Monday, August 15, 2011

Perpich, Diane. Review of Megan Craig, LEVINAS AND JAMES. NDPR (August 2011).

Craig, Megan.  Levinas and James: Toward a Pragmatic Phenomenology.  Bloomington: Indiana UP, 2010.

Megan Craig's Levinas and James: Toward a Pragmatic Phenomenology is less an academic study of the two thinkers of the title or the two traditions of the subtitle than it is a personal journey of philosophical and aesthetic exploration. With a heightened sensitivity to images and mood, Craig rereads Levinas through the lens of James's radical empiricism, offering us a portrait of Levinas that is at once recognizable and new. Quoting James, Craig notes that philosophy "is more a matter of passionate vision than of logic," and her book clearly strives to embody the "more expansive, creative, and experimental notion of writing and reading" that James advocates (132). The book proceeds in six chapters whose titles are evocative rather than descriptive: a first approach to Levinas's thought is advanced in the two chapters titled "Insomnia" and "Faces." The connection to James's pragmatism is expanded in the middle chapters on "Experience" and "Emotion." The aesthetic dimensions of Levinas's work and their connection to ethical themes are explored in the final two chapters, respectively entitled "Poetry" and "Painting." These are followed by a concluding "Afterword" in which Craig helpfully summarizes the trajectory of the book and some of the positions it seeks to stake out. . . .

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