Levinas’s Substitution – Otherwise than Otherness
The article investigates the fundamental structure of the relation between the Other and the same throughout Levinas’s work. It claims that a significant shift can be seen in it: whereas Totality and Infinity deems an asymmetrical distance or difference to be of primal importance, Levinas’s much later Otherwise than Being moves away from this focus by unfolding the encompassing ambivalence of distance and proximity as a philosophical first. The most important concept that demonstrates this shift is Levinas’s notion of substitution. I address this shift by opposing substitution to conventional interpretations of Levinas, discussing several relevant literary sources. The polemical formulation of this contrast is intended to show how Levinas’s conceptual transformation can be understood in a fundamental manner. Finally, the result of this radical shift shall be characterized as the ambivalent structure of substitution. With this characterization, I try to demonstrate a fundamental insight in the contemporary debate on Levinas.
Faculteit der Filosofie, Theologie en Religiewetenschappen