Martin Heidegger's overt alliance with the Nazis and the specific relation between this alliance and his philosophical thought - the degree to which his concepts are linked to a thoroughly disreputable set of political beliefs - have been the topic of a storm of recent debate. Written ten years before this debate, this study by France's leading sociologist and cultural theorist is both a precursor of that debate and an analysis of the institutional mechanisms involved in the production of philosophical (...) discourse. Though Heidegger is aware of and acknowledges the legitimacy of purely philosophical issues (in his references to canonic authors, traditional problems, and respect for academic taboos), Bourdieu points out that the complexity and abstraction of Heidegger's philosophical discourse stems from its situation in the cultural field, where two social and intellentual dimensions - political thought and academic thought - intersect. Bourdieu concludes by suggesting that Heidegger should not be considered as a Nazi ideologist, that there is no place in Heidegger's philosophical ideas for a racist conception of the human being. Rather, he sees Heidegger's thought as a structural equivalent in the field of philosophy of the 'conservative revolution', of which nazism is but one manifestation. (shrink)
Synthesizing forty years' work by France's leading sociologist, this book exemplifies Bourdieu's unique ability to link sociological theory, historical information, and philosophical thought. It makes explicit the presuppositions of a state of 'scholasticism', a certain leisure liberated from the urgencies of the world. Philosophers have brought these presuppositions into the order of discourse, more to legitimate than analyze them, and this is the primary systematic, epistemological, ethical, and aesthetic error that Bourdieu subjects to methodological critique. Pascalian because he, (...) too, was concerned with symbolic power, he refused the temptation of foundationalist thinking, attended to 'ordinary people', and was determined to seek the reason for seemingly illogical behavior rather than simply condemning it. Bourdieu charts a negative philosophy, whose intellectual debt to such other 'heretical' philosophers as Wittgenstein, Austin, Dewey, and Peirce, renews traditional questioning of concepts of violence, power, time, history, the universal, and the purpose and direction of existence. (shrink)
Over the past four decades, French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu produced one of the most imaginative and subtle bodies of social theory of the postwar era. When he died in 2002, he was considered to be the most influential sociologist in the world and a thinker on a par with Foucault and Le;vi-Strauss—a public intellectual as important to his generation as Sartre was to his. Sketch for a Self-Analysis is the ultimate outcome of Bourdieu’s lifelong preoccupation with reflexivity. Vehemently (...) not an autobiography, this unique book is instead an application of Bourdieu’s theories to his own life and intellectual trajectory; along the way it offers compelling and intimate insights into the most important French intellectuals of the time—including Foucault, Sartre, Aron, Althusser, and de Beauvoir—as well as Bourdieu’s own formative experiences at boarding school and his moral outrage at the colonial war in Algeria. (shrink)
Over the last four decades, the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu produced one of the most imaginative and subtle bodies of social theory of the postwar era. When he died two years ago, he was considered to be a thinker on a par with Foucault, Barthes, and Lacan--a public intellectual as influential to his generation as Sartre was to his. Science of Science and Reflexivity will be welcomed as a companion volume to Bourdieu's now seminal An Invitation to Reflexive (...) Sociology . In this posthumous work, Bourdieu declares that science is in danger of becoming a handmaiden to biotechnology, medicine, genetic engineering, and military research--that it risks falling under the control of industrial corporations that seek to exploit it for monopolies and profit. Science thus endangered can become detrimental to mankind. The line between pure and applied science, therefore, must be subjected to intense theoretical scrutiny. Bourdieu's goals in Science of Science and Reflexivity are to identify the social conditions in which science develops in order to reclaim its objectivity and to rescue it from relativism and the forces that might exploit it. In the grand tradition of scientific reflections on science, Bourdieu provides a sociological analysis of the discipline as something capable of producing transhistorical truths he presents an incisive critique of the main currents in the study of science throughout the past half century and he offers a spirited defense of science against encroaching political and economic forces. A masterful summation of the principles underlying Bourdieu's oeuvre and a memoir of his own scientific journey, Science of Science and Reflexivity is a capstone to one of the most important and prodigious careers in the field of sociology. (shrink)
The controversial case of Terri Schiavo came to a close on March 31, 2005, with her death following the removal of a percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy tube. This event followed years of controversy and social upheaval. Voices from across the entire political and cultural spectrums filled the airwaves and op-ed pages of major newspapers. Protests ensued outside of Ms. Schiavo’s care facility. Ms. Schiavo’s parents published videos of their daughter on the internet in an effort to prove that she was not (...) in a vegetative state and could potentially recover. There is a certain mystery to the entire controversy given the fact that, legally, it was largely a matter of settled law. Precedent cases and legal statutes clearly set out the proper procedures and decisions to be followed in this case. Nonetheless, powerful challenges and virulent opposition to these standards arose. Through an investigation of this case as well as a comparative study of the case of Dax Cowart (in particular, the documentary depictions of Dax Cowart’s case) and of a photograph by Joel-Peter Witkin, I plan to investigate the source of these social upheavals and hypothesize that they were largely the result of a phenomenological reaction to the human face. (shrink)
Emmanuel Levinas (1905-1995) is at the center of the renewed debate over the question of the ethical. In the context of the phenomenological tradition, Levinas defines ethics as an originary response to the face of the other. Between 1982 and 1992, Levinas gave numerous interviews, closing a distinguished sixty-year career. Of the twenty interviews collected in this volume, seventeen appear in English for the first time. In the interviews Levinas sets forth the central features of his ethical philosophy. He (...) underlies his dedication to the phenomenological search for the concrete and the nonformal signification of alterity. He also elaborates on issues that do not receive extensive treatment in his formal philosophical works, including the question of pre-philosophical experiences, the ethical signification of money, justice, and the State. The informality of the interviews prompt Levinas to address matters about which he is reticent in his published works. (shrink)
