Levinas and Whitehead: Notes Toward a Conversation To Come

Process Studies 40 (1):25-53 (2011)

J. Aaron Simmons
Furman University
Alfred North Whitehead and Emmanuel Levinas are not often considered together in the contemporary philosophical literature. There are clearly sensible reasons for this. While Whitehead is a systematic thinker who explicitly engages in metaphysical philosophy within the tradition of process thought and whodoes not focus primarily on ethics, Levinas is resistant to systematic metaphysics and works within the phenomenological tradition in order to argue that ethicsis first philosophy. Despite these significant points of contrast between Whitehead and Levinas, in this paper we argue that the two might stand as resources for each other in various ways. Since this paper is meant to be explorative and suggestive rather than comprehensive and conclusive, we argue for just two possible points of resonance between these important philosophers: Both Levinas and Whitehead develop an account of selfhood that is intrinsically relational and concerned with responsibility—we term this account “Ethical Subjectivity;” and Both Levinas and Whitehead operate according to what we call a “Hermeneutics of the Other” that stresses epistemic humility and dialogical openness
Keywords Major Philosophers  Philosophy and Religion  Religious Studies
Categories (categorize this paper)
Reprint years 2012
ISBN(s) 0360-6503
DOI 10.5840/process20114012
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 46,206
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles


Added to PP index

Total views
38 ( #237,197 of 2,285,684 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
4 ( #323,037 of 2,285,684 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes

Sign in to use this feature