Although Emmanuel Levinas is widely respected as one of the classic thinkers of our century, the debate about his place within Continental philosophy continues. In Beyond: The Philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas, Adriaan Theodoor Peperzak shows Levinas's thought to be a persistent attempt to point beyond the borders of an economy where orderly interests and ways of reasoning make us feel at home--beyond the world of needs, beyond the self, beyond politics and administration, beyond logic and ontology, even beyond freedom and autonomy.
Peperzak's examination begins with a general overview of Levinas's life and thought, and shows how issues of ethics, politics, and religion are intertwined in Levinas's philosophy. Peperzak also discusses the development of Levinas's relations with Husserl and Heidegger, demonstrating thematically the evolution of both Levinas's anti-Heideggerian view of technology and his critical attitude toward nature.
In Prophetic Politics, Philip J. Harold offers an original interpretation of the political dimension of Emmanuel Levinas’s thought. Harold argues that Levinas’s mature position in Otherwise Than Being breaks radically with the dialogical inclinations of his earlier Totality and Infinity and that transformation manifests itself most clearly in the peculiar nature of Levinas’s relationship to politics.
Levinas’s philosophy is concerned not with the ethical per se, in either its applied or its transcendent forms, but with the source of ethics. Once this source is revealed to be an anarchic interruption of our efforts to think the ethical, Levinas’s political claims cannot be read as straightforward ideological positions or principles for political action. They are instead to be understood “prophetically,” a position that Harold finds comparable to the communitarian critique of liberalism offered by such writers as Alasdair MacIntyre and Charles Taylor. In developing this interpretation, which runs counter to formative influences from the phenomenological tradition, Harold traces Levinas’s debt to phenomenological descriptions of such experiences as empathy and playfulness.
Prophetic Politics will highlight the relevance of the phenomenological tradition to contemporary ethical and political thought—a long-standing goal of the series—while also making a significant and original contribution to Levinas scholarship.