Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

James Kreines

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Rights Information

© 2020 Samuel J Vilenski


Levinas tends to be a difficult thinker to grasp. His writing can seem obscure, his ideas contrary to common sense and wide-held beliefs. In attempting to approach his thought, it is important to understand the currents he was responding to. This work will present that movement that was the backdrop against which Levinas was writing. It will then present his understanding of it and how he distanced himself from it. In finding that the traditional conceptions of consciousness were not enough to overcome solipsistic worries, Levinas then introduces a distinct mode of experiencing the world: through enjoyment. The present investigation juxtaposes those modes of experience and sets the path that Levinas will follow to come to his famous conclusion, “Ethics as first philosophy.”

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.