, Volume 44, Issue 3, pp 291-295

Possible but never finished

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…The only truth we have must emerge out of history. It does not dwell in a timeless realm beyond history. We must develop the idea of a growing truth that has a history. Philosophy must be possible but never finished.

John Wild, “The Things I Am Clear About in Philosophy”

This essay is found in Sugarman and Duncan (2006). The quoted passage appears on p. 114.

During the spring in 2005, I worked at the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, where I was completing a book called Ethics During and After the Holocaust. One of its chapters drew upon an idea from Emmanuel Levinas’s Totality and Infinity, namely, that it is important to know whether, in Levinas’s words, we are “duped by morality.”

Levinas (1969).

On the particular day I am recalling, my reading took me to the Introduction of the English translation of Totality and Infinity that I was using. As I read those pages, the rhythm and cadence of the prose, as well as the con