Volume 6, 2006
A Century with Levinas
En découvrant l’existence avec Emmanuel Lévinas
This text offers an analysis of the first French reaction to the thought of Heidegger as undertaken by Lévinas. It also seeks to highlight the roots of the uneasy dialogue that Lévinas had with a work which he considered to be at one and the same time “imprescriptible” and answerable for its ambiguities. Indeed, a reading of Lévinas’ pre-war texts demonstrates how his initial interpretation of the core concepts of Sein und Zeit, stretched to the limits by ambiguities, led him to deny the question of being any access to a genuine transcendence: contrary to its explicit treatment by Heidegger. Being itself, understood in the first instance by Lévinas as “determinism of being”, demands the movement of “escape” and the assumption of a truly ethical position, the latter in the early stages of his work remaining almost entirely implicit.