Husserl’s phenomenology is no less an ontology, a study of essences, than Heidegger’s fundamental ontology is a phenomenology. Both Heidegger and Husserl describe what the Greeks called the physical, in the wide sense that Heidegger finds this word to have had for them. If we understand the word in this wide sense we understand why Levinas says that the main topic of his thinking is metaphysical. It is metaphysical because it is ethical. And it is ethical not because he aims to present a code or a metaphysics of ethics. Kant’s groundwork of the metaphysics of ethics suggests an analogy between Kantian respect and Heideggerian letting be. But it is being that is to be let be according to Heidegger, and it is the moral law which is to be respected according to Kant. The other person is to be respected, according to Kant, only because the other person is a rational agent, and he is a rational agent only in so far as he personifies the moral law and is capable of exercising a freedom to refrain from following rules of behaviour that could not be universally followed or willed. By the same standard the agent is entitled and obliged to respect himself. He respects the law which, without of course suspending them,

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