This essay invites the reader to take Emmanuel Levinas’ thought in the spirit in which it was written: as a profound engagement with Husserl’s phenomenology and, secondarily, with Heidegger’s existential philosophy. Levinas’ central idea, whether called “responsibility,” “substitution,” or the “other-in-the-same,” has been criticized as mere smoke and mirrors—an indemonstrable hermeneutics of ethical investiture. The purpose of this essay is to show how Levinas analyzed and exploited ambiguities in Husserl’s work on intersubjectivity and sensibility in view of developing his own phenomenology.
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Bettina Bergo is Professor of Philosophy at Université de Montréal in Montreal. She has published extensively within the phenomenological and continental traditions. Bergo is the author of numerous articles including “Mal D’Archive: Derrida, Freud, and the Beginnings of the Logic of the Trace in 1888,” Derrida Today (2014) and “The Face in Levinas,” Angelaki (2011). She is the author of Levinas between Ethics and Politics: For the Beauty that Adorns the Earth (Martinus Nijhoff, 1999) and co-editor (with Jill Stauffer) of Nietzsche and Levinas: After the Death of a Certain God (Columbia University Press, 2008). In addition, she has translated a number of Levinas’ works into English, including God, Death, and Time (Stanford University Press, 2000) and Of God Who Comes to Mind (Stanford University Press, 1998).
Bettina Bergo, “Reading Levinas as a Husserlian (Might Do),” Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal 36:2 (2015), pp. 295–345.