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Philosophy Today

Volume 59, Issue 3, Summer 2015

Jennifer Rosato
Pages 429-450

Levinas on Skepticism, Moral and Otherwise

At the start of Totality and Infinity, Emmanuel Levinas announces his project as one that will respond to the challenge of moral skepticism. Meanwhile, in a section titled “Skepticism and Reason” near the end of Otherwise than Being, Levinas interprets the recurrence of skepticism within philosophical reflection as a positive sign of the saying that refuses to be absorbed in the said. Here, I discuss the relationship between these two discussions of skepticism, and argue that Levinas’s appeal to a variety of skepticism about language and reason is an important part of his answer to the moral skeptic. After first distinguishing between two challenges raised under the specter of moral skepticism at the start of Totality and Infinity, I demonstrate that Levinas answers both challenges, in part by appeal to the skepticism that he approves in “Skepticism and Reason.”

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