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61. Levinas Studies: Volume > 3
62. Levinas Studies: Volume > 3
Michael Barber Epistemic and Ethical Intersubjectivity in Brandom and Levinas
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As the first part of this essay will show, Robert Brandom has developed an impressive epistemological position that explains the structures of discourse in terms of an inferential semantics and a normative pragmatics, and that implies a version of epistemic intersubjectivity centered around the figure of the scorekeeper. The second part of this paper will show via a consideration of the Brandom/McDowell debate on perception how this version of intersubjectivity emphasizes a theoretical-critical, externalist stance toward the other whose claims are being assessed, though Brandom includes to a degree the first-person perspective of the scorekeeper and the assessed other. Section three will show how Emmanuel Levinas proposes an alternative view of intersubjectivity, ethical intersubjectivity, which engages us at a bodily level, beneath theorizing, and which involves a fusion of a robust first-person perspective with inescapable intersubjectivity (the otherin the same). In this relationship, the I approaches the other in trust, through a nonknowing (but still known) attitude, and experiences a different kind of decentration from that typical of a project aimed at overcoming epistemic inertia. A final section will point out how one can find traces of ethical intersubjectivity within Brandom’s epistemic intersubjectivity and how an ethically directed epistemic intersubjectivity can best achieve its epistemic goals.
63. Levinas Studies: Volume > 3
Bettina Bergo A Site from which to Hope?: Notes on Sensibility and Meaning in Levinas and Nietzsche
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We have now had some two decades of Levinas commentary. What remains to be said? Certainly one thing we have learned since Otherwise than Being is that Levinas’s philosophy and his talmudic and confessional writings nourish each other so profoundly that to approach Levinas without understanding the historyof Jewish philosophy — in its confrontations with neo-Platonism, Aristotle, Kant — is to risk misunderstanding Levinas. Insights into the interrelationships between Jewish thought and Levinas’s other humanism have been provided by thinkers like Robert Gibbs, Claire Katz, Catherine Chalier, Shmuel Trigano, and Gérard Bensussan, to name but a few. But if one is not well versed in Jewish thought, will one be liable to abandon Levinas’s thought as an existentialized confessionalism? Perhaps. But I think the loss to philosophy would be considerable.
64. Levinas Studies: Volume > 3
Rudi Visker In Praise of Visibility
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Those who are familiar with the development of contemporary philosophy and in particular of phenomenology, may have frowned at the prospect of having to sit through a praise of visibility. Indeed, if there is any praise to be sung, it is not the visible but the invisible that should be its subject. The realm of the visible suffers from an intrinsic defect: it lacks the depth to resist the movement of appropriation implied in seeing, or more generally in perceiving. It does not dispose of whatLevinas would call the infinity that could help it withstand the gaze that catches it and helps it contest the subject of that gaze its power. There is not enough of the event in it to “summon the subject outside of its autarky.” “The flat phenomenon and the subject to which nothing ever happens form a pair,” Rudolf Bernet writes in a paper with the telling title “Le phénomène et l’invisible (le regard).” It seems indeed left to the invisible to remediate the shortcomings of the eye that sees. Its task is to divest the subject who sees of a handicap it cannot compensate for on its own, — of a kind of Midas complex: whatever it encounters in the light that it throws on things, is fatally robbed of its alterity, leaving the seeing or perceiving subject alone in a solitude that is but the reverse side of the power by which it subjects whatever crosses its way. “The exteriority of light,” Levinas writes in this vein, “does not suffice for the liberation of the I that is its own prisoner.”
65. Levinas Studies: Volume > 3
Lawrence Vogel Emmanuel Levinas and the Judaism of the Good Samaritan
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Any thoughtful reading of Levinas must grapple with what is implied by his notion that the Other is “higher” than the self — that the Other is “one for whom I can do all and to whom I owe all”? (EI 89). At least two evident issues arise when we wonder what it would mean to live with and by this notion. Without fail, newcomers to Levinas’s ideas raise these two issues. The first centers on the question: What is my responsibility to strangers? That is, if I “owe all” to a stranger in need to the point where his or her welfare and life come before mine, how can I possibly address the interests of my loved ones, friends, colleagues, and fellow citizens, not to mention my own needs? Moreover, is Levinas suggesting that we have a moral duty to be saints? The second issue revolves around the question: What is the responsibility of a victim toward her persecutor? This can easily lead to asking, is Levinas implying that a Jew being herded off to Auschwitz “owes everything” tohis Nazi captor? Also, what can it mean for a victim to encounter the face of a rapist and to “substitute” herself for him? And should she? I shall approach these persistent issues by first explaining how Levinas grounds his claims that the face-to-face-relationship is asymmetrical and that “I am responsible for the Other, without waiting for reciprocity, were I to die for it” (EI 98).
66. Levinas Studies: Volume > 3
Robert Bernasconi Extra-Territoriality: Outside the State, Outside the Subject
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In his preface to Beyond the Verse, written in 1981, Emmanuel Levinas poses the following provocative question: “Can democracy and the ‘rights of man’divorce themselves without danger from their prophetic and ethical depth?” (BV xv / AV 12–13). The question is clearly intended to threaten the comfortable consensus that has gathered around these icons of our time and, more specifically, to displace what have come to be known under the title the “rights of man” from the context of the European Enlightenment with which they are so often identified. Levinas performs this act of displacement in the first instance by relocatingthem within the tradition of the Jewish prophets. However, this effort ultimately leads him to a more radical displacement, one that amounts to a certain re-placing of them, a relocating of them elsewhere altogether. What does that mean? What are its implications for the doctrine of the “rights of man”?
67. Levinas Studies: Volume > 3
John Drabinski On Subjectivity and Political Debt
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Much of the work on Levinas and political philosophy is content to note two things: the resistance of the ethical to politics and the messianic dimension of Levinas’s thought. The task, then, has largely been to identify (usually formal) points of resistance and/or to trace out the figures of messianism in the various functions of the prophetic word. Themes of singularity and eschatology therefore dominate the discussion. While both of these aspects of his work are important and can pay interesting dividends, one cannot but note another result: a lack of materiality in developing a Levinasian politics. This need not be the case. Indeed, much of my concern in what follows is to open up the possibility of thinking about Levinas and politics in a manner that reintroduces an element of concreteness.
68. Levinas Studies: Volume > 3
69. Levinas Studies: Volume > 4
Anthony J. Steinbock Reducing the One to the Other: Kant, Levinas, and the Problem of Religious Experience
70. Levinas Studies: Volume > 4
Steven G. Smith The Work of Service: Levinas’s Eventual Philosophy of Culture
71. Levinas Studies: Volume > 4
72. Levinas Studies: Volume > 4
László Tengelyi Experience of Infinity in Levinas
73. Levinas Studies: Volume > 4
About the Contributors
74. Levinas Studies: Volume > 4
Andrew Tallon Levinas’s Ethical Horizon, Affective Neuroscience, and Social Field Theory
75. Levinas Studies: Volume > 4
David Vessey Relating Levinas and Gadamer through Heidegger
76. Levinas Studies: Volume > 4
77. Levinas Studies: Volume > 4
78. Levinas Studies: Volume > 4
Cristian Ciocan, Kascha Semon The Problem of Embodiment in the Early Writings of Emmanuel Levinas
79. Levinas Studies: Volume > 4
Jeffrey Bloechl Editor’s Introduction
80. Levinas Studies: Volume > 4
Eric Sean Nelson Levinas and Early Confucian Ethics: Religion, Rituality, and the Sources of Morality