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Face to Face with Levinas

Richard A. Cohen

Publication Year: 1986

Face to Face with Levinas makes available to American readers the best of recent thought on Emmanuel Levinas. The contributors to this volume are some of the most significant and best-known Levinas scholars in the United States and Europe—Maurice Blanchot, Luce Trigaray, Theodore De Boer, Adriaan Peperzak, Jan de Greef, Alphonso Lingis. Most notably, it features an interview with Levinas by Richard Kearney. This elaborate interview provides a succinct introduction to the themes developed within the book and allows Levinas to restate his philosophy in light of the criticisms that follow.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Series: SUNY Series in Philosophy (discontinued)

Title and Copyright

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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-viii

Levinas has written his own brief intellectual bibliography, "Signature."1 His biography, complete up to 1981, can be found in Emmanuel Levinas by Roger Burggraeve.2


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pp. ix-x

Key to Abbreviations

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pp. xi

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pp. 1-10

Is an ethical philosophy primarily philosophical, a true discourse that happens to be about moral phenomena? Or is such a philosophy primarily ethical, an edifying discourse designed to stimulate good behavior, an exhortation, instruction or prescription rather than an explanation,...

Part I: Proximity

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1. Dialogue with Emmanuel Levinas

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pp. 13-33

Richard Kearney: Perhaps you could retrace your philosophical itinerary by identifying some of the major influences on your thought? ...

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2. Bad Conscience and the Inexorable

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pp. 35-40

1. Starting with intentionality, consciousness is understood as a modality of the voluntary. The word intention suggests this, and thus the label acts conferred on the unities of intentional consciousness is justified. On the other hand, the...

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3. Our Clandestine Companion

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pp. 41-50

Twenty years ago Levinas wrote, "For everyone, this century will have witnessed the end of philosophy" — yet, by ending this very same phrase with an exclamation point, he modified and possibly reversed its sense. This punctual addition was particularly welcome since, having been...

Part II: From Ethics to Philosophy

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4. Reason as One for Another: Moral and Theoretical Argument

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pp. 53-72

Emmanuel Levinas has represented the divine claim of the moral life, "otherwise than being:' by the idea of the absolutely other. His uncompromising treatment of the otherness of God and neighbor seems, however, to negate the minimum conditions of sense and reason, posing a...

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5. Levinas' Question

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pp. 73-82

"How does he do it?" The question of method continually nags at anyone reading Totality and Infinity for the first time. How can Levinas be so aggravatingly profound and yet still retain any semblance of philosophical rigor? ...

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6. An Ethical Transcendental Philosophy

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pp. 83-115

To speak of the philosophy of Levinas as a transcendental philosophy seems paradoxical — indeed, a form of imperialism against a thinker who rejects any and every transcendental philosophy. Doesn't the transcendental method imply that philosophy is based upon the...

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7. Levinas' Logic

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pp. 117-158

The following lines of thought are part of a study that is in progress, aiming to establish that prescriptive statements are not commensurable with denotative ones — or in other words, with descriptive ones. We begin by examining the situation of Levinas' thought in the face of...

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8. Skepticism and Reason

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pp. 159-179

In his article "De la signifiance du sens;' Levinas says that he would like "briefly to consider further the contradiction of principle which would arise in affirming the independence of ethical intelligibility both from theoretical thought and being, within a discourse that is itself theoretical."1 ...

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9. Levinas and Derrida: The Question of the Closure of Metaphysics

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pp. 181-202

The notion of the end of philosophy underlies all of Derrida's writings. This is never more explicit than at the beginning of the essay "Violence and Metaphysics: An Essay on the Thought of Emmanuel Levinas," where he announces the questions he brings to his reading of Levinas.2 ...

Part III: Contexts

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10. Some Remarks on Hegel, Kant, and Levinas

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pp. 205-217

Although most pages of Totality and Infinity quote Heidegger or allude to his work, it is obvious that Hegel's "system of philosophy" is a paradigmatic case of the "totalitarian" philosophy attacked by Levinas, whereas it is not immediately clear whether his criticism does...

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11. The Sensuality and the Sensitivity

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pp. 219-230

To sense something is to catch on to the sense of something, its direction, orientation, or meaning. Sensibility is sense perception, apprehension of sense. In addition, to sense something is to be sensitive to something, to be concerned by it, affected by it. ...

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12. The Fecundity of the Caress

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pp. 231-256

On the horizon of a story is found, once again, that which was in the beginning: this naive, or native, sense of a touch, in which the subject does not yet exist. Submerged in pathos or aisthesz's: astonishment, admiration, sometimes terror, before that which surrounds it. ...

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 257-258


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pp. 259-261

Index [Includes Back Cover]

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pp. 263-264

E-ISBN-13: 9780791499368
E-ISBN-10: 791499367
Print-ISBN-13: 9780887062582
Print-ISBN-10: 088706258X

Page Count: 264
Publication Year: 1986

Series Title: SUNY Series in Philosophy (discontinued)