Emmanuel Levinas has exerted a profound influence on 20th-century continental philosophy. This anthology, including Levinas's key philosophical texts over a period of more than forty years, provides an ideal introduction to his thought and offers insights into his most innovative ideas. Five of the ten essays presented here appear in English for the first time. An introduction by Adriaan Peperzak outlines Levinas's philosophical development and the basic themes of his writings. Each essay is accompanied by a brief introduction and notes. (...) This collection is an ideal text for students of philosophy concerned with understanding and assessing the work of this major philosopher. (shrink)
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)
Philosophers speak—or, rather, they respond to various forms of speaking that are handed to them. This book by one of our most distinguished philosophers focuses on the communicative aspect of philosophical thought. Peperzak’s central focus is “addressing”: what distinguishes speaking or writing from rumination is their being directed by someone to someone. To be involved in philosophy is to be part of a tradition through which thinkers propose their findings to others, who respond by offering their own appropriations to their (...) interlocutors.After a critical sketch of the conception of modern philosophy, Peperzak presents a succinct analysis of speaking, insisting on the radical distinction between speaking about and speaking to. He enlarges this analysis to history and tries to answer the question whether philosophy also implies a certain form of listening and responding to words of God. Since philosophical speech about persons can neither honor nor reveal their full truth, speaking and thinking about God is even more problematic. Meditation about the archaic Word cannot reach the Speaker unless it turns into prayer, or—as Descartes wrote—into a contemplation that makes the thinker “consider, admire, and adore the beauty of God’s immense light, as much as the eyesight of my blinded mind can tolerate.”“ Thinking is a work of genuine and original scholarship which responds to the tradition of philosophical thinking with a critique of its language, style, focus, and scope.”—Catriona Hanley, Loyola College, Maryland. (shrink)
The fundamental message of Jewish thought in Levinas' version can be summarized by the following quote: It ties the meaning of all experiences to the ethical relation among humans; it appears to the personal responsibility of man, who, thereby, knows himself irreplaceable to realize a human society in which humans treat one another as humans. This realization of the just society is ipso facto an elevation of man to the society with God. This society is human happiness itself and the (...) meaning of life. Therefore, to say that the meaning of the real must be understood in function of ethics, is to say that the universe is sacred. But it is sacred in an ethical sense. Ethics is an optics of the divine. No relation to God is more right or more immediate.The Divine cannot manifest itself except through the neighbor. For a Jew, incarnation is neither possible, nor necessary. After all, Jeremiah himself said it: ‘To judge the case of the poor and the miserable, is not that to know me? says the Eternal’. DL 209. The quote at the end is from Jerem. 22:16.The One who is revealed in this ethical religion differs greatly from the almighty and triumphant God whose image dominates any thought in which politics procures the highest perspective. The ‘Master of the world’ is power-less against human violence and sin, vulnerable and persecuted. His passing by is not in the thunderstorm, not in the earthquake, and not in the fire either, but ‘after the fire there was a voice of subtle silence’ (1 Kings 19:11–12). God penetrates the world almost imperceptibly, in extreme humility. AV 211–212 (ECED). Cf. Kierkegaard vivant (Paris: Gallimard 1966), pp. 286–288. (shrink)
The book begins with the problem of the relationship between systematic philosophy and the history of philosophy. Why does philosophy attach so much importance to history? Consideration of this question is an essential part of metaphysics, and it has important consequences for the methodology of both history and philosophy. An analysis of the problem that begins the book leads to many other fundamental questions concerning the nature of philosophy. In treating these issues the author discusses positions taken on them by (...) Russell, Rorty, Heidegger, Gadamer, Levinas, Ricoeur, Derrida, and others of our century. He also draws inspiration from Plato, Plotinus, Augustine, Spinoza, Kant, Hegel, and Nietzsche. (shrink)
To what extent does Bonaventure’s work contribute to a renewal of negative theology? Rather than answering this question directly, this article focuses on the negative moments which, according to Bonaventure, characterize the human quest for God and the docta ignorantia to which it is oriented. Bonaventure’s synthesis of Aristotelian ontology and Dionysian Neoplatonism is a wisdom that admires God’s being good as manifested in Christ’s human suffering and death.
