Challenging previous interpretations of Levinas that gloss over his use of the feminine or show how he overlooks questions raised by feminists, Claire Elise Katz explores the powerful and productive links between the feminine and religion in Levinas’s work. Rather than viewing the feminine as a metaphor with no significance for women or as a means to reinforce traditional stereotypes, Katz goes beyond questions of sexual difference to reach a more profound understanding of the role of the feminine in Levinas’s (...) conception of ethical responsibility. She combines feminist interpretations of Levinas with interpretations that focus on his Jewish writings to reveal that the feminine provides an important bridge between his philosophy and his Judaism. Katz’s reading of Levinas’s conception of the feminine against the backdrop of discussions of women of the Hebrew bible points to important shifts in contemporary philosophy toward the creation of life and care for the other. (shrink)
Reexamining Emmanuel Levinas’s essays on Jewish education, Claire Elise Katz provides new insights into the importance of education and its potential to transform a democratic society, for Levinas’s larger philosophical project.
Although Levinas talks about ethics as a response to the other, most scholars assume that this "response" is not something tangible—it is not an actual giving of food or providing of shelter and clothing. But there is evidence in Levinas's own writings that indicate he does intend for a positive response to the Other. In any event, while he acknowledges that the other is the sole person I wish to kill, killing the other, within an ethical framework would be a (...) violation of that response. The failure to respond to the other ethically requires us to ask if Levinas's project needs an educational philosophy or a model of moral cultivation to supplement it. This essay explores this question by putting into conversation Levinas's ethical project and his interest in Jewish education with John Dewey's philosophy of education and its relationship to the political community. This exploration will help us see what this field of research might offer in promoting the cultivation of ethical response as Levinas envisions it and what its limits are. (shrink)
Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–1778) opens his book The Social Contract (1762) with his famous statement, “Man is born free; and everywhere he is in chains.” An Enlightenment thinker, Rousseau understands himself to be responding to the two dominant traditions of political thought at this time: the voluntarist tradition of Hobbes, Pufendorf, and Grotius; and the liberal tradition of Locke and Montesquieu. The latter group argues that civil society exists to protect certain natural rights, one of which is liberty. The former group (...) supports an absolute monarchy (benevolent or not), with the famous statement by Hobbes, as its signature: in the State of Nature, life is nasty, poor, brutish, and short. The only solution is to surrender one’s freedom to the sovereign and thus escape the brutality and depravity of life in the state of nature. (shrink)
In several places, Levinas identifies the problem that concerns him as a “ crisis of humanism.” This problem finds its seeds in modernity but comes to fruition in the inhumanities of the 20 th century. Like his philosophical predecessors, Levinas offers an educational model as a solution to a problem he has identified. But this model--Jewish education—is uniquely different from those offered by those who came before him. This essay examines Levinas‘s interest in Jewish education as a solution to this (...) crisis in humanism and considers what the implications of this solution are for his project as a whole. (shrink)
Our topic is the moral task of righting one’s wrongful actions and the extent to which this should be considered primarily as a task for the wrongdoer alone, an interaction between the wrongdoer and victim, or a more broadly communal act. In considering this question, we are asked to consider what it means for justice to be served with regard to both victim and wrongdoer.
This dissertation explores the conception and structure of the feminine in the work of Emmanuel Levinas, with an eye toward inquiring into both the continuity of Levinas's project and the political implication for the feminine that follow from his analysis. Levinas initially conceives the feminine as a transcendental structure that functions as the condition for the possibility of ethics by inaugurating the ethical relation via the birth of a son, and sustains the ethical relation by providing the intimacy of the (...) home, which is to be disrupted by the call of the other. In his later work, Levinas names the ethical relation substitution, and transforms the feminine such that it not only participates directly in the ethical relation, but, in the metaphor of maternity, it is the example of substitution par excellence. However, the history of feminist theory shows us that the maternal is not necessarily the best image within which to circumscribe the feminine, even if the image is intended positively. But to undermine Levinas's conception of the feminine is, potentially, to undermine the larger project. By revealing and then utilizing the Judaic roots at work in Levinas's philosophical thought, this dissertation offers a reading of Levinas's conception of maternity that helps to explain why Levinas would have picked such an image to convey his insight. That is, I offer a midrash1 on Levinas's work. Finally, this dissertation argues, that Levinas's work, with regard to the feminine, is not discontinuous. Rather, the dynamic movement of the feminine reveals an interesting developmental structure, whose work in Levinas's project is indispensable. ;1My intention is to employ a midrashic style of reading a text, though not necessarily line by line, in order to offer an interpretation of the images Levinas uses in his work. (shrink)
This essay briefly reviews the significance of Pleshette DeArmitt's book, The Right to Narcissism. The essay, originally presented at the 2015 Kristeva Circle, was part of a panel celebrating the work of Pleshette.
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.
Emmanuel Levinas was one of the foremost thinkers of the twentieth century. His work has influenced a wide range of intellectuals, from French thinkers such as Maurice Blanchot, Jacques Derrida, Luce Irigaray and Jean-Luc Marion, to American philosophers Stanley Cavell and Hillary Putnam. This set will be a useful resource for scholars working in the fields of literary theory, philosophy, Jewish studies, religion, political science and rhetoric. Titles also available in this series include, _Karl Popper_, and the forthcoming titles _Edmund (...) Husserl_ and _Gottlob Frege_. (shrink)
In her chapter on Judith Butler’s Parting Ways, Seyla Benhabib revisits not only Levinas’s statements on Israel but also Butler’s response to them. Several of Levinas’s statements on the State of Israel were made either before the state came into existence or just as it was forming. And several of Levinas’s statements about the hostility that Israel faces were made not about the Palestinian but about the threats to Israel from its neighboring Arab states. In this essay, I revisit those (...) statements and Butler’s response, in order to place them in their proper context. My aim is to ask what we can learn by revisiting these comments when placed in their original context as opposed to thinking of them as comments about Israel in its more contemporary struggles. (shrink)
Jean-Jacques Rousseau opens his book The Social Contract with his famous statement, “Man is born free; and everywhere he is in chains.” An Enlightenment thinker, Rousseau understands himself to be responding to the two dominant traditions of political thought at this time: the voluntarist tradition of Hobbes, Pufendorf, and Grotius; and the liberal tradition of Locke and Montesquieu. The latter group argues that civil society exists to protect certain natural rights, one of which is liberty. The former group supports an (...) absolute monarchy, with the famous statement by Hobbes, as its signature: in the State of Nature, life is nasty, poor, brutish, and short. The only solution is to surrender one’s freedom to the sovereign and thus escape the brutality and depravity of life in the state of nature. (shrink)