Between the face and the voice: Bakhtin meets Levinas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The essay draws on a little-known fragment from M.M. Bakhtin's Draft Exercise Notebooks of 1943 to highlight both the affinities and the divergences of the respective philosophical projects of Bakhtin and Emmanuel Levinas. The first part of the discussion follows their parallel itineraries through several points of convergence, from a sense of profound philosophical disenchantment to a conception of the ethical subject as living on borderlines, facing the other, irremediably vulnerable and infinitely responsible. The second part focuses on the "dialogic impasse" and its attempted resolution through gestures of triangulation, evidenced in Levinas's "third" and Bakhtin's "superaddresee." The third part of the discussion, beginning with Bakhtin's and Levinas's different readings of Dostoevsky, focuses on the ultimate divergence of their philosophical positions, and suggests that Bakhtin's discursive conception of subjectivity may point the direction towards a more viable thinking of a post-metaphysical ethics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-58
Number of pages16
JournalContinental Philosophy Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements I would like to thank the Israel Science Foundation (ISF) for a research grant which has enabled my prolonged engagement with the work of Bakhtin.


  • Bakhtin
  • Ethics
  • Face
  • Levinas
  • Love
  • Subjectivity
  • Superaddressee
  • The third
  • Voice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy


Dive into the research topics of 'Between the face and the voice: Bakhtin meets Levinas'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this