Photograph of Lithuanian-born French philosopher Emmanuel Lévinas.

Photograph by Bracha L. Ettinger (CC BY 2.5)

Emmanuel Lévinas

(1905 - 1995)

A renowned philosopher, Emmanuel Lévinas was educated at the University of Strasbourg, the University of Freiburg—where he attended seminars by Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger—and the Institut de France, where he completed his doctoral dissertation. His work offered a powerful critique of ontology as “first philosophy,” instead arguing that ethics should hold the place as the most fundamental philosophical doctrine. Some of his major books on the subject are Existence and Existents, published in 1947, and Otherwise than Being; or, Beyond Essence, published in 1974.

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A miracle entails a degree of irrationality—not because it shocks reason, but because it makes no appeal to it.

—Emmanuel Lévinas, 1952

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