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Discovering Levinas


  • Date Published: April 2009
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521759687

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About the Authors
  • In Discovering Levinas, Michael L. Morgan shows how this thinker faces in novel and provocative ways central philosophical problems of twentieth-century philosophy and religious thought. He tackles this task by placing Levinas in conversation with philosophers such as Donald Davidson, Stanley Cavell, John McDowell, Onora O'Neill, Charles Taylor, and Cora Diamond. He also seeks to understand Levinas within philosophical, religious, and political developments in the history of twentieth-century intellectual culture. Morgan demystifies Levinas by examining his unfamiliar and surprising vocabulary, interpreting texts with an eye to clarity, and arguing that Levinas can be understood as a philosopher of the everyday. Morgan also shows that Levinas's ethics is not morally and politically irrelevant nor is it excessively narrow and demanding in unacceptable ways. Neither glib dismissal nor fawning acceptance, this book provides a sympathetic reading that can form a foundation for a responsible critique.

    • First book to offer a comprehensive reading of Levinas that places him within the world of Anglo-American, analytic philosophy
    • Deals with issues that are both contested in scholarship about Levinas and also would be problems for philosophers unfamiliar with his work
    • Attempts to demystify Levinas by placing him in conversation with prominent contemporary philosophers and using familiar terms to clarify his terminology
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Discovering Levinas is the best introduction to Levinas's philosophy in existence. Those who are already interested in Levinas will find that Morgan's book gives them new conversation partners and frees up their own prose. Graduate courses on Levinas will find that requiring students to purchase this book will raise the quality of class discussions. Undergraduate courses with Levinas on their syllabus should also excerpt this very readable book, especially the several chapters that stay close to the surface of brief Levinas essays, so that students do not become discouraged by the gnomic nature of Levinas's writing.' Martin Kavka, Journal of the American Academy of Religion

    'A first-rate book.' Robert Bernasconi, University of Memphis

    'The book fills a clear need and will be welcomed by anyone who takes Levinas seriously. I have no doubt that it will leave its mark on the field and change the way that Levinas is discussed.' Kenneth Seeskin, Northwestern University

    'Michael L. Morgan's Discovering Levinas very admirably situates Levinas's work in historical and philosophical context - and provides us with lucid restatements of such key issues in Levinas scholarship as his relationship to phenomenology, his understanding of God, his relationship to contemporary moral philosophy, and how he comprehends Judaism. It is a rich and rewarding book.' AJS Review

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    Product details

    • Date Published: April 2009
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521759687
    • length: 528 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 30 mm
    • weight: 0.77kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Auschwitz, politics, and the twentieth century
    2. Phenomenology and transcendental philosophy
    3. The ethical content of the face-to-face
    4. Philosophy, totality, and the everyday
    5. Meaning, culture, and language
    6. Subjectivity and the self
    7. God and philosophy
    8. Time, Messianism, and diachrony
    9. Ethical realism and contemporary moral philosophy
    10. Beyond language and expressibility
    11. Judaism, ethics, and religion
    Conclusion: Levinas and the primacy of the ethical - Kant, Kierkegaard, and Derrida
    Appendix: facing reasons.

  • Author

    Michael L. Morgan, Indiana University, Bloomington
    Michael L. Morgan has been a professor at Indiana University for 31 years and, in 2004, was named a Chancellor's Professor. He has published articles in a variety of journals, edited several collections, and authored four books, most recently Interim Judaism (2001). He is the coeditor of The Cambridge Companion to Modern Jewish Philosophy.

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