Studia Phaenomenologica

Volume 6, 2006

A Century with Levinas

László Tengelyi
Pages 59-71

Einzigkeit ohne Identität bei Levinas

Selfhood, personal identity and singularity are philosophical concepts which undergo a profound change in Levinas, who is led by three main propositions to transform them. The first of these propositions could hardly be simpler: I am myself and no other. The second proposition is more surprising, but it can lay just as well a claim to self-evidence: I remain myself without becoming another even if I do not remain the same as I were. Finally, the third proposition is not only baffling, but almost scandalous: The fact that I am myself and no other cannot be deduced from my identity with myself; it is rather the outcome of my relationship with the Other or, more precisely a consequence of what is described by Levinas as my substitution for the Other. These three propositions are inquired into and commented upon in the paper. It is shown, thereby, how a singularity without identity is conceived of by Levinas.