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Levinasian Meditations
Ethics, Philosophy, and Religion
Richard Cohen

2010 • 385 pp. 6 x 9"
Philosophy / Phenomenology / Ethics & Moral Philosophy

$35.00 Paperback, 978-0-8207-0433-3
$70.00 Hardcover, 978-0-8207-0432-6

“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... [continued in Reviews below]”—Symposium

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.

Reviews / Endorsements

“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 is essential reading for those who read Levinas with Habermas, Rawls, and Marx, and not only Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Derrida. Cohen is perhaps the most tenacious partisan for the Levinas of universal justice, and for what we’ve come to call an ‘emancipatory horizon,’ a horizon that must welcome all traditions. For this, we are ever in his debt.” —Continental Philosophy Review

“Offer[s] lucid and rich articulations of a variety of key concepts in Levinas’s ethics. Levinasian Meditations takes on two major tasks: expositing Levinas’s thought through engagement with the history of philosophy. . . and illuminating Levinas’s indebtedness to Judaism and the talmudic tradition. . . . A strength of Cohen’s essays is his insistence that Levinas’s is a political project. Cohen refreshingly grounds Levinasian justice in concrete terms.” —Dialogue

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).

Tue, 15 May 2018 13:40:37 -0500