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Levinas Studies

Volume 1, 2005

Michael L. Morgan
Pages 1-17
DOI: 10.5840/levinas200513

Levinas and Judaism

I would like to try to clarify one aspect of the relationship between Levinas’s philosophy — or “ethical metaphysics,” as Edith Wyschogrod has called it — and Judaism as Levinas understands it. In and of itself it is interesting to try to understand Levinas’s thinking and its relationship to his life as a Jew and to Judaism as he takes it to be. But I also have ulterior motives — that is, I have what some might think are larger fish to fry. I will begin by saying something about Hilary Putnam’s article “Levinas and Judaism” in The Cambridge Companion to Levinas, edited by Simon Critchley and Robert Bernasconi. I think that I can indicate what those “larger fish” are by pointing to an intriguing tension in Putnam’s discussion.