Journal of Chinese Philosophy vol:35 issue:4 pages:599-612
This paper examines an aspect in Levinas’ thinking that has rarely been brought into scholarly discussion: How does Levinas consider the relation between non-Western cultures and Western intellectual tradition? First, I explicate the central notion of sense (sens) in Levinas’ essay “Meaning and Sense” (1964). Sense is absolute and transcendent. It precedes and makes possible the meaning of all cultures. Second, I explore Levinas’ discussions of non-Western cultures in some of his essays and interviews. On these occasions, Levinas articulates the view that there is an essential difference between non-Western cultures and Western tradition that is predominantly Judaeo-Greek. In the last section, I consider the role which Levinas’ notion of sense plays in his reflection on the relation between non-Western cultures and Western tradition.