Emmanuel Levinas' radical ethics challenge systems of domination in a way that resonates with me deeply. Levinas allows us to ask different questions, think differently. For me, Marxist theory provides a critique of systems that is on the money (pun intended), but Levinas enables me to foreground the ethical questions and to avoid rethinking a system with the same totalizing principles. That is, "capitalism" is the current problem, but the removal of capitalism does not, in itself lead to ethics. Levinas, for me, is the ultimate dialectician.
"...There is need for the state.
But it is very important to know whether the state, society, law, and power are required because man is a beast to his neighbor (homo homini lupus) or because I am responsible for my fellow. It is very important to know whether the political order defines man's responsibility or merely restricts his bestiality. It is very important, even if the conclusion is that all of us exist for the sake of the state, the society, the law." (248. "Ideology and Idealism" in The Levinas Reader, Sean Hand, Ed. Gendered discourse left and acknowledged)
Links for resources on Levinas (email me with additions or changes, please)
Peter Atterton's Levinas Page
Anthony Beavers' Bibliography of Secondary Sources on Levinas (includes online articles, such as...)
Beavers, Anthony. "Emmanuel Levinas and the Prophetic Voice of Postmodernity." http://cedar.evansville.edu/~tb2/trip/prophet.htm
Leahy, D. G. The Originality of Levinas: Pre-Originally Categorizing the Ego.http://www.bu.edu/wcp/Papers/Cont/ContLeah.htm
Anthony Beavers' "Introducing Levinas to Undergraduate Philsophers" (I use this site when i teach Levinas in my composition courses. Thank goodness it exists!)
Eric Helmer's Levinas Page (a good one. sorry it took me so long to change!)
Gen Nakayama's Levinas Page
Lois Shawver's Postmodern Therapy News links to Levinas
Levinas Listserv (maintained by C. LeFort): firstname.lastname@example.org
to subscribe, send an e-mail to: Clinton LeFort, email@example.com
Delphi Discussion group on Levinas, set up by CLEFORT: http://forums.delphi.com/m/main.asp?sigdir=e_levinas&isp=if&pic=in-motet548
(join in! needs an active discussion group going)
Just a starting point for philosophers that are related to Levinas in some way
Martin Buber is noted as a philosopher of dialogue (although his philosophy is certainly not as rigorous as Levinas' and Levinas himself suggested that Buber rested on the simplicity of the I/Thou because of that).
Although they may not seem related to some, I draw connections between Levinas and the historical materialists because without the critique, i can't get to Levinas. So visit my resource pages on:
Marxist Theory (under construction)
Freire and Horton and Critical Pedagogies (i'm working on it)
last updated December 23, 2001