Art, Religion, and Ethics Post Mortem Dei

Levinas Studies 2:105-132 (2007)
Discussions of the sources for Levinas’s philosophy have tended to focus on Greece and the Bible to the neglect of his Russo-Lithuanian cultural heritage. Almost no work has been done examining the impact of Russian literature on Levinas’s thinking. The present essay seeks to overcome this neglect by examining the influence that Dostoyevsky in particular exerted on the development of Levinas’s philosophy. I am aware that the notion of “influence” is philosophically vague, and not something whose truth can easily be ascertained. Might there be nothing more than simply a confluence between the thinking of Dostoyevsky and that of Levinas? Could it be that Levinas was attracted to the work of Dostoyevsky because he found there what he was already looking for? Although Levinas credits Dostoyevsky with introducing him to philosophy, it would be facile to draw the conclusion that St. Petersburg occupies as important a place in Levinas’s intellectual itinerary as Athens or Jerusalem. Dostoyevsky provided neither an ontology nor any of the “pre-philosophical experiences” (EI 24) on which, according to Levinas, all philosophical thought rests. But he did give Levinas a way to think about art, religion, and, most importantly of all, ethics after the Holocaust, an event that more than any other, according to Levinas, demonstrated the absolute failure of philosophical theodicy. It was Dostoyevsky, I submit, rather than the Bible, the Greeks, or Kant who taught Levinas that the moral imperative, addressed to the singular existing individual, supersedes the religious imperative, whose validity is placed in question by the suffering of innocents and the absence of the all-powerful and providential God of theism
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.5840/levinas200727
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 16,707
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Nicholas H. Smith (2008). Levinas, Habermas and Modernity. Philosophy and Social Criticism 34 (6):643-664.
Silvia Benso (2008). Aesth-Ethics. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy 13 (1):163-183.
David R. Harrington (2000). Levinas, Theistic Language, and Psychology. Philosophy in the Contemporary World 7 (1):53-58.

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

4 ( #424,619 of 1,726,249 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

1 ( #369,877 of 1,726,249 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.