'The Levinas Reader' collects, often for the first time in English, essays by Levinas encompassing every aspect of his thought: the early phenomenological studies written under the guidance and inspiration of Husserl and Heidegger; the fully developed ethical critique of such totalizing philosophies; the pioneering texts on the moral dimension to aesthetics; the rich and subtle readings of the Talmud which are an exemplary model of an ethical, transcendental philosophy at work; the admirable meditations on current political issues.
Reality and its shadow -- Freedom and command -- The ego and the totality -- Philosophy and the idea of infinity -- Phenomenon and enigma -- Meaning and sense -- Language and proximity -- Humanism and an-archy -- No identity -- God and philosophy -- Transcendence and evil.
Emmanuel Levinas is one of the most original philosophers in the twentieth century. In this book, continuing his thought on obligation, he investigates the possibility that the word God can be understood now, at the end of the twentieth century, in a meaningful way. The thirteen essays collected in this volume offer an introduction to the wide range of Levinas's thought, addresses philosophical questions concerning politics, language and religion and the philosophies of, amongst others, Heidegger, Kierkegaard, Marx and Derrida. The (...) essays also touch on the Marxist concept of ideology, death, hermeneutics, the concept of evil, the philosophy of dialogue, the relation of language to the Other, and the acts of communication and mutual understanding. Nine of the essays appear in English for the first time. (shrink)
One of the most influential philosophers of our day has selected 16 previously uncollected pieces that are unified by Levinas's project of revising the phenomenological description of the world in light of our experience of other persons.
Les études réunies dans cet ouvrage reflètent la première rencontre avec la phénoménologie et attestent les espoirs des premières découvertes. Quelques textes récents sur Husserl ont été ajoutés à la présente édition, sous le titre de « commentaires nouveaux ». Elles traduisent une réflexion retournant fréquemment à l’œuvre husserlienne pour y chercher des inspirations, même quand elle s’en sépare. Les notions husserliennes d’intentionnalité et de sensibilité nous semblent offrir des possibilités encore irréalisées.Ces recherches ont enfin rendu possibles quelques autres essais (...) sur lesquels se termine le présent recueil. Ce sont les « Raccourcis », projets de cheminements plus sinueux. (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)
The philosophy of Hitler is simplistic [primaire]. But the primitive powers that burn within it burst open its wretched phraseology under the pressure of an elementary force. They awaken the secret nostalgia within the German soul. Hitlerism is more than a contagion or a madness; it is an awakening of elementary feelings.But from this point on, this frighteningly dangerous phenomenon becomes philosophically interesting. For these elementary feelings harbor a philosophy. They express a soul's principal attitude towards the whole of reality (...) and its own destiny. They predetermine or prefigure the meaning of the adventure that the soul will face in the world.The philosophy of Hitlerism therefore goes beyond the philosophy of Hitlerians. It questions the very principles of a civilization. The conflict is played out not only between liberalism and Hitlerism. Christianity itself is threatened in spite of the careful attentions or Concordats that the Christian churches took advantage of when Hitler's regime came to power.But it is not enough to follow certain journalists in distinguishing between Christian universalism and racist particularism: a logical contradiction cannot judge a concrete event. The meaning of a logical contradiction that opposes two forms of ideas only shows up fully if we go back to their source, to intuition, to the original decision that makes them possible. It is in this spirit that we are going to set forth the following reflections. Emmanuel Levinas has been professor of philosophy at the Ecole Normale Superieure Israelite de Paris and at the University of Paris I . Among his books that have been translated into English are Totality and Infinity, Ethics and Infinity, Otherwise Than Being or Beyond Essence, and The Levinas Reader. His essay "As If Consenting to Horror" appeared in the Winter 1989 issue of Critical Inquiry. Sean Hand is lecturer in French at the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth. He is the editor of The Levinas Reader and the translator of Levinas's Difficult Freedom . He is currently completing a book on Michel Leiris. (shrink)
Combining elements from Heidegger’s philosophy of “being-in-the-world” and the tradition of Jewish theology, Levinas has evolved a new type of ethics based on a concept of “the Other” in two different but complementary aspects. He describes his encounters with those philosophers and literary authors (most of them his contemporaries) whose writings have most significantly contributed to the construction of his own philosophy of “Otherness”: Agnon, Buber, Celan, Delhomme, Derrida, Jabès, Kierkegaard, Lacroix, Laporte, Picard, Proust, Van Breda, Wahl, and, most notably, (...) Blanchot. At the same time, Levinas’s own texts are inscriptions and documents of those encounters with “Others” around which his philosophy is turning. Thus the texts simultaneously convey an immediate experience of how his intellectual position emerged and how it is put into practice. A third potential function of the book is that it unfolds the network of references and persons in philosophical debates since Kierkegaard. (shrink)
