Levinas and Heidegger: The elemental confrontation

Michael Charles Fagenblat

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This chapter offers a comprehensive account of Levinas’s relation to Heidegger’s thought during the formative years of his philosophical development through to Totality and Infinity (1961). Heidegger’s thought informed the central problem that preoccupied Levinas during these years, namely, the rise of Nazism, Hitlerism, and the prospect of a radical collapse of civilization into barbarism and evil. It afforded Levinas a way of understanding these historical events as deep philosophical problems rather than cognitive or historical aberrations. The chapter pinpoints two very different critiques Levinas makes, a critique of Heidegger’s account of facticity and the more famous ethical critique of Heidegger’s thought. The critique of Heidegger’s account of facticity structures Levinas’s alternative account of the phenomenology of being riveted that shapes his thinking from 1934 to Totality and Infinity and gives the ethical critique of being its philosophical traction.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Levinas
EditorsMichael L. Morgan
Place of PublicationOxford UK
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages36
ISBN (Print)9780190455934
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Levinas
  • Heidegger
  • Hitlerism
  • first philosophy
  • elemental existence
  • being revited
  • enjoyment
  • evil
  • barbarism
  • transitivity of being

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