Tag Archives: Emmanuel Lévinas

Levinas,books etc


I have received several books now written by or about Levinas.As you guess,they are quite hard so my time is taken up reading.The most hopeful one,The          Cambridge Guide,is not here yet.but I think it will be more understandable than the others to an ignorant person like myself. I am unsure what I’ve done but this  is coming out very much to one side so I shall just say.Hello and continue with my studies.I like this shy lion picture.

PS.Just got the Cambridge Guide and it looks quite approachable.

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BionSexual healingvivian-gornick_0hannaarendtsudomenica16ye8TillichMargaretDrabbleBW75wittgensteinMunch-studio-Getty95002154I have got another book by Levinas.I am planning to spend a few days reading and meditating…so i should have much to write about next week.I am very affected by the notion of the meaning of how encounter another and how ethics is the primary essence of philosphy

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Meeting a person’s eyes:Levinas in ordinary life


corot woman



The face to face encounter and its ethical meaning/implications is at the heart of Levinas‘ thought.Just today I was thinking over some personal events relating to this.

A few months ago I went into a cafe and found myself just behind an ex-colleague whom  I regard [note the word] as friend.I could see her husband sitting at the back of the cafe.She did mutter,Hello,but  instead of  meeting me eye to eye and  saying,”my husband wants to be alone”,she went through an elaborate pantomime of mime indicating rejection or keep a distance…which was unpleasant.I would been much happier with a straightforward look and a few words.

Today I had a similar event.I met a woman who used to be my physiotherapist ,again in a queue.She looked at me full on and greeted me  with pleasure.As she picked up  her tray she asked me to join her and her husband plus a grandchild.We had a pleasant time,But if she had said,we are with our family,or whatever,that woulded have been fine too.because she looked at me

I am not saying the first woman ought to have done that.But what interests me is the lack of a willingness to “meet” me with her gaze.I  am entirely happy if people wish to be alone whilst the have coffee but I prefer them to say so.

Some individuals with autism are almost unable to make eye contact…. and this is because others are not real to  them,If we are near someone who will not meet our eyes,it can convey the same feeling.On the other hand,every one has off days and so I feel no anger,just a discomfort as this woman is very articulate and highly educated.I think her husband is quite controlling.

So this made me think about Levinas and about Martin Buber‘s I and Thou

There is also an expression,”he looked right through me”which is also a negative way of facing someone.And also,Cutting someone dead.

Essentially not looking at someone is a form of killing them as you imply they are not part  of society.Like not responding  to someone verbally or in writing.You are saying,You do not exist.

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Levinas, The Frankfurt School and Psychoanalysis (review) Neil McLaughlin


From: The Canadian Journal of Sociology
Volume 30, Number 1, Winter 2005
pp. 117-120 | 10.1353/cjs.2005.0027

In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:The Canadian Journal of Sociology 30.1 (2005) 117-120

C. Fred Alford, Levinas, The Frankfurt School and Psychoanalysis. Middletown, Connecticut: Wesleyan University Press, 2002. 186 pp.

The study of emotions is all the rage in the social sciences and humanities these days, so it was exciting to find C. Fred Alford’s newest book Levinas, The Frankfurt School and Psychoanalysis in my mail-box. Alford, a political theorist at the University of Maryland, College Park, is one of the most thoughtful, original and prolific social scientists writing on psychoanalysis today. Levinas’s social philosophy has become enormously influential within post-modern circles, especially after a widely discussed endorsement by Derrida. And the critical theory of the Frankfurt School has left a rich and contentious legacy that both critiques Enlightenment rationality and draws on psychoanalytic insights. A book with this title by a scholar of Alford’s credentials offers the potential for an important contribution to social science debate on the role of emotions in social life. Unfortunately, Alford’s book is a disappointment, marred by a shallow engagement with the literature on the Frankfurt School and a failure to address core issues involved in the use and misuse of psychoanalysis in social science.

The structure of Alford’s book is straightforward, if somewhat self-indulgent. The first chapter “Someone Rings Your Doorbell” introduces Levinas’s basic philosophy, interspersed with Alford’s discussions with a friend who reflects on the encounter with the “other” when someone comes to your home interrupting your work, as well as a brief overview of the literature on Levinas. The book then moves to an extended discussion of the relationship between Levinas and the object relations school of psychoanalysis represented by the British theorist and clinician Winnicott. There is then a chapter comparing the thought of Levinas to the critical theory of German philosopher and Frankfurt School icon Theodor Adorno and the work of the novelist/philosopher Iris Murdoch. The book then concludes with discussion of the relationship between psychoanalysis, politics and freedom, as well as the ethics of “love, pity and humanity.”

Alford is often an enormously careful and generous reader, and he does a remarkable job of both taking Levinas seriously and sharply offering his disagreements with his ethical theory. The book, however, has a disorganized feel to it. This is by no means purely Alford’s responsibility, due to the “Levinas Effect” whereby readers tend to find what they are looking for in Levinas’s complex and diverse writing. As Alford puts it, “Levinas has been found to be a “proto-feminist deconstructionist theologian who reconciles postmodern ethics and a rabbinic Judaism” (p. 33). As a result, Alford must range widely over literature in philosophy, theology, political theory and post-modern social theory in order to do justice to Levinas. Alford’s generosity in attempting to deal with Levinas on his own terms therefore results in an confusing argument. Are we discussing the plausibility and desirability of Levinas’s version of postmodern ethics? Are we engaging Levinas’s implicit psychology with the insights of the object relations psychoanalytic tradition? Are we primarily concerned with thinking about the relationship between Levinas’s work and the critique of the Enlightenment and modernity offered in the writings of the Frankfurt School tradition? Are we to treat Levinas as an ethical philosopher, or as a political theorist? Are we concerned with the meaning of life? Alford’s book does all this and more, and thus far less.

Questioning Levinas’s assumption that “ethics must forever stand in opposition to nature” (p. 40), Alford offers a psychoanalytically inspired alternative to both a sappy humanism and Levinas’s philosophy. For Alford, Levinas’s work lacks an appreciation of shared freedom, the value of art, and the importance of pity, compassion and tragedy in human affairs. This reader, at least, found Alford’s critique compelling. Alford’s well received earlier work, particularly Narcissism: Socrates, the Frankfurt School, and Psychoanalytic Theory (1988), Melanie Klein and C

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More on Emmanuel Levinas

PIC00649.JPGSince I came upon the work of Levinas I  have found his writing interesting even though tough for me to understand,,

I just found this useful list of references to him and in case you are interested you can take a look

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A long review of Conversations with Emmanuel Levinas


This is really good.Not just a short book review but a discussion ranging quite widely of all Levinas‘s era and his Judaism.

It makes me think how  much we can take our life for granted when we consider all the tragedies in the world.I read yesterday that men are never confident of their masculinity and thus war is inevitable just as scapegoats have been needed to carry  the  evil of us who cannot face our own evil…

Are humans able to change?What is the role of women in all of this?

I am  mulling it over whilst heavy rain falls down and leaves fly off the trees



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October 28, 2013 · 3:52 pm

Is it Righteous to Be?: Interviews with Emmanuel Lévinas

I am very  pleased to say I have just ordered this after reading some of it on Google Scholar.If you are interested in Philosophy of the last century and in history then I urge you to read it.Because unless you are educated in philosophy it’s easier to get a grasp of his ideas through interviews where he  is answering questions from other people.I like this type of book even when it’s a novelist or a poet or artist.Something attracts me to the idea of interaction between two people

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October 28, 2013 · 3:19 pm