The 'nations' of the title are the 'seventy nations': in the Talmudic idiom, the whole of humanity surrounding Israel. In this major collection of essays, Levinas considers Judaism's uncertain relationship to European culture since the Enlightenment, problems of distance and integration. It also includes five Talmudic readings from between 1981 and 1986, essays on Franz Rosenzweig and Moses Mendelssohn, and a discussion with Francoise Armengaud which raises questions of central importance to Jewish philosophy in the context of general philosophy. This (...) work brings to the fore the vital encounter between philosophy and Judaism, a hallmark of Levinas's thought.". (shrink)
Une négation qui se voudrait absolue, mais niant tout existant -jusqu’à l’existant qu’est la pensée effectuant cette négation même- ne saurait mettre fin à la « scène » toujours ouverte de l’être, de l’être au sens verbal : être anonyme qu’aucun étant ne revendique, être sans étants ou sans êtres, incessant « remue-ménage », pour reprendre une métaphore de Blanchot, il y a impersonnel, comme un « il pleut » ou un « il fait nuit ». Terme foncièrement distinct du (...) « es gibt » heideggerien. Il n’a jamais été ni la traduction, ni la démarque de l’expression allemande et de ses connotations d’abondance et de générosité. Il faut insister sur le caractère désertique, obsédant et horrible de l’il y a et sur son inhumaine neutralité.Neutralité à surmonter. Sortie recherchée dans ce livre. Analyses esquissées dans ce sens de la relation à autrui. (shrink)
This is a translation of "Socialite et argent", a text by Emmanuel Levinas originally published in 1987. Levinas describes the emergence of money out of inter-human relations of exchange and the social relations - sociality - that result. While elsewhere he has presented sociality as "non-indifference to alterity" it appears here as "proximity of the stranger" and points to the tension between an economic system based on money and the basic human disposition to respond to the face of the other (...) person. Money both encodes and effaces sociality, both designates and disguises social relations. It arises from the way that needs and interests are manifested in exchange relations, in what he calls the "interestedness" of economic life. But interests are always already cut through by the fact that being is always "being with others". Being is always "inter-being". Interestedness is always confronted by disinterestedness, that is, by a sociality marked by the "goodness of giving", attachment to and concern for the poverty of the other person. Levinas concludes with a discussion of sociality and justice, posing questions about the tension between the demand to respond to an Other immediately before me and at the same time to respond to the demands of an other Other (the third person) who also invites a response. (shrink)
First published in 1935, On Escape represents Emmanuel Levinas’s first attempt to break with the ontological obsession of the Western tradition. In it, Levinas not only affirms the necessity of an escape from being, but also gives a meaning and a direction to it. Beginning with an analysis of need not as lack or some external limit to a self-sufficient being, but as a positive relation to our being, Levinas moves through a series of brilliant phenomenological analyses of such phenomena (...) as pleasure, shame, and nausea in order to show a fundamental insufficiency in the human condition. In his critical introduction and annotation, Jacques Rolland places On Escape in its historical and intellectual context, and also within the context of Levinas’s entire oeuvre, explaining Levinas’s complicated relation to Heidegger, and underscoring the way Levinas’s analysis of “being riveted,” of the need for escape, is a meditation on the body. (shrink)
Cette étude d’Emmanuel Levinas, parue en 1930, un an avant la traduction des Méditations cartésiennes, fut l’une des premières à faire connaître en France les notions fondamentales de la philosophie de Husserl. Elle expose la théorie phénoménologique de l’intuition, prise comme théorie de la vérité. La vérité est l’apparaître des choses mêmes par delà les images et les mots. En ce sens, la phénoménologie se veut le retour de la philosophie aux choses mêmes.Les analyses d’Emmanuel Levinas qu’on trouvera dans le (...) présent volume, et qui sont devenues aujourd’hui classiques, portent sur les ouvrages publiés du vivant du Husserl. Mais elles jetent une lumière vive sur les oeuvres posthumes du philosophe et elles sont un indispensable outil à la compréhension de la pensée contemporaine, encore marquée par l’héritage phénoménologique. (shrink)
I learned very early, perhaps even before 1933 and certainly after Hitler’s huge success at the time of his election to the Reichstag, of Heidegger’s sympathy toward National Socialism. It was the late Alexandre Koyré who mentioned it to me for the first time on his return from a trip to Germany. I could not doubt the news, but took it with stupor and disappointment, and also with the faint hope that it expressed only the temporary lapse of a great (...) speculative mind into practical banality. It cast a shadow over my firm confidence that an unbridgeable distance forever separated the delirious and criminal hatred voiced by Evil on the pages of Mein Kampf from the intellectual vigor and extreme analytical virtuosity displayed in Sein und Zeit, which had opened the field to a new type of philosophical inquiry.Could one question the incomparable impression produced by this book, in which it immediately became apparent that Heidegger was the interlocutor and equal of the greatest—those very few—founders of European philosophy? that here was someone, this seemed obvious, all modern thought would soon have to answer? Emmanuel Levinas has been professor of philosophy at the École Normale Supérieure Israélite de Paris and at the University of Paris I . Among his books that have been translated into English are Totality and Infinity, Ethics and Infinity, and Otherwise Than Being or Beyond Essence. Paula Wissing, a free-lance translator and editor, has recently translated Paul Veyne’s Did the Greeks Believe in Their Myths? (shrink)