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)
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 (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)
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.
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)
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)
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)
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)