter Atterton: Overview
Institut d'études Lévinassiennes
European Graduate School
L'aventure éthique de la responsabilité
Philosophy Research Base
Anthony F. Beavers introducing Levinas
Anthony F. Beavers: Prophetic Voice of Postmodernity
Israeli Cultural Hero


"A calling into question of the Same—which cannot occur within the egoistic spontaneity of the Same—is brought about by the Other.  We name this calling into question of my spontaneity by the presence of the Other ethics.  The strangeness of the Other, his irreducibility to the I, to my thoughts and my possessions, is precisely accomplishmed as a calling into question of my spontaneity as ethics.  Metaphysics, transcendence, the welcoming of the Other by the Same, of the Other by Me, is concretely produced as the calling into question of the Same by the Other, that is, as the ethics that accomplishes the critical essence of knowledge."  (Totality and Infinity, p.  33)

"The I is, to be sure, happiness, presence at home with itself.  But, as sufficiency in its non-sufficiency, it remains in the non-I; it is enjoyment of ‘something else,’ never of itself.  Autochthonous, that is, rooted in what it is not, it is nevertheless, wtihin this enrootedness independent and separated." (Totality and Infinity, 1969, p. 152)

"My effort consists in showing that knowledge is in reality an immanence, and that there is no rupture of the isolation of being in knowledge; and on the other hand, that in communication of knowledge one is found beside the Other, not confronted with him, not in the rectitude of the in-front-of-him. But being in direct relation with the Other is not to thematize the Other and consider him in the same manner as one considers a known object, nor to communicate a knowledge to him. In reality, the fact of being is what is most private; existence is the sole thing I cannot communicate; I can tell about it, but I cannot share my existence. Solitude thus appears as the isolation which marks the very event of being. The social is beyond ontology."

"...I am responsible for the Other without waiting for reciprocity, were I to die for it. Reciprocity is his affair. It is precisely insofar as the relation between the Other and me is not reciporcal that I am subjection to the Other; and I am 'subject' essentially in this sense. It is I who support all...The I always has one responsibility more than all the others."

"One can forgive many Germans, but there are some Germans it is difficult to forgive. It is difficult to forgive Heidegger."


Select Bibliography

  • Emmanuel Levinas: Basic Philosophical Writings, edited by A. Peperzak, S. Critchley and R. Bernasconi, Bloomington, Indiana, Indiana University Press, 1996.

  • Ethics and Infinity, Conversations with Philippe Nemo, translated by R. Cohen, Pittsburgh, Duquesne University Press, 1985.

  • 'Ethics of the Infinite', in Dialogues with Contemporary Continental Thinkers, by R. Kearney, Manchester, Manchester University Press, 1984, pp. 47-69. Reprinted in Face to Face with Levinas, edited by R. Cohen, Albany, SUNY Press, 1986, pp. 13-33.

  • Existence and Existents, translated by A. Lingis, The Hague, Martinus Nijhoff, 1978.

  • 'Ideology and Idealism', Modern Jewish Ethics, edited by Marvin Fox, Columbus, Ohio, Ohio State University, 1975, pp. 121-138.

  • 'Intersubjectivity: Notes on Merleau-Ponty', translated by Michael B. Smith in Ontology and Alterity in Merleau-Ponty, edited by Galen A. Johnson and Michael B. Smith, Evanston, Northwestern University Press, 1990, pp. 55-60.

  • "La filosofia di Karol Wojtyla," Vita e Pensiero 4, 1980, pp. 30-3.

  • The Levinas Reader, edited by Sean Hand, Oxford, Basil Blackwell, 1989.

  • 'Martin Buber and the Theory of Knowledge', in The Philosophy of Martin Buber, edited by Paul Schilpp and Maurice Friedman, La Salle, Illinois, Open Court, 1967, pp. 133-150.

  • 'Martin Buber, Gabriel Marcel and Philosophy', translated by Esther Kameron, in Martin Buber. A Centenary Volume, edited by Haim Gordon and Jochanan Bloch, New York, Ktav Publishing House for the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences Ben Gurion University of the Negev, 1984, pp. 305-321.

  • Nine Talmudic Readings, translated by Annette Aronowicz, Bloomington, Ind., Indiana University Press, 1990.

  • "Note sul pensiero filosofico del Cardinale Wojtyla," Angelicum 1980, pp. 401-3.

  • 'On the Trail of the Other', translated by Daniel J. Hoy, Philosophy Today, vol. 10, no. 1, 1966, pp. 34-46.

  • Otherwise than Being or Beyond Essence, 1974; translated by A. Lingis, The Hague, Martinus Nijhoff, 1981.

  • Outside the Subject, translated by Michael B. Smith, Stanford, Stanford University Press, 1993.

  • 'The Paradox of Morality: an Interview with Emmanuel Levinas', conducted by Tamra Wright, Peter Hughes and Alison Ainley, The Provocation of Levinas: Rethinking the Other, edited by R. Bernasconi and D. Wood, London and New York, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1988,-pp. 168-180.

  • Time and the Other, translated by Richard Cohen, Pittsburgh, Duquesne University Press, 1987. (Also includes 'The Old and the New' and 'Diachrony and Representation').

  • Totality and Infinity, 1961; translated by A. Lingis, Pittsburgh, Duquesne University Press, 1969.

  • 'The Trace of the Other', translated by A. Lingis, Deconstruction in Context, edited by Mark Taylor, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1986, pp. 345-359.