The Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology vol:34 issue:2 pages:168-183
In this paper, I argue that Lévinas’s account of the image in many ways runs parallel to, if not explicitly draws upon Sartre’s own account of the image, while at the same time making certain new moves of its own. Nevertheless, despite whatever similarities or differences between concerning Lévinas’ and Sartre’s accounts of the image, the key question throughout this paper is the connection between the image and temporality. My claim is that the image for Lévinas bears out a descent of consciousness into being. It is a form of transcendence in the sense of Jean Wahl’s “transdescendance”: a falling back into the very origin of all consciousness in a fundamental an-archic hetero-affection. This I hold to be precisely what Lévinas is after in referring to the most original sense of the present - a present for consciousness in which it is threatened to be dragged back into the anonymous materiality of being which is both its precondition and its limit, and of which there is no guarantee that it would ever escape.