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Levinas and the Wisdom of Love

The Question of Invisibility

Corey Beals

Publication Year: 2007

Directly challenging the prevailing interpretation, Corey Beals explores the ideas of twentieth-century philosopher Emmanuel Levinas's concept of love, love's relation to wisdom, and how love makes the Other visible to us. Distinguishing love from other types of wisdom, Beals argues that Levinas's"wisdom of love"is a real possibility, one which grants priority to ethics over ontology.

Published by: Baylor University Press

Front Cover

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Title Page


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pp. vii

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pp. ix-x

I began writing this book in the Bronx, New York, wrote much of it in New Haven, Connecticut, and finished writing it in Newberg, Oregon. I have many to thank in each place. In the Bronx, I am very grateful to John Drummond, Dana Miller, Chris Cullen, and especially to John Davenport...

List of Abbreviations

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pp. xi-xiii

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pp. 1-2

It is widely acknowledged that Emmanuel Levinas’s central claim was the priority of the ethical relation over ontology. There is wide disagreement, however, as to what this means and as to whether it is possible, and if so, how it is possible. Some take Levinas to be saying that we must abandon philosophical wisdom, and others say that the type of wisdom that Levinas advocates is impossible...

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1: Levinas and Invisibility

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pp. 3-9

Levinas draws from two sources—one traced to Jerusalem and the other to Athens—which both have histories whose opening pages involve invisibility. The Greek historian Herodotus, often referred to as the “father of history,”1 opens his famous work, Histories,2 with an account of Gyges, who was a servant...

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2: Levinasian Terminology

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pp. 11-41

In this second chapter, I will attempt to bring together a wide array of terminology used by Levinas across a broad selection of his corpus. I will group them according to the ways in which Levinas has used the terms similarly, and I will also be providing approximate or provisional definitions to help...

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3: Levinasian Love

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pp. 43-64

Levinas writes, “Philosophy is the wisdom of love in the service of love” (OB, 162), which he juxtaposes with the traditional philosophical love of wisdom. En route to answering the question of how this wisdom of love differs from the love of wisdom, this chapter will focus on what Levinas meant by ‘love.’...

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4: Levinasian Priority

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pp. 65-92

Continuing the examination of Levinas’s central phrase, “philosophy is the wisdom of love at the service of love,” I will now turn to the priority relationship suggested by the term ‘service.’ That is, I will ask how it is that wisdom is to serve love. As can be seen by looking at the way Levinas’s terms...

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5: Levinasian Wisdom

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pp. 93-121

As we continue this examination of Levinas’s central phrase that philosophy is “the wisdom of love at the service of love,” the groundwork has been laid to now turn to an analysis of Levinas’s ‘wisdom of love.’ Chapter 2 outlined many terms used by Levinas that are closely related with wisdom of love,...

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6: The Scales of Wisdom

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pp. 123-129

Having examined the way in which Gyges’ secret can be broken, there remains one last question to address which bears significantly on our topic of the wisdom of love. If wisdom and politics are necessary, as I have argued, then is there anything that can be said about the external conditions of our...

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pp. 131-132

Since Levinas advocates testimony as one type of speech consistent with the wisdom of love, I will testify1 that in researching and writing this book, I have learned a secret—Gyges’ secret. I have learned the importance of Gyges’ question—how I have used it and how I might be tempted to use it—to...


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pp. 133-149


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pp. 151-157


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pp. 159-169

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9781602580794
E-ISBN-10: 1602580790
Print-ISBN-13: 9781602583382
Print-ISBN-10: 1602583382

Page Count: 180
Publication Year: 2007

Edition: 1st