Modern philosophy has had difficulty attempting to show the unbreakable unity of the individual with communal aspects of human existence. A number of modern thinkers began their treatises by rationally, even geometrically, constructing a more or less real or ideal community based on a multiplicity of individuals. Yet others, convinced that no form of individualism could ever supply insight into the communal structure of human life, saw all individuals from the outset as members — or even as organs — of (...) a collective whole. While the former struggled in vain to show that contracts or other forms of freely chosen exchangenecessarily mutate into communal dispositions and institutions, the latter had to cope with the modern dogma that all philosophy must begin from an autonomous (individual or transcendental) ego. Modern philosophy, then, has not produced a wholly satisfactory synthesis of individualism and communitarianism. This failure could be a symptom of a faulty start, which may be due to the initial questions: Can individuality and commonality be opposed? Does their distinction concerntwo aspects, two levels, two dimensions of one reality? How do they evoke, provoke, imply, and fortify one another? (shrink)
Modern philosophy has had difficulty attempting to show the unbreakable unity of the individual with communal aspects of human existence. A number of modern thinkers began their treatises by rationally, even geometrically, constructing a more or less real or ideal community based on a multiplicity of individuals. Yet others, convinced that no form of individualism could ever supply insight into the communal structure of human life, saw all individuals from the outset as members — or even as organs — of (...) a collective whole. While the former struggled in vain to show that contracts or other forms of freely chosen exchangenecessarily mutate into communal dispositions and institutions, the latter had to cope with the modern dogma that all philosophy must begin from an autonomous ego. Modern philosophy, then, has not produced a wholly satisfactory synthesis of individualism and communitarianism. This failure could be a symptom of a faulty start, which may be due to the initial questions: Can individuality and commonality be opposed? Does their distinction concerntwo aspects, two levels, two dimensions of one reality? How do they evoke, provoke, imply, and fortify one another? (shrink)
Since the modern faith in Reason has died, the way is reopened for a thorough discussion of the relations between philosophy and theology. Being metaphilosophical as well as meta theological, such a discussion presupposes solid acquaintance with the concrete praxis of philosophy and theology as existentially rooted enterprises developed in the history of particular cultures and individual persons. This article defends the thesis that philosophy in the modern sense of the word never has been and cannot be autarkic because it (...) cannot demonstrate the truth of the faith from which it draws its basic stance and orientation. If this faith is the faith of a Christian, it is impossible to draw a sharp distinction between the philosophical and the theological activities of such a philosopher. The stubborn attempt to restrict one’s thought to autonomous philosophy wounds and paralyzes the thinking of Christians and destroys most of its relevance. The old synthetic conception of philosophia, upheld by Plato and the Stoics no less than by the Fathers of the Church, deserves a reevaluation. Despite the profound differences between unscientific premodernity and modern scientificity, that old conception is a more adequate description of the philosophical practice performed in real human lives. (shrink)
Adriaan Theodoor Peperzak contends that while many Catholic philosophers try to practice a modern, autonomous style of thinking, their experience of a faith-guided life necessarily compels them to integrate their scholarly pursuits with their Christian faith. He writes, "Christians who think cannot separate their thought from their faith and theology." Indeed, he argues that the work of Christian, particularly Catholic, philosophers loses its vitality when philosophers try to restrict their reflections to natural reason alone. In this book he explores the (...) essential unity of philosophical and theological thought from various perspectives and pleads for a radical change of method in philosophy. "This book breaks the modern taboo of the separation between philosophy and theology. It is an invitation to philosophy to recover its rooting in life and to become knowledgeable about love. It is an invitation to theology to rediscover its vocation as a mature consciousness of faith, to communicate using all forms of human thought, and to avoid the pathology of fundamentalism. Peperzak, whose thought is rooted in the traditions of Western philosophy and Christian theology and who is also profoundly aware of the contemporary philosophical-theological debate, is able to speak efficaciously whether to Catholic intellectuals or to any scholar interested in the integrality of human wisdom." —_Giovanni Ferretti_, Università degli Studi, Macerata, Italy "_Philosophy between Faith and Theology_ is a masterful expression of the intellectual resources of the Catholic tradition, as brought to bear on issues of Catholic faith, education, and culture." —_Jeffrey Bloechel_, College of the Holy Cross _ "This book makes an original contribution to Catholic studies, philosophy, and theology by charting a useful, cogent, and meditative course between Christian faith and scholarship. On the basis of a lifetime's erudition and experience, Adriaan Peperzak transforms the ways we think about faith, theology, and philosophy." — Kevin Corrigan, Emory University_. (shrink)
That we are a conversation -- On the unity of thematic philosophy and philosophy as history of thought -- The relevance of intersubjectivity for first philosophy and the history of philosophy -- Education: responsive tradition -- Philosophy: wise about friendship? -- Vocative -- Philosophy versus faith? -- The universality of a Christian philosophy -- Sacrificium laudis, sacrificium intellectus -- Philosophy as mediation between faith and culture.
One of our most distinguished thinkers, Adriaan Peperzak has masterfully explored the connections between philosophy, ethics, religion, and the social and historical contexts of human experience. He offers a personal gathering of influences on his own work as guides to the uses of philosophy in our search for sense and meaning. In concise, direct, and deeply felt chapters, Peperzak moves from Plato, Plotinus, and the Early Christian theologians to Anselm, Bonaventure, Descartes, Pascal, Leibniz, Hegel, and Levinas. Throughout these carefully linked (...) essays, he touches on the fundamental ideas-from reason and faith to freedom and tradition-that inform the questions his work has consistently addressed, most specifically those concerning philosophy as a practice. (shrink)