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Vol. 4 No. 2 (2021): Critical Phenomenology at the Collegium Phaenomenologicum

Levinas, Adorno, and the Light of Redemption: Notes on a Critical Eschatology

  • Dylan Shaul
February 9, 2023


This article brings Levinas and Adorno into conversation as an experiment in a broader effort within critical phenomenology to integrate phenomenology and critical theory . Both thinkers’ central concern with a redemptive or messianic futurity provides the basis for a shared critical eschatology, in which Levinas and Adorno mutually illuminate and enrich one another’s thought. In particular, I argue that Levinas’s and Adorno’s respective critical eschatologies share three key features: a fundamental ethical responsibility toward that which exceeds systematization or totalization (the Other and the non-identical, respectively), a refusal of philosophical theodicy in view of the historical catastrophes of the 20th century, and a foregrounding of “‘the light of redemption”’ as the key methodological tool proper to the recognition of the preceding concerns.