Foucault's theory of disciplinary power and Bourdieu's theory of symbolic power are among the most innovative attempts in recent social thought to come to terms with the increasingly elusive character of power in modern society. Both theories are based on cri tiques of subject-centered analyses of power and offer original accounts of modern social institutions. But Foucault's critique of the subject is so radical that it makes it impossible to identify any deter minate social location of the exercise of (...) power or of resistance to its operations. Bourdieu's theory of practice in terms of the symbolically mediated interaction between the habitus and social structure avoids these problems by connecting relations of domination both to identi fiable social agents and to the institutions of the modern state. However, Bourdieu's strategic model of social action remains too narrow to allow for the possibility of autonomous agency and an emancipatory political praxis. The theory of symbolic power must be supplemented by a normative conception of practical reason if its emancipatory potential is to be realized. Key Words: agency habitus modernity power resistance. (shrink)
This article criticizes Bourdieu's and Giddens's overintellectualizing accounts of human activity on the basis of Wittgenstein's insights into practical under standing. Part 1 describes these two theorists' conceptions of a homology between the organization of practices (spatial-temporal manifolds of action) and the governance of individual actions. Part 2 draws on Wittgenstein's discussions of linguistic definition and following a rule to criticize these conceptions for ascribing content to the practical understanding they claim governs action. Part 3 then suggests an alternative, (...) Wittgensteinian account of the homology between practices and actions that avoids this pitfall. (shrink)
There are two strands in Bourdieu's sociological writings. On the one hand, Bourdieu argues for a theoretical position one might term his "practical theory" which emphasizes virtuosic interactions between individuals. On the other hand, and most frequently, Bourdieu appeals to the concept of the habitus according to which society consists of objective structures and determined-and isolated-individuals. Although Bourdieu believes that the habitus is compatible with his practical theory and overcomes the impasse of objectivism and subjectivism in (...) social theory, neither claim is the case; the habitus is incompatible with his practical theory, and it retreats quickly into objectivism. However, Bourdieu's practical theory does offer a way out of the impasse of objectivism and subjectivism by focussing on the intersubjective interactions between individuals. (shrink)
Pierre Bourdieu has developed a philosophy of social science, grounded in the phenomenological tradition, which treats knowledge as a practical ability embodied in skilful behaviour, rather than an intellectual capacity for the representation and manipulation of propositional knowledge. He invokes Wittgenstein’s remarks on rule-following as one way of explicating the idea that knowledge is a skill. Bourdieu’s conception of tacit knowledge is a dispositional one, adopted to avoid a perceived dilemma for methodological individualism. That dilemma requires either the (...) explanation of regularities in social behaviour as the result of the tacit representation of procedural rules (‘legalism’) or the self-conscious representation of behavioural goals (‘voluntarism’) by individuals. After explaining the apparent dilemma, I then argue that Wittgenstein’s remarks on rule following actually undermine, rather than support, a dispositional solution. Nonetheless, the philosophy of social science can survive without a dispositional account of knowledge. Such a social science needs, firstly, to embrace one horn of the dilemma, voluntarism, provided that the relevant regularities can be explained as unintended consequences of agents’ self-represented intentions. Secondly, such a social science should treat theorists’ interpretations as unifying generalizations, not hypotheses about the acquisition of tacit knowledge. Finally, where appeal to cognitive psychology can distinguish otherwise equivalent theories in social science, social science should incorporate the data of cognitive psychology concerning tacit mental processes. (shrink)
Critics of Levinas reject the notion that the abstract face of the other can ground ethics and generate specific responsibilities. To the contrary, I argue that the face does ground a practical and pragmatic ethics. Drawing on Levinas' phenomenological analyses of the enjoying subject, I show that the face communicates an imperative to the subject that obligates her or him to repair the concrete context of action in which the subject encounters the other. My elucidation takes very seriously the notion (...) that the face speaks and the face is a body. When coupled with a pragmatic account of communication, Levinas gives us a robust elucidation of the phenomenological and pragmatic dimensions of ethical responsibility. Key Words: embodiment ethics face Emmanuel Levinas phenomenology pragmatics responsibility. (shrink)
An internal reconstruction and an immanent critique of Bourdieu's generative structuralism is presented. Rather than starting with the concept of "habitus," as is usually done, the article tries to systematically reconstruct Bourdieu's theory by an analysis of the relational logic that permeates his whole work. Tracing the debt Bourdieu's approach owes to Bachelard's rationalism and Cassirer's relationalism, the article examines Bourdieu's epistemological writings of the 1960s and 70s. It tries to make the case that Bourdieu's (...) sociological metascience represents a rationalist version of Bhaskar's critical realism, and enjoins Bourdieu to give heed to the realist turn in the philosophy of the natural and the social sciences. The article shows how Bourdieu's epistemological assumptions are reflected in his primary theoretical constructs of "habitus" and "field." To concretize their discussion, it analyzes Bourdieu's reinterpretation of Weber in his theory of the field of religion and of the young Mannheim in his theory of the scientific field. (shrink)
I give an account of Max Weber's views concerning the basis of the objectivity of the cultural sciences. In this connection, I offer a critical discussion of his distinction between different "value spheres," each with its own "intrinsic logic." I then consider parallels between Weber's "value spheres" and central elements of Bourdieu's field theory and Luhmann's systems theory, and try to show to what extent Bourdieu's and Luhmann's problems, and the solutions they suggest, can be seen as similar (...) to Weber's. I conclude by a general consideration of Weber's, Bourdieu's, and Luhmann's approach to the problem of objectivity. Key Words: Max Weber Pierre Bourdieu Niklas Luhmann social differentiation objectivity value spheres inherent logic field theory systems theory. (shrink)
Pierre Bourdieu's theory of practice is an unsung classic of contemporary social philosophy. It combines the first analysis by a social theorist of the practical intelligibility governing action with an exciting perspective on how the structure of social phenomena determines and is itself perpetuated by action. Bourdieu, however, misinterprets his own theory of intelligibility as a theory of the causal generation of action. Moreover, he attempts to analyze the underlying structure of intelligibility with a set of fundamental oppositions (...) that at the same time structure the social phenomena found in the worlds through which people live. It is argued that practical intelligibility has no underlying structure, that the fundamental oppositions apply at best to traditional societies alone, and that these oppositions do not even structure intelligibility in such societies but, instead, are only a descriptive scheme with which a social scientist can reconstruct social phenomena in them. The outline of a more adequate account of practical intelligibility is also presented. (shrink)
