, Volume 40, Issue 3, pp 307-330

Gestures of work: Levinas and Hegel

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Abstract

What is Levinas's relation to Hegel, the thinker who seems to summarize everything which Levinas's philosophy opposes, yet with whom Levinas never enters a sustained philosophical engagement? An answer can be found through an analysis of the concept of work, understood both as activity of labor and product thereof. The concept of work reveals that, despite the apparent (but superficial) sense of opposition, Levinas's philosophy works in a deliberately noncommittal, or, to use a Levinasian expression, ``dis-interested'' mode with respect to Hegel. Such mode of disinterstedness expresses an ethical gesture of joyful hospitality that neither confirms nor refutes the German philosopher but rather opens him up to an eschatological dimension.