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Beyond Being: Event, Time and Subject in Levinas

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Chapter Summary

Like Heidegger, Levinas sees Western thought as primarily ontology. Consciousness is thus an ontological event that manifests the energy of being or what Levinas calls the essence of being. Ontology or theory as such, Levinas argues in his first masterwork Totality and Infinity, is identified with the freedom of knowing being encountering nothing which could limit it. Levinas takes the Husserlian phenomenology of consciousness beyond its traditional formulations. The temporalization of time, "the diastasis of the identical", belongs to being's essence. In Existence and Existents and Time and the Other, Levinas takes off from Heidegger's ontological hermeneutics of the relation of being and beings. In this chapter Levinas develops his concept of the subject as the subject of saying and proximity. The impossible inwardness is more exterior than exteriority, already for-the-other, without a return to the self-same, to the point of fission.

Keywords: consciousness; Heidegger; Levinas; ontology



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