With a Foreword by Richard J. Bernstein and an Afterword by John Durham Peters
14 Emmanuel Levinas: Contact and Interruption AMIT PINCHEVSKI 343
14 Emmanuel Levinas Contact and Interruption AMIT PINCHEVSKI ________________________________________ Emmanuel Levinas was one of the greatest philosophers of the twentieth century, yet has only been recently acknowledged as such. He proposed a radically different way to approach ethical questions—in fact, to approach the question of ethics itself. An heir to the phenomenological tradition of Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger, his thought came to problematize the foundations upon which lies the work of his teachers. While his presence among French academic circles remained relatively marginal for most of his career, his work nevertheless informed some of the key debates in continental philosophy of the latter half of the century, and had a decisive impact on a generation of thinkers such as Jacques Derrida, Maurice Blanchot, Jean-François Lyotard, Jean-Luc Nancy, Jean-Luc Marion, Enrique Dussel, and Luce Irigaray. For the better part of his life, Levinas studied and taught the Talmud, whose wisdom he attempted to introduce to various philosophical and contemporary questions. Indeed, one way to describe his philosophy is as a consistent effort to implicate “Greek” with “Hebrew,” that is, to translate the ethical message of Judaism into the Western philosophical discourse. Looming over Levinas was the dark shadow of the Holocaust, which claimed most of his family and in many respects dominated the development of his work. Born in 1906 in Lithuania to a Jewish Orthodox family, Levinas became acquainted with the Hebrew Bible from a young age. During the First World War, his family fled to the Ukraine,...
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