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Levinas and the Philosophy of Religion



This article explores the significance of the work of Emmanuel Levinas for the philosophy of religion. Levinas is well-known as the philosopher of the face of the other which provokes infinite responsibility. In his account of ethical responsibility to the other he regularly employs religious references, though rarely with extended explanations. This article considers a variety of interpretations of these religious references. Given the importance of Judaism for Levinas, we first examine whether Levinas should be understood as a philosopher or Jewish thinker, presenting arguments on both sides of this debate. We then investigate the relationship between ethics and religion in Levinas’s work, including consideration of the Akedah and the problem of evil. We conclude with explorations of the relationship between reason and revelation and the question of how we ought to think about God. These reflections elucidate the contribution Levinas makes to the philosophy of religion.