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Aspects of AlterityLevinas, Marcel, and the Contemporary Debate$
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Brian Treanor

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780823226849

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: March 2011

DOI: 10.5422/fso/9780823226849.001.0001

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The Nature of Otherness

The Nature of Otherness

(p.196) 7 The Nature of Otherness
Aspects of Alterity

Brian Treanor

Fordham University Press

The divergence that existed between Gabriel Marcel and Emmanuel Levinas continues to fuel a lively philosophical debate, and the jury is still out with respect to the question of the otherness of the other. This chapter discusses several key points. First, after briefly reiterating some of what is at stake in the question of the otherness of the other, it offers two possible reconciliations of the conflict between absolute and relative characterizations of otherness: one from the perspective of Levinas, another from the perspective of Marcel. Second, the chapter traces the development of these two accounts of otherness—absolute and relative—from their reemergence in Levinas and Marcel to their contemporary manifestations, in order to illustrate the enduring challenge posed by this problem and the contributions of Levinas and Marcel to its current expression. One possible resolution of the differences between Levinas and Marcel—that is, between absolute otherness and relative otherness—would focus on the distinction between transcendental philosophy and empirical philosophy.

Keywords:   Gabriel Marcel, Emmanuel Levinas, otherness, absolute otherness, relative otherness, transcendental philosophy, empirical philosophy

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