Pierre Bourdieu's theory of cultural change is more powerful and comprehensive than other recent theories, which neglect one or another of the important dimensions of cultural markets. Bourdieu's theory conceptualizes both the supply and demand sides of the market, as well as specifying their interaction with external social factors. Two cases from American culture are developed to demonstrate the explanatory power of Bourdieu's theory of cultural change: the demise of tail fins in automobile design and the fall (...) of modernism in architecture. These cases reveal, however, that Bourdieu's theory fails to account for the leveling of cultural hierarchies and the emergence of pluralized cultural fields. The general conditions for such leveling and pluralization are developed from a comparison of the two cases. (shrink)
Hans Joas's The Creativity of Action (1996) posits that conceiving of all action as fundamentally creative would overcome problems inherent in rational and normative theories of action and would provide an alternative basis for action-based theories of macrosociological phenomena. Joas conceives of creativity as a response to the frustration of "prereflective aspirations," which necessitates innovative adjustment to reestablish habitual intentions. This conceptualization creates an unsupportable duality between habitual action and creativity that neglects other possible sources of creative action, including habit (...) itself. Combining strengths from Bourdieu's concept of habitus, creativity can be redefined as the necessary adaption of habitual practices to specific contexts of action. Creative action continually introduces novel possibilities in practical action and provokes a variety of social responses to its products. This revised concept of creativity overcomes the dichotomy presented by Joas, identifies a microsocial source of innovation in creative action, and calls attention to patterns of creative authority in society at large. (shrink)
As a means to challenge and diminish the hold of mainstream curriculum's claim of being a colorblind, politically neutral text, we will address two particular features that partially, though significantly, constitute the hidden curriculum in the United States—race and class—historically studied as separate social issues. Race and class have been embedded within the institutional curriculum from the beginning in the US; though rarely acknowledged as intertwined issues. We illustrate how the theoretical and interpretive structure of French philosopher and sociologist Pierre (...)Bourdieu can productively subsume the insights of critical race theory into its framework in a way that provides a more robust understanding of how race and class continue to be socially reproduced in schools. To perform this task we examine, through Bourdieu's constructs of habitus, field, capital, symbolic violence and misrecognition, the ways in which race, in general, and whiteness, specifically, influences pedagogical and curricular existence within the institutional superstructure of school. (shrink)
The aim of this article is to contribute to a philosophy of technics by proposing an answer to the following question: what is the nature of the human body as an element of technical systems? The argument focuses on an examination of the phenomenon of bodily technics. This examination is guided by the conviction that Pierre Bourdieu's social theory can be read as contributing significantly to an answer to the above question. However, since Bourdieu's project is not directly (...) aimed at enhancing our understanding of the technicity of the human body, a reading of Marcel Mauss's seminal essay on bodily technics is also discussed to set the stage for an examination of the technicity of the body and to justify the manner in which Bourdieu's theory is read here. Through a careful study of the key notions of habitus, field, practice, time and rule, Bourdieu's social theory is systematically presented and explored for its contribution to an understanding of the question raised in this article. In conclusion, a number of remarks are made on how the relation between Mauss and Bourdieu is to be understood and on the argumentative strength of Bourdieu's work. (shrink)
: Emmanuel Levinas compares ethical responsibility to a maternal body who bears the Other in the same without assimilation. In explicating this trope, he refers to a biblical passage in which Moses is like a "wet nurse" bearing Others whom he has "neither conceived nor given birth to" (Num. 11:12). A close reading of this passage raises questions about ethics, maternity, and sexual difference, for both the concept of ethical substitution and the material practice of mothering.
Despite Searle''s claim of theoretical proximity between his concept of the Background and Bourdieu''s concept of the habitus, there is at least one substantial difference in the respective ways in which these concepts have been elaborated: the Background is conceived as a nonintentional neurophysiological reality whereas the habitus is fully intentional, or rather constitutes a nonrepresentational level of intentionality completely overlooked from Searle''s standpoint. Moreover, each concept implicates a distinct perspective on social reality: the former suggests that significance is (...) superimposed yet essentially external to this reality; the latter indicates that significance is immanent. I elaborate on the comparison between the two concepts/perspectives from different angles in order to highlight the existing differences as well as explore possible underlying affinities, which depend upon reconsidering the conventional understanding of intentionality as an exclusive attribute of mental phenomena. I show that Searle''s analysis of the Background is inundated with indications of the undeniably intentional character of something he attempts to define as a nonintentional reality. Finally, I discuss the connection between the immanence of significance in Bourdieu''s account of social reality and the conflict-centered orientation of this account. This dimension is noticeably absent from Searle''s theorizing of the social. (shrink)
This paper challenges the commonly made claim that the work of Pierre Bourdieu is fundamentally anti-Hegelian in orientation. In contrast, it argues that the development of Bourdieu's work from its earliest structuralist through its later 'post-structuralist' phase is better described in terms of a shift from a late nineteenth century neo-Kantian to a distinctly Hegelian post-Kantian outlook. In his break with structuralism, Bourdieu appealed to a bodily based 'logic of practice' to explain the binaristic logic of Lévi-Strauss' (...) structuralist analyses of myth. Effectively working within the tradition of the Durkheimian approach to symbolic classification, Lévi-Strauss had inherited Durkheim's distinctly neo-Kantian understanding of the role of categories in experience and action—an account that conflated two forms of representation—'intuitions' and 'concepts—that Kant himself had held distinct. Bourdieu's appeal to the role of the body's dispositional habitus can be considered as a retrieval of Hegel's earlier quite different reworking of Kant's intuition-concept distinction in terms of distinct 'logics' with different forms of 'negation'. Bourdieu commonly acknowledged the parallels of his analyses of social life to those of Hegel, but opposed Hegelianism because he believed that Hegel had remained entrapped within the dynamics of mythopoeic thought. In contrast, Durkheim and Lévi-Strauss, he claimed, by instituting a science of myth, had broken with it. This criticism of Hegel, however, relies on an understanding of his philosophy that has been rejected by many contemporary Hegel scholars, and without it, the gap separating Hegel and Bourdieu narrows dramatically. (shrink)
