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Gift, Responsibility, Diachrony, Hope
Over the course of six decades, Emmanuel Levinas developed a radical understanding of time. Like Martin Heidegger, Levinas saw the everyday experience of synchronous time marked by clocks and calendars as an abstraction from the way time functions more fundamentally. Yet, in a definitive break from Heidegger’s analysis of temporality, by the end of his career Levinas’s philosophy of time becomes the linchpin for his argument that the other person has priority over the self. For Levinas, time is a feature of the self’s encounter with the face, and it is his understanding of time that makes possible his radical claim that ethics is first philosophy. Levinas’s Philosophy of Time takes a chronological approach to examine Levinas’s deliberations on time, noting along the way the ways in which his account is informed by aspects of Judaism and by other thinkers: Rosenzweig, Bergson, Husserl, Heidegger. The progression in Levinas’s account, Severson argues, moves through his viewing time as a gift or a responsibility in earlier works and culminates in the groundbreaking expressions of his later works in which he rests his resounding philosophy of radical responsibility on an understanding of time as diachrony. Further, by focusing on this progression in Levinas’s thought, Severson brings new insight to a number of aspects in Levinas studies that have consistently troubled readers, including the differences between his early and later writings, his controversial invocation of the feminine, and the blurry line between philosophy and religion in his work. Finally, drawing on Levinas’s own acknowledgment that significant work remained to be done on the concept of time, Severson considers the problems and benefits of Levinas’s understanding of time and ultimately suggests some possibilities for thinking about time after Levinas. In particular, he reconsiders Levinas’s account of the feminine and gender, identifies an implicit “fourth person” that functions behind the scenes of Levinas’s work, and highlights the concept of hope in both a future justice and the possibility of a restoration that is not egocentric but for-the-other.
A Deleuzean Aesthetics of Existence
Deleuze's publications have attracted enormous attention, but scant attention has been paid to the existential relevance of Deleuze's writings. In the lineage of Nietzsche, Life Drawing develops a fully affirmative Deleuzean aesthetics of existence.For Foucault and Nehamas, the challenge of an aesthetics of existence is to make your life, in one way or another, a work of art. In contrast, Bearn argues that art is too narrow a concept to guide this kind of existential project. He turns instead to the more generous notion of beauty, but he argues that the philosophical tradition has mostly misconceived beauty in terms of perfection. Heraclitus and Kant are well-known exceptions to this mistake, and Bearn suggests that because Heraclitean becoming is beyond conceptual characterization, it promises a sensualized experience akin to what Kant called free beauty. In this new aesthetics of existence, the challengeis to become beautiful by releasing a Deleuzean becoming: becoming becoming. Bearn's readings of philosophical texts--by Wittgenstein, Derrida, Plato, and others--will be of interest in their own right.
A Contemporary Hermeneutics
In Gadamer's hermeneutics, interpretation is inseparable from the broader concern of making one's way in life. In this book, James Risser builds on this insight about the juxtaposition of human living and the act of understanding by tracing hermeneutics back to the basic experience of philosophy as defined by Plato. For Risser, Plato provides resources for new directions in hermeneutics and new possibilities for "the life of understanding" and "the understanding of life." Risser places Gadamer in dialogue with Plato, with the issue of memory as a conceptual focus. He develops themes pertaining to hermeneutics such as retrieval as a matter of convalescence, exile as a venture into the foreign, formation with respect to oneself and to life with others, the experience of language in hermeneutics, and the relationship between speaking and writing.
Re-thinking Ethics in Healthcare
Listening to the Whispers gives voice to scholars in philosophy, medical anthropology, physical therapy, and nursing, helping readers re-think ethics across the disciplines in the context of today's healthcare system. Diverse voices, often unheard, challenge readers to enlarge the circle of their ethical concerns and look for hidden pathways toward new understandings of ethics. Essays range from a focus on the context of corporatization and managed care environments to a call for questioning the fundamental values of society as these values silently affect many others in healthcare. Each chapter is followed by a brief essay that highlights issues useful for scholarly research and classroom discussion. The conversations of interpretive research in healthcare contained in this volume encourage readers to re-think ethics in ways that will help to create an ethical healthcare system with a future of new possibilities.
Outstanding Academic Title, Choice Magazine
Transactional Bodies, Pragmatism, and Feminism
Explores the dynamic relationship between bodies and the world around them.
What if we lived across and through our skins as much as we do within them? According to Shannon Sullivan, the notion of bodies in transaction with their social, political, cultural, and physical surroundings is not new. Early in the 20th century, John Dewey elaborated human existence as a set of patterns of behavior or actions shaped by the environment. Underscoring the continued relevance of his thought, Sullivan brings Dewey into conversation with Continental philosophers -- Nietzsche and Merleau-Ponty -- and feminist philosophers -- Butler and Harding -- to expand thinking about the body. Emphasizing topics such as the role of habit, the discursivity of bodies, communication and meaning, personal and cultural structures of gender, the improvement of bodily experience, and understandings of truth and objectivity, Living Across and Through Skins acknowledges the importance of the body's experience without placing it in opposition to psychological, cultural, and social aspects of human life. By focusing on what bodies do, rather than what they are, Sullivan prompts a closer look at concrete, physical transactions that might be changed to improve human experiences of the world.
