Volume 58, Issue 3, Summer 2014
Levinas's Concept of Ethical Sinngebung
In one of the sections of Of God Who Comes to Mind, Levinas expressly mentions the need to go “beyond intentionality” as far as the description of the ethical rapport goes. Such language on the part of Levinas has compelled certain commentators to maintain that Levinas “has gone beyond the notion of intentionality.” This abandonment of phenomenological description brings to the fore, however, a number of problems. Indeed, if the other does not allow herself to be reduced to a phenomenological description, how then are we to account for that other? This essay will attempt to respond to these questions and show that, while Levinas does rework phenomenological conceptuality, he does not abandon phenomenological discourse in his descriptions of the ethical encounter. Our demonstration will focus more precisely on the concept of intentionality which, we shall show, is never abandoned by Levinas. Rather, it is reworked by Levinas in order to account for the other in a way that respects her alterity, thereby allowing for an ethical Sinngebung to take place.