Bringing Pierre Bourdieu to Science and Technology Studies Content Type Journal Article Pages 263-273 DOI 10.1007/s11024-011-9174-2 Authors Mathieu Albert, Wilson Centre and Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, 200 Elizabeth Street , Eaton-South 1-581, Toronto, ON M5G 2C4, Canada Daniel Lee Kleinman, Department of Community and Environmental Sociology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 348 Agricultural Hall 1450 Linden Drive, Madison, WI 53706, USA Journal Minerva Online ISSN 1573-1871 Print ISSN 0026-4695 Journal Volume Volume 49 Journal Issue Volume 49, (...) Number 3. (shrink)
Pierre Bourdieu is now recognized as one of the key contemporary critics of culture and the visual arts. Art Rules analyses Bourdieu's work on the visual arts to provide the first overview of his theory of culture and aesthetics. Bourdieu's engagement with both postmodernism and the problem of aesthetics provides a new way of analyzing the visual arts. His interest is in how artistic fields function and the implications their processes have for art and artistic practice. Art (...) Rules applies Bourdieu's theory of practice to the three fields of museums, photography and painting. These practical examples are used as a springboard to address visual arts in the 21st Century and to establish Bourdieu's rules of art. (shrink)
From the relative obscurity in which Levinas's work languished until very recently, Emmanuel Levinas must now be judged as one of the most influential figures in contemporary Continental philosophy. There is no better guide than John Lewelyn to lead one through the thickets of Levinas's prose. Bursting with questions, multiple references, cascading citations and multilingual puns and nuances, this book is the compelling record of intellectual obsession. Taking as its guiding thre the theme of genealogy, the book gives a (...) broadly chronological and impressively manageable presentation of the whole sweep of the Levinas's work. Balanced and finely grained, Llewelyn confronts questions of method, Heidegger, phenomenology, the theme of sensibility, religion, enjoyment, feminity, eros, justice and the political. The book reaches a stunning climax in a series of chapters that give a hestitant but tolerant discussion of the question of God in Levinas, the relation to Levinasian ethics to Nietzschean genealogy, and an extraordinary discussion of metaphor that leads into a wholly original analysis of Levinas's poetics and metaphorics. The book concludes with a sensitive reading of the autobiographical epigraphs to Levinas's Otherwise than Being... and a consideration of the Holocaust. (shrink)
Bourdieu's theory of culture offers a rich conceptual resource for the social-scientific study of religion. In particular, his analysis of cultural capital as a medium of social relations suggests an economic model of religion alternative to that championed by rational choice theorists. After evaluating Bourdieu's limited writings on religion, this paper draws upon his wider work to craft a new model of "spiritual capital." Distinct from Iannaccone's and Stark and Finke's visions of "religious capital," this Bourdieuian model treats (...) religious knowledge, competencies, and preferences as positional goods within a competitive symbolic economy. The valuation of spiritual capital is the object of continuous struggle and is subject to considerable temporal and subcultural variation. A model of spiritual capital illuminates such phenomena as religious conversion, devotional eclecticism, religious fads, and social mobility. It also suggests some necessary modifications to Bourdieu's theoretical system, particularly his understanding of individual agency, cultural production, and the relative autonomy of fields. (shrink)
The paper examines Pierre Bourdieu’s extensive writings on the production of scientific knowledge. The study shows that Bourdieu offered not one but two - significantly different - approaches to scientific knowledge production, one formulated in his theoretical, or programmatic, writings on the subject, the other developed in his empirical writings. Addressing the question as to the relevance of Bourdieu’s work for science studies, the analysis argues that the former of these two approaches is at once very visible (...) in Bourdieu’s work but characterized by limitations from the standpoint of scholarship in STS, whereas the latter approach is less conspicuous but of broader empirical value. (shrink)
This paper investigates the implications of Pierre Bourdieus recent reformulation of his social theory as a critique of scholarly reason. This reformulation is said to point towards a definition of social theory as a sociologically informed version of the Kantian concept of critique. It is argued that, by this means, Bourdieu is able to extend and develop the critique of intellectualism in the philosophies of Wittgenstein and Merleau-Ponty and, furthermore, to ground this critique by showing how the intellectualist (...) error arises from a failure to reflect on the social conditions of possibility of reason. The three forms of the critique of scholarly reason (pertaining to the theoretical, the moral-practical and the aesthetic forms of reason) are then briefly presented. In the final section, the critique of scholarly reason is shown to provide the basis for a convincing response to critiques of Bourdieus work from critical theorists drawing on Habermass conception of discursive rationality. In particular, it is argued that critical theorists influenced by Habermas typically confuse practical reflexivity with intellectual reflection - the standpoint of scholarly reason. Finally, it is shown that Bourdieus own account of the unity of theory and practice is nonetheless deficient, and must be supplanted with an account centred on the idea of existential clarification. Key Words: Bourdieu critical theory Habermas intellectualism reflexivity. (shrink)
For Emmanuel Levinas objectivity is intersubjectively constituted. But this intersubjectivity is not, as in Merleau-Ponty, the intercorporeality of perceivers nor, as in Heidegger, the active correlation of practical agents. It has an ethical structure; it is the presence, to each cognitive subject, of others who contest and judge him. But does not the exposure of each cognitive subject to the wants and needs of others result in the constitution of a common practical field, which is not yet the objective (...) world of scientific cognition? For Levinas, the constitution of a world common to all is governed by the practice of justice. Justice begins when above the elf and the other there intervenes a third party, who contests and judges both. But whether this third party is a representative of humanity, or a figure of God, would not his justice be but the name of a higher egoism? (shrink)
Eva Buddeberg: Verantwortung im Diskurs: Grundlinien einer rekonstruktiv-hermeneutischen Konzeption moralischer Verantwortung im Anschluss an Hans Jonas, Karl-Otto Apel und Emmanuel Lévinas Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-2 DOI 10.1007/s10677-012-9366-3 Authors Norbert Anwander, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Institut für Philosophie, Unter den Linden 6, 10099 Berlin, Germany Journal Ethical Theory and Moral Practice Online ISSN 1572-8447 Print ISSN 1386-2820.
The Face of the Other and the Trace of God contain essays on the philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas, and how his philosophy intersects with that of other philosophers, particularly Husserl, Kierkegaard, Sartre, and Derrida. This collection is broadly divided into two parts: relations with the other, and the questions of God.