The Question of Truth
Martin Heidegger's 1925--26 lectures on truth and time provided much of the basis for his momentous work, Being and Time. Not published until 1976 as volume 21 of the Complete Works, three months before Heidegger's death, this work is central to Heidegger's overall project of reinterpreting Western thought in terms of time and truth. The text shows the degree to which Aristotle underlies Heidegger's hermeneutical theory of meaning. It also contains Heidegger's first published critique of Husserl and takes major steps toward establishing the temporal bases of logic and truth. Thomas Sheehan's elegant and insightful translation offers English-speaking readers access to this fundamental text for the first time.
Levinas and Metaphysical Desire
One of the most persistent and poignant human experiences is the sensation of longing—a restlessness perhaps best described as the unspoken conviction that something is missing from our lives. In this study, Drew M. Dalton attempts to illuminate this experience by examining the philosophical thought of Emmanuel Levinas on longing, or what Levinas terms “metaphysical desire.”
Metaphysical desire, according to Levinas, does not stem from any determinate lack within us, nor does it aim at a particular object beyond us, much less promise any eventual satisfaction. Rather, it functions in the realm of the infinite where such distinctions as inside and outside or one and the other are indistinguishable, perhaps even eliminated. As Levinas conceives such longing, it becomes a mediator in our relation to the other—both the human other and the divine Other.
Dalton follows the meandering trail of Levinas’s thought along a series of dialogues with some of the philosophers within the history of the Western tradition who have most influenced his corpus. By tracing the genealogy of Levinas’s notion of metaphysical desire—namely in the works of Plato, Heidegger, Fichte, Schelling, and Otto—the nature of this Levinasian theme is elucidated to reveal that it is not simply an idealism, a “hagiography of desire” detached from actual experience and resulting in a disconnect between his phenomenological account and our own lives. Rather, Levinas’s account of metaphysical desire points to a phenomenology of human longing that is both an ethical and religious phenomenon. In the end, human longing is revealed to be one of the most profound ways in which a subject becomes a subject, arising to its “true self,” and hearing the call to responsibility placed upon it by the Other.
Throughout, Dalton explicates the nuance of a number of key Levinasian terms, many of which have been taken from the Western philosophical tradition and reinscribed with a new meaning. Eros, the “Good beyond being,” shame, responsibility, creation, the trace, the il y a, and the holy are discovered to be deeply tied to Levinas’s account of metaphysical desire, resulting in a conclusion regarding longing’s role in the relationship between the finite and the Infinite.
The year 2011 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Emmanuel Levinas’s Totality and Infinity, which now stands as one of the classic texts of the second half of the twentieth century. At this anniversary, this collection of essays suggests that a revitalized understanding of the text is needed. While readers can easily fall into routine readings and discussions of this originally provocative—even intoxicating—text, Totality and Infinity at 50 invites students of Levinas to explore new avenues into the work by charting a map of Levinas scholarship for the next 50 years. From the problem of the other, the emphasis of ethics as first philosophy, the text’s theological implications, and the focus on the role of the feminine, Totality and Infinity has been the subject of a wide range of interpretations and scholarly interests since its publication. While these various emphases have contributed to a greater understanding of Levinas’s philosophy, they can also have the cumulative effect of leading us to believe that all of the different options have been explored. In contrast, this volume argues that there is still more to be said about this seminal book, inspiring readers to look beyond routine readings and worn themes of Totality and Infinity. As a result, these Levinas scholars provide essays that offer a fresh account of the argument and purpose of Totality and Infinity; draw parallels between Levinas and other thinkers including Marx, Stanley Cavell, and Édouard Glissant; consider Levinas’s relationship to other disciplines such as nursing, psychotherapy, and law; and bring this seminal text to bear on specific, concrete issues of present-day concern. With this focus, Totality and Infinity at 50 envisions a renewed and newly invigorated relationship with Totality and Infinity, so that Levinas’s philosophy might remain a vital companion to us in the next half-century.
Ferit Güven illuminates the historically constitutive roles of madness and death in philosophy by examining them in the light of contemporary discussions of the intersection of power and knowledge and ethical relations with the other. Historically, as Güven shows, philosophical treatments of madness and death have limited or subdued their disruptive quality. Madness and death are linked to the question of how to conceptualize the unthinkable, but Güven illustrates how this conceptualization results in a reduction to positivity of the very radical negativity these moments represent. Tracing this problematic through Plato, Hegel, Heidegger, and, finally, in the debate on madness between Foucault and Derrida, Güven gestures toward a nonreducible, disruptive form of negativity, articulated in Heidegger’s critique of Hegel and Foucault’s engagement with Derrida, that might allow for the preservation of real otherness and open the possibility of a true ethics of difference.
On Baroque Aesthetics