Ontology and Ethics: Løgstrup between Heidegger and Levinas

The Monist 103 (1):117-134 (2020)
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Abstract

This paper provides an exposition and critical assessment of a fundamental disagreement between Løgstrup’s and Levinas’s otherwise closely aligned ethical phenomenologies. The disagreement concerns the putative compatibility of ethics and ontology, where in stark contrast to Levinas’s ethics, which proceeds from a critique of the ‘primacy of ontology’ in Western thought, Løgstrup brands his own ethical project as ‘ontological ethics’. First, I provide an interpretation of Løgstrup’s ontological ethics, clarifying in particular the influence of hermeneutic and existential analysis on Løgstrup’s methodology. Second, I bring Løgstrup’s ontological ethics into critical dialogue with Levinas’s thought. Here, I home in on two Levinas-style worries that appear to have traction against Løgstrup’s ontological ethics. However, ultimately, I argue that both can be defused.

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