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Studia Phaenomenologica

Volume 6, 2006

A Century with Levinas

Georg W. Bertram
Pages 241-260

Die Idee der Philosophie von Emmanuel Lévinas

This paper aims to offer a new and alternative perspective on the basic idea of Levinas’s philosophy. My claim is that the latter can be more appropriately understood not as a contribution to a new way of thinking about ethics or the realm of the ethical as such, but rather toward the theory of normativity. The goal of Levinas’s reflections on alterity is to exhibit the normativity that is in play in all modes of understanding. Levinas tries to understand how intentional beings are normatively bound by one another. This paper tries to give answers to the questions of (1) why Levinas addresses questions of alterity, (2) what is distinctive about these questions according to his way of thinking, and (3) why one should consider Levinas’ thought from the perspective of the articulation of a theory of normativity.