Between separation and encounter: Levinasian metaphysics and the question of phenomenology

Rosenzweig, Trina Esther (2020) Between separation and encounter: Levinasian metaphysics and the question of phenomenology. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Contemporary French phenomenologists, including Emmanuel Levinas, explored the boundaries of the phenomenological method of Edmund Husserl. In Totality and Infinity Levinas offers a phenomenology of an encounter with an Other that challenges the very limits of the subject. In “The Theological Turn of French Phenomenology,” Dominique Janicaud claims that this Other breaks with the phenomenological method—by abandoning immanent phenomenality and by subversively importing theological content into phenomenological reflection. To the contrary, I argue that Levinas offers a genuinely phenomenological work and that phenomenology cannot preclude the theological implications that may result therefrom. I draw on Jean-Luc Marion’s analysis of Husserl’s principle of all principles to challenge Janicaud’s preclusion of absolute Otherness from intentional experience and subsequently defend Levinas on the following grounds: (i) that phenomenology must accept the possibility of an encounter with the divine and (ii) that Levinas never leaves the scope of phenomenological reflection insofar as his talk of God is always also talk of the human Other. The defence argues that Levinas does not offer a methodologically untenable phenomenology of God but rather a methodologically sound phenomenology of an experience with the infinite—an infinite which definitively confirms only the subject’s finite limits but which opens theological possibilities.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Item ID: 15061
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 73-74).
Keywords: Levinas, Janicaud, Husserl, Marion, metaphysics, phenomenology, theology, experience, intentionality, self, other, subject, transcendence, immanence, infinite, God
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Philosophy
Date: October 2020
Date Type: Submission
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Lévinas, Emmanuel; Janicaud, Dominique, 1937-; Phenomenological theology.

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