Transcendence and IntelligibilityFirst of all, don't let the title scare you. Transcendence= What we can't understand, what is out of our reach. Intelligibility= What we can understand, what is within our reach. To understand this essay, you're going to have to understand what Levinas means by the Other. The Other is what's not me. Generally, it's other people, but it can also stand for animals, for anything that's different from me.
For Levinas, philosophy should start, not by trying to reduce the Other, but by trying to live with the other. Levinas says that we should start with "ethics," that is we need to start by recognizing our responsibility to others, and then move to other issues.
AnalysisWhile I didn't cover everything in Levinas's lecture, I tried to give a basic idea of what's important to Levinas. When philosophy strays from, "How then should I live," it's really lost its purpose. We can't be so consumed with knowledge that we miss people. "Oh, that's what women do." "Oh, his family's just like that." "Oh, he's just not very bright." All too often, we reduce other people so that we can dismiss our responsibilities (For more on this, see my review of Derrida's The Gift of Death).
I think we need to be careful as Christians that we don't baptize something that's really not Christian. On the one hand, we can't get caught up in talking about the Other so that we forget about Christ. On the other hand, we can get our judgment of other people confused with God's judgment. We are not God, and we need to approach both God and other people with the humble knowledge that we will never completely understand them. When we treat people dismissively, it's very easy to forget our responsibility to them.