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Displaying: 1-20 of 175 documents

1. Levinas Studies: Volume > 13
Sarah Hammerschlag Editor's Introduction
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2. Levinas Studies: Volume > 13
Jean-Luc Marion A Long Road to Escape
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reading religion
3. Levinas Studies: Volume > 13
Michael Fishbane “Seeing the Voices”: Enchaining the Chains of Tradition (Reading Levinas Reading Talmud)
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Rabbinic Talmudic tradition is marked by chains of tradition, integrating written Scripture (as prooftext) and oral Traditions (as exegesis). The interrelation of word, voice, and instruction is paramount. Levinas’s reading of Talmudic texts follows this format and continues this tradition, by superimposing his voice and philosophical concerns. I have chosen his reading of Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Makkot 10a as an exemplum. In the process, Levinas’s style and method can be seen as a contemporary meta-commentary on the ancient rabbinic source.
4. Levinas Studies: Volume > 13
Oona Eisenstadt Rhetorical Subterfuge: A Reading of Levinas’s “Promised Land or Permitted Land”
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This article focuses on a Talmudic lecture Levinas delivered in 1965. Its long central section is an extended reading of most of that lecture’s images and ideas. Its frame, however, treats what does and does not change in Levinas’s conception of the State of Israel between the early ’60s and the early ’80s. At issue here are two other texts: a short but important paragraph from the 1961 lecture published as “Messianic Texts,” and the interview with Malka and Finkielkraut that took place in 1982, shortly after the massacres at Sabra and Shatila. The gist of my closing argument is that while the structure of the understanding of Israel he outlined in 1961 does not change, it is developed very differently in the 1965 lecture and the 1982 interview. I try finally to account for this difference. In the meantime, the long analysis of 1965’s “Promised Land or Permitted Land” offers a novel account of Levinas’s hermeneutic, an account that might perhaps be applied to other Talmudic lectures.
5. Levinas Studies: Volume > 13
Martin Kavka For It Is God’s Way to Sweeten Bitter with Bitter: Prayer in Levinas and R. Hayyim of Volozhin
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In accounts of Emmanuel Levinas’s relationship to the Jewish theological tradition, scholars often analyze Levinas’s essays about Rabbi Hayyim of Volozhin, and specifically his 1824 book Soul of Life (Nefesh ha-Ḥayyim). This article treats two essays that Levinas wrote in the mid-1980s on that book, and shows that Levinas’s praise for that book involves coming close to endorsing its theology of suffering, a theology that strikes this article’s author as obscene. In Nefesh ha-Ḥayyim, those who suffer deserve their suffering, their suffering is in proportion to the sins that gave rise to it, and their suffering purifies and atones for their sin—in the language of the Jewish theological tradition, “it is God’s way to sweeten bitter with bitter.” This marks a departure from Levinas’s standard treatment of issues of theodicy in essays such as “Useless Suffering” (1982). In the article’s conclusion, the possibility is raised that Levinas’s account of divine illeity liberates theologians from problems of theodicy.
reading philosophy
6. Levinas Studies: Volume > 13
Rodolphe Calin The Notion of Accomplishment in Levinas
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The aim of this article is to emphasize the notion of accomplishment in Levinas, partly building on the unpublished works of the author, where it appears as a keyword of his philosophy. It is a matter of highlighting the double filiation of this term, as an extension of the Husserlian notion of intuitive fullfilment to the entire existence and as a resumption of the hermeneutical and theological notion of figural interpretation. By showing how Levinas applies the structure symbol-accomplishment to the existence, envisaged in its double dynamism of position and participation, this article intends to emphazise the importance—but also the difficulties—of the notion of history in his philosophy.
7. Levinas Studies: Volume > 13
Michael L. Morgan Plato, Levinas, and Transcendence
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Although Levinas frequently references Plato positively, they are engaged in different philosophical enterprises. Whereas Levinas takes his place in the tradition of modern moral philosophy for which the atrocities of the twentieth century are undeniable burdens, Plato is concerned with cultivating dispositions that promote psychological and social harmony. For Levinas, Plato’s Form of the Good signals a dual commitment, on the one hand to the primacy of ethical action to existence, and on the other to the connection between ethics and transcendence, in the sense of absolute otherness or separation. But this reading is anachronistic.
