By Lévinas, Emmanuel; Lévinas, Emmanuel; Fagenblat, Michael
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Additional resources for A covenant of creatures : Levinas's philosophy of Judaism
Thus signifies the inextricable equivocality woven by language. (OB, 169/ AE, 215) In Levinas’s view, at least as expressed in his later work, his words are not referential in a simple way. “Ethics” in no way refers to the Other directly, without passing through the text, as if there were some unmediated access to the moral meaning presented in the face. 52 This is what the midrashic imagination has always done. 53 The language of tradition, which metaphysical realism regards as a ladder that can be kicked away once true knowledge has been attained, is here thought, with Levinas, Heidegger, and Derrida, as the very way of doing philosophy.
In this light, the picture assumed by so many of Levinas’s critics looks medieval, recalling the critique of medieval allegory expounded by Gershom Scholem. In his influential view the allegorical method discovers the truths internal to the tradition only if they were first “capable of being discovered outside the sphere of religion” by the independent inquiries of philosophy. ”28 The inevitable question posed to the allegorist is the very question asked of Levinas: does this method not make the revealed tradition redundant?
In Badiou’s words, Jewish particularism is “simultaneously extrinsic . . 74 But it also follows that Levinas’s phenomenological works addressed to the Gentiles are midrashic accomplishments, radical interpretations of Jewish texts. Totality and Infinity and Otherwise than Being are philosophical interpretations of logia entrusted to the Jews. 75 As a hermeneutical philosopher, Levinas loves a Torah addressed to all people, not just to the Jews. “Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded” (Rom.