Ethics as First Philosophy brings together original essays by an outstanding group of international scholars that discuss the work of Emmanuel Levinas. The book explores the significance of Levinas' work for philsophy, psychology and religion. Ethics as First Philosophy comprises an excellent collection of work on this major contemporary thinker. The book presents Levinas philosophy from a wide and well-balanced variety of perspectives. The contributions range from thematic discussions of Levinas central concepts to explorations of his affinities and differences (...) with other key writers such as Kant, Kierkegaard, Rosenzweig, Benjamin, Blanchot and Derrida. Some of the authors focus on the religious and philosophical issues presented by Levinas while others analyze the role of Levinas within phenomenology in or within recent French philosophy. (shrink)
Many authors have argued that all studies of socially specific modalities of human action and experience depend on some form of “philosophical anthropology”, i.e. on a set of general assumptions about what human beings are like, assumptions without which the very diagnoses of the cultural and historical variability of concrete agents' practices would become impossible. Bourdieu was sensitive to that argument and, especially in the later phase of his career, attempted to make explicit how his historical-sociological investigations presupposed and, (...) at the same time, contributed to the elaboration of an “idea of the human being”. The article reconstructs Bourdieu's philosophical anthropology, starting with his genetic sociology of symbolic power, conceived as a form of critical theory (latu sensu), and concluding with an account of the conditio humana in which recognition (“symbolic capital”) appears as both the fundamental existential goal through which human agents strive to confer meaning on their lives and the source of the endless symbolic competition that keeps society moving. The agonistic vision of the social universe that grounds his sociological studies returns in his philosophical anthropology under the guise of a singular synthesis between Durkheim's thesis that “Society is God” and Sartre's idea that “hell is other people”. (shrink)
Edith Wyschogrod presents the first full-length study in English of the important contemporary French philosopher Emmanuel Levinas. It is a revision of the author’s earlier study and includes discussions of his recent writings as well as current scholarship. Dr. Wyschogrod’s extensive discussion of Levinas's relation to Judaism, especially his use of literature from the Torah and other religious writings, will be of interest to religious scholars. The author compares Levinas’s thought with that of his contemporaries, most notably Jacques Derrida (...) and Husserl. (shrink)
Leo Strauss and Emmanuel Levinas, two twentieth-century Jewish philosophers and two extremely provocative thinkers whose reputations have grown considerably over the last twenty years, are rarely studied together. This is due to the disparate interests of many of their intellectual heirs. Strauss has influenced political theorists and policy makers on the right while Levinas has been championed in the humanities by different cadres associated with postmodernist thought. In Leo Strauss and Emmanuel Levinas: Philosophy and the Politics of Revelation, (...) Leora Batnitzky brings together these two seemingly incongruous contemporaries, demonstrating that they often had the same philosophical sources and their projects had many formal parallels. While such a comparison is valuable in itself for better understanding each figure, it also raises profound questions in the current debate on the definitions of 'religion', suggesting new ways that religion makes claims on both philosophy and politics. (shrink)
I argue here that in the end Bourdieu's theory of practice fails to overcome the problem on which it expressly centers, namely, subject-object dualism. The failure is registered in his avowed materialism, which, though significantly "generalized," remains what it says: a materialism. In order to substantiate my criticism, I examine for their ontological presuppositions three areas of his theoretical framework pertaining to the questions of (1) human agency (as seen through the conceptual glass of the habitus), (2) otherness, and (...) (3) the gift. By scrutinizing Bourdieu's powerful and progressive social theory, with an eye to finding fault, I hope to show the need to take a certain theoretical action, one that is patently out of keeping with the usual self-presentation and self-understanding of social science. The action I have in mind is this: because the problem of subject-object dualism is in the first place a matter of ontology, in order successfully to address it there must take place a direct shift of ontological starting point, from the received starting point in Western thought to one that projects reality in terms of ambiguity that is basic. With this shift the dualism of subject and object dissolves by definition, leaving a social reality that, for reasons of its basic ambiguity, is best approached as a question of ethics before power. (shrink)
Emmanuel Lévinas est indiscutablement le philosophe par excellence de l’éthique. L’un des thèmes majeurs de sa pensée, ou plutôt la clé pour comprendre son œuvre -- qui se situe aux frontières de nombreux domaines --, est la responsabilité à l’égard d’Autrui. Cet article se propose de reconsidérer cet aspect déterminant de ses écrits au regard de l’individualisme contemporain. Nous montronsqu’en aucune façon l’éthique lévinassienne de la responsabilité n’oblitère «la part du Moi dans l’eminence de l’Autre». Bien au contraire, dans (...) l’ouverture à l’altérité, le Moi s’y trouve pleinement reconnu. Autrement dit notre thèse est que le préjugé selon lequella philosophie de Lévinas consiste en une interprétation normative de la condition qui conduit au sacrifice de soi est imputable à un malentendu lié au caractère polysémique et ambivalent du concept d’individualisme.Emmanuel Levinas is unquestionably the philosopher of ethics par excellence. One of the major themes of his thought, or rather the key to understanding his work-work that spans over many fields-is one’s responsibility toward the Other. This article attempts to reconsider this determining aspect of his writings from the perspective of contemporary individualism. We argue that Levinas’s ethics of responsibility in no way obliterates “the share of the Ego in the eminence of the Other.” On the contrary, in his approach to otherness, he takes the Self entirely into account. In other words, our interpretation is that the commonly held view that Levinas’s philosophy consists of normative interpretation of the human condition leading to the sacrifice of the self is imputable to a misunderstanding caused by the polysemous and ambivalent character of the concept of individualism. (shrink)
Bourdieu and Education details the practical applications of Bourdieu's theories in a series of specific pedagogic research studies, showing how his ideas can be put into practice. Language, gender, career decision-making and the experience of higher education students are all covered. Questions are also raised concerning research methodology. The authors also examine Bourdieu's interest in the position of the researcher within the research process. Bourdieu's influence is traced in aspects of both theory and practice. Finally, principles, (...) approaches, methods and techniques that may be derived from Bourdieu are suggested, and assessed, for practical use in research. (shrink)
In 1982 the American philosopher and Levinas scholar Edith Wyschogrod conducted an interview with Emmanuel Levinas, the transcript of which she published seven years later. Early in the interview, Wyschogrod proposed to Levinas that his philosophy constituted a radical break with western theological tradition because it started not with a Parmenidean ontological plenitude, but rather with the God of the Hebrew Bible. The God Levinas began with, according to Wyschogrod, wasan indigent God, a hidden God who commands that there (...) be a world apart from God, because God needs the multiplicity of the world in order for there to be justice. Levinas responds to this proposal: That’s quite right. Justice, I call it responsibility for the other, right? There is even in Totality and Infinity, the evocation of the tzimtzum [the idea in kabbalistic writings of the self-contraction of God in order to create the void in which creation can take place], but I won’t venture into that. (shrink)
This paper explores Emmanuel Levinas' Jewish writings, and in particular, his Talmudic commentaries and essays on Judaism. The aim is to elicit some salient features of his methodological approach to the Jewish sacred texts. In general, Levinas' specific reflections on method (in terms of reading the Jewish Scriptures) are confined to sporadic, fragmentary comments interspersed throughout his writings. In extracting these reflections, a specifically Levinasian approach emerges. In particular, his approach shows how one may ethically encounter the Other(s) in (...) these sacred texts. (shrink)
This paper concerns the possibility of “thinking” God, and uses the work of Emmanuel Levinas to frame a contemporary approach to some of the problems involved. The difficult relationship between philosophy and Christian theology is noted, before Levinas’s thought is examined as it relates to that which both marks consciousness and exceeds it. Levinas’s adoption of the “idea of the Infinite” and hisexploration of two ways in which the Infinite might signify (have meaning) open up a useful trajectory for (...) a thought of God which is not reductive. At the same time, however, this aporetic approach raises difficulties in the context of specific religious traditions. Three problems as they occur for Christian theology are examined in the light of Levinas’s work: the problem of not being able to identify an experience of God as such; the problem of the infinite interpretability of revelation; and the problem of understanding the divinity of Jesus Christ. (shrink)
This paper examines the extent to which certain aspects of the philosophies of Emmanuel Lévinas and Jean-Luc Marion are directed toward the divine, especially in regard to how they employ religious imagery or even explicitly biblical metaphors, namely those of the face of the neighbor, the glory of the Infinite, the response of the witness, and the breaking or sharing of bread. This will show important parallels and connections between their respective works, but it will also highlight where they (...) diverge from each other. In respect to all four symbols or (biblical) images, I suggest that while it is indeed one (or even the primary) goal of Marion’s work to open phenomenological discourse to enable talk about the divine, Lévinas is instead interested in emptying biblical language of its theological import for purely philosophical (or ethical) purposes. (shrink)
Emmanuel Levinas (1905-1995) was one of the foremost thinkers of the twentieth century. His work influencing a wide range of intellectuals such as Maurice Blanchot, Jacques Derrida, Luce Irigaray and Jean-Luc Marion.
