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date: 25 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter looks at Emmanuel Levinas’s relationship to German Idealism, specifically the philosophy of Fichte and Hegel (and here, also Kant). It argues against the common suggestion that posits a stark dualism between, on one hand, Levinas as representative of ‘infinity,’ and, on the other hand, Hegel and German Idealism as representative ‘totality.’ Instead, this chapter shows how that dualism is too simplistic and does not cover the richness of the respective projects of these figures, especially when one takes stock of contemporary ‘nonmetaphysical’ readings of German Idealism. It is alternatively shown how all of these thinkers orient themselves around themes that come out of Kant, themes centering around the nature of self-consciousness (and—now leaving Kant behind—to what extent and how self-consciousness requires the presence of an/the other). Ultimately, the chapter does conclude with the idea that there are important differences between Levinas and German Idealism, but it is argued that these differences are quite distinct from what scholars have taken them to be; in light of this, some prospective paths forward are suggested.

Keywords: Levinas, Fichte, Hegel, Kant, German Idealism, self-consciousness, intersubjectivity, recognition, acknowledgment, expression

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