Mr Chen Feng

Research project: The Problem of History: Levinas on the Side of the Positioned


My thesis investigates the problem of history in one of Levinas' major work Totality and Infinity. The problem of history has been one of the most controversial topics in the field of Levinas studies. On the one hand, the social-political approach argues that for Levinas' philosophy to be valuable in the social-political and pragmatic realm, the other must always be encountered as historical. The philosophical and rigorous approach, on the other hand, posits that to construe the Other as the historical other necessarily compromises the purity of the notion of the absolutely other and leads to an unjust reading of Levinas. Through a critical reading of Totality and Infinity, I argue that neither the social-political approach nor the philosophical approach is adequate to convey Levinas' notion of the Other rigorously because they both interpret the relationship between totality and infinity as mutually exclusive notions within an antithesis that can be overlooked from a panoramic position. The primary question is how to address the controversy of the problem of history in Levinas in a more productive fashion and depart from the current ostensibly content and stagnating situation in the field of Levinas studies. I intend to answer this question through a radical reading of Totality and Infinity, which conditions the investigation for the possibility of a trans-evaluation of our understanding of the "Other" in Levinas. 


In 2017, I obtained a BA in both Philosophy and Political Science at Allegheny College. In 2019, I obtained my MA in Philosophy at Brock University. I am currently a Ph.D. candidate at CRMEP. My research interest include Levinas, Derrida, and phenomenology. 

Areas of research interest

  • Emmanuel Levinas
  • Martin Heidegger
  • Jacques Derrida
  • Jacques Lacan
  • Michel Foucault


  • BA in Philosophy, Allegheny College
  • BA in Political Science, Allegheny College
  • MA in Philosophy, Brock University