Continental Philosophy Review, Volume 40, Number 3 (July 2007)


Just a quick reference to this interesting issue of Continental Philosophy Review – published by Springer (Nederlands) – this is the latest issue and it contains, among other things, a translation of an essay by Levinas and an great essay on a (possible) Levinasian reading of Kierkegaard’s Works of Love:

CONTINENTAL PHILOSOPHY REVIEW, 40:3 (July 2007)

  • Emmanuel Levinas, “Being Jewish” (trans. Mary Beth Mader, University of Memphis) : 205-210

Abstract: “Being Jewish” is a translation of Emmanuel Levinas’ 1947 essay “Être Juif.” Its topics include Jewish and Sartrean facticities; modern science, Christianity and Judaic temporality; Judaism and the non-Jewish world; personhood and election; freedom, passivity and anxiety; and anti-Jewish hatred. The original essay was first published in the French journal Confluences, 1947, année 7, nos. 15–17, pp. 253–264. It was reprinted in Cahiers d’Etudes lévinassiennes, 2003, Numéro 1, pp. 99–106. The Editor and Translator would like to thank Michaël Levinas for his kind permission to publish the English translation of “Être Juif.”

  • Merold Westphal, “The welcome wound: emerging from the il y a otherwise” : 211-230

Abstract: This essay is an analysis of the inverted intentionality that is arguably the central notion in the phenomenology of Emmanuel Levinas. The primal horizon for all human meaning is the brute fact of undifferentiated being, the il y a experienced impersonally as insomnia and weight. The first exit from this world devoid of meaning, subjectivity, and objectivity is that of the psychism or conatus essendi, the self which places itself at the center and makes everything else a means to its own ends. But there is another exit, subsequent developmentally but more fundamental ontologically, and in this sense more truly first. It is the emergence of the responsible self, decentered by the proximity of the other. With help from St. John of the Cross and Jean-Paul Sartre this emergence, in which meaning is “prior to my Sinngebung” and arises in intentional acts directed toward me rather than arising from me, is explicated.

  • Christina M. Gschwandtner, “The neighbor and the infinite: Marion and Levinas on the encounter between self, human other, and God” : 231-249

Abstract: In this article I examine Jean-Luc Marion’s two-fold criticism of Emmanuel Levinas’ philosophy of other and self, namely that Levinas remains unable to overcome ontological difference in Totality and Infinity and does so successfully only with the notion of the appeal in Otherwise than Being and that his account of alterity is ambiguous in failing to distinguish clearly between human and divine other. I outline Levinas’ response to this criticism and then critically examine Marion’s own account of subjectivity that attempts to go beyond Levinas in its emphasis on a pure or anonymous appeal. I criticize this move as rather problematic and turn instead back to Levinas for a more convincing account of the relations between self, human other, and God. In this context, I also show that Levinas in fact draws quite careful distinctions between human and divine others.

  • John Caruana, “The drama of being: Levinas and the history of philosophy” : 251-273

Abstract: The motif of the ‘drama of being’ is a dominant thread that spans the entirety of Levinas’s six decades of authorship. As we will see, from the start of his writing career, Levinas consciously frames the tension between ontology and ethics in a dramatic form. A careful exposition of this motif and other related theatrical metaphors in his work–-such as ‘intrigue,’ ‘plot,’ and ‘scene’–-can offer us not only a better appreciation of the evolution of Levinas’s thought, but also of his proper place within the western philosophical tradition. Levinas accuses western philosophers of being exclusively attuned to what he calls the ‘drama of existence.’ And even then, philosophers have eluded the implications of the tragic fatalism that define this drama. Philosophers are generally unaware of an ‘other scene’ that radically alters the fatalistic logic of the ontological drama. Levinas calls this other scene the ‘ethical intrigue.’