Bourdieu's academic work and his political interventions have always proved controversial, with reactions varying from passionate advocacy to savage critique. In the last decade of his career, the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu became involved in a series of high-profile political interventions, defending the cause of striking students and workers, speaking out in the name of illegal immigrants, the homeless, and the unemployed, challenging the incursion of the market into the field of artistic and intellectual production. This new study (...) presents the first sustained critical analysis of the political implications of Bourdieu's sociology. Through a close reading of the political speeches and pronouncements of his later years, Jeremy F. Lane provides a detailed exposition both of Bourdieu's critique of neo-liberalism and of his own political position. Bourdieu's theory of politics is also brought into critical dialogue with the work of a range of other commentators of a broadly Marxist or post-Marxist orientation who have also intervened in such debates - theorists such as Stuart Hall, Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe, Judith Butler, Slavoj Zizek and Jacques Rancière. The first sustained analysis of Bourdieu's politics - this study will seek to assess the validity of his claims as to the distinctiveness and superiority of his own field theory as a tool of political analysis. It will be of great use to students, and researchers in sociology, social theory; cultural studies, French studies and political science. (shrink)
This article argues that the philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas does not fall into the categories of postmodern thought; rather, it represents a fundamentally Jewish way of thinking that, in many ways, is opposed to postmodernism. The paper begins with a consideration of what makes Jewish thought Jewish and explains how and why the thinking of Levinas is defined by distinctively Jewish categories. It addresses his stance toward Torah and other sacred Jewish texts, as well as his view of creation (...) and the Creator. After establishing what makes Jewish thought Jewish, the text examines three key concepts in the philosophy of Levinas and explains how and why these concepts are distinctively Jewish: they are the concepts of the holy, of the face, and of time. Finally, drawing upon the Hebrew language and sacred texts, the paper shows that these key concepts distinguish Levinas as a Jewish thinker whose views fall firmly within the Jewish tradition. /// O presente artigo defende, antes de mais, que a filosofia de Emmanuel Levinas de forma alguma se pode reduzir às categorias do pensamento pós-moderno; pelo contrário, o autor pretende demonstrar até que ponto este é um modo fundamentalmente judaico de pensar, um pensamento que, de diversos modos, se opõe ao assim chamado pós-modemismo. O artigo começa por estabelecer aquilo que faz com que de um determinado pensamento se possa dizer que ele é de matriz judaica, explicando assim também de que modo o pensamento de Levinas está definido por categorias distintamente judaicas. O artigo considera a posição do filósofo em relação à Tora e outros textos sagrados do Judaísmo, bem como a sua interjiretação da criação e do Criador. Assim, depois de estabelecer aquilo que faz com que seja propriamente judaico o pensamento judaico, o texto examina três dos conceitos fundamentais na filosofia de Levinas e explica porque é que estes conceitos são, de facto, tipicamente judaicos. Trata-se, com efeito, dos conceitos de Santo, de Rosto, e de Tempo. Finalmente, argumentando a partir da língua hebraica e dos textos sagrados, o artigo reafirma de que modo estes conceitos-chave distinguem Levinas como pensador cujas interpretações se inserem, sem mais, dentro da tradição judaica. (shrink)
Abstract In this article, I attempt to trace Emmanuel Levinas's notion of transcendence and its relation to infinity to his Talmudic lectures to offer both a philosophical diagnosis as well as a counter to the essentialist logic of what Levinas considers the traditional or ?metaphysical? concept of time. This opens my speculative argument up to two levels of interpretation as it requires an historical investigation into the cultural context that conditioned Levinas's particular understanding of transcendence and infinity in relation (...) to his turn toward Talmud and sacred Jewish texts in the years following World War Two. But it also requires that we take seriously the critique of history as inadequate to such a task that is inherent in Levinas's presentation of these concepts. All of this hinges on the role and place of ?time? in Levinas. I consider Levinas's category of ?time immemorial? as a counter to the essentialist logic of what Levinas considers the traditional or ?metaphysical? concept of time which I claim is at the core of the ?realist? attitude toward the practice of history founded upon the categories of agency, experience, memory, testimony, and most recently the importance of ?presence?. This in turn leads me to propose two possible alternatives, through Freud and Derrida, that conserve Levinas's critique of the essentialist understanding of time uncoupled from any transcendent or theological mechanism. (shrink)
Considering world problems in a context of inter human relationship, I refer to the approach developed in Emmanuel Levinas' ethics. This approach encourages raising a question about the potential usefulness of knowledge in solving problems of human relationship. The fundamental trait of the human condition face-toface with the other is, according to Levinas, unrestricted responsibility of the I about the other. The other has ethical, not ontological, authority, which explains why observable deafness to one's responsibility can not serve as (...) a proof against its absolute nature. Consequently, whatever one's judgement on the current situation, moral requirements are valid. The relationship between the I and the other comes before any theory and there is no need for the help of knowledge. However, the multiplicity of human beings demands a solution to problems involving many people. There arises a need for theoretical thought—its aim is to pose a question of justice. Ethical knowledge for Levinas is primary. Ethically motivated thought can seek knowledge as received from the other. Such knowledge can help to conceive of just action, if there is a wish to perform it. But it is not knowledge that motivates one to act morally and it is not argument that can convince one to act this way. (shrink)
This volume explores the sociological legacy of the late Pierre Bourdieu through an examination of the intellectual division between his reception in the world of French social sciences and his reception in the Anglophone world.
