Theoretical paradox and practical dilemma

Emmanuel Levinas sets up alterity as a fundamental ontological category, irreducible to being and nothingess. There are two difficulties in understanding this ontological alterity. On the one hand, Levinas formulates it with negative terms - infinition, abstraction, ab-solutenes, trace of a past that has never been present. On the other hand, Levinas invokes the notions of the superlative, the Good, and God. These notions are very difficult to separate from the notion of a redoubling of the positivity by which the things of the world are posited in their own subsistent being. The quasi-concepts with which Levinas has thematized the alterity of the others who face us in an ontological sphere of infinition, absoluteness, and abstractness have determined negatively what he envisions as beyond negativity and positivity. They reduce the determinateness of the wants and needs of another, and reduce the otherness of one other from other others. In addition, the positivism with which Levinas eliminates the imperatives with which the elements summon us and the material imperatives with which the things put demands on us effaces the phenomenality of the other whose want and needs are inscribed on the susceptibility and vulnerability of his surfaces of skin.
Keywords Ethics Face God Justice Levinas   E
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DOI 10.1080/0967255032000172128
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