Emmanuel Levinas signals the importance of hospitality for his approach to ethics and religion about two-thirds of the way through his first major work, Totality and Infinity. This chapter traces a turn in Levinas's thought that indicates a “being toward God.” It finds that in his work after Totality and Infinity, Levinas emphasizes that hospitality to the Other involves a passivity that has been habitually covered over. Nonetheless, this chapter asks whether hospitality does not involve a certain initiative on the part of the subject. It argues that this misses the “exorbitant hospitality” demanded by the Other according to Levinas. Finally, this chapter tackles the problem of gender that arises in Levinas's terminology wherein responsibility seems to rest on a binary opposition between Man and Woman. Not only does the divine Other exceed ordinary constraints, but Levinas's notion of gender also seems to transcend normal practical constraints, pointing to a sort of “impossible gender” to accompany “unconditional hospitality.”.
Keywords: Emmanuel Levinas; hospitality; ethics; religion; Totality and Infinity; being; God; Other; gender
Chapter. 4474 words.
Subjects: Philosophy of Religion
Full text: subscription required