Levinas seamlessly unites philosophy and religion via ethics. By doing so he satisfies philosophy's quest for justification by finding it neither in epistemology nor aesthetics (nor in an escapist "fundamentalism") but in the responsibility of each person for each other and for all others. That is to say, the "ground" of meaning emerges neither in intellect nor imagination but in the moral responsibilities one person has for another and, beyond these already infinite obligations, in the justice - law and equality (...) - that such responsibilities require and engender. All of this is at the same time a consistent expression, indeed a profoundly mature expression of the ethical monotheist vision of traditional rabbinic Judaism and of non-mythological religious consciousness more generally. /// O pensamento de Emmanuel Levinas induz uma união perfeita entre Filosofia e Religião mediante a Ética. Nesta medida, o filósofo dá resposta à pergunta da Filosofia pela sua própria justificação, justificação essa que ele não encontra nem na epistemologia nem na estética (nem em qualquer forma de escapismo fundamentalista), mas na responsabilidade de cada pessoa por cada um e por todos. Or a isto equivale a dizerque o "fundamento" para o sentido não emerge nem do intelecto nem da imaginação, mas sim da responsabilidade moral que nos obriga a cada um diante dos outros e, para lá destas obrigações infinitas, nos compromete com a justiça - representada no princípio da legalidade e da equidade - requerida e engendrada por essas mesmas responsabilidades. Tudo isto, para o autor, é ao mesmo tempo expressão consistente, de facto, uma expressão profundamente madura da visão ética monoteísta do Judaísmo rabínico e, de uma forma mais geral, de toda a forma de consciência religiosa não mitológica. (shrink)
DISSERTAÇÃO DE MESTRADO MOREIRA, Ubiratan Nunes. Dizer profético e Eleição : a hermenêutica da religião como ética em Emmanuel Lévinas. 2012. 136 folhas. Dissertação (Mestrado) – Pontifícia Universidade Católica de Minas Gerais, Programa de Pós-graduação em Ciências da Religião, Belo Horizonte.
Ch. 1: Inadequate approaches to the question of God -- 1.1. Initial clarifications -- 1.2 Wholly unsystematic direct approaches -- 1.3. Semi-systematic indirect approaches -- 1.4. A wholly anti-systematic, anti-theoretical, and direct approach: Ludwig Wittgenstein -- 1.5. A characteristic example of a failed critique: Thomas Nagel's objections to God as "last point" -- Ch. 2. Heidegger's thinking of Being: the flawed development of a significant approach -- 2.1. Heidegger's failed and distorting interpretation and critique of the Christian metaphysics of Being (...) -- 2.2. Heidegger's four approaches to "retrieving" the "question of being" -- 2.3. What is unthought in Heidegger's thinking of Being I: Being-as-Ereignis -- 2.4. What is unthought in Heidegger's "thinking of Being" II: Being and being(s)- Ereignis and Ereignete(s) -- 2.5. The "overcoming [Überwinding] of metaphysics" as "transformational recovering [Verwindung]" of metaphysics and "the end of the history of Being" -- 2.6. The status of Heideggerian thinking I: thinking of Being as thinking within Ereignis, thinking that reaches its destination with Ereignis (Denken, das in das Ereignis einkehrt) -- 2.7. The status of Heideggerian thinking II: absolute claim, provisionality, the poverty of language, the language of thinking, the finitude of thinking -- 2.8. Heidegger's thinking and the topic "God" -- 2.9. Heidegger's "thinking": a fundamentally deficient and confused form of thinking -- Ch. 3:The structural-systematic approach to a theory of Being and God -- 3.1. The systematic context: the theoretical framework of the structural-systematic philosophy -- 3.2. The unrestricted universe of discourse as the universal dimension of primordial Being -- 3.3. Explication of the dimension of Being I: theory of Being as such -- 3.4. Explication of the dimension of Being II: theory of Being as a whole -- 3.5. Explication of the relation between absolutely necessary Being and the contingent dimension of Being as key to a conception of absolutely necessary Being as minded (as personal) -- 3.6. Absolutely necessary minded (personal) Being as creator of the world (as absolute creating) -- 3.7. The clarified relation between Being and God and the task of developing an integral theory about God -- Ch. 4: Critical examination of two counterpositions: Emmanuel Levinas and Jean-Luc Marion -- 4.1. Levinas's misguided conception of transcendence "beyond B/being" -- 4.2. Jean-Luc Marion's failed conception of "radical and non-metaphysical transcendence" and of "God without Being". (shrink)
The natural world’s myriad differences from human beings, and its apparent indifference to human purposes and ends, are often regarded as problems an environmental ethics must overcome. Perhaps, though, ecological ethics might instead be re-envisaged as a form of other-directed concern that responds to just this situation. That is, the recognition of worldly (in)difference might actually be regarded as a precondition for, and opening on, any contemporary ethics, whether human or ecological. What is more, the task of ethics might be (...) regarded as one of conserving (at least some) such differences. The work of Iris Murdoch and the “difference ethics” of Emmanuel Levinas seem to offer possible ways to express such understandings. However, their ecological potential and theoretical limits, especially in terms oftheir metaphysical presuppositions, remain relatively under-explored. A closer examination of their work is presented in order to illustrate some of the possibilities and difficulties facing an ecological form of difference ethics. (shrink)
Machine generated contents note: 1. An Ethical Transcendental Philosophy 1 -- 2. Beyond Being. Ontology and Eschatology in the Philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas 33 -- 3. The Rationality of the Philosophy of Levinas 56 -- 4. Levinas on Substitution 83 -- 5. Judaism and Hellenism in the Philosophy of Levinas and Heidegger 101 -- 6. Ontological Difference (Heidegger) and Ontological Separation (Levinas) 115 -- 7. Enmity, Friendship, Corporeality 133 -- 8. The Rationality of Transcendence 147 -- 9. Levinas on (...) Theology and the Philosophy of Religion 169. (shrink)
The present paper aims to view three ways of thinking time by Emmanuel Levinas. We distinguish existential, historical, and eschatological time demonstrating how they are connected with his central notion of responsibility toward the Other. The following analysis reorders and interprets what Levinas has said in response of Martin Heidegger’s and Hegel’s position. The text does not make any other claims but aims to offer a possible reading and exegesis of Levinas’s philosophy and open a further discussion on these (...) topics. (shrink)
This work explains how human beings can live more peacefully with one another by understanding the conditions of possibility for dialogue. Philosophically, this challenge is articulated as the problem of: how dialogue as dia-logos is possible when the shared logos is precisely that which is in question. Emmanuel Levinas, in demonstrating that the shared logos is a function of interhuman relationship, helps us to make some progress in understanding the possibilities for dialogue in this situation. If the terms of (...) the argument to this point are taken largely from Levinas's 1961 Totality and Infinity, Dudiak further proposes that Levinas's 1974 Otherwise than Being can be read as a deepening of these earlier analyses, delineating, both the conditions of possibility and impossibility for discourse itself. Throughout these analyses Dudiak discovers that in Levinas's view dialogue is ultimately possible, only for a gracious subjectivity already graced by God by way of the other, but where the word God is inseparable from my subjectivity as graciousness to the other. Finally, for Levinas, the facilitation of dialogue, the facilitation of peace, comes down to the subject's capacity and willingness to be who he or she is, to take the beautiful risk of a peaceful gesture offered to the other, and that peace, in this gesture itself. As Levinas himself puts it: "Peace then is under my responsibility. I am a hostage, for I am alone to wage it, running a fine risk, dangerously." Levinas's philosophical discourse is precisely itself to be read as such a gesture. (shrink)
Being and God: A Systematic Approach in Confrontation with Martin Heidegger, Emmanuel Levinas, and Jean-Luc Marion , by Lorenz B. Puntel Content Type Journal Article Pages 164-165 Authors Christina M. Gschwandtner, University of Scranton Journal Comparative and Continental Philosophy Online ISSN 1757-0646 Print ISSN 1757-0638 Journal Volume Volume 4 Journal Issue Volume 4, Number 1 / 2012.
