Category Archives: Levinas

Foreign to all light

I even wonder how the principal trait of our relationship with death could have escaped philosophers’ attention. It is not with the nothingness of death, of which we precisely know nothing, that the analysis must begin, but with the situation where something absolutely unknowable appears. Absolutely unknowable means foreign to all light, rendering every assumption of possibility impossible, but where we ourselves are seized.

— Levinas, ‘Time and the other’ (tr. R. Cohen)


Transcendence is passing over to being’s other, otherwise than being. Not to be otherwise, but otherwise than being. And not to not-be; passing over is not here equivalent to dying. Being and not-being illuminate one another, and unfold a speculative dialectic which is a determination of being. Or else the negativity which attempts to repel being is immediately submerged by being. The void that hollows out is immediately filled with the mute and anonymous rustling of the there is, as the place left vacant by one who died is filled with the murmur of the attendants.

— Levinas, Otherwise than Being or Beyond Essence (trans. A. Lingis)