To the Other An Introduction to the Philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas

ISBN-10: 1557530246
ISBN-13: 9781557530240
Edition: 1993
List price: $21.95
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Description: The fruit of the author's many courses on Emmanuel Levinas in Europe and the United States, this study is a clear introduction for graduate students and scholars who are not yet familiar with Levinas's difficult but exceptionally important oeuvre.  More...

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Book details

List price: $21.95
Copyright year: 1993
Publisher: Purdue University Press
Publication date: 2/2/2005
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 247
Size: 6.00" wide x 8.75" long x 1.00" tall
Weight: 0.946

The fruit of the author's many courses on Emmanuel Levinas in Europe and the United States, this study is a clear introduction for graduate students and scholars who are not yet familiar with Levinas's difficult but exceptionally important oeuvre. After a first chapter on the existential background and the key issues of his thought, chapters 2, 3, and 4 concentrate on and include a short text, "Philosophy and the idea of the Infinite," which contains the program of Levinas's entire oeuvre. Chapter 5 is a companion to the reading of Levinas's first opus magnum, Totality and the Infinite. It analyzes the structure of this book and shows how its questions and answers adhere together. "Through phenomenology toward a saying beyond phenomena and essence" could be the summary of Levinas's attempt to think, with and against Martin Heidegger, the otherness of the Other. This is brought out even more clearly in his second opus magnum, Otherwise Than Being or Beyond Essence, whose significance is shown in chapter 6. A bibliography is added to facilitate further study.

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.

Preface
List of Abbreviations
The One for the Other
Thought and Existence
Roots and Traditions
A Global Characterization of Levinas's Attitude toward Heidegger's Thought
Phenomenology
Otherness
The Other and I
The-One-for-the-Other
Equality and Asymmetry
Intersubjectivity and Society
Language and Thought
Time
God
Method
A Commentary on "Philosophy and the Idea of the Infinite"
Autonomy and Heteronomy
The Primacy of the Same, or Narcissism
Narcissism and Western Thought
The Other As the Calling into Question of Freedom
Heideggerian Ontology As a Philosophy of the Same
The Idea of the Infinite
The Idea of the Infinite and the Face of the Other
The Idea of the Infinite As Desire
The Idea of the Infinite and Conscience
Text: "La philosophie et l'idee de l'Infini"
Autonomie et Heteronomie
Le primat du Meme ou le narcissisme
L'idee de l'Infini
L'idee de l'infini et le visage d'Autrui
L'idee de l'infini comme desir
L'idee de l'infini et la conscience morale
Text and Commentary: "Philosophy and the Idea of the Infinite"
Autonomy and Heteronomy
Narcissism, or the Primacy of the Same
The Idea of the Infinite
The Idea of the Infinite and the Face of the Other
The Idea of the Infinite Is Desire
The Idea of the Infinite and Conscience
A Key to Totality and Infinity
The Preface
The Same and the Other
Interiority and Economy
The Face and Exteriority
Beyond the Face
Conclusions
Beyond Being
Select Bibliography
Index

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