Kant perceives moral theology as the real, foundational theology (1788, 1817), and Lévinas nominates ethics as the first philosophy (1961, 1982)—or the first foundational theology (Purcell 2006). They emphasize the primacy of ethics over theoretical-speculative theology and ontological reasoning for different reasons. After Lévinas’s critical appraisal of Kant’s revolutionary proposal (1971), scholars have considered some resolutions to the remaining discrepancies related to their disposition toward ontology and reasoning method (Atterton 1999; Steinbock 2009; Truwant 2014). On a larger scale, Llewelyn (2000), Chalier (2002), and Basterra (2015) develop constructive approaches to overlapping themes. This study focuses on Lévinas’s less-discussed idea, i.e., proximity as the signification of infinite responsibility. The author argues that Lévinas’s notion of proximity amounts to Kant’s constant moral approximation—which provides the basis for the exigency of ethics. However, Levinasian proximity promotes radical passivity and does not borrow the premises of Kantian nomistic coherence. Lévinas construes moral approximation as a passive synthesis because infinite responsibility does not stem from the egological free being. Instead, proximity signifies that infinite responsibility arises from the Infinite that encompasses a subject, irrespective of their rationality and experience.

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