8. Levinas Studies: Volume > 13
Adriaan T. Peperzak Toward the Infinite
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Levinas approaches the Infinite as beyond all possible ideas and totalities (especially the Hegelian ones).
reading literature
9. Levinas Studies: Volume > 13
Sarah Hammerschlag A World Without Contours: Levinas’s Critique of Literary Freedom
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This article argues that literature is the necessary foil to Emmanuel Levinas’s development of the category of religion, as the site of relation between the same and the other. The essay tracks Levinas’s dependence on literature to illustrate alterity, but also shows that literature functions as religion’s rival in Levinas’s thought. Playing the terms of religion, literature, and philosophy off one another, the article argues, Levinas was also making an interception into a larger post-World War II debate over which of philosophy’s competing discourses, literature or religion, would win the ascendant seat in the post-war context.
other essays
10. Levinas Studies: Volume > 13
Paul Davies Levinas’s Restlessness: “God and Philosophy” without Consolation
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The paper reflects on the experience of reading Levinas’s ‘God and Philosophy’ paying particular attention to the ways in which it would have us read the word ‘God.’ Levinas refuses to let the word become the property of even the most radical treatment of religious faith. The word, the biblical word, must never serve the self-consolation of philosophy. Many of Levinas’s readers regret this aspect of his writing, but the paper argues that ‘God and Philosophy’ offers an exemplary introduction to Levinas’s most developed style of writing and thinking, and it does so while bringing to mind the question of the relation between Levinas’s (and, by implication, the reader’s) philosophy and their religion. The second part of the essay considers possible contexts (religious, philosophical and cultural) in which this question and ‘God and Philosophy’ itself can perhaps best be understood.
11. Levinas Studies: Volume > 13
Mérédith Laferté-Coutu The Passage and Happening of Time in Levinas’s Otherwise than Being
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What can the passage of time mean for Levinas? Is there a passage of diachronic time? In its many iterations (passage, le se passer, se passe, and passe), passage—an expression that easily goes unnoticed, for it is ordinary, perhaps self-evident, yet almost pervasive in the French language—turns out to be at play throughout Levinas’s last major work. This paper traces the role of the notion in Otherwise than Being and shows its stakes for the remarkably numerous topics that it connects: Levinas’s critique of Husserlian temporality, the relation between the Infinite and the finite, as well as, most generally, justice and the ethical relation itself. Specifically, because the equivocal expression “se passer ” means both passing and happening, diachronic time not only passes but happens.
12. Levinas Studies: Volume > 13
Kaitlyn Newman “Feasting During a Plague”: Levinas and the Ethical Possibilities of Art
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In his early essay, “Reality and Its Shadow,” Levinas appears to take a strong position against art, and while the strength of his admonitions against aesthetics has been questioned, the fact remains that Levinas refers to art (post-Holocaust) as an act that is like “feasting during a plague.” Art becomes offensive. However, is it possible that we could imagine the artwork as a site where the encounter with the Other becomes possible? That is, when we encounter certain artworks, do we not also encounter the radical alterity of one whose experiences and very existence cannot possibly be assimilated to the Same, or to our own experiences? In this paper, I argue that art marks a site where the encounter with the Other is made possible by examining the post-genocide and post-war photographs of Simon Norfolk. I maintain that art thus contains ethical possibilities that actually align with Levinasian ethics, rather than run counter to it, as Levinas seemed to believe. This art cannot be understood through the lens of enjoyment—as “feasting during a plague”—but rather must be understood as an experience which throws us outside of ourselves and our interiority and, in so doing, forces us to confront an alterity and a horror that awakens responsibility and awareness of the Other.
