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By Emmanuel Levinas

Across the world popular as one of many nice French philosophers of the 20th century, the overdue Emmanuel Levinas continues to be a pivotal determine around the humanistic disciplines for his insistence―against the grain of Western philosophical tradition―on the primacy of ethics in philosophical research. this primary English translation of a chain of twelve essays often called Alterity and Transcendence bargains a special glimpse of Levinas defining his personal position within the historical past of philosophy. released via a mature philosopher among 1967 and 1989, those works convey a refreshingly available point of view that pro admirers and novices will appreciate.

In brand new international, the place spiritual conceptions of exalted better powers are continuously known as into query through theoretical research and by means of the strong effect of technology and expertise on our knowing of the universe, has the concept of transcendence been stripped of its value? In Levinas's incisive version, transcendence is certainly alive―not in any concept of our dating to a mysterious, sacred realm yet within the inspiration of our worldly, subjective relationships to others.

Without presupposing an intimate wisdom of the heritage of philosophy, Levinas explores the ways that Plotinus, Descartes, Husserl, and Heidegger have encountered the query of transcendence. In discourses at the strategies of totality and infinity, he locates his personal pondering within the context of pre-Socratic philosophers, Aristotle, Leibniz, Spinoza, Kant, and Descartes. constantly centering his discussions at the proposal of interpersonal relatives because the foundation of transcendence, Levinas displays at the rights of people (and how they're inextricably associated with these of others), the concept that of peace, and the dialogic nature of philosophy. ultimately, in interviews carried out through Christian Chabanis and Angelo Bianchi, Levinas responds to key questions ultimately addressed in his writings. all through, Alterity and Transcendence unearths a dedication to ethics as first philosophy―obliging smooth thinkers to enquire no longer only the genuine however the solid.

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Extra info for Alterity and Transcendence

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A ‘lived’ that is not simply a ‘content of consciousness,’ but that is signifying: in it the identity of the ‘I am,’ of the Togito content with itself and persevering in its being, is identified. Iden­ tification of the free ipseity of Western man within the limits of his powers. A freedom that only obstacles can limit: natural and social forces, and death. The obstacles of nature and society, over which knowledge can progressively triumph. ’ But freedom is always measured by its powers. The marvel 'Of Western man in his modernity, which is probably essential to him: the ideal of the satisfied man to whom all the possible is permitted.

The questions that we have to ask can now be formulated. Does thought only think as besiegement of all alterity, disappearing in the unity of the result or in the identity of the identical and the non­ identical, engulfing the absolute affected or extinguished in it, in the ambiguity of philosophical idealism or realism? Does thought thinking the abso- lute signify nothing but need, lack and nostalgia or satisfaction, accomplishment and enjoyment? Does the diachrony of time signify only deficiency of pres­ ence and nostalgia?

This questioning of the formalism of totality is also reflected in the role played by the idea of totality in the exegesis of texts, in which the part to be under­ stood owes its meaning to the whole from which it was taken, even though the whole cannot be under­ stood without showing itself in its parts. Analysis and synthesis, far from being independent operations, presuppose one another reciprocally at every moment. The role played by totality in hermeneutics would then indicate that reason and totality are indeed inseparable, but that totality requires more than a spirit of continuity from reason.

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