Puede decirse, sin ir demasiado lejos, que la obra del sociólogo francés de Pierre Bourdieu ha sido una de las más brillantes e imaginativas del panorma de las ciencias sociales en la segunda mitad del siglo XX. Este libro trata de sacar a la luz la forma en la que las herramientas de su sociología fueron creadas. No obstante, este texto no comienza con un realto de sus obras, sino de su vida. Pierre Bourdieu no nace intelectual, se (...) hace en un contexto que -en su caso, especialmente durante sus primeros años de su vida- tiene poco de tal. Se trata, pues, de una investigación histórica de la figura de un intelectual que evita dos caminos ya trillados: la vía externalista, que toma a los eventos históricos, sociales o económicos como fuente de toda explicación de la vida intelectual y científica, y la vía internalista, que cosidera que sus miembros viven en una esfera aislada y ajena a toda influencia exterior. Está última vía es la que se suele transitar cuando un pensador ha legado una obra que despierta admiración. Para ello, el autor emplea algunas de las ideas que Randall Collins delineo en su opus magnum Sociología de las filosofías, quizá uno de los libros que mejor ha sabido captar las dinámicas que gobiernan el mundo intelectual. Más concretamente, el autor de este libro hace suya la idea de que son las interacciones cara a cara las relaciones fundamentales que gobiernan la vida intelectual. (shrink)
In this article, I compare and contrast the phenomenological ethics of Emmanuel Levinas with that of twentieth-century Japanese philosopher, Kuki Shūzō. In the resulting counterpoint, I put special emphasis on the conception of time espoused by each author. I argue that both go astray by mistakenly basing their ethics on the complete otherness of the other (diachrony) rather than recognizing that both the other (diachrony) and I (synchrony) are originally inseparable in experience before the conceptual separation of “me” and (...) “you.” The fetishization of otherness, which is associated with the feminine in the ethics of both philosophers, leads them to overlook how the details of our everyday concrete experience can provide a guide for action. This paper also explores the two East Asian ethical ideals that Kuki proposes–the Buddhist ideal and the ideal of bushidō, the code of the samurai warrior. In his ethics, Kuki prefers the ethics of bushidō to that of Buddhism. I explain how Kuki’s misunderstanding of Buddhism leads him to this choice, and I explore what he overlooked in Buddhist ethics. (shrink)
Utilizing the writings of Pierre Bourdieu and Sheldon Wolin,this paper introduces a special issue on ``Educational Rights andEntitlements.'' Its purpose is to characterize and critique `the box ofliberalism' that both advances and constrains what is conceived andenacted in education. Following it are a set of significantcontributions from the sixth biennial conference of the InternationalNetwork of Philosophers of Education, August 1998, Ankara.
This essay studies the unfolding of Levinas' concept of transcendence from 1935 to his 1984 talk entitled "Transcendence and Intelligibility." I discuss how Levinas frames transcendence in light of enjoyment, shame, and nausea in his youthful project of a counter-ontology to Heidegger's Being and Time. In Levinas' essay, transcendence is the human urge to get out of being. I show the ways in which Levinas' early ontology is conditioned by historical circumstances, but I argue that its primary aim is formal (...) and phenomenological; it adumbrates formal structures of human existence. Levinas' 1940s ontology accentuates the dualism in being, between what amount to a light and a dark principle. This shift in emphasis ushers in a new focus for transcendence, which is now both sensuous and temporal, thanks to the promise of fecundity. Totality and Infinity (1961) pursues a similar onto-logic, while shifting the locus of transcendence to a non-sexuate other. The final great work, Otherwise than Being or beyond Essence (1974) offers a hermeneutic phenomenology of transcendence-in-immanence. It rethinks Husserl's focus on the transcendence of intentionality and its condition of possibility in the passive synthesis of complex temporality. If the 1974 strategy 'burrows beneath' the classical phenomenological syntheses, it also incorporates unsuspected influences from French psychology and phenomenology. This allows Levinas to develop a philosophical conception of transcendence that is neither Husserl's intentionality nor Heidegger's temporal ecstases, in what amounts to an original contribution to a phenomenology both hermeneutic and descriptive. (shrink)
Without a doubt, Levinas' principal concern in philosophy is how the self meets the Other. His magnum opus, Totality and Infinity, bears the subtitle, An Essay on Exterior- ity. Exteriority refers to a region beyond the horizons of the self, that which "is" beyond transcendental subjectivity. If there are such "beings" as other selves, that is, other subjects, they exist out there in the exterior. But if knowledge is confined to the interior—as Levinas says it must be—then the Other cannot (...) be known. He writes, "There is in knowledge, in the final account, an impossibility of escaping the self; hence sociality cannot have the same structure as knowledge" (EI 60). (shrink)
Most readers believe that it is difficult, verging on the impossible, to extract concrete prescriptions from the ethics of Emmanuel Levinas. Although this view is largely correct, Levinas’ philosophy can, with some assistance, generate specific duties on the part of legal actors. In this paper, I argue that the fundamental premises of Levinas’ theory of justice can be used to construct a prohibition against capital punishment. After analyzing Levinas’ concepts of justice, responsibility, and interruption, I turn toward his scattered (...) remarks on legal institutions, arguing that they enable a sense of interruption specific to the legal domain. It is here that we find the conceptual resources most important to my Levinasian abolition. I argue that the interruption of legal justice by responsibility implies what I call the principle of revisability. The principle of revisability states a necessary condition of just legal institutions: To be just, legal institutions must ensure the possibility of revising any and all of their rules, principles, and judgments. From this, the argument against capital punishment easily follows. Execution is a legal act, perhaps the only legal act, that cannot be undone. An application of the principle of revisability to this fact leads to the conclusion that legal institutions cannot justly impose capital punishment. After defending these points at length, I conclude with some observations on the consequences of the principle of revisability for law more generally. (shrink)