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date: 20 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Levinas’s work is notoriously challenging. Indeed, even those who are sympathetic to his ideas and accustomed to his style are not always enthused by Levinas’s often startling prose. Drawing on testimonial Holocaust literature, this essay suggests that Levinas is significantly less confounding when read as a “post-Holocaust” thinker. Situating his ethics in the context of the Holocaust is not to reduce Levinas’s philosophy to biography. Rather, the hope is to show how blurring the line between philosophy and biography can, in specific cases, be worthwhile.

Keywords: philosophy, biography, Holocaust, face, usurpation, survival, guilt, everyday kindness, confession, Levinas

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