AI207 Emmanuel Lévinas & the Ethical Dimension of the Ayn Sof

"Totalité et Infini: essai sur l'extériorité" (1961) is Emmanuel Lévinas's first major work. It represents a breakthrough in the history of philosophy as the most systematic attempt to think the Otherness of our fellow human beings and to ground a philosophical ethics on this "alterity." The method and language of the book are phenomenological. And yet the core idea of Otherness, an idea that Levinas characterizes as "infinite" and that he ultimately associates with the Infinite One, stems directly from the Torah. In these two aspects—the "content" of Moses's Torah and the "form" of Husserl's phenomenology—the book exemplifies the basic labour of Jewish philosophy, what Levinas calls "translating Hebrew into Greek." Indeed, Levinas is arguably the last great Jewish philosopher. In this course, we will be submitting "Totality and Infinity" to a close reading, aiming at an initial grasp of its basic argument, then at a critical appreciation of its shortcomings as well as its achievements, and finally at the possibilities of a deep "prej-judicial" sympathy beyond "judicious" criticism.

  • Course Specifications
  • Type: Elective
  • Lesson type: Seminar
  • Hours: 28 (5 credits)
  • Requirement: 1 quiz & 1 essay
  • Instructor: Prof. MICHAEL CHIGHEL
  • Status: The course will be available in 2022.
  • Course Readings 1
  • Emmanuel Levinas, Totality and Infinity (Duquesne, 1969)