  • Nick Smith, “Adorno vs. Levinas: Evaluating points of contention “ : 275-306

Abstract: Although Adorno and Levinas share many arguments, I attempt to sharpen and evaluate their disagreements. Both held extreme and seemingly opposite views of art, with Adorno arguing that art presents modernity’s highest order of truth and Levinas denouncing it as shameful idolatry. Considering this striking difference brings to light fundamental substantive and methodological incompatibilities between them. Levinas’ assertion of the transcendence of the face should be understood as the most telling point of departure between his and Adorno’s critiques of instrumental reason. I attempt to explain why Levinas believed this move was justifiable and how Adorno would understand Levinas’ notion of illeity as a cultural byproduct and a form of dogmatism. Adorno’s historical and sociological account of the disenchantment of the world and the destruction of aura within a culture fully administered by scientific rationality and economic reductionism sharply contrasts to Levinas’ transcendental phenomenology, and I argue that Adorno’s thoroughgoing refusal to constrain dialectical reflection is ultimately more compelling.

This paper benefited from exchanges with Jay Bernstein, Bob Scharff, Gregg Horowitz, David Wood, Max Pensky, Scott Bakker, and critics of the earlier version of this argument presented at the 2004 meeting of the Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy. I also thank unnamed reviewers from Continental Philosophy Review for their generous and thoughtful comments and the members of the University of New Hampshire Center for Humanities for their financial support.

  • Silvia Benso, “Gestures of Work: Levinas and Hegel” : 307-330

Abstract: What is Levinas’s relation to Hegel, the thinker who seems to summarize everything which Levinas’s philosophy opposes, yet with whom Levinas never enters a sustained philosophical engagement? An answer can be found through an analysis of the concept of work, understood both as activity of labor and product thereof. The concept of work reveals that, despite the apparent (but superficial) sense of opposition, Levinas’s philosophy works in a deliberately noncommittal, or, to use a Levinasian expression, “dis-interested” mode with respect to Hegel. Such mode of disinterstedness expresses an ethical gesture of joyful hospitality that neither confirms nor refutes the German philosopher but rather opens him up to an eschatological dimension.

  • Michael R. Paradiso-Michau, “Ethical alterity and asymmetrical reciprocity: A Levinasian reading of Works of Love : 331-347

Abstract: Following and extending the recent tradition of Kierkegaard–Levinas comparativists, this essay offers a Levinasian commentary on salient aspects of Kierkegaard’s ethico-religious deliberations in Works of Love, a text that we are unsure whether or not Levinas actually read. Against some post/modern interpreters, I argue that one should adopt both a Jewish and a Christian perspective (rather than an oversimplified either/or point of view) in exploring the sometimes “seamless passages” between Kierkegaard and Levinas’s thought. The first argument of this essay is that interhuman ethical relationships, as seen by Kierkegaard and Levinas, are premised upon an original asymmetry or inequality. Ethical alterity requires more on the part of the responsible I for the destitute Other. However, this original ethical alterity is not at all the last word in loving and healthy human relationships. In the second section of this study, a dual asymmetry on the part of each participating human yields an “asymmetrical reciprocity,” or in Kierkegaard’s words, “infinity on both sides.” While they are of no concern␣to me, your ethical duties to me are revealed to you upon our face-to-face encounter.

Here I offer a Kierkegaardian–Levinasian response to Hegel’s and Buber’s thoughts that humans essentially desire recognition, mutuality, and reciprocity from one another in intersubjective relationships. Hegel and Buber are more or less correct, but when seen from a Kierkegaardian and Levinasian perspective, we are offered resources for understanding more precisely how and why their accounts are accurate. Hegel and Buber offer us the second phase of the argument, whereas Kierkegaard and Levinas show us the first and primary phase of interhuman relationships – the revealed and infinite ethical responsibility to the Other person.

  • Adriaan Peperzak, Review of Salomon Malka, Emmanuel Levinas: His Life and Legacy, translated by Michael Kigel and Sonja M. Embree (Duquesne University Press: Pittsburgh, 2006) : 349-352

Shahar, I am not sure if you saw this last book, or would want to see a review, but I put it here (review_malka.pdf) for a quick reference.

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