Monday, January 24, 2011

Kavka, Martin. Review of Richard A. Cohen, LEVINASIAN MEDITATIONS. NDPR (January 2010).

Cohen, Richard A.  Levinasian Meditations: Ethics, Philosophy, and Religion.  Pittsburgh: Duquesne UP, 2010.

This volume collects seventeen of Cohen's essays published during the last twelve years on the French Jewish phenomenologist Emmanuel Levinas. The essays are divided into two sections. The first section, "Ethics as First Philosophy," covers thematic material similar to that in Cohen's 2001 book Ethics, Exegesis and Philosophy: the critical stance that Levinas takes toward other figures in the phenomenological and philosophical traditions. (This section also contains a wonderful little essay on Levinas's frequent, and frequently ignored, citations to Shakespeare.) The second section, "A Religion for Adults," contains essays on the place of Judaism, and the relationship between Judaism and philosophy, in Levinas's writings. Yet this latter section is not an inessential appendage to the first; rather, it is its sequel. 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. Those who read these essays seriatim will quickly infer that many of them are, at least in part, responses to unnamed others who have offered dismissive responses either to Cohen's approach to Levinas or to Levinas's philosophy tout court. It strikes me as very possible that readers of Levinasian Meditations will misinterpret it as a result. . . .

Read the rest here:

No comments:

Post a Comment