Levinasian Meditations: Ethics, Philosophy, and ReligionRichard A. Cohen $35.00
400 pages | paper | ISBN: 978-0-8207-0433-3
“Cohen exhibits a profound knowledge of Levinas's philosophy, as well as of its implications and relevance to other areas of philosophy, religion and ethics. To his credit, Cohen unabashedly and unflinchingly defends the philosophy of Levinas—with full recognition of this proclivity. Cohen's book is an extremely well-researched and articulated defense of Levinas on a multitude of topics.” — Symposium
“Cohen's book constitutes a compelling defense of Levinas against a variety of criticisms and opposing views. It is a thorough and often cogent explication of the grandiosity of Levinas's philosophical accomplishments. . .” — Symposium
“Levinasian Meditations, in its structure, embodies a claim frequently found in scholarship on Levinas, namely that Judaism and its other-centered ethics, through its countercultural stance, can play a role in saving the modern West from the historical evils that have resulted from the West's tendency either to create social commonalities through political violence or to erase social difference through genocide and ethnic cleansing.” — Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews
A prominent scholar of the life and work of Emmanuel Levinas, Richard A. Cohen collects in this volume the most significant of his writings on Levinas over the past decade. With these essays, Cohen not only clearly explains the nuances of Levinas's project, but he attests to the importance of Levinas's distinctive insights for philosophy and religion.
Divided into two parts, the book's part one considers Levinas's philosophical project by bringing him into dialogue with Western thought, including Plato, Aristotle, Kant, even Shakespeare, as well as twentieth century thinkers such as Heidegger, Husserl, Sartre, and Buber among others. In part two, Cohen addresses Levinas's contribution to religious thought, particularly regarding his commentary on and approach to Judaism, by using the interpretive lens of Levinas's Talmudic writing, “A Religion for Adults.”
Throughout the book, these seminal essays provide a thorough illumination of Levinas's most original insight and significant contribution to Husserlian phenomenology — which permeates both his philosophical and religious works — that signification and meaning are ultimately based on an ethically structured intersubjectivity that cannot be understood in terms of language and being. Cohen succeeds in defending and clarifying Levinas's commitment to the primacy of ethics, his “ethics as first philosophy,” which was the hallmark of the French phenomenologist's intellectual career.
RICHARD A. COHEN is professor of philosophy and director of the Institute of Jewish Thought and Heritage at the University at Buffalo. He is the author of Elevations: The Height of the Good in Rosenzweig and Levinas and Ethics, Exegesis and Philosophy: Interpretation after Levinas. He has also translated a number of Levinas's works including Ethics and Infinity, Time and the Other, New Talmudic Readings, and Discovering Existence with Husserl (with Michael B. Smith).