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Unit 9 Who Is Sherlock Holmes? Unit 12 What Is a Marathon? Unit 13 Who Is Stephen King? Unit 16 Who Were the Aztecs? Unit 17 Where Is Timbuktu? See All Customer Reviews. One way to understand Levinas's approach is to note that like Heidegger, "as a phenomenologist, he is interested in the disclosure of entities and thus in the entity -- Dasein -- that engages in this disclosure" In other words, Levinas was, like Heidegger, Dreyfus, Brandom, Haugeland, and many others, interested in intentionality and human consciousness.

Unlike them, however, he mines and presents the phenomenological importance of the fact that the most fundamental basis for all intentionality and human consciousness is a sensuous engagement with an other.

Emmanuel Lévinas - New World Encyclopedia

Levinas's term of art for this is the 'face-to-face,' as when he points out that the "face-to-face is not a modality of coexistence. Making clear the importance of the other for understanding intentionality and human consciousness not to mention objectivity and truth, see and , , respectively naturally presents the importance of language and discourse, a theme that unites Levinas, albeit not exclusively, with significant segments of Anglophone philosophy.


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For Levinas, by contrast, self-separation and hence, freedom occur through the Other. They arise when I respond to the Other's alternative perspective.


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The distinction of my will from inclination or appetite occurs when I have to explain myself to the Other, that is, present him with my reasons for what I say and do. As for reason, its origin is precisely this need of explaining oneself. The question of reason, the question "Why?

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Given Mensch's own discussion 27ff , the word 'need' would better be replaced by Levinas's technical term, 'desire,' the idea that all language, indeed, any phenomenology of human or subjective life presupposes a prior acknowledgment of the absolute separation and uniqueness of the other, i.

Later, in "Language and Proximity" , Levinas will stress that language can thereby be understood as modeled on touch, on contiguity, proximity. He writes there that, "language is the possibility of entering into relationship independently of every system of signs common to the interlocutors. Like a battering-ram, it is the 'power' to break through the limits of culture, body, and race.

Emmanuel Levinas: Ethics as First Philosophy

That relation, in turn, is not to be understood as a cognitive or linguistic or practical affair but rather as itself making possible my having a world -- being or beings -- in the first place In this way, exactly because Levinas's project is important ethically and phenomenologically -- if not epistemologically -- this commentary is timely and will be of value to a wide array of scholars working through Levinas's magnum opus. It will certainly make the labor of working through Levinas's book that much easier, and where it might not register all of the nuanced academic debates, [9] such choices are more than justified by the striking lucidity Mensch achieves and by the courage of constructing such a commentary in the first place.

Ultimately, there is much here that will greatly expand access to Levinas and even more that will spur new work.

Emmanuel Levinas

Therefore, if the book, as the back cover suggests, is modeled on Norman Kemp Smith's commentary on Kant's Critique of Pure Reason, Mensch's Levinas's Existential Analytic is a potent and remarkable success. It should open Levinas to future readers, who might begin to suspect, as I do and as I suspect Mensch does too , that Levinas's philosophical achievements are as important for us to study as Kant's own.

Thanks to Bettina Bergo and Tarek Dika for comments on an earlier version of this review; of course, any mistakes are my own. Brandom, Robert. Dreyfus, Hubert. The MIT Press, Gauthier, David. Lexington Books, Indiana University Press, Levinas, Emmanuel. In Collected Philosophical Papers , Martinus Nijhoff Publishers,