The Problem of Method in Levinas's Ethics as First Philosophy
Prof. Dr. Arthur Cools – University of Antwerp
It is well known that Emmanuel Levinas defends ethics as first philosophy and that he contributes to a philosophy of subjectivity which he defines as responsibility for the other person. At the same time, however, many of his texts are highly difficult to read, not to say unreasonable, hyperbolic, extraordinary. How is Levinas able to state what he means to say? This question is the starting point for an examination of the philosophical method in Levinas's analyses of subjectivity. I seek to show that Levinas's method consists of a combination of three methodological devices: phenomenology, de-formalization, and reduction.
Arthur Cools is Full Professor in Contemporary Philosophy and Philosophy of Culture at the University of Antwerp. He is the author of Langage et subjectivité. Vers une approche du différend entre Maurice Blanchot et Emmanuel Lévinas (2007) and co-editor of The Locus of Tragedy (2008), Metaphors in Modern and Contemporary Philosophy (2013), Debating Levinas’ Legacy (2015), and Kafka and the Universal (2016). His work concentrates on the field of contemporary French philosophy, with particular interest in the interplay between philosophy and literature.