Levinas and the Night of Being
Can we say that metaphysics is over? That we live, as post-phenomenology claims, after “end of metaphysics”? Through a close reading of Levinas's masterpiece Totality and Infinity, Raoul Moati shows that things are much more complicated.
Totality and Infinity proposes not so much an alternative to Heidegger’s ontology as a deeper elucidation of the meaning of “being” beyond Heidegger’s fundamental ontology. The metaphor of the night becomes crucial in order to explore a nocturnal face of the events of being beyond their ontological reduction to the understanding of being. The deployment of being beyond its intentional or ontological reduction coincides with what Levinas calls “nocturnal events.” Insofar as the light of understanding hides them, it is only through deformalizing the traditional phenomenological approach to phenomena that Levinas leads us to their exploration and their systematic and mutual implications.
Following Levinas's account of these "nocturnal events," Moati elaborates the possibility of what he calls a "metaphysics of society" that cannot be integrated into the deconstructive grasp of the "metaphysics of presence." Ultimately, Levinas and the Night of Being opens the possibility of a revival of metaphysics after the "end of metaphysics".