distinctions. To retain of this universe only that which is liable to permit us another approach to Being is to retain nothing of it. For the biblical lesson may not be “utilized”; form and content therein are indissociable. To utilize it while tearing it out of the Law that is its focus and meaning is no longer to follow this lesson, but to combat it, so far as this is possible for humans or for thinking.
This is what the work of Emmanuel Lévinas attests, in an illuminating fashion, and is, at the same time, what explains his position regarding Heidegger.
III. From God to Being: The Abandonment of Ethics. The Debate with Emmanuel Lévinas
It is no doubt the work of Lévinas that has contributed the most to awaking contemporary philosophical thought to the possibilities built up within the Hebraic universe. The work could only make this contribution because, as indefatigable mediator, it had first allowed the Hebraic universe to “enter into philosophy” by drawing from “Jewish wisdom” [sagesse juive] all the elements needed for a dialogue with “Greek wisdom” [sagesse grecque].105
The “Athenian moderation,” and the “paroxysm of Jerusalem,”106 thus find themselves articulated one to the other in Lévinas, whose entire effort consists in bringing about their juncture without erasing their differences. To “express, in Greek, those principles of which Greece knew nothing,”107 is to cause a rigorous thinking to arise, within the field of philosophy, even though it was not Greek-inspired.
Such a thought—the same one that Lévinas’s oeuvre endeavors to work out—would be a thinking of the Other, understood as “Wholly Other” [l’Autre comme “tout-Autre”]. To be sure, this is an Other that has not ceased to concern philosophy, yet, barring exceptions,108 it is one that philosophy has never been able to find without reducing it, because philosophy remains the thinking of Being, in conformity with its primary Greek orientation. Now, the thinking of Being is fundamentally a thinking of the Same [pensée du Même]: “Western philosophy coincides with the disclosure of the Other [l’Autre], wherein the Other showing itself as being loses its alterity. Philosophy is stricken, from its infancy, with a terror of the