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date: 26 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter analyzes Levinas’s references to the feminine and the maternal through their connection to his treatment of time. Totality and Infinity provides a progressive narrative in which subjects are confronted with their responsibility to the other, and the feminine plays an instrumental role within that narrative. By contrast, Otherwise than Being discusses maternity in an anti-teleological, non-linear register. The maternal body is not the precursor to the ethical relation but an experience of ethical exposure, and one that confounds chronological representation. The concept of the maternal in Levinas’s later work thus more radically challenges the ideal of the “virile” subject, in ways that are congruent with feminist critiques, despite the fact that Levinas himself does not develop those possibilities.

Keywords: Levinas, the feminine, maternity, time, narrative, trauma

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