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date: 22 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Levinas takes the face-to-face relationship between each subject and every other particular person to be a relationship of the self with transcendence. He believes this dimension of our interpersonal experience is represented in traditional religious and theological texts by the relationship with the divine or God. This paper explores how Levinas’s appropriation of the Cartesian expression “the idea of infinity” introduces this divine character of the face-to-face and how Levinas goes on to develop and enrich this association of the face-to-face, its ethical character, and divine transcendence. Levinas takes the divinity of the face-to-face to refer to the universality, objectivity, normative force, and motivational attraction of the sense of responsibility he believes is foundational for human experience. In short, for Levinas, the divinity associated with morality in traditional religious texts refers to the normative weight and psychological appeal of ethics itself.

Keywords: transcendence, idea of infinity, trace, illeity, height, God, divinity, skepticism, diachrony, glory

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