13. Levinas Studies: Volume > 13
About the Contributors
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14. Levinas Studies: Volume > 12
Robert Bernasconi, Peter Giannopoulos Editors' Introduction
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15. Levinas Studies: Volume > 12
François-David Sebbah, Mérédith Laferté-Coutu The Ethics of the Survivor: Levinas, A Philosophy of the Debacle
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16. Levinas Studies: Volume > 12
Lisa Guenther Dwelling in Carceral Space
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What is the relationship between prisons designed to lock people in and suburban fortresses designed to lock people out? Building on Jonathan Simon’s account of “homeowner citizenship,” I argue that the gated community is the structural counterpart to the prison in a neoliberal carceral state. Levinas’s account of the ambiguity of dwelling—as shelter for our constitutive relationality, as a site of mastery or possessive isolation, and as the opening of hospitality—helps to articulate what is at stake in homeowner citizenship, beyond the spectre of stranger danger: namely, my own capacity for murderous violence, and my investment in this violence through the occupation of territory and the accumulation of private property. Given the systemic nature of such investments, the meaning of hospitality in the carceral state is best expressed in abolitionist social movements like the Movement for Black Lives, which holds space for a radical restructuring of the world.
17. Levinas Studies: Volume > 12
Bettina Bergo “And God Created Woman”: Questions of Justice and Ontology
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This article reads Levinas’s “And God Created Woman” in light of its socio-political context, Mai soixante-huit. It explores themes from his “Judaism and Revolution,” in which he reframed concepts of revolution, exegesis, the revolutionary, and human alienation. Following these themes, which run subtly through his Talmudic remarks on women and indirectly on feminism, I examine his arguments about a “signification beyond universality” and the fraught relationship between formal equity in gender relations and the practice of justice, as embodied by the Antigone-like Rizpah bath Aiah and analyzed in Levinas’s Talmudic reading “Toward the Other.” I summarize the Rabbinic debate about the meaning of an extra yod in the term often translated as “to create” in Genesis, turning to the significance of dissymmetry between the Hebrew names of “man” and “woman,” Ish and Isha. In light of this, Biblicist and psychoanalyst Daniel Sibony opens further insights into gender, naming, and identity.
18. Levinas Studies: Volume > 12
Aminah Hasan-Birdwell Interrogating the Doctrine of the Univocity of Being: A Levinasian Critique of Immanent Causality (Contra Deleuze?)
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This paper attends to Emmanuel Levinas’s criticism of the univocity doctrine as it pertains to Baruch Spinoza and in view of Gilles Deleuze’s interpretation. The analysis will have a narrow focus on univocity because it will exclusively treat the univocity of cause in Spinoza and its ethical and political implications. Narrowing the approach will illustrate the importance of the doctrine in Levinas’s minor engagements with the modern philosopher and its convergence with Deleuze’s project in Difference and Repetition and Expressionism in Philosophy: namely, the univocal relation between Substance and the modes. Although both Levinas and Deleuze will converge on basic observations about the univocity of cause, they will depart at significant moments on the implications of the doctrine itself. The analysis will acknowledge Deleuze’s reflections on the Ethics, but it will focus on Levinas’s critique and indictment of Spinoza’s thought—that it eliminates singularity and that it is in itself a justification of perpetual war.
19. Levinas Studies: Volume > 12
Joel Michael Reynolds Killing in the Name of Care
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On 26 July 2016, Satoshi Uematsu murdered 19 and injured 26 at a caregiving facility in Sagamihara, Japan, making it the country’s worst mass killing since WWII. In this article, I offer an analysis of the Sagamihara 19 massacre. I draw on the work of Julia Kristeva and Emmanuel Levinas to argue that claims about disability experience are insufficient to justify normative projects. In short, disability is normatively ambiguous.
20. Levinas Studies: Volume > 12
Timothy Stock A Broken Fast: “The Bread from My Mouth” as Ethical Transcendence and Ontological Drama
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“The gift of bread from my mouth” serves as a byword for “Levinasian ethics,” the precise meaning of which is often taken for granted. It is not at all clear that a prescriptive ethics could ever be derived from these passages; it is also a hyperbole for responsibility. Discussion of this figure almost universally ignores the parallel, and explicitly ethical, discussion of Isaiah 58, where the breaking of bread represents the perplexity of hunger, the rejection of oppression, and the proximity of God. The breaking of bread is not a self-standing account of ethics but is paralleled by the ethics of the broken fast. The “gift of bread from my mouth” helps to explain the repeated references to fasting throughout Levinas’s authorship. The varying figures of the broken bread frame an ontological drama: sensibility, separation, proximity, and diachrony—and presses the sense that possession and the ego are ethically futile, as the alterity of hunger is proximal or “at the core” of the subject.