Emmanuel Levinas and a Soliloquy of Light and Reason

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Levinas’ review of Husserl’s Ideen I represents his first philosophical publication, appearing 1 year prior to the 1930 publication of his thesis, The Theory of Intuition in Husserl’s Phenomenology. At first glance, Levinas’ review appears philosophically unremarkable, but as I shall explore in this essay, traces of a profound germination of thought are nonetheless discernable, hinting towards central pre-occupations of Levinas’ thinking to come. As I shall examine, Levinas considers Ideen I as the perfected soliloquy of light and reason; the reduction to the absolute of a solitary transcendental subjectivity, situated in “face to face encounter” with beings, fulfills the secret (metaphysical) desire of Western Philosophy. Yet, the Ideen is also perforated by holes that render its phenomenology of reason incomplete. In addition to a subtle emphasis on the implied ethics of knowledge underlying Husserl’s transcendental idealism, Levinas identifies the dual omission of time and the Other from the scope of transcendental reflection. A path of thinking through the Ideen thus becomes delineated that Levinas will untiringly come to explore in his struggle against the soliloquy of light and reason in the name of the Other.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationContributions To Phenomenology
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages18
StatePublished - 2013

Publication series

NameContributions To Phenomenology
ISSN (Print)0923-9545
ISSN (Electronic)2215-1915

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Philosophy
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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