Asymmetry and transcendence: On scepticism and first philosophy

Research in Phenomenology 35 (1):118-140 (2005)
Abstract
In attempting to re-think the notion of asymmetry and its relations with 'first philosophy' and to see how that notion is tracked by the provocation of scepticism, the paper demonstrates something about the implications of Levinas' ethical asymmetry. The paper considers Levinas' tendency to introduce the topic of scepticism when confronted by the logical and textual difficulties that necessarily befall his account of the ethical relation. It argues that such an introduction commits Levinas to the claim: first philosophy entails a fundamental (first person) asymmetry and its attendant scepticism. If, for Levinas, scepticism and first person asymmetry are implicated in all attempts at first philosophy, the paper suggests that an intriguing place to set it to work is those pages of Being and Time which prioritize being-towards-death, the polemical focus of Levinas' being-for-beyond-my-death.
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