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Belarev A.N. The Face of the Other in Emmanuel Levinas and Alexey Uhktomsky. Studia Litterarum, 2017, vol. 2, no 4, pp. 30–43. (In Russ.) DOI:10.22455/2500-4247-2017-2-4-30-43

Author: Alexey N. Belarev
Information about the author:

Alexander N. Belarev, Postgraduate Student, A.M. Gorky Institute of the World Literature of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Povarskaya 25 a, 121069 Moscow, Russia.

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Received: August 17, 2017
Published: December 25, 2017
Issue: 2017 Vol. 2, №4
Department: Literary Theory
Pages: 30-43

UDK: 82.1 + 130.2
BBK: 83 + 87
Keywords: Emmanuel Levinas, Alexey Alexejevich Ukhtomsky, the face, the Other, ethics, interlocutor, Mikhail Bakhtin, phenomenology, anthropology, subject, dialogue.


The author compares ethical concepts of a Russian physiologist and philosopher Alexey A. Ukhtomsky and a French philosopher Emmanuel Levinas. Both use the word “face” as a philosophical term. The paper examines the “face” as a key image in the work of both authors which helped them understand the meaning of dialogue and social interaction. The fact that the Russian word “litzo” (“face”) has two different meanings (a “person” and a “human face”) was very important for Ukhtomsky. For the better understanding of Levinas, it is necessary to take in account the interaction of Russian, Hebrew, and French languages as part of the linguistic consciousness of this author. Both philosophers considered ethics to be philosophia prima. The encounter with the face of the Other is the central event in the personality development for both Levinas and Ukhtomsky. For Levinas, the study of the face was a way to transcend the limits of phenomenology because the face is not a “common” phenomenon. For Ukhtomsky, the image of the face pointed at the problematic character of sciences. It was part of his search for the non-theoretical knowledge, e. g. knowledge that accounts not only for the universal but also for the individual and is capable of describing not only impersonal structures and objects but also individual and unique events. Both thinkers thus were seeking to reconsider religious tradition in the context of contemporary science and philosophy. Ukhtomsky arrives at the idea of asymmetrical relationship between the “I” and the “Other” independently of Levinas. Whereas Levinas describes the experience of the encounter with the Other as a kind of epiphany, Ukhtomsky calls God “the First and the Ultimate Interlocutor.” The encounter with the Other for both philosophers is, namely, a mundane, everyday analogue of the Revelation.


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