Encountering the Face of God

Philosophy in the Contemporary World 5 (1):20-24 (1998)
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Abstract

This essay explores the intersection of the ideas of Emmanuel Levinas and theistic existentialism, by exploring the metaphor of being confronted by the blank face of God in times of great stress. Levinas criticizes the history of metaphysics for focusing exclusively on the analysis of objects. He aims to redirect philosophy towards the study of relationships, and focuses on the experience of being confronted by another human face. Jean-Paul Sartre’s proof of the nonexistence of God illustrates Levinas’s critique. Sartre treats God as an object with determinate properties, and concludes that all who believe in God are seeking a false sense of security. Many theisticexistentialists, however, speak of God as a partner in relationship, rather than as a thing, and do not expect to be freed from uncertainty or responsibility through a relationship with God.

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