Levinas’ God: Ethical Horizon, Political Necessity

Joël Madore


The idea of God in Levinas is resonant of the First Testament: a voice from
higher above that clamors: Thou shall not kill; the unsettling call of the Infinite
that commands us to leave the familiar towards the unknown, like “Abraham’s
journey who left alone, towards all—from particularity to universality—under
the threat of nights and the hope of days, in the words of Maurice Blanchot.
Hard, long path of justice.”1 God in Levinas thus echoes the Kantian practical
postulates, framing the ethical injunction as both divine and unquestionable, and
will constitute his answer to the imperative of Auschwitz. Though necessary, the
law of the State is insufficient to resist the violence of tyranny. Ultimately, the
sanction against murder is enforced by God, the Invisible made visible through
the face of the Other. As such, justice for Levinas consists not only in serving the
latter, but to do so unconditionally because he opens up to the divine. Ethics is
thus articulated as the movement towards an Other who reveals an absolute
difference alone capable of interrupting the homogenizing impulses of politics.

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