Journal of Religious Ethics 24 (2):235 - 259 (1996)

Levinas holds that ethics provides a figure of philosophical thought that is not ordered metaphysically and so allows us to explicate the significance of God whose fate is not linked with that of metaphysics, and his descrip- tion of ethics permits philosophy to bypass historical revelations pre- served by religious traditions as it articulates this significance of God. Nevertheless, Levinas's attempt to save the name "God" for that which responsibility witnesses is troubled in several ways: the responsible self cannot tell, and cannot tell us, whether its responsibility witnesses God since (1) both it and God are outside the order (metaphysics and consciousness) where identification would be possible and (2) the anonymity of this God and the trauma suffered by the self are disturbingly close to the menace of the anonymous il y a as that anonymity has been described in Levinas's earlier work.
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