This article concerns a concept I call “corporeal facticity.” This concept, which refers to the basic existential experience of embodiment as an inescapable self-enchainment, is introduced in Levinas’s 1934 essay “Reflections on the Philosophy of Hitlerism.” While others have interpreted this perplexing early essay in liberal and anti-fatalist terms, I argue that its powerful political arguments against both liberalism and Nazi fascism succeed only if we recognize that Levinas is affirming the fatalism of corporeal facticity as a basic existential condition rather than denouncing it, as others have thought, as the central error of Hitlerism or as the link between Hitlerism and Heidegger. After further showing how Levinas’s account furnishes a complex anti-liberal diagnosis of Hitlerian biological racism, I conclude by sketching how the 1934 thesis of corporeal facticity is implicitly renewed in the conception of ethical embodiment that Levinas develops at the other end of his career in Otherwise than Being (1974).


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pp. 426-438
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