In the thought of Emmanuel Levinas’, the issue of the outrageousness of suffering is analysed from many different points of view: evil as être rivé [to be riveted] on one’s own biological body; elemental evil that reaches its apex in hitlerism; physical, but also mental pain, whose fundamental nature is unassumability, a situation in which, when it is suffering, the conscience happens seems to be bound. In the face of evil, Levinas maintains the hollowness of all theodicy, and he always thinks of suffering as useless suffering – souffrance inutile – for the one that feels summoned to face it: a prelude and an anticipation of death. What is announced in suffering ithus deposes the sovereign subject: one who is struck by death is forced to an extreme passivity and to suffer (pâtir) more than he can undergo (subir). Still, from the suffering and death of the other comes a unique meaning that can be given to suffering: the appeal to an inalienable responsibility i.e. répondre à l’autre and répondre de l’autre: to serve as a warrant for the other and to answer to the other: to his suffering and to his very death, so that suffering and death do not condemn his existence in insignificance.

Keywords: Suffering; Death; Passivity; Otherness; Responsibility.