Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Philosophy

Subject Categories



College of Liberal Arts



Thesis Adviser

Lorenz Moises Festin

Defense Panel Chair

Napoleon M. Mabaquiao, Jr.

Defense Panel Member

Elenita dlR. Garcia
Jeane C. Peracullo
Maxell C. Aranilla
Noelle Leslie G. dela Cruz


In the history of Western philosophy, the metaphysical discourse has always drawn attention to the self and Supreme Being. But with the rise of modernity (ushered in by Rene Descartes in the world of philosophy), there has been a radical shift from the angle of the Supreme Being to an anthropological one. Contemporary society, however, has become too secular to the extent that the focus is always about what satisfies the self. This development, which resulted in destructive movements like the Nazi’s Socialist Party, moved Levinas to write his magnus opus, Totality and Infinity (1969), which is a profound, challenging work that seeks to enlighten humanity about the problem of modern alienation. Levinas believes that philosophy, especially in the area of moral philosophy before his time, had been too egoistic. In view of this, Levinas proposes a kind of ethics not primarily based on moral principles or rules, exemplified by the Kantian Categorical Imperative, which defines our moral relationship with the others in terms of following moral rules. It is an ethics that focuses on our moral responsibility to respond to the immediate call of the Other for help as expressed through its Face. In responding to this call, a standard way is to follow certain moral principles. This, however, results in appropriating the Other to the I, thereby undermining, or “forgetting,” the “transcendental” dignity of the Other (referring to the unique/internal/essential worth of the Other that transcends any categorization). Assumed in these moral rules is a certain definition of human dignity that is imposed on those to whom these rules are applied. In this paper, I demonstrate that this tension between the Face and transcendental dignity of the Other can be resolved through Levinas’ concept of substitution. Through substitution, the I responds to the Face of the Other while preserving its essential dignity.

Key words: Face, Other, Transcendental dignity, Substitution, Infinity.

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200 leaves



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