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Conferences & lectures

Mérédith Laferté-Coutu | From Creation to Genesis: Husserl and Levinas on the Formation of the Ethical Subject | Philosophy Speaker Series

Monday, November 6, 2023
3 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Mérédith Laferté-Coutu, Postdoctoral Fellow in Philosophy


This event is free. All are welcome.


514-848-2424 ext. 2500


J.W. McConnell Building
1400 De Maisonneuve Blvd. W.
R. Howard Webster Library

Room 362



"Speakers and Topics of the Royaumont Conference 1957" (Husserl Archives, Leuven). Participants at the 1957 conference on Husserl included Levinas, among others.

Abstract: This paper brings Husserl and Levinas together to think about the relationship between value-independent and value-dependent forms of ethical responsibility. The major advantage of such a phenomenological approach is that it conceives ethical responsibility as tied to the various temporalities of subject formation. This explains how a person and a community can be bound by, at times, incommensurate ethical demands (for all others and for this other). Moreover, it provides a way to critically reflect on both sources of normativity without needing to choose which one is foundational. To build this argument, I first introduce Husserl’s account of ethical responsibilities as generated, often passively, alongside the very persons who bear them. Second, I connect this account with Levinas’s notion of ethical responsibility as creating the subject prior to the possibility of any valuation. By turning to Husserl’s unpublished manuscripts on ethics, to which Levinas had no access, I argue that both thinkers can ultimately be read as much more complementary than Levinas himself realized.

Mérédith Laferté-Coutu

Mérédith Laferté-Coutu is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Philosophy. This presentation stems from a manuscript on Husserl and Levinas, tentatively titled, "Responsibility and Subjectivity: Where Husserl Meets Levinas." Last May 2023, Laferté-Coutu organized an international conference at Concordia on "Glissant and Levinas: Thinking the Relation," supported by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Connection Grant.

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