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date: 21 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Tracing the genesis of the notion of the face in a series of early writings published between 1947 and 1954, this essay shows that this notion does not develop in a linear fashion but through several distinct lines of argument that are then welded or woven together without being completely unified. Although this braided structure makes the notion of the face an exceptionally powerful and flexible tool in Levinas’s philosophical repertoire, it is also what makes the notion unsuitable for the work that many readers want and expect it to do, namely, to provide a grounding for ethics in the usual sense.

Keywords: Levinas, face, normative ethics, phenomenology, idea of infinity

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