Entre Nous Essays on Thinking-of-the-Other

ISBN-10: 0231079117
ISBN-13: 9780231079112
Edition: N/A
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Description: Emmanuel Levinas is one of the most important figures of twentieth-century philosophy. Exerting a profound influence upon such thinkers as Derrida, Lyotard, Blanchot, and Irigaray, Levinas's work bridges several major gaps in the evolution of  More...

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Book details

List price: $28.95
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Publication date: 5/24/2000
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 256
Size: 6.00" wide x 9.00" long x 0.75" tall
Weight: 0.792
Language: English

Emmanuel Levinas is one of the most important figures of twentieth-century philosophy. Exerting a profound influence upon such thinkers as Derrida, Lyotard, Blanchot, and Irigaray, Levinas's work bridges several major gaps in the evolution of continental philosophy -- between modern and postmodern, phenomenology and poststructuralism, ethics and ontology. He is credited with having spurred a revitalized interest in ethics-based philosophy throughout Europe and America. Entre Nous (Between Us) is the culmination of Levinas's philosophy. Published in France a few years before his death, it gathers his most important work and reveals the development of his thought over nearly forty years of committed inquiry. Along with several trenchant interviews published here, these essays engage with issues of suffering, love, religion, culture, justice, human rights, and legal theory. Taken together, they constitute a key to Levinas's ideas on the ethical dimensions of otherness. Working from the phenomenological method of Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger, Levinas pushed beyond the limits of their framework to argue that it is ethics, not ontology, that orients philosophy, and that responsibility precedes reasoning. Ethics for Levinas means responsibility in relation to difference. Throughout his work, Levinas returns to the metaphor of the face of the other to discuss how and where responsibility enters our lives and makes philosophy necessary. For Levinas, ethics begins with our face to face interaction with another person -- seeing that person not as a reflection of one's self, nor as a threat, but as different and greater than self. Levinas moves the reader to recognize the implications of this interaction: our abiding responsibility for the other, and our concern with the other's suffering and death. Situated at the crossroads of several philosophical schools and approaches, Levinas's work illuminates a host of critical issues and has found resonances among students and scholars of literature, law, religion, and politics. Entre Nous is at once the apotheosis of his work and an accessible introduction to it. In the end, Levinas's urgent meditations upon the face of the other suggest a new foundation upon which to grasp the nature of good and evil in the tangled skein of our lives.

Emmanuel Levinas was born in Kovno, Lithuania, to an Orthodox Jewish family. Hebrew was the first language that he learned to read; he also acquired a love of the Russian classics, particularly works by Pushkin and Tolstoy which first stirred his philosophical interests. Levinas studied in Strasbourg, Freiburg, and Paris, developing a particular interest in the philosophers Henri Bergson, Edmund Husserl, and Martin Heidegger. He became a French citizen and eventually a prisoner during World War II, at which time his entire family was exterminated. After the war, Levinas taught at Poitiers, Nanterre, and eventually became professor of philosophy at the Sorbonne in 1973. He has also been deeply involved in the problems of Western Jews, including active membership in the Alliance Israelite Universelle, an organization established in 1860 to promote Jewish emancipation. The experience of the ravages of totalitarianism during World War II convinced Levinas that only a rediscovery of the specificity of Judaism could deliver the modern world from itself. Levinas's central concern is with "the other"---not the self or the cosmos, but the faces of other persons who make a claim on us and provide traces of the working of an infinite other. Totality and Infinity (1961) is a central but very difficult text. In it Levinas argues that Western philosophy has been captured by a notion of totality from which nothing is distant, exterior, or other and that, thus, when persons who are different confront such totalistic ways of living and thinking, they go to war. Moving beyond totality and war requires a notion of transcendence or infinity, which can bring peace. In fact, religion is, according to Levinas, "the bond that is established between the same and the other without constituting a totality." Levinas maintains that "the existence of God is not a question of an individual soul's uttering logical syllogisms. It cannot be proved. The existence of God . . . is sacred history itself, the sacredness of man's relation to man through which God may pass. God's existence is the story of his revelation in biblical history." Levinas has said that the most common objection to his thought is that it is utopian, for people are always asking, "Where did you ever see the ethical relation [with the other] practiced?" But Levinas is convinced that, although concern for the other is "always other than the "ways of the world,"' there are "many examples of it in the world." This is the reason that his writings on Judaism, such as Difficult Freedom (1963) and Nine Talmudic Essays (1968), are at least as important as his philosophical texts.

Emmanuel Levinas was professor of philosophy at the Sorbonne and the director of the Ecole Normale Superieur Isra�lite Orientale until his death in 1995. He exerted a profound influence on twentieth century continental philosophy, providing inspiration for Derrida, Lyotard, Blanchot, Irigary, and Finkielkraut, among others. Among his works translated into English are Proper Names, Ethics and Infinity, Time and the Other, and Otherwise than Being.

Is Ontology Fundamental?
The I and the Totality Levy-Bruhl and Contemporary Philosophy
A Man-God?
A New Rationality: On Gabriel Marcel Hermeneutics and the Beyond
Philosophy and Awakening Useless Suffering Philosophy, Justice, and Love
Nonintentional Consciousness From the One to the Other: Transcendence and Time
The Rights of Man and Good Will Diachrony and Representation
The Philosophical Determination of the Idea of Culture
Uniqueness Totality and Infinity Dialogue on Thinking-of-the-Other "Dying for..."
The Idea of the Infinite in Us The Other, Utopia, and Justice

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